RL194 - Permanent Geranium Lake

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The Problem: Barley was a beautiful silken windhound, referring to a breed of dogs that was a mixture between a Borzoi and a Whippet, and John’s mom breeding Borzois at one point.

The show title refers to the name of a Crayola color as found on the Wikipedia page with the list of all colors.

Merlin says it is all such a struggle, get the kids out the door, tumble out of bed, stumble into the kitchen, wonder what ever happened in his life. Did he go downstairs and drink a cup of ambition? (from the lyrics of 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton) The Sheena Easton song that we know of as Morning Train, which sounds a little dirty, was originally called 9 to 5, but they had to change it for the US release, which also sounds dirty, because Dolly Parton already had a hit with 9 to 5. If you think about it, almost everything sounds dirty! US release? John is going to start using both US release and Morning Train and incorporate them into his pillow talk. ”Hey, baby! I am going to have to change this for the US release!” Got a little blue here.

Merlin says that John got a little blue last week (see RL193) when he told the story about smelling the man's perfume and then following him around a little bit. He talked about some sex feelings.

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 Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first!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.

Artisanal dildos (RL194)

Merlin read an article on the Internet this morning about an artisanal dildo company. They make bespoke modern dildai. You would want an old dildo from the past out of burled wood of the 19th century, but you don't want a mid-period dildo from the 1960s-80s, those Japanese electronic dildos you would buy at a Woolworth, not to be ping pong, but you don't want some mid-market (Chrysler) LeBaron of dildos.

For a long time most dildos were made out of the same material that Superballs were made out of. If you dropped one on the ground the first time it would bounce 6ft high, it was that marbled plastic, red, white and blue, and that is not what you want. A normal contemporary guy wearing suspenders with a long beard and the sides of his head shaved is not going to use a Superball dildo when he could use one that is made out of brass and steam gauges, like a Jules Verne device.

If Merlin was going to have a steampunk dildo he would be looking for something that was an improbably large machine the size of a box fan, maybe bigger, that drives a device that is actually kind of tiny, that uses a very heavily lacquered boat ore in some capacity, it got flywheels, gauges, it makes a puff puff sound, it should sound a little bit like an old-timey generator, you got to have brass tubing. If you got some studs on it, but now it is starting to sound a little bit medieval like something that Tor Kamata would use: ”We just use the arm of a dead baby!”

The usage of different words, Science Fiction vs Speculative Fiction (RL194)

That is the way economics works. There is a need and then there is something that changes in the marketplace, maybe something involving Copernicus, but you got a baby's arm and you might want to do some business with that. Once you start talking about business, you start talking about the history of entrepreneurship, and once you start talking about the history of entrepreneurship you are talking about the history of humanity, the desire to better ourselves. The history of humanity is the history of entrepreneurs pushing the envelope through entrepreneurial entrepreneurship, sometimes they push the envelope out of the box, but John doesn’t want to open the kimono too far and do a deep-dive on this one.

Entrepreneurs, even right now as they speak, are terraforming the mental landscape. Merlin thought that was a made-up word, but it has been around in SciFi for some time now. What else are you going to call it when you arrive at a distant sun-baked planet, baked by multiple suns? In speculative fiction it is the idea of taking an existing planet or area that is currently not naturally inhabitable by humans and doing something that basically hits reset and causes it to be something that would be inhabitable by humans. John wonders why Merlin just called it speculative fiction, if you no longer say science fiction.

They talked three weeks ago about the distinction between Science Fiction and Fantasy (see RL191). Merlin is an outsider on these things, mostly he likes mainstream stuff, he has read some stuff, but he doesn’t know lots of stuff about either Science Fiction or Fantasy. Speculative Fiction in his head he associates it with Kurt Vonnegut. If it was just called Speculum Fiction, then it would be Harlan Ellison. Science Fiction is fiction, a story that involves sciencey things, but speculative fiction is almost more like an alternative universe.

People say alternate, but that means every other, it is one of those words like penultimate or epicenter that almost everybody uses wrong, or like deep dive or open the kimono. When you say alternate, you say ”We are going to meet on alternate weeks!” or ”Somebody was someone else's alternate!”, which is a second in a duel. One that both of them have used wrong recently is uninterested versus disinterested, which is a difference that we need to bring back. If it doesn't appeal to you or holds no interest for you, you are uninterested in that. If you are somebody who doesn't have a stake in it, you don't have a dog in the fight, you are a disinterested party.

They always say ”don't have a dog in that race” because of the Iditarod. Up in the Northwest they race dogs, maybe they fight dogs down there in California. In Florida there was lots of dog racing and some very unusual betting. He was about to use the word paramutual, except he doesn’t really know what that means. John first thought Merlin said bedding instead of betting. This is turning into a Borges podcast at this point (probably after the writer Jorge Luis Borges).

Last night John actually happened to be watching some videos of Borzois hunting, which is different from a Borges or a Borge or a Borgee, which is when people who run an Italian city state have intercourse in groups. John Hodgman would think that joke is funny. Victor Borge is the guy who had a puppet on his hand. John would say that he has been to some Borgies, if you know what he is saying. He sat against the wall. Afterwards you got to go see the Dometegese (?), don’t they make artisanal pasta? It cooks to perfection in 10-12 minutes.

Gibson, John’s mom’s dog, videos of Borzois hunting (RL194)

John was watching videos of Borzois hunting (see RL43, RL221 about John’s mom breeding Borzoi)They were the exclusive dog of the Russian Royal family so much so that after the Russian Revolution all the Borzois in Russia were killed because they symbolized the Royal family. The only Borzois that survived were those that had been given as gifts by the Russian Royal family to Royal families throughout Europe as a token of their Royal esteem. There were Borzois in England and presumably Germany, and then those Borzois were bred to survive the line and now there are Borzois back in Russia because you got oligarchs who probably want a Borzoi and there is a resurgence of Russian nationalism and maybe the symbolism of the Borzoi has changed or maybe they just want to return to the Tsars.

It is their version of small batch whiskey: It is nice, but it also signifies things. It is the contemporary fashion to wear powdered wigs that we have here. The popularity of the musical Hamilton has brought back this whole powdered wig scene. For a lot of the middle period of American history they were not impressed by the founding fathers, they wanted nothing to do with them, they consider themselves contemporary modern people who wanted to make a break from that culture and the last thing they wanted to do is wear the wigs of their fathers. They were wearing helmets and goggles caps. Some caps, a Tam o’shanter, a deer stalker.

When Gibson arrived (John’s mom’s dog), Gibson looked like a small Borzoi. He was a borzoi crossed with a Whippet and a Whippet looks like a tiny Borzoi. They are all long-nosed running dogs. They tried to get the long hair of a Borzoi with the size of a Whippet, and what they achieved in Gibson was that he was a little bit too big to be in the family of this new breed they were trying to create and so he had gotten bounced out of the breeding stock because they have to cull the big ones and cull the hairless ones and cull the ones that understand English, cull the ones that can tap their hooves to do math.

Gibson arrived on the scene and John said: ”Hello, new dog! You are a small Borzoi!” and his mom said: ”No, the new breed is called the Silken Windhound!” because when the Borzoi has really long fur, it looks like wings almost, it takes on a very silky cascading lion’s mane, and Silken Windhound was the name of the breed that they were working toward. It was in the middle period of a breed where it maybe hadn't been accepted all the way by the American Kennel Club. They were trying to produce a line that would make this a real breed rather than just a crossbreed.

The problem was when John was out in the world walking this dog and people come up and ask: ”What kind of dog is that?” he is forced to make a choice: Either he says out loud Silken Windhound, but now you got to explain, or you say: ”It is a half Borzoi, half Whippet!”, or you say: ”It is a small Borzoi!” Merlin suggests to say: ”He is mostly Borzoi!” The problem with that is it sounds like your Borzoi got out and had an affair with a Mongrel, but John wanted to indicate that this was attempting at least to be a purebred dog. This is what it is meant to be, it is very small compared to a Borzoi, but it is still 3ft tall.

As John was watching these videos he found a video which originally was a film of three Borzoi killing a Wolf in 1910 in the snow. They have a bread-in strategy, one of them grabs one front leg, one of them grabs one back leg, they flip them over, and the third one goes for the neck. They just know what they are doing. It is a wolf, it is not going down easily. John always imagined it as a very surgical process, but it was intense.

The Borzoi are big, but the Wolf outweighs them and one grabs the front, one grabs the back, but as they are flipping the wolf, the wolf is also spinning and contorting trying to get away. It is really three dogs on a wolf, and they are trying to enact their plan, and the wolf is against it. It is really a free for all! John watched this video for about 5 minutes before he realized that it was actually a loop of a fight and the loop is probably only 15 seconds long, like a 20th century dog Vine, except there is no entrepreneurial aspect to it where somebody up the chain at Vine is hoping to do an IPO and make $40 million and get out.

Ultimately it was somebody out in a snowy field hand-cranking a film camera, and the entire reel of film was probably just 15 seconds worth of film. They caught this incredible moment of these three dogs attacking a wolf.

John’s mom breeding Borzois when John was little (RL194)

John has owned these dogs with his mom his whole life. When John was born his mom was breeding Borzois. They are almost as tall as a guitar case leaned against a wall, they are huge! They had them all over the house when John was little. Sadly, at one point when he was still crawling he was at his mom's feet, she was in the kitchen, it was the 1960s, so two things were true: the kitchen floor was shag carpet, which no-one has done before or since, it was precisely from November of 1967 to June of 1969 and you would never have done it before that or since.

Nixon doesn't get the credit he deserves. He was creating a world in which it was safe to have shag carpet in your kitchen! A Democratic President couldn't have removed shag carpet from the kitchen. It took a Republican to send Kissinger to take the carpet out! Also the EPA. It was a catalytic converter issue! The carpet was either avocado, burnt umber, or harvest sunshine or desert bloom, and there was always that brown color like chocolate donut.

John was at his mom's feet and her prized Borzoi, the mother who had produced the 25 puppies that had she was doing her part to keep this breed alive and she said when she got to Washington there were no Borzois anywhere and she produced 25 puppies that ended up being the dogs that created the West Coast Borzoi population, and for most of the 1970s she followed the line and saw the family tree of all these dogs and you couldn’t find a borzoi in the Northwest that didn't at one point end up in this shag carpet kitchen at John’s house.

John was sitting there and then all of a sudden he started crying, she looks down, and Manushka, the old lady who had been John’s friend and companion, had bitten him 17 times in the face, pierced his eyelid, almost took his nose off, and it happened in a flash. They found 17 individual bite marks all on his face, it was unclear whether he would be scarred for life, but John was just a child, he doesn’t remember it, but it surely left a lasting impact on him, it is why he doesn't trust women and why he did bad in school. Before John was born Manushka was her child, but now she had to put her down.

Then she became an evangelist of this whole thing that really no dog is safe around a baby. Don't ever make the mistake of putting your child next to a Rottweiler, no matter how much you feel like the Rottweiler is a nice dog. No matter how strong the stats are, even if you take a 99.99% dog that doesn't kill a kid, it only takes really that little bit. The dog is amazing, he has always been a great friend, he has never done anything like this before, and he only killed your kid once. They did not have Borzois for many years because that was traumatic for them both. When you see your kid's face after it has been bitten 17 times by your prized dog, that is a complicated feeling.

Manushka was trained to the degree that John’s mom could make a hand signal from half a mile away and the dog would go left or right, she was voice trained and signal trained perfectly. They didn't have Borzois for a long time and then they tried to reintroduce Borzois into their lives, but like a lot of highly bred dogs Borzois have a couple of problems. One, the inevitable haunches problem that all big dogs have. He is one of John’s favorite comedians: Ron Hunches (?). One of their other problems is that some of them are very skittish.

They have been chasing an electric rabbit their whole lives and presumably being kept in the surplus cages that they use for veals or worse than veals, they maybe got them from Tyson's Chicken and they are chicken cages, and so these dogs are not well and quality of life was probably not high on the list and before people adopted them, they just became dog food at the end, right into the Soylent Green machine, which is why there is so much Encephalitis in dogs, Mag Dog Disease.

Borzois come out sometimes, even if you have treated them well, even if you have fed them food that you made out of raw materials, even if you feed them out of your hand, like you are trying to entice a dough out of the forest, the first Borzoi they got after the interregnum was this Borzoi that even though it was 4ft tall at the shoulder, if you closed a book too hard, this dog would leap 6ft in the air and try and hide under the couch.

Merlin asks if John has heard about a Belgian Tervuren, isn’t that something you keep gravy in? Merlin was really poor after College, like everybody, and they shared a place that was less than an in-law, basically a room and a bathroom, it was really small, and they slept across two futons. They were three people, two tall guys, Merlin, and one guy’s Belgian Tervuren in probably 150 sqft. It was very narrow, an inlawish thing, somebody had taken a room that shouldn't really be a place where people live and made it into a room and they paid $200 a month for the three of them to live there.

It was so narrow, basically a little hallway with a place you could sleep. This poor dog had been adopted and his entire life for years he had been in a cage and beaten, that is it. That was this dog's life. It was a hopelessly wrecked, emotionally scotched dog. It was terrible! Anything that happened in the house, this poor dog wanted to run away, but the hallway was too narrow for it to turn around, so it would run backwards through the house. You don't usually see a dog moving backwards unless something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. You see a dog go backwards for a second, it will take a step or two, but to watch a giant shepherd dog run backwards through a house is such a chilling image.

After the interregnum John’s mom got back into the Borzoi business, they had this dog that leapt up on the top of furniture like a mountain goat whenever you stirred your tea with a spoon, and it was determined that this dog was too nervous to live in the city. It was not enjoyable to own this dog because the dog had no affection for humans of any kind. What could you do with the dog? John had a very interesting experience with it, he was walking the dog one day and was walking in the forest because they always voice train their dogs so that they try to walk them without leashes so that it just knows to stay at your knee. They were walking through the forest where it is easy to keep the situation under control.

They popped out of the woods and were on a busy street, and they were in the process of training this dog and it was not fully trained and they got to the street and it jumped into the street, a 4-lane road, and there was a bus hurtling down the road and this dog just jumped right in front of the bus. It jumped into the road and the bus was going 60 miles an hour 7ft from the dog. John went ”Argggh!” and he could see the bus driver who was also like: ”Argggh!” and in the time between the bus driver seeing the dog, but before he could slam his foot on the brake, the dog saw the bus and accelerated from zero to 60 miles an hour in less than a second. It didn't keep moving perpendicular to the bus, it turned and went in the direction the bus was traveling and accelerated away from the bus that was going 45 miles an hour, just took off and accelerated away. John had never seen anything like it in his life, it was the most stupendous feat of animal athleticism. It was when he finally understood what these dogs could do. Of course it took him an hour and a half to find the dog.

That dog they did send back to the breeder, perhaps to live the rest of his life on a farm, not sure. Then they got a second dog, just a baby puppy, it was a lover, a wonderful dog who as it grew up had some awful hip dysplasia where it was never able to walk. Its back legs were like an injured rabbit. It was like he had been hit by a car, but he grew up that way. They nursed this dog for a long time, it wanted to please, it was the happiest, most wonderful dog. But John’s mom is fairly unsentimental and that dog went back to the breeder, perhaps to live on a farm.

Then there was a long period where there were no Borzois again because they had at least figured out that the Alaska line represented too much inbreeding, perhaps from the puppies that John’s mom had seeded back in the 1960s. Where were the bourgeois of Alaska coming from, if not Seattle? Then they went a long time, and then they got into the Silken Windhound era, and Gibson was the first and then Barley came along and Barley was a beautiful Silken Windhound, let's be honest. They had Barley and Gibson for several years, they lived together in harmony.

Barley had chronic diarrhea, which made the backyard fairly uninhabitable. It was taking place mostly outside and it was self-perpetuating. Whatever is causing the diarrhea, if you are pooping in the yard and then, as Barley would do, just lounging on top of these poopies. It is why you got to wash your hands and dogs don't generally wash their hands. He never got better over the course of 4-5 years and because John’s mom is fairly unsentimental and Barley was a lovely guy and a member of their family, but one day Barley was gone and his mom said: ”The dog was never well, so it went back to the breeder!”

”Live on a farm” is a euphemism, but ”back to the breeder” is not. John’s mom will, even after 4-5 years of owning a pure bred dog, will take it back to the breeder. She would go back to the breeder and say: ”You have sold me a defective dog!” John has no way of knowing what their negotiation is like or what the breeder's response is, but a lot of these breeders are running puppy mills or they got 10 acres up there. The breeder wants to maintain her knowledge of the line and keep track of all the dogs and if the dog is defective, she will change the way she make them have intercourse.

Barley was not defective except for this pooping. He was a smaller dog than Gibson, but he believed he was a bigger dog and was always dominating him. Socially in John’s mom's house there is only one top dog and she gets up early. When he was on a walk, he always inched his nose 1cm in front of John’s mom's knee, which is a bad idea, but Barley was irrepressible and he just wasn't going to get with the program. John’s nose doesn't go in front of her knee. No way! He doesn't want her to zap him on the back of the neck!

Gibson was a constant companion for John’s mom for 13 years. They were never apart. They were in this strange marriage where they didn't really like each other maybe, they tolerated each other. Gibson adored her, worshiped her, but she never quite did what he wanted. All Gibson wanted was to sleep on the couch and eat spaghetti, and he loved walks. They would go on walks and they loved that activity together, but she never let him eat spaghetti and she never let him get on the couch. Because it is her couch, first of all, and you don't want dog hair on the couch and you don't want the dog to think that it belongs on the couch. This is the couch in the back by the back window. And you don't feed the dog spaghetti because you are not a dingaling. Don’t don’t eat spaghetti!

Merlin’s cat eating spaghetti, cats probably thinking that the pasta is something else (RL194)

Merlin had a cat that loved spaghetti. The cat they got now he made some late night macaroni and cheese a few weeks ago, he sat it down for a second, turned back to the TV, sitting in the dark, and he heard eating noises and he had never seen this cat devour food like the one time he put macaroni on the floor, she went bananas! John’s understanding is that cats are pure carnivores and they don't want to eat anything that isn't meat. We should ask John Siracusa about this! This might be an adaptation or an evolution. They might have evolved.

This has always been a feeling of mine: What does pasta most resemble from the natural world? Worms or entrails! It looks like guts, and that is why we love it! The reason we love pasta is that it reminds us in our primitive mind of eating the best part of a kill, which is the entrails. We sit down to a big plate of spaghetti with meat sauce. Entrails are the best because they are also full of grains and other nutritious things, you get a meal inside the meal. What are sausages? They are literally intestines stuffed with other parts of the animal. It is pretty grotesque if you really think about it.

It is our natural thing: You kill the thing and everybody jumps around, you rip it open, and the first thing there is basically a pile of sausages, except their sausages are filled with whatever the antelope was most recently eating. A cat might think when it encounters macaroni and cheese, that here are some delicious entrails of something.

John Siracusa might know better whether cats have evolved to be colorblind in order to better see prey in the night, like SEAL Team Six goggles. Basically, if you are in SEAL Team Six, you are basically simulating being a cat in a world that has been terraformed under a green moon! Or it is a speculative fiction universe where the moon on this planet is actually made of green cheese, so the sun could be any color and the light is reflecting off the green cheese and because we are receiving the green light it means that actually every other color was being reflected and the green was the one that wasn't being reflected. It is like a prism, except it is an innocence project for light.

Imagine being in SEAL Team Six but maybe the US Navy is training these guys because they are aware of a planet that has these conditions and SEAL Team Six guys are actually astronauts in training, and they are not even aware of it. That would make a really good speculative fiction novel. It is like Ender’s Game: We can't really tell you what you are training for, and you may actually be doing the mission when you think you are training. You think that you are in Somalia in the middle of the night to kill a warlord, but really UFOs are part of a secret one-world government that is under the North Pole and they come from a planet - that is why they have big almond-shaped eyes - where the moon is made of green cheese, and this group of highly trained soldiers is actually the first astronaut corps to return to the UFO home planet.

We call it terraforming, which is very Earth-centric. They might be Verda-forming, they are going to find a way to make our planet green, because that is how they roll, a real green like a green cheese. Maybe they are going to terraform the moon, or lunaforming. Lunaform is a great… Merlin loves a man in a lunaform. It is a sports bra, it lifts and separates. ”Thank you! Automobile. Automobile! Money machine! Counterfeit Money machine. Thank you! And he was polite!” How many times have they watched that? Not enough! Merlin has never been happier than sitting around in their underwear watching that. It was the salad days. They hadn't even discovered The Mighty Boosh. That is a hell of a show! ”Strapped in cabinets!”

UFOs should build their base under the North Pole (RL194)

If you are going to be an UFO it is a good idea to build your base under the North Pole because who is going to check there? How many people are at the North Pole right now? Counting the guys from Top Gear, counting Jeremy Clarkson, there are three humans and 700.000 UFOs under the ice cap. Merlin asked Alexa and Siri, but did not get an answer. There is a place called North Pole, Alaska that has a population of 2178. John has been to North Pole, Alaska and the reason that North Pole, Alaska has its name is because children will send letters to the North Pole, and if a children sends a letter to the North Pole, where does it go? They don’t just throw them away, but they send them to North Pole, Alaska.

Do they know it is Christmas in Africa? Yes, they do thanks to Bob Geldoff, and it is right in the song: ”Send Your Letters to North Pole, Alaska!”, sung by Willie Nelson

Cerulean (one of the Crayola colors) would be a pretty name for a girl that you were sending to live under the North Pole as an emissary. She doesn't have a last name, just Cerulean. She walks up and down the halls in a pencil skirt, her hair in a bun. What was that movie The Fifth Element with Bruce Willis where the girl had Orange hair. The best hair in the world is lesbian hair. Merlin wants to get his hair cut wherever the lesbians go, it is astonishing how good lesbian's hair is. It is good across the spectrum, it is not even all the same haircut. Even the typical Butch flat top? They get a better flat top than Merlin can get.

Cerulean definitely has a lesbian haircut, regardless of sexual preference, because she got UFO technology. She doesn’t have a clipboard, but an armful of Kindles. She got nine Kindles and she is cradling them like a bunch of baby Ducks, and she is walking down an ice hall under the ocean in a pencil skirt, like a scene out of a Will Ferrell movie, Whoever the Will is that has the bad kids that everybody hates, the Fresh Prince. There are a bunch of UFOs different kinds, a guy that looks like a Rhrenoceros, the band from the Cantina scene, and she is just a human with killer hair, carrying an arm-load of Kindles.

She is not a furry, but she may have a rabbit tail butt plug, and she cut a little hole in the back of her pencil skirt so that her rabbit tail butt plug can stick out, but she is not a furry, she is just doing this for herself. This isn't like a yellow handkerchief in the right back pocket.

Not donating to Wikipedia, List of Crayola Colors (RL194)

Merlin may have discovered some of the greatest pages on Wikipedia and they are about Crayola colors. Whenever somebody says that they have John’s undivided attention because he spend more time on Wikipedia than he does with his own family. Merlin does give money to things, but he hasn’t given money to Wikipedia because he hates those ads, they make him angry, which is terrible because Wikipedia might be the site that he uses more than any other full stop, and he should do that. John lets the market decide. When an entrepreneur comes up with an idea, John’s money is the market. Wikipedia has not successfully entrepreneured him out of his money. It is like NPR, he just turns it off when it asks him for thing.

Their mutual friend Scott Simpson gives money to all kinds of stuff. He would just sit up at night drinking and every night he would donate more money to fix a kid’s palate in Iraq. It is a really nice project! He inserted a thought technology for Merlin that he has trouble un-thinking now. In the early 1990s when Merlin was getting very into public radio and public TV and during the fund drives they would show something they didn't usually show, which was a marathon of things like Faulty Towers, which is what got Merlin into Faulty Towers. One time he was recording Faulty Towers and the marathon was on and he called to donate and he had a VHS for years of his name running across the screen. That used to be a big deal to be on TV!

KQED has the largest listenership for a given public radio station in the United States. John thought it was WGN in Boston. Or was it WBEZ? ”Boston Mass 02134. Send it to ZOOM!” (reference to the jingle of a 1970s educational TV series)

Merlin sent John a link to the list of Crayola crayon colors. One time he saw an engineering diagram of the changes over the years, but this one is more textual. Merlin just foreshadowed John’s next collection. One of the colors is Macaroni and Cheese and one is Permanent Germanium Lake, which sounds like a Guided By Voices song. John thinks Permanent Geranium Lake is a natural feature on the lunarform.

One of these Crayola colors is Dark Venetian Red. How do they know what Dark Venetian Red looks like? Somebody made a distinction of Thistle versus Orchid. Macaroni and cheese looks very much like the color that we used to call Flesh. It looks like Macaroni and Cheese that somebody put some ketchup in. They could name the shit out of some colors in 1903. Van Dyke Brown, Asparagus, Burnt or Raw Umber, Inchworm. Inchworm, Mountain Meadow, Flesh Tint.

Right in the middle between Turquoise Blue and Sky Blue, there is a color which is the darkest black blue in the world, completely out of place in this color wheel, and it is called Outer Space. It does not belong between Turquoise Blue and Sky Blue, but it belongs down between Midnight Blue and Navy Blue. Why is it where it is, if not as an indicator, as a trigger, maybe to remind us who is under the ice. It is 1998, let’s give them a little shot of what our space looks like. Let's get them talking about this, we got the first Astronaut Corps in training, eventually we are going to do the reveal.

Who is going to do the reveal? This is why the Republican Congress won't consider a new supreme court justice. They won't even meet with them because they know that we are coming close to reveal day.

Many of these names introduced in the mid to late 1990s sound like something from Urban Dictionary. Is there a color called Neo-Maxi Zoomdweebie? There is Mango Tango, which sounds like a Sammy Hagar record. Bananamania, all of these sound like drinks at a Jimmy Buffett party. Wild Blue Yonder, Purple Mountains’ Majesty feels like you are at a Cabana in Key West. Can I get you a fresh Jazzberry Jam? How about a Razzmatazz? Merlin is still deciding between the Mauvelous, the Pink Sherbert, and the Fuzzy Wuzzy. These all sound like drinks! Desert Sand, Timberwolf. Antique Brass. Jazzberry Jam sounds like a drag queen name.

They continue looking at this website for quite a while longer.

There was a Flesh color back in the day, but that might have been a bit normative because there are different colors of flesh. 1992 was a pretty fraught year in political correctness. John was right in the center of it, he was in college still because he was in college from 1987 to 2017. In 1992 was third generation feminism and they were really going at each other then.

The first time Merlin ever heard the phrase ”politically correct” was in an interview with John’s Instagram buddy Michael Stipe on MTV maybe in the late 1980s. It goes in and out of fashion. He was using it in a meta way: ”That is the kind of thing that we would say today is not really politically correct!”

John Boyega, the wonderful actor from Star Wars is sick of people calling him African American. He is from England. Quit doing that! John Siracusa is a totally Italian guy, but they didn't even speak Italian in his household.

People who arrange their books by color, John arranging his shirts by color (RL194)

John arranges his shirts by color, like those hipsters arrange their books and John hates that. When he walks into somebody's house and their bookshelves are arranged by color, he wants to kick them. There is also a thing where people put them in backwards with the page facing out. It is telling that they bought their books by the pound or by the foot. Jonathan Colton’s family arranged their books by color at one point, and John challenged him on it: ”You better explain this, or I am going to kick you right in the knee!” - ”I can find any book on that shelf!” and John had him turn around and named a couple of books, and he turned and went right to them.

John arranges his shirts by color. He had a conversation with somebody the other day whether he should put his short sleeve shirts in with the long sleeve shirts because the short sleeve shirts belong there according to the color wheel principle, even though they are a totally different kind of shirt. This person advised me: "Yes!” The short sleeves belong mixed in with the long sleeves in order to have them arranged by color, and John did it and then he hated it and he took all the short sleeve shirts out and arranged them by color on a separate rack.

There is something to be learned from how libraries were run for a long time, which is that the books are put onto the shelves in a very specific order that never wavers and if you want some flexibility in how you find stuff, you use the card catalog. You go to subject, you go to author, that shouldn’t be happening tactically at the book level. At the shirt level most people could get away with that, but John has a ridiculous amount of shirts, sadly, it is even past ridiculous, it is all the way to ridonculous.

When John is organizing his shirts like the Crayola color wheel, he gets down to the back side and he doesn’t know where to put the Greens. Merlin has trouble processing Greens because he gets a little confused about the different Greens. On the List of Crayola Colors they start at red and then they go to Orange, yellow, green, that is the ROYGBIV. John always starts with white because you have a lot of white shirts if you have as many shirts as he, and where do you fit the whites in? You can't immediately go from white to red, you have to go from white to very light yellow.

Merlin talks about how he organizes or not organizes things in the kitchen where everything is just in a drawer. He says that knolling is not for him. That is some Adam Savage stuff, he is a knoller, he makes stuff just to knoll it. Merlin watched a show where he made a cannon out of a water heater yesterday. John thinks that when you make a cannon out of a water heater you are going to use it to shoot piglets.

There is a a guy that goes out and knolls parking lots. He moves the cars around until they are all in the right spot. That stuff does not tickle Merlin’s brain the way it tickles a lot of other people's brains. What about ASMR? Merlin doesn’t give an answer.

Race and culture, people supporting politicians that are against their own best interest (RL194)

Merlin has a thought on race and culture. For a long time there have been people who said we should be a little bit cooler about race and stop making it this divide where the divide is important and we make the rules as white people for why that divide is important. In some form or fashion that has been a lot of the problem forever. Even up until the last five or so years, that has still been a real struggle.

When it comes to treating people of different races or different genders and orientations, et cetera, as people, when that still felt like a mostly digital thing: You are white or not white, you are straight or not straight, but then you start meeting people where you are like: ”I am not even sure why to hate you!” Bruce Jenner becomes a woman, which he feels like he has always been, but he is also a Republican who is antigay. That is such a mind bomb for people of a certain age that they haven't recovered from. It is so confusing now that you wouldn't know what racial epithet to call somebody.

What are you going to yell at Bruce Jenner or Caitlin Jenner about first? Supposedly Caitlyn Jenner is very conservative politically, and she is actually not so into things like gay marriage. Merlin five years ago that would make his brain pop out of his head because that seems so weird that a trans person would be not so into gay marriage. John has been dealing with this for 25 years because he lived in a mostly gay neighborhood and most of his friends were gay. Capitol Hill is like The Castro of Seattle. Seattle and San Francisco had the largest gay populations of any US cities, Seattle a distant second, but still a Mecca.

John’s first job in Seattle was working in a gay bar, he was very much in tune with the culture, and right about that time in 1992 was the rise of the Log Cabin Republicans, which none of them could parse. This is a whole group of gay Republicans whose take it was that they were just people and they have these beliefs, and the fact that they are gay is irrelevant, except that the Republicans were constantly and actively at war with gay people, didn't matter if you were in a log cabin or not.

John’s dad’s best friend Jack Tanner supporting Clarence Thomas (RL194)

This is the Jack Tanner and Clarence Thomas problem: John’s dad's best friend Jack Taylor, federal judge, black and activist liberal. When Clarence Thomas was nominated for the Supreme Court, John’s dad and Tanner, who would go to Chinese food restaurants and yell at each other about who did more during World War II. Tanner drove a duck, like Ride the Ducks, he was a Sergeant, he drove a duck back when the duck was actually a landing craft and it was full of soldiers and he was driving it onto Iwo Jima. John’s dad was a pilot, shooting Zeros out of the sky with a side arm out the window (see RL34).

They would sit in the Chinese food restaurant, Tanner was a federal judge emeritus by this point, he only had to adjudicate the cases that he chose and most of the day they sat in this Chinese food restaurant yelling at each other, John’s dad was yelling about Clarence Thomas and Tanner was keeping quiet with a smug look on his face, which is basically how they always looking at each other. Tanner said: ”I support Clarence Thomas!” and John’s dad almost lost his mind because they had spent their entire lives, often together, working for the cause of justice and racial equality and Liberal politics.

Clarence Thomas was the worst! He was an enormous step back for all of those things, and Tanner was like: ”No, it is a black guy on the Supreme Court. I support him!” It doesn't matter to him if he is an avowed Nazi. It is important, he matters to me, he is a black guy on the Supreme Court. Done! John’s dad could never accept it. He would go this way and that way, but of course it was a thing that he, even having been best friends with him basically their whole adult lives since the time they were 24, he couldn't get inside his head, he couldn't understand what it was like to be a black judge.

This guy was his peer and his politics were secondary. John was sitting there in combat boots with a soul patch, going: ”Jesus, can we just order? What are you going to get? You are going to get Moo Shu Pork and General Tso's Chicken like every time and the waiter is standing there!” and they are like: ”I will tell you what I am going to do about it. You never even saw a pistol!” - ”Yes I did, David. I fired my pistol many times!” John wish he had recorded that.

One of Tanner’s stories blew John’s mind (see RL59): He was a lawyer during the era of radicalization of American Indians, the American Indian Movement (AIM) that was behind the takeover of Alcatraz and the showdown at Oglala in the early 1970s when the tribes became radicalized. The chief of the Puyallup Tribe in Washington near Tacoma, was a man named Satiacum, a young charismatic activist chief who was radical, but also personally radical, and Tanner was his lawyer. He was constantly in trouble, he was running guns and money, it was the revolutionary era, there was the Symbionese Liberation Army. The end goal was to overthrow the US government and they were allied with the IRA and the PLO, but they were the Puyallup tribe.

At some point Satiacum was under indictment and the Feds were coming for him and he showed up at Tanner's office with three grocery bags full of money and he said: ”Let's get out of here!” He and Tanner flew to Bangkok with three grocery bags full of money and proceeded to spend a year buying diamonds and emeralds and taking them to India, they were just fucking living the life! It was like a Hunter S. Thompson scene! They ended up at The Rumble in the Jungle, the famous boxing match, watching the big fight, and somehow they were running money through Paris and had diamonds sewed into their waistcoats.

Then they made it back to America and Satiacum either went to prison or went underground, but eventually he ended up in Canada. John was probably 24 when Tanner wove this story, and John’s dad didn't interrupt him once. They just sat there and listened to this. John’s dad verified it independently, but who knows if this was exaggerated or a tall tale or if either one of those guys knew the difference.

The way Tanner cast the story, Satiacum was a legend and a folk hero! All the ladies loved him and all the men looked up to him and he had a gun in his boot and a grocery bag full of money. They were in Bangkok in 1972 and at The Rumble in the Jungle with George Plimpton: ”What kind of lives have you led?” and then five years later Tanner got appointed to the federal bench. John was at South by Southwest, that is the highlight of 2004 for him? ”I saw a Spoon in a garage!” while Jack Tanner is in Vietnam, buying and selling helicopters.

John wishing every day for somebody to give him a big bag of money (RL194)

Maybe John should be carrying around more money in grocery bags! It is not for a lack of trying! How many times has he mentioned money in grocery bags or duffel bags? The entrepreneurs are waiting for John to do the dog whistle, they got a company with 15 people and they got a CTO, a COO and CEO, a CLO, a CQO, a CRO, a CROW and then two engineers. They are at their board meetings and somebody says: ”We have been listening to Roderick on the line for a long time. When are we going to hire Merlin and John and make them CMO and CJO?” - ”Not yet!”

It is one of these question of like, pre IPO / post IPO. If they bring them on pre IPO and they give them options a million shares each, how is that going to water down the shares, as opposed to bring them on after the IPO and then they are getting some compensation, not the preferred stock. Every morning John wakes up, he used to go downstairs, opens the door, and there was the newspaper, but the day after he lost the primary election for the Seattle city Council he also unsubscribed to the fucking newspaper because the Seattle newspaper is awful.

It was the first thing he did! He woke up that morning, called the newspaper and said: ”Cancel my subscription!”, take down that website, never talk to these five people again.

So now every morning he goes downstairs in his robe and instead of opening the door looking for the newspaper he opens the door expecting there to be a Filson bag full of money, but it just keeps not happening. There is nobody more frugal than a rich person, that is how you get rich. They want value for the dollar. They are driving their 1978 Volvo.

There is an element to this that while John actually does want somebody to give him a lot of money so he can be rich, there is also a very human part of this story too, which is what that represents for both you and the person giving it. It is a Hakuna Matata, them giving you this money is going to create a bigger gesture. Koyana Scottsi (?).

John has been to San Francisco, he knows how it feels to be in the eye of the storm. There was a time when you wouldn't go South of Market, now South of Market there are piles of money on top of piles of poop because they never wash down the sidewalks. People are just sleeping on the money because they can't afford a place to live. Sleeping on the money is actually cheaper than to get a house. Can't afford a house? Just make a nest of money! Sleep on your money pile, 20% down!

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