RL308 - The Hi-Hat

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The problem: John didn’t need to be here, referring to John continuing to go out with his old friend group after he got sober and realizing in a bar that he didn’t need to be there.

The show title refers to John Moe giving John the gave him the high hat by not having him on his radio show, also Shaggy 2 Dope having beef with Fred Durst because of a situation where Durst gave him the high hat.

John had a cough button that was sent to him by a listener long time ago, but it requires that he put it in line here. Merlin shows John how he can mute in Skype in software, but there is no keyboard shortcut for that.

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

John being a little sick (RL308)

John sounded a little like his dad when he answered the phone. He is a little under the weather and has a fall cold that snuck on him somehow when he was licking door-knobs. He didn’t get it from his kid, because she got an incredible constitution and whenever she gets sick, it bounces right off of her. Maybe she is a carrier, like a Typhoid Mary type situation? During her whole life John has never had the experience of nursing her while she labors in bed.

Merlin’s daughter has been sick in the middle of the night maybe twice since she was an infant. It is the new generation! They don’t have human feelings and they don’t get sick! It might be the hormones in the meat or maybe noodles (”noodoes”) are a super-food, but then John would never get sick either. John has always gotten sick and he never had the iron-clad constitution that so many people around him seemed to have. People look at a big fellow like John and wonder how he can even be sick, because he is supposed to be hail and hearty.

Merlin still has the sinus situation that drives him bananas. It is the worst and he doesn’t sleep well. People tell him to get a CPAP, but John doesn’t want to talk about that. Even if those things have revolutionized people’s life, Merlin doesn’t want to be the guy in Dune. In the 1990s there was a TV show on Comedy Central called Dr. Katz and there is a great Bob Newheart-esque scene where he is on the phone with his father and he says ”No dad, it is not that I don’t want to go to Bingo with you, I just don’t want to see Bingo on my calendar!” and that is how Merlin feels about the CPAP. He doesn’t want a device that is there all the time.

John thought about prostate-exam this morning because he was very sick and went to the bathroom a lot last night. Merlin thinks he should go to the bathroom a lot more, considering how much water he drinks. He usually has at least one visit during the night times and that is when the panic attacks hit him. Don’t email him! This is a common situation because when you go to the bathroom you realize that your life is falling apart. Maybe Merlin should just stop going to the bathroom? Urine is the mind killer! (reference to Dune). Death treads in on little cat feet (poem by Carl Sandburg). Not even the rain has such small hands (poem by E. E. Cummings).

Media for Merlin’s daughter (RL308)

Merlin shouldn’t show his daughter Dune, but maybe he can give her the books. He doesn’t want to be the Dune fan, but he would not object to a Dune fan in the family. He has tried Rush with her and she has told him that she does not like the kind of music Merlin likes, but he hopes she doesn’t mean that. She basically tells him she does not like Rock music. The one band she continues to like a lot and continues to listen on her own is Queen. She listens to musical or soundtracks for movies she likes.

She likes contemporary pop music, like Portugal. The Man, which Merlin keeps confusing with Cake by the Ocean. She has no strong feeling about Imagine Dragons, but when she rides around with her mother, they listen to the radio like monsters, or at camp some songs get played a lot like Kate Perry or EDM, the boom-clap music. If John would have put boom-clap as the rhythm part for every song, he wonders what his life would be like now. He could pull a Jeff Lynne and go back and re-record his catalog with boom-claps. Merlin sings Tarzan Boy by Baltimora.

Music of 1987 (RL308)

Paul McCartney was 45 in 1987, which should be a runner-up to 1997 in terms of years that didn’t exist. It was a strange year, because a lot of bands that had been popular during early break-through American New Wave were having their successful records, like INXS and The Psychedelic Furs. They were even earlier and put out records when U2 just was making Boy. 1987 was kind of a by-year for John, it was the year of Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive, Peter Gabriel’s So was 1986, which was the year after High School for Merlin. 1987 was the year after High School for John and he was so absent, he didn’t even see any movies from that year. People tend to be most emotional about the music they liked when they were 14, but for Merlin a lot changed in 1987/88/89 and he was getting into different kind of music. It was also the year Punk broke.

Not trusting technical fabrics (RL308)

In 1987 John thought that he was more or less done with new things because he was grown up now. He was buying his own wool socks now, and you don’t need to wash them, but they become more and more water-repellent and they become more a part of you. John was a big proponent of wool as a winter clothes fabric then and he still is now. He is very suspicious of technical fabrics, but he was there for the invention of Gore Tex when he was young.

John's family were outdoor people. They knew Jim Whittaker and as Northwesterners they had early Gore Tex coats in their family. The first iteration of it started to delaminate and made a bubble after about 5 years, which is a big disappointment and a big blow when you have to watch your favorite coat just disintegrate. The technology was still in Beta. As a young person that imprinted on John, because he couldn’t trust it anymore and after that he couldn’t trust any technical fabric. Fool me once! When he is hanging from a cliff and all of a sudden his Polypro all comes unravelled, he is literally hanging by a thread!

From that point on John would wear cotton, wool or silk. Scothgard sprayed on nylon doesn’t work and it is not like waxing your pants. The problem with all those wax fabrics is that you perspire but it doesn’t wick. You will get just as wet, but from your own sweat inside the wax. John doesn’t really wax his wax jackets. Merlin is happy that the development of clothes to keep children warm has come a long way. Those overall snow suits with one zipper used to be a pretty blunt instrument to keep a child warm. In the late 1980s those whole-body suits made a resurgence by the Descente skiwear company and by Roffe and that is when everything got neon. What came back was the ski person uni-suit. John’s dad had one, which was hilarious, because they are meant for people who are helicoptering off every jump with crazy back-scratchers.

Vaping (RL308)

Merlin is still not used to being in the car at a stop light and seeing pillows of cotton coming out of another car from somebody vaping. It is so strange! Merlin looks stupid enough riding a Segway, but people are walking around blowing serious cotton on the street like that is a normal thing, carrying around this little dildo R2D2 thing. It is pretty future dystopia. It still feels really Juggalo to John! Merlin heard that Juggalo face make-up defeats facial recognition.

Shaggy 2 Dope trying to dropkick Fred Durst (RL308)

John talked about Fred Durst in RL189.

There was a video where Shaggy 2 Dope ran out on a stage at a festival and tried to dropkick Fred Durst of Limb Bizkit, maybe the one person in the world that John would love to see dropkicked on stage at his own concert. Regarding every other person, no matter how John feels about them, being dropkicked is awful and a total violation. You don’t run up behind somebody when they are performing and kick them, it is not cool!

Shaggy 2 Dope had beef with Durst because of some shit where Durst gave him the high hat. Merlin doesn’t know a lot about Fred Durst. There was one situation where Eminem, Fred Durst and Brittney Spears got into the worst rap battle where they were both talking about Brittney Spears on some kind of diss-track. Back when Axl Rose told Kurt Cobain to shut his bitch up, that was a rock beef!

Shaggy 2 Dope is not really fit and he had probably watched fantasy fighting so much that he thought he was a good fighter who was going to fly through the air like Jackie Chan. When he tried to dropkick Fred Durst he jumped up in the air, but he only touched Fred Durst on his back with his shoe before he just fell to the ground. It would have been dangerous and he could have kicked him in the back of his head. All of a sudden John briefly felt feelings for people he generally doesn’t feel feelings for.

John hates Fred Durst so much, he doesn’t want to feel any sympathy for him and he has been putting money away with his bookie on whether or not Fred Durst will die alone in a motel. Not as an auto-erotic thing, but just drinking Sterno. Instead Fred Durst seems to have 1000 lives and he is back again, which boggles John’s mind. Maybe there is something good or some gem deep inside the Mine of Moria that is Fred Durst’s soul?

Merlin feels so out of the loop regarding all of this. He remembers Limb Bizkit’s song ”Nookie” which was around the time when System of a Down, a Nu Metal band from Armenia, had their really good record. Merlin’s Local Restaurant is owned by Armenians. If something ends in ”ian”, it is often Armenian. Kardashian are Armenians. Eric Bogosian is surely Armenian. John has a friend called John Kazanjian and if you talk to him about Armenia, he will get right into it with you.

For Merlin, Limb Bizkit is silly young-people-music from 20 years ago and he is a non-combatant. There is a lot of beef culture that Merlin doesn’t understand and he doesn’t want to be un-woke by asking why they keep arguing with each other, like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. Do you really have to fight on Instagram? They are both just millionaires yelling at each other.

Human League, Gary Numan (RL308)

Last night Merlin re-watched a really good documentary about British synthesizer music called Synth Britannia. There was also one about the history of Top of the Pops and what blew John away about the Top of the Pops show was that the three main members of Human League are now totally normal people who seem friendly, cool and regular. At the time they were so cold, so blue, and so machine. No-one smiles in the music video for Don’t You Want Me. They were pop-stars in 1981, but they had hits since the late 1970s when the other guy who went on to do Heaven 17 used to be in the band (Martyn Ware).

The remaining guy found two 18 years old girls who were not singers, but just dancers. They are like 54 years old now, but back then, the difference between them and the 14 year old John seemed like they might as well have been made out of space glass and John was just a pile of cookie dough. Now John has 54-year olds all around him. Merlin still thinks that everybody he knew well at a given age is still that age in his head, which is a weird thing. He thought the people on MTV were grown-ass people with a career, but they were only 5 years older.

Seeing Human Leage as just normal people is refreshing. Philip Oakey looks like a dentist with a little bit of eyeliner. He balded with dignity, while Gary Numan is still trying to pull something off. Tubeway Army is very good. Merlin thinks he is wearing some critter as a piece. His wife noticed a thing in the Indie Rock world called the Hipster Comb-over where you can definitely tell that a guy is doing a hair thing. Good on Philip Oakey because he looks like a dentist and he is really dignified about it.

Gary Numan might have put shoe polish in his hair in the 1980s, because it was too black without any thickness in it. Now he has Johnny Marr hair that is not just dark, but is also situated on his head wrong, like he took a toupee and shifted it forward a little bit. Gary Numan is a pilot! His wife told him to take an online quiz in the year 2000 that he used to diagnose himself with Aspergers, the story is kind of confusing. Gary Numan in a biplane would be fun! He drives crazy planes on John Denver level and he might be what John Travolta would wish to be. Retroactively he claims he got diagnosed with Aspergers when he was 12, which is the same problem with John’s Bipolar. He knew it a long time and he believed it, but he didn’t believe it was a thing.

John Moe (RL308)

John Moe started in Public Radio in Seattle and some of his shows were early versions of him having a panel of 5 interesting Seattleites to talk about the news. John was a guest on his program a few times and John Moe was a booster of The Long Winters. He lost his job when the radio station kept changing their format, but didn't know how to keep listeners. Somebody in the head office decided that nobody wants to hear long-form radio anymore and they would stop doing these half-hour shows where people talk to each other and go to a format with one segment after another and the longest they will have any guest is 10 minutes.

They betrayed what Public Radio is all about! They offshored John Moe and he moved back to Saint Paul, Minnesota, the headquarters, the fount, or the gateway to the center of the Earth of Public Radio. They have walls of microphones there full of old heads from top to bottom. John did a show there once and the guy opened a cabinet with probably $10 million worth of vintage microphones. "What the hell is that sarcophagus?" He chuckled in this old-man-with-suspenders-kind-of-way: ”Oh, you like that, do you? Har har har”

John Moe started a variety show and got good on Twitter. He and John were pals from the old days, they had lots of laughs, good times and great oldies. John Moe started attracting guests of the caliber of Paul F. Tompkins or John Hodgman. Not George Clooney, but he is now in the gang, a murder of micro-celebrities. John was on his show a couple of times and both times it was when John and Hodgman were on tour and he wanted Hodgman and John was the musical guest.

John enjoyed it, but told John Moe offline that he should have him on his show, but he said that the people who put on the show are looking for something else. He gave John the high hat a little bit! The celebrity musician that are the same level as Paul F. Tompkins and John Hodgman are the A.C. Newmans of the world, who is definitely a bigger musician than John is. When the coffee table book of Indie Rock will be written, the New Pornographers will be in it and The Long Winters will not be in it.

The fact that John and John Moe are friends with a long history and the fact that John is not just a musician, but a junior member of the murder of micro-celebrities made John feel like ”Come on!” John Moe is the host of the show, it is his show and he doesn’t need to put this off on some people in the back office and pretend that his hands were tied. He was intoxicated by his proximity to the world of NPR celebrity and Mick Sweeney celebrity. In a couple of episodes every guest was someone John had collaborated with and it would have been a good opportunity to have John as the guest, but John Moe's hands were tied. Little by little John started to feel a resentment and started to steam a little bit. He even asked John Moe why he is giving John the high hat, but his hands were tied and he didn’t even acknowledge that he was giving John the high hat.

Times went on and when John Moe lost his job not through any fault of his own, but because Public Radio is a doggy dog world, he started a podcast called The Hillarious World of Depression. At that point they had been knowing each other for 20 years and John Moe knows pretty well that John has not only suffered from depressive illness, but does so publicly, but John has never heard an invitation by John Moe to come on his Hilarious World of Depression, because he believes that he and his show are at the Tig Notaro level of depression guests and John is not going to drive the numbers.

Of course he gave John the high hat when he didn't invite him on his podcast about depression! When John finally puts out that Long Winters record and when the world finally notices him and says that all those episodes of Roderick on the Line are going to be in the Library of Congress because of all of the help they gave people, and John Moe who will be 80 at that point will want to have John on his show, John will reply ”Now you want me on your show?” John Moe’s show will be ”The Hilarious World of Living in a Home”, but John will be ”Sorry!” because he will have to comb the nits out of his dog’s hair.

Most of the names on John’s list of resentments, which includes Fred Durst on it somewhere, it depends on how many pages you go to on the list, are greyed out. If you click on them, the hyperlink is dead. The Colin Meloy one is purple because John has already clicked on it. The blue ones are still fresh and you can click on them and look at the wiki. John likes to think that he has culled that list down to not be a constant source and a constant dragon on his back. A lot of the CPAP people will now say that if John had a CPAP machine he wouldn’t feel those resentments. What are you going to do when you get into the hilarious world of micro-celebrity? You are walking around in the hall, walking up to people and ”Hey, I like what you do!” and they are giving you the high hat.

The comedian Chris Gethard was on The Hilarious World of Depression and they asked him when he realized that he was Bipolar. At first you notice that it doesn’t feel good and for most people that is a long time before they are having a name for the thing they live with, let alone having a thing to ameliorate it.

Idris Elba (RL308)

One time John walked up to Idris Elba at a party and said ”I like what you do!” and he said ”Thanks, mate!” and then they stood there and talked for a minute. Idris Elba didn’t have any reason to stand there and talk to John, the room was full of famous people, but he was a gentleman. One of his people was waiting to talk to him, but he still gave John 2 minutes of his time and they had some kind of passing chat. Because John is not a monster either, he was ”Well, nice talking to you! Thanks for taking a minute with me, it was a pleasure!”, they shook hands and off they went. That is all it takes! There was nothing about John that Idris Elba looked at and thought that this guy might be somebody. He was not running a social media credit check on John. John was wearing a green blazer like he had won the Masters tournament, but he clearly had not won the Masters tournament, while everybody else was in a freaking tuxedo. Idris Elba gave John a couple of minutes just to see, he wasn’t even just polite.

Did Merlin feel like he belonged? (RL308)

There was a time in Merlin’s life when he felt he was normal and happy and things were simple. He felt mostly normal during a fair amount of his childhood. There was also a time in his mid-20s when he felt he had arrived at a place above where he initially thought he would be in life and he felt if not successful at least not as a failure. Merlin never felt like he fit in. People who are really popular in Middle School and High School could be the most super-broken inside. You don’t learn until you are a grown-up that most bullies were bullied. You don’t internalize that those people are acting the way they do because something terrible happened to them. Nobody wants to behave in the way they are behaving, nobody wants to be that weak and needy, but later you realize that it made sense.

Merlin had a friend who always wanted to do road-trips at 2am. They might have been a little Bipolar, but there was no name for it. There was not that much going on in Merlin’s life that was super-chemical, but he was not always good at emotional and social health and was simply not being very socially and emotionally adept. He probably had ADHD his whole life, but there were also times when he didn’t know what he was supposed to do here and he probably shouldn’t be here. Everyone else always seems to understand what to do at this event, while he thought it felt more like a scientific experiment.

At times Merlin definitely had a sense of narcissism or otherness where he thought that the reason he doesn’t have more friends is because he probably was weird and shouldn’t have friends. When John and Merlin first met, John had a social understanding of how to work a room and how to meet new people and how to feel like he belonged, which is sort of the opposite of what Merlin is describing.

Merlin and his daughter were watching the Ocean’s Eleven remake with all women like Sandra Bullock. At the beginning of this movie everywhere she goes she walks in like she owns the place. That right there is what John Roderick does. If you want to go somewhere, act like you belong there and not like you need permission to be there! It is an important thing Merlin learned from John! When people come and service Merlin’s appliances, he is like ”Should I go? Is it cool that I am in my own house?”

John says to people who are doing a job when he is standing there looking over their shoulder that if they want an extra $50 just because John is sitting there, looking over their shoulder and asking them what they are doing, he is willing to pay it, but he is going to ask them about every single tool they pick out of their toolbox. The problem for John was all internal. It wasn’t the stoner problem of ”Are they looking at me? Are they laughing at me?”, but it was 100% an internal loop spinning in his own trash compactor that had nothing to do with other people.

Transitioning your friend group when you get sober (RL308)

There was a period right after John got sober when he felt like he got it now. He had a fun new group of friends, they were playwrights and actors, smart, goofy, and beautiful. They had grace and elegance, but they were people on the fringe of the world John lived in and John had seen them, but they were also kind of invisible to him, because when he was sitting in a bar and one of these people came in, he recognized right away that they were not going to buy him a beer and hanging out with them was not going to get him in any posture where there would be any drugs.

When John first got sober, he continued to hang out with his old pals. All they wanted to do was go to the bar and John would join them, sit there and watch the sunlight move across the wall while everybody else was drinking pitchers. One time a good friend was sitting across the table, he said something that wasn’t even mean or offensive, but John picked a lighter off the table and lit his soul patch on fire. The guy jumped up, put out his soul patch and ”What the fuck?” and everybody jumped up from the table. John stood up and said ”I don’t know where that came from, but clearly I do not need to be here in this bar with you guys. I’ll catch you later!” and he got out of there. John thought he was fine and he didn’t need to drink. Bars are not super-fun if you are not drinking, but they were the only place John knew to go since he was 20, he just transacted every single aspect of his social life in bars. John didn’t know where else to be!

John had looked over and caught a glimpse of the bar tender take a last intense drag off of his cigarette, that gesture where you squeeze it between your fingers like a joint, he put it out in the ash tray with that old man bar fly where you are scrunching it out. As John saw this gesture he was hit with a tidal wave of feelings: That is the drama real life is made of! These are the times! What am I doing with my life? Why would I ever think to quit drinking? Drinking is how you express all of the many complicated feelings you have about the world and what am I? An artist or just a normal? It all hit John with a bowling ball shot out of a canon and he turned, lit his friend’s soul patch on fire and said ”I can’t be in this bar!” He never went back to that bar and he stopped hanging out with those guys, but not because of anything they did and they were still very good friends, although John was a little embarrassed that he lit his soul patch on fire.

John found another group of people and drinking just wasn’t part of what they did. If you gave them a beer they would drink it, but they didn’t need a second one. It blew John away! For a period of about 9 months, John felt like he was in a place where he belonged because this group of people felt like they had access to a whole other way of living. They were making little art things or write a play or "Let’s go down to the basement and jam and you be the drummer this time!"

Eventually John got into his first relationship with one of the people in that group and all the problems he ever had with intimacy and whatever were all still right there, meaning that having been drunk before had actually not been the problem. John has not been arrested very many times after he stopped drinking and more times before by a fairly large margin, so at least he solved that problem, but the problem of being in a relationship was like: ”Oh, fuck!” Stopping drinking didn’t solve everything. The tragedy is that many in that group of 10 people suffered as well and none of them really achieved the promise of those early years. A lot of the actors became professional waiters, which hurts little bit. This group had so much kinetic energy and it seemed that it was only a matter of time before somebody would make a piece of work that was totally great, and it is a little weird to think that maybe John was the one who did.

Merlin’s anxiety (RL308)

As somebody who is anxious, Merlin realized some very interesting things over time: Anxiety in an anxious person very rarely just goes away, but they become anxious about something else instead. You can find 17 different silver bullets for fixing it or you can accept that this is a part of your life, but it doesn’t have to define who you are. You can feel overwhelmed to a point where you just can’t handle life because you can only think about this stack of stuff that is piled up, but for most people there is one thing at the top that is their dread or their scary thing, the thing they obsess or worry about, the thing they think will be their undoing.

Within 36 hours of that thing magically disappearing, the number 2 or 3 from that stack will pop up to that spot and you will have that exact same feeling again! A lot of people will say that this is not true and they just need to fix that one thing. Merlin is wondering if this is also the way he is and he is not sure if there is a pill to fix it. There are ways to make his body feel less anxious, but that does not change his basic composure as being somebody who gets anxious about things. His root for coping with it has been cognitive behavioral, like "What if everything is not a catastrophe? What if this is just a feeling I have?"

There is this entitled feeling that some stuff getting in his way. Sometimes we have enough insight to realize that those are things we have put in our own path, but a lot of times we look to other people, we blame our parents and we look at all the different reasons why things are the way they are. Merlin doesn’t mean to sound like Ayn Rand, but at a certain level you have to ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish and what is preventing you from taking steps toward that today.

A couple of weeks ago, John wondered whether he was worrying about the right thing enough and Merlin asked him if that helped him. John said that he didn't know yet if that was helping him, but he felt the need to keep turning it over. Merlin always tries to ask himself whether or not those repetitions in his mind are helping or hindering him and he tries to be open to the fact that it may be something he is allowing or visiting upon himself, in which case he can do some basic mindfulness stuff and say ”Here is a bad feeling I’m having right now, but it is not who I am!” Merlin doesn’t know if there is a pill for that, but he knows enough people who got on the right kind of medication and went from very low to feeling not horrible, let alone feeling pretty good. It is probably very rarely as simple as that.

Starting to take the Bipolar medicine (RL308)

To quit drinking involves a lot of pain, and John tries to communicate that to people who want to quit drinking, but nobody wants to hear it. People say they hadn’t had a drink in 30 days and they are feeling amazing, they are never going back, and they are kicking ass right and left, they are working on the Great American Novel, they repaired their relationship with their sister, but John is always like ”Awesome! But slow your roll!” Those are exactly the feelings that cause you to pick up a drink again! You do not quit drinking for 30 days, all your problems are solved and all of a sudden your greatness is revealed. After six months of being sober you are still a 3-legged dog and you go up and down every time. The challenge is not that you stopped boozing and all of a sudden it is smooth sailing, but you just try not to have a drink every day and tomorrow is going to suck. The first nine months of quitting drinking were a cascade of pain for John!

Taking Bipolar medicine was not like that at all, but it was an almost instantaneous feeling of ”Wow!” and the really awful feelings were gone. John immediately bought a vintage RV within hours. Running for office was his last truly great manic episode. His campaign was during one of those summers in Seattle that they never used to have before, but that are common now with 100 degrees (38 °C) all week. It used to be that warm in Seattle only once a decade. John was going to 10 events a day all over the city where he would walk into an un-air-conditioned room where everyone was angry and they had turned the lights off in order to try and cool it by 0.5 degrees. Still, people came out of their houses to come down here and yell at city council candidates.

John just had a meeting with the board of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, the one where they were against arctic drilling as much as the next guy (see BW230 and RL155). Seattle plays a large role in the staging of arctic drilling equipment and John thought that the city should wean themselves off of that because arctic drilling is a dead issue. They agreed 100%, but arctic drilling equipment provided 50 carpentry jobs for local carpenters. John said that the carpentry union also needed to wean themselves off of arctic drilling dollars, because we all have to pitch in here and if we don’t want to create an environmental catastrophe that lasts a Millenia, we need to stop drilling in the arctic and that means that 50 carpentry jobs are going to have to be redirected to other places. You could see them all put a big black X mark on their little piece of paper and Thanks for coming by! Politicians always say that we need to preserve those carpentry jobs at all costs even if it means destroying the arctic.

John drove home and had 30 minutes to sit at home and drink an ice water before he had to be at the next thing where a bunch of people were like ”What if there was a global socialist revolution, which side would you be on?” After that John jumped up on his porch and his heart was going ”blu-blup” His good friend Darius Minwalla, who was the drummer of The Posies and who had drummed for The Long Winters on several occasions and was Eric Corson’s room mate, who was Mike Squires’ best friend, who was a great dude and John’s good friend for a decade, who was 38 years old, he sat down on the couch, opened his laptop, googled ”heart attack” and died. They found him with his computer open with ”heart attack” in the Google. When John had that experience that day, just like when the hatchet fell on him in the barn (see RW74), he had a feeling where he was sitting down and wondered if he was a dead man walking, where Uma Thurman had given him the 7 dragons treatment (called the ”Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique”) and he was fine sitting there, but as soon as he would stand up, he would walk 10 feet (3m) and just drop dead.

John was under a lot of stress and the thing to do was call the aid car. "Don’t be one of those people who doesn’t call the aid car!" Usually they would just send one of those contractor aid cars, but for whatever reason they sent the medics, the real fire department guys. Six of them came in a fire truck, the whole kit and caboodle. The head guy did some tests on John and had a smile on his face and said ”I don’t think you were having a heart attack! I have seen a lot of heart attacks”, but just to be on the safe side, maybe John should go to the emergency room.

What John didn’t realize was that he was embarking on an $8000 afternoon because a ride in an ambulance isn’t free and when they put you on the treadmill in the ER and all this stuff, none of that is free. When the bill came John thought that when that guy had told him he hadn't had a heart attack, he should have just gone up and taken a cool bath. This incident happened in June.

John went to see the doctor who told him ”I didn’t come to you!” (see RW53, RW77, RL257), but he still had to run his campaign in a mega manic depressed state for 3 more months after that because although he was ready to see a psychiatrist, their first appointment wasn't until September. He lost the primary election on August 4th, he moped around for a little while and he finally had his appointment. The guy gave John some medicine, John took it for a couple of weeks and it started to work.

How John met Millennial girlfriend (RL308)

After John's Bipolar medicine started to work, he immediately bought an RV, drove down to San Francisco and went to a big fancy party with John Hodgman (see RL290). It was one of those software parties where they had Lobster Thermidore and naked jugglers. Merlin came as well, but he Irish-good-bye-d in classic Merlin fashion. They were all walking together down a hall, John turned around and started ”So Merlin, what do you…” and Merlin was just gone. John hadn't even seen a door anywhere! Merlin had pulled out his bat-hook and went straight up!

Among the guests was Elon Musk and a lot of software famouses. It was not a good environment and the only people of color were the Asian girlfriends of software dudes. As John and John Hodgman were standing up to leave, a fancy girl came over to Hodgman and said ”I just want to say how important your work is to me” and it was so clear that she did not feel that way, because while you can love John Hodgman, it is very hard to say that his 10.000 Hobo names (?) are important to you. She kind of All the great shows-ed him a little bit.

Because John Hodgman loves talking to somebody who loves his work, they all sat down again, and ”Oh Jesus! Here we go!” and it turned out that this woman was one of the lawyers for Uber. John learned hilarious things about Uber, basically Uber’s legal strategy was not ”Let’s be in compliance with the law”, but ”We are going to break the law, let’s use our lawyers to figure out how to do it and not get penalized” That is 100% their corporate policy! Her friend was standing there, also rolling her eyes, she and John both looked at each other and John had been taking Bipolar medicine for 10 days and was like ”Oh well, shit! Hi!” and then began his 2-year relationship with Millennium girlfriend who was also a tech lawyer.

They had an alternative relationship, like ”Oh, how did we get into this?” All of John’s relationships had been alternative, but this was his first San Francisco-style alternative relationship. Merlin lives outside of San Francisco in The Sunset, which is the appendix of San Francisco. This was a relationship very definitely situated in the The Castro. John had been taking this medicine for 10 days and he felt like all his problems were solved, because all his sorrow was gone, but that was not the case! That was October 2015 and now we are three years later in October of 2018. All his problem were not solved by that, but John was just going out of the boiling hot pot into the fireplace!

John has a lot of sweaters (RL308)

John is sitting in a room right now where he could not put a cup of coffee down on a table anywhere, because the table is all covered in guitar picks that have been sorted by color and shape. There are also Cowichan sweaters piled up. If John wore a different sweater every day of the winter, he would wear every sweater only twice because he has 50 sweaters, which is a mental illness of some kind! They are wonderful! They are wool, they don’t delaminate, but you have to draw a line somewhere! There are people out there who only have one sweater and they don’t think ”If only I had a second sweater”. It is like Tiny Tim and his little stool: He learned to really appreciate it. He had a crutch for his little stool, he didn’t even have two crutches, but he was happy.

Lin-Manuel Miranda replying to John’s tweet (RL308)

Last night at 2am John was sitting around looking at Twitter and it was bringing him down. He was sick and he sent out a tweet like ”Twitter is really quiet this time of the night, but it still sucks” and somewhere out there in Never-Neverland, Lin-Manuel Miranda replied to John’s tweet and said ”It is familiar… but not too familiar”, which is a quote from John’s song Departure. He knows it from the show, but he follows John on Twitter, which is nice! Because it is him, like 60 people replied to that tweet.

When John woke up this morning, before he looked at Twitter or anything, he was standing in the bathroom and was like ”Who knows who is relentlessly positive on Twitter? Lin-Manuel Miranda!” He never says anything mean or lecturing or shitty, he never gets his back up, he never takes umbrage. Merlin says that defensiveness and the need to explain are the little brothers of anger. In the context of Twitter Lin-Manuel is a great positive force who tries to do good things, make good things and spread the love. John doesn’t know why he was thinking of that, except because of space vibes. There is no reason for John to be thinking about him or for him to be thinking about John. Not to say that he is Tiny Tim, but he is positive and where can John find that positivity?

Merlin thinks that sometimes it is just nice to say ”I see you!”, which is different from when a celebrity dies and you find that picture of you with him and post the RIP thing, trying to get a little bit of that recent-death-juice, like ”I miss my friend that I met once at a Con”. Lin-Manuel does a good thing with it, like when he got with this guy from Dear Evan Hanson (Ben Platt) and they sing a little duet together for the Parkland kids. He seems like a good guy. He says ”I see you, John!” which is very positive! What he doesn’t say is ”I see you and here is a petition I need you to sign!”

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