RL346 - Every Sunday is Different

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

  • Merlin’s mute switch, Moog bass pedals (Music)
  • Merlin texting John every Sunday, John setting his clocks differently (Personality)
  • John needing to be reminded, remembering things (Personality)
  • John managing his calendar (Personality)
  • The different anxiety profiles of John’s co-hosts (Podcasting)
  • Merlin’s and John’s location memory (Personality)
  • John’s collection of concert tickets and plane tickets (Objects)
  • John’s piano, John embracing modernism (Objects)

The Problem: There are things that aren’t in the box, referring to John missing some concert ticket stubs in his cigar boxes full of ticket stubs.

The show title refers to John’s situation where every Sunday night is different and it is hard to get into a routine or even know in every instance that it is Sunday at all.

John got some coffee again.

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

Merlin’s mute switch, Moog bass pedals (RL346)

Merlin was muted when he called John. Off to a great start! Merlin had his mute-switch for a while, but it did not completely erase the signal and he regarded it as a failure until he realized it is like Stalin said: "The enemy of the good is paved with mic switches. The silver bars. Pears in the trees!" ("Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good" by Voltaire, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions": unknown origin, people hung pears in trees in Romania after Ceausescu said there won't be a reform until pears grew on popular trees, silver bars?)

Merlin hooked his mute switch up again and now he can mute in case he has to pee in a jug. Someone had sent John a cough button back in the old days that was a foot switch like a distortion box. At the time listeners were concerned that John had a lot of mouth noises, coughs, smorks and snicks and sklorks before they realized that what was in the show was in the show. Just the other day somebody had posted that they couldn’t listen to the show because John’s mic didn’t sound as good when they record through QuickTime player. They are still out there! They are still worried about the tone! Merlin loves them!

Merlin got a second switch which everybody said was the baller one. His previous one was the Rolls MS111 Mic Switch and somebody suggested him to get this other one (he didn’t say which) that looks like a stomp box and has a chunk-chunk like a RAT Pedal because it is made by the same company. The idea is that they sit at their podcasting stations with a full array of pedals underneath the desk, like Geddy Lee’s bass pedals (from Rush). Merlin has (Moog) Taurus Pedals, but he doesn’t use them. He has them just in case he needs to play the Moog and wants a hot bass lick, like Yngwie (Malmsteen).

John used those bass pedals in The Long Winters. Eric Corson did not have a set of Moogs, but some knock-offs when he was going through a mad gear phase. He would play them during Commander Thinks Aloud because then he could play the pidilidilit on his little keyboard. They did a couple of shows, one at the Crocodile and one at the Triple Door, where it was just John and Eric. Eric's setup was keyboard, bass guitar, bass pedals and a drum kit, while John had a keyboard and a guitar and they could do a pretty full set together. It was amazing and those were the best Long Winter shows and it was their peak achievement, right before they stopped playing together. They became a duo right there at the end and they had a lot of possibility they didn’t explore.

Merlin texting John every Sunday, John setting his clocks differently (RL346)

For a long time Merlin had been texting John every Sunday night: ”Are we good for tomorrow?”, but lately he tried to experiment with not to do that. Normally he would send the person a calendar invite, but he doesn’t know if that gets into John’s system because John is not using the calendar in the same way and Merlin instead set a reminder to himself to text John every Sunday night and ask if they were good to record the next day at 10am as they literally do every Monday.

Every time John got that text, he was like: ”Right! Yes!” Merlin was worried whether he was being helpful or being a pill. He hasn’t done it since after their summer break and John doesn’t know what is going on and what day it is. When he wakes up on Monday mornings 15 Minutes before the show starts, he wonders: ”Is it Monday? Am I okay?” Last week John even texted Merlin and asked if they were going to record and Merlin said: ”Yes, sure!” Unless we say otherwise it is literally every Monday at 10am Pacific and they have been doing this since 2011. John liked it when Merlin texted him!

John tells people all the time to lie to him and not give him all the information about when the actual deadline is, and not to tell him what time it is now, but what time they want him to think it is, and he will accept that because he is desperate to be managed. If Merlin would send John a text every Monday at 8am and told him it was 9am, it would not occur to John to double-check the clock, but he would go: ”Oh, yes!”

John sets every clock that he can set independent from the borg to a different time than every other clock, with the exception of the two clocks on the oven and the microwave that are right next to each other. Those two have to be super in sync and John will stand there and push one of them and wait a whole minute with the finger poised over the start button of the other for them to change at the same moment.

Also the Apple Watch allows him to make it wrong and that is what he does. If somebody said: ”It is 10:18!”, as Merlin just did, how would John know if that was true? He could look down on his computer. Merlin thinks what John is doing is madness and that is how you can tell that the two of them are different. Merlin’s microwave in the office says 10:28am while his computer says 10:20am, meaning it is greasy and it is sliding on the rails time-wise. He is astonished by the fact that John’s clocks are all wrong!

John needing to be reminded, remembering things (RL346)

If you came into John’s house before he started to move and asked for the belt buckle that says STP on it for //(the old performance oil company)/, John would be able to walk over to whatever sleestack (?) there was in the corner and find this fucking thing. He knew where everything was, even if he hadn’t laid hands on it for 2.5 years. If you would ask for a protractor he would know where to find one. But now John does not remember whether the microwave/stove clock is closer to the truth that the car clock or the watch clock. He thought that the clock in the car was 18 minutes fast, but then he was six minutes late to everything and realized it was only 12 minutes fast and it was screwing him up. It is not an ideal situation.

The guys in Friendly Fire have recorded a couple of episodes in advance, but they haven’t told John how many in advance. It could be two or it could be 20! He has no idea what is coming out this week or when they recorded it. A few days before the show they will send him a text telling him what movie they agreed to watch. John could find that information other places, but he doesn’t remember how to find those places and getting that text has been very helpful because it reminds him of the fact that he does a podcast where he watches a movie.

Anytime somebody asks John if he could do a thing, he will tell them to send him a text 48 hours or 24 hours before it which will mentally put it in the "Current" stack. Merlin accidentally discovered that texting John between 7pm and 10pm Sunday nights before they record literally every Monday at 10am was a good place in John’s stack.

Maybe John is an AI and Merlin just wants to see if the results happen the way he expects, like a machine-learning machine? It is hard to just feed Nazi-input into John and turn him into a Nazi (like the Microsoft Twitter bot), but in terms of manipulating him with hand-picked inputs you really can’t go wrong by shaving the truth off of everything to keep him from making the mistake of getting ahead of what he is meant to do.

John managing his calendar (RL346)

No Sunday night is the same for John because he doesn’t have a schedule or a plan. Merlin doesn’t have a real job, but he still finds Sunday nights depressing like they both did when they were kids. There must be a name for this, but it is probably not the ”I hate Mondays” Garfield disease. John’s daughter goes to school on Mondays and sometimes she is with him on Sunday nights, but not every Monday. On a lot of Sundays he doesn’t know it is Sunday all Sunday long and at the end of Sunday he doesn’t know it is going to be Monday. Merlin is aghast that John can spend a whole day not knowing what day of the week it is.

John can spend a whole week not knowing what week of the month it is! One reason Merlin gets so screwy during summertimes is that sometimes it really feels like a Saturday, but it is a Thursday and that is really messing with his head. Things like that are happening to John all the time and he won't know whether it is Thursday or Saturday. John is like an Oliver Sacks chapter: He doesn’t know whether his hat is his wife (book by Oliver Sacks: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat).

All this does cause problems, but if a group of people needs him to do this, they should tell him that it needs to be done by tomorrow and John will go: ”Oh, shit, shit, okay, okay, fuck, alright, hang on, I’ll get it done!” and will be is scrambling, knocking stuff over, doing whatever, and they will be somewhere, laughing because it doesn’t need to be done tomorrow, but they just need it done so they can get onto the next thing.

John will get the thing done under the wire and he doesn’t care that they are laughing and he is not mad that he was misled because he wanted to get the thing done and if they trusted him to get it to them on time they have probably learned that it is just better to mislead him and manipulate him than to count on him.

After that discussion Merlin is going to start texting John on Sunday evenings again! He is on the other end of the spectrum and he is a set-it-and-forget-it guy. If it is not on the calendar, then it doesn’t exist. He has reached a place in life where he needs to know that the calendar is truth, a set of commitments for things that will die or be in bad shape if they are not done on that day. John on the other hand has a handful of things that once they are inserted into his memory module are his truth and he won’t need a reminder the next day because it is in the stack. There is something about that distance and that amount of stuff that is optimal for him.

John does have a calendar and he puts things in it, but he doesn’t look at it. If somebody asks him if he can do something on October 2nd, he will go to October 2nd and if there is nothing there, he will say: ”Yes, absolutely! I can do that thing!”, but he won't then put that thing in the calendar. If then somebody else will ask him the same question he will get a queazy feeling or a tickle about it although there is nothing there. As it gets closer to an event he is grateful if people will send him a follow-up email, like: ”We are on for October 2nd!”, but sometimes he gets into a jam-up where he has agreed to do two things because he didn’t put the first into the calendar.

John does populate his calendar with things people send him, but he doesn’t often put new things in there himself, which is terrible and Merlin is very curious why John doesn’t do that. In the past John didn’t have that many things to do and could remember everything. Now he does have a lot more things to do and also he doesn’t remember anymore.

His daughter’s mother will say as she is walking past: ”I am going to be in Vegas on the 18th, the same day that…” and John just goes: ”Oh, hmm…”, which is not even an acknowledgement, but halfway between a cathy and a builder-cat (swimsuit season) because a) he is his dad, and b) he figured there is a reminder coming before he will have to do anything. Somewhere closer to the event someone will walk past him in the kitchen and say: ”Remember I said I was going to be in Vegas and that is the day that grandma needs her dentures polished!”

All of John's podcasts are on his calendar. He does four different shows, one a day, and every night before he goes to sleep he has to remember that he does a podcast, first of all, and then he has to remember which one. Sometimes he forgets and wakes up in the morning and wonders what he has to do today, although it is the same thing that he has been doing on this day for two years, but it is just not there.

John can tell you many things that would surprise you that he remembers, like the STP belt buckle, all these stories, all the little things, everything they talk about, he remembers them all! John has a calendar in his head about the Napoleonic wars, but he doesn’t have a calendar of the future!

The different anxiety profiles of John’s co-hosts (RL346)

Road Work

John’s podcast cohosts are different groups of dudes, all of whom have different anxiety profiles. Dan’s anxiety profile doesn’t overlap Merlin’s very much at all and has a whole separate set of requirements. He needs to go to the doctor sometimes, he has to eat lunch, sometimes he needs emergency surgery at the last minute and John can never tell if it is real or not. Dan is extremely busy and if you are leaving in a month and want to do a makeup-episode, it will be impossible. Every time Dan sends John stuff, like: ”We have to do this and we have to do that” it will go into John’s function machine attached to a packet that represents an anxiety profile.


Ken Jennings manages himself very well, but of everybody John knows he is the most sanguine about the possibility that everything can burn down at every given moment, like: ”I will be on Good Morning America tomorrow and if that means I am going to be the host of Good Morning America then I will be dealing with that and our podcast will have to take a backseat to my new host job of Good Morning America!”

He is not invested in any one thing to a degree that it would wobble him if it would burn down and he doesn’t have as much bioavailable automatic concern about change and sees it as an opportunity or as not a thing at all, whereas Merlin heavily invests all kinds of portent into anything that could be a change.

Ken introduces insecurity into John’s life because he says: ”Well, we are doing this podcast now, but this could happen or that could happen!”, or: ”Well, if that happens it means we don’t do the show anymore, I guess we better don’t let that happen!” and John goes: ”What? Well…” Ken fights for the show all the time, he is not blasé about it, but he does have this shrug.

It is the one instance where John goes down like a cat and says: ”Wait a minute! Give me some reassuring language” - ”I don’t really do that. I don’t give reassuring language! That seems like extra oxygen to process” - ”Yes, I would like you to do that on my behalf as a favor to me!” - ”I don’t know what you want me to tell you!”

Imagine having him as your dad: ”I can’t say there is not a monster under your bed, that wouldn’t be rational!” It is the opposite of ”Strong opinions loosely held” because he has hardly any opinion held at all and he could just walk away as the flames go up and walk down the middle of the street with a shotgun in one hand while the world is blowing up behind him.

John is practicing Aloha with all his cohosts in various ways and doing it with Ken is just like: ”He is not going to give me any reassurance and yet his behavior consistently indicates that he is doing what he wants to do and he is dedicated to this!” John just has to Aloha everything, but every day could be his last.

Friendly Fire

The Friendly Fire guys have different and in some ways oppositional anxiety profiles which makes it complicated because there are three of them. Adam Pranica is a very smart and very sweet guy, but he will agree with whoever was talking to him last, which is very difficult to plan around. Eventually his vote will get cancelled out, but that is not a good way to run a three-person democracy. Ben is absolutely consumed with anxiety to the point that he may be going to explode at any given moment. He is looking for assurance, but he also has strong opinions strongly held.

Merlin’s and John’s location memory (RL346)

Merlin has been friends with John Siracusa for long enough to know to question everything about himself in a way that makes him even more anxious. Merlin doesn’t know what the science of ”Photographic Memory” is, but he does have a very strange mind for remembering certain kinds of things. He has a very specific location memory for a lot of songs and audio and he can remember what intersection he was at when a certain part of a podcast played.

When he was a kid he could remember stuff from books and knew where on the page a thing was, and that still happens today, but with his failing memory it has gotten weird. His daughter will ask for the pink brush or for her hat, and he will know the hat is on something wooden and that he has seen it several times in the last few days, or he can remember exactly that her pink brush is behind the bench by the LEGO fishing store.

John can sense the location of things, almost like if he had a divining rod. He will have his hand out like the little lady from Poltergeist and he will reach it under a stack of papers and pull it out. Merlin has said to his family: ”Come with me, I don’t know where it is, but I know that I know where it is!”, like a tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. He will put his hands up and force himself to stop looking at the room in a Daniel Kahneman First Order way: Slow thinking, second order thinking, browsing (book by Howard Marks called The Most Important Thing) and it will find him.

John does not have the kind of synesthesia Merlin just described, but he does remember where on the page certain things were. He can open a book to where the thing was and put his finger on the paragraph. Part of remembering conversations with people is remembering where everybody was standing and what they did when they said a certain thing.

One time Merlin, John and his Millennial Girlfriend were waiting for a table and she was testing out Merlin’s pen in his notebook and he has flash-bolt memories of these. He also remembers sitting at a table and John being annoyed as he was fast-forwarding through all his songs. He has a strong recollection of John taking him to the basement and picking out those glasses for Merlin. Max Temkin calls them flash-bolt memories. Merlin doesn’t have it for everything, but there is something indelible about his memory for some kinds of things.

John’s collection of concert tickets and plane tickets (RL346)

John has a cigar box full of concert tickets, one full of plane tickets, one full of backstage passes, one full of tickets to plays, musicals, monster truck rallies and baseball games, but if he goes to a play that is set to the music of Elton John, what box does the ticket go into? It would have to go into the miscellaneous box for theater and sports. If somebody asked: ”Are those tickets arranged in any kind of order within the box?” it would set John on a path of ruin. The box full of plane tickets is a potential resource, but it is not a resource yet, because it is not organized by date.

John wouldn’t ever go back and ask: "What date did I fly Western Airlines to Denver that one time in 1986?", but he might! Those tickets form a collective knowledge base that you can cross-reference: "How many times has he ever flown to Colorado? Of all those times, how many of them were in the spring and how many of them were in the fall? How many times did he fly United Airlines before he decided he would never fly United Airlines again?" Merlin would do a lot of that with Gmail because it has such good search in it for finding stuff. Something about the physicality is part of the fun for John and it is nice to see things that are yellowed, it is nice to see things that are printed out by a printer, old tickets that are on cards.

John has a friend whom he was introduced to by listeners to the program John Flansburgh and Robin Goldwasser. Her name is Suzie Matthews and she is the daughter of Mike Matthews, the crazy guy who founded Electro-Harmonix, the makers of the Big Muff distortion pedal among 1000 other incredible pedals. Merlin had a phaser that was huge like a bread box and went tonk tonk. The whole thing was a button! Those things are worth money now. Mike Matthews is a New York guys from the 1960s who is just like: ”Whaaaa!” He invented this fuzzbox thing, he had a lot of girlfriends, and he wore his hair in a big curly mess.

His daughter Suzie is an artist and her own free spirit. At some point she and John were friends and talked frequently. She said: ”Why don’t you send me all your ticket stubs and I will make an artwork out of them!” Although John was polite, it felt like she was saying: ”Why don’t you send me all of your children and I will will cut them up and shellack them to a canvas?” She was attempting to deal with clutter.

Merlin had three different lady friends in his life offer him to turn all his Rock’n’Roll shirts into a quilt, but that just breaks all the shirts and then he will have a shitty quilt. Ben Gibbard’s mother made keyboard covers and amp covers for him out of his 5000 Rock shirts. Adam Pranica has a bed spread out of Rock shirts with 2 or 3 Long Winters shirts on it. When John saw it he told him that those shirts are worth a lot of money now, although they probably aren’t.

Suzie thought it would be better if John had a 3x3 foot square multimedia artwork incorporating all of his tickets that she had scissored into pieces. She has made big numerological artworks with a lot of numbers in them where she would find 1000 numbers from an old movie marquee and make things out of numbers.

John replied: ”That is super-nice of you, but: No! Stop even thinking about my cigar box full of tickets because I don’t want you to covet it!” There are some tickets missing, for example John doesn’t have a ticket stub from Dio and Dokken because it went through the wash or something and it is not in the box. It affects how John looks at the whole box. It has a lot of stuff in it, but it doesn’t have everything and he can only love it up to here.

Nobody has saved the ticket stubs for all the flights John did as a kid, but he has saved every single one of his daughter’s ticket stubs because if she wants a shoebox… she won’t! John is happy about anything anybody saves for him. His mom will burn everything and then it is gone. Don’t bother looking for it! John’s dad never intentionally handed John anything and said: ”I saved this for you!”, but instead his complete jumble of an archive preserved things for John without doing it on purpose.

Every once in a while John's uncle will send him a Manilla envelope full of things. At a certain point John’s dad, uncle and their sister started to make not just three copies of, but 13 copies of every photograph or letter and now John will get a Manilla envelope from uncle Jack, saying: ”I sent you all these things!”, but John already has all of these things because they are just photocopies of the original things and no-one knows where that is. Now John has these things they had made 13 copies of, which is a little static-y, but now this piece of paper has sentimentality attached to it separate from its information because it came from his uncle who thought it was important, which increases the static.

John’s piano, John embracing modernism (RL346)

The couple who bought John’s house don’t have very much stuff because they lived in an apartment and they said that John can leave anything he doesn't want in the house, like a chair or an old bureau, and if they don’t want it they will deal with it. They are very take-care-of-business type of people! John had actually thought about leaving the dining room table and chairs and that was fine with them.

A lot of this stuff was going to be a problem for him and he was just going to take it to the Goodwill anyway. It is not junk, but it is all great stuff that is super-cool and belongs in the house. Even if you are going to get a new dining room table at one point, it is still great if you move into your house and there is a nice dining room table and seven chairs because you can have a party tomorrow!

But here is the thing: There is a Wheelock brand baby grand piano from 1915 in the house that John’s mom bought out of the little nickel saver in 1974. It is the piano that John sat at when he was 7 years old and tried to learn scales, it is the piano that he sat at when he was 10 years old and played the theme from Close Encounters, it is the piano he taught himself how to play piano on, it is the piano that he wrote The Commander Thinks Aloud on, it is the piano that moved into this house with him, that he plays every couple of days, and that he played sometimes every morning when he woke up and every night before he went to bed.

It was his mom’s piano until one day in High School when John sat down at it and wondered: ”How does this work exactly?” This is the piano that he learned Harvey Danger’s music on and he taught himself music on. If there was a way for an item to be imbued with sentimental significance, this piano fits all the criteria! It has it all! It has been with him almost all his life, it was in his childhood home, and it is a big part of his musical life. This is the piano that his cousin Sella said: ”Something is wrong with your piano, it sounds sick!” and John said: ”Get out of my house!” (see RL294)

Where John is going he won’t need a baby grand piano, he doesn’t even know where he is going. He asked his mom what he should do about it and she didn’t even let him get that far into the sentence before she said: ”Get rid of the piano!” When he wanted to explain the significance to her it was like speaking Chinese, and it has been like that his whole life.

For the first time John has to deal with the combination of packing up his house, trying to be swimming with the turtles every day, trying to reduce, reuse, recycle, and with this young couple saying: ”Whatever you don’t want, leave it!”, but do you leave a piano? Is that like cutting firewood for somebody to arrive at the campsite or is that leaving the car that you don’t want anymore and pulling off the wind tags?

Merlin had a friend in Florida who would give him things with sentimental value that were broken so that Merlin would have to throw this guy's dad’s radio away and it would be his problem.

A lot of their listeners would take that piano, but plenty of people would also move into a house and find it amazing that there was a baby grand piano there. It is decorative and it is a great piano! John is deeply and profoundly wrestling with what to do with it. He can’t necessarily say that he would prefer to have somewhere to put it because if he is serious and earnest about this whole game he played for the entire last year about selling his house, it has not just been: ”I have lived in this house for 10 years and now I have to move somewhere else or I will live live here for 20 years and I will be somebody who lived in the same house for 20 years!”

Maybe this is totally flawed thinking, but John and his mom always had an aesthetic argument because she was a modernist and he was an eclectic. She would say: ”The great thing about the arrival of modernism was that people used to live in houses that had freaking doilies on the back of everything and grandma got up and started dusting at 6am on Saturday and she was still dusting at 9pm. Then modernism came in and you just opened the sliding glass doors, the wind of change blew through, every shelf had one thing on it and that was liberating!” John was always: ”I wish you kept those doilies because I would give them to Suzie Matthews!”

John's mom told him at one point that his grandmother kept stacks of money under the corners of all the oriental carpets because she didn’t believe in banks. It wasn’t so thick that it made if difficult to walk on the carpet, but it made it very difficult to deal with her house after she died. You couldn’t just tell some movers to take everything out because there were stacks of money under things. John resembles that!

John is moving into modernism and by embracing modernism, a thing he doesn’t understand and that he up until now has been fairly hostile to as a global aesthetic, he has found a path to orderliness that he could not accomplish if he weren’t adopting an entire movement at the same time. He is going all in! John has several little artworks made out of baleen and walrus ivory. There is one little statue of two polar bears fucking that is carved out of an oosik, a walrus penis bone, which is a very porous bone and if you carve it into two animals having sex it becomes a fertility device. It is a treasure and John challenges Merlin to find one.

John cannot display this statue on a shelf with a bunch of baleen and ivory boats, but it has to just sit by itself. He has to choose it, take some light, and shine it on the thing that is just there all by itself. People who come in will be forced to confront the two polar bears humping carved out of an oosik. All of that is fascinating to John, as opposed to just saying: ”This is made out of some part of a whale and this is all the stuff that is made out of whale and walrus and they all go on a shelf together!” or ”These are all the belt buckles that have to do with interstate trucking in the 1970s and they go all on a shelf together!” Instead you pick one, either the one that says ”STP” or the one that says ”If this van is rocking, keep on walking!”

This is fundamentally and philosophically different from John’s previous approach. If John were able to find his Dio ticket, he could put it in a frame and find a place where it would be the only thing on that wall. He could even given all his tickets to Suzie Matthews and have her make a single artwork out of them, but he can’t have a stack of cigar boxes in the living room with every ticket he ever touched. It is a massive challenge, it is going to break him psychologically in what he hopes is a good way, and it is going to shatter the glacier! Is there room for a grand piano?

The problem of the grand piano is that it is imbued with significance and the power of letting it go is that it is a major anchor in John's past life. He couldn’t just roll that grand piano out on the street and push it down the hill. He couldn’t give it to a thrift store.

Merlin wonders if there would be a church or community who would like to have it, but on Craigslist there are 40 ”free piano” ads in San Francisco and a handful of those will be not just baby grand pianos, but full grand pianos, as well as player pianos and gorgeous Howard pianos. John Vanderslice bought as many as he could fit. Everyone used to have a piano and today no-one has a piano. It used be that everyone had an accordion, but now no-one has an accordion.

John’s dad grew up in a house with an enormous Steinway and his aunt Julia Lee had a beautiful baby Steinway. When John’s uncle Cal died, his cousin Page asked John if he wanted Julia Lee’s Steinway, but John had his Wheelock. The Steinway was 10 times the piano and although John was sentimental about the freaking Wheelock there was a brief week where he considered having two baby grand pianos. One would have to become a barn piano, but that would be a bad piano life. Two scooters, one piano, that is what they say!

Then it occurred to John that his brother Bart was a professional piano player and music teacher and John asked him if he wanted it and he took it because he didn’t have one. He had 40 electric pianos, but he never had a beautiful grand piano. There are a lot of pianos in John’s family and they move around, but John’s might be one of the last because nobody else he knows plays piano.

Also, if this baby grand piano wouldn’t have been in the center of his living room for the last 11 years it would have been a lot easier to get around this house, but that space probably would have been taken up with fucking cardboard boxes full of ticket stubs, so at least with the piano John had some place to put his keys and his candelabra.

John feels like he owes the new owners a text where he walks around the house and asks them about specific things, although they said he could leave anything. He will ask about all kinds of furniture and he will ask about the piano. If they will say: ”Wow!”, then he knows he will have a winner, but if they are ”Whohoho!”, he will know that as well. He will surely get a strong opinion about it, not a tepid one. Based on that answer John will then have to say to that piano at a certain point in his life: ”Go with God!”

Until now John has tried to move by himself. He took 10 bags and 4 boxed and 3 guitars into the back of his suburban, drove it to the storage space, got the cart out, wheeled it up there and put it in the storage space. He just got an email from a guy who said: ”I love all the great shows, and I also work at the head-office of some moving company. Can we help you move?”, which is a very kind offer, but makes the piano question that much crazier because all he has to do now is say: ”Yes, and the piano!” and then they will pack it up and it will kick the can down the road. John doesn’t want to do that because he is at the moment of decision about this piano.

Merlin says that this is not really about the piano, but about the philosophy and the buy-in for the new program. John doesn’t seem to have that surpassingly strong of an opinion about saying: ”Hell yeah, I do whatever it takes to keep this fucking piano!”, but he is almost looking for an out. The piano is the thing! If he will embrace modernism he cannot have the piano. He wants the piano, his heart is in the piano, but if he keeps the piano he is betraying his plan to embrace modernism. The whole thing hinges on this one decision. Bringing the piano will bring with it his eclecticism, the candelabra, and everything!

Merlin discovered a website called pianoadoption.com. He recommends John to just put it up there and see what happens. There will be free piano, free piano, free piano, piano $14.000, but only one ”Piano John Roderick wrote The Commander Thinks Aloud on” and Merlin's feeling is somebody is going to want the fucking piano and after this episode he is going to be deluged with people who love to have it.

Merlin understands John’s point. It is bigger than just a bunch of keys in a case. John needs the ”Get thee behind me, Satan!” (Bible reference from Mark 8:33 and Matthew 16:23) ”I love you piano, but it is time for you to go!” He should just wheel it out, like Harry and the Hendersons: He has to punch the piano to make it go away. They love Harry so much, but Harry has to go back into the woods and John Lithgow has to physically assault him to show his love for him. John is altering the piano and his future. The piano is John’s Harry. It does have wheels, but Merlin didn't know because he has a Yamaha keyboard and if he will ever move that thing will go right into his backack [sic]!

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