RL313 - Man on the Boat

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

  • Possible future Omnibus topics (Podcasting)
  • People pooping on escalators in San Francisco (Geography)
  • When John spent the night in an elevator (Early Days)
  • Being adventurous and having the travel bug (Early Days)
  • John’s first bands Truly Awful Band and Chautauqua (Career)
  • Getting a degree to satisfy others (Early Days)
  • The Cotillion club (Early Days)
  • Going across America (Early Days)
  • Returning home during college, wishing John cool scars (Early Days)
  • Biofeedback, Merlin has a high heart rate (Merlin Mann)
  • Playing with Alexa at a dinner party (Technology)
  • John buying an Apple Watch as a gift (Technology)
  • Somebody sending John private videos of music playing (Currents)

The problem: John was so dragging, referring to the one time when John slept in an elevator in Portland and he was wandering around dragging because he was so tired.

The show title refers to somebody having a really urgent need to defecate.

Merlin has already recorded another show before this one, which is not his regular schedule. It is the crazy season and it is like a child’s tile puzzle: You can’t just move the ”2”, but you got ”1”-”15” and only one blank spot. Scheduling is hard!

The other night Merlin’s wife took a shower before bed and collected her hair into a bun. For some reason Merlin said ”Maddie’s got a bun” in a singing voice and now they can’t stop doing it. He hopes she will not stop wearing her hair in a bun as a result of that because ”she looks like a lady”.

The other day Merlin heard an anecdote on the radio from the 1980s. Tyler and Perry were sitting in a bar and a song came on the radio and Tyler said ”This song is very good, we should cover this!” and Perry said ”You fucking idiot, this is our song!”, because of the cocaine.

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

Possible future Omnibus topics (RL313)

John has talked to Ken about Korean Fan Death, but they have not recorded it yet. Back in 2013 he wrote a thing about Korean Fan Death here.

Merlin hadn't even realized they had one of Ken's books, but his daughter apparently likes it. Ken has written a series of books for children, he writes little columns, and he might have had something in Parade Magazine, maybe he is the new Marilyn vos Savant! He likes quizzes and games and stuff, but he is not the one to ask what to do about your neighbor.

Every time John is hesitant to chose a topic, Ken will always tell him that they will end up doing them all and they can just do it now, an attitude that comes from writing a column in a newspaper for however long. Merlin does the same thing with his show with John Siracusa: They have a Google Doc with maybe 20 things they will eventually get to and almost every week something else will make it to the top, but it is comforting to know that there is always more there and you can always go back to the well.

John just pulled up his list for future Omnibus topics:

  • Korean fan death
  • Benjamin Franklin’s farts
  • Walter Winchell
  • Naked Came the Stranger (book)
  • Yngwie Malmsteen
  • Trucker culture
  • Mike the Headless Chicken
  • Japanese WWII holdouts
  • Ramjets versus scramjets
  • History of the escalator

John reads those every week, but feels unsure about them every time. He got a big file card on Japanese who are still fighting World War II, but he didn’t have much on the history of the escalator although he is certainly curious about it. There used to be wood escalators and escalator fires used to be a problem down in the London tube.

People pooping on escalators in San Francisco (RL313)

Merlin suggests to add ”Bart Escalator Poop” to John's list of future Omnibus topics because escalators in MUNI/BART stations are suffering from the unusual mechanical problem that people keep pooping on them they don’t work so well after that. Fancy San Francisco! How does one even poop on an escalator? You certainly don’t get a chance to luxuriate. An average escalator ride down to the subway is 15-30 seconds tops. Maybe you got a man on the boat, a situation with a little turle down there, or you could have something come up when you weren’t prepared, but will that come up so often that it becomes an actual problem in escalators?

There is no place to go to the bathroom down in a BART station and there is hardly a place to throw out trash because of 9/11. After 9/11 they closed pretty much every public restroom in MUNI and BART and people go in the elevators, too. It is rough! It is very difficult for a person to find a place to go to the bathroom.

When Merlin's daughter was probably 3 years old he would bring her into the men’s room at their local library to do her business. One time the one stall was occupied, which was not a problem because they can wait a couple of minutes, but it took really long until a man finally walked out. Merlin gave him the face and they promptly went in. Not only had the guy left his eschewance in the toilet but he had also taken every single available roll of toilet paper and put it into the toilet. There was some possibility that he arrived with it in that situation, but it seemed to Merlin that this guy had dropped a duke and then put every single roll of toilet paper into the toilet, leaving quite a situation. He was just calmly walking out the door because he was done. Merlin told the desk guy about it and by the face and the noise of it he was telling Merlin ”Oh, it’s that guy!” because he came in regularly and ruined the bathroom.

At the Publix right near where Merlin lived in Sarasota, Florida they had a character that people called the phantom pooper who went into the ladies' room and ruined it, which is something people do. Merlin has seen people deliberately ruining bathrooms, maybe it is a cultural thing? The assistant manager theorized that somebody was standing astride on the toilet seat with their drawers down and doing a hoola-dance in a slow counter-clockwise motion, it was the only way he could make any sense of what was happening in the bathroom and how widespread the splatter pattern was. That person would go in regularly and ruin the ladies at the Publix 41.

When John spent the night in an elevator (RL313)

One time when John was 17 years old he was wandering around Portland Oregon. He had spent the night in River Front Park a couple of times but he decided that there was too much unsafe activity going on around him and he didn’t want to be there anymore. There was a lot of drugging and sexing happening while he was just another warm body trying to sleep.

He was dragging because he was so tired and worn and he needed a place to crash. He headed up the hills behind Portland and, like in a lot of towns like Los Angeles or San Francisco, as you go up the hills the houses get nice and looming. There are some mansions up above the city of Portland and even people who live in Portland for 20 years don’t know about them because you are always oriented to cross the river and go hither and yon.

John was wandering around up there and because he has a tendency to day-dream he was thinking that if he shuffled past this mansion, maybe some mom will come to put the trash out, see him and say ”Oh, young man, you seem so bedraggled! Come in and I’ll make you some soup. You can sleep in my son’s room, he is gone off to the Navy” John was probably misjudging how much compassion rich people have for people shuffling through their alleys carrying a bag. John was exhausted and was just going to fall down and sleep, but by trying to get away from the public park he had come to an area with no public parks because everyone there was living in their own private park. There wasn’t anywhere to lie down except in someone’s yard and that was a bad plan.

Eventually John came out to a main drag and saw a very nice apartment building with a garage. He walked in there, but it was brightly lit with cold concrete floors and there was nowhere to sleep. He pushed the up-button on the elevator because if he was going to sleep on the concrete in a garage he wanted to go up to the top and find a little dark corner. It was the 1980s and you didn’t need a key card on the elevator, it wasn’t locked at night and John was part of what caused the 1980s turn into the 1990s.

It was warm in the elevator, the floor was carpeted, and about halfway up he had the idea to pull the Stop button. There was no bell or anything but the elevator just stopped. John waited for something to happen, nothing happened and so he took his sleeping bag out of his little bag, laid it on the floor and went to sleep. Nobody was using the parking garage because they were all in their nice apartment beds.

John woke up in the morning to the sound of someone walking on the roof of the elevator, presumably the elevator repair man. Now John was really embarrassed because he had inconvenienced everybody so much that they had sent an elevator repair man who now was on the roof. John threw his stuff into his bag very hurriedly and the repair man could hear him, but he had not opened the trap door yet. John was waiting for the roof to open and some guy starting to yell at him, but he could hear John rustling and feel the elevator shaking and he said ”Hey! What is going on?” In a rush John pushed the on-button and the elevator started to move down.

John was waiting for the doors to open and was expecting the streets to be full of police and paramedics, but as the door opened there was no-one there, not even the truck from the elevator repair man and he just walked out of the elevator like a normal person on a nice sunny day. He could hear the guy shouting at him but he just joined the human throng.

John always remembers that elevator and he is grateful for what it did for him. He has since gone back to visit it, but the configuration of the whole operation had changed along the line and he could not find that specific elevator anymore. Either he had precipitated a situation of ”No more elevators!” or he was so tired that he went further into the complex than he remembered, but he was sure that the elevator door was right there.

That was the trip when John entered Oregon and immediately pitched his tent on the garbage dump (see RL25). At that age the adventures just kept coming by the hour. John probably could do a very long episode of this show for every single day of that year. He walked out of that elevator and down into the streets of Portland. John could just keep going to talk about that miserable day!

Being adventurous and having the travel bug (RL313)

Merlin wants to hear all about John's adventures because he never did things like that. He would drive to Gainesville for a couple of days and he would buy some records in Tampa, but he never found himself sleeping in an elevator, it is one of the handful of ways Merlin and John are different. Once Merlin wrecked a car and had to sleep at a stranger’s house.

John struggled a lot with his parents’ expectations. He was also in a group of friends who all thought about what college you went to and that really mattered, things like what role you played and what station you occupied in middle class society when you got out of college. Nobody in John’s group fantasized about going around the world or living in Thailand for a year, there wasn’t any of that, partly because that wasn’t a thing at the time. It certainly is a thing now. John was the only one who was interested in traveling. Any traveling that any of his 10 friends in High School have done has either been in the context of work or when they got established they took some family vacation.

John has talked about Peter Nosak on this program before. Peter had a travel bug and traveled extensively all around the world, but he remained in Anchorage. There were some people in Anchorage who also did that, for example their friend Scheffer traveled all around the world, but none of John’s friends from East High School did. John’s best friend Kevin wanted to do extensive traveling and you could tell about him that he understood it was a good thing to have and it was part of how you build yourself into an interesting person, but he also felt very strongly that he needed to achieve the achievement and hit the numbers on what was expected. He was the guitar player in John’s band The Bun Family Players.

John’s first bands Truly Awful Band and Chautauqua (RL313)

John’s first band was The Truly Awful Band with Rick Garnett as the guitar player (see picture of the band here, or tweet). John's best friend Kevin was a fan, but not because they were good. Musically they were terrible and they only ever played three gigs, one of them at Rick’s sister’s 8th birthday party, but their friends loved that they had a band.

Rick and John drew album covers in class all day and passed pieces of paper back and forth with the band logo or associated merch, they had the whole thing sketched out. Kevin and Eric also started to draw Truly Awful Band artwork and so did many other people who weren’t in the band. They had fans, but none of them had really ever heard them play, but they were white stallions. Kevin learned to play guitar partly because he was inspired by the idea of the Truly Awful Band and the degree to which it had a fan base without even having any music.

John’s second band was Chautauqua (see this article). They made a demo tape and sent it to Kevin.

Getting a degree to satisfy others (RL317)

It turned out that Kevin was a better guitar player than any of them. He was very devoted to it, but he didn’t want to drop out of school and become a Rock musician. His vision was that he would go to school and get a Masters degree while also playing Rock ’n’ Roll to have his bases covered. In Seattle John got his eyes opened every single day about how few Grunge Rockers had Masters degrees. Not everybody is a Dr. Brian May, and Dexter Holland of The Offspring or the guy from Bad Religion.

Kevin wasn’t trying to get a PhD in Astrophysics, but he was getting a Masters degree in conflict resolution from the University of Hawaii. Like John he was pulled between these two worlds, but he believed in himself that he was going to be able to get all of the brass rings: He was going to satisfy his parents and his culture by being educated and it was very much about the accomplishment and not so much about being driven to study something because of a passion in his breast, but more like having a Masters degree because it is something they can never take away.

Merlin remembers that there was certainly some pressure to do something practical, but in reality it was about getting that piece of paper. It is a liberal arts problem: Being a doctor is not about the piece of paper, but about being able to do the doctor stuff, but getting a Masters degree in sociology is just getting a piece of paper and not that you give or care about the topic. John says with almost 100% confidence that there are people listening to this show with a Masters degree in sociology and they are nodding their head in recognition.

After High School John spent a year hitchhiking across the United States and when he came back to Alaska he was the only one of all the kids he knew at any High School who hadn’t gone to college with the exceptions of his friends Kel and Randy who had stayed in Alaska and went into commercial fishing. Those guys weren’t part of the college guys, they were part of the career-center guys.

John had a lot of friends. The fact that he graduated last in his class somehow put him in that top rank because, as Don Shackelford had said, being last was something John worked really hard at for four years.

The Cotillion club (RL313)

When John came back to Alaska the Cotillion Club continued to throw dances for college kids in Anchorage (see RL177). It was organized by parents and John was very decidedly not invited by the parents who made the decision who the bright young lights were to invite, but the other kids mounted a campaign with their own parents that John should be invited. He was not invited for the first dance, though. A new class of the Cotillion Club was initiated every Junior year. It was a formal club where you had ID cards and the members were all the nice boys and girls from the wealthy and upwardly mobile families. It was debutant stuff and a dance club for proper young men and women who were going on to great things in life. Being city-wide it was also meant as an opportunity to get to know the kids from the other schools on the same social level.

The parents definitely and intentionally excluded John from the invite list, but the daughters of the Cotillion Club representatives at East Anchorage High School told them that they had to invite John Roderick. There was some considerable push-backs from the moms and dads because of John's reputation and the idea was that he was not Cotillion caliber. Not because he was not from a good family, but because he was a black sheep and if you invite one black sheep it will infect the other sheep and you will get people gatoring which no parent wants at a Cotillion club, but they didn’t even understand what gatering was. It is an Animal House thing. Those parents didn't want Conga lines, let alone gatering and they didn’t want anybody to drop trow, they didn’t want any of that frat boy 1960s stuff, because the 1980s are going to make the 1960s

Eventually John got a belated and begrudging invitation to the Cotillion club to placate the girls and keep them happy. These were the debutants, and of course their parents were wrapped around their fingers. The reason the debutants wanted John at the thing was probably that they recognized that you do want the black sheep at your party. Every one had seen Animal House and of course you wanted somebody wearing an irreverent tuxedo instead of a proper one, somebody wearing converse High Tops or putting the cummerbund on upside down. It was the same year John had worn the leopard tuxedo (see RL240). Cotillion became a place where they met the kids from around the town that were also all on their way to the show, to law school or to the place.

John is not alien to that culture at all. It is his culture, too, but all it took was for the five parents who ran that group to have a different mentality. Some kids from West High were very much wearing Converse with their Tuxedos, the aforementioned Scheffer Ely and Peter Nosak were both from well-to-do-upwardly-mobile families who were expected to go onto great things and who had a slightly different attitude about whether or not you should be drinking all day. Cotillion club definitely shaped John in a way.

After John got back from his Hitchhiking around he went to a Cotillion and this was precisely why they didn’t want to invite him to a Cotillion three years prior: Not only did he not go to college, but he was long-haired, he was always sweating drugs and he looked like everything they didn’t want their kids to have become and none of their kids had become that. They should have been rejoicing that John was there as an example of what bad things could befall you. John had become a cautionary tale and parents surely pulled their debutants aside and said ”See!”

At the college Cotillion dance with all the kids in Anchorage who were in college and had been Cotillion club members John was actually a fixture of a lot of fascination. People came up and wanted to hear his stories about hopping on freight trains and going all across America. In fact, Scheffer Ely (42:15, probably correct) who went to West High School and who was at the University of Vermont that year told John that if he had known about that he wouldn’t have gone to college, but he would have come with him. John didn’t have a plan and it didn’t occur to him to tell Scheffer, he didn’t set off to do it, but he just accidentally did it.

Hearing that story inspired some of John's friends to think that they didn’t have to go to college next semester. He actually does think that he went to that Cotillion and screwed a couple of people’s lives up. He looked like shit, but he also looked pretty exotic. He had long hair at a time in the mid-1980s, the go-go-1980s, when long hair yet had to become a thing and he looked like shit before looking like shit was a thing. He had a long overcoat from a thrift store in Minneapolis, it might even have been Cashmere, and he was such a fucking kaleidoscope of bad decisions, but that seemed pretty interesting to a room full of 18-year olds.

Going across America (RL313)

Kevin decided that he was also going to go across America as John had done. Those words ”across America” had a lot of weight. It reminds Merlin of that Simon and Garfunkel song. People felt they needed to see as much as they could before everything was changing and going away. There was the feeling that the America we knew, the John Cougar Mellencamp America, was disappearing and once it was gone it was gone, like the old-growth forests. Kevin bought a Ford Aerostar minivan and John was excited for him, but it was also pretty out of character because he was going to get a Masters degree at the same time.

Kevin was going to be a Rock musician, a business person, an educated person, and you can not leave Anchorage with a plan to go across America. John left Anchorage with a plan to I-don’t-know-what, and what happened was what happened. What Kevin and some other people were trying to do was reverse-engineer that and start with a plan. Kevin drove in a giant loop around America, he slept in the minivan, but it felt very much like the Masters degree program of driving across America. In a way it was getting the piece of paper.

For a long time John quietly felt that the middle class adventures a lot of his friends were trying to have were not as good as his version of having middle class adventures, but in the meantime he just realized that every one of these people were doing it the way they could and the way they did. Sleeping in that elevator is an anecdote now 33 years later, but at the time it was terrible and nobody would have chosen it.

John wasted a lot of time in his youth not having a plan while other people just hit the highlights. All the miserable stuff in between the interesting things ended up being the stuff that he learned more from, but it was still awful. He didn’t learn anything by looking at the Saint Louis arch, but by trying to figure out where he was going to sleep that night. That is not something you can plan for.

Returning home during college, wishing John cool scars (RL313)

One of those summers John had a devastating encounter in Anchorage. He went to a party before he was headed off on some future adventure later that fall. He was talking to people about his plan, but they were all going back to college. This was halfway through college and the social lines had started to blur a little bit because with each increasing year the people who were left in Anchorage became a smaller group and you started to hang with others.

Merlin remembers going back home during the very first Thanksgiving after he went to college and he hardly recognized the place. It seemed weird and wilted. High School ending was such a big deal that they had all been building up to. He still saw his home town through the prism of his youth much more than taking it for what it was or what it had become even 10 years later.

Recently somebody told Merlin that the music that sticks with your longest is the music you were into when you were 14. Just because you were halfway through college didn’t mean that the past was settled, and once you are back in this time capsule you are the 14 year old kid again with your family and all of your old friends and some of them have a mustache now for whatever reason.

This particular party was in a house in a neighborhood that would not have had any surprise guests up until that point, but it would have had a very cultivated guest list of kids. John doesn’t think he would have been invited to that party, but he was there in a house with a daughter and a culture that was slightly elevated from any other culture that would have allowed him to go to a party. Even crazier, there was an alternative kid at this party, not visibly alternative, but very noticeably alternative, who came from a different world and who was suffering from depression.

He was definitely not from their school, but he went to the alternative school and everybody knew it. He had some 1980s Punk Rock sarcasm that was not accessible to everyone else at this event. There were a lot of earnest people in the Cotillion club culture and not a ton of really good sarcasm or even humor. This guy had a kind of brokenness. Obviously he and John gravitated toward one another. They had known each other through friends and they stood and talked throughout the party.

Eventually the kid got too drunk, somebody needed to get him home, and John helped him out of the house and into a car. As he got in the backseat of the car, John was like ”Good luck man! See you around!” he said ”Yeah man, have a good time on your trip! I hope you get lots of cool scars!” and then the car drove off and it cut John to the quick. John found it very scathing that the diploma he was looking for would take the form of cool scars and it bugged him because he thought it might be true. John sat and stewed in that comment since 1988. Not only that High School was bad, but John also ended up reprocessing stuff after High School. Who knew?

The people who were driving the kid home were doing it reluctantly. They didn’t like him because he had insulted everybody at the party and they were taking him home just to solve a problem. He was in the back seat and was mean even to the people driving him, but he wasn’t been mean to John because John was the cool person at the party who understood him, he was helping him out, the one guy who got his dark carnival, but then he turned into a disloyal drunk who said ”Hope you get lots of cool scars!”

John had worse insults from better people, but the kid had located John's insecurity and sent an arrow fast and true into the heart of the bullseye. John used to do that a lot and he still possesses the ability to see somebody else’s weakness (see RW130), but he is not accustomed to other people being able to zero in on it like this guy did and put an arrow there that has festered for 30 years.

There are a few of those arrows in John, but most of them are not in the heart of his insecurity, but they are just sticking out of his shoulder like a slightly winged Saint Sebastian. He can still ambulate, he just broke the shaft of the arrow off and kept going, which is such a baller thing to do. John constantly looks back and none of the things he did were planned or intentional, but there was an overarching plan that could be reduced to ”get cool scars”. If John is ever feeling down he gets one of those plastic lemons out of the refrigerator and squeezes lemon juice all over the arrow wounds. Would you like some salt with that, sir? It is tough to reevaluate your life constantly. What if John would start to practice mindfulness?

Biofeedback, Merlin has a high heart rate (RL313)

Merlin is getting into biofeedback, but you need a machine for that and he is aghast that there is not some dumbed down version that you can do with just your phone. It seems like an Apple Watch thing, but to do the full modern biofeedback there is all kinds of stuff. Merlin wants something between the Breathe app and the Heartbeat app, because in the Heartbeat app the screen goes black immediately.

One time in 1987/88 Mike Alexander from the Nurse’s Office, or whatever the wellness clinic was called, offered to try something on Merlin that was super-interesting: Merlin was supposed to sit in front of this machine, look at this red light and figure out how to make it go green. Merlin tried to calm down and watch his breathing and the light turned green. He is not sure if that was exactly biofeedback and although he is very interested in the idea he doesn’t want to go full-on hold and soup can Scientology.

Merlin looked into this just a little bit and it is not easy or inexpensive to do at home, but he would like a little dingus he could hook up a couple of times a day and get better at controlling his physiognomy. It is helpful for people with incontinence issues and it is not utterly dissimilar from any variety of meditation practices. To John it sounds a bit like a mood ring. They continue to talk about biofeeedback and meditation.

Merlin wants to lower his heartbeat at night because he thinks he would sleep better if his heart would not beat as much at night. The app that is best for tracking this is called Sleepwatch. Yesterday Merlin slept 8.7 hours with an estimated heart rate of 79, which is not great because it is only 8% down from his daytime beatof 91. Merlin wants to bring these numbers down. One could say that he is anxious because his brain is doing this and that and he doesn’t disagree, but he is also speculating that one reason might just be that his heart is beating too fast.

John’s numbers sound like Merlin’s numbers. He has set his Apple Watch to alert him if his heart goes over 100 bpm when he is in a resting place, but it never buzzes him, maybe it did once. Maybe Merlin would need an EKG and John wonders when there will be a baseball hat that was full of EKG monitoring, but it is coming to the Apple Watch very soon.

Playing with Alexa at a dinner party (RL313)

There was one Christmas when John’s mom bought every single person an Echo Dot (see RL250). It was amazing, you could just say ”Siri, play Led Zeppelin” and the room would fill with Led Zeppelin. Last night John was at a dinner party and the host asked him to say ”Alexa, play modern jazz in the dining room” and everybody went quiet in expectation. You could hear a pin drop and then Alexa said ”Playing modern jazz in the dining room” and music came on cranking on all the speakers in the house where children were asleep. John said ”Alexa, volume down” and the volume went down for a second and then ”Boom!”: Back on! Eventually the host had to go and turn the volume down manually in different places. John says ”Alexa, who is Merlin Mann?” and Merlin says ”Alexa, stop!”

John buying an Apple Watch as a gift (RL313)

Yesterday John bought another Apple Watch as a gift for a lady friend and as they were working on getting it set up she immediately loved it. She was fiddling with it all night, and asked what was cool with it and what she should download for it, but John honestly was hoping that she would get really into it and find some things for him to download. Merlin recommends ”Just Press Record” which will record anything you say and transcribe it. John only has two people on his Apple Watch Walkie Talkie, one of them is Adam Pranica and one of them is Merlin. He has never walkie-talkied anybody and he isn’t even sure if he knows how. Merlin’s daughter did it the other day when she was at a party just to blast annoying music at him.

Somebody sending John private videos of music playing (RL313)

Some gal in Canada has started to send John private Instagram videos of herself in the dark listening to Sade (The Sweetest Taboo), which is not something John had asked for. She is not visible in the video, she is drunk, she is a loyal listener to the podcast and she said that not very long ago she decided that she would listen to him all day long and that she was going to share some stuff with him while drunk.

John is not 100% sure about all that and at a certain point he became very shy about watching those videos all the way through. She basically just pointed the camera at her JBL speaker and played the music without any commentary from her. In the text portion she said that she was drunk and was probably going to regret this tomorrow. Here was the video she made.

When he got that first one John thought something exciting was going to happen, like ”feeling cute, might delete”, but is she kidding him? John lives for these moments and has an entire hard drive full of this. John is a little concerned about this situation because he wants everybody to do fine. He doesn’t know if she sends those videos to other people as well or if he is her special Sade friend.

New T-Shirts, Outro (RL313)

They were recording this episode on Veterans day of 2018, the 100-year anniversary of the armistice of WWI. They have brand new shirts until December 3rd that they have never made before. They talk about how shipping is very expensive outside the US which they have no control over.

Merlin and John are going to have a bi-week next week and are going to take the week off because John will be in New York City hobbiting around with the Coultons, doing various things, playing the Last Waltz show in Port Chester New York which he does every year, but then they will be back in action on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Happy Turkey Day!

Neil Young’s nose was dripping with cocaine snot in that music video and they had to black it out with a sharpie frame by frame, but there are still some photos out there. He had a pretty good little cocaine boy in there, but John thought it might have just been a bug. They refer to Neil Young at the Last Waltz in 1976. Also Stan Lee died.

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