GW18 - John Roderick

This show is hosted by Len Peralta.

This is the podcast portion of the art project where I am trying to connect with 55 geeks in 55 weeks and draw them as trading cards that can be purchased at his store, playable card games designed by Mike Sullinger.

I cannot explain how I feel about this week's geek, but I have always been intimidated by him. He is a pretty tall guy and I am a hobbit compared to his stature, but it goes beyond that. He is a founding member of the much respected Seattle-based Indie Rock band The Long Winters. Ironically he doesn't consider himself a geek per se, but there is no denying his nerdiness. He has been a featured performer on the JoCo Cruise Crazy, a.k.a. the nerd boat that sets sail every winter, he has also performed at W00tstock, which is where I was introduced to him. He runs with a very geeky crew and by virtue of that he is a geek. Would you please welcome to Geek Week Mr. John Roderick.

This has been a long time coming. Len has been in hiding, but he was in Seattle not that long ago for the first time, working for a convention or something. He loved Seattle, it was his first time to the Pacific Northwest ever and he immediately called his wife and asked if she had ever thought about maybe moving out to Seattle. He lives in Cleveland and they just had the worst weather all winter long. There is a great feeling in Seattle, the look of it, the feel, and just everything about it. John was born in Seattle, but grew up in Alaska and has been living back in Seattle since the early 1990s.

Len says that this show takes about 20 minutes and he asks the same questions of everybody with some slight variations.

You have been chosen as a geek a week. How does this make you feel? (GW18)

John is not a geek, so this is going to be a challenge. Len begs to differ about that, but that means the challenge is going to be on him. John is empirically not a geek, but he is a super-cool suave stud. Len agrees that John is one of the coolest people he probably knows, but John hangs around with a lot of geeks and he just got off a boat full of geeks recently. John says he can't be judged on the character of his associations. He does hang out with a lot of geeks because inexplicably he finds geeks enormously attractive, but that doesn't turn him into one. Like if you have a thing for Jewish girls, which he also has, it doesn't turn him into a Jewish person. John does associate with a large number and a wide variety of geeks.

What has been the secret to John’s success so far? (GW18)

John had great success not only as a solo musician, but also with his band The Long Winters. His own perception of success is somewhat darkened by having to live inside his own head. He doesn’t look at his success as a shining beacon in the night so much as a cobbled together patchwork quilt of minor failures.

Being upfront about all his secrets

At a young age he realized that people make decisions based on fear of what other people thought of them and based on their hidden shame that their true selves would be revealed and that people in the world would find their true selves to be wanting, so they were always living in shame that someone was going to find them out and they made all their life decisions according to this fear. It is the classic example of the closeted gay guy who works for the CIA and then the KGB figures out that he is gay by taking pictures of him going into a bathhouse, and they use that as blackmail and turn the man against his country because the fear of what would happen to him if his secrets were revealed.

When John was young he resolved that no-one would ever be able to blackmail him because he would just be completely upfront about and all the things that he would potentially be most ashamed of he would just be completely forthright about. As a result he never made a decision based on fear of being revealed. He made a lot of decisions that he regrets, but all of them were made in the spirit of the moment and with the confidence of the mindset he was in. He never has been compromised by keeping a part of himself in the shadows.

It is analogous to coming out of the closet. Everybody needs to come out of the closet and for Freaks and Geeks both it is equally liberating for someone to come out of the closet, whatever closet they are in. John came out of his own closets a long time ago.

If you were to stop what you were doing tomorrow and take up a totally different career, what do you choose to do? (GW18)

It begs the question whether John even chose to be a musician or whether he ever chooses to do anything that happens to him, which is one of the challenges of being an intrinsically lazy dreamer personality. His choice would be to lie half-on, half-off of a Chaise lounge, staring up at the ceiling, daydreaming, and then people would bring him platters of food and whatever else it was that he was snapping his fingers for.

Of course that never happens and he stumbled into a musician's life and has tumbled out of a musician's life into a vaudevillian life that he is leading now where about half of his gigs are speaking gigs or teaching / lecturing appointments. For instance he went on the Jonathan Coulton Cruise this year and he did not perform an actual show. He was just there as a gadfly and guest host, which is typical of the work he does now.

John not having a job where he has to go to work

John was Downtown yesterday in meetings because he is a member of the Music Commission in Seattle, and he was sitting in the office of the director of the Arts and Education Committee of the mayor's office and he wondered how he would feel about it if they offered him a job there. What if he took a job as a city employee working in the arts? He looked around his office and he looked out the window, looked at the view, and he realized that would mean he would have to get up in the morning and drive to work every day. He was daydreaming about this possibility that he would take a job and he ended up rejecting that option. If the phone rang and they would offer him a job as director of the Arts he would probably say ”Yes!” anyway.

John hasn’t had a job where he had to go to work in 20 years, but that has necessitated that he works independently and that work is hard to do when you do not have a frantic nature. John is not chasing anything, he doesn’t need to be validated in the world and his nature is to really smell the flowers. He loves smelling flowers!

John’s entry to Twitter, all of his tweets being 140 characters, his book of tweets

John wasn't part of the earliest Twitter, he wasn't one of those Merlin Mann people that adopted Twitter in the first hour, but his three friends Merlin and John Hodgman and Jonathan Coulton were all hammering him in 2006/07 to get on this Twitter because it is really great. Is it another Friendster? John didn’t need that in his life and he blew them all off. Then they were on a trip to Los Angeles together, driving in a rental car, and they went into a restaurant and as they came out and the rental car had been towed. Jonathan pulled his phone out and he said: ”Let me show you what Twitter can do! If I tweeted right now that our car had been towed, somebody would drive up and offer us a ride in two minutes!” - ”That is terrifying! I don't want that!” - ”I don't want it either, but we could if we wanted!”

That was the moment that John crossed over and was willing to have him explain what Twitter was because he was trying to demonstrate that it had real world power. Then John started tweeting and he enjoyed it immediately. His early Twitter life is very different from his Twitter life now. He understood the concept to be that every tweet needed to be exactly 140 characters long, so for the first year every tweet was 140 characters exactly. Those tweets were collected in a book by a guy in Portland who runs a small publishing company called Publication Studios. He collected that first year of tweets in a perfect bound volume that he sells.

The original idea was that there is a boutique hotel in Seattle called The Sorrento and they were curating a small shelf of books that they were going to put in every room, a little selection of books in a strange hotel in a strange town by some local writers, and John’s little Twitter book was originally published to sit on that shelf at The Sorrento Hotel. You can't really say that it was popular, but its popularity resulted in it being more widely distributed, although not that widely distributed. If you googled Publication Studios you would probably find that their website was a very bare-bones affair, but you could find the book there and order it and he would make one for you and send it to you.

In the early days of Twitter you couldn't re-tweet John’s tweets because you needed two spaces to tweet something. It was really a misunderstanding at first and then when he understood that they didn't have to be 140 characters he was wondering why you would make them any less than 140 characters. Why would you leave that hanging space? The first time he tweeted something that was 120 characters, when he finally abandoned his project, there was a feeling of sorrow. End of an era!

What is the trait you most value in others? (GW18)

This is Len’s Barbara Walters question.

A lot of people value loyalty in other people, but John doesn't really prize loyalty that much. He understands that life is tricky and if someone reveals themselves to be a betrayer that doesn't necessarily mean that they are not a good friend most of the time. You don't trust them with your life savings in a bag, but… Other people interest him to such a degree that there isn't a trade above any others that he values. Each person is such a puzzle and all the component parts are the same. We are not very different from one another in any respect.

You take a person from Lagos and you take a person from Reykjavík and you put them next to each other and you interview them and they both loved somebody that didn't love them back, they both struggled in their work until they found their groove, they both had a relationship of some kind with their mother and father that was fraught, but also full of love. Every person has the same story, it is just a question of how those pieces and chemical parts and psychological parts are arranged.

An infinite variety of arrangement makes every person a puzzle, but John has never met a person where he thought he had never, ever, ever, ever heard or seen of a person that has this quality that they are exhibiting. He has met and been quite close friends with total sociopaths and also total altruists and even they are not that far apart from one another because we are all Long Pigs, we are all just Pig Monkeys struggling against gravity every day which wants to drag us down to the floor and hold us there. There is no trade that John cares about more than any other trade, he just loves people and he loves the tumbling, jumbled mix of qualities that makes everyone an individual.

That is probably one of the most thoughtful answers to that question Len has gotten so far, but he is talking to a lot of geeks, after all. That question in particular throws people off because people don't actually get a chance to think about other people during an interview about themselves. What John just said there makes these interviews so much more interesting because they are so much different from one another, even though he has done over 100 of these now, but that was the essence of that and Len appreciates the answer to that question.

What geeky television show, book or movie has had the greatest influence on you as a creator? (GW18)

The deep catalog of geek media is not a thing John has spent much time investigating. At a certain point he read whatever that statistic was that if you read a full book every three days your entire life, the shelf of books that you are even capable of reading would be one wall of a big room. There is no way that you could ever digest all the written material.

What if we could see all the cigarettes that we were still going to smoke in one pile?

When John was a cigaret smoker, sitting in a room with a bunch of his roommates and friends, all smoking Camel filters, he said: ”What if all the cigarets that we were ever going to smoke were suddenly just piled up here in the room, maybe 5000 cartons of cigarets. What if they were just stacked against the wall and we were looking at them and we realized that we had to open that first pack and get started because we had to get through all these cigarets before we died?” - ”You are such a bummer! Why don't you shut up? You are always saying such bummer things!” - ”No, seriously! We are going to smoke X number of cigarets eventually. What if we could see them all?”


John feels that way about books. He is going to read X number of books in his life, it is always going to be fewer than he wanted to. He doesn’t read books frivolously, he doesn’t chase books about elves, for instance, because he read a good book about elves, it is called The Hobbit, and then he figured he had elves pretty well nailed. If there was more to say about elves it wasn't necessary that he dug down super-deep into the elven back story.

Obviously The Lord of the Rings was always his go to. He has read the whole trilogy probably 4 times. He first read it in 7th grade, again in 10th grade, in college, and again as an adult, but he can't make any connection between it and how he ended up writing or the work he ended up making as a creative person. If this was a Robert Plant interview he would be able to make some connections between The Lord of the Rings and his songwriting because every song is a Lord of the Rings song. Every Led Zeppelin song is either about having sex with a girl or having sex with The Hobbit.

Figuring out the craft of songwriting completely on his own

There are a lot of bands, The Beatles being the most famous example, who started out as cover bands, and they learned 500 songs by the great songwriters of their time and then parlayed that knowledge, that mimicry into their own songwriting talent and expanded upon what they had learned and then wrote the great canon of pop music. There are other songwriters, John included, who worked entirely in a dumb isolation. When he picked up a guitar sSomeone showed him the basic chords, C, G, E, A, and he immediately began clawing at the guitar and trying to write songs with these basic tools that he had and he made no attempt to learn easy Beatles or Creedence or Rolling Stones songs, he had no interest in trying to learn other people's songwriting. He just immediately started clawing at this instrument, trying to get his songs to come out of it.

Even still he doesn’t know very many cover songs, he never has dedicated himself the tricks of songwriting or the craft of songwriting through other people's experience, but he wanted to make every mistake himself and has made every mistake himself, plodding along on his own dumb path. That results in him making the same mistakes that other people have already made, and he makes them again. That has always been his instinct, rather than to follow a path of mimicry or student / master relationship. He always worked alone as though he was a monkey and a guitar fell from the sky and he was the first person that had ever seen it and was trying to figure out how it worked.

John’s sister trying to start a Duran Duran cover band

John started playing guitar in High School only because it was extremely fashionable with his friends. They were all learning all the songs of Judas Priest and AC/DC and everybody had a guitar. John’s younger sister and her girlfriends wanted to start a Duran Duran cover band and they took all their allowance and all their savings and they went and bought instruments. John’s sister bought a Roland keyboard because Nick Rhodes was her hero and her friend bought a guitar at a flea market because Andy Taylor was her hero.

They all took their instruments downstairs and they practiced three times and they realized that they didn't know how to play instruments and that it was hard and they didn't want to, so they never picked up those instruments again and there was basically half of bands worth of instruments sitting in John’s basement and he would walk by and look at them, they were his sister's toys, but they were real instruments and after a few weeks had gone by and it was clear they were never going to get picked up again John started picking them up and monkeying with them.

He wrote a song almost immediately called I've Got Green Hair, and it was about his sister and her stupid Punk Rock friends that he thought were stupid. He was 15 and she was 13 and John wrote this song and would follow her around the house playing it: ”I have got green hair, I am so dumb, I am a stupid sister with green hair because I am dumb” It was a great gift to him that he could torment her with Rock music of which she was a humongous fan and he was just a casual observer. John was writing songs from then on.

The first 10 years of songs that John wrote were all terrible. He marvels all the time when he sees a 21 year old who has written an album of great songs. When he was 21 he was writing songs, but they were terrible and it took him a long time to develop into a songwriter.

Are you more of a video game person or a D&D person? (GW18)

Dungeons and Dragons

John picked up Dungeons and Dragons in 7th grade starting in 1980. TSR had released Advanced D&D, but it was first generation, and John still has his Monster Manual and his Dungeon Master’s Guide and they are all the old ones. He has seen the subsequent iterations of them, but prefers the old game. John played it all the way through Junior High, but he was too impatient to properly learn the game. He wanted to live in the world of Dungeons and Dragons, he wanted to live in the fantasy world of it, and once he had absorbed the D&D cosmology he spent many hours daydreaming in it.

It affected his imagination in the sense that he realized that fantasy role playing was a fine way to spend an afternoon, but he preferred to just sit and daydream about his adventures as an elf magic user or perhaps a human paladin, just traipsing through the forest. He was a solitary person and he would often go out in Anchorage where he grew up and go on day-long hikes through the town. Anchorage has a lot of forests in the town and streams and trails, and he would go out on these campaigns just by himself. He would have a walking stick that was actually a staff of mite, he was a teenager at this point at 16 years old and wouldn't have liked a casual passer-by or an attractive young girl to know what he was thinking in his head, but he was busy fighting orcs and searching for treasure and campaigning, completely aside from actually playing the game.

One time in 8th grade he was on a campaign and he found an artifact which allowed him to turn his opponent's bones to jelly, called The Crown of Mite, and he used it on some bugbear and then his friend Kevin said: ”I walk over to the jellyfied bugbear and chop him up with my sword!” and the Dungeon Master said: ”All of the experience points and treasure associated with killing the bugbear are awarded to Kevin for killing the bugbear!” John said: ”I turned his bones to jelly! He died when his bones were jellyfied because he could not sustain life as a jellied bugbear!” and the Dungeon Master ruled that in fact he was still clinging to life until Kevin dispatched him with his sword and John said: ”The injustice of this situation, of dealing with an uninformed, ignorant dungeon master now has estranged me from the whole concept of playing games!”

John continued to live in a Dungeons and Dragons universe in his imagination and perhaps even to this day he still does live in a Dungeons and Dragons universe. He was never interested in physical attributes like strength or dexterity, but he was always interested in charisma and intelligence because those were problem solving and social skills and in a game where you are going to be matching wits with other people that was what you truly needed. It reflects a bias that John has in his own life. Strength and dexterity are things ultimately that you can hire other people for. He never understood how you could make a Dungeons and Dragons character that you didn't try and make an extension of who you actually were, just with greater power.

John is surely not alone in having spent many hours as a young person trying to telekinetically bend forks and see around corners and stuff. He was interested in the dark arts even when he was 5-7 years old. He was born on Friday the 13th and he always thought that that conveyed to him a certain extension of normal human power and he would sit and try to cast little spells, monkeying with feathers and bones and so forth. His mom caught him one time when he was 8 and grabbed him and lifted him up on his shirt, pulled him real close to her which she she never did otherwise, and said: ”Do not mess with powers you do not understand!” and she put him back on the ground and his suspicion at the time and still is that she mom is a dark sorceress who for whatever reason did not share the family secrets with him, which is infuriating. She was really serious!

Maybe she was trying to protect him from what her own knowledge was, but she didn't do it like a good witch would have done it, but like a bad witch would have done it. They never spoke about it since and it is one of the things that they just would never speak about. She probably doesn’t remember it.

Video games, John playing Arcade games

In 1980 John was in 7th grade, he was 12 years old, and that was the dawn of the video game era. His dad actually had the franchise in Anchorage for distributing tabletop pong games to taverns in the mid-1970s. The first Pong game in Alaska his dad brought up to Anchorage and at a certain point he owned 250 tabletop Pong games and aerial dogfight games, the original Atari tank games, the big tabletop things that he had in taverns all around the city. There was a the whole period there in the late 1970s when John’s dad's house was full of bags of quarters because they were living in this economy where he had a sideline where he was running video games. John never thought to ask him how he got out of it later.

John was a very early adopter of video games and in the dawn of video games he was at the arcade every minute playing all the old favorites and he continued to be an acolyte of video games right up until the first transition away from the original line of video games. At first there was space war and general war, like helicopter bombing, missile command, blowing things up, gunship bomb stuff, and the weird Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Q*bert, strange little creature in a strange little world engaged in some strange little activity. That was most of video games: gunship, gunship, gunship, spaceship, spaceship, spaceship, weird little bug in a confined little space working on some inscrutable project.

Then there was the boxing game Punch Out, a fascinating and very fun primitive boxing game, and all of a sudden all of the games in arcades turned into fighting games. Martial arts, martial arts, martial arts, you against the machine or you against another player and you had to master a complex series of up, down, left, left, right, down button, button karate chop fly through the air stuff and John did not identify with those games. Spaceship war-fighting games he really connected to at a basic level, but the trick of karate, boxing, martial arts fighting was a memorization routine that he found uninteresting and it seemed like school. Why would you memorize a bunch of algebra to play this game?

John divorced himself from video games at that point and never really went back. That probably happened in 1984/85. If he can find a vintage arcade that has all the old games, if he can find Q*bert or Elevator Action he would go play it, or having some Spy times. John is a recording musician and every recording studio has an Xbox or a Nintendo and he has tried to play Grand Theft Auto a few times and the car racing games and it is the same problem: Mastering the controller is a learning curve. When he is watching somebody do a first person shooter game, like a Navy SEAL game and you are walking through there and it is dark and the guy doesn't see you and then you shoot him, but when he tries and manipulate the character, whatever that learning curve is he is doing a mental calculation like: ”Once I figure all this out, is it really going to be that fun? Or can I just forego this whole process and just not enter this world?”

John playing Special Ops scenarios in his imagination

John is routinely running Special Ops scenarios in his imagination. Any time he gets off an airplane late at night in a strange airport he immediately goes into a counter-espionage mindset where he needs to get from the airport gate to the rental car place with the assumption that he is being surveilled and tailed and that his surveillance is waiting for the opportunity to kill him without witnesses. He needs to protect himself from all those vantage points and he also needs to not appear as though he is aware of being tailed. He basically masks out rules and goes into a Bourne scenario, always playing video games in his head, just in real life and he doesn’t need to figure out how to use a controller.

Len would actually see that film starring John, it would be pretty great film, almost like living the Secret Life of Walter Mitty or something. John’s dad used to refer to Walter Mitty before when John was a kid and before he read the book, and John realized later that his dad was doing that, too, that he identified with the Walter Mitty character because he was also using his imagination that way, but he never confessed to it and never revealed it in his daily life. John just has pieced together offhand comments he has made over the course of his life and he realized later that his dad was living in a world of his imagination, too in a strange way and they never talked about it.

John also lives a fairly adventurous life, so his Walter Mitty-isms are just that little extra bit of fun. Rather than getting off an airplane and just start looking at his phone he gets off the airplane and has a little mini adventure as he is walking to the airport that only he is conscious of and that is incredibly fun, it is one of his favorite parts of being alive, those little moments. If he gets off an airplane in Atlanta at 2pm in the afternoon and there are 50.000 people trying to get on the escalator all at once he is usually just busy fighting other people and doesn’t have time for fun, but those times when you are flying a weird flight or you arrive somewhere in the middle of the night and you get off the airplane and you are in a mostly empty airport and the light in the corners is all dusky and you can hear your footsteps echoing, certain settings really trigger it for him.

There were a few occasions when John has enlisted a travel companion in the game, but usually it takes the form of that inexplicable plotting that you see in adventure movies where the Jason Bourne character starts issuing kurt orders to their friend, like: ”Get down! Get over there!” and they don't take the two extra seconds to explain: ”There is a killer there!”, but they just go: ”Move! No time to explain!” John does that type of thing and it is very confusing to his travel companions. If they are getting on an underground airport tram maybe in the last minute John will push them in one door and then he will jump over and get in another car and they will look at him through the window: ”What are you doing?” and John will pretend he doesn’t know them. It is a little fun to have, but few people want to play spy games in the middle of the night in an airport.

Who or what do you consider to be your nemesis? (GW18)

John has three free-floating nemesis positions that he filled with whomever has pissed him off or crossed him most recently. Once he becomes friends with somebody he assumes they are going to be friends forever, he is not somebody who ends friendships permanently. That said friends do piss him off and he will freeze them out and refuses to talk to them for a year sometimes. It doesn't mean that he doesn’t consider them a friend still, potentially even a great friend, but he is mad at them because of something that they did that they should know better that he didn't actually bother to explain to them what it was and he will get mad at them and then they will be his nemesis for a period, and then there will be some rapprochement and they will be friends again and he will have to find a new nemesis to fill that position.

It is a minister without portfolio position that rotates around. Within Rock’n’Roll or the creative fields there is always somebody who is doing better than he is that he is mad at because they are doing better than he is and that person will fill the Newman role: ”Oh hello, Newman!” and there are probably two or three of those out there floating around at any given moment.

At the end of the world, what geeky item would you bring with you as you explore the Mad Max like terrain? (GW18)

Because John lives in a coastal Pacific Rim city he is always preparing both for volcanic eruption and earthquake-triggered tsunami. His plan is to buy two fully outfitted Kawasaki Enduro combat motorcycles with stainless steel panniers filled with all of his survival goods, and to keep those in good tune in preparation for the moment when the Klaxons start sounding that either the tidal wave is coming this way or the volcano is coming that way or whatever. If you live on the Pacific Coast the end times are always just around the corner. He doesn’t worry about zombies, more so political upheaval, but really the end times are actually coming here and it is just a question of when the Earth decides to give up its humors.

When the tidal wave hits and the earthquake comes it is going to be a mess around here and John’s go-fast motorcycles are going to enable him to get to the country. Washington state is geographically and temperately very diverse and if you can get away from the shore you can be up in the mountains in 10-15 minutes if you are really hauling and then you get over the mountains and all of a sudden you are in a dry desert or in fruit orchards and wheat fields. They don't have a shortage of water or food and Washington state is not going to turn into a dystopian hell scape like all of Los Angeles or Phoenix. When the bad times hit those places everybody runs out of water in two days and then it is just mayhem.

They will never make it up here, they will die before they get to Sacramento, and John is not worried about California, they are going to fuck themselves in a giant hellstorm, but up here if everything gets wiped out, the dams all break, and the cities are munched by nature, Washington is still a place where you could legitimately forage and you would be in competition with millions of other dummies who are also trying to forage, but millions of other dummies don't know how to forage, they would be trying to forage all the cans of food at the Safeway, but all you really have to do is go up into the trees and live on moss and squirrels for six months.

You never see apocalypse movies set in the Pacific Northwest because there is no plot. They don't have to fight over oil, they will just wade out into the ocean and stand there for a little bit and something will come up that you can eat. You will be cold and wet all the time, but John is very used to that.

Rapid Fire questions (GW18)

How would you kill a zombie?

You would have to behead a zombie.

Mac or PC?


Marvel or DC?

All of John’s nerdy friends are always trying to tell him that it is very important for him to have an opinion about that, and he keeps getting giant comic book compilations sent to him in the mail by more than a handful of people. There are so many people who are very invested in this and they want him to understand that he has a stack six feet tall of comic books that people have sent him, hoping he will read them and finally understand that the 1970s Superman is the Superman that matters. He has never opened a single one of them and he doesn’t care at all because they are superhero comics and they are for kids.

John probably has 10 grand worth of high quality comics because his nerd friends have money to burn and they are sending him all this hard back stuff. maybe if John will ever have a son he will be interested in it. Hodgeman has sent him so many comics, but John doesn’t even know if he is a Marvel or DC guy. Which one is the one with Superman? DC! Hodgeman has very strong feelings about DC, but John can’t see how you could be against Marvel because Marvel has Spider-Man.

The Long Winters vs the 2014 meteorological long winter: Which one would be cooler to hear a weatherman talk about?

The Long Winters is much more interesting to hear anybody talk about because weather is just weather, especially if the weatherman was a member of the Weathermen, the 1960s reactionary terrorist organization. That is a scenario that can probably be played out in an airport mostly.

Sluice Box Muckers vs Juice Box Suckers: Which will get you more attention from the ladies?

Sluice box muckers are pretty low status, but what is lower status than a juice box sucker? They are little babies, and the ladies love little babies, but speaking as someone who has recently had a little baby: Little babies are dumb! They are boring and dumb and after the initial excitement wears off of, like: ”Oh my God! Cute little baby!” then it is just a little baby. They can't talk. They are not interesting. They just sit there and poop. Sluice box muckers win again!

John’s trading card

This is an art project after all and Len is making trading cards about all of his guests that are editorial style portraits in cartoon format. A lot of times he used to compare them to Annie Leibovitz photos, even though that was presumptuously. He asks John how he would like to be drawn.

The traits that John exemplifies most are in competition with one another and there is a tension between his innate heroism, he is a native hero, but also very wise. How do you portray his heroic nature while also conveying the quiet wisdom accrued through many years of solitary contemplation? Len could draw him as someone from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, like an Aragorn possibly. He wandered many years before he returned as the king. That was a spoiler. John has also done battle with with many a Balrog. The only person Len has ever drawn in Lord of the Rings gear was Nolan Bushnell as Gandalf the White and his staff was the Atari symbol because Atari was his company for a long time. John would fit into the world of that ranger, of Aragorn or the Lord of the Rings world.

It is clear that John is truly a geek! Thinking that his mother might have been a sorceress, his father was an early adopter of video games, John used to go out on quests in his mind, he truly is a geek and he must embrace it!

Len has been struggling with this portion of his cards for a little bit now, especially with this season, because he would add a whole cosplay element to it, but he doesn’t even know if he needs to because he wants to do beautiful portraits of people too and be fun, and he has been doing those as well for people, he just did some nice ones of Acker & Blacker. He can take a stab at drawing John as the Ranger or Aragorn. John would not want to unduly influence Len’s creative process.

It would be great if John had a long hobbit pipe and the first time he was ever in Denmark he realized that the Danes actually really do smoke those long pipes and he went into a tobacconist and bought one and sat in the town square struggling to smoke his silly-ass Gandalf pipe because he was 20 years old and didn't know which end was up. A little Danish man with the long white beard sat next to him and very patiently spent about an hour teaching him how to smoke a pipe. John has always been grateful and always thought one day he might take it up again.

John asks Len not to put a little hobbit pipe in his hand just to make him look like a geek. Len is working on trying to make people look stellar. He has drawn John more than once because he was doing a project called 140 Characters where he asked for 140 names on Twitter and John’s name came up in one of them. He drew their mutual friend Kathleen McGivney with a little monkey, but he forgot the monkey's name, for the television show Noodles where there was Adam Moore, Will and John with Noodles in the middle. John has that T-shirt actually and he wears it.

Are there any other words of wisdom that John wants to impart into the world?

John is not a geek. He is cool! Len begs to differ!

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