RW205 - The Most Prominent Podcaster in the World

This week, Dan and John talk about

  • John having to quarantine several times because of COVID (COVID)
  • Recording in person vs recording remotely (Podcasting)
  • Gary’s Van
  • John’s first interview in The Stanger, getting interviewed while on tour (Career)
  • When John met Sean Nelson, trying to record their dinner conversations (Friends)
  • John’s relationship to texting (Technology)

Bonus-content for Patreon supporters:

  • The 2020 US Presidential Election (Politics)
  • Electronic voting, blockchain, making it easier to vote (Politics)

The show title refers to John being the most prominent podcaster in Sean Nelson's sphere of friends, or maybe even in the world.

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 Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first!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

John having to quarantine several times because of COVID (RW205)

Things are good. Other than the ridiculous COVID situation everything seems fine. John had to re-quarantine a couple of times recently because they went to a Halloween event with a couple of little girls that they were in a bubble with and one of them had a cold and was coughing on the buffet, and her father said: ”Oh, it is just a little sniffle. She picked it up while she was playing with our old friends, so and so.” - ”Well, if she could have a cold, then she could have COVID-19 because if they had a cold, they must have gotten the cold somewhere, somewhere you obviously don't know about!” John hasn’t had a cold in a year and it has been amazing, not a single cold because you don't just get colds, do you? They are not just floating around. You get them from other people when they sneeze and they wipe their nose with their hand and then they shake your hand with it and all the other things that people do.

John’s family had to retract and stop seeing their friends several times in the last nine months where they had a good situation and there were kids to play with and they had a little like camp and then it turns out: ”Oh, wait a minute, you are not taking it as seriously as we are! Back to the drawing board!” because all it takes is one person that doesn't take it seriously. Another guy that is working on John’s house came down with COVID this week, the guy that was tiling his bathroom, and as soon as John found out he had COVI he had to do that: ”Oh shit, when was the last time I saw him? When was the last time I was in the house at the same time that he was?”

It is not so cut and dried that John is not a little bit checking his temperature, a little bit of just like: ”Now wait a minute! Was I in the same room with him within the last 20 days?” It is entirely possible! He is not one of the main guys that John interacts with, but it is one of those things where John is talking to a guy, they are all wearing masks, they are all standing six feet apart, but did he on his way from one room to the other brush past me? Probably no because John is super on top of that, but… It is not like you can get it from doorknobs, but you can get it from somebody's kid sneezing on your kid, which is the real problem.

Thanksgiving is coming up, the state of Washington is saying: ”Don't celebrate Thanksgiving!”, but they are all going to go get tested five days before Thanksgiving and they are going to see nobody of any kind and John is going to drive up to Bellingham and have Thanksgiving and we will see how it is going to go.

Recording in person vs recording remotely (RW205)

Ken Jennings usually comes over here every week and he has been in Los Angeles for several weeks now doing game show business and he is flying back and was like: ”We got to get in the studio and do some stuff!” - ”No, you are getting off an airplane, you have been in California, touching who knows who!”

For both Friendly Fire and Omnibus they have already recorded episodes that will air in January and for his other two shows, Road Work and Roderick on the Line there is zero back catalog. They record every week and if for any reason they can't then the show just doesn't air. It is two different mentalities, two different concepts, but it is interesting that John has 4 shows, but only two methodologies. Maybe one time when John was in Hawaii, they tried to record a show of Omnibus remotely, but they prefer to do it in person.

John had assumed they would do it remotely, even though they both live in Seattle, but Ken wanted to be there. It really does make a huge difference when you can look at the person across the table. It is probably audible to the people because they are making a lot of gestures and looking at each other almost the entire time, just talking to each other just like they are sitting across the table. Omnibus is so dense with information that if you weren't doing that, there would be a tendency to just read your notes.

Right now both their notes are on a piece of paper and if Ken wasn’t in the room John would just be looking at the Internet. The notes they write have to be in a shorthand because all you can do is glance down at them and it ends up being the kinds of notes John used to take in college where he just writes down the dates and people's full names. John is not in any big hurry to record that show remotely because it would change the dynamic.

The few times that Dan recorded with Merlin in person, for him it didn't matter, but it was obvious that it really changed the dynamic of the show for Merlin and the show was different as a result of that. Back in the olden times when podcasting was still new, maybe in 2008 when Dan went full time, he put a lot of time into the audio quality and making the audio quality great. He would do a double-ender and other things like that, and many times people just assumed that Dan and whoever he was co-hosting with were in the same room. Now the opposite is true and it is assumed that that is not the case and John and Ken actually sitting there looking at each other is the outlier now.

Of all the people John podcasts with, Dan is the only one he has never done a show together in person. John does it every year with Merlin, Friendly Fire has done a lot of shows in person. For the first two years Adam was always in the room with John and it was just Ben that was remote. Road Work is really the niche podcast of John’s podcast empire. Dan does not have any podcasts that are more niche than Road Work either, his empire is all professional and he does not have enough bullshitting podcasts. Even the one with Merlin, although they bullshit a lot, they also talk about note-taking apps.

Any time Dan could do something in person he would always choose that and he thinks that what John and Ken have is better because of it. You can do a lot by the other person's facial expressions and there is so much about communication that happens in a nonverbal way that you just don't pick up. Dan did video on some of the shows back in the Stone Ages, but most of the time they would still do Skype video so that they could see the other person, even though they were just releasing it as audio because of those nuances and because they weren't really used to doing something like that without the visual stuff.

Dan used to listen to a lot of NPR interviews back before there was podcasting and it shocked him to find out that that was actually often the same thing that happened in a professional broadcast studio. If you were going to be interviewed for NPR, you might go to your local NPR affiliate and sit down in their broadcast station and be interviewed and you would just be there in a room alone talking into a microphone with headphones on and they were using phones to do it back in those days. The person that was interviewing you would be wired in through the board, but they would be calling you on the phone and you just hear their voice.

Road Work listeners know that John and Dan are not sitting in the same room because they make reference to it, but who knows who the listeners are!

Gary’s Van (RW205)

See Gary’s Van!

John’s first interview in The Stanger, getting interviewed while on tour (RW205)

John also talked about being interviewed for The Stranger and The Believer in RW138.

Interview in The Believer, Interview in The Stranger

When John was on tour a lot there is a lot of demand for interviews when you are on tour. Unfortunately 85% of the interviews you do on tour, you get on the phone with a reporter, who is a Rock journalist of some kind, you talked for 30 minutes or an hour, it is a great conversation a lot of the time, you enjoy the rapport, and then when you get to the town, you open up the local alternative paper and read the article that they wrote about you, you realize that they had 350 words allotted to them by the editor and the article is The Long Winters are playing tonight at so and so and so and so, John Roderick says: ”Come to the show!” and two other comments, like ”It is sparkly Indie Pop!” that they got from the bio.

Why did I talk to this person for an hour? John thought at the end of that article that they were going to write a feature, a big piece, but it was just a single little quote and often it was a misquote. Dan has been interviewed for a very few publications and it has never been for something controversial of any kind, but he has never been correctly quoted, no matter how simple or straightforward it is, no matter what they were asking, it is always misquoted and it is always out of context. Often it is mispunctuated, which is the worst kind of misquote, because it is not even a misquote, they just spelled a word wrong or they punctuated it wrong and that makes you, the interviewee, look like an idiot because it is your quote where you used the wrong ”your”, or the misplaced comma changes the entire meaning of the sentence and it makes you sound like a dumb ass.

Those interviews are set up by a chain of people, they would always come from the label, they had talked to somebody else and somebody else. John would often sit in the van, driving across somewhere and talking on his little LG flip phone, sitting in the back of the van, and finally somebody said: ”I will email you some questions!” and it was like a revelation because John could sit and answer all their questions in long form and make sure that his spelling and punctuation and word choice was perfect and they didn't get to transcribe all the ”ums”.

It is John’s favorite when he is quoted in a publication and they transcribe the ”ums”, or when you start a sentence, there is an ellipses, you change your direction of thought, you put an aside in there, and then you finish the sentence somewhere else, and it is rambling and without a clear direction, you have ”you know”, in there, and then people take the pains to transcribe that entire mess and don't take the grain of a quote out of the middle of it. It used to drive John crazy! This is a story about a Rock band! You are not transcribing Henry Kissinger as he responds to your quote about the Christmas bombings. You are just trying to talk about a band! So many of those journalists took themselves so seriously as journalists.

The best / worst of these was a woman who was trying to make her name as a writer, and she had gotten the gig to interview John for The Believer, which was a smart McSweeney's Orbit magazine about culture and art and everybody in there was smart and they were beautiful magazines. It was an honor to be interviewed for The Believer. She interviewed John at length, she was obviously a big Long Winters fan, and they had a wide ranging conversation. Then she sent John the transcript and said: ”Here is the transcript if you want to make sure that I quoted you correctly!”

It was a raw transcript that was messy and John went through and edited it not just for clarity, but for content. He punched up the jokes a little bit and the places where he had gone off on a tangent he took them out and brought it back a little bit. In some cases he changed her question to be the question that he wanted her to have asked and then answered that. A lot of the time somebody answers a question and you take a while to in your answer to get over to where it is the question that you want to answer.

John sent this back to her and was like: ”I made some changes just for clarity!” and she read it was like: ”Wow, great! I love it!” - ”Well, if you like that, why don't I take one more pass at it?” and he went over it again and basically wrote the interview, based on her interview, based on this hour or two conversation they had at Top Pot Doughnuts on Capitol Hill and when he sent it back to her he had cleaned it up in a way where he finally for the first time felt like he nailed it.

The first ever article about The Long Winters was John’s dream come true. He had been interviewed by the music editor of The Stranger, at the time Seattle's alternative weekly, but also the cultural center of the world he lived in, and everybody he knew read every page of the stranger every week. They waited for it to come out, you died a little if they didn't mention your band, and if they did mention your band somewhere, anywhere, you soared. You looked for your friends. John has an archive of probably five years of Strangers in the basement in boxes, and these are large format newspapers, and those five years, pretty much on every page there would be something that John had done or seen or participated in or involved a friend of his.

The music editor of The Stranger interviewed John about him at that moment unreleased debut album and they talked for hours and he wrote this incredibly long and weird boring article with too much information about stuff that didn't matter. John had never been interviewed before, and here was the music editor of The Stranger sitting across the table from him: ”Tell me about your childhood!” - ”Well, I was born on a dark and stormy night…” and he talked about elementary school and about all the stuff that he has talked about on these podcasts for a decade.

It was all pent up, John needed to get it all out. He weirdly didn't edit it for content, and weirdly they didn't really talk about the music that much. They talked about John’s mom and stuff and John wasn't practiced at it, but he had talked to him as though he was on the second date with a girl that he liked and was nervous with, and he was telling her his life story in a way where he wasn't comfortable. He published every note of it, the article is 5 pages long or something, and the front page of it is a picture of John’s face over the entire page, something he had never seen!

The day it came out John walked down the street and people turned their heads and looked at him because they had seen his face in The Stranger and that was at the time as big as any of them thought you could get. But the article was an embarrassment, it wasn't cool, it was a perfect storm of: ”That is not how it is done!” That interview wasn't how it was typically done, the way he wrote the article is not how it was done, and the stuff that John said is just not how it is done. He should have been cool, he should have said: ”Well, you know, music just comes from the soul and it just falls out of you like blood and guts and you play the guitar and smoke a cigarette and have sex!”

Instead John was like: ”The thing about being a child is that the child has a heart that sometimes…” What? That night late at night John was sitting at home and the wall phone rang, he picked up, and a drunken voice on the other end said: ”Too much information, man!” and hung up. This is somebody that had John’s phone number. He has a short list of who it was, but there were a lot of people in his life, then in particular, who drunkenly would say: ”Too much information, man!” and they would be indistinguishable from one another.

It could have been five people and it might have been Brent, but they had to have been a) drunk at that time and b) someone that it mattered that much to them. There were a lot of people in John’s world who were in bands who desperately wanted to have an article about them in The Stranger, they were envious that it had happened to John, and they were already mad at him because he quit drinking, at the time only four years before. There were a lot of people in Seattle at that point that knew him when he was a drunk and still knew him and they were still drunks and John wasn't anymore. It was like a strange curse, like somebody had called him to put a Roma curse on him in the middle of the night.

There are so many things John would do differently about the time he was in the band and the way he approached publicity, but if he could go back and change that initial article… It would have been something he would have pointed people to in his whole career: ”Just go read the article in The Stranger that came out around my first record and that will tell you the history of the band and everything you need to know!”, and he hasn’t read it since 2000 or maybe 2001 because he was so horrified by it when it came out.

he grabbed the paper, went to a cafe, opened it up and was shocked by his picture. Then he started to read the article and right away he was like: ”Oh no! What is this about? Oh, no, no, no, no, no! This is… No, not this!” and John hasn’t read it since. You would think in the 20 years since then, John would have reconciled himself to it, but the article was greeted by everyone including his mom like: ”Oh yeah, that's a nice big article…”

When John met Sean Nelson, trying to record their dinner conversations (RW205)

John’s relationship with his friend Sean Nelson of Harvey Danger first started at the height of Sean's fame before he hired John to be in the band. Sean has a wide-ranging intelligence, a very deep but also a broad wit, and he is educated in 100 fields. He is polymathic, he is a great writer, he is brave in some ways and timid in others, and in the course of his life wandering around Seattle he would get into exchanges with people and their take-away would be: ”You know, you should talk to John Roderick!”

He heard it enough times that he actually walked over to John at a party at a time when he was the biggest Rock star in Seattle and was like: ”You and I need to have lunch!” and John was flattered by it because he had known about Sean for years before Harvey Danger got famous because he wrote for The Stranger and he wrote the first blurb about John’s band at the time, The Bun Family Players, in a way the first blurb ever written about John’s music or anything that he did creatively.

John had been in the newspaper a bunch as like: ”Gifted child saves tennis racket from fire!” or whatever, there have always been little articles about him in school because a reporter comes to school and says: ”Is there a kid around here that would be good for this article?” and the teachers says: "What about this kid? He saved a tennis racket from a fire!”, so Sean was legendary to John because he had done this wonderful thing and had written this article. They had opened for Harvey Danger at some point and John was very aware of him.

They went to dinner at Morton's The Steakhouse because they were being fancy. He was fancy now, he had money, and there was something about their meetings that made them feel like they needed to be fancy because they were meeting to sit and talk like days of old, two artists in their 20s who were going to sit across the table for no other reason than to talk about the matters of the day. They weren't planning anything, they didn't have a project, but they were meeting explicitly to sit and philosophize.

They started going to Morten's and they were surrounded by all the assholes that go to Morten's. It was back when you could smoke in restaurants and they sold cigars and cigarettes there. John and Sean would get steaks and they would talk and he was absolutely right, or whoever the yentas were that matched them, the invisible yentas in the world that knew them both, because talking to him was a joy, it was just a delight. In a way it was the first time in John’s life where he had ever met somebody that really could hang in there. Every little thing that John referenced, he got it, and every little reference Sean made, John got. It was a kind of liberty to just talk the way that your mind wants to go.

Since then John has found a lot of friends like that, maybe not that know everything. John doesn’t know everything that Merlin references and he can't imagine anyone could keep up with the references that pour out of him across his matrix of knowledge. As we have gotten older we have all pulled back from engaging in the culture of the moment, but when John first met Merlin he was deeply engaged with the culture of the moment, in addition to having been engaged with the culture of the moment for decades. He could turn on a dime, he was spinning like a top, he was like the assassin bot from Mandalorian, there was no thing that was not in his peripheral vision.

Sean can be a frenetic talker if he is nervous, but in situations like that where he us a lazy, laconic conversationalist, they just had these long ”Yes, and…” conversations and at one point he brought a tape recorder and said: ”We are going to tape these! These conversations need to be preserved!” It was before podcast existed, he just had it in mind that he was going to take the transcript of these conversations and write My Dinner with Andre, and of course as soon as the tape recorder was on the table they both clammed up, all of a sudden they were awkward, they were performing for the tape recorder, and neither of them had any experience then.

There is something about being young, and John was in his late 20s, but they definitely had the feeling that their words were important, you only get one chance to say it, it has got to be right, and you got to get it all in there. The great thing about podcasting is that it is not your only chance to say it. John has probably told this story three times before. You get to say it again if you didn't get it right, or you get to put a different spin on it. You don't have to get it right the first time, and that allows you to just go. John might have told this story three times, but every time coming from a different place and headed to a different place.

Their conversation totally dried up, so much so that it was clear to them both to not bring that tape recorder again. Of all the people, even including Merlin, Sean Nelson should have had a podcast from the very dawn of it because he was born to do it and absolutely capable of sitting and talking for an hour a week or an hour a day about pretty much anything, and it would be entertaining and funny and smart. When John first started doing Roderick on the line he told Sean that he need to do a podcast, they should do a podcast, and he demurred.

John went back to him in 2012 and said: ”You need to do a podcast. You could do record reviews, you could do anything about music or art or just…” - ”Well, it is a little too late, don't you think? Isn't podcasting at its peak? I don't want to be somebody that gets in late in the game!” - ”I don't know, it is 2012. There is still a place for a Sean Nelson podcast!” and every year after that John has talked to him about it and he has said: ”No!”, partly because he feels like there is not room for any more podcasts and he doesn't want to be a late bandwagon jumper, but also he thinks back to that tape recorder on the table and he is worried that the same thing will happen, that the mics will go on and it will just not be as funny, not as good.

John and Sean have a relationship that is very much like two competing brothers, like the Wahlberg brothers, where the oldest one was a massive star, and then the younger one came up and became an even bigger star and the older one never transitioned away from being New Kids on the Block. Donnie Wahlberg didn't find a way as his younger brother just rocketed past him to pivot somehow. He has been in a movie or something, but how different could it be? They look alike!

That is not an analogue to John’s relationship with Sean because neither of them are really anywhere close to the pure distilled talent of the Wahlbergs, but just the dynamic of two brothers who are in competition with one another. That may play into it, too. He has definitely never taken the invitation to do a podcast with John. John is probably the most prominent podcaster in Sean’s orbit, or in the world.

John’s relationship to texting (RW205)

John needs to address his relationship to texting. He prefers texting to talking on the phone, to Facetiming, and to being in a room with someone. He really likes to text, he is great at it, and it is the best way! If texting isn't possible, emailing is just as good or emailing is even better. John loves it because he can be assured that the words are exactly what he means and there is no room for someone else to make an error in transcription, but the problem is of course that the error in transcription is the error was in the house the entire time, it is in their mind and in John’s mind.

Two nights ago John sent a text to a friend and it couldn't be clearer, but that is now how it was received at all! In two spare and elegant sentences he really broke down a whole issue in her life right now and the scope of the problem, but she didn't reply. That is not unusual in their text conversations that one of them would not reply, but then two days go by and no reply. Did John say it wrong, or was the fact that he was saying it at all wrong, or did he say it so right that she is swimming in all the thoughts that it engendered and she is trying to figure out how to reply, or did he say it right, but it was wrong for him to say it, so that she is chagrined at him having said the thing.

Does John think of a message interaction as a real time thing? What is confusing about text is that it is both. You text somebody: ”Hey, what's up?” and they write back immediately: ”Hey!” - ”Great! Badabada!” -”Hahaha! Boo boo boo” - ”ba ba da ba da" and then there is silence. Whoa, what happened? Well, they are making dinner or they are in the car, but on your end, you think: ”Did I just fuck up?” and then when they finally get back to ground, when dinner is over, or they get to where they are going, they are on to something else at that point, they are not just sitting and playing with you, and they send a perfunctory ”Okay, well, anyway, talk to you later!” or they don't.

It is the rare person that says: ”Hey, I am about to get on a plane!” Most of the time you are texting with somebody and something happens and you don't have time to say: ”I got to go!” In particular texts John is having late at night with friends it is hard to know whether they went to sleep. You can often say something where it does feel like the other person is really thinking about it, the pause is them thinking about it before replying, but again: If that just keeps going. We have all learned a long time ago not to text someone and go: ”Hello?” Don't nag! Because there is nothing worse than saying ”Hello?” and getting a text back: ”Yeah, I am in the middle of dinner!”

You just have to let the text hang, but it happens a lot, a lot of the time it's because he sends a text that is not just a joke, but something serious because he loves texting and he loves texting about serious things, and it is causing him grief as much as Twitter causes him grief. John doesn’t like to talk on the phone at all, and podcasting is almost the same thing, but podcasting is on a schedule and John has committed to it and can't get out of it. Every day at 11am he has to go down and talk on a podcast. He is resigned to it and over time he relishes it.

If John had a weekly phone call with every one of his friends, where Tuesday at 6:30 he would have to get on the phone with Hodgman it would probably be great. They would probably work fine and, knowing the world as it is, we would probably record those conversations and then John and Hodgman would have a podcast. Why not talk to anybody if you are not generating content? Thanks to Merlin for recording their phone calls!

John need to resolve his relationship to texting because it hurts his friendships and makes his friendships worse. Dan sends John texts all the time and John very seldom gives Dan back what he needs, which is s response of any kind. There are so many texts John doesn't reply to, and all of those failures to reply are also messages, just text messages that sow confusion and discontent and sorrow.

John is often trying to get himself to put his phone down. He bought an Apple Watch with the idea that he would leave his phone at home and the watch would just be there when somebody needed him, but it would not be an interface that was fun to interact with. But John fails at that all the time and he hasn’t worn his Apple Watch in months. He sets time limits on his phone so that things like games and social media would shut down after 45 minutes, but right around the election he just started ignoring those time limits because he was not getting off Twitter right now, even though he had se those time limits just two weeks ago. Now the time limit thing pops up and John just says: ”Not today! Get behind me, Satan!”

Texting is good for making plans. It is good for saying: ”I will be there at 4pm!”, it is good for saying: ”Can you pick up some milk on the way home!”, but it is not the medium for reaching out to say: ”Hey, how is it going?” because it just invites too much chaos. Even something as simple as: ”Hey, how is it going?” the more interested in a reply you are, the more risk you are taking when you send that text.

John and his mom send texts all the time. She sends a text: ”Will you bring the rake?” - ”Yes! I have a thing here that I need you to look at!” - ”What was the name of the cat that lived across the street from us when we lived in Shoreline?” - ”Oh, that was Bouser, the cat!” - ”Right, right, right, right, right!” They send texts like that back and forth all the time, there is hardly any confusion between them, but if he doesn’t reply to her text she will text him an hour later and go: ”See above text!” She does not let him not reply to a text.

If John writes a text to somebody that says: ”Hey, how is it going?” John has a lot of ongoing relationships that never feel resolved. Even his relationship with Hodgman, which is 14 years old now, it is not clear. At a certain level it is clear, they will be friends forever, but at another level he started that show with David Rees Dick Town and John vaguely knew they were working on something, but it is not like he and John were texting back and forth and he was saying: ”Hey, I am working on this thing with David!” John wasn't invited to participate, he is not one of the guest stars, but he learned about it when everybody else in the world learned about it when it came out.

That is not unusual in the sense that John is working on stuff and he is not talking to Hodgman about it, they don't talk every day, but at the same time it felt a little bit like: ”Oh hey, congratulations, you guys!” John is friends with both of them and there is every reason why they would have at some point asked him to be on the show and they didn't because between the two of them they probably have 80 people that they could ask to be on the show and they only had 15 slots, but that is all just the ground work of explaining that when John sends Hodgman a text the week that he became aware of Dicktown: ”Hey, how is it going?” that text is loaded with feeling. It is not innocent. To get a reply: ”Great, how is it going with you?” that is also loaded. That is true of so many of his communications with people.

John and Ken text back and forth every day, but the elephant in the room is: How much does he know about the intentions of the producers of Jeopardy to make him the host or not the host that he is not telling John because a) he is under a non-disclosure agreement, and even though they are in one another's coronavirus bubble and John sees him every week of his life, he still excludes John from the NDA in his mind, or in his circle mind. How much of it is he not telling John because he is a Mormon and he is just incredibly reticent about things?

There are things that Ken didn't tell his wife, about when he finally won Jeopardy or whatever or when he finally lost or some of that stuff. He didn't tell his wife until later, and his kids didn't know that he had won the GOAT until they sat and watched it on TV together, meaning that he won that contest in December, John watched it, but it didn't air until much later, and that entire time he was living in his house with his two teenage kids and didn't tell them whether he had won or not. It is amazing!

Dan is sure that have been a lot of people in secret organizations, whether it is spy stuff or whatever, who can't talk about it or scientists who are making the atomic bomb and can't come home and tell their wife about it. Could he have not told his wife about it? John is sure he had to have told her.

By way of saying: John knows that whenever he is not read into the details of every single little thing that his friends are doing, that it is not personal, but it often feels personal because he is trying to transact those relationships via text. If he had called Hodgman and said: ”Hey, how is it going?” - ”Fine, man, how's it going? Good to hear from you!” - ”What is going on with Dicktown? That is exciting!” it would have been a conversation they would have had. He would have told John everything that is going on, there might have been a little ghost in the room where John didn't say: ”How come you didn't ask me to do it?”, but it would have been resolved in the conversation.

Hodgman is very considerate. He probably would have said: ”Hey, you know, I am sorry we didn't ask you to be in it, but there were a lot of people that we didn't get and maybe season two!” That would just have been a typical thing. But in the absence of that phone call all of those questions marched up to the door of the C47, but none of them jumped out. None of them hooked their parachute cords onto the guide wire and the light never turned green and they never jumped. Now John has a C-47 full of paratroopers that is flying out over Western France, somehow it never runs out of gas, it just flies forever, and John has so many of those planes in the air.

With Ken this question is going to be resolved. One day there is going to be an announcement and if John learns that he either is or isn't the host of Jeopardy! by reading it on Twitter, a little bit of him will be mad. John and Ken aren’t romantic, and if you plug them into a romantic relationship, both a sexual one and also one that is maybe not sexual, but romantic like the one John has with Haddie. They don't have a sexual relationship, but a deeply romantic one. She writes him and says: ”Here are the ads coming up for this week's Road Work!” - ”Just the way that you email me about that Haddie… I sit and wait for your mail!” She probably doesn’t know that John exists, frankly.

When you put all of that extra weight on stuff and you text somebody and say: ”How is it going?” and what you really mean by that is: ”Do you love me? Will you love me forever?” and they write back and say: ”Fine! How are you?” They replied, so that is good, but John can't tell if they love him. It is just terrible and it precipitates problems for John because then he tries to probe, and texting is bad for that.

If he just called them, like we used to do: ”Hey! Just calling to say hi! Just checking in!” and then you talk and if you decide in the course of the conversation to be like: ”You know, I have been thinking about you!” or if you don't, if you really are just there to hear one another's voices, all that stuff is natural. You can get in trouble on a phone call, too, but every text John sends is fraught with peril and he doesn’t know if he can get that needle out of his veins. He sure as shit doesn’t want to call somebody! God! Why?


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