FY63 - Go Fact Yourself - John Roderick & Moujan Zolfaghari

This episode is hosted by J. Keith van Straaten and Helen Hong with guests John and Moujan Zolfaghari from “Mission to Zyxx.”

  • John Roderick: Muscle cars, The GMC RV, the Judas Priest albums British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance.
  • Moujan Zolfaghari: Celebrity relationships and divorces, Farsi phrases and the movie Gremlins.

John is in his podcasting bunker in Seattle Washington.

Friendly Fire (FY63)

The initial premise of Friendly Fire had a lot of low-hanging fruit: You watch a John Wayne movie and you make fun of it, but war movies are also a tremendous window on our culture, on history, and oftentimes on masculinity throughout time (some war movies don’t even have a woman in them) and the podcast went from being a whimsical shooting fish in a barrel to an adventure in cultural criticism and is now the favorite thing that any of the co-hosts do.

They even have a separate feed for MaxFun donors called the Pork Chop feed where they watch movies that are borderline war movies, maybe there is war happening next door, or maybe a space-war of robots like Terminator.

Omnibus (FY63)

Ken Jennings, the greatest of all time Jeopardy! champion, is from Seattle and John met him at Bumbershoot where Ken asked him to be part of a book promo he was doing for one of his books on trivia (Because I said so!, Amazon), and they started hanging out.

Later Clear Channel approached John through Chuck Bryant, a frequent MaxFunCon attendee, to see if John could get Ken to do a podcast. John had no interest of Ken doing a podcast with these Ding Dongs, but to his credit Ken told them he would do it, but only with John. About a year ago they left the network and went solo and they are now an independent show.

They are hoping to do stories of things that might otherwise get lost when the apocalypse erases history. No matter how bad the apocalypse is going to be, The Rolling Stones are probably going to make it through. Keith Richards has made it this far and you can’t kill him! Some Futureling, some sentient moss, is going to still have heard the song Satisfaction, but they might not have heard of the Renault Le Car or the multiple defenestrations of Prague or whatever. They are trying to sneak all that stuff in, and they are recording the whole podcast on platinum discs and burying them in a salt mine so that the future Cthulhus can understand what they were doing.

John as a musician (FY63)

20 years John had a band called The Western State Hurricanes, right at the time when Grunge was no longer really viable, but before Indie Rock had fully bloomed. They had one foot in the tail end of Grunge and one foot in the nascent Indie Rock and they made a record that never came out. The band was beset of all the woe betide of band dynamics, so the record just sat on the shelves for 20 years and finally there was enough interest from people around town that John went back and reviewed it and spent a lot of time working on it.

The record finally came out in the spring of 2020 right before coronavirus shut everything down. They played two shows in Seattle and for a lot of people it was the last live music they got to see before the lockdown. The album is called Through With Love and you can find it on Bandcamp and all the other places.

Moujan Zolfaghari (FY63)

Moujan’s show is an improvised SciFi program that doesn’t sound improvised because there are six of them from the Upright Citizens Brigade (theater) in New York City who record and improvise for about 1.5 hours and then they edit it all down together, taking away things they messed up on and they make it a cute 30-40 minutes long show. Then sound designer Shane O’Connell will spend 30-40 hours at doing sound design and making it an amazing audible experience through headphones. Moujan is playing a space ship.

More recently she got to write The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo and has become part of the Sesame Street and Muppetverse on total accident. It is such a fun wild world and right now they are doing Zoom meetings. Of all the projects she works on, big or small, this is the one where a lot of her friends that are now becoming parents have reached out to her and told her that their child love her. They had celebrities on set for some things and they only notice Elmo, they don’t see the pupeteer Ryan who is another amazing human, and they get transported back to who they were when they were 3 years old.

What is the difference? Topic: So dirty! (FY63)

What is the difference between obscenity and profanity?John claims that obscenity is something that offends the senses, whereas profanity is dirty talk, but that is not correct. Obscenity comes from the Latin word for offensive and obscene material does not have protection from the 1st amendment and may in fact be against the law. Profanity comes from the Latin word for unholy and is a reflection on how a particular religious group views an expression, it is the opposite of sacred.

What is the difference between soil and dirt? Moujan claims that soil is coming from the ground and is more wet, while dirt is something you could add on to things and is more dry. John claims that soil has been through a worm’s butt whereas dirt has not. Both are not correct, but soil contains living organisms and organic matter and supports life with naturally occurring nutrients and minerals. Dirt has none of that and cannot support life.

John’s areas of expertise (FY63)

John was almost 100% lying when he said he knew anything about muscle cars. He is 51 years old and when he was in High School all the stoners and pot dealers drove what are now really cool and expensive rad muscle cars and what then were just the cars that stoners and pot dealers drove. As a teen growing up in Alaska John imprinted on (Chevy) Camaros and (Chevy) Novas, trying to find some thing, and muscle cars became a thing he taught himself a lot about, just like vintage guitars and all those things that no-one cares about anymore and that doesn’t help him at all to know about.

If you took a survey of all the people in America that are under the age of 90 who know about the GMC RV, then John is probably in the Top-20. Very briefly in the mid-1970s the General Motors Corporation decided to custom-built an RV, a recreational vehicle like a Winnebago, but they were going to use all of their most space-age technology and it was going to be their signature vehicle, a platform where they could just show the world what a motorized vehicle could be. They came out with an RV that cost the equivalent of a yacht and all of a sudden gas went from $0.30 a gallon to $15 a gallon in 1975 prices, so it became a strange vehicle that you would not recognize if it weren’t the star of the move Stripes featuring Bill Murray.

Several years ago John decided to join RV culture, and he bought a GMC RV and attempted to drive it across America. It only caught on fire a handful of times, and he joined unwittingly a subculture of retired RV motor-head space-race people, a group of enthusiasts that has a nationwide network and every time John’s RV caught on fire or broke down in some way he would go on their secret network and there would always be someone within a 5 miles radius.

Judas Priest albums British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance were the peak of a certain kind of British Heavy Metal, and after these records Heavy Metal went right in the crapper and became Hair Metal and stuff that none of us liked. Then it balkanized and splintered into the 1000 kinds of Metal that live in the world today. Prior to British Steel you couldn’t really say what Metal was: Was Black Sabbath Metal? Was AC/DC Metal? Was Led Zeppelin Metal? You couldn’t say that these things were Metal really, but when British Steel came out suddenly we knew what we meant when we said Metal. Right around then you got Iron Maiden and there is nothing you can call these bands except Metal.

Quiz with John about Muscle Cars (FY63)

One of the saddest things about John’s love for muscle cars is that he has never owned a muscle car. He has never once just gone ahead and bought an old muscle car or even bought a car that had any muscle at all. The car he always wanted was a 1965 Pontiac GTO Convertible because it is the sexiest of all cars, and yet because he is a podcaster he can’t afford a good one.

  • Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge each make a model of muscle car that continues to sell well: Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro.
  • A Hemi Engine means the combustion chamber is hemispheric and has a dome shape.
  • There is a Top-5 hit song called GTO inspired by the Pontiac GTO, a Motor Trend car of the year. GTO stands for Grand Tourismo Omologato and is Italian for Grand Touring Homologated, approved for competition
  • In 1966 famed car-designer Carroll Shelby had 1001 special racing Mustangs built so that they could be rented out to people who wanted to race them on weekends by the Hertz company.
  • When the Chevy Camaro was introduced in the late 1960s some found it a little underpowered, so the Yenko dealership in Pennsylvania modified it by replacing the engine with more powerful Corvette engines.

Expert-level question, called Clusterfact: Hollywood has long been influenced by muscle cars, from Fast & Furious to Mad Max to Joe Dirt, but sometimes muscle cars are influenced by Hollywood:

  • Plymouth Road Runner, named for an animated animal
  • Pontiac GTO Judge (John said Sunbird), named for a character from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, sometimes played by Sammy David Jr
  • Ford Mustang BULLITT (John said Torino), named for the title character for a 1968 movie

They talk with expert Vinny Costa from Street Muscle Magazine. Hot Rods are 1930-50s cars, while Muscle Cars are 1960-80s cars.

Quiz with Moujan about the movie Gremlins (FY63)

Gremlins completely missed John because when it came out he was 16 years old and he felt that it was a kid’s movie and he was too old and sophisticated to watch a movie about little things, although he was a huge Phoebe Cates fan from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The other day his 9-year old daughter told him that she was going to watch that movie, so John could have watched it 2 days ago and he would be ready to steal, but he didn’t watch it with her and as it goes he is not a Gremlins expert.

  • According to the grandson of the owner of a peculiar shop in Chinatown, Gremlins come with three rules: Don’t feed them after midnight, don’t expose them to bright light and don’t get them wet.
  • Comedian and talent-show judge Howie Mandel provided the voice of Gizmo
  • Two Peltzer-inventions from the movie are an ashtray that doesn’t work and an orange juicer that spurts out tar.
  • The Doctor from Star Trek Voyager is not in the movie while other popular TV show characters are.
  • The Gremlins play a miniature version of the popular 1980s arcade game Donkey Kong.

Expert-level questions, called Clusterfact: They talk to the director Joe Dante.

  • Gremlins crosses the genres Comedy, Action, Christmas, Science Fiction, and Horror. At the 1984 Saturn Awards for Horror Films it won the award for best horror film and four others: Best supporting actress Polly Holliday (Moujan said Phoebe Cates), best director Joe Dante, best music Jerry Goldsmidth (Moujan said John Williams), best special effects. Joe has used his Saturn Award as a door stop for a long time.

Fast Facts (FY63)

  • Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were born on the same day: TRUE
  • Most twins are born on the same day: TRUE
  • Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal were born on the same day: FALSE
  • Marilyn Monroe and Mister Rogers were born on the same day: FALSE
  • Marilyn Monroe and Jimmy Carter were born on the same day: FALSE
  • Marilyn Monroe and Andy Griffith were born on the same day: TRUE
  • George W Bush and Sylvester Stalone were born on the same day: TRUE
  • Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day: TRUE
  • Gladys Knight and Rudy Giuliani were born on the same day: TRUE
  • Rudy Giuliani used to represent Gladys Knight as a lawyer: FALSE
  • Gladys Knight sang on Rudy Giuliani’s three weddings: FALSE
  • Rudy wanted her to sing, but after the first two divorces he could only afford The Pips: FALSE

John had 12.5 points and Moujan had 6 points, making John the facting champion.

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