RL237 - Tape Loop Confusion Party

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The problem: The truck has a very distinctive exhaust note, referring to John’s truck that takes a while to warm up and was not recognized by his neighbor Gary who was giving the moving van some advice.

The show title refers to the first song on the first Long Winters album called Give Me a Moment which John calls a 6-minute tape loop confusion party because they literally made it by cutting the tape in sections and randomly glueing them back together.

In the beginning they refer to the song For the Longest Time.

Merlin is having a pretty good morning!

A poet Merlin likes a lot would have had his 100th birthday yesterday and to check his math, he went to google and he typed 2017 minus 1917 and he almost hit enter before he realized he could do that in his head. Had he hit enter, Google would have known that about him forever! "People who asked that question also asked…"

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

Garfield (RL237)

It is going shucky darn and slop the chickens! Merlin understood that this was a Garfield reference, which John finds amazing and freaky. Merlin tries to get his daughter into Garfield, but it hasn’t quite taken. John’s daughter loves it! John has all the old Garfields in the bathroom and while she doesn’t understand a word of it, she wants John to read it to her. As soon as she learned to read he told her to read them herself.

John has been saying Sucky Darn… since 1980. That particular comic cracked him up so hard, he got all levels of humor of it and he rolled on the floor, tears streaming down his face. It immediately entered into his lexicon and he never stopped saying it, but he has said it for 40 years and there was only one other time when somebody replied ”Is that Garfield?” and it was Sean Nelson.

Vintage one-piece ski suits (RL237)

Last night John was looking at vintage one-piece ski suits online. Those are like a zip-up jump suit and John considers that era of ski-wear the most hideous. Since the Millenniums are all about normcore, dadcore and plaincore, the worst era of ski-wear has become very fashionable again among a certain segment of the population and all those terrible neon-pink-purple ski-suits are all fetching top-dollar. John is picturing all these young people wearing these multi-colored ski-suits. They saw Blade Runner and thought this is how the future was going to be. What they didn’t anticipate was that it wasn’t just dirty and decaying, but it was dirty, decaying and totally gaudy. Everything was going to have gold spray-paint on it and people are going to wear neon ski-suits.

Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now (RL237)

Merlin and John talk about the Simpsons episode called Homerpalooza where Homer’s fashion is getting out of date. All of a sudden they talk about Apocalypse Now where a Dennis Hopper photographer guy is explaining The Great Man to him while the other guy is in a tiger cage. He drank the Kool Aid and that is where this comes from. Colonel Kurtz is a charismatic leader, which comes from D&D and this is what Merlin thinks all kids should learn about D&D: The idea of these qualities, like strength, wisdom, intelligence, and charisma. Charisma is not only about your looks, but also about how likely people are to follow your lead and trust you. Merlin would like to see what Colonel Kurtz’s character sheet looks like. He thinks he is probably a fighter magic-user, but John says Paladin-Mage, like an anti-paladin. The thing about a mage is that you are not necessarily magic, but you can just be sage. They continue talking about the different D&D characters.

Dennis Hopper’s rant in Apocalypse Now is one of the great film quotes. In the last sentence, as he randomly accesses information in his head, he pulls out Prufrock, which John had never heard before, although he knew that quote. They wonder how much of that was written and how much of that he just come up with. As we have learned, he was absolutely not in character. Somebody along the line took him to Vietnam, told him the war was still happening and gave him some cameras and told him that he was a photo journalist. That is how he prepared for that role: He thought it was all happening! In might also be parts of the poem ”If” by Rudyard Kipling. ”If” is the middle word in ”Life”. IMDB needs to be vetted, because Merlin doesn’t want to be spreading misinformation on his podcast. They continue to talk about Apocalypse Now.

The other night Merlin told his Amazon Echo to play Good Night Saigon and Allentown by Billy Joel, which are both really good songs. Allentown is the greatest Billy Joel song: The production is great, it is truly his peak, but nothing else is any good, because what does he have to write about Saigon? He’s got nothing! It is literally terrible! Allentown is a tremendous song, because he gets to do that super-literal nail-on-the-heading that he likes to do, he gets to lay out his whole ”America used to be great” and he is doing his whole Chevy-ad thing that everybody was doing back then.

Max Tempkin on the JoCo Cruise (RL237)

Merlin got needled by a Max Tempkin, who is going to be on the cruise, about how much gravy he is going to have at the Jammer. John makes his Max Tempkin impression who didn’t want to go on another cruise. All the JoCo Tech Dorks have been working their ass off for a year to get really good internet, which has always been a problem on the cruise because the cruise ship doesn’t think they need internet because everybody on there is just checking their Keno numbers. Max is going to try to record an episode of Merlin’s show from the cruise, which John doesn’t believe he will succeed with.

The Fixx (RL237)

The other day John was listening to the incredibly song ”One Thing Leads to Another” by The Fixx, which is an awesome work all the way around. Even the bad music video which is good. Then John went down the list and listened to ”Saved by Zero”, but ”Red Skies” was not as good as John remembered it, because it was too much production. He has always wondered about ”Stand or Fall”. It is Billy-Joel-level not very good and has Berlin-wall era cold war we-are–all-going-to-die-in–an-apocalypse lyrics, like Sting got out of a subway, some papers fell out of his briefcase and Cy (Curnin) was like ”What’s this? Holy shit! It’s a hit song!” and Sting was like ”Oh man, I was working on something amazing!” Merlin read in one of the very first interviews with Sting that he had a copy of Lolita and a Rhyming Dictionary at hand all the time.

Synchronicity (RL237)

Merlin does not like the album Synchronisity, which John doesn’t understand, but he has never listened to Synchronisity. It is ambitious, but very dated and not their best material by a long shot. Merlin likes the big three in the middle. They do not often have a situation where Merlin is saying that a record is garbage and John is defending it, but it is usually the other way around. Compared to for example Every Little Thing She Does is Magic it is pretty pale, but it is a high bar situation. Is Magical Mystery Tour a bad album? It is not, but for a variety of reasons it is from a bad time for them. It was the beginning of the end, and John agrees that it is not a great album. Yellow Submarine was just a bold marketing move and if you take the singles off of it, it is not a good album, but it is just George Martin jacking off on a fiddle.

A woman interviewed on NPR said she loved Trump’s speech because it reminded her of the movie La La Land, which she had not seen. The remark from a woman retweeting it was ”We have reached Peak America”. John has never any compunction about things he hasn’t seen nor read, but Synchronisity has like 5 singles and John really liked a couple of them in the time. They continue to talk about this album for a while.

John’s neighbor Gary being evicted from his van (RL237)

see Neighborhood

John being at his office (RL237)

John is at his deluxe office, podcasting in quadrophonic sound. He still got his internet running, which is nice to have. The cruise is coming up and like with all things that you wait for all year: When it arrives you are like ”Oh God, do I have to do this?”, but that is how John feels about everything. Merlin has also become a creature of habit and even the idea of doing fun things is like ”Nope! Hard pass! I’m just going to watch The OA again!”

Merlin recommends John to watch the first episode to get a good hang of it. John finds it remarkable that for some media you have to plow through a couple of episodes before you decide, while for some other things you just have to watch that one episode to know what it is about. John is always somebody who must start from the beginning. For example with REM, even though Reckoning is Merlin’s favorite album, he wouldn’t say it is the best place to start.

How they made the first Long Winters song (RL237)

If you listen to The Long Winters catalog in the order they presented them, they intentionally made the first song of the first album not representative of the sound. The first song is a 6-minute long tape loop confusion party where somebody threw a piano down the stairs. Merlin says it reminds him a bit of Neil Young, which is the feeling John was going for.

None of John’s influences as a fan of music are present in his own recorded music, but he hopes that the feelings are. On that first song they literally cut the 2-inch tape into tiny pieces, threw them up in the air and re-assembled them into the first minute of the tune. John and Chris Walla sat with the 2-inch tape machine and made a chalk mark on every kick and snare as the tape went over the head, which was some old-world craftsmanship before computers. Then they took a razor blade, cut the tape into 2 feet long sections, rearranged this whole spaghetti pile of tape completely chaotically and taped everything back together. They had no idea what it was going to sound like until they pressed Play. Merlin can’t believe it was that chaotic, because it really works.

Dreaming about Javier Bardem producing John’s next album (RL237)

Merlin would like to see Javier J Bardem produce John’s album and John agrees, but he would like him to do it while he was learning a new language. John would like to go to Iceland and have an entire Icelandic studio with the 5 people in Iceland who are recording engineers but do not speak very good English. There are only 300.000 people in Iceland and 299.000 of them probably speak English pretty well. Javier Bardem will be there and he will be learning Icelandic while John is there trying to get his vision across. Everybody would be performing and interacting on a much more pure level, unhindered by languages!

This is really early to mid 2000s Indie Rock talk right here! Nobody does this anymore because everything is computers now. Merlin is translating the phrase ”Put the drum inside the microphone” into Icelandic and lets Google read it. Now imagine Javier saying that when he takes out his teeth! They would look at each other from underneath their little gnome hats and then they would run into their little earthen mound (a type of shelter) and John is like ”Okay, everybody! One, two, three…”. Björk would be involved because she is the governor general of Iceland.

Dumbing down your pronunciation (RL237)

Merlin points out that it is pronounced ”Björk”, not ”Bjork” and they go on to discuss pronunciations of different things, like the Moog synthesizer. The question is not how it is pronounced correctly, because we know it is pronounced ”Mogue”, but the question is how to pronounce it in any given social situation, because it is easy to find yourself looking like an asshole. In this day and age it is important to pick your sides and make your decisions about when you want to be an asshole, like somebody who is frequently pointing out to you that you are pronouncing Nicaragua wrong.

At what point did people in the educational world in which Merlin and John grew up start pronouncing Goethe correctly? The problem on the Internet is that you run across something many times without ever actually having to say it out loud. Merlin thought it was ”Gouth”, but in college they said ”Göthe”. Merlin explains his umlaut-trick, in which you say the vowel as it is, but you make your mouth in the shape of an ”e”.

If John would be standing in a room with a bunch of Icelandic music producers, of course he would be saying ”Mogue”, but if he was standing in a group of lay people who have no idea what he is talking about because everybody in the world says ”Moog”, where is the balance? The one person in the room who has taken a class at the art institute will correct you! There is the time travel movie called ”Primmer” that everybody pronounces ”Primer” and now even the director has to pronounce it ”Primer” or he is going to look like an asshole. People in the interpersonal turns-out-culture who are excited to have a new way to correct strangers are going to be the last person on the fucking planet to realize that they are the assholes!

This reminds John of that guy in Ithaca who said that he never tries to speak to people in their own dialect, but he just talks the way he talks and they will come to him. It goes back to the [[[RL25 |Supertrain-episode]!John had a patois and thought he was blending in and getting along better with people and help the simple people be more comfortable with their provincialisms by trying to speak their dialect.

If you say ”Moog” because you think you are helping people who you don’t want a lengthly explanation with and someone points out to you that it is actually ”Mogue”, then you are put in a very awkward position of saying ”Well, I was saying it dumb because I thought you were dumb” because then the crosshairs are on you. You are not helping anybody, but you are maybe still not confident that it is ”Mogue”. Somebody asked John the other day if it is ”Porsch” or ”Porsche” and now John is 10 years old again, saying that he is pretty sure it is Porsche, which he had said for a long time, but there was a time he said ”Porsch” and now they have sowed that tiny bit of doubt in his head again! Obviously the Germans say ”Porsche”.

E.B. White would advice you to try to rewrite the sentence without using that word. If you have to look it up, use a different word. The Germans were called Frankenreich, too! Merlin called ”Nikey” for ”Neik” until 9th grade. They talk about things that are called differently in the East and the West. John didn’t even know there was surfing on the East Coast and it feels a bit like Jamaican Bob Sled team: What are you even doing? These are not surfable waves! This isn’t their culture at all and it has been invented a long way from there. Merlin calls surfing a Pacific thing.

Coffee (RL237)

John pours a cup of coffee during the show and Merlin asked if he was peeing. Merlin does this all the time, but he mutes when he does. John does have a mute button, but he keeps forgetting about it. John’s world is upside-down and he is using those weird little Nescafé packets. It is not that he has run out of free coffee again, but he just doesn’t wants to clean up after it. Merlin has a new bur grinder.

Trucker Wallets (RL237)

In 1991, John went back to Anchorage and he went to a bar where a bunch of guys were standing around with chain wallets, loser shirts and beanie hats. Guys, this isn’t from here! You are not Grunge, so don’t do that! Even in Miami people were walking around with that look and it seemed like one of these weird affectations like suddenly getting into Macramé. The first time John saw a trucker wallet in the 1970s, it totally represented Smokey and the Bandit land. The reason it is called trucker wallet is because every trucker had that wallet.

By the time the 1990s came around, carrying a trucker waller was purely ironic. What are you even keeping in there? Earplugs and your vape pen? John would carry huge amounts of cash, his currencies of the world, and every ticket stub for every show he ever went to. His first trucker wallet was with him for 95% of his trucker wallet years and it was given to him by his brother Bartley in about 1980. It was made of hand-tooled leather. It had already been really broken in and had a color of almost caramel. The tanning had been worn off like the shade of a pair of well-worn boots.

Bart gave it to John in 1980 when John was only 12 years old. He was like ”Are you kidding me? I am going to college and stuff, so why would I want this piece of white trash ephemera?” It is like giving someone one of your gold-mining tools. Is this the pulley that you used to get the donkeys to pull the stumps out of the 40 acres? ”Son, I get the feeling you are going to be a lifetime renter!” I don’t have a CDL, I don’t need this! I’m going to college and take French 101.

It was a cowboy western style purse on a chain and here you go! Bart had carried this thing through all of his trucker years and he gave it to John where it sat in a drawer for about 10 years, which seemed like an eternity. All of a sudden John had a trucker wallet that looked like it had been with him forever and it continued to be with John through all of his trucker wallet years way past when everybody else had stopped wearing them.

There was a period where those wallets had giant chains that people wore all the way around. On one of their tours, Ken Stringfella wore a chain that connected to his vest like a watch fab. He was a walking F W Murnau movie! It had the width of one of those old chains you would use to chain your bicycle to the student union with heavy gauge links. It hang all the way down to his knee! This was already 2002 and the only people who are rocking this now are the people wearing really big-leg jeans and pacifiers around their necks, which was not a look that he was rocking. John also still had his chain wallet, but it had a short chain. That wallet saved his ass a couple of times, but also fucked him up a couple of times.

The two big problems were that the wallet had so much stuff in it that, when driving for 8 hours a day in the van across this great nation, John started to develop back problems because he was sitting on a giant super-hard leather pillow on one butt-cheek and his spine was compensating for it. Then John started driving with his wallet out and on the back of the van seat while he drove, but invariably he would forget that he had done it and they would pull up to a gas station, he put it in park and ”Alright guys! 20 minutes! Get your hot case, I’m going to fill it up!” and John would step out of the van and that wallet would swing on its chain like a cannonball.

One time John was at one of these heavy duty truck stops out in West Texas where the degree of truckerness was high. It has a bunch of literal living white tigers in very small cages on a cement slab right behind the gas station with the sun burning down on them. How is this legal and how is this even possible? John would pull up to these kind of truck stops where everybody else was cutting speed on their dashboards of their truck, and they all had killed a prostitute at least once in their lives. He jumped out of his van, his wallet swung around and half the time the snaps didn’t work and threw all of John’s ID and money out on the pavement and into the wind. Then Sean stepped out with his top hat!

Almost getting his wallet stolen in Bulgaria (RL237)

see The Big Walk

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