RL372 - You Never Know

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The Problem: This is the new normal, referring to John drinking too much coffee in the morning as a base line and this has now becoming the new normal

The show title refers to Merlin wanting to tell a fact that he didn’t deem very important or interesting, but you never know and you don’t even know what is in the show and what is not in the show.

John couldn’t hear Merlin at first because Merlin’s guitar-DAW was selected and not his mic-DAW, but they start like that because what is in the show is in the show.

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 Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first!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’s morning routine (RL372)

Merlin realized something today, but it is probably not useful, but they have never promised a rose garden. You also never know and what is in the show is in the show, except for when it is not in the show. Merlin is grabbing things out of the ether to share with John. Merlin gets up in the morning (John starts singing ”I get up!” and they jam for a little bit: ”I get up, and nothin’ gets me down, You got it tough, I’ve seen the toughest around, And I know, baby, just how you feel”, lyrics Jump by Van Halen), and then he is awake for 2-3 hours and by the time they record after 10am he gets another round of morning sleepies, but John doesn’t think that is evident from the show because Merlin comes swinging into this show on fire.

They have talked about it previously how John would be more awake and alive it they would record deep in the afternoon. How many second wins does Merlin get in a day? How many times does he go up and down? Merlin is always trying to strike a certain balance in his intakes and stimulations and his various booleans and anguins (?) that he would apply existentially vis-a-vis. Does he want lots of energy or does he want to not be a nervous wreck? He doesn’t drink his morning coffee at his house anymore, but does it a his office. He takes an anti-depressant pill that makes him vomit if he takes it on an empty stomach.

Merlin gets up, he makes water and he sees if anybody is mad at him on Twitter and then he takes an anti-nausea thing that is like a SweetTard that falls apart in your mouth and about half an hour later he can take his very effective anti-depressant and that way he won’t get sick. Merlin tries to strike a balance, because if he had his druthers he would take a whole bucket full of stimulants and just shit himself all day long, which is unhealthy on a variety of levels, like you grind your teeth down. He is becoming more like his sweet mother where he has to think that if he did this, will that affect that.

When Merlin gets to the office he makes coffee and puts it into the Merlin machine. The anti-depressant is not supposed to give him speed, but it does because c.f. his original idea was that he could take this at 2-4pm, which makes sense on the face of it, but it disrupts his sleep. He tried to find a time to take the medicament so it is effective throughout the day, but he wants to go right up to the price without going over. It takes some time to build up and you keep taking it and many people are real sick with nausea or vomiting, but it also makes him not be depressed. He also considered taking it at night before he went to bed.

Merlin is open to solutions and he will try in life as in podcast different things, like a uniform of the day or a sports jacket he would put on like a thought technology. With that said, he is still standing here by the record machine (still Jump by Van Halen), ”knew I must have been about seven seen, how can I dance with another. Jump, jump, jump” Merlin has tried other things and he knows to be weary because he is not a young man anymore and he can’t have a bucket of anything anymore.

What about a bucket of clams? Merlin made crab last night and had a similar thought. It is a lot of exoskeleton and crab kaiten (?) left behind. Like with Sushi, Merlin has no upper limit and will keep eating it till he dies. Merlin’s daughter does not eat crab and does not even like the smell. A lot of the times Merlin makes a meal for himself because his family is monstrous and the way they eat is ridiculous. There are Japanese spider crabs which are really big crabs.

John’s morning routine (RL372)

Merlin thinks they had a recording mix-up at the beginning and he has to strike a certain balance. John is not somebody who can reliably do the same thing every day at the same time and after a long time of trying to take his medicine in the morning he got in the habit of taking it either in the morning or in the afternoon. A lot of the medicine remains in your blood for a while and John is moving it around all the time, trying to find the optimal time.

The last little bit of a while he gets a quad (4 espressos) of Americano coffee as the baseline, which is what he did when he would only get 4 hours of sleep and he really needed to get on. John’s new normal is a cup of microwaved 3-day old coffee to start the day and then a quad of Americano to set that original cup of coffee up straight and get that Snow-piercer rolling. The problem is that that is the new normal and it affects everything and makes John difficult to deal with. If you look around the Poker table and can’t see who the sucker is…

John taking Twitter off his phone again (RL372)

John deleted Twitter off his phone last night because it is bad and John doesn’t belong there anymore. He never used mute keywords before, but he put in three keywords that he thought was going to solve his problem. John is not going to say what they are, because as soon as you know the wizard’s true name you get his powers, like saying fnord: Nobody can hear it. Then John tweeted that he just muted three words and asked people to guess what they are, but of course all the correct answers would be muted.

John tried that for an hour, but it wasn’t effective because he was already in 15 fights with 15 different Millennials who were upset at him and he was upset and he went to bed with a knot in his stomach and it was just not worth it. He deleted Twitter off his phone and today he is going through that thing where he picks up his phone and looks for a button that isn’t there anymore, so he went over to Instagram, but you can’t spend all day there. Merlin likes that large head.

Visiting Fort Lewis war museum (RL372)

Yesterday John was driving around with his little child and asked her what they were going to do to day and she suggested to go to a museum they have never been to before. There is a museum of old-fashioned computer technology, a pinball-game museum, and then she said: ”What about a war museum?” and on the west coast there is only one Army museum in Fort Lewis, South of Tacoma, on the military base. They had to talk to 3-4 different Master Sergeants that had M-16s. You don’t get overseas combat pay for standing in front of a museum. John was surprised that they were Master Sergeants doing this job because it seems like something a corporal could do.

John asked them some penetrating questions and they were older guys, obviously, because you have to be a little bit older to get those stripes, and they answered the questions quite well.

Oliver Stone, the director of the movie Platoon, the JFK movie and Born on the 4th of July, is some Harvard guy who dropped out and joined the military as a buck private because he wanted be in the shit. On Friendly Fire John one time was calling bullshit on that because it feels like a Harvard pull-your-dick-out move, but there was a guy on one of their fan pages who said it was not bullshit because he also was an officer candidate who joined as a private because he wanted to be a man of the people. John still said: ”Bullshit! You joined the army at the level you qualified!” You can definitely have a college degree and be a Master Sergeant, and these days in order to progress that high in the enlisted ranks you are probably going to have an advanced degree of some kind.

It is a shabby-ass museum. They had a lot of guns on display, some cool uniforms, but on very weird department store mannequins that had faces like: ”Come on!” or ”Over the top!”, it was a little thirsty. But worst of all there were interpretive plaques that had items numbered, like ”1: The M-16, 2: The 1911-model” and the guns were in the cases, but did not have corresponding little number-tags, so you had a big display of 15 items, a plaque that listed all 15 items by number, but the guns themselves had no numbers by them and unless you already knew what you were looking at, the plaques would be meaningless.

John wanted… no more attempts on his father’s life (reference to The Godfather) and he wanted to connect with one of the thousands librarians and museum scientists that listen to this program to contact John, also be a service person, and get themselves transferred to Fort Lewis joint base and get put to better use by improving the quality of this war museum.

The story that is being told there begins with Lewis and Clark (expedition 1804-1806), going all the way back. They have a couple of mannequins, one of them dressed in the costume of the local Native American people. They did not have a Saquet Juilla (?), and John’s daughter was furious about that. She was in an oil painting over there, but not in this diorama, but technically she was not in the army, she was a private contractor from the Black Water of the time, a private corporation.

John’s daughter was also fairly concerned that there were no women anywhere in the museum at all until they got to World War II where they started to see some nurses. She was somewhat mollified by the presence of waves and wax, but it really wasn’t until she was seeing women in combat fatigues holding guns that she was more pleased. She does not want to join the army, she still wants to be a magical princess, but she is very interested in looking at these items. Merlin was a big fan about John’s pictures.

Merlin’s daughter wanting to be a motorcyclist, automatic vs manual transmission (RL372)

A lot of things could be improved about this museum. They have some half-tracks out in the yard that are just rusting into the grass. I is half tank, half truck and it goes through mud better than a regular truck. Merlin is trying to talk his daughter out of becoming a person who rides a motorcycle and he wanted her to think about how many square inches are touching the road compared to a four-wheeled car, Merlin was using the square-inch argument. A half-track is probably Merlin’s best bet in that case and also: If you go to Costco you have a place to put all your stuff, which is the truck part, and if you need to get out of a Costco you still have the tank part.

There was a headline This Costco Membership Change Has Us Quaking In Our Boots and it was that even if you wanted to get a pizza or a wiener (at the food court) you will have to show your card. One idea is that if you like Costco that much, then maybe you should become a member and get a card and you can buy other things as well.

What is Merlin’s child hoping to get out of being a motorcyclist and where did she learn about it? She is having a great time right now, she has a lot of friends, they are getting along very well, and 12,5 years old is peak inside joke or as they say today: memes. They are all very funny, they all get good grades, and they are clever and they are all weirdos and outsiders and unusual as kids go. Merlin doesn’t know why motorcycle now, but the same question would be: Why worm on a string now? Merlin doesn’t even think she has been around a motorcycle and she covers her ears when a motorcycle goes by.

Uncle John could give her the talk in two ways: Motorcycling is rad or motorcycling is really scary and you feel like you are about to die the whole time. It is a good thing to know how to drive a motorcycle, just like driving a stick, although cars with manual transmission are getting harder to find. Merlin’s girlfriend taught him how to drive with a stick on her cool truck and when Merlin bought his own automobile he bought one with a manual transmission. When he and his lady friend bought an automobile in 2000 they also bought a manual transmission. It is valuable to know how to do that, but insisting to have a manual transmission might not be as realistic.

What people don’t know about the West Coast is that if you live in Portland you are going to have a different experience of bicycles and motorcycles than if you live in Seattle. It is flat and the streets are a grid except for the parts where it is not while in Seattle you have to be an iron person to take advantage of the entire city. If you live in San Diego you can spend all day long on a 1957 Panhead (motorcycle) going ”badubdubdubdub” from intersection to intersection. There are hills, but they are like rain. Merlin was there the day it rained and it hasn’t rained since and that was years ago. It was probably in the newspaper. Merlin was over by the beach where the Navy SEALs train and they do those Dan Benjamin things where they throw tires around and jump up steps and that was the day that it rained. It rained that day and it was flat everywhere except for where it wasn’t.

In Lincoln Nebraska there are some hills around because many centuries ago there was water that came down and dug some hills, but you could ride on a motorcycle every day and never stop on a hill and try to figure out how to work that whole clutch/brake/gas situation to not lay down that bike down on its side, but in San Francisco? If you come from Sunset you have to go up insane hills where all the UCSF stuff is to get to Parnassus. The long way 5th or 6th will get you there, but if you are coming from the side, from the Hayes Valley, it is very shear and there is a lot of traffic and now you have to be in line with other cars.

Automatic transmission motorcycles are not very common, but they have them. They are probably very heavy and every extra part adds twice the weight that you might think. When Merlin was a child, they had two luxuries in their automobile, and they were both born of terrible, scarring experiences: One was air conditioning because they had once driven to Florida in an un-air-conditioned car and they all said they were never going to do that again. The other one was that they had automatic transmission at a time when not everybody else had that. While they didn’t have a luxury car they had a big coupe or a small sedan. They would not get power windows because those would be only for fancy people and you would drown in a lake.

Pretending style while everyone knows it is not real (RL372)

MAD Magazine in the 1970s would sometimes republish things from the 1950s like movie specials, but also one-panel slice-of-life cartoons from ye olden times. One time it was a picture of a family sitting in stop-and-go traffic in a 1961 Plymouth. The windows were rolled up and dad was wearing a coat and tie and a hat and mom had a pillbox hat on and gloves and they were clearly sweating profusely and the caption said: ”We had to keep the windows up so no-one knew we didn’t have air-conditioning” It was a light commentary on classism and social climbing. Dad got the car without AC, but he didn’t want anybody to know because he would be judged.

In the same way ladies got very into nylon stockings in the lead-up to the war, but then they needed that because of the oil and you could have a seam professionally drawn on your leg. All the women who were doing that knew that all the other women were doing the same thing. Everybody knew that it was fake, but you did it anyway. Wigs at a certain point were like this. In the race for status or acceptance by our peers we will do a lot of money-ass shit to fit in, including drawing on our legs. A hat is just there to make you look taller, but everybody knows you are wearing a hat. Lifts in the shoes, toupees. It is nice that you don’t have to fret about hair anymore like you used to. When Merlin was a kid you have to cover up your baldness and your shame, while now men don’t have to do that.

John noticed that - just like people start looking like their pets - that bald guys hanging with bald guys is a thing. Merlin knows a big bald guy who has a short goatee and John wonders if they are universally back or if they still signify something, because they used to signify doorman in an Irish bar. In the early 2000s it was just a douchy guy look, preceded by the soul patch, but now Merlin things it is a Maga (Make America Great Again) look, with a sleeveless Under Armour shirt and wrap-around sunglasses, making videos in the car. Those Oakley wrap-around sunglasses used to stat that you used to be in Black Hawk Down, but that is often not the case, it is stealing valor.

If you learn to utilize and manipulate other people’s level of comfort you get a lot in life because people like to avoid stuff they don’t like and you are code-switching because you are wearing that to the Walmart, but you sure as shit down wear that to the VFW hall (Veterans of Foreign Wars).

There are no Walmarts in Seattle, but only on the outskirts. They have successfully managed to keep certain things out. John doesn’t go to Walmarts, the first one he ever went to was in Florida and that really had a powerful effect on him. John does go to Costco because they are a Washington company. Adam Pranica used to work there, but he moved on a long time ago and he is now a professional podcaster. The Costco has that $6 chicken and John asked him once if those were good chickens that have names and were raised by little girls, but they are chickens that come from chicken places and Costco isn’t losing money on a $6 chicken.

Merlin thinks that Costco is not as good as it used to be, but it is till very good and it is also where he got his crab from. All you do is put butter on a thing. They sure inject that chicken. They have a bunch of Mengeles back there, putting butter salt right into them. That is the collective noun: A Mengele of Chicken Injectors. They get twin chickens and then they inject one, but not the other.

Van Halen (RL372)

Every once in a while John is still listening to Van Halen. He can listen to Fair Warning and Women and Children First. Those are sleepers. John used to have a Memorex 90 Minute tape and he had one on one side and the other one on the other side and he would put it in the tap deck. This was before the tape deck automatically flipped, but you had to eject it and manually flip it over. Going back and forth between those two records John got into his head that that is what Van Halen was, but he later discovered that other Van Halen is very different.

Those are two very good record. Unchained might be Merlin’s favorite Van Halen song. Those records did not sell very well because people weren’t ready for the fucking deep science. They recorded the first and the second one (Van Halen and Van Halen II) at the same time, and the first one is good, but John thinks the second one is not as good. After those, Fair Warning and Woman and Children First are transitional albums before the whackadoo of Diver Down, which is not that good and is a bit Dave-heavy.

Knowledge of the past that is now obsolete, Rubik’s cubes (RL372)

Merlin has his guitar restrung. John thinks Merlin is talking about the one that helped him out a lot the last time he was in San Francisco, but Merlin is talking about his electric. He gets it and strums it for a bit.

There was a time in John’s life when being an electric guitarist was the highest form of knighthood and now no-one gives a good care about it at all. It is almost completely meaningless and has no cultural cachet. Merlin’s daughter and her meme-ing friends are like: ”Worms on a string” and you go like: ”Check it out” - ”Ok, boomer!” She says that all the time. When John was young, guitar players were Jedis! For at least 30 years, starting in the late 1950s, it was the thing! What is the comparable thing in John’s father’s life? Was it something like fly fishing? it could be playing football or rowing crew against the Nazis.

Another example is being into automobiles, being able to fix automobiles, having a fast or loud automobile, that is a very Harrison Ford cool thing to do, like a hot rod. Knowing how to cook was maybe not as big a deal. How many guys can you fit into a phone booth or can sit on a phone pole? Could you eat a goldfish on a phone pole. Merlin spent all his college years, trying to get as many people as possible into phone booths, but no-one even does that anymore now 40 years later. What if you have imprinted on that and it is your thing now? What if you can’t finish until you are in a phone booth with another man?

Merlin knew how to do a Rubik’s Cube in two different ways and could do it in 90 seconds or less. By 1981/82 standards he was pretty good, albeit not as good as Jonathan Coulton, who didn’t know how to do it until he was in his mid-40s. Merlin also had a Rubik’s Snake, which was supposed to fill the void of the next gimmicky puzzle thing. Kind of like what we went through with Crocs that evolved from normal Crocs to different kinds of Crocs and now you have formal Crocs.

John was not into Rubik’s Cubes. He couldn’t even win at Chinese Checkers. He never learned beyond throwing your pieces around in Chess. In Chess he thinks that as soon as you learned more than 5 moves chained together you were cheating because every Chess game you should start by knowing how your pieces move. You want to develop your pawns! A lot of bands play the same set every night or even have the same banter every night and John doesn’t think those bands are any good. Not every band has to be like The Long Winters that takes the stage with no set list and asks the audience for requests because that feels a little risky, too.

Efficiency is not part of the value proposition of a Long Winters show. You come for the inefficiency. Is John done talking? When is it time for music again? Don’t worry about that! You are here for show! This is show! What is in the show is in the show! It is John’s show! The crazy part is when something happens, but it is not in the show. Like the guitar player dropped his pick or the singer slipped and fell off the stage or the drummer ODed, but it is not in the show. It happened and nobody is going to deny it, but it is not in the show.

The Beatles (RL372)

John was listening to You’re Going to Lose That Girl (song by The Beatles) this morning, which is a heavy-duty Lennon song that has many good parts, but it also has hand-drums and bongos in it that according to John’s good friend Jim Bozure (?) were played with sticks, which does not go with the song! It sounds like they are on Mary Jane. The songwriting does not sound like Mary Jane, but it is 100% a John-song that they wrote and recorded still in a head-space of not on Mary Jane (marijuana), but then they were on Mary Jane that they got introduced to by The Supremes. Merlin would love to have marijuana with a young Diana Ross! Who wouldn’t? Her in a sheath dress, smoking out of a carved-out apple. John is not saying that Miss Diana was smoking refurb, but somebody on that tour was! It would be somebody from the Motown who then took Ringo aside and told him there were not enough hand drums on his stuff.

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