RL316 - Set Master to Relax

This week, Merlin and John are talking about:

The Problem: John found doors he liked that didn’t fit, referring to John getting a new front door for his house at the salvage yard which is difficult because there are no standards and you have to find a door that you like and that does fit.

The show title refers to setting the lights in the master bedroom to the relax scene using smart home technology and Internet of Things.

They start the show singing to each other that they have to turn it off and back on again. It is early. Merlin has been working on new integrations with his Amazon Echo devices. A press release on BusinessWire tells him the new things it can do. Merlin can have it answer his doorbell by activating the camera for him to see who is there. John didn’t know there was a screen on Amazon devices, but they even got a web browser now.

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

Baby Back Ribs (RL316)

There are people who think you make ribs by throwing raw ribs on the grill. They don’t know you are supposed to cook them before you cook them. John didn’t know about that. Generally you do ribs at a low temperature in the oven for a while and then you finish them on the grill, but a lot of moogs who consider themselves home-grilling geniuses don’t know that. They just put a bunch of sticky sauce on there and then you basically get burned raw meat. Hard pass! John eats ribs and Merlin eats the shit out of a baby back rib. They had baby back ribs at the steak house owned by his horrible step. He had a whole bespoke dingus for making ribs and they were incredible. John orders them in restaurants. For Merlin a half rack of ribs is a good amount of ribs for a starter, but John likes to augment that with a little chili or macaroni. A real boy-sized portion would be a full rack, but that is $35. Merlin almost had breakfast chili this morning.

John’s refrigerator (RL316)

John got two sides to his refrigerator. One side is full and the other side is empty. The side that is empty is the side you would look in and go ”Oh, there is some food!” and the side that is full is the side you look in and go ”Yeah, okay, well”. Merlin suggests that this must be one of this bifurcated brain perception things. Supposedly your brain comes up with reasons why your left and right hand are doing things. That has been the case for Merlin since the age of 14.

Spatchcocked chicken (RL316)

Last night Merlin asked his Amazon Echo how long to parboil potatoes and it gave him straight boiling, but he can understand the oversight. Parboiling is up there as a great trick with percentages of power on the microwave: You cook something by boiling it a little bit before finishing it somewhere else. Last night they had roasted ponadoes [sic] with their spatchcocked chicken and Merlin chose to parboil the potatoes before he sliced them up and put them into the oven. Spatchcocking is when some genius has cut out all the bones and insides and made it mostly flat. With the exception of the bones and a little bit of cartilage it is all edible. You just slice the breast into slices. You pay a little bit more, but it is a high-quality-ass chicken. A fairly flat chicken cooks in about 20 minutes.

Flat Chicken sounds like a Yo La Tengo record. You can cook the chicken under a brick with some roasted potatoes. It is like Elf on a Shelf, or Mensch on a Bench, Merlin saw that on Sharktank. ”Did it get funded?” - ”Mazel tov! Now it is on endcaps at Bed Bath & Beyond! What even is beyond? Do we even know? How far does this go?” - ”I’ve never been into a Bed, Bath & Beyond” - ”The devil you say!” - ”I’ve been to the beyond, I’ve been in bed and I’ve been in a bath” - ”I’ve been undressed by kings, and I’ve seen some things that a woman just ain’t supposed to see!” (lyrics I’ve Never Been To Me by Charlene) - ”I watched C-beams glitter off the shoulder of Orion” (Tears in rain monologue, see more info).

John’s audio problems / setup (RL316)

For somebody with audio problems John is doing really good today. His dingus didn’t recognize his dingus. His Apogee Quartet was butterflied, it was spatchcocked, and he had to go into the Loopback, which gave him a very nice little yellow triangle, saying that it doesn’t see the thing and so John went to the thing and the thing didn’t see itself! Merlin didn’t know John was using that app by Rogue Amoeba. He knows those guys and is friends with them. It is a very good app and you are like Lily Tomlin at the operator switchboard.

John has three microphones in this room, two that he uses all the time and then a third. At first, he could get the one to do the thing, but he couldn’t get the other. Merlin was there for that, they almost had a guest but then they had some problems with the Elijah microphone (?). John did a little bit of research and what he came up with was Loopback and now he can have as many microphones as he wants. He could have 15 people in here, like The Polyphonic Spree from Denton, Texas, the best ever choral group out of Denton. They could all be in John’s room in their robes and every single person could get a microphone. Drop-D Metal band we call Requiem.

Apple cares about our privacy (RL316)

John is not going to say that Merlin is an Apple Fanboy because that is an insulting term, but Merlin is an Apple enthusiast. John’s senses from listening to the press releases from the various different companies are that Apple really cares about your privacy. That is the thing John has read on the Internet. John also knows how Merlin feels about privacy. ”There is the known knowns, there is the known unknowns and then there is the unknown unknowns”, which Merlin continues to believe is one of the great quotes of all time (by Donald Rumsfeld, see RL189 for John’s fantasies of putting him into a shipping container in the dessert). He is not dead yet. There is a movie coming out called Vice that seems very fun. They continue to talk about Christian Bale, who is starring as Dick Cheney.

”Be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition;” - ”We merry Band of Brothers” - ”We happy few” - ”For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother;” (St Crispin’s Day Speech, reference to Henry V, a movie that Christian Bale was also starring in) Merlin sounded like John’s grandfather whom he never met. ”Welcome, Shakespeare-bot!”

Internet of Things (RL316)

John had Thanksgiving dinner over at Jonathan Coulton's house who occasionally writes songs about robots and zombies, misunderstood villain songwriter, and he said ”Hey Siri, make the lights in the living room blue” and they looked at each other and the lights all went blue. ”Wow! Why would you do that?” - ”Don’t ask, wrong question! Siri, make the lights in the living room orange!” and they looked at each other and the lights turned orange. He asked Siri to do some other things and Siri did and every once in a while during the dinner someone else asked Siri to do a thing and some portion of the time that thing happened.

You can talk to Siri in your house through a dingus and John speculated that Merlin is surely talking to Siri in his house even though before he was talking to Alexa, but Merlin decided to go the distance with Alexa and got ones that answer your doorbell. John wants to know why Merlin is choosing Alexa over Siri, if Siri is jealous, if this is a Stockholm syndrome thing, and does he love Alexa because Alexa won’t let him not love her.

John doesn’t have any of these dinguses, he has a Nest in a box, but he hasn’t put it in because he is afraid of Matt Haughey’s electric door. John is pursuing these things and he heard some tell on the Internet about DVRs locally recording things without having to put it in the cloud and he needs to be walked through all of this. John could not have picked a better person to talk to and Merlin will spend the next two days walking John through this hell-world he has chosen to live in.

John wants Merlin to do a Robyn Hitchcock and do the walk-through in the voice of Henry V, or maybe he will do like Peter Gabriel and act like he is moving his lawn. There are three voice-driven dinguses in Merlin’s ecosystem: Apple, Amazon and Google. The Google-family are very responsive and fast, Siri is the least reliable, Google and Amazon’s products are really pithy and they really do work. All of them can control Merlin’s 29 smart lights. Merlin explains the different use-cases why you would want to do this and what he uses it for. 29 Lights is one of the major Marine Corps bases in California. It also was a Bob Fosse musical.

John wants to make a command ”Let’s light this candle!” Merlin thought that this quote had something to do with the Saturn V and John asks the listeners to tweet them in case they have seen a Saturn V when they were young. Merlin gives some more examples of groups of light he has defined and he can also say ”Set Master to Relax”. Merlin can control his home from his Embarcadero while other people are at home, which is considered a form of stalking, because if you know the password to the stuff of your former domestic partner, you can Matt Haughey them really hard. Merlin recommends John to start with a simple smart switch and he suspects it would drive John crazy to talk to his lights.

John recently watched a movie at a friend's house through Amazon and was interested in the fact that the integration of the product with the Alexa was incomplete. His friend talks to those things. Merlin suspects she might have an Amazon Fire Stick or Fire TV or she might be using the app built-in to her TV. John wonders if this works with a Sonos, because John actually has one, but Sonos is frustrating.

Merlin says that this is turning into a tech show and John wonders if that would mean this show would be more profitable. If people buy an Alexa right now, will John get some money? Probably not!

John wants to be able to say ”Lock all the doors!”, but how would John be able to ensure that a) the doors won’t unlock on their own, that b) no-one else can hack it and unlock his door for him, and c) that it won’t lock him out in the middle of the night when it is pouring down rain? Merlin doesn’t know how these things work, he barely doesn’t understand how mechanical locks work.

Kanye West (RL316)

It is a shame that we lost Kanye (why?). Monster is a very good record. People like Hamilton, too. Merlin is a closet Kanye fan and doesn’t talk about it. Kanye played a Rock show where he was on a hovering monolith, all the lights pointed down and you couldn’t really see him and it floated around the stadium, which was one of the most killer things John ever saw, but the rest of it he is not so sure about.

The Godfather (RL316)

John favorited Merlin’s picture of The Godfather and the orange, which is Merlin’s Holiday tradition. Elly (his daughter) did it herself this year: She put up The Godfather ornament, put an orange next to it, and had Dale from The Walking Dead point a bow at him. It is so beautiful! What John loves about that is that The Godfather is a Christmas movie.

Reindeer Games (RL316)

The other day John was over at a friend's house and she asked him if John wanted to watch a movie. She has one of those bigger TVs, although not a big TV, but when she got it it was big. Her space could contain a much larger TV because it is a bespoke TV room with no other purpose. She is one of this affluent urbanites. They were watching TV and she was having a really hard time because Amazon was not linking very well and she blamed it on the TV. She wanted to watch Reindeer Games, which John thought was a Harrison Ford spy thriller, but it was with Ben Affleck and John hates Ben Affleck.

John watched the movie anyway and Ben Affleck had a really good toupee in this movie, but not his best. There is a scene where he turns to the mirror and musses his hair, but it is such a contrivance because he puts his hand in the center of his hair and musses it in a way that no-one would do it, like a Ricky Jay kind of thing. His fingers do not then go into the rest of his hair, but they just stay in the area. The movie also has Charlize Theron whom John is a massive fan of and Gary Sinise which he can go both ways with. He is uncle Dan from the movie where the guy runs all the time (Forest Gump). Reindeer Games is a terrible movie.

John Frankenheimer’s wife from 1963-2002 is Evans Evans. Is she Linda Evans’ sister? She is born on Merlin’s birthday (November 26th), except that she is 82 years old. John Frankenheimer died not long after making Reindeer Games, which John thinks is deeply flawed, even on Wikipedia it says that it was his last movie and it underperformed. It is like with Peter Sellers: you want to remember his last movie as Being There, but it is technically The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, which is very problematic. Being There is a weird good movie and Merlin’s college dog was named after the main character Chauncey Gardiner, but they just called him Chauncey because he was really stupid.

John getting a new front door (RL316)

Mechanical locks is one of John’s mom’s strange skillsets. She routinely takes apart the locks and puts them back together. One of the great things about her that she taught John is a kind of fearlessness about just diving into shit. When John was young he would come home sometimes and she would have the doors all disassembled and then she would reassemble them. The locks needed some maintenance or she was changing the locks.

The other day they went to the salvage yard and John bought a new front door for the house. Doors are not a standard size. Height, width, depth, which side the hinges are on, two hinge/four hinge, every single dimension can vary by multiple inches. There are polydoors and pandoors. A lot of times when you buy a new door, you buy it in the frame and put your old operation out and new operation in and it all syncs.

In the Roderick family they don’t like to do it that way, but they like to do it the hard way. Measure once, measure twice, measure thrice, then go down to the salvage yard and look for the perfect door to fit that strange space which is often 1/16” (1.5 mm) different than what it should be. John’s mom likes to rebuild lock sets and John likes to hang doors. You will see him on his back, shimming these doors with these tiny little pieces, like Poly with the garlic: ”Listen to the Pan. Only British people can fly. Kiss the pan!”

John had been to the salvage yard many times with these thrice-measured spaces and has not found a door that would fit it and that he also likes. This time he found a very nice door and whoever lived in the house where this door originated from was a very nice person who had nice things. The problem is that it is an inside door which shouldn’t work on the outside. In some ways this one maybe won’t. Most doors in commercial/public buildings open out because fire, see also The Who concert. Most doors in a residency open in so you can’t do stuff with the hinges and also not block it with an Amazon package or if it is a snowstorm.

This happened in Alaska a lot: If your door opened out and there was some big blizzard, what are you going to do? You also have to find hinges that fit the door at the salvage yard, because they often don’t have hinges on them. You go over to the big bins of hinges and sort through them. Hinges have different roundages and different screw patterns. Hanging doors is a thing and it is also a great Wilco record (no, it is not), which is why they are often replaced with the frame. Especially if your house is old and has started to settle in some way, now you are trying to put a square door in a round frame.

John got this inside door from a rich-people house, which is not a hollow-core door, but a nice heavy door from solid fir with divided lights. What makes it not an outside door is that the divided lights are not double-paned, but they are tempered glass. Merlin asks if it has the classic Cross and Open Bible box configuration. Every door has a story, don’t it? Supposebly, the top part creates a cross with the negative image and the bottom part represents an open bible. Most doors have six squares.

John’s door is not one of those, but it still has divided lights, meaning it is mostly window. Here is the deal: It is not outfitted for a bolt lock, but it only has a door knob, because it is an inside door and that is not going to work in John’s world. The thing about a divided light door is that it provides the burglar with an opportunity to smash the light closest to the lock, and a key-on-both-side-lock is not legal because it is a fire problem.

John’s mom has has been a scofflaw with keys-on-both-sides locks that don’t have flippers, but she is the lock person and could do it herself. The division of labor at the Roderick household is that John is the cut the hole for the lock in the door guy and she is the rebuild the lock guy. Now they got a situation where there is a door on the front porch and all these things have to happen. She is the get it done immediately guy while John is the why don’t we wait until tomorrow guy. This is a tactile project, not like ”Why don’t I put out a new record someday?” There is a perfectly good door in the space right now and they don’t have to do it which allows them to kick the ball down the field, as they say. Eventually there will be a warm sunny day and John will have to go out and do this.

Stanard Ridgway (RL316)

What about if the door had a bleeper on it? Merlin believes the Argus lock is made to accommodate a standard lock hole, which sounds like a 1970s porn star. If you named your son Standard it would be a pretty cool waspy name from Ye Olden Times. Standard Lockhole is a killer name. Merlin has his first solo album by Stanard ”Stan” Ridgway and it is really good! He is one of those people who is somewhere now. He was an MTV OG, which is a lot of letters while his name lacks letters. He made a record as late as 2016 and he is the first singer John knew who did a verse with his teeth clenched. You don’t want to have a whole record like that like a Strokes record, but to do it for one verse? Kanye has a song Through the Wire that sounds like that because he had his jar wide shut, like that Bad Brains record where H.R. sang through the telephone because he was in jail. His name is Paul D. Hudson and H.R. stands for Human Rights.

Stan Ridgway does not have enough letters in his name, but a lot of people don’t. Robison for example is a name with something missing (John's daughter’s mother's name is Ariella Robison). Robson is missing two letters, son or rob! They continue to make fun of the name Standard Lockhole. It could be a boy’s or a girl’s name. John wants Merlin to ask Alexa if Standard is a boy’s name, but Merlin doesn’t want to say it because it will set up everybody’s devices and John will get letters. John can’t believe anybody is listening to this program on their home stereo system. Imagine you are listening to Corrosive Steele and suddenly your oven turned on, you would get frustrated, because those licks are hot, but they are not that hot. ”Go, buy yourself some right, God!”

Hairy Scallop is the opposite of Standard Lockhole. Standard Lockhole is sitting behind his desk behind a frosted glass door when Hairy Scallop walks in and needs to hire Standard Lockhole, like ”My wife is cheating on me!” Hairy Scallop is small but wide and he is perspiring, he is patting his forehead with a towel and he might have played a mobster in a movie, except that Merlin imagines he is a little guy the size of Kristin Chenoweth but almost round (which she is not). At the end of the film we realize that Hairy Scallop has set up the whole thing and his wife wasn’t cheating on him, like in the movie Double Indemnity with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, which is a noir and Standard Lockhole is in a noir. Mrs Scallop was in on the grift and Standard Lockhole was just a dupe.

Rush (RL316)

Hemispheres (Rush album): Merlin watched several YouTube videos about Rush last night. There are an awful lot of YouTube videos about Rush because people have many things to say about them. One time John said something about Rush and it was misinterpreted by people (probably on Road Work 48) as being against Rush. John was just teasing Rush and a lot of the people in the Rock’n’Roll game tease Rush, because there are a lot of other people in the Rock’n’Roll game who don’t tease Rush and a lot of those are drummers and bass players and if you want to tease those guys, which is fun to do, you can tease them about Rush.

John made the mistake of carrying that Rush tease out of the Rock’n’Roll game into the larger game without context and a certain world on the Internet believed he didn’t like Rush and they needed to explain Rush to him. John’s band even played a Rush song to warm up or do sound checks. They could have played 2112 all the way through. Eric and Nabil know all of the songs, Darius knew every Rush song inside and out. Eric Corsan can sit and air-drum to Rush songs in a way that you believe he is actually playing the song, which is very funny and Rush is very funny. Rush is to Hard Rock and Pop Prog like Robert Frost is to Poems. A lot of the people who are extremely into Robert Frost are not super deep-catalog on a lot of other American poets. They could be very into Edgar A. Guest, but they are not fans of Richard Hugo. There is nothing wrong with that, but… Rush is a little bit of a fetish band, like Phish. People get really into them.

In America, Rush is considered somewhat of an intellectual Metal band. If you are listening to Rush, you probably also have a Grand Sport motorcycle. Rush fans in America do not drive Ford F250s. It is a little Pan Man adjacent, but not quite the Guy Fieri level. Internationally, who knows!In Germany they are surely considered like Die Toten Hosen, but in Canada Rush is regarded as dumb bully Hesher music. If you talk about Rush to certain people up there who like Sloan they will say that the guys who like Rush drive F250s and kick your ass after school. John thought about it, and growing up in Alaska the guy who most liked Rush was also the guy who broke a raw egg on John’s head on Halloween. John never made the connection that Rush is for bullies! The lyrics are Ayn Rand, it is bad. It is a musical privilege. Of course Merlin and John love Rush!

Last night Merlin watched several YouTube countdowns to the best Rush albums, some of which were very long, and he realized what a normy he is. Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures are the two Rush albums above all others and are no questions asked their two best albums. Then they had some kind of steam punk theme album called Clockwork Angels in 2002 that sometimes gets pegged as their best album. It is sometimes up there with Hemispheres, 2112, and Moving Pictures. A lot of people who didn’t watch all those documentaries that Merlin and John have watched don’t realize that Rush started in 1968. They are the Pink Floyd of Canada. John loves their first record before the John Rutsey era, their eponymous album with Working Man, which is a heavy tune.

John winning a SOCAN award (RL316)

One thing John shares with Rush is that Rush has won a SOCAN award, the Canadian Grammy Award, and so has John. SOCAN is the result of a merger in 1990 between CAPAC and PROCAN. John won one of their awards, because he co-wrote a song with Kathleen Edwards, but that was very generous of her. She is a wonderful singer and songwriter and a good hang, she is high-fives. John would not say that he co-wrote it, but she wrote this wonderful song and John just added a few little extra flippidi-jibbs, she gave John songwriting credit on it and that song won a SOCAN award. There was a ceremony and it comes with some kind of crystal thing that sits on your mantel piece. John didn’t want to… he was at a stage in his live… he doesn’t know why, but he didn’t want to go up to Canada, actually he wasn’t really invited to go up there and ”Hello!”

Later on John realized that he never won anything. He won a Headphoney, but he did want a whole wall with some things on it, because nothing is sadder than an empty trophy room. John has that best tweet of 2010 award from the Seattle Weekly and he had a couple of certificates of participation, some white ribbons, but one would think that at some point in a person’s life they would have won something. Then John realized he had won a SOCAN award, which is a major award and what if there was a trophy? John wrote the people at his label (Merlin asked if Christoffer got it, but John and Christoffer don’t talk anymore), like ”Hey, can you guys look into this SOCAN award, maybe there is a statue or at least a certificate?” and they did and about 1.5 years later John asked them again and they were like ”Oh, yeah. We talked to somebody, but…”

Maybe there is a SOCAN award still out there in the world with John’s name on it? Kathleen was very generous, but SOCAN doesn’t know that! For all they know Kathleen was very stingy and John wrote the whole damn thing! That could be worth a statue! Patti fucking Smith gets a credit for Because The Night because she literally changed an arrangement of words in one line. The story goes that they were rehearsing in adjacent spaces, and somebody heard it and said ”Patti should sing this!” John thinks that is an example of Springsteen being generous because he is a generous guy!

Bruce Springsteen (RL316)

Merlin came up in the 1980s and had a cassette of Born To Run at the time Born in the USA came out. It was good, but it was no Nebraska, and it was pretty mooky. There is the song Girls in their Summer Clothes that sounds like Magnetic Fields and is really good. John’s friend John Wesley Harding (aka Wesley Stace) knows Bruce Springsteen enough that he has been to his house and he says that his house is a giant estate in New Jersey with horses and stuff and they sit out on the porch drinking tea and look out across the Verdant Fields and across the Gardens while the horses are eating the garden. Bruce is just a normal guy who wants to sit and shoot the shit. He goes to the gym and works out every day and he does it for him because he recognizes that periodically someone takes a picture of him and puts it somewhere, which is a thing John keeps forgetting. He doesn’t want to look like the hairy scallop that John does.

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