RL26 - Go, practice the car

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The Problems: John refutes Poe’s telephone; surprising contagion of the beloved vuvuzuvuzela; Roger Daltrey: District Attorney; The ’Barrow Boy’s Patrician Shrug; a balrog in the dwarf mines; comments are still steadfastly disabled; white wizard potential; longevity means finding room in one’s book; John considers removing lady embolisms as a move; how you get the Center Square; Vincent Price’s productive eyebrows; why Van Halen’s making nothing off those damned coke mirrors; John identifies Merlin’s liquids and many songs about pirates; Triumph of the Poutine; the trouble with thinking; the night John’s pillows watched over him; inflammable roach clips; a rockabilly song about dragons; A Brief History of Unnavigable Carnival Mud; initiation into the family coven; John considers some costly boots for his kit; and, our first biological interlude.

The show title refers to John’s dad letting John have the keys to his Audi 5000 to practice driving when John was 15 years old.

They start the show by singing each other's names, but John doesn’t like the song Merlin has picked, although it is a march. John cribbed a little bit from Janet Jackson. He thinks Merlin should do the same and go back to the great stars of their youth to find a song. John didn’t even have to find the song, because it is a kind of synesthesia when he hears Merlin’s voice.

Once when Merlin wanted to drive, John actually offered him to put a broomstick up his ass. John has never not driven! Why were people driving him around? He was 14, although he was precocious.

When Merlin was a kid, he saw Abraham Lincoln in his room. He sees Abraham Lincoln everywhere, because he is their 16th president and he is on the penny.

Merlin was at a dance in 8th grade with the guys standing on one side and the girls standing on the other. There was a local cover-band, but toward the beginning and toward the end, they played Hold on Loosely twice, because it is a hit.

Merlin talks about Roger Corman and his movies like The Raven or The Pit and the Pendulum where they had a magic-showdown on a $5000 budget. One of the actors, Vincent Price, seems like a very cool guy. While he was doing a film over here, his eyebrows were doing a separate engagement over there. In that way he was filling up his book and making money two times.

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

Getting buried alive (RL26)

Bruce Lee is a great actor with a very moving story. He says that if you want to break a board, you don’t aim for the board, but you aim 2 inches behind the board, something that affects Merlin in his day to day life. This is also how Uma Thurman got out of her coffin when she was buried 6 feet under ground. John thinks about that all the time, because he is claustrophobic and has a fear of being buried alive. He hasn’t researched it because that is not a topic he wants to socially network about, and he tries to get it out of his mind as quickly as possible whenever he thinks about it. Merlin doesn’t believe this because John even keeps cigarettes around the house to make himself stronger. He thinks John would rather get some kind of coffin to practice with, but even talking about it now gives John the creepy crawlies.

Edgar Allan Poe wrote about it in The Cask of Amontillado, where they had a special coffin with hinges and a phone. Merlin thinks that John would thrive facing his fears. Just from going back on the timeline, John doesn’t think that Edgar Allan Poe had a phone in his coffin. He might have had a bell, but you would need a pretty big fucking bell to be heard from 6 feet under. It was during the period where you could actually just knock on it to get people’s attention, so maybe it was more about a mausoleum where he was buried above ground. To call up your butler, you would pull on a large silk rope and would ring in the butler’s pantry. John will have a butler's pantry on Supertrain, but around the house he just uses a vuvuzela.

Vuvuzelas (RL26)

Turns out, vuvuzelas spread disease! During the soccer championships a few years ago, people in Southern countries got this thing that is a little bit like those horns you would buy at a shitty carnival, like a shofar, which is a bit like the talking stick at a camp, except they have been carrying it with them through the desert. That doesn’t involve puppets at all.

A vuvuzela is a long piece of shitty plastic, a large horn that you put up to your mouth and make a noise that is causing your lips to vibrate and make a sound inside the tube. Tons of spit will be coming out of your mouth. If you literally have thousands of South Americans blowing that thing, fucking Hitler could not come up with a better way to spread disease quicker. It is like 100.000 spit fountains all pointed at each other in a tremendous installations, a whole stadium of spit mist. Maybe that is what sport is all about? When you inhale between blows, you inhale all the other people’s spit.

Carnival (RL26)

When Merlin was a kid, you could buy all kinds of useless shit at a carnival that would break and/or become useless the second you buy it, like the invisible dog on a leash or the Coke-bottle that had been stretched really tall. There were a lot of cocaine mirrors which Merlin associates with Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Special, and Van Halen. They did have phones at the time of Van Halen, but not in traveling carnivals. Instead they did all their business in a phone booth out by the highway. The thing that used to mystify John were those feathered roach clips, because he didn’t understand what they were for. Many things at a carnival involve make-believe drug use. Merlin did cocaine once and it didn’t do a whole lot for him, because it was a real busman’s holiday for him! If you were really serious about cocaine, you were probably not hanging out at a carnival, but with hookers and people who pretend to like you so they could get that free bump off you. Instead of a Coke mirror you would use a glass coffee table or possibly a Peter Frampton Live record. John thinks that the cocaine mirror was more of a decorative element. When it is time to cut up some cocaine, you will use a Peter Frampton album because you are not going to take your Van Halen mirror off the wall. John was listening to Peter Frampton on the radio the other day and he can’t account for it.

If a carnival comes to town, you can go to a dark fun house to see if there are owls. Maybe John will finally win the fucking milk bottle game and get a vuvuzela. Maybe they will put a quarter into an unplugged ”Tell your fortune” machine which comes to life and grands John's daughter one wish or it grands him one wish. If it grands her a wish, he will be taking it if he can. They might have to fight each other with force lightning like in a Roger Corman movie.

The feathered roach clip seems like a terrible idea on so many level, because inflammable bird parts is about the last thing Merlin would want on a roach clip. Girls started wearing earrings that looked like feathered roach clips, and that is what it was supposed to be for, just like people were using Coke cans to drink Coke instead of smoking weed. Who drinks Coke anymore? You can get a coke mirror and drink your coke right off the mirror! The idea was that you put the roach clip in your hair, because you won’t put an African alligator clip on your ear unless you are German. John is about to compile a Merlin care package with his cello and his MO that he got sent from a German listener. He should probably wait until he got 5 things and send them then. John got a copy of Live from New York, the Oral History of Saturday Night Live, but Merlin already has that book. It is a terrific book!

Merlin’s accidental records, Triumph (RL26)

Merlin once signed up for one of those record programs, he accidentally ordered a bunch of records and did not pay for them. One copy of Sports by Huey Lewis harmed his credit forever. All the Triumph records were bad, but was it Alliance? Triumph was a Brony’s fake version of Rush. Merlin would try to sing High and stuff, but 38 Special was fake Skynyrd. They had a huge pop sensibility, but so did Triumph. Triumph was the Pop Rush. Merlin disagrees and says that they got their shit jammed into the MTV rotation and that is the only reason people know who Triumph is. The ”Fight the Good Fight” video was on constantly. John is talking about album-oriented radio, called AOR in Canada. He didn’t even know it was on MTV, because he was too busy riding in the passenger seat of his friend’s Audi Fox, listening to Triumph and mowing lawns all summer.

How John learned to drive (RL26)

John's dad had an Audi 5000 Diesel with a manual transmission. When John turned 15, his dad took him out to Girdwood, Alaska, which at the time had no paved roads, showed him how the transmission worked, and they worked on it until John could get the car going. After that, his dad would periodically and on his whim, but never when John asked, throw him the keys and say ”Go, practice the car! But don’t go over 30 mph!" John would get the car going, drive all over Girdwood to pick up every kid he knew and go out to the dirt runway at the airport. Girdwood was an operating Alaskan airport, but when you would fly into it, you would look down first to see if there was anybody around. You could go on the radio and say ”Girdwood Traffic, this is Cessna 634MA, is there anyone around?” and if nobody says anything, you expect it is all you. Of course you don’t expect to have an Audi 5000 down there, because John didn’t have a radio, obviously.

They would start on one end of the runway and floor it, which took forever because it was a Diesel, but on a runway they had all the time in the world. The car would go up to 115 mph (185 km/h) or something, John would pull up the emergency break and they would spin and spin and spin. You wouldn’t hit anything because you were out in the middle of this runway, which - John forgot to mention - was covered in snow and ice in the middle of the winter. It was so great! At any second they could have hit a divot and rolled it 30 times, but it never happened. Then John would drive back, hand his dad the keys and said that he had learned a lot. His dad knew that John was doing something, but nobody expects a 15 year old kid to go drive his dad’s car across the runway. It is the great thing about being a teenager: Adults never even think that you might be doing what you are doing, because they can’t even conceive of it. His dad learned to drive in a Model A and it never occurred to him that John would be doing emergency break speed trials.

John learned how to recover his car from almost any kind of spin. He spun out a lot of cars, but he learned to recover it, because he had done all this heavy, crazy out of control car work when he was young. His dad eventually did catch on to it later because going out to the airport wasn’t all John did to that car and the car’s expected lifespan of 350.000 miles was dramatically truncated. Why is this car falling apart? It has only got 60.000 miles on it! Audi does make pretty good cars and John’s dad picked Audis for many years because they ran like tanks.

Some early car stories (RL26)

There are shows on cable TV about becoming a secret agent chauffeur. You get one of those heavily armored sedans that need a certain kind of chauffeur to drive, because you need to know how to get out if drug dealers will surround you. Diana, princess of Whales, died because her chauffeur was a hack. He was working for her boyfriend Fayed who allegedly was a double agent. He was drunk and he didn’t know how to drive his car because he crashed.

Merlin had a 1970 VW Bus Camper with a roof that hinged at an angle. It was totally sweet, like a real love camper, and the backseat turned into an extremely awkward bed. His friend Chris had a 1965/66 bus and recommended Merlin to always keep a pressed white shirt in a dry-cleaning bag in one of those tiny little closet in there, because you will eventually make an appearance in court and you don't want to show up in a Kind Bud shirt in red and green, or a shirt saying Mustache Rides 50 cents. Eventually, Merlin ceased his bus up because he didn’t change the oil enough.

John had one of those VW Busses, too, but not as a camper. They were air-cooled. John’s had a cracked block and he drove it for a long time just short distances. When he then took it on a long road trip, it caught on fire in Sprague, Washington.

John has always loved and admired guys who can fix cars like it was nothing. He had a Fiat Spider for a long time and a friend came over and changed all the struts for him one afternoon. He is a physicist working for the government making nuclear bomb. Now that the Russians are no threat anymore, all that nuclear stuff is out in the open. There are websites where they show you how they make their bombs.

Merlin’s friend Chris once had a header gasket failure. He came over to Merlin’s house with two scissor jacks and a small toolbox, and a few hours later, they had taken out the engine and replaced the gasket, it was the most magical thing! Having a kind of engine where you could change the header gasket yourself was really inspiring to Merlin. These engines are less complicated than a sowing machine and they followed that little cartoony book about how to fix your VW. Merlin doesn’t even know how to make chocolate milk and this blew his mind! It made him feel like a penisless, incompetent man and he really understands car guys after that. His current 1996 VW has the thing where you plug in the thing and it tells you what is wrong with the car.

How John learned to sow and modified his clothes (RL26)

John did learn how to sow, but he still doesn’t understand how sowing machines work. He can’t make a suit, but he learned how to sow because he doesn’t like to throw clothes away when they have a minor imperfection. He used to bring his clothes to his mom when he was in High School and asked her to fix this ripped jacket or this pair of trashed jeans. His mom comes from a depression era thinking where you can keep a piece of clothing only for so long and at a certain point she thought that John's clothes were reflecting poorly on the family. John was out there looking like a hobo, which was what he was shooting for, but his mom told him that it was time to retire this garment. John looked like a man who had once held a high station in life, who was only 16, but who had already fallen. He had moved from Oklahoma to the Central Valley of California, he was looking for work and saw an ad from a guy who came through town on the back of a flat-bed truck and said ”Out of work? Come to California, land of prosperity!”

John’s mom told him that she was not going to sow his clothes anymore because they look ridiculous and John looked ridiculous. He should get rid of them because he has all these other clothes! John was offended by her not wanting to patch his coats, and she told him ”You know what, smart guy? Learn how to sow!” She sat him down in front of her sowing machine and taught John how it worked. He went to the fabric store immediately and bought reams of fake fur, pink leopard stripe taffeta, and yellow corduroy with green inserts. It is hard enough to run a straight line on a cotton fabric, but John was going to work at severely challenging textiles. He ended up looking like a Juggalo, but that was even before they had been invented. He would take the seams out of the side of his jeans and insert two inches of fake fur on either side, like a developmentally disabled pimp. He created all those outrageously cool outfits that were just stupid. It kept John off the streets, though. He couldn’t fabricate an entire garment from scratch, but he would take old garments from the thrift store and modify them to be fancier by adding fake fur, leopard spots or pink tiger stripes. For a while he was really into the whole Gram Parsons’ fringe jacket thing, but instead of a fringe leather jacket, he wanted a suit that had fringe! Not like a Nudie cowboy suit, but a proper 3-button Brooks Brothers suit, except with fringe on the arms, the pants and everywhere you could put it. John doesn’t have any sketches of that, but there are some pictures floating around. His Junior Prom tuxedo had pink tiger striped lapels and wingtips.

Merlin's friend Bridget, who listens to this program, does amazing needle work and all different kinds of crafty stuff. John might be able to cross her palm and walk away with some pretty fucking amazing bespoke fucked-up outfits. Merlin has a lots of friends who sow and if John would want to crowdsource this, he might end up with some extremely disturbing clothes that actually fit him. John has always said that if he came over a truly awesome amount of money, like if Supertrain works out and he has cash to burn, the first thing he would do is have his clothes tailored. Before he did anything else, before he bought a fancy car or went on a trip, he would have his measurements taken and have people start making him clothes, because clothes that come from the rack just don’t fit. Merlin is like a 32/34 in jeans, which is sometimes weirdly hard to find, but even if he finds some, they fit weirdly. Merlin has another friend who used to be a reporter at NPR and worked at Science Friday. She is under 5 feet tall and the only clothes she can find are children’s clothes. John likes the sound of that.

Merlin’s friends Buzz is in London and he went on Savile Row to get what is called a bespoke suit like Charlie Watts does. It was impeccable! Buzz dislikes the Rolling Stones as much as Merlin does.

Writing songs about dragons (RL26)

Merlin doesn’t know much about Jazz and Swing. John says that the door is closed on Jazz and it has become like Rockabilly. If you are making Rockabilly, you are not going to make Rockabilly songs about dragons. The door is closed on Rockability. Is this a Turing test? If you can’t make a song about dragons, the genre is dead? No, John isn’t saying it is dead, but for example the door is also closed for Heavy Metal, because you have to write songs about dragons. John is saying that there are no new vistas in Rock. His Internet challenge is to write a Rockabilly song about dragons. Merlin gets his guitar and is improvising a Rockabilly song about dragons, which was pretty hot, but John calls it a parody song, which would not be accepted into the Rockabilly canon. Eddie Cochran does not get the credit he deserves!

Costly lumberjack boots (RL26)

Merlin distinguishes between costly and expensive and between cheap and inexpensive. The suit you buy at Mashalls is inexpensive and cheap. The suit you buy on Savile Row is certainly costly, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Unless you gain a large amount of weight, it is going to last you, like the Polish Invasion suit John got. A lot of that music is pretty amazing and it sparked the whole Polish sound. Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced ”Chick Send me high e”) did Invade Me Do, which was amazing.

Wesco is a company in Oregon that makes lumberjack boots for lumberjacks. The things lumberjacks need to spend money on are their boots and their chain saw, it is their whole kit. John really wants a pair of Wesco boots made to his foot, but they are more than $500. For the last couple of years he has done an unscientific poll, asking everybody he knows how much they have ever paid for shoes. The female respondents had spent between $200-500, but he has never met a straight guy who has paid more than $150 for his shoes. John does not live in the world of $1200 men’s shoes, but he knows that people will pay $2500 for their cowboy boots in Texas. John has been teetering on the fence of buying those Wesco boots for 5 years, but he hasn’t been able to pull the trigger. They are costly, but they are also worth the money.

Merlin’s two asterisks are: 2) You don’t want to lose them, otherwise you would be bummed! 1) What if you become heavy and start retaining water?

Handling hotel rooms (RL26)

Nowadays, Merlin forgets everything everywhere, because when you have a child, you are always busy gathering up. Whenever you have cleaned up one mess, two more have been created. Even in restaurants or hotels, Merlin is always behind and behinder and he is scurrying to not forget his wallet, let alone a stuffy toy or some lumberjack boots. If John wears lumberjack boots into a hotel room, he will also wear them out of that hotel room, he would not just bring them along. If Merlin stays for a couple of days or more, he will unpack his suitcase and put everything into the drawers, because he doesn’t want to live out of a suitcase like an animal. He will put all the marketing materials and everything in the room that has a logo on it in the bottom drawer, and the top drawer is for underpants and socks. Sometimes John stays in very expensive hotels, because people who fly him places think that he is a fancy person. Everybody else in those hotels is conscious of themselves as being fancy people and they don’t even like John in the lobby. He will act like he belongs there which makes it even worse. Even in a setting like this, John will live out of his suitcase. He doesn’t unpack, but he just digs into his little bag to get the wrinkly shirt he is going to wear that day. Every once in a while he thinks that he maybe should have unpacked.

Merlin resonates that one of the reasons John doesn’t unpack is because he needs to be ready to run when shit goes down. John sleeps in his shoes, and he has literally a suitcase by the door or by the balcony, ready to run or jump 5 stories. Despite what happened at The Who concert, John wants all his doors to open inside, because he doesn’t want to expose the hinges and because the door can be blocked if it opens outside. If John needs to get out of a hotel room quickly, he throws his bag out the window and takes the stairs. When he reaches the exit door, the bag will be right there. John will usually stick a match-stick in his hotel room door to see if anybody has been there. Instead of putting it in the door, you can also put it on the floor and then the intruder will think it was in the door and put it back. If you see it falling when you walk in, you know somebody has been in your room. The next time John will be at Merlin’s house, he won’t know what to do, because he doesn’t know if there is just a piece of lint on the floor or if Merlin is gaslighting him.

Why does one rob a bank? Because that is where the money is! If you want to do well in sales, you must not think like a salesman, but like somebody who buys your shit. People think too much like somebody who is scared in a hotel room instead of thinking like the kind of person who wants to get into the hotel room. John has probably written books about this. Merlin will leave $100 just inside the door, or even $20, because if a crackhead comes in to rob you, they will just take the money and run. John suggests that many crackheads will think that if there is one $20-note, there will be more. You can put another $20-note a little further away and then a third $20-note that is attached to a dynamite cap to blow the crackhead’s hand off. If the crackhead is carrying a coke mirror, there will be glass everywhere. Is there a portable Tom Binh coke mirror or do crackheads have full-sized ones strapped to their back that say Nazareth on it?

Magic items from a trade fare (RL26)

Here is the problem with countries who like to play soccer, including all of Europe, South America and Asia: The thing that goes hand in hand with soccer is traveling fares. Simple people love fares! You will never see Stephen Hawking at a fare! You can get a vuvuzela or a Nazareth coke mirror at all these places, it is just a question what you bring to the game. You can get dreamcatchers, magic tricks made out of match boxes, or feather roach clips. Merlin thinks that dreamcatchers don’t work. They are self-fulfilling prophecies and if you get a dreamcatcher, things are already not working out. It is technically considered the Native American version of a lottery: You get a dreamcatcher and then you wait! You could just as well hang a tennis racket from your mirror. John has a baby rattle that is made out of a Gila Monster Spleen, but he keeps worrying that his daughter is going to get the right combination of rattles and gibberish and she will conjure a great spirit of some kind. John should have that thing demagicized. If you would remove the magic from something, how would you call it? Marriage! To get one of those, you have to get on a vision quest, a spirit journey, and they will award it to you, just like they will give you that aluminum foil blanket after a marathon. John doesn’t know what is causing the rattling to happen, because it is stitched together with Gila Monster leather.

John’s mom told him the other day that when he was a little kid, he saw things. He was always coming into her room, telling her that there was somebody in his room, like Alexander Hamilton. John was always scared and saw somebody in the house or in the yard. It is interesting that she had never told him that before. John has not yet noticed that his little girl has this power, but he does feel like her working of this Gila Monster Rattle doesn’t bode well. One day he will open his door and there is a guy in a feathered hat and a loin cloth standing there with a bone through his nose. They say the same is true for breast cancer, basketball, and all of these things: It is genetics! You got to be tall and have that gene, not for breast cancer, but… John’s mom is a very sober, even person, but that is in the genes. There is something in John, otherwise he wouldn't just see shit in his room for no reason.

John’s mom warning him from using magic (RL26)

John was born on Friday, the 13th and when he was a little kid, he thought that would give him some warlock powers. One of the scariest things that ever happened to his with his mom was when he was probably 7/8 years old and was out playing with some kids. They had tomy guns or whatever, and John was going to cast a spell of holding on them. It was before D&D was even invented, but John was already casting some warlock spells. His mom was walking through the yard, caught a glimpse of him doing some incantation over his friends, and she grabbed him by the shirt front, lifted him off the ground, pulled him very close to her face and said ”Do not mess with things you don’t understand!” John’s mom is the most rational person that Merlin has ever met. It chilled John to the bone and it still chills him, because he was waiting his whole life for her to possibly reveal something and initiate him into the inner circles. Maybe it is his own mistake that he never asked her to initiate him into the family coven! John will probably know if and when it is time, just as with his daughter's baby rattle. If it starts making things happen, he is going to feel it if he has it in his mitichlorines as much as he might. He is going to know when it is time!

John’s pillows turning to owls (RL26)

Recently John woke up in the middle of the night, looked around and all his pillows had turned into owls. They were white snow-owls the size of pillows. They were pillows, but they were owls! John has like 8 pillows in his room, they were all owls and they were watching over him. He shook off the sleep until he was sure he was awake, but the pillows were still owls, arrayed in various ways. Some of them were sitting up on their little owl butts and some of them were on the floor, over in the corner and everywhere. It didn't feel good, but the owls were not hostile, they were just sentries. John resigned that it was going to be fine, grabbed the nearest owl, nestled up with it and went back to sleep. They didn’t speak to him, because owls can’t talk, but they were there for a reason, because that many owls weren’t just going to turn up without a reason. John sleeps in a dark room, but with those giant eyes they could see him just fine. They had some kind of owl project, but John is not sure what it was. He wasn’t privy to it, he didn’t feel they were there to harm him, but they did not give him a warm and fuzzy feeling either. They were just there. They were all looking at him as he woke up and they kept looking at him until he went back to sleep.

John doesn’t know what to make of that, but it seems like the thing that you want to make something of. If it will happen again, John will definitely be asking some serious questions. The owls were not really still, but there was some shuffling from side to side. They didn’t blink. It was only a minute or two, just long enough for John to realize that he was awake. After the warlock incident, John doesn’t cover supernatural topics with his mom anymore, so he did not tell her about this. It would be like walking in on them and seeing his dad dressed as Ethel Merman: It would have an effect, but it would not be the kind of thing you would be bringing up a lot.

John the grey wizard (RL26)

A girl John dated was really mad at him one time and was trying to put him in his place. She got up in his face and said ”You think you are a white wizard, but you are not one! You are a grey wizard!” and John was flattered that she thought he was a grey wizard. Obviously she was seeing some white wizard potential in him that he hadn’t realized yet. It was grey as in not having being purified by fighting a balrog down to the center of the Earth. John will going to need lumberjack boots for that! John needs to do some more training in anticipation of ever encountering a balrog in the dwarf mines, that was probably what she was getting at.

John’s vision quest to Tierra del Fuego (RL26)

John has been on a few vision quests already, but one plan he had was to go to Tierra del Fuego with his daughter. They will buy the best Jeep they can get for $2000 and just start going South to Tierra del Fuego. They will meet an Eris (?) somewhere down in the Pampas and it will be as good as Junior High for a girl. Sending your kids to Junior High is absolutely worthless because nothing happens. You can bring along the 30th Special cassette (?) that will make her feel bad a couple times a week and he might get 3 years credit.

Filling up your book (RL26)

Merlin doesn’t fill up his book and neither does John, but Merlin would love to have more opportunities to be interviewed in a documentary and say ”I didn’t have room in my book!”, like in that John Rivers documentary that was very hard to watch. John knows people who go from one thing to the other, but there is a certain line in the sand where some of that is just trying to keep your daemon dogs off your heels. You are just doing one thing after the other so you never stop and never hear the screaming in your head, but then again the other way of looking at it, it is as good as you can get in life. We all have screaming in our head, we all have to keep moving from thing to thing, because there is no value in sitting and thinking about stuff anymore. John should be like Vincent Price’s eyebrows: He should be getting gigs at magic castles and make things happen, filling up his book like Vincent Price, Thurl Ravenscroft, Paul Lynn, and people who say ”What time?" and "What do I wear?” They show up, they fill their book and they don’t have to think. They probably don’t even unpack! That is how you get the center square on Hollywood squares, you don’t get there by sitting at home waiting for somebody to call! Merlin needs to get a book and he needs to fill it.

Interlude, editing things out (RL26)

They had a short interlude because Merlin needed to pee. He had made the categorical error of having a large bowl of soup, a ginger ale and a Snapple before their show. Those were all liquids! They should drip in some Goldberg Variations, because they don’t have the rights for the Hendrix estate. Maybe John should have improvised something, but his version of Purple Haze qualifies as Jazz. Merlin is accidentally playing Ice Cream Man on the guitar. He often jokes that they would edit something out, but John claims they have never edited anything in this show. Merlin didn’t realize how much he sniffs on the show because he has allergies and he takes ADD medicine. One time there were so many sniffs that it was unlistenable and he went through and hourglassed all the sniffs out. Another time when they had a really good episode, Merlin cut out 7 hours of arguing about religion.

Merlin recommends people to listen to every episode in order, because it is organic chemistry from John’s brain and it is cumulative. They are building a pyramid and when they reach the top, they are going to touch the hem of God’s garment. Supertrain, like all of their episodes, is even better than all the episodes before because John’s wisdom continues to grow each week with what he learns. They went from hangup to Mike Mills’ penis cocaine in 30 minutes. Last program ended with how John’s drinking buddy Mike Mills did cocaine with his penis. You squeeze all the air out of your penis, you stick it in the cocaine and let go of it and it sucks the cocaine. It is like reverse milking and it keeps you from getting an embolism. You should never blow into a lady’s vagina, because she can get an embolism. John didn’t know that and has now to completely adjust his technique, consult with the owls, and put his vuvuzela in the dish washer.

Bad listener comments (RL26)

Merlin is glad that there is no way for people to contact them. He has steadfastly refused to have a comment page on anything he does. It is never going to happen, because what would people say? ”Thank you for helping me?” - ”Okay, now we know!”

Someone sent John an email the other day who must have been 22 years old, because with 23 you would be too wise and with 21 you have to assume you would be doing something else. The letter was in response to one of John’s Seattle Weekly articles and refuted and negated itself 13 times. They accused John for being one of the music business hipsters who stands in between good new music and the world and yet, his band sucks and nothing he does matters. He was reading John the riot act, but by the references he was making throughout the course of the letter John could tell that he was a superfan who has listened to every album and has seen John’s band at least 15 times. He was either having a Tourette’s moment or he was one of those people who hates something so much that he obsessed over it and absorbed it all.

Every time Merlin reads something like John is describing, he imagines a frat boy who has just beat up his friend and is crying while he is fucking him. There is something about it like ”I fucking love you, but I hate you, man!” John relishes someone trying to breach his perimeter and he is waiting for somebody literally come into his house. John didn’t write that guy back, he learned that one many years ago, in part from Merlin and in part from Dave Eggers, who has said many times that things people write about you on the Internet are none of your business. Don’t read reviews of your writing! It is none of your business! It is not for you! It is very hard for all artists not to read those things, but never read reviews on the Internet! Merlin told John not to reply to trolls. Merlin’s response would the be a very old joke, as quoted by Morrissey of The Smiths in the titular track from The Queen is Dead. Once a month, Merlin yells back at a civilian on Twitter, saying ”That’s nothing! You should hear me play piano!”

The Smiths (RL26)

John’s sister was a very hip girl as a young teenager who worked in a record store. She has every 12” record by The Smiths and there are a lot of them. John knows that because they fill up an entire shelf in his house now. He really needs more collections! He has all the colored vinyl, like This Charming Man in 4 different versions including The London Version. The thing about The Smiths is that they are an incredibly polarizing band even within John’s own heart. Some of their songs are some of the great songs, but most of their material is unlistenable drag (Merlin cuts John off with his guitar while John is potentially making fun of The Smiths). Sean Nelson, Colin Meloy and every person who sings in a fake British accent all love The Smiths. Merlin introduced himself to Colin less than a month ago.

Enemies, Nemesis, Feuds (RL26)

Merlin wants his daughter to understand the huge difference between an enemy and a nemesis. Obviously John has done that wonderful song with Jonathan Coulton. An enemy is somebody you want to destroy and you potentially have very little respect for, but with your nemesis you have a symbiotic relationship, begrudgingly or not. You have respect for them and you almost need that person. The roadrunner and the coyote are not an even match. Merlin thinks that the coyote sees the roadrunner as an enemy. John thinks that the coyote needs the roadrunner, but the roadrunner doesn’t need the coyote. The roadrunner is living in the moment without a future or a past.

Colin Meloy and The Decemberists (RL26)

Colin Meloy was John’s nemesis for a while. As with a lot of other musicians John respects and admires, his first impulse is to hate Colin for his success, his talent, his methods and his maners. This is the Alaskan talking! Colin and John have spent a lot of time facing each other in a wrestling pose across a rickety bamboo bridge across a chasm, but like what happened with a lot of John’s feuds with Rock musicians, Colin got too rich and famous to care about the feud anymore and it is no fun to have a feud with somebody who is not feuding back. If Colin listens to this podcast, John would be getting his goat right now, which means that the feud is theoretically still on. Colin probably has someone else listen to this.

John has toured with Colin’s band The Decemberists several times and he was playing the backwards piano on one of their recordings. If challenged, he could sing along with or perhaps even cover at least Eli, the Barrow Boy song and The Tin Smithy march (?). He also knows The Pirates of Yale (?) by heart! On many nights, Colin introduced The Chimbley Sweep by saying that it is a song about John and his life story. Not only that, but John is a character in Colin’s new Wildwood book. John is familiar enough with a lot of the stuff by The Decemberists that he could sing a parody of The Chimbley Sweep backstage, just loud enough for Colin to hear, with his craft services that John is not allowed to touch, and inserting the word poop a lot.

The main way John gets the goat of The Decemberists is to drop constant references to how their songs are all about pirates. For a while they took it with kind of a forced smile, then there was period where Colin would say ”We have no songs about pirates!” and John would list all their songs about pirates and Colin would say ”None of them are about pirates!”. They also went through a phase where Colin would just ignore John and keep his face completely blank. Now John is not sure if Colin would laugh or if it is a meme now, because they have been doing it for so long. Merlin brings up The Decemberists because John is now qualified to write Colin a super-creepy letter in which John would display how familiar he is with Colin, how close he is to him, how much he knows about him and how many fucking things are wrong with him. Colin himself might have written a letter like that to someone, maybe to George Bernard Shaw.

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