RL43 - Waiting for Our Duck

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

  • Copyright and intellectual property (Music)
  • The rat that ran into a Wiener dog (Pets)
  • Bronies, Ironic juggalo tattoo (Attitude and Opinion)
  • Breading different sizes of dogs (Pets)
  • Merlin’s friend stomping rats (Vermin)
  • Serial Killers (Factoids)
  • Jason Finn, Chris Ballew (Music)
  • John’s mom breeding Borzois (Parents)
  • Messing with cats (Pets)
  • Mexican Pop music, Ska, Reggae, Bluegrass (Music)
  • The Eagles, guitar pull-offs (Music)
  • Playing Kind of Blue at the newsstand for two years (Stories)

The Problem: Perfect storm for a little wiener dog, referring to John seeing a rat crossing the street and accidentally running into the face of a wiener dog that just came out the door and was off-leash. The dog was then chasing the rat down into the bushes.

The show title refers to Retrievers being duck-chasing dogs and every one of us having to find our duck that we can chase.

The reason Merlin was late to the recording is that he had to make coffee and he is still waking up. A lot of people assume that John is doing this podcast mostly nude most of the time and today it is actually true and John is completely naked and he would like to be known as Steamboat Willie for the rest of the episode.

Merlin seems a little tired today, but he is just subdued and a little calmer. John likes that because he likes any attempt a person makes to try a different thing. He is just wearing a different hat.

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

Copyright and intellectual property (RL43)

John started the show singing Merlin’s name, but Merlin worries about the Freddy Mercury estate coming after him. They have powerful lawyers and sometimes the family can be tightly wound about the intellectual property of dead people. The Elvis Presley family, God love them, will license his name and likeness to be on pretty much everything, but the one that really gets Merlin is James Joyce’s grandson who is such a cocksucker! It is one thing to be a business man and it is another thing to deliberately be a dick. Merlin had written a whole Hip Hop Opera, or Hiphopera called McUlysses, but they put the kibosh on it!

You should be able to incorporate another artist’s work in additional work and not have to deal with a bunch of upset grandsons. Right about the time when the copyright for Mickey Mouse is about to run out the Disney Corporation always finds a way to extend it. They are made out of filthy lucre! James Joyce are pretty old books and most people have never heard of him, let alone read it. Merlin started to read Steamboat Willie five times and never made it past the first chapter. The problem is that there are so many biblical references and if you haven’t read the Bible all the way through (see discussion in RL28!) you are not going to get a lot of the subtext of Steamboat Willie, especially the non-canonical gospels.

Disney gets so much of their stuff from free content from the culture! They didn’t write Snow White or Sleeping Beauty or anything, but those are German fairytales. Once again with the Germans! Merlin likes the way they can make that happen every time! ”Haven’t mentioned Hitler yet? Oh, there he was!” Merlin is sure that Steamboat Willie is a parody of Buster Keaton. John wonders if Buster Keaton did the Steamboat Willie dance. For a long time all they knew how to animate was slow-moving dinosaurs, mice moving their hips and people whistling, and flowers doing an arm-waving dance. John really wished mice moving their hips was still a more popular meme in video-culture.

The rat that ran into a Wiener dog (RL43)

Last night John was standing out in front of a bar. He doesn't know why, but it was for different reasons than why he would not have known why a couple of decades ago. He was riding his Vespa, he saw a person he knew and he pulled over to talk to them.

Suddenly a big rat came out from underneath a car, it saw the people on the sidewalk and it knew that it needed to go a different direction. It cut across the street diagonally and it was moving so fast that his tail was spinning like the key of a wind-up toy or a motorboat propeller. Because somebody came out of a doorway, the rat had to do a course-change but there was yet another guy coming out of the next door down walking his Wiener-dog in the middle of the night. The little Wiener dog stepped out the door and the rat ran right into his mouth. He was so excited that he absolutely lost its mind and chased the rat into the bushes.

John pictured this Wiener dog living in a studio apartment in the middle of Capitol Hill. He probably sleeps on a pink sheepskin rug all day, people shampoo his hair and feed him little niblets, but that night when he walked out to go on his once-around-the-block poop run it was different because a five-pound rat ran right into his face. Everybody was cheering on the street as the dog went into the bushes and although John was there for 45 minutes he never saw the dog again. His little Wiener dog desire to go down a hole after a rat had all come back to him! He is probably down in the sewers right now, his little pink ribbons all gross and covered with rat blood, but he is just down there, he is the hunter.

He was off-leash and the guy who was taking him for a walk was almost in his pajamas because it was the middle of the night. It was a perfect storm for this little Wiener dog! Merlin thinks that dogs lives in the Dachshund version of a slightly nicer version of a Supermax prison. He is living a life where he can do nothing, but it is not that bad at the same time, like that place where they send the super-criminals or the place where Shield puts all their really bad super-villains way underground. Do they get to play basketball for an hour a day? It depends on what their skills are, but by and large they are kept in a stadium where their powers are kept in check.

Merlin’s understanding is that Dachshund is the German term for badger hound and we bread them into these hideous little creatures so that their bodies could go down a hole and chase a badger. All the dogs that people are carrying in their purses are little ratters and were originally designed to chase rats into holes. It is the craziest psychic disconnect in our culture that we treat these creatures like ersatz-children but the only reason for their existence is actually to grab rats by the face and chew until the rat is dead. There is nothing cuddly about these things! They are monsters!

Bronies, Ironic juggalo tattoo (RL43)

The other night Merlin saw a guy in his neighborhood walking down the street in an ironic T-shirt that said "Brony" on it. John’s understanding of Brony culture is that there is no ironic use of "Brony" by straight culture. If your T-shirt says "Brony", then you are a Brony and you are not kidding around. There are even sarcastic juggalos! John knew a girl in Wisconsin who had a juggalo tattoo, the hatchet-wielding dude who surely has a name. It was in a place where you wouldn’t see it in normal encounters with her and as John remarked upon it she said that those guys are hilarious and she thinks they are awesome. It was very much a hipster-ironic juggalo tattoo.

A subset of the rationale for getting tattoos is people getting tattoos as responses to other tattoos, in-jokes, or tattoos-clichés like a girl with a dolphin jumping over a rainbow tattooed on the small of her back. Then there are the guys who get a killer-whale jumping over a rainbow that is eating a dolphin and it really only makes sense if you know that there is a dolphin-jumping-over-a-rainbow cliché. That joke is not even amusing as a shirt, it is not amusing at all, but it is part of the tattoo culture and people show you their tattoos and say: ”Oh, do you get this one?” Those tattoos are little puzzles and if you don’t understand tattoo culture you are not going to understand this referential tattoo.

There are probably no people in the straight world getting ironic Brony tattoos because there is no audience for Brony-ironism, although Bronyism is culturally expanding by leaps and bounds. It is expanding faster than we can build the monitoring-stations to keep tabs on all these people. As time goes on non-Bronies are going to adopting Brony-culture unknowingly, just like with the Blues: There will be appropriation upon appropriation and pretty soon people will use sparkle power to go about their normal day without knowing what sparkle power is.

John was astonished thinking that the cultural envelope of their listeners would only include maybe one or two Bronies, but in fact his inbox was full of letters from very articulate and respectful people who had no truck with anything they said, they did not want to argue, but they just wanted to say that they are here and they are listening (see RL37). Merlin has two things on his ToDo-list: He needs to find a better song to sing to John at the beginning of the show and he needs to do a deep-dive on Bronies.

Breading different sizes of dogs (RL43)

Most of the incontinent dogs Merlin has known have been Dachshunds, but that might be an availability heuristic, an attribution error or a category error. Small dogs tend to live longer than large dogs because their little hearts have less work to do, but bigger dogs are also getting hip-dysplasia because of the extensive breeding.

Whenever they talk about hideous freak dogs emails will start pouring in. You don’t want to talk about Pit-bulls, because people with Pit-bulls are sensitive about Pit-bulls. How is a Castlemist Mastiff not going to have hip-dysplasia? It is like trying to make a lion out of a boxer! It is incredible how big a Grand Mastiff is. John has been chased by them across so many hedgerows, but they can’t climb trees.

John has had a lot of first-hand experience with Pit-bulls being delightful little people, but the problem is that their jaws can also crush iron. If you asked that owner of the Wiener dog who chased the rat if that would be possible, he would tell you that it is not.

Canine eugenics is doing something really fucked-up with two dogs and say: ”Which one of these turned out more of the really crazy dog we were trying to make out of two different dogs?” It is a form of forced evolution and you put the other one in a sack full of rocks and throw it over a bridge.

Merlin has nothing against Pit-bulls. His sister-in-law, the one who threw his glasses away, not that he is angry, has a Pit-bull and they were told it was a Pit-bull and a Sweet Dumb Bird Dog (Josh knows about them), like a Retriever who are not the sharpest dog in the drawer. When they brought it home they found it so sweet because it was a Retriever-pit-bull mix and in the fullness of time it became clearer and clearer that a Pit-bull had fucked a little bit of Retriever and this little gal had come out.

Retrievers don’t seem smart, but they might just not have been called into action yet. We think of them as: ”Go, get the duck! Bring the duck back!”, but maybe over the course of 1000 years a million Retrievers keep coming down those metaphorical apartment steps, keep walking out the door and there is no metaphorical rat that activates what they are ultimately there to do: A duck has never been provided! Whatever the duck is, it is clearly not just a duck. We think of Retrievers as duck-chasers, but they were not put on this planet just to bring ducks back, they are Manchurian candidates and they are waiting!

John’s and Merlin’s relationship with animals is worth pursuing. They have previously talked about raccoons, nutria, birds and horses and it is clear that we are facing a world where we have taken these animals out of their natural unnatural environment, which would be just walking around eating shit. We want to make them into things that bite bulls on the nose. If you create a dog whose sole purpose is to bite a bull on the nose or when you create a rat-chaser, the side-effect could be that the dog is incontinent, or what else? It is a canine game of whack-a-mole!

Merlin once had a Pointer that was really stupid and he had a Beagle that was really stupid. You can judge a dog by the person who is the animal companion of the dog (you don’t say owner). Merlin’s Pointer would point, but although he was never around anything to point at there was still something inside of him and he had an amazing sense of smell. Merlin never knew what he was pointing at, it could have been the metaphorical duck, or he could have seen dead people! Merlin’s Beagle, every time they turned around he killed a rabbit. He would just find a rabbit and kill it!

After every vicious dog attack that kills a child or old person, what does the owner always say? "They have never done anything even near this before!" Not a single person in the world, except a football player or something, whose dog has killed a person has ever said: ”Yeah, that has happened five times!” There is always a first time!

If you took a Bernese Mountain Dog with a barrel around his neck to your local Starbucks and asked them if they had a nozzle, a nipple or something that you could put on the barrel to interact with their espresso drip coffee maker thing, there would be some guy somewhere in Seattle, he would probably be wearing a knee-length apron and he would have a handlebar mustache, who before you even said ”nipple” would have exactly what you were looking for and he would come out from behind the counter with an array of tubes that hooks to their Italian single press coffee device.

That dog is not even going to know what the duck was until it had a barrel! This is true of human beings, too. We are obviously more complicated than Bernese Mountain Dogs or Wiener Dogs, but each of us is waiting for our duck. Sometimes when that duck appears we are not ready for it but we are at a bookstore looking for a housewarming gift or we are on our way to meet our fiancé, and our duck appears. Are you going to chase that rat into the bushes and down the hole and get your pink ribbons dirty? Or are you going to fight the fact that every fiber of your being says: ”Holy shit, I never knew it, but here is my duck!”

No guy in his pajamas will have brought you to this doorway, but you are the guy in the pajamas and you are the dog and you are ignoring the duck. Also: What is the duck of the guy in the pajamas? When his dog went off into the bushes he was left holding the duck and everything has changed for this guy! Is he going to let this dog come into his bed and lick him on the face tonight although it is covered in rat blood?

For tons of dogs that rat would not have been their duck. That rat could run right under their nose and right across their paws, their ears and tail would go up, they would be attentive just as every human on that street. A rat doesn’t want to be seen and when they realize that they are clocked they are going to try to run along a wall and do this creepy bifurcation of their body like a ferret. They scoot with their big butts, which is so gross! They are going to high-tail it away and they are not going to confront you about having been seen. There is someone listening to this podcast who is not 100% sure if they are sexually attracted to rats. "Is Micks (?) listening?"

Border Collies were not a major currency in the culture John came up in. Instead there were Malamutes, Huskies, Shepherds and Bernese Mountain Dogs, big dogs made for cold weather. His High school girlfriend’s family had a Wiener Dog. Merlin’s aunt and uncle as well, but their Wiener dogs could never go outside because nature would kill them instantly. Alaska personified would see a Wiener dog and immediately crush it by directing some cold at it. They continue to talk about what countries breed the most dogs, like Germany and China.

Merlin has been around a few Border Collies and all of them have one thing in common: People go on the Internet or buy a dog book at the Barnes and Noble and say: ”Oh my God, Border Collies! Look at that sweet face! Look at those eyes!” They only read the first paragraph, but they don’t read that this dog will never stop herding everything. John had a friend with an Australian Shepherd that could actually climb walls. Their herding instinct is so powerful that they will herd dust around the house and if you had some streamers on a fan they would try to get those streamers.

Merlin's friend Richard grew up in a Border Collie house where the dog herded the children. If he tried to leave the yard, the Border Collie would grab him in a non-harmful way by the seat of his pants and drag him back into the yard, which is an advantage if you have stupid children. You just need to find the right duck for your dog and the right dog for your duck! It goes both ways. If you have stupid children, get a Border Collie. If your children are smart, then maybe you need a dog that doesn’t have that instinct.

The Chinese bread some serious lap dogs and some fighting dogs, but the lap dogs were all meant to guard temples. They make that terrible yap yap yap sound because their job is to wake everybody up when the Barbarians are at the gates. They are also meant to disguise your boner while you are sitting in a chair. A boner-hiding dog would be so handy, so to speak!

Humans as well did not evolve for 10.000 years so that you can work at a Best Buy! You walk through the aisles and every one of these 23-year old salespeople is thinking: ”I was bread to chase wolves! May I help you find a 1/4” to 1/8” adapter?” They shuffle off and try to make a joke with you, they try to make common cause with you, but behind their smiles they are screaming, like: ”Get me out of here, please! I will work as your cabin boy, I will be your slave, do whatever, I don’t care! Please, just get me out of this Best Buy! Let me be your assistant who just coils your cables and touches 9V batteries to his tongue to see if they have any charge left in them! I’ll be that person for you!”

”I just need a 1/4” to 1/8” adapter, dude! Thanks, though! See you later, bro! Peace out!” and John walks out the door, literally to hunt wolves with his new cable while they are adjusting their name tag. Merlin recommends to get the Monster cables and their replacement insurance. They have a lifetime guarantee, but John already has 3 milk crates in his house full of cables with a lifetime guarantee that don’t work anymore and he keeps meaning to take down to Guitar Center, dump them right inside the sliding door, and shout: ”Lifetime guarantee, motherfuckers! That is what you said when I bought these! I want $650 worth of new cabling!” and they will tell you to contact the manufacturer.

Merlin’s friend stomping rats (RL43)

Merlin’s band used to practice at their drummer’s house. His name was Bruce, he was feral, he hunted, he hated rats and he would go out in the backyard and shoot them. He worked for a living, he had rough hands, and he was a rat slayer who would stomp the rats in the kitchen with his boots and scoop them up with the cardboard thing that a half-rack of 12 Busch beers came in and just throw it out in the backyard. Those boxes make a great hat, too, and Merlin once saw a Coors Light cowboy hat for sale on Amazon. He didn’t even know that existed!

It completely freaked Merlin out that his friend could do that and he didn’t just do it because he was drunk, but he had done it many times. It is very hard to stomp a rat because those little fuckers are very fast, but he was not startled by them. You don’t really understand the word ”guts” until you have seen a smashed animal! Cutting up a cow or a pig it is not the same and cutting the ham off a pig has a surgical nature to it. This is completely different! This is nature! This is your duck staring in your face! A stomped rat looks like steak tartare with a plate of spaghetti on it, all stuffed in a furry slipper. John has seen some squashed things!

Serial Killers (RL43)

Recently there was a maniac white supremacist guy who walked in and killed a bunch of Sikhs because he didn’t understand what a Sikhs is (see this incident two weeks prior to recording the episode). Everyone was saying: ”Gee! I don’t understand what his motivation was!” - ”Because he is an asshole and an idiot, he doesn’t know one turban from the other and he doesn’t even care!”

He could be the way he is because of only three minutes in Junior High, it didn’t take a lot of breeding! The problem is that he is an asshole and all of a sudden he killed nine people. None of us have ever done anything like that before until we do it because we are animals. It is one of the stupid sayings, like whenever you find something you had lost people say it is always in the last place you look. Merlin can’t believe that adults say that!

Merlin is pretty interested in serial killers. There was a time in the early 1990s when serial killer fandom was a thing in our culture, when John Wayne Gacy was selling paintings and getting marriage proposals. John had a lot of friends who literally corresponded with killers who were in jail and who had books about them. He did not approve of that and he did not indulge in it, but since the Internet has arrived in all of our lives he must confess to having spent many hours late at night trying to understand (Ted) Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. Bundy is a hell of a story!

Bundy was one of Merlin’s first serial killers because he was in Florida. He was one of the first serial killers who was smart and diabolical. He broke out of jail, he took it and turned it, he tried different things, he went to different places, but he would also go up into the mountains and have sex with the dead body of the person he had killed for multiple days until you could no longer have sex with it because of decomposition. That is a thing that is very difficult to square with: ”Yeah, he was the Bonnie and Clyde!”, and then: ”Ohhh!”

There is no possible way to contextualize that if you only spend two seconds thinking about the things he did. You can’t live in a world where there are Bundies and at the same time you believe we can educate our society to a point where there is no longer any hatred or suffering. This is the liberal conceit: If we just pour enough education on people through a process of cultivation, some draconian laws, and a little buzzing (?), all of a sudden all of our hatred for one another will go away and we will live in an utopia where we wake up every morning, gather at a common table, and make müsli for one another.

Our linen garments don’t chafe, except for this one guy who likes to eat people’s faces or have sex with dead bodies. Really, he just found his duck and we are going to have to walk him over to this other fenced-off area. He certainly is an outlier on the bell curve of the people we are aware of, but there are surely a lot of panty-snatchers out there! Child abductions have gone way down since the 1940s but the reporting about them has gone through the roof. There were probably way more missing blondes back in the days when cars were larger, but today it is way over-reported.

Bundy worked as a pretty-high-up staffer for the Republican campaign for governor in Washington state and he was a trusted advisor of the man who eventually was the Republican governor of Washington. You have to be a pretty high-functioning person to pull that off. John Wayne Gacy was not only a professional clown at children’s parties, but he was also one of the most respected businessmen in Chicago. He would tell young men that he owned a construction business and offered them to make a bit of money. People would get in the car and pretty soon they were in his basement.

Jeffrey Dahmer was a super-interesting character and a really freaky guy, but he had the same pattern as a whole bunch of people: Killing cats! You get a kid who blows up a little too much stuff, John excluded, or somebody who has killed a lot of cats… John never killed a thing in blowing things up, but he always said: ”Clean! Fire in the hole!” before he would push the ignition button. Merlin has read enough books, he watched enough TV shows, and he spent enough time on Wikipedia to know that you take a 14-year old cat killer and you are sowing the seeds of something that will become the discovery of ducks, which also is a terrific Márquez story.

These markers are the reason why we don’t hang out with people who listen to White Supremacist music, but we do hang out for instance with Bronies. ”Has a Brony ever flipped his lid?” They found their duck, but there are a lot of ducks and there are a lot of decoys.

Jason Finn, Chris Ballew (RL43)

John recently learned that two members of the Presidents of the United States of America are regular listeners to this podcast. One of them is Jason Finn who only has two strings on his drums and one of his rag toms is a beer cooler. He knows how to live! Lead-singer Chris Ballew said he has listened to every episode and the other day he broke it down for John and gave him the exegesis, he pulled a little bit of a Flansburgh by saying: ”Here is what you need to do!” Jason Finn once gave Merlin the second biggest exegesis after Flansburgh of this show and of John that Merlin had ever gotten. John might be Jason Finn’s duck! Finn does know a lot about John, but he also thinks he knows a lot more about John than he does.

Jason told Merlin a lot of things and if John was looking for equal time… No, trying to decode Jason Finn is something John does in private with Jason Finn and he is not going to take that out into the world. There is a Roger Corman movie, probably The Raven, with Peter Lorre and Vincent Price. They show a magic duel done with $5 worth of effects where people are throwing fireballs at each other across a long table, which sounds like every Friday night for John.

John’s mom breeding Borzois (RL43)

John’s mom’s dog Gibson is a Borzoi crossed with a Whippet, a nervous fucking dog who has doggie ennui. He has anxiety and spends many hours sitting with his paws under his chin staring out the door, wondering about things. His duck is spaghetti, but nothing in the history of this dog would indicate that spaghetti was his grail, like the cat Merlin once had.

In the 1960s John’s mom used to breed Borzois (see RL221). She used to live out in Kitsap County where you have to take a ferry and where you are living in the forests there Sasquatches come and want to borrow a cup of sugar. The queen of her Borzoi pack was a dog named Manuschka. They would often drive down these long country roads out in the forests and one day one of the people there got a wolf hybrid.

The next time they turned a corner on this long country road, still deep in the forest, about 0.5 miles from this person’s house Manuschka sat up in the back seat of the car and started howling. This was the first time she had ever done that and it was the spookiest sound that John’s mom had ever heard! John's mom didn’t know that the wolf hybrid was there, but she only found out a week later. Manuschka howled for 45 minutes as they drove by with her prehistoric knowledge that her prey was there. She had never in her life smelled a wolf and now she smelled one and she knew it.

Borzois were the dogs of the tzars and they were bread to hunt wolves. They are huge dogs and a proper Borzoi stands 3.5 feet (1m) tall at the shoulder. They are like horses and in bursts they can run up to 50 mph (80 km/h). Some of it has been bread out of Gibson and the closest that he has ever seen to a wolf is a wolf-like squirrel.

Borzois work as a team of three to approach a wolf. Wolves do not like to be approached by anything, but normally it is the wolf who does the approaching. The wolf is obviously moving as fast as it can, but these three dogs will be right on its tail and the wolf will be scared because behind the wolfhounds is the freaking tzar and 400 people on horseback carrying blunderbusses. It is a bad scene, they are blowing on trumpets, and the wolf was not into this from the beginning and when he sees these wolfhounds he knows this is a bad deal.

The first wolfhound gets alongside of the wolf and latches onto its front paw, tripping it so the second wolfhound can grab onto one of its hind paws and spin it. This is all happening at 40mph (65 km/h)! The third dog gets the wolf by the neck and then they hold it for the tzar. They are meant to do it, this is why they live, and John grew up with these dogs.

They are absolutely bonkers because these skills are not called into daily action. John has no way to activate this power in them because he is not on horseback and while he does have a blunderbuss it is not useful in the city. They are not hunting wolves, but they still have all these incredible powers and: ”Sorry, do you want to go on a walk down to the playground and chase a tennis ball? Is that going to be enough today?”

John went through a phase when he was riding bicycles because it was a thing you could do with girls: ”Let’s go for a bike ride!” - ”Oh, that sounds fun!” and they would ride around Seattle, a city of 10.000 hills. One time at 3am John took Gibson with them on a bike ride and took him off the leash. They rode around town for miles as fast as they could pedal and Gibson ran alongside them with a look on his face, like: ”Come on! Are we going to kick it in now? Are you going to kick it into gear or are we going to run?”

He kept being disappointed, like: ”This is it, right? This is as fast as you can go?” It was impossible to push him to his limit. He was just trotting alongside them as they were barreling down these hills with a look on his face, like: ”This is fun, this is new!” He was underused, just like the great Pavement might have it (the song is called We Are Underused). If John had a group of people with motorcycles they could have given Gibson a true opportunity to use his wings for a second. Gibson gets five walks a day, as far as dogs go he is living the life of Riley, but he has all this doggie ennui because he is dreaming of wolves and there are no wolves.

Messing with cats (RL43)

Merlin is neither a big cat person nor a big dog person. He is not a big person at all, but maybe he is a baby person because he has a daughter now and he doesn’t need a proxy daughter anymore. He married a model and doesn’t need a magazine. Saying that having a pet is like having a proxy child is a terrible thing to say, please send your letters to Merlin!

Merlin wonders if John ever fucks with a cat with a laser pointer or if he will put a hotdog on a string on the ceiling fan. John has fucked with cats in more ways than he is proud to say. Merlin loves to fuck with cats! They are just smart enough that you can really fuck with them. You can put Scotch tape around a cat’s paws and because a cat's weight is supported by spreading its paws it dances and hops on its little stumps and can’t spread its toes. Don’t do this! This is a terrible thing! Spreading its paws and making biscuits on you is part of how they get their scent on you.

Don’t give a Retriever a table-spoon of peanut butter! People fill these little dog toys called Kongs with peanut butter to drive dogs crazy. They think she loves it and it occupies her mind, but it is like Gitmo (probably referring to waterboarding at Guantanamo Bay) and turns her mind into a hot coal. Tape on a cat’s paws is a little bit like bound feet. If you did that for 200 years and kept the ones that danced funnier and funnier you wouldn't need the tape eventually. It is surprising that the Chinese have not yet made dancing cats! There is surely a place in China where they have dancing cats that don’t have toes.

One time when John was 12 years old he was sitting on bean bag chairs at a friend’s house. A cat walked by and John’s friend grabbed the cat, held it with one hand while he unzipped the bean bag chair with the other hand, threw it inside the bean bag chair and zipped it up. It was terrible! The cat came out 5 minutes later covered with styrofoam beans. Animal torture is terrible and John highly discourages their listeners from doing things like that. The film Steamboat Willie received some criticism due to humorous depiction of cruelty to animals.

Mexican Pop music, Ska, Reggae, Bluegrass (RL43)

Merlin is a big fan of Turkey In De Straw (by Billy Golden) because it has more melodic complexity than 98% of modern Mexican Pop music. As long as they are already going Ping Pong, there is the guy with the really over-compressed trumpet. Merlin calls it Taqueria music and John calls it German Oompa music, but it has these awesome snare fills. According to Merlin the only good parts of Ska songs is the end and the drum fills, but most Ska songs never end and just go on forever. Merlin likes listening to the station ”Estereo Del Sol!”, but it makes his wife loose her mind.

Some people have a really visceral reaction to Bluegrass, but Merlin really likes it. He is like that with Reggae (see RL19), which according to John is the craziest thing Merlin has ever said. Reggae is amazing music, but it has been polluted by the bros and Legend (album) ruined everything! Bob Marley was so cool! Merlin had a copy of Burnin’ and of the first few good records with Peter Tosh when it was a good band (the Wailers), but then everybody in Merlin’s fucking college had three copies of Legend and it just went on and on. It is the soundtrack for eating outside!

The Eagles, guitar pull-offs (RL43)

Just as you would take a giant square of butter and carve an elephant out of it and put it in the middle of a buffet on a cruise ship, the Eagles carved an elephant out of a block of crap. Don’t get Merlin started on Don Henley!

Does John think that of old-school Glenn Frey, not Miami Vice Glenn Frey, but old Glenn Frey, like: ”Smuggler’s Blues!” (song by Glenn Frey)? John’s buddy Phil Collins whom he is so gay-married for appeared in an episode of Miami Vice. John is so in denial and Merlin can't believe he does not like Tequila Sunrise or Hotel California. John is not an Eagles-hater and likes the Eagles very much it is the same problem with Clapton: At the heart of the Eagles there is nothing but cocaine. There is no soul to the Eagles!

John likes Fleetwood Mac because at his heart there is intense suffering. It is cocaine with a rhythm section, a guy who can do fucking pull-offs like a motherfucker, and some older British dudes who are looking at the back-end of Stevie Nicks every night. That is going to do a thing to a guy! Pull-offs might be Merlin’s duck. He really likes a good pull-off! Anybody can hammer on, it is like biceps vs triceps. Pull-offs are the triceps of guitar.

The other day John was at a guitar store and a guy he knew was walking by. John was sitting there playing the guitar and as the guy walked past him he said: ”Teach me a lick!” - ”What? I was just heading out of here!” - ”I know! Just two seconds! Teach me a lick!” John says this to guitar players all the time and 99% of the time they say: ”Yeah, yeah, whatever!” and they don’t teach you a lick. If somebody asked John to teach them a lick, he would play them something. But this guy stopped and spent 30 seconds teaching John not just a lick, but a concept and John was sitting with his guitar for a day after that trying to figure it out. It is a gift you can give another person and it involves some hammers-on and some pull-offs.

Merlin is not saying that John is any Joe Walsh or Don Felder, but Shapes (by The Long Winters) sounds like Haircut One Hundred. He likes John’s little pull-off thing in that, but he has no idea how John plays that song live and sings at the same time. He finds it really weird and he tried to play it but it is hard. Once you learn it it must be not as hard.

Once you are a lead singer and lead guitarist on a thing, you have to give yourself a lobotomy. John demonstrates on the guitar how the part goes and Merlin finds it fucking insane and thinks that John is like an Otograph (band). Merlin knows how to play that solo, the four figure, he learned it from Guitar for the Practicing Musician. It is like a Hotel California, a solo that he used to love. It is a kind of pull-off, but it is not exactly like the solo at the end of Stairway to Heaven.

When John plays that song and is looking out at the audience and makes eye-contact with anyone, then all of the music in his head goes away. He has really screwed the pooch on that tune a couple of times because he will be looking around and it is not a song where he can really be looking around. If he makes eye-contact with a girl and she will go ”Wink!”, he will go ”Haha!” and the ability to play the song leaves his hands. He is also singing a really different rhythm, like a Joe Satriani, the bald one with the aluminum guitar, but fuck him!

Merlin was a bus boy once and every night when they closed their coked-up manager would put on a cassette of fucking The Long Run (album by the Eagles) and Merlin had to listen to The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks, The Long Run as well as Heartache Tonight every Friday and Saturday night. There is only so much Heartache Tonight you can take!

It is a good song and at this point Merlin is good to hear it once a year. It has great harmonies on it, but it is not a thing you want to hear multiple times and for John once a year is still too often. Only if he is in a different state and he is spinning through the channels and the only thing there is is Christian Ministry and Heartache Tonight he will stop and listen to it.

Would John change the channel back to the ministers if he heard Bruce Springsteen? That depends what kind of Bruce Springsteen we are talking about. His best album is Nebraska and Merlin offers John to send him a copy. If he came across I’m On Fire as he was driving across the country, he would stop and listen to it. What about Rosalita? Let’s move on!

Playing Kind of Blue at the newsstand for two years (RL43)

When John worked at the newsstand they were about 6-7 employees and they could play their own music and listen to stuff. One day one of them played a record with the word ”crap”, like ”I am not taking any more crap!” The guy who chose the music was a dreadlocked gentleman and John has no reason to think that it wasn’t Fishbone. A customer complained about that, but not to the person with dreadlocks at the counter, but they wrote a letter to the manager, saying: ”Your dreadlocked employee played a song that said the word crap in it!”

The store had magazines about naked motorcycle gangs, about Longpigs and how to prepare them, and they sold Granta and Merlin suggests that it was a Granta customer. The owner of the store was a West Coast Liberal Do-gooder magazine guy and rather than telling his employees about the customer complaint and asking them to not play songs that have the word "crap" in it, or rather than telling his employees: ”Haha, get a load of this letter I got from some asshole!” he said: ”Well, obviously I can’t trust you guys to play music that doesn’t have swearwords in it, so I am going to pick the music from now on!” He didn't have to be there all day, but he was the business owner! Somebody objecting to the music that is being played in a store? Really? Fuck you!

He selected 10 CDs of acceptable work music, like Kind of Blue (by Miles Davis) and Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, a selection of instrumental modern Jazz that was not going to hurt anybody’s feelings. When this music came out, for example (John) Coltrane records, it made everyone who heard it a junkie on the spot, but in the intervening 40 years it had just become background music for people.

They rotated through these 10 CDs until nobody cared anymore. They didn’t have a 10 CD-Player either and had to go to the back and change the CD whenever it was done. Eventually nobody cared anymore and they had heard all of these records a million times, but they weren’t authorized to put an 11th record into the mix, and so Kind of Blue got put into this CD Player and stayed there for the next two years. They were not supposed to not play music either and the life went out of everybody who worked there: ”Yeah, whatever! Kind of Blue! Fine!” and every day for two years John would go to work and hear that album.

It became the sound of hate and John was so mad that he wanted to have Miles Davis and his little wiry neck in his hand and hold him under water until he stopped breathing. The dreadlock guy who had played the music with the word "crap" was a black man, can you fucking believe that? ”You want some black music? Let me play you some black music! Here is your new black music!” John could sit right now and give you an angry mouth-trumpet version of every note of Kind of Blue from start to finish. He should book that as a show in a club and just stand up there and do it.

There are so few ducks and so many people. There are so many occasions where there might be our duck but we look the other way and then we sit there. Dreadlock guy sat there with his duck, but then that guy brought in a rubber duck and made him play with it all day long. How fucked-up is that? He put peanut-butter in the Kong!

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