RL312 - Always is How

This week Merlin and John talk about:

  • The 2018 midterm elections (Politics)
  • John’s computer (Technology)
  • John being in bad shape (Aging)
  • John’s thermostat stopped working (House)
  • Strange affectations (Factoids)
  • Merlin's daughter's birthday (Merlin Mann)
  • Ken Jennings refusing to eat at John’s house (Ken Jennings)
  • John and his daughter going to New York for Thanksgiving (Currents)
  • Andy Summers, The Police (Music)
  • The Beatles
  • John wanting to remix the Long Winters albums (The Long Winters)
  • The golden age of TV is just fine (Movies)
  • John’s daughter’s mom listening to podcasts (Podcasting)
  • Losing a TV show, Busy Philipps (Movies)

The problem: John hasn’t earned a chair, referring having been in a backstage scenario where a lot of people with TV shows were milling around and John didn't want to take up a chair.

The show title is currently an unknown reference.

Merlin has a jackhammer situation and it looks like it is the PG&E. John suggests that there should be doors in the streets so they wouldn’t have to break up the pavement every time. Merlin would have appreciated a little heads-up beforehand, because everybody in this neighborhood is probably podcasting if they are not doing bubble tea. Merlin gets a lot of information about the election and he encourages everybody to vote, but he doesn't want anybody to knock on his door because he doesn’t want to talk to anybody.

Merlin doesn’t brush his teeth as much as he should.

During the recording John disconnected because he lost power in the house. He doesn’t have an Internet of things, but a house of ghosts and now he is starting to question the pumpkin pie for breakfast and is starting to feel a little bit strange. Merlin didn’t really eat breakfast but had way too much coffee and was running around listening to some podcast. It feels like a Pho day. Merlin listens to podcast every second he can.

They have T-shirts coming back on November 13th, they will be promoting that soon. There is a new shirt and it is very good.

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

The 2018 midterm elections (RL312)

John and Merlin have been saying on this program for many years to always vote in every election, no matter how small. This one is no more or less important than any other! Merlin is privileged because his voting spot is about 160 feet (50m) from his house. He picked this spot 19 years ago and he is not going to budge because everything he needs is right there. He can see from his window if there are people playing on the basticball [sic] court or if there are people in line at his hair place, but he can’t see if there is a line at the Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Merlin doesn’t understand why people don’t vote. If you don’t have an opinion on everything, then don’t vote on everything! His wife brought over their ballot last night and he asked her whom he should vote for. If she wants something fixed on her iPhone she is going to ask him, and if he wants to know whom to vote for for city assessor, he is going to ask her because she follows this stuff and she cares more than what he does.

People ask John all the time how they should vote and while he won't tell them that they definitely have vote a certain way, he will tell them what he is voting and that their milage may vary. Consulting other people about elections is the whole thing: Make it social! Asking if you should vote is like asking if you should tip your waitron, because you always tip your waitron.

John and his mom will always sit down together over the ballot and celebrate it. They look at it and talk about what they think about the different things. They vote very similarly, but sometimes she likes to protest vote while John is not Mr Protest Vote anymore. People send John pictures of their ballots all the time where they have written him in for things, which is swell and wonderful, because the UFOs are monitoring and are taking all this into consideration.

John’s computer (RL312)

John thinks he got hacked. His computer sucks after Apple asked him to upgrade the operating system.

After last week’s episode Merlin has been compelled by many people to be John’s electronic sherpa, thank you, he loves that role!

CleanMyMac X cleaned up 75 things. The upgrade to the version that tells you what it is doing was only $85, but it didn’t solve anything.

John being in bad shape (RL312)

John has no intention of running because he already ran once and lost and he is never running again. He is probably in the worst shape of his life. He might have been doughier at other times, but doughiness vs condition are different systems. He is nearing the point where Merlin is currently at and he got structural problems. All the load-bearing organs are really struggling to get everything in motion and he really notices that he has different organs and systems in his body, working independently and at different levels of quality.

John can feel the gears grinding and he either put in the wrong kind of oil or there is no oil at all. The noise he makes when he walks is him reading all the signs out loud and talking to everyone without they being able to hear him. That is even setting aside John’s interior monolog, like ”What if Napoleon had not arrived…” Merlin jokingly calls Napoleon for Bonaparte (like John’s mom does, see RL261 and OM79). To drive his mom crazy, as his own form of protest vote, John sometimes asks ”Hey mom, what do you think about Napoleon”. She is still mad about Bonaparte!

John’s thermostat stopped working (RL312)

As John came downstairs the house was strangely cold because his electrostatic thermostat, one that is connected to electricity and has 5 buttons, had stopped working. John immediately got a cold chill because the last two times he came down and it was cold although the thermostat had been turned up was when somebody broke in and left all the doors open (see The Burglary), and when Millennial Girlfriend left him and left the back door open to spite him.

It was a bad sign and John immediately grabbed a broad sword and started walking around the house like ”Who is here?” It was fine and the reason it was cold was that the furnace stopped responding to the thermostat. John monkeys with the thermostat all the time, he is not a set-it-and-forget-it, but he is riding the fader that they used to give to the A&R guy, the one that is not hooked up to anything (see RL249).

John's automatic thermostat in an aspirational thermostat and he has it set to the life he imagines he would lead. Because he wants to get up at 9am, the thermostat starts to come on at 8am and he wakes up to a warm and toasty world. He actually wakes up at 9:50am, 10 minutes before they are recording their show, meaning that he has been in bed weirdly hot for 1,5 hours at that point. By noon John should be out having a run which is why the thermostat drops down to 60 degrees (15 °C) at noon and stays down until he comes home from his supposed outside life.

John also got his yoga and his art class where he throws pots with a bunch of other moms and the thermostat goes back on when he comes home at dinner time. When he should be going to bed at 11pm it goes back down to 60 degrees. John is riding that fader all day long because noon comes and all of a sudden it is cold, but he is not out for a run, but he is sitting on the couch looking at Instagram.

Merlin’s thermostat is a plastic dingus that is either off or all the way on 90 degrees (32 °C) for it to eventually get warm. A little rocking bird that dips its beak in a cup of water and bounces back up would be better than what he got. Merlin can’t get a modern thermostat because his house is ancient and lacks the necessary wiring. He can’t yell ”More steam!” into a horn down to the oompa loompas either because down there are just a bunch of good eggs boxes, toilet-paper boxes and 600 cans of half-drank fizzy water from the Safeway.

John didn’t have time to go down to the basement and troubleshoot his heating problem before he had to start recording the show because he only woke up at 9:50am. The BioLite could be blown out and the basement could be full of gas, there could be a ghost in the machine and some boxes could have fallen over. It is not that the furnace has a big switch on it that says ”On/Off” and John does not want to call a furnace person. Merlin gave up dealing with furnace persons 15 years ago. First they say "free estimate", then they will tell you that you need a new furnace and three weeks later they will send you a typewritten letter saying that they will sue you if you don’t pay them $150, which doesn’t sound like a free estimate. It is an unconventional, outer-sunset idea of what free is.

John had a guy come out to do the yearly cleaning of the furnace and he stood and watched him which is not what they want you to do, but John did it under the guise of talking to him about his life and what his father did for a living when he was growing up. John realized that cleaning the furnace was not anything a normal person could do by opening some doors and blowing on the dust. It seems like a scam! John changes the filter on the regular.

Strange affectations (RL312)

In the very early days of The Long Winters, John used to have a publicist in New York City. Whenever you would ask him a question, he would say ”Napsolutely!” [sic] and he didn’t mean to say that, but it sounded like it because of his hipster affectation.

When Merlin’s daughter was little she had a tick where she would say ”Myes” [sic], like a flouncy fancy duchess and they use it to this day. Marlo says ”No” in a way that John finds completely endearing. She said it when she was little and she says it still in a way you can’t imitate, like a pigeon cooing.

Merlin's daughter's birthday (RL312)

Merlin’s daughter’s birthday is very near Halloween. They had a 6-girl sleepover for her birthday and Merlin finally got a little break from that. He savors not having stuff to do, because there is always so much stuff to do.

Ken Jennings refusing to eat at John’s house (RL312)

John and his daughter had pumpkin pie for breakfast and she was savoring it by taking little teeny bites and chewing it for a long time. He explained to her what ”savor” meant, it is like ”save”, but in the love room inside your head.

John has Ken Jennings over once a week. During the entire eight years they have known each other, Ken has refused all beverage and all sustenance whenever he came to John’s house with the exception of a huge 5 pound bin of Utz Party Mix (actually it is 43 oz, 2.7 pounds, 1.2 kg) that somebody had left after a party. John told Ken that he has never touched that stuff and Ken put if over by his chair and he will eat Utz Party Mix and have a glass of water, but he will not have any other food.

The other day John offered Ken some pumpkin pie, but once again he refused all offers. Ken is a practicing Mormon, if you offer him a Coke he is going to say "No!", and there might be other things in play. He doesn’t have coffee, but he does drink diet Dr. Pepper and the caffeine thing is a misunderstanding. John always just puts it in the category of things he is not going to offer anymore. After the third time you offer somebody a bacon sandwich, you are not going to offer them any more bacon.

John and Ken hung out until 2pm and John asked again ”What about that pumpkin pie? It is not breakdast [sic] anymore, but…”, testing him a little bit if he was seriously going to say "No!" to pumpkin pie twice. There was a long pause until Ken said ”Yeah, okay, I have a piece of pumpkin pie!” John thinks he is on one of those Adam Savage fasts where he only eats for 8 hours a day. Because he is a late night person like John, he probably had his last meal at midnight or 2am and can’t eat until some line in the sand between noon and 8pm. John eats within an 8 hour window as well and often doesn’t have his first meal until 5pm, unless we are in pumpkin-pie for breakfast month.

John and his daughter going to New York for Thanksgiving (RL312)

Picture from the flight

John, Marlo and her mother are going to New York in a couple of weeks for a whole week. They are staying at Mike Squires’ house and John is going to do one of those videos and has to learn a song for that! They are going to have Thanksgiving with the Coultons, he his going to play the Last Waltz show up in Port Chester (see RW121 Patreon Bonus Content) and he has things to do and lots of balls in the air. He can't just check into a hotel where every time he comes back his bed is made, but he doesn’t know how it will be at Mike Squires’ house and he will have the baby there.

Mike has great coffee although it can take 45 minutes from the time you ask for a cup of coffee until it arrives because he has to pour it over some lava rocks and feed it to a monkey who shits it in the jungle. John's daughter's mother has work to do in New York, meaning everybody is working and everything gets bounced around, which will be fun, but Marlo is going to have some homework. They did some homework last night, but it wasn’t so bad because they had already started on Saturday.

Andy Summers, The Police (RL312)

Merlin watched the Andy Summers movie (probably Can’t Stand Losing You) about the history of him and The Police. It is not for everybody, but Merlin enjoyed it because he is a superfan. John saw them at Bonnaroo (probably in 2007). Stewart Copeland has given various crazy good interviews and performances and is worth exploring on YouTube. He has a lot going on and he is still swinging for the fences. He was in some band together with Joe Bonamassa or Chuck Prophet (really?), the Master Musicians of Bukkake. They drove around in a bus and played shows, one of those ”Answering a question no-one asked” type of things.

Stewart Copeland has and entire room in his house with a shit-tons of crazy equipment and crazy percussion, like in a Spinal Tap documentary. He got mics everywhere and he can just start playing whenever he wants. He can hit a garbage can lid with his Gamelan and he will be good. ”White sauce? No problem!” This is a common mistake musicians make and John almost made it. You have to watch out for an ambitious drummer. John had strivers in his band: Michael Shilling wanted to be a published author, Michael Schorr wanted to be a video game designer, and Nabil’s ambitions were to be the president of the music business, which he is very good at.

The Beatles (RL312)

The White Album (50th anniversary) came out this week, Giles Martin (George Martin’s Son) got up in there again and the tracks Merlin heard so far were pretty fucking good. You can hear everything better, like with Sgt. Pepper, and there is so much more vigor.

John wanting to remix the Long Winters albums (RL312)

If John had all the money in the world he would remix all the Long Winters records to make them sound better. Merlin says you need a mix of both Walla and Stringfellow because the different parts of the record capture different aspects. John wouldn’t re-record anything, but he would just remix it. Merlin is shocked that it has been 14 years and since that album came out and he has listened to it many times.

John and Chris Walla had a falling-out several times, but they have since reconciled. There was that article in Magnet Magazine that John read a long time ago, and they tagged him in it and John just re-tweeted it without reading it.

Merlin says it was a good article and it talks about how fucking good When I Pretend to Fall is, it is one of Merlin’s all-time favorite records. John wonders if Merlin has ever listened to the end of any of the songs after the first 90 seconds, but the one Merlin had skipped through was Putting the Days to Bed. John is sure Merlin did that to Pretend to Fall as well. It is one of the best sequence albums of all time and John worked on that a lot. It plays as two album sides and works so well.

The golden age of TV is just fine (RL312)

John's daughter's mother likes Hollywood and she would probably watch a lot of TV if she hadn’t had a child with John and joined his family culture, which is very ”I don’t even have a TV”. She has the biggest TV in the family by maybe 500% and she does watch it the most, because John, his mom and his sister don’t even have one. She told John about some episodic TV that everyone says is really good and she successfully convinced him that it is not TV, but it is must-see TV or the golden age of TV and then she gets him and it becomes a thing.

After they put the baby to bed John wants to go home and read some old National Lampoons, but she wants him to continue watch episodic TV with her and they make a yoghurt parfait, they sit together and watch it. She conned John into watching Ozark with Jason Bateman and it is fine. It is no Breaking Bad, but that is clearly what they are going for. John never liked Laura Linney, but in this show he does like her. He always loved Justine Bateman, but her brother Jason is just fine.

John finds himself consuming this material that confirms his suspicion that the golden age of TV is just fine. Maybe there is a platinum age of TV that he hasn't stumbled upon yet because she is just trying to pick episodic TV that she thinks will get him to stay and watch an episode of, but maybe Merlin can give John something better than Ozark that he can take to her. Merlin watched 4 episodes of episodic TV last night and recommends Homecoming with Julia Roberts on Amazon Prime.

Homecoming is about the troops and Julia Roberts works with a group that is trying to help soldiers with PTSD get back into their community, but there is something going on. It is interesting! It is from the guy who made Mr Robot and if you like Mr Robot, you might like this. Julia Roberts was on the Busy Philipps show last night. Merlin wanted to love it but he couldn’t and both he and his lady said it was a hard pass after only 4 minutes.

John’s daughter’s mom listening to podcasts (RL312)

Since John's daughter's mother moved out to the suburbs she got into podcasts and listens to them on her commute! Somehow she found Dax Shepard (Armchair Expert) who plays the poopy masturbator in Idiocracy (Frito Pendejo) and who is married to Kristen Bell from The Good Place. It pays to be married because you live longer if you are married as a guy. John does not want her to listen to Dax Shepard's podcasts and doesn’t even know why. He interviews people and John has a little bit of podcaster jealousy, like ”How’s your friend Dax Shepard?”

John sounds like Michael Schilling’s dad (Michael Schilling being the drummer of The Long Winters) who every time he would read something about The Police in The New Yorker would say ”I read something about your friend Sting”, who of course would be Michael’s favorite member of The Police and not the arguably greatest drummer in the history of Rock’n’Roll (Stewart Copeland). It was a high-level form of needling and Michael Schilling's dad knew exactly what he was doing.

John has heard from a couple of different people that one unintended consequence of there being so many two-white-dudes-talking podcasts is that it is actually an opportunity for lady folk to hear what guys are talking about to each other. John's daughter's mother doesn’t listen to John's and Merlin's podcast because they talk about stuff she doesn’t want to hear.

She likes to listen to Dax Shepard talk to people about dude stuff and about their feelings, which is a thing she doesn't always gets to hear and which is not a thing John wants to hear. When girls get together, they talk about sex, but boys don’t appear to talk about sex when the get together and why would you? How weird would that be? John has never talked to anybody about their weiner.

Merlin can recommend so many podcasts she might like. One unmissable one is Heavyweight with Jonathan Goldstein on Gimlet. The new third season of Serial makes him so angry because it talks about what happens in the courts in Cleveland and each episode is more upsetting than the other. He also recommends Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, the guy from Queer Eye. These are all highly produced shows, not Merlin’s favorite shows, but shows he thinks she would like.

Merlin listens to all kinds of podcasts, including basically radio shows with music and stuff, but his favorites are those where people just talk to each other, the ones that don’t have an outline. None of Merlin's current shows are as produced and as carefully edited as You Look Nice Today was.

The Waves is a very good podcast with women on The Slate. 99% Invisible is a no-brainer, she would like that. Roman Mars has been very nice to John on the Internet over the years and John would like to meet him. Merlin met him backstage when he was a guest on The Slate Political Gabfest and he was very nice. Merlin was there because John Dickerson is a fan of Merlin’s productivity stuff, he invited Merlin and Merlin did a very poor job. Roman Mars is a truly intelligent, kind, curious and careful man, but Merlin is not saying he is Colonel Kurtz.

"You are damn right this is the end of the river" - ”Good luck to all bands” - ”You are a great man, you are a kind man, I’m a little man!” - ”I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” (The Love Song by J. Alfred Prufrock) That’s me! They ran the gamut! Too many gamuts!

Losing a TV show, Busy Philipps (RL312)

John talked about Busy Philipps in RW110 and RL310.

A long time ago John was standing in the dressing room at some big show. Busy Philipps who used to be on Freaks and Geeks was there as well. John is often in backstage situations where a lot of people with television shows are milling around and he doesn’t want to take up a chair. He doesn’t want to presume that he is worth a chair in those situations and doesn't want to get into a situation where Patton Oswalt walks in and he has to offer him his chair. Instead John will stand in closets and doorways, ready to keep moving and get out of the way, because he doesn’t want to be blocking somebody when they are having a moment.

Busy Philipps was talking to Paget Brewster, Adam Savage walked in, like ”Hey you guys, how is it going?” and the ladies turned to him and talked to him about his show (Mythbusters) going off the air the next day. When you lose a show it hits you so much harder than you think, and they were all having this conversation about how they all lost television shows that had been running for a long time, which is a major life event: You had a TV show that defined your existence for several years and that made you a huge star and then the show is over and what do you do?

These three people were commiserating and the two ladies were trying to comfort Adam. John had been hanging out with Adam quite a bit during that period and Adam was always just like ”It’s great! The show is over and I can’t wait to get on the next thing! It was a long time, it has been a pain in my ass, I'm getting on with it!” but this time Adam was not even registering that John was standing in the doorway and he said ”I just don’t know what to do. I feel lost!” It was a total moment for John to watch this very intense and very emphatic conversation about a universe he could not even comprehend. How would he feel if he lost a show?

John was trying to find a place to be out of the way and he was in the doorway of a closet, hoping that nobody needed this closet any time soon. Busy turned to go back to what she was doing, she saw him and went ”John Roderick?” - ”Hmm?” John didn’t watch Freaks and Geeks, he only saw the Christmas episode (reference to All the great shows where John only saw one Christmas episode of Dan Harmon’s program), and he only knows her because she has an amazing name and seems like a very captivating person. It is not her real name, but she was called Busy by her baby sitter and it stuck. Her daughter’s names are Birdy and Cricket, two of the great little girl’s names. She continued ”Oh my God, I love Pretend to Fall!” and John melted into the floor. She gave just the right amount of praise for a moment or two and named some songs and she was clearly not All the great shows-ing him.

John knew Paget from Thrilling Adventure Hour and all of a sudden he didn’t necessary feel like he belonged in the room where he was. He didn't feel like ”Oh, boy, back when I lost my TV show, amiright?” but like ”Hello! Yes, Busy Phillips, I am now your acolyte forever, nothing you do will ever be wrong in my eyes, I will delight in the antics of your children on Instagram for life eternal." She has a TV show now and John knows quite a few people John who are writing for it and helping make it, so it feels like a family affair and like one little way in which John is part of all this.

It is a mood show and has a certain mood about it, but it is not for Merlin. John does not want to watch it because he loves her and doesn’t think the show is made for him. He typically doesn’t even watch the things that are explicitly made for him, let alone the things that aren’t made for him at all. He watched Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which was just fine, but there are plenty of people already watching it and they don’t need John to watch it. Merlin thinks it was delightful.

She had Julia Roberts on the show last night and Busy died on the show, or as Marlo says ”she is died”, which is a coinage she had when she was a little girl and John still uses it all the time. He is afraid that she is going to think language is different than what it is. If she is going to visit Merlin’s house she will hear so many of her words and it is going to be so upsetting to her. ”I told you not to say Bastic of Ponadoes!” Breakdast [sic] is the only way to say it! Merlin is for some reason into the Warriors and now he watches basticball [sic]. John cannot watch Basticball, but Merlin ensures him that the shot clock changed the whole game. You have 24 seconds to make a shot between every bastic, everybody’s defense is fucked up and they are now hitting twenty 3-point shots in a game, which is crazy!

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