RW32 - Chocolate and Gasoline

This week, Dan and John talk about:

The show title refers to John still thinking of chocolate and gasoline when he thinks of Belgium because that is what it smelled when he first went off the airplane in Belgium.

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 Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first!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 getting asked to teach city officials how to introduce humor into their public speaking (RW32)

John was hanging out with the mayor yesterday. It was bandied about that John give a class to a bunch of city government people, including the mayor, at a retreat, a class on bringing humor into your public speaking, at the Bohemian Grove with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. That seemed a little Ted Talky, but the person that was suggesting it was like: ”Exactly!” and now they are talking budget. John is not the world's best negotiator, he does need a manager, but he is not going to teach these guys how to introduce humor into their public speaking for nothing. Dan imagines John a lot like Kris Kristofferson in that he needs a handler around him at all times, someone to step in! John wishes to God he had one.

John having brake problems on his truck, specious traffic lights near Boeing field (RW32)

Today as John was driving along in his truck he drove through an apple tree, and then the brakes felt a little funny. There is a big hill outside of John’s house, down the hill, and they just felt a little funny the whole way and as he got to the bottom they really felt funny and squishy and smooshy which sucked. He wanted to get to his office to do the big show and he just limped it here.

John has had brake problems before, they are not problems that you want, and it took him a long time to get here because on every long stretch you have a choice when your brakes are failing: Do you speed up to make the green light that you can see ahead of you and risk that you are going too fast when the light changes and then your brakes are out and you are going 60 mph because you thought you could make the light, or do you putter along, almost ensuring that you are going to miss the light, requiring that you brake more often, but less emergency breaking.

That is the choice John made and he only ran 1.5 red lights, which is about average. Right around the Boeing aircraft manufacturing factory and airport there are several traffic lights that John would describe as specious traffic lights. Boeing has a lot of pull, they have a big enterprise there that stretches for many miles, and they have traffic lights for their employee parking lots. Anytime somebody decides that they are going to run to the donut store, they pull up to what should not be a traffic light. They just come out of their parking lot, they could wait for there to be an opening because this is not a super-busy road.

But instead, they pull up to that point and then all of a sudden the traffic light triggers and everyone else that is comfortably driving 50 mph down this road has to brake so one guy in his truck can make a doughnut run. That is infuriating and those lights John makes a call. He is driving along, the light starts to change, he looks to the side and sees somebody in a Saturn because a lot of engineers like Saturns and makes the decision if he locks it up for this guy in the Saturn or if he just keeps on keeping on? About 50% of the time he will say ”beep beep”.

In some cases you have to make a professional determination. Not only is it safe to continue through, but also the light annoys him. The presence of those stoplights as a civic concession to Boeing and the fact that they employ thousands of local people, you can give Boeing a lot of perks, you don't need to give them like six of their own stoplights. There are six of these banks and stoplights along this five mile stretch where they serve no purpose other than at 5:30pm allow 600 Boeing employees to flood the streets.

Dan understands it if you work at a factory or a big plant or something and there is quitting time, a certain time when everyone files out all at once, like Fred Flintstone pulls the birds tail and ”Whoooop!” Dan is always frustrated because he tried to offset his lunchtime and his arrival time and his leaving time as much as possible around when everyone else is doing it and he does that for two reasons. One is because he tries to be a good person and he tries to be one less person on the road when everyone else is on the road.

That is 99.99% of the reason and the 0.01% is that everybody else is too slow and they take too much time and Dan hates them and he wants to not interact with them as much as possible because they are so slow. If Dan can go to the grocery store to buy some chicken for lunch or a hamburger, he wants to do it before or after the big rush. The worst is when time gets away from him and it is noon and he hasn’t eaten anything all day and he is dying and he got a show to do in an hour. Now he has to go and be a part of that mess.

The Pennypacker Bridge in Austin, people don’t know how to drive (RW32)

They have a bridge here in Austin, a beautiful little bridge, not the famous South Congress Bridge where the bats live, but the Pennypacker Bridge, a beautiful small arched bridge across Lake Austin on 360, which is also known as capital of Texas Highway. The problem is that there are just as many lanes of traffic going over the bridge as there are on either side of the bridge. You don't have to merge. It is maybe two lanes in each direction, it is utterly uncomplicated to proceed across this bridge, it is completely straight, the road surface doesn't change, there is no hump, there is no feeling of being on a bridge, it is totally flat.

If you had your eyes closed, you wouldn't know you were on the bridge. The total length is 1150 feet, the longest span is 600 feet with 100 foot of clearance below and it was opened December 3rd, 1982, 33 years ago. It is free both ways, there is no toll. All of this would lead you to think that there would be no reason for you to slow down when you are going over this thing, but every single time there is a huge traffic slowdown.

There is a very different kind of driver on the road between 6:30-9:00am and 4:00-7:00pm than there are all of the other times. All the other times people are just sightseeing, driving around, vs the people who got to get to work and got to get home. The attitude is different, and yet these are the same people who as soon as they get close to this bridge freak out and slow down for no reason. If you ever look at your maps app, it is always red during rush hour over the bridge, but there is nothing happening over the bridge except that visually there is a bridge there.

John wonders if in Texas culture if one has an unwanted chicken the tradition is to throw that chicken off a bridge. It seems to be one of the core Texas tenants, dating all the way back to when Texas was an independent country. This is a state ordinance: If you have an unwanted chicken, you want to throw that chicken off a bridge. Has Dan ever looked to see how many of those people slowing down throwing unwanted chickens off the bridge. If you have a chicken that is a little mangy, too skinny, too old to eat, what are you going to do with the chicken? Sure, you could take it off on your property and bury it in a hole, but that would violate Texas statute.

Yesterday John was in South Austin when he took that picture of that tape thing. He was out there with the Ampex ATR, 1 in 10.000 listeners is going: ”Whoa, the Ampex ATR! Is it the 102?”, while 9999 listeners are saying: ”What?” He was driving back from there in South Austin and Mopac was not moving, so he was going to take a back way. Mopac is another highway in Austin, we are just naming all the Highways in Austin. Dan can name every kind of nut.

Dan loves that movie, Best in Show! ”Macadamia nut!” John believes that Spinal Tap is the perfect cultural moment and they just should have quit then. It is like Twin Peaks, John understands that people love it and that it is galvanizing cultural moments, but he just never got onboard that train. The other ones are Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, Mighty Wind. Spinal Tap and Best in Show are probably the most well-known. If you took the other ones away, everything would be fine still. It is too bad because people love to quote them and those movies are made for people who like to quote movies. John quotes them, he quotes the shit out of those movies, but you need more out of a movie than just funny quotes. John loves the improvisational tone of them, but still: No!

There are many of these same situations here in Seattle where nothing about the driving experience has changed, but because a lane of traffic has been added to the road, even though that lane of traffic has its own lane moving forward and there is no immediate need to do anything, just the change inspires people to change lanes. It may be because there is an exit right on the other side of the bridge and no-one was thinking about that until they see the bridge and that is their cue to be in the other lane and that is that little fugue state of: ”Oh shit. I should be in the other lane!”, but shouldn't you already have been in the other lane and why do you need to be there now?

People are just awful, and John is speaking as someone who just drove a vintage truck 15 miles with basically no brakes, running lights, and making decisions that only contribute to chaos, but he is a trained professional on a closed course. It is not actually a closed course because it is all the city streets, but around him he carries a protective bubble that says effectively: ”This is a closed course! You are fine. You just behave normally!” You behave normally, other drivers, and I will handle all the chaotic elements right here in house. You just move!

Here is the thing: John is this green colored brick that is moving at a regular tempo and you drive as though that is all you know. They don't have to know that his brakes are out, they don't have to know that he is going to pick and choose which lights to stop because he is going to take them into account because he is a professional driver. If there was some kind of reader board on John’s truck that said: ”This truck’s brakes are out!” he would have been in 15 accidents on the way here. John is in stealth mode, what they call a street sleeper. People around him would have been trying to use their walnut brains to solve a problem no-one was asking them to solve, which was: ”How do I deal with this guy whose brakes are out in his vintage truck?” No one is asking them to solve that problem and they don't have the capacity to. They can't even process the data stream.

If that could just be true at a higher level. The question is if he GPS helps or hurts. A lot of these merge problems already existed. Maybe the GPS is a neutral factor here because people come on and on-ramp and the GPS says: ”In 1.6 miles, your exit is on the right.” and people don't know how to gauge how far 1.6 miles is. In normal traffic, 1.6 miles you could butter two slices of bread and make a fucking Fluffernutter before you need to even start thinking about merging to the right, but when people hear that in 1.6 miles they need to merge to the right, they immediately start merging to the right. At cost of death I must get over! A road sign inspires that same behavior and people make that same move.

Self-driving cars (RW32)

There is no way to solve for this and the solution is to give people as little information as possible because information confuses people and they start thinking that the decisions are theirs to make when in fact the whole enterprise, the circulatory system of the body city has a plan, it just wants to get the corpuscles hustling along the tubes. This is John’s big advocation for self-driving cars. People are morons, and this is absolutely an example. John does not want computers to do half the things they are presently doing, but he does want computers to drive cars. All you need to do is go to a four way stop or a rotary to understand why we need self-driving cars. There shouldn't be four way stops, first of all.

The Macintosh company, John does not trust them to even keep their calendar app working because their calendar app is a pile of horse dodo. It is so garbage and somebody who is working on their calendar app team probably listens to this program and is going to send John a text message with little tears-drenched smiley face emoticons: ”We try!”, but you don't try hard enough. Your calendar app is fucking garbage! But John does trust them to make a massive system where all cars are being controlled from 1 Cupertino Loop. Some things we need massive evil Borg-corporations and some things… basically John should have all this time just been keeping his calendar on a desk blotter because he wouldn't log on to it sometimes and go: ”Didn't I have a whole extra layer of appointments that I had put into this calendar that are now gone? Why also are all of my appointments repeated three times in my calendar?” Obviously this is another case where all of the computer nerds are listening and saying: ”User error!”

They have now established that John is the only good driver. Austin is a constant traffic jam, Texas law stipulates that if you have an unwanted chicken you need to throw it off a bridge, the Macintosh Corporation has a faulty calendar app, and computer programmers are garbage. They have solved a lot of problems so far.

Listener feedback about opening packages and the show ending (RW32)

John is staring at this pile of boxes that he still hasn’t opened and he just wants to communicate to people who listen to this program that John knows it is awful to send a thing out into the void and then hear nothing, but he has not opened these boxes and started enjoying their contents. His obligation to you as the listener to open your box somehow and acknowledge you has also paralyzed him. He just has a big stack of boxes that he looks at every day and goes: ”I really like to know what is in those boxes. I hope there wasn't any cake because it has been sitting there now for 7 months”

They have received a lot of feedback from the listeners, some of whom absolutely love this segment, some of whom are essentially threatening to just stop listening to the show if John ever opens another box. A lot of people also like the ”Aooga” ending of your show they put in to annoy people who previously complained about there being no ending, trolling the original hatred, and then they got a bunch of new haters saying that all of their program endings where they are talking about something serious and then it ends with ”Aooga”… John helped engineer it, Dan had sent him his original concept for it and John had a lot to say about that. Then they started getting e-mails from people saying: Please stop with that song!

Maybe they should do a second ending that is just really mordent violin strings like something that might play over a Polish movie from the 1930s, but then not necessarily play one or the other based on the content of the show before. It could end on a high note and the sad violins come in. The world’s saddest clown. They should have the end music be on a certain cycle that is not content based. You get the music that is scheduled regardless of whether the show was happy or sad.

Dan and John are making the classic error of trying to satisfy their listeners by performing for them, giving them the music that they want. Opening boxes are not opening boxes? A few weeks ago John started getting tweets from people that were like: ”Look, I sent you that thing. I have been waiting for you to open it, for the love of God!”
Maybe they devoted too much time opening boxes and they should just do one box per episode instead of spending two hours opening boxes. Maybe because John spent a lot of time describing the box and what color it was, but that is part of it! John has two letters and a box, that seems fine.

Shannon from Austin Texas (RW32)

This letter is from Austin, Texas. It is not from Dan and John thinks he knows whom it is from. Dan saw John’s 5by5-mug, which is a real sex getter. Usually he is driving in his truck and the brakes are failing and he got one elbow out the window and in that hand he has his 5by5 mug, drinking coffee with his hand out the window, with a pinkie of his right hand steering the truck. John looks over and there is a gal in a little red Corvette, looking up, and she asks: ”Is that a 5by5 mug?” - ”Well, yes it is! You want to pull over at the next Denny's?”

This is a greeting card: ”When I was a child, I never had a fantasy about having a maid. What I had a fantasy about having was candy!” Cakes by-shop from Seattle. A card from Seattle from a person in Austin. John would love to see that sentence diagramed! Deep down it says it is a quote by Andy Warhol. That explains it! Andy Warhol was trolling people with English as well as with paint. Opening it up, it says: The end of the February 29th Road Work made me so sad! (see RW21) It is a very nice short and sweet note from Shannon, saying that although the end of the Road Work made her sad, she wanted to give John a punch on the arm of fellowship, saying: You are loved!

Jade Gordon, Portland Oregon (RW32)

This envelope is from a friend of the show and friend from the world Jade Gordon, who now lives in Portland, Oregon. You should make yourself familiar with her artwork because she does these fantastic drawings. She sent John a whole packet of little books and cartoons and maybe a flip book. She is sending some things that she has made, fabric wallpaper gift wrap from a company called Spoon Flower, she is suggesting that it might be some spruce-up material for John’s RV. Dan put her Patreon in the show notes. She is really good and she has long done fan art of the entire larger community that John lives in. She has drawn Captain Colton, she has drawn Merlin, she has probably drawn Dan. Nothing escapes her eagle eye!

Michael Locy, Edminton Alberta, box full of candy (RW32)

This box has come internationally from Edmonton, Alberta and it says right on it that it is full of candy. It was launched to John in March, after the initial burst of packages that came in November. There is a letter, there is a lot of bubble wrap. This candy is intended to be a rebuke because one of John’s online troll memes is to say that Hershey's chocolate is better than all other chocolate, which inspires a soccer-fan rage in people from Europe or people who have ever been to Europe or people who have ever eaten chocolate. Canadians especially are into good chocolate, they have access to American chocolate and European chocolate, and so they feel somehow qualified to be comparison testers, whereas a lot of people in Switzerland or Germany have never even tried American chocolate. Why would they?

Longtime listener, first time writer. In a recent episode you said: We can all agree that Hershey's makes the best chocolate. Just recently I have been reading about chocolate and some of the Hershey’s / Cadbury stick fighting going on over who is best. For your evaluation, I present American Hershey’s versus Canadian Hershey’s versus Canadian Cadbury Dairy Milk versus United Kingdom Cadbury Dairy Milk.

American Hershey’s, Canadian Hershey’s. Note: Higher fat, sugar, and sodium in Canadian Hershey's relative to American Hershey's. Canadian Cadbury Dairy Milk, United Kingdom Cadbury Dairy Milk. Note: The only one here with milk as the first ingredient, versus Nielsen Jersey Milk, a Canadian classic chocolate.

Also note: Because of business in the modern age, Cadbury and Nielsen are owned by the same company, and I understand Hershey's makes Cadbury for the U.S. market. This is more like a brother/sister spat than a neighborhood stick fight. Either way, I hope you enjoy the chocolate, maybe not all at once. Thanks for hours of thoughtful talk.

Thank you! Michael Locy.

Two different Dairy Milks, two different Hershey's and one Jersey milk. John cannot wait, but he is not going to try them now because he needs to be in a quiet room with the lights off and do a Pepsi challenge with these. First he will try the two Hershey's versus one another, and then the two Cadbury's versus one another. The Jersey milk is really an outlier.

John has eaten every kind of chocolate because he is a chocoholic. He was introduced to chocoholism in the 1980s at a time when Garfield really loved lasagnas. Mama cat was a drawing of a cat that seemed kind of like a New Yorker cartoon. She was on a lot of tote bags. John’s aunt really liked mama cat on things. Chocoholism was a topic on a lot of people's plates at the time, but John is a fucking chocoholic and doesn’t think it is funny. As John traveled the world he was primarily interested in what other chocolates different countries had to offer. Sure, your ballet and your nice environment or whatever, your friendly people, but do you have Sachertorte for one? Some places there in the greater sphere of Vienna have the Sachertorte, some of them don't.

The first time John arrived in Europe was in Brussels in 1989. He flew there on the now defunct Belgian airline Sabena. I stepped off the plane, he walked into the airport and it smelled like chocolate here mixed with gasoline, which was pretty great because John loves the smell of gasoline. He still thinks of chocolate and gasoline when he thinks of Belgium, even though he learned later that Belgium smells like meatball sandwiches. Chocolate and gasoline would be a really cool band name.

John has eaten the chocolates of the world and chocolate is one of those things like soccer teams where people get angry about chocolate, chocolate and beer. They will yell at you all day about what chocolates are superior and the only thing that the people of the world can agree upon is that American Hershey's chocolate is the worst. Dan would agree with that, too. If you go anywhere, they are going to argue about their different chocolates and if they even deign to reference Hershey's, it will be only to say that Hershey's doesn't even qualify as chocolate. They will say it is chocolate-flavored wax. They will say it is some kind of extrusion that is the result of a entirely different manufacturing process, like they are making tires for Firestone and this is the leftover product. Dan grew up in in Philadelphia, neighboring Hershey, Pennsylvania, and everybody liked Hershey's back then.

Dan is not actively like disliking it, but if it was the only chocolate around he probably wouldn't eat it. Hershey's chocolate is like the Dasani water chocolate for Dan. Dan should go on record and say he prefers dark chocolate, he doesn’t really like light chocolate. He has tried Hershey's Dark. It is okay. When he grew up at Halloween and you would come back with all those little mini Hershey's bars, that was the good stuff when you came back. The less sweet the chocolate is, the better and the less milk. But for milk chocolate Hershey would probably be up there in the top five for people who like that.

In Europe they like milk chocolate. In Switzerland, for instance: When you think of Switzerland, you think of a big cow with a bell around its neck and that cow has udders swelling with Swiss milk and that milk gets put into cheese and it gets put into milk chocolate. The milk on one side goes down to Italy and the milk on the other side runs into France. The French make runny cheese out of it and the Italians make hard cheese.

The English are all very, very focused on the breast. They are people where the men of England are very much boob people and that is all they think about. Milk, milk, milk, milk, from the time they are little babies. If there is a collective UK emotional pathology, it is that they are all boop fixated. The Italians obviously are going to be fixated on the butt, of the English are all about the boobs. That extends to cows and as a result they want milk in all their food. That is also why Clockwork Orange had the Maloko Vellisat and Sinthamask and Drancrum and it was all about the Corova Milkbar and all that.

That influence has definitely extended over to the Dutch and the Belgians and the Danes, who also are too much fixated on cow’s boobs. John is not here to say what is healthy and what is not healthy.

In Austria they have the same fuzzy cows with the bells around their necks up there pumping out cheese milk that gets put into chocolate and that just flows downhill into Germany. The Austrians and Swiss exist primarily to give Lichtenstein some context. It is all about Liechtenstein and the Swiss and the Austrians are there as a frame of Liechtenstein.

When you think about it: Where is the Spanish chocolate? There is chocolate in Spain, but Spain isn't famous for chocolate. They don't think about chocolate. Their culinary influences are elsewhere. The milk is all running down into the Lahar Valley, it doesn't make it over the Pyrenees. Whatever the Spanish are doing with milk, they are doing something else and they are not pouring it into chocolate. These are the chocolate hubs and Australia, New Zealand obviously have their own strong opinions about things because they are still emotionally connected to the mother country. No one from Japan has ever yelled at John about chocolate, although they have amazing chocolate there. It is a Western influence, but they added green tea and grasshoppers to it. Dan had a pizza in South Korea that had corn and little bits of green beans and other things on top. Very weird.

The reason John says Hershey’s is the best chocolate is because if you are driving in America and you pull into a gas station and you want a Hershey bar with almonds, there will be one right there for you. It will have almonds in it, it will be made in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and it will be amazing. If your chocolate snobbery is so great that you cannot appreciate that a Hershey bar with almonds is the best chocolate of all, then John can’t help you. Dan doesn’t even like almonds. A Hershey bar with almonds is the perfect food.

John has now unwrapped these chocolates. He trusts their correspondent that when he says this is American Hershey’s that it is in fact American Hershey’s and one of the ways you can tell it is American Hershey’s is that it says on the back: ”Glutenfree, as always!” because no other country in the world would give a shit.

The problem is if he opens one of these, then he has to open all of them, and if he opens all of them he has to eat them all. You can't just leave your chocolate just sitting around! John has identified the Canadian Cadbury from the English Cadbury and he sees the American and Canadian Hershey’s and the Nielsen obviously is sticking out like a sore thumb. Dan thinks John must try the standard American chocolate first, to confirm this is the Hershey's chocolate that he knows. It smells like eternal childhood. It has that waxy consistency, so waxy that it takes a while for the chocolate flavor even to appear. It was just a little bit bitterer than normal Hershey's, but as the flavor came online it does taste like Hershey's. John is cleansing his palate with a little bit of coffee.

Canada Hershey’s. Looking at them side by side, they look the same with the Canadian Hershey’s being slightly lighter in color, it is visibly more milky. Also pretty waxy. It really does not taste anything like American Hershey’s. It is much more of a milk chocolate, it tastes more as a European flavor. It is not sweeter, it actually is milkier. Canadian Hershey’s has higher fat, sugar and sodium, a completely different recipe. Trying the American one again, even though people would find that Canadian Hershey’s was a more authentic milk chocolate than the American Hershey's, John prefers the taste of the American Hershey's.

Canadian Hershey’s is arguably a better product. It is not sweeter, but it has probably better mouthfeel. It still is waxy and it takes a while for the flavor to bloom, but once the flavor has bloomed there is more of it. The American Hershey’s is hard to describe exactly what flavor you are experiencing because it purports to be milk chocolate, but there is almost no milk flavor to it. It has its own distinct… John still likes the American better because it tastes like a Hershey's bar to him, where the Canadian one tastes like a euro bar, the kind of chocolate you would get on your pillow at a European hotel, which is a little bit too treacly. Some people love eating marzipan, some people love Nutella and when people give John Nutella, he gets that same feeling that somebody is trying to fool him.

John needs to make another coffee so that he had a palate cleanser because those two chocolates really got under his skin. Cadbury Dairy Milk purports to be the high standard, it is apex chocolate and John should work his way up. Podcasting is very hard. People think that it is just two guys talking, but it is not, it is a lot to think about and you want to do it right the first time because then it is there forever.

A single serving of Cadbury Dairy Milk is a much larger chunk of chocolate than one of the little Hershey's ingots. A Canadian Cadbury Bar is 42 grams and a UK Cadbury bar is 45 grams, a Canadian Hershey bar is 45 grams, which is surprising, and a US Hershey bar is 43 grams.

The Canadian Cadbury has a little bit of chalkiness, but also there is a wax component, and quite a bit milkier even than the Milky Hershey's.

Dan wonders if John holds it in his mouth and lets it melt and dissolve or if he is chomping down. He is chomping, which might be an important part of how the flavor unfolds and John might go back and try them all again with the melting method in a minute.

The Canadian Cadbury is the closest thing to a candy. It is sweeter and that flavor is closer to a European flavor of chocolate, which is too much of a candy and not enough of a thing that you get at a gas station and eat in your car while you are pumping the brakes down at an access road. Although John knows the chocolates from around the world and he doesn't have an educated enough palate to really be talking about the notes of raspberry and jet fuel that he is experiencing in this one.

Going to the UK Cadbury. John has said English as synonymous with UK and he does not need a pedantic lecture, he knows the difference. People in the Netherlands will tell him when he says Holland about the Netherlands, when in fact Holland is just a portion of the Netherlands. Of course his longstanding problem with Ukraine where he says The Ukraine and there is always someone who wants to remind him.

Going on to the UK Cadbury Dairy Milk, we encounter a new wrinkle: The other three candy bars are manufactured with the idea that chocolate comes in a rectangular form, but these are rounder. In its wrapper it looks very similar, but when you open it up, the segments of the bar are actually a little round, almost look like little snails and if you had a really long one it would look like a caterpillar. Strangely, the UK Cadbury bar is just a little bit darker than the Canadian one. It is lighter than the American Hershey Bar, slightly lighter even than the Canadian Hershey bar, but darker than the Canadian.

The English Cadbury bar does not taste like any of the other chocolate bars. It has a little bit of the chalkiness of the Canadian one, but it is much sweeter and the milk of it is much better integrated in the overall flavor. The problem John has with European milk chocolate is that the milk always tastes a little bit like it has just turned, it tastes a little wrong. Dan found an article about this from 2013: ”Chocolate fans have expressed their distaste over changes made to Cadbury's Dairy Milk Bar since the British firm was bought out by the US giant Kraft. Fans of the iconic chocolate bar say they don't like the sweeter taste or feel of the new bars, which now have curved segments instead of chunks. Hundreds of parents said the new bars tasted oily, too sugary or sickly. They are describing this as cultural vandalism.”

In conclusion, chocolate has been ruined by America. Kraft ruined the English chocolate or the UK chocolate, and took took away their patrimony, their whole history, and presumably they are doing that in Canada, too, as part of the process of the gradual Americanization / ruination of everything in the world.

Of the four chocolates, even though the English Cadbury is an abomination compared to its former self, it still is probably the best of the four except now we have Nielson's Jersey Milk, the exclusively Canadian one John never tried before because when he was in a gas station in Canada they surely had them there, but John surely bought a Hershey bar with almonds instead. It is really sweet. There is a lot of sugar, but also there is more chocolate taste to it, although it is also sweeter. The milk tastes a little funny, maybe a little saltier. Not a bad chocolate bar at all!

John is going to go backwards now, following Dan’s mouth-melting technique. UK Cadbury first. John wonders why he was chewing the chocolate because it is so much better when you just let it melt in your mouth. John never would have done this if Dan hadn't mentioned it. Why would you turn it over and over in your mouth? It is not a lozenge. He is very unaccustomed to the experience of having his entire mouth basically from his nose to his bellybutton coated in chocolate. Dan’s theory is that Hershey's chocolate is meant for chewers who take big bites and just swallow this stuff down because they only got 3-5 seconds for the flavor to hit you and then it is already gone and they want you to go and buy another bar.

Treating the dairy milk as a lozenge was an explosively different experience. Now he is moving on to the Canadian Dairy. The UK Dairy Milk, the experience of eating it by melting it really changed his experience of the chocolate. There is a lot more going on in letting it melt and the flavors were more integrated into a chocolate moment. The Canadian Cadbury, melting it was still very intense, but it retained its characteristics. You could still identify the sweetness and the milk flavor. From the melting John already felt that the UK Dairy Milk was probably the superior flavor, but melting it in his mouth confirmed that because the sour milk tendency didn't intrude.

Now John is trying the Jersey milk because he wants to compare the Hershey’ s to one another. John has ridden a tank, he has held a general's rank, but he has never melted chocolate in his mouth. The chalkiness is no longer a factor because if you bite into it you get that initial granularity and there is some of that in this Jersey milk and the granularity sanding John’s tongue almost. The Jersey Milk and the Canadian Cadbury have a lot of commonalities. The Jersey milk is slightly sweeter and slightly sugary.

Between those two John would now feel like it was a matter of what he wanted that day. The Jersey Milk is the more extreme or extraordinary one of the two and John would choose that if he were wanting a peak experience, maybe not because it is better, but because it is more and heavier. The Canadian Cadbury just feels regular. Canadian Hershey's will take less long because these are smaller pieces. They won't require as much time to turn into a solution. What John didn't factor is the higher wax content, which means that it actually takes longer to melt. The Canadian Hershey bar is much milder and the waxiness of it actually does make it a little bit unpleasant to eat because it isn't melting like the other ones are melting. It wears away.

The other ones if you just sat them on your tongue eventually they would just liquefy and turn into chocolate sauce. The Canadian Hershey maintained its integrity, the little bar stayed a little bar all the way up until the very end. It had a little soap bar sliver there that was still in the soap dish and you kept trying to use it in the shower until it finally disappeared and it stays the same shape all the way down. It is not that the flavors were unpleasant relative to the other bars, but less of those flavors and it is just like a more underwhelming experience.

John is starting to feel a little high, he had three cups of coffee to go with these things. John would be able to tell these apart now, having focused on them a little bit, His palate is not necessarily that sophisticated, but if you sit and think about things. There are surely chocolate people out there who wouldn't even try any of these chocolates because they are up in some strange nature world. John loves dark chocolate, too, and the problem with all the fancy dark chocolates is now that this chocolate is infused with the kava kava berry. Go fuck yourself! John doesn't want anything infused with anything anymore, he just wants normal flavors. He doesn’t even think there is a kava kava berry. People are making it up! There is a Kava Kava Bar in Austin. It is a root and if you want to put stuff in tea that is fine. Go have your tea! Just don't infect the chocolate with it.

The American Hershey bar is by any measurement by far the worst of all the candy bars. The sugar starts really poking out as just sugar, not really blended in. It seems like there are artificial flavors in every one of these, but it is hard to know what that means and it seems like you can get away with a lot. The American chocolate, when you melt it like that, it gives away its position a little bit. The components of it are all really separate from one another, there is the chocolate, there is the sour milk, there is the sugar, there is the filler. It doesn't blend, it doesn't become a single flavor.

John never would have thought that the admixture of flavors, the unification of the taste would be a thing that he was looking for in a chocolate because he would bite it, chew it six or seven times and then it was gone and the initial pop of American Hershey's, which felt less milky and more like its own separate thing… maybe Dan is absolutely right and it has to be chewed by dynamic Americans who are chomping down their Hershey's bars on the way to building up a steel industry and beating back the National Socialists, and it is not a candy bar to be luxuriated in, sit around at a crossroads with your staff with a bunch of sheep around you.

John hates to give European people any gratification because they are awful with their terrible opinions and their hectoring, pedantic lectures about how things ought to be. They heap scorn upon America and on all things American and John has always felt it was his position in the world to fend off all that Europeans scorn, but in this instance he has to acknowledge that the Hershey bar, even though it is its own unique candy, is an awful candy by comparison. Those times when you go into a steak restaurant where you are buying a very expensive steak and you slice it very thin and you take a little morsel and enjoy it and the experience of the meat is very sensory.

Having to correct your opinion on taste, different ways to taste things (RW32)

Imagining eating a Big Mac that way, where you take a little bite of it and roll it around in your moth, you would never do that! You almost want to get the Big Mac into your stomach without having to chew it up very much. You just gobble it! Thinking about taking a piece of Arby's roast beef and letting it sit in the mouth for any length of time, letting it unfold in your mouth, like: ”I taste the hate! I taste the sorrow and the machines and the bad taste of every person that has touched this is at the nadir of their life. It started with a cow that was at the nadir of a cow’s life and each person along the way is like: Oh man, I work at the slaughterhouse that services Arby's. I am the truck driver that drives the barrels of meat paste to Arby's!”

Every single person along the chain is just sad and you can taste it all if you let that spend any time in your mouth at all and that is not what you want. You want to get one pound of food out of the paper and into the potty as fast as you can. John knows that about other foods, but American chocolate had its own merits that were separate from the merits of it being chocolate. It was its own category, like: ”I know it's awful, but it is useful!” and now John can see why. It is useful because you buy an American chocolate bar in the gas station and you have already eaten it by the time you get back into your car. It is a candy bar made to be eaten in a parking lot while you are walking.

John confesses he was wrong. he never sat with five chocolate bars and taste-tested them and Hershey's is indefensible. Part of the reason John never did this before is that he didn't want to know. He did not want to be somebody that suddenly was only eating Ritter Sport candy bars. Now he has to go to some fancy store, buy 42 different kinds of chocolate, and sit with them all and then form an opinion about what his favorite chocolate is, when he already had this all resolved. His favorite chocolate was the worst of all chocolates. Done. Problem solved. You can buy a pallet of them at Costco. I don't have to go to a specialty store.

John is excited about this, he is hoping that other people will send him chocolates and explain to him which ones are the best and he will probably end up opening your package within six months of it arriving and he will try the chocolates using this new chocolate-sucking technique, too. His days are going to seem a lot longer now. Dan says that with the show that John does with Merlin and this show he affected Dan’s life in a lot of ways and this is the first time he has been able to return the favor and really teach him something and change him life in a positive way.

An hour ago John would have passionately argued with any German, which is one of his favorite things to do, but he would have argued about chocolate, and now he has to just just acknowledge that he is a novice, take off his vestments, and go back to his hair-shirt and sit in front of a pile of chocolates. John went through this with cigarettes. He tried every kind of cigarette and for a long time he smoked the worst cigarettes just because everybody else can go to hell. Marlboro are the worst, he never smoked those, but he smoked Camel for a long time and then he smoked Winstons.

He wanted a cigarette that had been smoked by bomber pilots. When he was in Spain he smoked Ducados until he realized that they were making him physically ill and repulsive to other people. Then he tried to smoke Rothman's and all those UK cigarettes and he just didn’t like them. Likewise American Spirits. A single American spirit will last 45 minutes here, which when you are first smoking cigarettes seems like an advantage, but the reality is you don't want a cigarette to last. You want to smoke your cigarette and then get on with it. You don't want to sit with this fucking flaming stick for 45 minutes like you are babysitting it.

Eventually John settled on Export A, the great Canadian cigarette, which are each one like a little chocolate bar. They are perfectly sized, they are delicious, and they last exactly as long as you want a cigarette to last. Also, they are 25 in a box instead of 20, which is nice because you get that feeling you are getting more. The one with the little Scottish lady on them that Dan saw on the Internet is vintage, but they all did have that little lady on, John just never noticed her. She is amazing, she is carrying a little walking stick, she got a whole outfit on and John is just astonished that he failed so utterly to pay attention to his cigarette box.

Ampex ATR-100 tape machine, how John recorded his albums to tape (RW32)

Dan had never seen one of these things in person before. He heard about them more as a plug-in for your digital audio setup so that you could essentially pump your audio through these, but he always wondered why you would want to do that. They were over at a really cool mastering studio here in Austin that Haddie’s aunt and uncle run, a really cool place called Terra Nova, and they have worked with big-name people, doing their mastering work for many years, and he had one of these.

It is a reel-to-reel tape player, but much more a multi-track recorder. Apparently nowadays people are more and more rejecting the digital sound and want to go back to the way that things used to sound with much warmer feel to them and he uses this in part of his mastering work for those people who want that kind of a sound or wherever he thinks it is appropriate. It gives a great natural analog sound to the music. He had a friend who rebuilt the thing for him and according to him it sounds really good. He showed it to Dan, showed him how it worked. It looks like something from the mid 1970s, but it is just running beautifully. They were very expensive when they came out. It is known as the king of all tape machines.

There is so much for John to grab onto in this conversation that he doesn't even know where to begin. Dan would suggest that John works with Terra Nova on his new album and pushes his stuff through this thing. John has extensive experience with these machines and doesn’t mean to come to Austin just to use it. Every single one of The Long Winters records has been mixed to that machine or an equivalent. John loves that Dan and his Austin friend are talking about the warmth that is imparted to recorded music by going to tape at some point instead of that ProTools sound.

When John was beginning his recording career, Pro-Tools and digital recording were in their infancy and the first two Long Winters records were recorded entirely on tape on a very different machine than that, a 24-track 2” tape machine where the tape is actually two inches across and then mixed from a tape machine to a second tape machine like the one that Dan has seen and not put into a digital at all until the final manufacturing into CD. The third record was recorded on 16-track 2”tape and mixed to stereo 1/2”, which was even crazier, but they had 16 tracks and they wanted to have a lot more tracks, so they synched a 16-track 2” tape machine with a shit mid-2000's version of ProTools and put all the stuff on the ProTools that didn't need to be warm, like shakers and all that kind of shit, but the interface machine that synched the tape machine with the ProTools was also a new technology and they were constantly going out of sync. Half the time they were trying to troubleshoot the system.

The final Long Winters record was recorded onto tape in a different way, which is to say that they had one reel of 2” tape because all the tape manufacturers were going out of business at that point, tape was becoming hard to acquire, and so they had one or two reels and they recorded everything to tape and then immediately put it into ProTools. It just went onto the tape and then immediately into the digital, it was just an effect in order to impart that magical tone, something that is called tape compression. In digital if your sound has peaks or overloads you hear it crackle and do digital peaking, but on tape if you hit the tape really hard it will compress the sound just by virtue of the fact that it will record the max that it can and rounds off the top of it in a very pleasing way. It doesn't crackle, it just smooths the peaks down, which is a very lovely sound that blends everything together very nicely.

From 2006 to the present, in the intervening 10 years, tape has all but gone away for any but the most ardent audio enthusiast, and John hasn’t really made a record in that whole time. He has been monkeying around in computers and stuff, but it is hilarious to him that in that 10 years tape completely went into the sunset and now inevitably there are those purists out there. Through John’s entire recording career, the only people still using tape were purists. They thought they were very arty and cool vintage gear using hipster musicians even in 2003, because their little cult of people were maintaining these machines and saying they would never go to digital.

Now it is ridiculous and you can record things that sound great on your phone for all intents and purposes. Hearing Dan wax lyrical about this Ampex makes John’s heart soar and also make him a little sad and it makes him lol. Those machines are really tough to maintain and it is impossible to find tape now and they are seriously a super big pain in the ass just to keep calibrated. Nobody can afford to spend $600 a day in the studio to make recordings. John is trying to finish a record right now and can't believe that they used to pay $300 a day to go into a studio. They would have a recording budget of $3000 and get in there for 10 days and that is your whole record. The first first couple of records they spent less than 10 days on.

It is a wonderful thing and it is if you can get it, but in most cases it will all come out of digital, it will hit that tape one time and then go right back into digital, so it is effectively an analog plug in. It goes to that tape to smear the sound together and then right back into the computer. As time goes on and there are fewer and fewer of those, and most of the ones that still work are owned by Lenny Kravitz, the few of them that are out in the wild and still being maintained by real people end up being a real prize.

These guys worked with John’s friend Aimee Mann, Willie Nelson. John’s only confusion is that 99% of people are listening to music on their phones with earbuds. For 15 years they have been arguing about whether or not it matters and in 2003 people were passionate about whether or not it mattered, and now it just seems like…

Somebody was trying to turn John on to Drake and his first introduction to Drake was that she held her phone up to him and said: ”Check it out!” and John listened to this coming across her iPhone speaker and it sounded like ”kssst” with some monochromatic singing over it. He got what it is, but not why anybody wants to hear it. Later on he sat down with the exact same Drake track and listened to it on real headphones on a real stereo and he got it, it sounded great, because there was all that information in it that he couldn't hear.

Most people aren't hearing the nuance in the music, all the stuff that John really worked hard to put into all of their records, all the little fucking silent sounds. You can't even hear it. You can't discern it with the little teeny earbuds and the MP3 and the phone, all these different things in the signal chain that get in between the high fidelity song that you worked really hard to make sure was the highest caliber audio. The MP 3 just takes away 90% of the sonic information and then it is fed through whatever phone compression, you are getting 10.000 levels of compression that happen in the box and then it comes out into some earbuds that you got for free on a plane. John should just have a baseline, a drum machine and a vocal. Honestly, if you can make a song sound good with just those components, then it is probably a pretty good song!

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