RL272 - Graham is beautiful

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

  • The worst year in history (Attitude and Opinion)
  • John wanting a Norwegian Forest Cat (Pets)
  • Things John has been afraid of in regards to his daughter (Family)
  • Merlin's cat (Merlin Mann)
  • John's daughter only wants games with a narrative (Family)
  • John's daughter's boyfriend (Family)
  • Old children's books today (Children)

The problem: None of the Aidans were interested, referring to kids in John’s daughters class who didn’t want to play her narratives. John calls all the other kids Aidan.

The show title refers to John’s daughter’s boyfriend who John finds beautiful both on the outside and the inside.

The holiday season is really taking it out on Merlin. So much blow-back for that Moana-costume! Merlin had made too many remarks about the virgin Mary. An angry cold baby, but warm from inside, claimed to be God came after him.

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

The worst year in history (RL272)

Last year they said that 2016 was the worst year in history, although it was probably not as bad as 1919 when an influenza went around the world and killed millions of people. Or between June 1939 and June 1940 a lot of shit went down. 1848 was an interesting year when half a dozen European revolutions deposed a bunch of royal families. Pound for pound, 1968 was fucked up! Going into it and coming out of it, we are talking about two different worlds. You got from Magical Mystery Tour to the White Album! Also, John was born in that year, so you go from pre-John to post-John.

John wanting to get a Norwegian Forest Cat (RL272)

The breed of cat that Merlin’s daughter would like to get and that he has no intention of getting became acknowledged as a breed in 1967, during Merlin’s lifetime. It is called Exotic Shorthair and looks like a cartoon. It is one of those fake-cat faces and not a real thing!

The cat that John is trying to get is a Norwegian forest cat (NFC). It looks like a cat you don’t want to mess with and there is a video called ”Norwegian Forest Cat chasing fox”. That type of cat is enormous, as big as a dog, and they are fox-killers. In John’s family there is a desire to own one of these animals. John’s mom says that she is going to buy the cat and John got no say in what the cat is or what the cat does. It is hypoallergenic cat and as John was about to give his thoughts how this cat should be, she told him that he doesn’t get to say. The cat has not arrived on the scene yet. John is pro NFC and he wants a little bit more to do with the process, but that is not part of his purview. John feels that the type of cat Merlin’s daughter wants would not survive outside, while the NFC would only come in to sit on everything to make sure you know it is the owner, which John really approves of. No matter who claims to own this cat, the cat will claim John as its owner and will want to interact primarily with him. Merlin found a particularly good one on the Internet (Picture) that would keep vermin out of your house by pure energy.

The problem with the NFC is that they are some prized breed and you have to pay $700 for a neutered and decrepit one who has already hunted a bunch of foxes and lost an ear. John wants a breeding one, a kitten that he is going to put out to stud. His mom suspects that you probably can’t even get one that isn’t neutered because they don’t want to water down the breed by some normal out there with a breeding cat. It is like those people who go to their local Democratic party district meeting every month to use Robert’s Rules of Order on one another. They are like crazy train set people, but instead of having train sets or a short wave radio, they go to Democratic party meetings. You think they are nuts, but when it comes time to nominate and elect a candidate to public office, it turns out that they are the ones. They manage to accrue power to themselves because nobody else cares enough. They end up run the Democratic party! The people who don't want you to have a breeding cat are the people running the Democratic party of NFC.

John’s mom has been monitoring NFCs on a regular basis, but has recently dropped it because she decided she needed a new couch and so they have been going to couch stores looking for new couches. John is like Merlin, he doesn’t want a couch that is out of scale or that looks like it is full of dander. He doesn’t want his mom to get the wrong couch either.

Things John has been afraid of in regards to his daughter (RL272)

John used to be afraid of these things that luckily have not come to pass:

His daughter has never pestered him about a pet. She said periodically that she wants a pet, but she will drop it immediately. She doesn’t want a pony or a dog and is just fine with not having a pet. If somebody brings up a pet, she is not against it, but John never gets pestered about it. What she does pester John about is a baby sister or baby brother! She probably thinks she is going to get a 5-year old, but it would be a baby and John and her mother would press her into service. John doesn’t have a good answer for why she doesn’t have a little brother or sister or for why mommy and daddy aren’t married. He does have plenty of answers, but none that satisfies her and none that is better than ”Why don’t you guys just get married?” In a way she is right, there isn’t anything that prevents mommy and daddy from getting married, except for Daddy! They have also established that ignoring Daddy is a thing we certainly do in this family.

John's daughter has almost zero screen time and she almost never pesters about it. She does not want a gizmo and she never wants to watch TV. Every once in a while they have some physical therapy exercises and while she is doing them, she wants to want a video. Those are not new videos, but she has a number of videos she watches. She likes ”Singing in the rain” and she wants to watch tap dancing and people dancing in the rain, Gene Kelly in particular. All her class-mates have a million things, all the little characters from the LEGO-movie. but there has never been a moment when she came home and started to ask for one of those toys. Her best friend from the time she was 2 years old was watching three Disney movies a day. They would just put on Pinocchio every day. Her friend would watch that and then either watch it again or watch Frozen over and over, but she does not have any interest in it. She never wonders why daddy doesn’t own a TV or why she doesn’t have her own iPad or why she can’t watch Frozen right now.

John’s mom had an old iPhone earlier in 2017 and suggested to put some videos on it and give it to John’s daughter so it was hers. John thought about it, but she has never asked for it and they would be introducing a vice she didn’t know about, like "This year, let’s get her a pack of cigarettes. She might like it!”

Merlin 's cat (RL272)

They talk about Merlin’s cat for a while, an animal that has been very costly and a pain in the ass. Their previous owners have lied about her medical condition and her age. Merlin’s daughter has found a NatGeo-book about cats in the school library and is now finding scientific reasons for why their cat grinds her teeth or is meowing at night.

John's daughter only wants games with a narrative (RL272)

John’s perception is that Pokemon, Minecraft and a lot of these games that are based on buying something or interacting with a machine or in some other way collecting things, are boy games. His daughter is interested in Pokemon as a concept and as a character with a narrative, but if you think about it, those things don’t really have a narrative. They all have backstories, but they don’t participate in a story. Minecraft is an extension of LEGO, but his daughter is only now getting fully into LEGO. Previously she would only put the very minimum amount of them together so she could construct a narrative around it. She would put 3 LEGOs together and say that this was the house. Only now is she starting to build more detailed structures. For her, the only interesting toys are those she can adopt into a narrative or build a narrative around them. When it comes to gizmos, movies or other media consumption, she would ask ”Why would I want to watch someone else’s imagination?”, which has always been true for John as well. Everything she is interested in is narrative play, not even what John has always done, which is war. She has allies for this at school, but the other little girls don’t always want her to establish what the narration is. Those alliances also shift very quickly and it seems to have a lot to do with who is currently resisting her implementation of a narrative.

John's daughter's boyfriend (RL272)

John really approves of his daughter's little boyfriend Graham, because Graham is beautiful. He is beautiful looking and he is wonderful inside! He is a very sensitive little boy who has connections to his feelings. They decided a long time ago that they were boyfriend and girlfriend and they both agreed to it. This is an alliance that doesn’t seem to change or break. Graham does like to play Pokemon and war, but that is fine, because when they play superheroes, she gets to be Supergirl and he gets to be Superman. They have accommodated each other a little bit like as if they had been married for 15 years. When she will be 30, John hopes that Graham is still around. John also like Graham's parents! They continue to talk about child alliances.

Old children's books today (RL272)

Both Merlin and John sneak books into their children’s life with the intention to get them on them. For Merlin, Lord of the Rings and Hobbit took hold. They read all the Harry Potter books and all the Series of Unfortunate Events. John tried to get Beatrix Potter into his daughter's shelf, but she wasn’t into it. He kept reading her Rudyard Kipling - ”Just so stories”, but he changed the problematic nouns. Thos white-man’s burden stories are deeply problematic from the beginning. John grew up having these stories read to him because he was raised by Victorians. All the books he had as a kid were published in 1895 and they all had svastikas on them, an emblem that conveyed exotic orientalism. It was the pre-Nazi backwards kind of svastika. Some of his favorites are ”How the Rhinoceros got its skin” and "The Cat that walked by himself” (all stories). He could not not read those things to her! John had to take the Belgian Congo issues of TinTin out of the shelves and any episodes where TinTin interacts with anyone from Asia. She even has a poster on her wall with TinTin going to the moon, but it is in French, because it shows the book cover from Belgium.

John had all the TinTin books in French when he was a kid. He had inherited them from his great uncle Al, which John called Aberdaber. He would sit John on his knee and tell him stories from WWI. He was already an old man and didn’t always know what the appropriate stories to tell from WWI were, but he was a Junior Officer in the American Expeditionary Force and he had lots of tales of being in France with all the Can-Can-girls. Occasionally he had to throw some grenades over the top. They gave the TinTin-books to his daughter in English after they culled the ones where he goes to China and so one.

Merlin is reading her daughter from Benet Surfs ”House of Laughter”, a humor-book with a compilation of short-stories like ”The night the bed fell” by James Thurber, which Merlin loves very much.

Mainstream children’s cartoons today seem mostly designed to sell figurines, but there is a decided lack of actual material in them. The story beads are very simple and plain, but there is so much noise, so much Sturm & Drang! John wants stories, not characters with unnaturally large heads and eyes screaming at each other. They continue to talk about books and cartoons for children.

John was born on Friday the 13th and other kids ascribed magic to him. He was thought of as a little bit of a kid sorcerer, which he loved! As he grew older, he started to think of himself as actually being some kind of magic user and he thought about conjuring an orb. It did occupy a lot of his imagination and there was always a tinge of disappointment to it that he wasn’t actually magic and couldn’t actually create spooky action at a distance, as John Siracusa would say. Therefore John is hesitant to introduce the idea to her that there are magic kids and non-magic kids, like there are in Harry Potter.

They continue to talk about different movies!

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