RL293 - Force Majeure

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The problem: "That’s not how you make a friend", referring to companies not behaving in a way that will turn a customer into a friend.

The show title refers to airlines calling things for Force Majeure like it was not their fault.

It is early. John is making a melody and when Merlin asks him about the song he says that he is just riffing, but every melody sounds a little bit like Terrence Trend D’Arby. Once you learn enough songs, you know all the songs.

It seems like both Merlin and John don’t really know what to talk about.

Merlin has a very strange and emotional time. There are things going on that are emotionally trying and it is getting to him. He was just listening to the Los Lobos song ”Saint Behind the Glass” (Merlin’s Tweet) on repeat which always makes him happy. It got a harp and nice lite minor chord changes.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

The Who at the Rock'n'Roll circus in 1967 (RL293)

Merlin has a YouTube list with the things he wants to make sure he watches at least once a month. The cage thing is starting to wear on him a little bit and starting to bug him. All the other stuff hasn’t really bugged him, but this one is emotionally trying. The list contains The Who taking everybody else to Rock school at the Rock ’n’ Roll circus around 1967/1968. All the other bands had been off the road, while The Who had been touring heavily and recording all night.

It had been kind of a mess from a logistics standpoint, but they still showed up at 5am and blew the roof off the place. They were having fun, but Merlin thinks they were in their corn and knew from the minute they came out there that they were doing something special. Also, fun has no place in Rock ’n’ Roll, because everybody else is doing something very serious. Keith Richards was wearing an eye patch, a top hat and a cigar, which is all great, and then The Who came and were just having fun, but you can’t allow that in a Rock ’n’ Roll setting.

John deleting the Twitter app (RL293)

Last night John deleted the Twitter app off his phone. There is a lot going on, it is an emotional time, and what he doesn’t need right now is Twitter. As with everything there is always one last small thing like ”Okay, that’s it!” John doesn’t follow any bad people and he doesn’t have to deal with conservative Twitter or any of the other Twitters that are doing awful things. His gentle Twitter is made up largely of people who live in New York or Hollywood and who alternate between making money by being in diaper commercials and by trying to get on a Sitcom where they are Wil Wheaton’s younger brother. Then there are people John knows personally, but he just can’t have it anymore and listen to them anymore. A tweet went by from a person John adores, but it was a tweet he despised and because he adores this person, he doesn’t need to hear this. So John asked himself if this is helping him at all? Is him being on there helping anyone?

This podcast and a lot of the things John and Merlin do go out into the world through the Internet, but these things are not actually The Internet, just like John going to visit Merlin is not the Interstate. The Internet is inevitable, large and wide, and Merlin and John arrive to people via the Internet, but they are not the Internet, but they are old-time radio.

Partly because of his dopamine issues, Merlin sometimes needs to do a lot of a thing that he doesn’t like doing, just to make him feel the way he wants to feel. He needs to be careful because that is not a healthy pattern! Sometimes when he is especially anxious looking at political Twitter, he is just reloading all the pain, which is super-unhealthy. Merlin should pull over, take his inhaler out, get a good couple of huffs, turn the radio off, take that bag of McDonald’s french fries and throw it in the back seat, roll the window down, take his shoes off and drive bare feet on the pedals, although they tell you not to do it, but he should do it anyway!

Being body-shy (RL293)

When John was 16, he was driving down Northern Lights Boulevard in Anchorage, Alaska and he realized that nobody could tell whether he had pants on or not. At a stop light at Northern Lights and Lake Otis Parkway he just took his pants off and drove around town without them, which felt crazy at the time. Now it doesn’t feel crazy anymore because John does it every day. Merlin used to be very ashamed of his body, not for any particular reason, but it was just a thing you were supposed to do.

Merlin would be scared to go to a public restroom or change in the gym and he remembers the first time he was ever comfortable skinny-dipping: It felt revelatory. Nobody cared, they were not checking each others dingus, or only a little bit, but mostly they were swimming around and having fun. It doesn’t have to be weird. John was so body-shy! There is a picture of him in a group of 30 people from Scandinavia on the beach in Marbella and everybody was mooning the camera while John was the one in the middle with his hands on his pants as though he was about to pull them down, but instead he was turning around making a peace-sign at the camera as the kid who never could let it ride and moon the camera! You can’t even see anybody else’s face, just 30 butts. John was not a never-nude, but he was also not out there streaking. There was a time in college when streaking made a very brief return. When they were kids, streaking was big and it was sometimes on television or in Time Magazine. There is even a song called The Streak. John is not comfortable with his physique and he can not streak.

Merlin just didn’t want people to see his tummy, let alone his dingus. John and Merlin were also both late bloomers. If they could have been out there with a lot of secondary body hair, they would have been out there like fucking Michelangelo’s David with a towel on their shoulder, like ”Check this out”. John still doesn’t have eyebrows, or he has big eyebrows, but they are blond. Kids who grow up in the locker rooms or with brothers get a sense of how other guys look and they put themselves in there somehow naturally, like they look like this guy, but not like that guy. John not just didn’t want to take his clothes off, but he didn’t want to look at other people either. He didn’t have a sense of what other people really looked like and that contributed to a cascading effect of not feeling very secure. A lot of these guys in the locker room looked all ripped and shaped, they all walked around and they would just pee in the shower, they didn't care! Shower down to get an A!

Professional Poker Players (RL293)

In 2005 John went through a very hard down-period and he spent most of the first 6 months of 2005 in bed. At the time he thought that he suffered from untreated depression, but it turned out later that he suffered from untreated bipolar disorder. It was the first time as a grown-up where a combination of real-life factors and an increasing mental imbalance put him in bed. He watched poker on television and he really liked it. It was during the big boom of TV poker, you could see the cards and it was a whole new sport to watch.

In the process of that John became a fan of Daniel Negreanu, a famous Canadian Poker player. He also likes Phil Hellmuth, the brat of Poker, and he likes Phil Ivey. Those are old-school and they won’t show up in a fucking gorilla mask like a bunch of dorks. Phil Hellmuth is wearing some sunglasses, but Daniel Negreanu wants you to see his face, because he is fucking with you! Daniel reminds John a lot of Ben Gibbard because they have a lot of the same mannerisms. He was prematurely balding 15 years ago, he has an Elon Musk touch-up and he has got a lot of sassafras. He schools people, he can guess your cards a lot of times.

Lately when John is laying around, trying to not look at Twitter, he is on his phone looking at stuff. He is looking at how to sink the Bismarck again and at Top 10 ways to make a difference, but late at night he just goes over and watches Daniel Negreanu play a couple of hands of cards, just watching some guys who are really good at cards playing cards with each other. There is nothing that shuts up a talkative person like losing $100.000. That is one of John’s must-watches.

The Foo Fighters (RL293)

On Merlin’s Watch-often list there is also the last Letterman, which was very good, because the Foo Fighters were on. They made some very good appearances and played the song Everlong that Dave likes. It is funny to think of Dave's taste and think of Foo Fighters. When he came back from his heart attack, he wanted his favorite band the Foo Fighters to come on and play his favorite song Everlong, and they totally did it, although they toured in Brazil at the time. They pulled up stakes and came to New York to play Everlong on the show when Dave came back. Paul kind of half-ruined it with way too much organ solo stuff, but it is still really fucking good. That pretty blond guy Taylor Hawkins was on drums and he plays drums like ringing a bell. Dave Grohl got him off the heroin.

Marco Collins, the local DJ in Seattle who made a bunch of Grunge bands happen on 107.7 The End (KNDD), posted a picture the other day of Pat Smear and Dave Grohl sitting criss-cross applesauce on a dumpster. John was there at that show when that picture was taken, but he felt like he was too cool to go in. He was young enough and had so little to do that he would just go to a show and hang out outside. The walls of the club were paper-thin and John listened to the whole show, but it was a drummer from Nirvana, so how good could that be? Turned out, John liked the first Foo Fighters album quite a bit. Harvey Danger opened for the Foo Fighters early on in the Taylor Hawkins years and he and Dave did a little drum-off with each other. Dave was very generous and at a certain point Taylor did something and Dave was like ”Oh, I can’t do it, man! You are blowing me away!”, but he could do it while braiding his own hair.

All songs on Merlin's watch-often list are new to John. Currently there were only 6 things on it and Merlin thought he should put more on there and share it with the world. There are 800 people subscribed to Merlin’s YouTube feed and John says that a lot of people have probably subscribed to John’s eBay, waiting for it, because any day something might come there.

John having an electrician coming (RL293)

John had plugged a set of Christmas lights into the outdoor outlet of his house in order to check if they still worked, but one of them exploded, like Pow! John used to have lights all around the house, but Sahm took them down when he was painting the house and it is hard to put them back up. The light bulb exploded as he wanted to set one of them up in the yard. At first they stayed on with some flickering and then there was a popping sound and they went off.

The outlet didn’t work after that and he checked all the breakers. Two of the outlets in the kitchen didn’t work anymore either and the lights in the barn didn’t work! He screwed around with the breaker panel because it might have been one of those cases where the breaker popped but you couldn’t tell, but that was not the case! The barn has a separate panel and no fuse popped, but something went wrong.

Therefore John has an electrician coming today who’s name is Sum. John’s mom insists that Sum pronounced his name Sahm and when she talks about him John gets confused and says that Sahm is probably not coming back, but he went on his magic steed and rode away. It is a short Abbott and Costello routine out here all the time.

John has previously replaced all of his light switches and he has been happier ever since. People want to bring newfangledness in, but John is somebody who wants to take newfangledness out. He is rattling against the world all the time! Often when you bring it in, you can’t just take i it out again and put old things back. Bad decisions that somebody made and thought were newfangled in 1979 do not age well.

It is like with teeth: Whatever teeth you got are always better than what they want to replace them with. John has this experience with his bum knee that is getting bummer, but everybody tells him that he will walk better with his shitty knee than with whatever robot-knee they could replace it with. John got some braces when he skis in order to not feel scared, some weird neoprene braces that his dad bought in the 1970s and some little cloth ones he gets at Walgreens every time he is out of town and forgot that he wanted a brace for something. He has a whole duffle bag full of them! John doesn’t want to walk around in a brace, because he will look like a guy in retirement age.

Sum is one his way right now. He has got a little ladder truck and there is probably somebody in a firemen’s hat running after him wearing long johns where the flap in the back is open. It is the beginning of a cascade of things. Sum is going to fix the electrical outside, which is one of the things John has to do before he can decide to sell the house. He was walking around with his daughter the other day, telling her that this was the house where she said her first word, where she took her first step, where she crawled for the first time, and where she did every single thing for the first time. She was like ”Huh?” and didn’t care, but daddy cares!

Merlin got Gophers in his park, probably killed by a Raccoon, but Raccoons normally eat Invertebrate. John has Moles and he hates them so much, because they are like a rat that is also a fish.

Being colorblind (RL293)

John’s mom hears vowels differently than other people. She transposes vowels a lot and she also sees green and blue differently than John sees them. When things are on the spectrum between green and blue, she and John often differ about where they are (like John's dads Chrysler LHS that John mentions in OM139). That is clearly blue, but it is so green. Mike Squires is colorblind and doesn’t see blue and green. He can tell when somebody is Africa American, but he does not know if a pair of pants is blue, black or green (John mentions this even in OM139 and says that Mike sometimes texts him pictures of his outfit for John to approve). John has both a black and a midnight-blue tuxedo and he has put them next to each other in a lot of different lighting situations to familiarize his eyes with the subtlety. He has only a couple of things that are dark navy. In case of the tuxedo you really don’t want to mix and match them.

Not knowing how to identify anxiety (RL293)

see Anxiety

John got his pillcase (RL293)

John did get a bespoke pillcase after talking about it in RL277. Listeners sent him some links to a British fly-fisherman’s fly case, an aluminum box with lots of little compartments called a fly box. John’s kind is made by Wheatley who make those old-school aluminum boxes with glass doors that fit right into your jacket pocket. John puts a day’s worth of pills in every little compartment and he has 32 compartments in his box. Those cases are like $200, but John found one on eBay for cheap. He really enjoys it and it came with all these beautiful flies that he dumped into a cup, because he is unlikely to learn fly fishing at this point, but flies cost money to people.

John’s daughter being a picky eater (RL293)

see Daughter

John wanting to sell his house (RL293)

see mid-century modern

2018-June: John at the dermatologist (RL293)

John was at the dermatologist and got a mole taken off of him. People always told him that he should get his moles look at, so he asked if that one was concerning and the dermatologist did the thing that they have always done to him, like look at it for 2 seconds, laugh and say that it is fine. They don’t give John a lot of encouragement to keep coming in and having it looked at, because they kept telling him that it is nothing. She went over his whole body and told John that they are all great and there is not a bad one among them. Then she asked if the one John asked about is bothering him. John said that sometimes it gets raw and sometimes it hurts and she replied that she can take it off. The advantage being that it isn’t there anymore and there are no disadvantages unless it bothers John. So John told her to take it off! At one time John went in with an impacted tooth of some kind and she said that she can give him antibiotics or this and that, but it was a wisdom tooth and she said that the other thing they usually do is take it out. So the dermatologist got all excited and put on her gloves and got her tools.

Afterwards she said the thing that she should have said beforehand: Now you need to put a salve on it and keep it covered for 2 weeks. John said ”What? I’m not going to put a salve on it or keep it covered beyond this office visit”, but she insisted. As soon as his band-aid fell off he hasn’t thought about it and he hasn’t died and it has been more than 2 weeks. This wasn’t a thing like a wart where they get in with a shovel to get it out, but they just sliced it off at the skin. Merlin and John say that they both would cut out warts themselves.

The mole looked like a pencil eraser from the back of a pencil, it was a big nubbin. If someone was to rub him lovingly, their hand sometimes caught on it, it happened all the time. Everybody who knew John well knew about this mole. He also had a skin-tag taken off, but that was a different story. It sounds like a smaller deal, except for the location of this one, somewhere where it was noticeable to very few people, but they did notice it.

John getting interviewed about the 2000 election (RL293)

Somebody just sent John a link to a New York Times article from 2000 that is titled: ”THE 2000 CAMPAIGN: THE IMPRESSIONS — WASHINGTON STATE; In the Northwest, Still Undecided”, talking about the Bush - Gore election with John and a young woman Mrs. Dedek as their two Westcoast proxies. John has no recollection of this. He voted for Nader in that election and this is what he said:

”I’m not horrified about the idea of Bush winning this election,” said Mr. Roderick, 31, who is about to graduate from the University of Washington with a degree in the comparative history of ideas. ”It could be the thing that reunites liberals around a common enemy, I guess, for lack of a better word. It could force liberals to see what their principles are.” […] He would be outraged if Mr. Nade was excluded ”I did come into this situation feeling the only responsible vote was a vote for Nader,’’ he said. Still, he said, the acceptance speech by Mr. Gore had ’’put my vote back in play,’’ because the vice president touched on important themes. ’’I’m susceptible to that kind of Democratic rhetoric — talking about the poor, about schools, about paying teachers what they’re worth. As much as I believe those are the first things that always go out the window, he was talking about them.” - ”And yet” — and here Mr. Roderick smiled at himself for trawling back and forth again with his thoughts — ”everyone seems to want to reduce this whole thing to Bush against Gore. And that’s a condensation I don’t want to participate in.” — New York Times

The article also mentions Ariella Robison, John’s daughter’s mother.

John wouldn’t speak that way now, but those were different times.

John really appreciates the person sending this to him. He does not recall it, and he voted for Nader both times he ran and when people blamed him for electing Bush, he reminded them that Gore won Washington by a handy 10.000 million votes (it was 1.247.652 to 1.108.864 with 103.002 for Nader) and it was really just some horse shit in Florida that turned the tide. John didn’t throw his vote away, but he voted for principle. Please welcome President Principle!

In more recent time when people were talking about voting for their principles, John said that he had done that a few times, but it would also be good to get the better of the two candidates elected, but young people pish-poshed him on that, just like he would have pish-poshed them. He didn’t want to see that condensation, because it was not a condensation he wanted to participate in.

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