RL367 - Inescape Room

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The Problem: You don’t sit in another man’s corn, referring to John’s friend’s giant bean bag chairs who offered him to try them out, but that would feel like trying someone else’s underwear.

The show title refers to Merlin not wanting the room to be too hot, but regulating each individual person’s temperature with their clothes because you can’t escape a room that is too hot.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

Merlin having trouble finding the right shoe size (RL367)

It is early and it is a shiny new year, it is early in the year. For Merlin it has been really great and today is the last day of his daughter’s jubilee and she returns to school tomorrow. It has been full of laughter and love. They had food, there were trees, lights, and a very large bean bag chair, called a FatBoy, a sex bag. Merlin did not get a vote on this. It is 70 inches long, a tiny bit taller than Merlin who is just under 5’10”. He might be shrinking, but his feet are definitely growing and he bought some shoe stretchers. With his body getting smaller and his feet getting bigger he is approaching some kind of clown singularity. He wanted to fit in a tiny car.

Merlin has a lot of problems with shoe size variability, which is very frustrating. He has historically been almost exactly a 9.5, which puts him exactly between the two English sizes. He stretched out his new Pumas last night a little bit. He learned from a Dr Martens representative at a Nordstrom that he should rather buy the larger size and put in some shims. The first pair of Dr Martens he ever bought was on a visit to San Francisco in 1997 and he was not aware of the English sizing problem. They slap an American size on there, but they are made in English sizes.

The provided insoles and arch support is not much to write home about to begin with. Merlin learned this from his professional Crocks, not the kind that a little kid wears. Merlin is a picture of fecundity, he has two pairs, one at his office and one at home. They are professional and you could drop a hypodermic needle on it and be GTG, you could work in a kitchen: ”Fire on five all day!” You could work in a hospital, in a kitchen in a hospital or in a kitchen on a hospital ship. If you buy Crocks wrong, which is really the only way to buy Crocks, they will be nice and snug, but they shouldn’t be, which is the same with Dr Martens. It is like buying wooden shoes, you only get one shot at it. The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.

Merlin wants to just have a tiny bit more in his toe box. John learned so much! One of Merlin’s secret shoe technologies is that he utilizes shoe trees, which might be a Jesse Thorn thing, and he rotates his shoes. He is breaking in his new light-blue Pumas now and they are really good to ride his Segway because they are basically like a skateboard shoe with a lot of stability. They say that if you use a shoe tree and you rotate your shoes every day they could last you twice as long, which is the opposite of blue jeans.

Upcoming live show at SF Sketchfest 2020 (RL367)

John often has 20 pairs of shoes in rotation and yet, since he sold his house and moved into the guest bedroom at Chez Babymoma’s he has basically been wearing the same Blundstones for 6 months. Merlin and John have nearly identical models of Dr Martens shoes and the last time they appeared on stage together they were wearing them, just in different colors. That was fun! They are on their way to appear together again at SF Sketchfest 2020. They have a standing spot on the calendar there. People who attend can see Merlin Mann in the wild in the town. He is very gracious in person and he will stay to talk to people until they make them leave. The Gateway Theater is on the other side of town from Merlin’s house, it is an $18 Lyft drive, it could as well be in Oregon.

They continue to talk about the venue. Last year Merlin met Oscar (Martinez, Nunez) from the TV show The Office there and he handled it extremely well and told him he enjoys his work and his family enjoys what he does. John was not there because he moves in different circles and frequently has his own group of people in different roles while Merlin is just wandering around as a lonely boy. Merlin also met Rick Overton, too and told him that he enjoyed his work since he was a kid.

John encourages everybody to come because he and Merlin will be very accessible for this one hour only. You can even reach out and touch Merlin. They just have to make sure to get out in time so that James Urbaniak get on next, they can’t just stand there and clog the aisles. Merlin has met him once and took a photograph while he himself had a very unflattering haircut at the time. Now he sees him on TV all the time on the show Review with Andy Daly, but Merlin has never met Andy Daly what he can remember.

He is a lot of programs, he is a great character actor and we don’t get as many great character actors as we used to and have to appreciate the ones we have. In the 1970s you would see Vincent Schiavelli or Barney Miller and then they would show up on The Love Boat and get their moment. Tom Hanks said on the Golden Globe Awards last night how he was on The Love Boat, but Merlin only remembers him from Bosom Buddies. You have to be exactly the right age to have watched that on TV and John and Merlin are in that window. John does not remember Holmes & Yoyo, a classic buddy comedy about a cop getting a new partner who is a robot played by John Schuck.

John wants to come back to Merlin’s sexbag (?).

John’s new Roomba (RL367)

John just got a new robot. This Christmas ”I gave you my heart” and they decided that the last Christmas was too much and involved too many presents because they have in-laws and everybody felt obligated to give everybody a present, which means people will get John a flashlight or X-ACTO knife for $5 at REI. It took all day opening all those little presents that nobody wanted. At the end of the day they all looked around with John’s sister spearheading it and his mom trumpeting the chorus, saying that they are not consumerists and this is not what they practice as a family and they are putting a stop to this.

Instead they were doing a secret Santa where each adult has one person that is charged with buying them a gift and you can presumably think a bit more about it than just get something from the endcap at Walgreens, like a giant flask //(find reference where John was buying the giant flask at Merlin’s Walgreens). John’s gift giver got around the one present rule by getting John a lot of small presents and putting them in the same box, adding the thrill of getting a box of stuff that he otherwise could have found at a thrift store.

John’s mom called John immediately after Christmas. She started to become a little bit more eccentric at age 85, saying she didn’t buy John a birthday present this past three years for different reasons, which John didn’t even remember because he is not counting and he doesn’t really celebrate his birthday either, but she claimed she owed him three birthday presents and she had them already but she didn’t give them to him yet and she had to get them out of the house now.

She organized a birthday party for John yesterday which his canonical birthday is in September and they sat down and opened three birthday presents, one of them a large handmade pillow that was like a Mandala that she had cut out of some bed clothes she had found in the thrift store and sowed this pillow for John. The next gift was very heavy, an imitation rabbit fur weighted comfort blanket that weighed 40 pounds that looks like the greatest Game of Thrones robe you ever saw, the size of a King Size bed. It helps with anxiety and John likes a heavy blanket, but he likes his feet out and he likes to be cold in the bedroom.

Merlin believes in personal warmth and spacial coolness. Everybody should regulate their own temperature with clothing because a hot room is inescapable, it is an inescape room.

The third box was the heaviest of all and inside was a top of the line Roomba 980. You can talk to it, you can map the room, it got a camera, and if you throw a pen on the ground it addresses it and sweeps around it. John can look at it on his phone, he can tell it to do things from far away, even from Paris, France! It will do doubles, it does it cross-hatching. John’s house is all torn apart and John can’t put it to work, but he took it over there and it is ready. John has never heard somebody being disappointed by their Roomba, but everybody who has one loves it. There are about 60 different Roombas available and there is literally an article called Top 10 best Roombas.

John has up until now lived his life without a robot, but now he has one with a certain autonomy and and he is sometimes going to meet it in the hall coming through the rye.

John planning on buying a TV and making a TV room (RL376)

John has an unusually sized room in the basement of his new house that is long and narrow and John wants to make that into his TV room. He didn’t have a TV room with a farm and he hasn’t lived in a house with a TV room since he was in High School since TVs were shaped like giant ice cubes. John watches war movies for his work for his other podcast (Friendly Fire) he could buy a television, a thing he has studiously avoided buying, he could put it on the wall, but it is not going to impinge on his family living space upstairs. It is not in the living room or in the bed room, but you go down, you make an appointment, you sign up, you go down and you watch a TV.

The problem is that the room is just narrow enough that an L-shaped couch won’t really fit. It is too narrow and too long, so if you put it against one wall there is a mathematical equation of the perfect distance from the TV relative to its size and the seat. Merlin recommends a website to calculate this, but doesn’t say which one. If John goes to the CostCo or to Brian Heater’s Gizmodo website from 2014 he can find a TV that is stupidly big, big enough to be a bed, bigger than a stretcher, it is that big that if you put your hand on it you cannot even sense its fear.

You can buy one of these with a resolution greater than the human eye can apprehend and it is not even the expensive one. There are all other kinds of factors if you ask a John Siracusa, like does it make noise and how is the remote it comes with, does it steal your data, are the blacks black enough. If John is going to get a big one then he has to sit a certain distance from it, but he can’t just go from some L-shaped couch that is a sex couch basically where you plop down for the duration and fire up old Betsy.

Also, you don’t just want a couch, it is a TV room! Ken Jennings has a media room because he is a rich person, and they have a configuration where each member of the family has their own leather lazy boy with cup holders. It is a whole thing! They have a backward projection thing with some TV mounted on the ceiling, he is a hot dog and John is not one of these guys! He is not going to go into a room with a bunch of DVDs on the walls because he also wants to use this room for other things. If you have a sex couch it is also going to be a sex room and the ceiling is going to have to be mirrored.

John thought about getting giant bean bag chairs, sex bags, big enough for two people. There is a gal, a nerd musician whom Merlin has met, who has a male friend who lives with her. John went to their house one time and they had two matching giant sex bags right in the middle of their living room, each one with a controller in it, and they had televisions mounted on the ceiling, so they laid husband and wife… you had to climb into these things. They were weird colors in brown earth tones. The offered John to try it out, but that would feel like getting into someone else’s underwear. You don’t sit in another man’s corn! Like kissing somebody’s parrot (see RL21).

John walked out of there scalded, but it also planted a seed, and this morning Merlin was telling him he had one of those as well. He sent John a picture of his daughter sitting in it to get a sense of scale. She has all grown up and is now about the size of Merlin’s wife. John loves the way she is wearing her hair. That is a big piece of furniture and carrying it up the stairs was quite an adventure. Merlin can imagine a TV on the ceiling as a sometimes-option, like a Derek or a Chasse or a garage door. Derek and Chasse were a couple of John’s closest friends in college.

The Fatboy can sit on its own, but it works best when it is up against something else. John thinks that instead of buying one big piece of furniture he can buy 5 Fatboys. Merlin recommends a website called RTINGS and there is a link somewhere about what size TV to get. Merlin has a 55” TV which works for his room, but anything more than 66” would be too big and it would feel like a kid on Saturday morning sitting way too close to the TV. Merlin recommends John to buy one Fat Boy and see how he likes it and get a feel for it.

Wanting to have a swimming pool full of pillows (RL367)

Many years ago John got a mental picture of a swimming pool full of pillows, which was something he wanted to experience. Sometimes you get an idea in your head and you don’t know where it comes from, but it is sure there. Merlin wanted to tongue-kiss with three Farraw Fawcetts at one point and she didn’t even have to be in the swimming suit. For John the swimming pool full of pillows was going to be part of a sexual awakening, it was going to be sexy and he was going to be in there with a naked girl and they were swimming around, looking for each other in a sea of pillows. This was before he ever had seen a ball pit, before they even had been invented. He had this fantasy over and over for a long time, starting at an in-bloom age.

It was going to be normal-sized pillows but of all different kinds. John has never been in a ball pit. There were no ball pits when he was a kid, and when they came online they could have run down and gotten in there before they go all full of snot. In Ohio Merlin just had hard chairs and apologies, and you didn’t even get a chair where John grew up, but you stood in the corner and there was a hand-painted Goofy on the wall and it didn’t even look like Goofy. They were robbed! Now it seems like ball pits aren’t deep enough, but you feet get to the bottom. John wanted a ball pit that was 30 feet deep. Like a foam party, to which Merlin also has never been to, he would want it to be at least chest high.

John recently asked a friend who is a little younger if they ever went dancing with their friends when they were young and they said they were an Indie Rocker and didn’t dance, but that is not incompatible! Merlin would go to New Wave nights, there would be drink specials, that was a fun thing! Merlin is not above a Kylie Minogue!

John could build his own swimming pool full of pillows out of sex bags. He could buy 15 of them and you could have 9 people in there, not that he ever wanted that.

Merlin is a size queen and he has a hard time watching anything in a resolution that is not acceptable to him and he is very much into the Ultra HD on his OLED.

If you search for ”largest bean bag” Merlin says you will get something German, but John found something that was called Ultimate Sack 6000 or the Sumo Maximus, but that is basically like an Ottoman the size of a Jacuzzi. One looks like a Snorlax from Star Wars (the creature with the blue milk, verify name!), one is called Love Sac and looks like a Grizzly Bear. Merlin compliments John for his sexual fantasy because to be any good at all it has to be at least implausible, if not impossible, like a pool full of pillows!

John would have to know a girl well enough that she would go to a second location with him, which already was kind of a fantasy when he was 16, then he would have to have the resources to have an Olympic-sized swimming pool and also to fill it with pillows, which would be expensive. Then you would arrive at the edge of the pool and she would go: ”Wow, a swimming pool full of pillows!” and John would need to have the suavity necessary to say: ”Wouldn’t you like to get in?” or hopefully it would be her idea!

There would be pillows of a lot of different fabrics and if you were to dive in to have the experience of swimming without a lot of friction it would be best to just be in your underwear. At this time in John’s life the idea of being naked in this pool was too far and John had it to be in their underwear. You can giggle and you can meet each other under the pillows both in your underwear. John couldn’t go crazier than that!

Merlin’s bean bag is very comfortable and you can make it into any shape you want, but it is not as cooshy in the same way as the bean bag of John’s youth. The old bean bag chairs with the pellets that the cats hate, a part of Merlin thinks if you buy 60 of those and they were a little bit under-stuffed, now you are swimming in the TV room!

John sleeping on old palettes with a bunch of pillows (RL367)

In John’s drinking days at age 22 he was living in an apartment in the University district and he got kicked out. There was this place up on Capitol Hill on Harvard where three guys lived and they had an extra space because one of the guys, Tory, was going overseas for some reason and John could move into Tory’s room. Tory left nothing behind, the only things he left on the walls were a bunch of show posters including the famous show poster of the Nirvana show at the motor sports arena which Tory had just taken off a phone pole and John has it to this day and it is probably worth $1000. John didn’t have a mattress and didn’t know where to get a mattress.

John got some shipping pallets and covered them with twin-sized bed pillows and it was an awful place to sleep, like 15 pillows he found at thrift stores on top of some pallets, it would have been better to just sleep on the floor with one new pillow. This was the era when if John would get holes in the toes of his socks he would take them out and put them on the fire hydrant out front to put them back in circulation and they would be gone in 5 minutes! Who is picking up socks off the fire hydrant?

This version of John’s dream was terrible because for some reason he thought he needed those palettes underneath it, he thought that was the hack. He didn’t even put a sheet over the palettes and every time he would wake up different parts of him would be on different pillows, but he was also basically sleeping on a palette. It was awful, but John was young and he was drunk so much! Eventually somebody offered John a mattress, which was small enough that he could fit it in the small closet and he would put one end of it in the closet and the rest of it sticking out, like a bespoke personal Murphy bed.

Before he had the purple one he found in the shipping container there was a Futon at one point. John had gone to a place where the sign said: $99 Futon with frame, but it was an unfinished frame and a futon made of Japanese sinter-blocks. It weight 600 pounds, it was lumpy and hard, and it is impossible to get rid of a thing like that. One of John’s friend had a band and wanted to sound-insulate a garage and John gave him his Futon and bolted it to the wall. It is probably still there!

Bean bags (cont)

John is looking for largest bean bags on Amazon.

Merlin wants Pinterest blocked because most of the time he wants to steal some images and Pinterest makes it really hard. He once had a Chrome extension where he could block any domain like reddit or Pinterest, but now he is stuck on Safari like a sucker because Chrome steals all your info and it is terrible.

John in an adult-sized bouncy castle (RL367)

One time John was at a birthday party where they had an adult-sized bouncy castle, which felt like the greatest idea and John jumped in it and bounced around and then he ran and threw himself against the wall and he hit that wall like he had fallen out of a building because it had to be strong and it was not soft and when you weigh 230 pounds there is very little you are going to land on that isn’t eventually going to compress to being a hard surface. It hurt and beat the breath right out of him.

Now John is worried that those bean bags look so soft, but when you run and jump you just land on a big cement. Merlin once saw a hippie jump into two feet of pool and he thought it was six feet. Merlin was 4 years old, but he still thinks of it sometimes. Merlin knew a guy who used to run sound at the club in town and he had a lot of marijuana one night and jumped off a diving board and then he got one of those chairs with a tube, that scares the shit out of Merlin!

Bean bags (cont)

Merlin likes the idea of the idea, but the implementation might be tricky.

Merlin has some ownership issues with his life. He does have a 300 sqft office all for himself that has a couch and he could live in his office, his wife and kid don’t get that, but of course the whole house becomes the kid’s house. With that said, Merlin doesn’t ask a lot. He wants to sit on this place on the couch, he wants a place to put his phone down, he wants to be able to grab a can of seltzer without moving anything. Then somebody introduces a FatBoy and that changes the geometry of the room and now it is even more important for Merlin to keep his place on the couch. He doesn’t want to be that particular dad, but he is. He wants his fucking seat on the couch!

John already had an opportunity to have a swimming pool full of pillows, but he used it for lumber, so even when he had one within his grasp, he knew enough to know that he knew that this is an object of imagination. Merlin thinks John is buying the Catwoman suit, hoping someone will wear it. It is really difficult with the size if you don’t know who is going to wear it and it does not look good on most people, regardless of gender.

Merlin would not spend four figures on sex bags before you know if it is the one that suits your bridge to fantasy Catwoman. You could go to Target in some comfortable clothes and sit in some beanbag chairs. John is worried that when he has a fixed idea like this that he has to see it all the way through, even if he goes to Target and thinks they are not comfortable, but then he will say to himself: What if I had 15 of them? He is much more likely to take 15 lightly used bean bags to the thrift store an say: ”Didn’t work out!” Carrying those sex bags up and down the stairs would be a lot of work, maybe John could get Sahm to help, but John doesn’t want Sahm to touch his sex bags.

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