RW2 - Trading Sandwiches

This week, Dan and John talk about:

The show title refers to the fact that John only had access to Wonder Bread if some kid in school traded a sandwich with him, which each kid only did one time because John's sandwiches were really bad.

Back when it used to rain, before the water wars started, Seattle was full of rich dense green trees and shrubs all around. There was always a damp wetness in the air. It was in the great climate upheaval of the early 21st century when food was still was still available. You could see the storm clouds on the horizon.

John played the disclaimer for their sponsor Wealthfront with guitar reggae style.

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

Carbureted cars (RW2)

John was looking at pictures of old Morgans on the Internet. He is not in the market for one but that doesn't keep a guy from looking. John's current car is a 1979 three quarter ton GMC Suburban, which is a little bit of overkill in Seattle but you have to be ready for anything! It is a car from a time when things were still made of steel and rubber bands. John always thought of carbureted cars as cars that could be fixed by anybody, but enough time has passed since the end of the era of carburetors that all modern mechanics have been trained to work on fuel injected cars and have been trained to hook them up to computer diagnostics, meaning if you take a carbureted car to a young mechanic, they kind of don't know how to work on them. The finesse of tuning an old non-computerized car with a carburetor is like a spiritual activity. Your typical average mechanic today doesn't have those skills and you have to go find an old one, who probably hasn't been working on those cars for a long time either, so they are like "Whoa! Check it out!" And then they have to get their safe cracking fingers back.

Not taking Shop class in school (RW2)

John can you do an oil change, but he has the bull in a china shop problem and he thinks that it is a big truck and he can just torque it a little bit more. Then he torques the head right off the bolt. John wasn't actually raised in a shop culture and his biggest regret in High School and Junior High is that he looked down his nose at shop class because his elective class was French. All the way through his High School years they were somehow still living in this colonial mentality and wanted to be one of the ruling class, so John took French and honors.

Meanwhile the people in shop class were grease monkeys and poor kids who lived in trailer parks. Not to say French didn't help him over the years, but John realized pretty soon after High School that he should have taken shop, woodworking and small engine repair, because those are actual skills that would have saved his ass so many times. The idea that college kids don't ever have to work on cars and instead sit around speaking French to each other was planted in his brain by the adults, but it was just a straight up lie!

Dan never took French, but he took Spanish for the minimum he had to do to graduate. There were three shop classes in his High School. There was wood shop where they made pencil holders and picture frames. There was metal shop where you got to use an arc welder to make a candle holder. Then there was auto shop where the guys would bring in their cars and you would just work on them whatever needed to be done. Dan was really into taking things apart and putting them back together, so he wanted to be in auto shop, but there was kind of a crew in auto shop that you needed to get into somehow. Everyone in there had an older brother who had been in auto shop and brought their younger brother into it and you couldn't just get into it. Dan was not anywhere remotely cool enough to be in the auto shop class and you couldn't just walk in. Of course he didn't want to wood-shop, because who wants to do wood-shop? He would like to do it now, but in High School it seemed really dumb and so he took metal shop. He vividly remembers making a candleholder with the arc welders and the acetylene torches. The process of doing it was strange, because they tried to find a way to make you use every tool in the shop. There is no justifiable reason that you would need to use a lathe to make a candle holder but they found a reason for you to use a lathe.

What your glasses tell about you (RW2)

John thinks of the early 1980s in terms of glasses frames. There was a cultural divide between metal frames and plastic frames. If you were wearing metal glasses, you were on an engineering track in life, so all the guys down in metal shop and auto shop wore larger sized square metal frame glasses. John was in the upper campus wearing some tortoise shell plastic frames which in the early 1980s were kind of a new evolution. Plastic frames had been big in the 1960s before they went out and now they were bringing back those big round tortoise shell glasses. It was very much communicated as a class gulf. Today you hardly ever see anyone in metal frame glasses because it is plastic frame glasses all the way, but just a few years ago there were still people wearing those tiny little sprocket metal framed glasses. John bought his first glasses in 1982. He wanted his glasses to communicate a certain thing, but there were very few frames available to communicate what he hoped to communicate. If you wanted to communicate that you were an aeronautical engineer who also liked to read Playboy, you had 40 different pairs of glasses to chose from.

Dan didn't like wearing glasses and tried to avoid it even though he desperately needed them. He rejected it until Heather told him that she thought Dan looked good in glasses when he was around 17 years old. From then on the door was open and he was wearing them all the time. There was this logic where glasses were uncool for nerds, but because Dan was so clearly a nerd already, he was not consciously trying to not be one, but he had already so much going for him in the nerd direction that he didn't need to push any harder to get there. He was very much opposed to the fact that he did need glasses, but when he finally caved in, everything was much clearer and better and he never looked back. He got his first pair of glasses when he was 11 because he thought that things were a little bit fuzzy up on the blackboard in the classroom. Every male in his family going back to Israel times had worn glasses. Most of the kinds of glasses Dan had were the engineering track glasses that John was describing. That wasn't what he wanted, though, because he would create his own Dungeons & Dragons modules, draw out the maps and write descriptions for each room. He was hard core into that kind of stuff!

Early video games and trading cards (RW2)

Dan's digital watch had a Pac Man game! The first game John ever saw on a digital watch was a Coleco football game where you would move around a cursor and there were other cursors that you're trying to get around. Dan vividly remembers those, but he never had one himself. Every single guy he knew had one of these things, either a football one or a basketball one, which was called the Electronic Quarterback. It had up down left right arrows and a K/P button in red. The first time John saw one of those on a watch was 1982 when they were sitting around at a lunch table, hand-drawing modules and maybe even playing Go. That is how nerdy they were! A kid walked up and with a calculator watch that also had this football game on and it was like "Hold the phone!" They had just crossed the threshold into The Future and were pregnant with all these possibilities. If John had that watch now, it would still be interesting to him, meaning we haven't really advanced very far. That was 30 years ago and John would still probably play that football game on a digital watch. There are at least four hours a day where he is playing Sudoku on his phone which might as well be Armchair Quarterback.

Dan loves these old devices! John remembers an orange Donkey Kong handheld LCD game and he gets some kind of a sex feeling from thinking back to it, because he had not thought about that LCD Donkey Kong since then and had completely forgotten that it existed! It was the most amazing thing ever with two screens, a D-pad on the left and a jump button on the right. It was as much like Donkey Kong as they could make it and it was way more fun than the arcade! It is not the type of thing that John would have had for himself, maybe it was his sister's, because it was close enough to him that he was able to play it all the time, but not so close that it belonged to him or that he had any ultimate authority over it. As a kid, John's things were of one kind. If you had all the D&D stuff, then of course you weren't also going to have a bunch of sports cards, but he knew a lot of kids who had sports cards. He was never going to have sports cards himself, but maybe he got some at a birthday party where everybody got presents and they would give them sports cards, which was a false present! Dan had Star Wars cards but he never intentionally got a single baseball card or anything like that, unless it came with a pack of gum.

Trading sandwiches in school and lunchboxes (RW2)

Dan remembers that Star Wars cards came with Wonder Bread. John's mother did not allow them to have Wonder Bread, not because she was a hippie and Wonder Bread was unhealthy, but because it was too expensive. It was a frivolous marshmallow bread and a terrible waste of money. Instead she bought brown bread from the yesterday's bread rack because it was just fine. Wonder Bread was the kind of food that hovered above him and he had no access to it unless he could get some kid at school to trade half a sandwich with him.

John's sandwich was 2 day old bread with honey, which was cheap. If you put honey and peanut butter on 2-day old bread and put it in a Ziploc bag, by the time it is lunchtime, the honey will have completely soaked in and will have crystallized within the bread, turning the bread into into a third element, being neither bread nor honey but a kind of sweet wet crystal bread that was glued to peanut butter bread. It was all a little stale but also wet from having been in a plastic bag all day. John would sit down next to his friend who's mother didn't work and she would have made him a roast beef sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise wrapped in wax paper, while John's sandwich almost had the character of a glass brick that you would use to build a bathroom in a Miami Vice style condo. It was a glass brick except it was sweet flavored and it was meant to be his lunch.

If John could ever get a kid to trade sandwiches with him, that kid would never trade sandwiches with him again, meaning it was always a one shot deal and he had to really make it effective. When he reached his threshold and just could not do it anymore, he was going to burn one for the team just to get to try somebody else's sandwich. A beautiful rich girl in his elementary school traded sandwiches with him one time and had so much sympathy for him after that. She really treated him better because she understood that he was poor. He was so poor that his mother had to work and she took pity on him.

Dan had the same peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Wonder bread, but with jam (he wasn't a big jelly fan), at least five days a week if not also on the weekends for his entire grade school and Junior High. He never went out into the street to get a Philly Cheese Steak or something. For a while he had a Star Wars lunchbox and at one point he probably had a Mork & Mindy lunchbox. He definitely had a Battlestar Galactica one, and he ate what he got in the lunchbox. In Junior High and High School everyone was buying lunch except Dan, who was rolling in with a brown bag. Lunches were not expensive but they weren't free either, they were several dollars, and Dan was envious of the kids who were eating hamburgers and fries and square slices of pizza. Dan wanted that, although he was probably so much better off for not eating it.

For a long time there has been a collector's market for those 1970s lunchboxes. John struggles with his memory particularly around lunchboxes because he didn't have that many lunchboxes although the time he went to school was the prime lunchbox era and the sweet spot for lunchboxes. John would never have touched a Battlestar Galactica lunchbox with his hands because by the time Battlestar Galactica came out he was too old. All the other lunchboxes, like Dukes of Hazard? Come on! The prime lunchbox era is 1975-1977 and how many lunchboxes could he possibly have had? Three maybe? They were made out of metal and John was not allowed to be trendy, but because he looked at everyone else's lunchbox, there are a great number of lunchboxes look very familiar to him.

John will go to flea markets or look at lunchbox displays at theme restaurants, and he remembers the Star Wars one and the Fantasy Island one, but he does not remember exactly which ones were his and which ones were his friends'. There are probably 50 lunchboxes out there that John feels a pretty strong connection to. He remembers them being important at the time and he might have had a Casper the Ghost lunchbox or something that was not that great compared to a Star Wars one, but his mom got it for on sale. A part of him wants to own one of his old lunchboxes just to have it, but he can't separate the memories. Maybe there is some photograph of him where he is holding a lunchbox, but he doesn't think there will be because he would know.

Dan only knows two for certain that he absolutely did have. One of them was a blue Star Wars lunchbox that had the X-Wing fighter being pursued by a Tie-fighter shooting at it and the laser beams passing just right over the top. Inside it, it had a thermos with a yellow lid and a drawing of C3PO and R2-D2. The second lunchbox was a Muppet Show lunchbox, although he had probably passed the point where it was okay for him to have a Muppet Show lunchbox. It was yellow plastic instead of metal and it was when they transitioned away from the era of pressed tin lunchboxes. As Dan was talking, John remembers the feeling of being a real grownup when he had his own thermos because the thermos was such an emblem of adulthood! The last time he saw somebody with a thermos was probably when he drove through a port area at 7am and watched all the longshoreman changing shifts. Who carries a thermos anymore? When John was young it seemed like everyone had a thermos. He remembers opening his lunchbox during early days in Kindergarten and having his own thermos with its own attached cup, and he felt like he was a real grownup person now. He didn't have a collapsible cup, though, which seems like the type of thing he would carry on his utility belt: His Leatherman, his Maglight, a multi-tool, a big wooden spoon and a collapsible cup.

Wearing a vest (RW2)

John struggles with vests because he has a long, extended torso. All of his height is in his torso and his legs are just normal sized legs. Vests are typically short and they are meant to be a little short, but on John they are ludicrously short, like there is 8 inches of shirt between the bottom of the vest and the top of the pants. He likes vests, he approves of the concept of vests and in the last five years vests have become very popular with the Mumford & Sons set. It is communicating a sort of oldtimeyness and John might have a pocket watch in there, trending into waistcoats. When you combine them with too many other things, like a pocket watch, a handlebar mustache, a trilby hat, some sort of retro cordovan Redwing boots, and suspenders, you will be into trouble, but a vest by itself is delightful. When John does find a vest that is appropriately long for him, he gets very excited and wears it, because now he can join the world and rock a vest. Once he is in the vest, walking around and catching a glimpse of himself in a shop window, he is like "Yeah! Jesus, you're a guy in a vest!"

John does not own a single pair of slacks. He has cotton pants which are either khaki colored, called khakis, or other colored, called just pants. They are not pleaded, because he does not have a lot of stuff to carry inside the front of his pants. It is not an area where he would carry a bag of flour or syrup and it is not an area that he wants to be expandable. In the very early 1980s, someone bought John a pair of slacks and he had a bad experience with them. From that moment on he would never again wear a slack. Right now he is wearing a kind of twill pants, a linen shirt and a herringbone vest that was made by a tailor from Chile. He knows that only because when he found the vest he wondered about the brand, googled it and found this guy in Chile who worked in the Chilean film industry as a costume designer and then branched off and made a few of his own garments for sale.

Somehow there are two of those enormous Chilean vests in John's size (and he normally doesn't think of Chilean actors as being his size), that were maybe made as dresses, but fit John perfectly. They showed up at a Goodwill in Seattle for $0.99 each and John was so pleased that he is wearing them every day now. Maybe people imagine that he also has an utility belt on, but he doesn't. He is confident enough right now in this vest that when he catches that reflection and the voice says "Jesus Christ, man you are wearing a god damn vest!", there is enough of a response like "That's right! I'm wearing a goddamn vest! I'm a full grown man and if I'm going to be vest guy! I'm going to do it!" John is proud wearing his Chilean herringbone vest out in the world.

Mirrored sunglasses (RW2)

When Dan wore his first pair of mirrored sunglasses that he got at Erker's, he had the same kind of experience as John had with his Chilean vests. It was a good look! John never wants to see Dan in anything but mirrored sunglasses because they are perfect on him. Dan is not a guy full of affectation in the presentation of his style, but maybe he should always wear mirrored sunglasses, kind of like Karl Lagerfeld always wears a combination of vampire clothes with tall collars, long sleeves and a silver chain over a black tie. If Dan just dressed like a normal Texan guy in whatever combination of Dockers and Kirkland-brand shirts people in Texas wear, but wore mirrored sunglasses all the time, that would be an incredible brand!

Dan's clothes are within the realm of current style, but he doesn't have any sort of affectations, like Merlin did have with his hair. Merlin's hair had its own website! John has his small bag, Jonathan Colton has that one shirt that he wears whenever there is a special occasion, and Hodgeman is a 10 layer cake of affectation: He got the mustache, he got the Hitler hair, he got the sunglasses, and he got the pipe even though he doesn't use a pipe. John thinks of himself as having a pipe sort of like John Flansburgh used to have in the early days of They Might Be Giants. He always had that fucking pipe! Dan needs an affectation and John thinks it should be mirrored sunglasses because it brings out the cop in him from the CHIPs era, like Erik Estrada. There is a dormant Erik Estrada inside Dan, waiting to sex it up! Dan agrees and thinks about pinking some up at the drug store, but if he would wear them all the time, he would need a prescription. Still, it seems doable! John has 11 pairs of prescription sunglasses and it is one of the great ways to spend money. He buys all his clothes in thrift stores, and he doesn't drink or smoke.

Smoking (RW2)

Dan sees John as a relatively heavy smoker, because that goes with the sort of Rocker lifestyle that he understands John has maintained. John smoked vividly and with alacrity and he loved it. He smoked all kinds of things and he smoked with so much Savoir Faire. He was addicted to tobacco at multiple levels, because he also chewed tobacco for a long time which may surprise some listeners. Like every guy trending into middle age, he thought he might transition to smoking cigars and he smoked a pipe for a while. He bought a pipe in Denmark and spent several months smoking a pipe, but that was an affectation that he could not maintain because it is a fucking lot of work. He just couldn't hold up all the the weight of carrying a pipe around and being the guy with the pipe. There are also a lot of accoutrements that go with it. Smoking a pipe isn't as simple as having a lighter and having a pipe, but there is a lot of work to keep it going and it is better if you are fishing while it is going on. It is a thing to calm busy hands and John much prefers to sit still.

Except for a Hookah, Dan has smoked all of the things you would consider mainstream tobacco stuff, whether it is cigarettes, pipes or cigars. Every single person in his entire family going back to the dawn of time were also smokers. They'd be sitting there, smoking cigarettes, saying "Don't do this! Don't do what I do!" and as they would drive around in the middle of winter in the Dodge Dart, a car that John and Dan have both shared, with the windows up, Dan's mom was smoking in there as they were driving around. Both his mom and dad were smoking Marlboro Reds. His grandfather, to slow his habit of 55 years down, eventually switched to a pipe which was the most amazing thing in the world for Dan because it smelled wonderfully! Dan loved being in the room when his grandfather was smoking his pipe and he loved the smell of the tobacco in the little pouch. Dan had a plastic toy lion from the Philadelphia Zoo with a lever on its back and when you pressed on the lever it would open its mouth. His granddad once had the idea of blowing smoke into the lion and when he opened the little door, the smoke sort of rolled out, which Dan had him do over and over again. He probably kept his grandfather smoking his pipe a lot, just to fill his little lion with smoke. John's mom dated a guy who smoked a pipe.

John loved Magic Shops and practical jokes (RW2)

John went through a phase in the 1970s where he spent a lot of time in magic shops, at a time when there actually were magic shops. If you went to Downtown Seattle and walked down 1st Avenue, it was like Sailor's bar, Sailor's bar, Sailor's bar, Strip Club, Magic Shop, Sailor's bar, Military Surplus Store, Strip Club, Magic Shop. John doesn't know what was so magical about that time, but Magic Shops were one of the few things that you could find in Downtown. Although John loved Magic Shops, he didn't have the patience to become a magician. He couldn't sit and practice the thing over and over again to even learn the most rudimentary card trick. He ended up being one of those kids who was hanging out at the magic shop, but all he was ever going to amount to do was practical joker. He would buy a whoopee cushion, fake vomit, the little gum that would snap your finger and the can of peanut butter with a snake in it.

After that stuff had played out, he turned to the dark side of practical joking and got for example itching powder, which is basically a can of fiberglass. He opened a can of itching powder on the school bus one time, somehow it got away from him, it went everywhere and an entire school bus full of kids had to go home. The kids all piled out and went to their respective classes, meaning that after a while 60 kids were in total torment and all went to the nurse's office at once. Everybody had to go home and it was John's fault. He got in big trouble for turning that itching powder loose on the bus and they yelled at his mom for even giving this child access to itching powder, but she had no idea! The kid wanted to go to the magic shop and her number one concern in sending her 8 year old to the magic shop was that magicians are pedophiles. They are weird old men in ill fitting tuxedoes and she didn't think that they were also going to supply her kid with weaponized fiberglass.

The next step was cigarette loads that you would put in the end of a regular cigarette to make it explode. It was the perfect match of practical joking, masquerading as magic and explosions. John loved explosions and he loved playing tricks. Cigarette loads were genius and he still carried a package of cigarette loads in his wallet into his late thirties. You never tell anybody about them and you just wait. Invariably there will be a moment when everybody is sitting around a bar somewhere in Austria, your bandmates are there chatting up the girls after the show late at night in some Bierstube, and eventuallly one of your close buddies will leave his cigarettes on the table and goes to the bathroom. He never sees it coming and you don't make a show of it. You just take a cigarette out of the cigarette pack, nobody will notice because everybody is sharing cigarettes, and very subtly under the table, in a pretty involved process, you get a cigarette load into the cigarette and make the cigarette look like it hasn't been tampered with, you slip it back into the pack and then you wait.

Sometimes it could be even days! No-one ever sees it coming and when their cigarette explodes, there is really nothing better in life. It is loud, the entire end of the cigarette explodes and it is not a thing that anyone can be prepared for. You don't put it right at the tip of the cigarette, but you bury it in there so that they light the cigarette and have two or three leisurely puffs on it first. The genius of it is that it usually explodes when they are taking a big puff that the cherry lights up. John stopped carrying cigarette loads a few years ago because he stopped smoking and a lot of his friends stopped smoking around the same time. He remembers taking the last little package of cigarette loads out of his wallet three years after he last pulled that prank on somebody and it was just time to send these down the road. One time in 1977, John put a cigarette load in his mom's boyfriends pipe. The pipe exploded and the entire contents of the pipe bowl shot flaming like comets all over the room. It was completely fantastic, but he beat John and John was in so much trouble for so long.

Dan is amazed that John wasn't afraid for getting beaten. The fear was always what kept Dan in line, although he could have gotten away with a lot of stuff. Dan's mom was a single mom so she was his only parent for most of his life and she never would have beaten him for anything. There is nothing quite as troubling as Jewish mom guilt, but being beaten is up there, he would imagine. Feeling guilt was enough to keep him in line and he walked a pretty straight line because of that. John also had a single mom for most of the time when he was young and she spanked him with a belt a couple of times before she decided it was too much trouble. No one ever backhanded him in his family and he never got family beats.

John got his ass kicked by other kids all the time, but he could not help himself, because although he was motivated by a very complex stew of guilt and fear and shame, there was also thrill seeking and there was nothing more thrilling than fucking with somebody, mainly because of the danger that went along with fucking with somebody of getting your ass kicked. Then there was the social danger that if you fuck with people for too long too much, you will be excluded, banished, vilified or reviled and John was always treading that line, walking very close to the edge of being outcast. Somehow he came never all the way to being genuinely hated. He was hated by some people, but he always just considered them the weaker. John was genuinely terrible, a real Dennis the Menace critter and a troublemaker who was always stirring it up. John's mom did not like to invite trouble and that was where the guilt and shame came in. He did not want to bring trouble down on his mom because he knew that it plagued her. Still, he couldn't help himself.

John is too large for any normal bed (RW2)

John is a huge person and normal mattresses do not work for him. His nose is off the end of the bed on one end and his toes are off the end of the bed on the other end. He can only sleep in beds at a diagonal which means that he cannot share a bed with another person. Even then his arms are flopping off. Whenever he wants to have a guest in his bed for some amount of time, it either requires that he sleeps with his feet hanging off the end, which is fine, he is prepared to make some sacrifices in order to share some intimate time with another person, or it requires that at a certain point in the night he goes to sleep on the floor, which is not good for his back, or that the time he spends in the bed zone with another person is confined to a certain couple of hours. They come together in the bed and then they go in different directions.

John is not somebody who has spent a lot of time sharing a sleeping bed with other people. He cannot sleep in a fetal position, he is a sprawler and a bed destroyer too, If you put him into a hotel where the bed has corners like in a hospital, the first thing he has to do is rip it completely apart. He is basically like a cat that has to soften up his bed with his paws until it meets his softness needs. The new fashion in nice hotels is to have eight pillows on the bed. Some of them are tubular shaped and some of them are clearly furry fuck pillows that you get off your bed as fast as you can and never touch with your hand because they've only been put to ill use. If John wakes up in a bed like that, there will be pillows and sheets and blankets strewn all over the room. He basically sleeps very explosively and that stuff just goes flying. The same is true in his own bed at home as well. It looks like a storm area, like a contained whirlwind happened.

John never had a California king except in a few hotels. It is an experience of being a child again where the bed is big enough and he is completely held by the bed. John has always been curious what it would be like to have a California king. It takes up all the space in a normal sized bedroom and there will be no room for furniture. Then you read those manuals that say that your bedroom should only be for sleeping and that you don't want to spend any time in the bedroom other than for sleeping and one other activity, but you shouldn't do a crossword puzzle there, you shouldn't be reading, and you shouldn't eat your breakfast there while looking at the newspaper. You should definitely not be watching TV in bed! They say all of these things are really really bad because you are supposed to have a mental association with the room as the place where you go to sleep.

When John first moved into his house, he didn't put any pictures on the walls of his bedroom, he didn't even put a mirror up. It was just blank walls and a bed. This was his sleep place and he really practiced that for a while because he has a big house and he has other rooms that could be disaster areas. When his daughter was born he needed to create space for her to be a child and he had to convert one of his disaster area rooms into a clean child space so that she could make it a disaster area of her own. He had to find a place for all that stuff that was in that disaster room and all of a sudden, his super-clean antiseptic place was full of bookshelves that were full of books.

Now his room looks like one of those shitty bookstores near a college campus. John had a friend for a while who worked at Amazon in the department that got all the galley copies of books like review copies they had sent out before the book was released. They would give John all the review copies of books that he was interested in and now he has an entire shelf with monochromatic spines of all these weird books about Benjamin Franklin. John does not find the presence of those books in his room to be restful, because they are looming over him, chattering at him, they are haunting him and a lot of them are saying things like "You only read three quarters of this book about the Spanish American War! There's still a quarter left and you don't want to read it but it's here, humming, throbbing!" He doesn't want that stuff, but he would like to go back to a clean room. Maybe having a California king would be the impetus to take all those galley books out, put them on the street and burn them in a pyre.

John's house (RW2)

John's house is a proper farmhouse built in 1912/1916. At the time, that part of the city had just recently been incorporated into Seattle and was a distant rural quadrant. The house has a quarter sized basement that was just a root cellar for keeping your roots and your coal bins. Like all houses that were built during the first part of the century, they didn't expect this house to still be around 100 years later, but they were just throwing up something to house a family while they worked on the spaghetti farm. There is a barn and they used to have a little orchard. It was a truck farm where they raised chickens and they took the baby chicks down to sell them at Pike Place Market as part of the farm-to-table economy of 100 years ago. Some time before World War II, that first family had 8 or 10 kids and grandma was living with them too, so they built an addition that is not in the early 20th century bungalow farmhouse style, but in the mid 20th century Cape Cod saltbox style. It was like a separate house with a bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom.

John is only the fourth owner of this house. The first two owners raised their entire families there and stayed in the house for 40 years each. Then a male flight attendant for Alaska Airlines bought the house in 1997 from the 2nd owner and because it is fairly close to the airport, he ran it as a flight attendant way station where his friends and his friends' friends would come when they had layovers, kind of a flight attendant crash pad. It was an Alaska Airlines flight attendant sex house for about ten years and during that time the owner "fixed it up", meaning he took all of the original interior out and replaced it with what he considered to be a modern cool chic inside, which John finds awful, but the bones of the House and the vibe of the house are pretty great. Two whole families raised their kids to adulthood, mom and dad grew old and grandpa died in the house. It has this great vibe of loving families and the cherry on top is 10 years as a flight attendant sex house, a fantastic psychic melange. Then John bought it and he is both raising a family there and also still kind of running a sex house, trying to be true to the spirit of the place.

Owning a house has a lot of responsibilities and John is constantly fighting intruders like ants and possums. The woman who lived two doors down hadn't fixed up her house in a long time, because she was not a rich person. Eventually it was foreclosed and she left in the middle of the night. The House had kind of decayed around her and some flippers bought it. One day she was gone and John's immediate next door neighbor was lamenting it because he had known her for 30 years and had offered to buy her house several times and she could even keep living in it, because he has this fantasy to buy her house and then tear his house and her house down and build a bunch of condos there. John doesn't support that plan and the zoning of this neighborhood doesn't even allow it.

The neighbor was super-bummed because she just left the middle of the night and I didn't tell him, didn't say goodbye and didn't sell her house him. The house was purchased by some flippers at an foreclosure auction, they ripped everything out and rebuilt it. In the process of ripping everything out, they disturbed a colony of rats that was living in there. Those rats had nowhere to live anymore and they dispersed, some of them into John's attic. Now he was fighting rats, which is not a thing that he wants to fight. His 81 year old mother, who is truly an indomitable person, said all they had to do was dig a trench around the entire house and put chicken wire down to a depth of one foot, then the rats won't be able to get in. That seemed like a big project to John, but she was like "Well, I'll come out tomorrow morning at 5:00am and get started", which she did. At the same time John set about using traps to catch the rats that were already in the house and eventually he got them all.

At the time John was thinking that this is what home ownership means: The glamour of being a fully grown adult in the attic, pulling a dead rat out of there at 110 degrees (43°C). At some point a rat died in the heating ducts. John doesn't know how because all the traps were accounted for and he didn't use poison at any time, but as the rats scattered from the house that they were reconstructing, some of his neighbors probably put poison out and one of the poisoned ones came to be with its friends in John's place and decided that it was feeling bad, wanted to crawl off somewhere and of course it crawled off into one of the heating ducts. It was 110 degrees (43°C) in Seattle and John had a dead rat in a heating duct, meaning he had to close all the heating ducts off. There was one room in the house where John just decided to shut the door for a month and not go in there while he was waiting for this dead rat to mummify. There was no way to get to it and he could never find it. All it is ever going to be is this mummy somewhere and when the winter comes and John turns on the heat again, there's just going to always be a slight mummified rat vibe.

John's house doesn't have a basement or a foundation, but they just threw some boards down in the dirt and started building a house on it, and there should be neon signs like in the movie Beetlejuice, saying "Come on in critters!" All the chicken wire in the world isn't going to keep them out! There are trees that touch the roof and there are a million ways for varmints to come in and find little places to have their babies, die miserable deaths and smell like a trash fire. Luckily, termites are not as big of a problem in Washington as they are other places. There are a lot of varmints, but not the truly destructive poisonous and nightmare varmints, where you buy a million dollar house and then you discover that it has been turned to cardboard by critters. There are also no poisonous critters that hide in your shoes and stab you with their little tails. Dan has a lot of that in Texas. John was staying at a friend's house in Denton and woke up to a scorpion standing on the coffee table looking at him. He didn't like it at all, not one bit!

Dan's dead possum in the attic (RW2)

The second house Dan had bought was in a lovely area of Central Florida called Winter Park Florida, a very nice little area that was built in the 1950s and most of the homes there are either these kind of amazing custom multimillion dollar homes, a lot of which are very new, built by very wealthy people, or traditional 1950s ranch style homes. Dan's house was a ranch style home and the people who had owned it before hadn't really done that much to it, so it was still in its original state, except it had new carpet. It had an Italian style kitchen with darker wood and black metal handles on everything and an in-wall oven, but the original kind and not the cool modern kind. At some point some, maybe during the move or maybe in the time between the previous owners moved out and Dan moved in, some animal came in. They heard something in the attic or somewhere up in the roof inside that sounded like it was in the throes of a horrific death. It sounded big, not like a rat.

Dan didn't know what this thing was, but it died and smelled like rotting garbage. Dan had smelled a dead rat before, but this was not like that, it was just like pure garbage, like someone had emptied an entire can of garbage in the attic. This was Central Florida in the mid 1990s: Very humid and whatever bacteria was in it, it was thriving up there! Dan stuck his head in and looked around, but he couldn't immediately see what it was. As part of their home deal, they had gotten a service with a pest company built in somehow. They sent a guy out who went up there for a minute, came down again and said he had to call his manager. The manager came, they put on these white jumpsuits with masks on, they went up there and one guy came back drenched in sweat, asking for a long board with a nail in it, which Dan could give him, because as a self-feeding jew he is ready to be crucified at any time! He went up there again for a long time and then the other guy came down and needed to take a break from it.

They guessed that at least a 12 to 15 pound possum died up there and as possums do when they are in the throes of death, they wedge themselves into the least accessible place that they possibly can. They brought eight trash bags up there, they were hacking at it, trying to break it up and pull it out. It had positioned itself right over the AC duct and the House never really smelled right for the whole 2-3 years that they lived there. It was the worst! This is homeownership! People imagine buying a house is going to be this wonderful little thing and maybe they will do some gardening on the weekend, mow their own yard, but then you wind up with a dead possum on day two!

John's aunt's house in Hawaii (RW2)

John's aunt used to have a house in Hawaii which was built in 1960s cinderblock style. There was absolutely nothing to the construction of the house that wasn't completely evident at first glance, partly because the climate in Hawaii enables you to do this. There was a poured cement floor with nothing underneath and cinderblock walls except for the front of the house which was a wall of glass. It had a cantilevered roof that was uninsulated with just beams and a flat roof on top of it, so there was nowhere for critters to hide and nowhere for things to go die. Because it was Hawaii, if you left the house unattended for very long it would get completely colonized by wasps, mongooses, geckos, snails, chickens and every other kind of critters. Whenever you would arrive there, you would have to spend the first few days just fighting back nature! You have to figure out a way to get the wasps out of there, you'd have to shoo all the geckos out and who knows how they got in. At least there was nowhere for a possum to crawl up into a crawl space and die.

Dan had a tarantula in his garage (RW2)

The things Dan had in Florida, with the exception of the gators which very rarely get into your swimming pool, were mostly just miserable creatures as opposed to things that could really hurt you or were terrifying. You had those very large Roach Palmetto Bug things that could fly, but it is not going to hurt you, it is just a giant flying roach in your house at 1:00am. In Texas they got scorpions and tarantulas. There's apparently at least two different kinds of tarantulas that if you leave your shoes out in the garage they will go and sleep in your shoe. Their bites are not terrible, more like a bee sting at worst, but the idea of a spider that big is horrifying! Within the first few months of when Dan moved there, there was one in his garage. He remembers having pulled into the garage with the car and as he was walking by the side of the car, he saw a shadow kind of shrink a little bit in a slow, intelligent way, one of those things: "Did I just see that? Or probably not!", but there is that sinking feeling like you don't want to know.

Dan has kids and while some problems will go away on their own, other ones will come back on their own, and this seemed like the kind that wouldn't just go away. He looked down there and as he walked closer to the shadow, and as the same shrinking of the shadow into itself happened again he realized this was a tarantula. It was the first time Dan had ever seen one where there wasn't a barrier of glass surrounding it. It was on the hoof and they were on equal standing ground with one another. It might have been just as afraid of Dan as Dan was afraid of it. This was its home and it was just walking around. Dan still feels bad about this story because the short version is that the spider died, not because he wanted to kill it but he wanted it out of his garage. If Dan finds a spider of the mean looking kind in his house, he will kill it, but he recognized this spider and on one hand he knew rationally it posed no real harm and it was beneficial. It was in its home and apparently there was a mating season and in Hill Country spiders love to run around and do their mating season thing.

Dan got a broom and flicked it out. From this point on it was the spider's fault, not his. It should have just kept going, but instead it ran back up the driveway back in toward him in the garage and it started to put its little front legs up. It wouldn't back down like it should have! So Dan flicked it back down again and it came back up again. This spider really had some moxie! Dan's driveway is kind of like a big hill and as he flicked it for the third time, it went tumbling down to the bottom of the driveway and didn't get back up. The first time he thought he would just make it go away. He didn't want to hurt it. The second time he was not joking around and the third time he meant it. Then Dan just stood there for a while and it didn't come back up. Later he saw that it was definitely dead. Maybe the shock was too much for it or it was brittle or something. Dan won't say he has an arachnophobia per se, but he has a different kind of relationship to spiders than the average person in that he is fairly spider averse and at times in his life he has been very afraid of spiders and very much a "Kill kill kill, Faster, Pussycat!" kind of an attitude.

Some of their listeners were sad that Dan didn't bring up his spider sense during the episodes where John had filled in for Merlin on Back to Work (Episode 230 and Episode 231). They didn't talk about his fear of having the ability to create spiders and the listeners wondered if Dan had overcome his spider fear in a kind of G. Gordon Liddy way by tying himself into a tree during a lightning storm and eating a spider. Dealing with a tarantula really helped. A few months before that Dan wanted to put his kid in the tub to get a bath and there was a very big spider in the tub, walking toward his child. He was the only one who was going to be able to do something about it, but his normal response when he saw spiders was to leave the house. This time he couldn't because his kid was there and he had to save his kid. Dan destroyed the spider and it made him realize that he had an inner strength. The mama lion inside of him had stepped to the forefront and he had protected his child from the spider. He realized that maybe spiders weren't something he needed to be so afraid of. That was Step 1 and dealing with the Tarantula was Step 2 of overcoming the fear. Dan still doesn't like spiders, but he is much more relaxed when he encounters one.

John has a good friend who is Spider-averse and he gets phone calls at all hours of the day and night to come over and get the spider off the ceiling. For a while it was cute, then it was maybe not cute but charming, but now it is more like "All right here I come and I get the spider" They have big spiders here in Seattle. People are talking about the Brown Recluse, which is a terrible fear of Dan, because they have them in Texas and the Black Widow. John does have a barn and he sees a tremendous variety of spiders, because spiders love a barn. If you built a barn on your property, all the spiders will congregate there. Spiders like a barn, but they also like to build a web right in front of the front gate of your house where it is right in your face.

The spider mating dance (RW2)

John has a pretty good relationship with spiders. He is upset he did not think to film one particular event a couple of years ago when it was late summer and he was watching a spider in her web in front of his house. He noticed that a second spider was approaching and he saw with his own eyes a thing which he had read about and seen on filmstrips: This other spider came to the edge of her web, started plucking the strings and started playing a song for her. She responded from the center of her web as she turned to face him while he was playing his song. He came into her web, got a little closer to her and was the whole time playing playing playing on her silk. She let him get closer and closer and closer and he was playing frantically. He was much smaller than she was, playing playing playing, getting closer and closer while she was in the center of her web, her arms all touching different strings. You could really see them communicating and she was picking up what he was laying down. He got all the way up to where he was right next to her, he was playing the strings and was touching her very tentatively and snake charmery, sort of hypnotizing and she just grabbed him, fanged him, spun him, kept spinning him, wrapped him in silk until he was just a tiny little clump that she stuck in her web.

John was watching this, like Holy Shit! He was watching some Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom right in his front yard. He had spent a considerable amount of time in the fall watching spiders do their business and he just happened to be watching her when this guy showed up. It was incredible! She's stowed him in her web, went back to the center and another spider showed up on a different part of her web and started playing the song. She must have been sending out some major spider pheromones and she was a very impressive and quite beautiful spider. Every boy's spider in the county! He started playing the song and she now turned to face him and he did the exact same thing, played that song, crept into her web, creeps creeps creeps, plays the song, plays the song, gets right up close to her, snake charmer feelers.

She was very focused and then Pow! she nabbed him, fanged him, spun him and turned him into a blob that she parked somewhere. These guys were doing everything right! They were playing the song, they were brave and bold and musical and they made it all the way. John doesn't know whether from the moment he started playing the song at the edge of the Web she was like "Not you, buddy, but come on!" or whether she's like "I like this song! Maybe! Maybe!" and John can't tell whether she was sending stuff back to him through the web. He was making a big show of it, he was really plucking, maybe she was sending little vibrations back, whether it's part of her scheme or whether she does like to mate with him, but also, she can't help herself and had to kill him. It is very complicated and he really wished that he had filmed it, because he would have studied it many times trying to figure it out. None of the guys made it through and John is not sure what she was looking for. He doesn't think he would have dared, whatever impulse he had to try and play his song for her, because he had seen enough.

Do not read reviews about yourself! (RW2)

Many years ago, John was instructed by Dave Eggers as both of them were young artists. He asked John whether or not he reads reviews and of course he did, partly because he loved reading reviews even before he was making art. He read reviews of movies he had no intention of seeing, he read reviews of books he had no intention of reading, and when people started writing reviews about the stuff that he was making he was thrilled because he already liked the format. Of course the reviews made him upset sometimes, even positive reviews, because people didn't understand what he was doing. Dave Eggers told him "Don't! Don't!" and it felt like a trap, like he had asked John this sort of cocktail party conversation and he answered honestly and then Dave was like "Aha! I knew it! Don't read reviews! They are not meant for you. Reviews of your work are written by people for other people. They are not trying to communicate with you and you need to not put that data in your brain to not add that to the voices in your head!" John ignored him and continued to read reviews. Later at a different event Dave asked him again and John replied "Yes!" defiantly, but Dave yelled "Do not do it!" and was mad and gave John a dressing down. From that point on John has heeded Dave's advice and during this campaign for public office that he just ran, he was studious about not reading any press about himself. It was one of the things that saved him.

The dynamics of John's two podcasts (RW2)

Dan and John have received a handful of reviews on iTunes. They are surprisingly good, not because Dan didn't think they would have fun and make a good show, but they are universally good which is almost shocking to him and makes him very happy. The listeners seemed to really enjoy the show so far and now Dan personally has to work even harder to never let them down.

John bumped into a friend on the street the other day who said that John's dynamic with Dan is so different than John's dynamic with Merlin or Dan's dynamic with Merlin. Dan doesn't think that John is different, he is not one way on that show and one way on this show. A lot of listeners of Dan's podcast properties have an understanding of Dan as a complex personality with all these traits and strong feelings about things. Because John's consumption of media is what it is, Dan is very new to John and he is still encountering Dan in his many-faceted glory as a new person. A lot of the listeners know Dan very well and they are watching and waiting and anxiously anticipating when John is going to discover for instance the fact that Dan doesn't use deodorant or doesn't like to be around spiders. Those are some interesting tidbits that the listeners are all aware of, but they are watching John as he is stretching out, trying to think of the thing and trying to imagine what these traits might be. Then he will be saying something dumb like deodorant or spiders and the listeners are like "Oh no no! He's so close!"

John is not giving anything away and there is a lot of excitement, which is testimony to the fact how dull people's lives really are. If you put two strong personalities together somewhere, you expect a certain combustibility. Dan is very polite and he is also waiting, drawing John into his lair. In a lot of situations in life, John is like a dumb bear with his hand caught in a honey jar, being lured by hunters into a sort of bear snare not to kill him but to put him on display in a mall. His dumb bumbling nature will get him to end up at the mall one way or another, but in some Mr. Magoo fashion he keeps avoiding the snares and is just licking the honey off of his paw. A viewer cannot discern whether the bear is truly that oblivious or whether the bear is wise to the traps and the visible oblivion is just a ruse. Maybe it is a kind of special Buddhist dumbness, like a wise stupidity? This is how John sees the show. Dan sees it as an exploration. Even though he has listened to John's other shows, All the great shows, he is still not familiar enough with everything that John has done and he doesn't know where the show is going to go. Dan loves that! It is the part of it that he likes the best. It could be wax lips, it could be watching spiders, it could be exploding cigarettes, Dan doesn't know and that is the most fun for him right now.

The thing John keeps trying to figure out is how to activate this army of listeners, because when he encounters podcast listeners in the wild, obviously they are always very skittish and they run up and say some thing. For people spending a lot of time listening and getting stuff out of it, they have to be a certain type of person, and that is the type of person John would probably like. John feels like he and Dan have this tremendous potential energy that they just need to activate in some way. The listeners also want to be activated, like opening their Chakras together or all showing up in Times Square and doing a funny dance, which would seem like a real squandering of opportunity. There are many more episodes for them to explore the world.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License