RL301 - Non-Eucledian Space Library

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

  • Merlin growing a mustache (Merlin Mann)
  • Different musicians called Kevin (Music)
  • John meeting a Vietnam Navy Seal at an open house (Mid-century modern)
  • Wolfman Jack and Dave Navarro, painting your beard black (Music)
  • Merlin never knowing what is going to happen on the show (Podcasting)
  • School supplies (Objects)
  • John’s process (Process)
  • Do your friends have to agree with you on everything? (Philosophy)
  • Is everything a story? (Philosophy)

The problem: John is not going to become the King of Thailand, referring to the fact that John has set up his life in a way that he could move to Thailand and become the King of Thailand, and that amounts to too many possibilities to take into consideration, because you need some lines in the sand somewhere.

The show title refers to the library in the movie Interstellar that seems to have more dimensions than the usual 3 dimensions of the world around us.

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

Different musicians called Kevin (RL301)

Happy Monday kicked off an era of bands where both Merlin and John didn’t know why they were popular. John was in Ibiza in 1989 when it all happened and he still didn’t understand it. Maybe you had to be in Madchester, but we probably wouldn’t have overrated bands like Oasis without overrated bands like Happy Mondays. The thing about Shoegaze is that John doesn’t know what to count as a Shoegaze-band, although he understands the word and the feeling and he partly lives it himself. There are some iconic images of British pop stars in track suits with the zipper zipped all the way up, staring at their shoes, playing a guitar and you can’t see their face because they have shaggy hair. Those are some of the great images of Rock ’n’ Roll, but the music just doesn’t line up and it doesn’t make John want to gaze at his shoes.

Merlin says that John likes My Bloody Valentine and that their frontman Kevin Shields looks older lately. He is playing a Fender Jazzmaster and Merlin watched a video of him talking about his guitars that was probably sponsored (maybe this one). Merlin first said Kevin Murphy, but that is the LCD Soundsystem guy (his name is James Murphy). The guy from The Fall is Mark E Smith, which John confuses with Marky Mark (real name Mark Wahlberg), the underwear model from Boston. The guy from the Sixth Sense is Haley Joel Osment, who is making the rounds now that he has got that good haircut and a beard.

There is a Kevin Murphy in Mystery Science Theater, but they call him Murph. There is a Rob Delaney and there is the voice actor Kevin Delaney. John’s best friend in High School was named Kevin (Kevin Horning). Kevin Delaney, Kevin Barnes, Kevin Shields. There is Kevin Costner who is peeing on that boat (in Waterworld), but John was told by the critics to never see that movie. It was after Dances with Wolfes and it was in his Jubilee Years, he could have done whatever he wanted, but he did the peepee-boat. Jeanne Tripplehorn was in it as well.

The one from MTV is Kevin Seal, a very unlikely name. Kiss from a Rose! Merlin saw Kevin Seal in a movie theater in Manhattan in 1988 because he was in Torch Song Trilogy (was he really?) Merlin was there with his girlfriend to see museums and there is a picture of him wearing his green jacket in the subway, the jacket that said Henderson. John always wondered about that picture, because there is no subway in Florida, because it would be all under water. Merlin had a mustach then, bringing it back around.

Wolfman Jack and Dave Navarro, painting your beard black (RL301)

The owners of the house John was visiting went to great lengths to explain to John that they never did drugs. During the 1970s after they got married and after he had matriculated out of the special forces, they became Rock photographers. One time they were sitting in a restaurant with Wolfman Jack and he asked them if they wanted some beers or some coke, and they said ”Do you have any diet coke?” and he replied ”It all is diet coke!” Wolfman Jack had been doing cocaine even before it was fashionable. He seems like such a 1970s character, but he is really a 1950s character. He was in American Graffiti and in the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with the Bee Gees and Andy Gibb.

The Navy Seal and his wife also had an Andy Gibb story: She once wrote a letter to the Gibb brothers saying that Andy looked bad and they needed to come rescue him because those snakes in Hollywood were filling him full of drugs, but they never replied and then it was too late. Merlin has seen a good documentary about the Bee Gees.

Wolfman Jack was the first guy who had a kind of a shoe polish beard, like a Michael McDonald beard, but clearly colored with shoe polish. A lot of people In Rock ’n’ Roll are worried about getting old, even more worried than John. John knows a very handsome guy who is very Dark Rock and who definitely draws his beard black. At a certain point you start to look like Anton LaVey, no matter what you do. Merlin kept looking at pictures of Wolfman Jack and found a very old picture of him with Don Imus, Howard Stern and Soupy Sales.

In the very earliest days of Jane’s Addiction, Dave Navarro was very young and John always thought he was surprisingly very pretty, although he had kind of an androgynous slimy Goth thing going on. Perry Farrell was 10 years older than Merlin and John and they perceived him as old back when that seemed to make a real difference, but Dave Navarro was the same age and he was in this big band while John was still living with his mom. Now Dave Navarro takes his eyeliner pencil and draws his eyes and the rest of himself on. He also wears a lot of rings.

Merlin never knowing what is going to happen on the show (RL301)

Merlin got a lot of positive feedback about last week’s episode. He never knows what is going to happen and what John is going to say. What is in the show is in the show! It took until this very episode for Merlin to realize that oftentimes he doesn’t know why John is telling him a certain story or if John has told him the important part yet and Merlin has come to treasure that. Merlin doesn’t know what the important part of the open house story was, but he really enjoyed it, and it got him thinking of Wolfman Jack. It started out looking at an open house and it ended up 4,5 hours later with that John got a new friend. The important part of the story was still unfolding as Merlin said that.

A lot of the time Merlin and John are trying to figure out what the important part of any story is. Maybe John will come back to the open house story later on and realize that there were people buried under the floor of the music studio in the back, but John doesn’t think there were. In regards to the room being soundproof, the guy started to talk about his music and at that point John did a strong redirect because there was a very good chance it was Heavy Rock Blues. He absolutely started talking about his Stratocaster, but what John really wanted to see was the water cooler or the water heater or whatever. John did not want him to talk about his Strat and he does not typically want anyone to talk about their Strat!

School supplies (RL301)

Today is the first day of Merlin’s daughter in 5th grade. They start really early in the middle of August which is probably a VC thing. John was wondering at that point if VC meant ”Vietcong” and Merlin didn't know what to respond to that. Merlin’s favorite part of new school years was always the school supplies, like the folders, the pens, the holder for the pens, the Trapper Keeper, the Mead Data Center, or the metric converter 90-60-90. When Merlin was a kid, the Data Center was the baller.

Neither Merlin nor John had slide rules, the thing that calculators had eliminated forever, but John learned the slide rule as a 9 year old when he was in the gifted program. It was the time when they were trying to figure out what exactly the gifted program was. What if they had to send a man to the moon? There already is a man on the moon, they have done this already and they have computers now.

John had the ability to put a man on the moon with his little Data Center. He could measure anything that needed to be measured, he could draw a circle with any kind of radius, he could do curly cues and he had every kind of analog tool. Merlin enumerates all the different features of the Data Center after having looked it up online. John still has a Mead Data Center upstairs! You don’t go to war with the Data Center you want, but with the one you had for a while.

John had someone in his class who had taken the stock graphic out of the outside of their Data Center and had slipped in another image. That person was seriously cranking and making it their own world, he was the person John wanted to be, the person who changes the images on their Data Center. The Data Center was not cheap, it was an investment.

Do your friends have to agree with you on everything? (RL301)

In the long-ago times, the before-times, the idea of having friends who disagreed with you and who had very different lines from yours was an idea that was maybe not 100% commonplace, but it was certainly how John modeled his passage through life. John did not want friends who necessarily agreed with him, but he was friends with people who disagreed with him just as often as with people who agreed with him. He didn’t choose friends based on common media preferences or common politics or common experience, but quite the opposite!

John made friends who had experiences different from his own and different viewpoints, not because he wanted to argue, but he didn’t need his media preferences reinforced and he didn’t want to sit and watch movies with his friends, but he wanted to explore the world! Meeting somebody he liked and found interesting was often challenging and when he didn’t like any of the movies they liked, they would ask ”Why are we friends, then?” John would always be shocked by this question.

Sean Nelson once said that John didn't like anything he liked, which John found great, but "Why are we friends then? Friends like the same stuff!” - "Friends don’t like the same stuff, what a crazy thing is that to say?" Sean claimed that the very definition of being friends was that you like the same stuff, but John likes a lot of people who like The Smiths and The Smiths are garbage! You like the person, not the preferences and a lot of people don’t agree and think that the preferences are the person. Nowadays, especially as we silo against one another, the preferences often are the person. People are making choices based on their preferences and John is zero that. Not having any preferences is part of the thing. He doesn’t care!

If you ask him to listen to The Smiths or The Decemberists doing their version of The Smiths, he would prefer The Decemberists. If you ask him if he would like to have potatoes, he would prefer not to have potatoes, but if it has gravy, he will eat anything! He might take a few bites of a potato and he will eat a whole plate of potatoes if it is covered with gravy. You can push the olives to the side of the salad. He might have some preferences, but he is not super-invested in them. If all John could listen to for the rest of his life is Jazz, it would be fine. He could get into Jazz. It is not the number one thing he would have chosen, but if it were chosen for him?

If you could only eat one kind of food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Merlin says ”steak”, but when they lived with his horrible step father who owned a steak house, after about a month of it he was good and sick of eating a fucking rib-eye every night. There are a lot of different kind of steaks, however. Do baby back ribs count as steak? What else are they if they are not steak? What even is a steak? You could have a lamb steak, a ham steak, a ram steak, or a jam steak!

John feels like he is at a turning point where all bets are off again and he doesn’t want to do it wrong. That is part of the fear! John’s sister is always ”be here now”-ing him, but what if the moment sucks? If you only turn to these kinds of thought technologies at times when you are stressed out, the idea of deep breathing makes you anxious because you associate it with being anxious.

Is everything a story? (RL301)

John won't allow it, but his sister is telling him that he needs to stop seeing everything as a story. But everything is a story! The thing that makes him need to breathe into a paper bag is the idea that somebody would say that not everything is a story. She says that not everything is a story and the story is the problem because John is taking things that aren’t a story and is turning them into a story. Now John has turned that piece of advice into a story. If you turn everything into a story, now all you have to do is recognize you are doing it and in the moment be like ”I’m storifying it!” and that is the first step! But the first step to what?

John is not sure what to do with that. The idea of living in the moment is very stressful. The other day his sister said that to be happy is not to be happy. You are not walking around full of joy all the time, but to be happy is to feel your feelings and if you are upset, you feel upset. She rage-quit on John all the time and she had just so much anger that defined her life and all of her relationships. In the last 5 years she metamorphasized. She is still herself and you can still feel that energy in her somewhere, but it just doesn’t overcome her anymore. In the past her eyes would roll back in her head and all of a sudden all you could do was take cover, but that is gone. It isn’t just gone in the sense that when she gets mad she turns around and walks out of the room, but she is managing it somehow and she is not terrifying in the way she used to be where pretty much any encounter with her could go completely sideways and then the day was ruined and the whole month was ruined.

This development is entirely a product of her self-managing. She always had a tendency to give moral lectures and John always rolled his eyes a little bit, but now he is inclined to pay attention because he has seen real results. She has actually changed and it has improved all of their lives. Maybe there is a possibility for John to change and improve all of their lives, too? He doesn’t know how he would do that, but what a great story!

Merlin has realized that he is the sky, not the weather and he is not defined by whether it is raining or not. It is corny, but it is pretty good! In 10 years, Merlin’s daughter will be gone, and 10 years ago was just a blink of an eye away. The question is: What are you going to do? Merlin has no fucking idea. But isn’t that a little destabilizing?

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