RL314 - Jews in Duckburg

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

  • John’s daughter watching TV on an airplane (Daughter)
  • Scrooge McDuck (Comics)
  • John at the Macy’s parade, Hoda Kotb (Currents)
  • John’s cousin: Libby Roderick (Family)
  • The Beatles
  • Ken Stringfellow, The Posies (Music)
  • John feeling lonely, his family pressuring him growing up (Depression)

The problem: John’s not anybody’s Saturday Night, referring to an inspirational quote posted by Hoda telling you to be somebody’s Sunday, not Saturday Night. John wants to be someone’s Saturday night although he isn’t.

The show title refers to the question if Scrooge McDuck might be jewish or if there even are jews in Duckburg.

It is going super-good, gym-dandy! Sometimes Merlin doesn’t realize he is tired until he has to talk. He recorded the ads already and he sounded like he is death’s door. He feels good, but coming back from some time away is always a bit jarring. He had a vacation because if one has a child in public schools, one is given a vacation whether one wants one or not, but it was good and they had fun, they saw relatives, they hung out, and they had a week of jubilee. Sometimes you get extra ice-cream or more TV than anybody would like, but it went pretty well.

John asks about the book Charlotte’s Web, which is very sad. It is up there for Merlin with Watership Down or Old Yeller. John just watched Charlotte’s Web and he definitely got a tear a couple of times, some of them just in recognition that he hadn’t seen this movie in 45 years.

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

John’s daughter watching TV on an airplane (RL314)

John’s little girl watched TV on an airplane for 5.5 hours, which is more TV than she has ever consumed in one setting, and she did not tire of it. She hasn’t yet brought this up to John, but her experience is probably going to be ”Wait a minute! There is a lot more TV out there than you let on!” She was running down the list of shows she watched and it is all out there. Merlin’s family had the full television-morning on Thanksgiving-day and they watched the really terrible Macy’s parade and the very good dog show. Merlin has never seen This Is Us.

John’s daughter only recently, or maybe not even now, fully understood what television is. The airplane had a list of shows at 8pm and a different set of shows at 8:30pm. She wanted to watch a certain one which was at 9pm. She is a Tralfamadorian, like in Slaughterhouse-Five, running all the Earthlings who feel like they are strapped to a train car looking through a tube, like "OMG, you have to wait until 8:30pm for Dog with a Blog?"

Hours later she would ask ”Which one of these can I watch again?”, looking at the TV guide, and it was only the ones in the far-left column because that is where we are now in time. She did bounce around and there were some weird ones like a Scrooge McDuck that was some kind of CGI digital Donald Duck. They looked like the guys in the ”We got to move these refrigerators”, which was a weird uncanny valley.

Scrooge McDuck (RL314)

John gave all his old Scrooge McDuck comics to her daughter. She loves to sit and think about him and she will ask questions about him all the time. He is very compelling but also a very problematic individual, but as a duck he is very successful and he would be in Duck Forbes as one of the top ducks. His politics are probably questionable. Richie Rich is also in that genre of enviable rich person with a silver spoon, but Richie Rich has a heart of gold and he cares, while Scrooge McDuck doesn’t care.

Scrooge McDuck has a whole house just for his treasure. Merlin is not really up to date with him, but he is a miser with a seemingly limitless amount of money. John has never been 100% clear if there are Jews in Duckburg (John just laughed like a 90-year old, it hit him right in his solar plexus, as his dad would say) and he doesn’t think that Scrooge McDuck is a semitic duck, but he seems modeled after Rockefeller. He doesn’t suffer fools and because he is rich he is wise, which is one of the American problems: Because you are rich you are expected to be wise.

John did not know that Scrooge McDuck had a magic dime, the first dime he ever made. He keeps it under a glass case and it generates all of his subsequent earnings. John doesn’t know if this is early McDuck or late McDuck. It seems a bit of a Scrappy Doo dime, something they snuck in later that helps paper over the details how he acquired all his treasure. It is not clear how he made his money until you learn that he has a magic dime.

John at the Macy’s parade, Hoda Kotb (RL314)

John and his family attended the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade 2018, but they weren’t down on the street in the cold like the regulars. It was 19 degrees (-7 °C) outside and they were upstairs in a high rise watching it go by. John had never seen it or watched it on TV and it was a parade with some big balloons and people driving around in golf carts. The TV version is very edited and with two lady hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb.

Earlier today John was looking at Instagram and his friend Elan Gale, the producer with the plane, was on the Morning in America show (picture) promoting his book ”You are not that special and nobody else is either”, which is an idea John wants to get back to. Elan was like ”Thanks so much to Kathie Lee and Hoda!”, but Hoda sounds like something you shout in a club.

John was wondering what the hell a Hoda was because he had never met her and he went onto her account, wondering which one was her. Her last name is Kotb, which sounds like an acronym or a George Lucas character. She posts inspirational quotes like Remember Why You Started and John replied ”Out of pure fear!” He disagreed with some of her quotes, because: Don’t stay vulnerable, harden yourself off!

Merlin likes to see her and John go head to head Oxford debate style because they could work a lot of things out. John is sure that she would be very appreciative of him because she is professionally appreciative and she is gracious for money. This was the niche that Letterman developed for himself: He just didn’t care. Harvey Pekar didn’t like that a bit and it was some of the best television of the 1980s. John watched some David Letterman with Ricky Jay last night. Merlin watched the same thing and both have done a deep-dive on Ricky Jay from time to time.

Merlin was talking about magic on another program and suggested people to watch ”Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay” which he watches every month or so. It was three days later Merlin heard that he passed. They continue to talk about his magic tricks that he never told anybody. Even if you told Merlin every stitch about every single effect, he would still be in awe of his performance, style and presentation.

John only woke up 20 minutes ago and figured out who Hoda was. Now Merlin is referencing her at the parade John was at. She posted ”If you are not losing friends, then you are not growing up”, but then John must be 1000 years old and be the fucking Methuselah of the Internet. ”I keep growing and you keep dying!” He was 969 years old, which sounds like a really fast Porsche. John looks it up and there is only a 959 and a 964, but the 969 is the Turbo that never was, it left the 969 to be on the drawing board, says Karl Ludwigson.

They continue to read some inspirational quotes from Hoda’s Instagram page: ”Forever is composed of Nows” There is a lot to this! It is like standing in a dressing room in an old department store, closing the mirror on yourself and looking into the infinity of now, but the mirrors are advice. ”I’m wearing the smile you gave me!” - ”… and nothing else. I’m on my way over!”- ”One day or day one?” John lives according to one day, every day he tries to make it day one and by late afternoon it has morphed into one day. They continue to collect their own aphorisms for a daily calendar.

”Be someone’s Sunday, not Saturday night!” John only aspires to be people’s Saturday night and let somebody else be the Sunday and wipe the spittle off, but right now John is not anybody’s Saturday night, but he is a couple of people’s Sunday morning. ”If she doesn’t text you when she is drunk, you ain’t the one!” John is going through a phase when nobody is texting him when they are drunk. Like telemarketing calls, they seem to come in waves. Merlin continues to read quotes from Hoda’s Instagram.

”It all comes down to the last person you think of at night, that is where your heart is” John strongly disagrees, because the last person he thinks of every night is always Dick Cheney, and for Merlin it is Catwoman. (both John and Merlin absolutely lose it)

Something that John’s lady relatives tell him is ”Don’t think! You think too much! Don’t think your way out of this”, but it is all John can do. John can’t fucking emotion his way out of those things, what the fuck are you talking about?

John’s cousin: Libby Roderick (RL314)

Yesterday John’s cousin Libby was in town. She and John’s sister like to live by aphorism and the two of them together usually get into an aphoristic storm like a wizard battle, but they are not fighting, they are just reinforcing one another. Libby just turned 60 and she got a decade or more on them in terms of aphoristic accumulation and has done a lot of work on herself. She is a person in John’s family who is a little bit of a reality check in the sense that it is easy within John’s family to feel like you must be freaking bananas, because some of the stuff just can’t be real.

Libby is a folk singer and also an academic and she has recorded many records under her name Libby Roderick (there is some info about John's uncle Jack on her Wikipedia page!). She never had to fight with the Ingles Waldau family like John did (???) and didn’t have to copyright her name Libby Roderick because it is right on the label label label.

Libby was saying that everybody in their family was super-broken because it is a super-broken family, but you can put some of the reasons down on paper. Both Libby and John’s sister believe that trauma has lasting effects, and they talked about the effects of alcoholism and abuse and all this stuff being a component of somebody becoming an adult with problems. John’s sister is right now really exploring the angle if this is something encoded in us and if this goes back to a time.

Libby says that you can tie this to World War I and the experiences there, or to whales or other real things that hurt somebody in recent memory. Susan is influenced by her mom who will say that 600 years ago her father’s family lived in a manor while her people were down working the earth and that is why they were attracted to one another and that is why their dynamic is like it is. John spent a lot of time in the middle being kind of a Hoda, happily agreeing with everybody hoping that there will be some pause at some point where he can get some more Pumpkin Pie.

At one point Libby said that it is important for us to just tell ourselves and each other that we are just normal people. We are just regular people who are just normal. Susan refused to accept that and they both looked at John. One of John’s family’s primary problems is that they do not think that they are normal people which Libby agreed with. John mentioned alcohol and abuse, but he glided right past ambition and also a feeling of manifest destiny and responsibility.

Libby wanted John to say together with her that they are just regular people and Susan was like ”Can you get onboard with this?” - ”Absolutely not! It is preposterous!” As they were driving along John was thinking about Elan Gale’s book ”You are not that special and neither is anyone else” and was asking himself how hard it would be to say that every morning and if it would be helpful.

Libby was saying that if you are saying it as a mantra, it will gradually relieve you of all the pressure and responsibility you feel to do something exceptional, that feeling that you are failing every day to do something important. Instead you are just a regular person and you are doing fine. They dropped Libby off at the airport and Susan and John were driving home and John told her that he cannot say that every day, but she asked ”What if you did it anyway?”, but she cannot say it every day either. That is where they are now. Libby has given them some thing to chew on that goes against everything they were taught, everything that was said to them from the day they were born until their dad died when John was 40. The parts of John that know what she was saying is true have to deal with his entire emotional education.

The Beatles (RL314)

Merlin and his daughter were listening to The Beatles this morning and they went on a deep dive. She learned all about Liverpool and how they have two mayors, she learned about shipping and she was looking at who the wealthiest musicians are. Paul McCartney and Sir Andrew are up there. The paradoxical thing is that the one who makes the money is the writer, which is why Andy Partridge is in a different boat than his other XTC:ers, because he has the publishing. This still matters today.

Like a dingus, Merlin bought the White Album 50th anniversary edition to have a hard-copy of it. It is beautiful and comes with a poster and some photos, but John doesn’t like the photos, because the photo of John Lennon is of John’s least favorite John. His most favorite John is right after Sgt. Pepper when he had the mustache, followed right by the Magical Mystery tour era when he was totally whacked out before he became the gawked out John. John doesn’t like the photos of Paul either, but George looks amazing. His favorite George is denim-George, sitting on a lawn chair George. He started wearing big hats and he would rock a Jean-Jean, like Ken Stringfellow.

Ken Stringfellow, The Posies (RL314)

Ken Stringfellow is the only person left in the world who is still wearing a chain wallet. Maybe he keeps fresh dirt in there in case he needs to sleep in a strange coffin. ”I’m going to retire from the money. Tomorrow I’m in the big star. Awaken me at 4:57pm. Bleeeh! I love to count. R.E.M.”

One time John asked Ken how it was like during the Grunge years. When the Grunge thing was starting and Seattle was blowing up, The Posies were as big a band as anybody. When John moved to Seattle there was Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, or The Posies, which made the scene very diverse. In 1992/93 all these other bands from the scene were selling platinum records and the Posies were burbling along down at the 300.000 level. They were on the DGC label at that point (Merlin said DGM), but the album Failure (Merlin said Dear 23) was on something else (PopLlama). They also got a little harder and the hardest stuff was Flavor of the Month, which was still totally a pop song. On the picture on their first record they both looked like Robert Smith from the Cure and they would each try to sing higher than the other.

When John asked that question, Ken got very defensive and asked what John meant, because they were as big a band as any band in the world, but John doesn’t think that is born out by the time or even now. They were in the bubble of being on tour playing massive sold-out shows and it was crazy everywhere they went, but Perl Jam by contrast was playing for 20.000 people in the Czech Republic. Ken refused to accept that The Posies weren’t one of the biggest Grunge bands and John feels like the chain wallet is a component of Ken having still been living in a bubble the entire time. John tried to intrude into it at one point and said ”Carry your own god-damn suitcase!” and he did it, but only because he thought it was humorous.

John feeling lonely, his family pressuring him growing up (RL314)

John never felt so lonely! Last night he was feeling super-lonely, because he took his cousin to the airport and his sister to her car and he was driving home with this ”we are just regular people” thing resonating in his head. Libby is one of the few people who actually saw John growing up and she said that she had so much sympathy for him because everybody around him was ”You are the boy wonder, you are the most amazing kid who ever lived!” and then they would punch him in the gut over and over.

They would pay him huge compliments and then whack him. Libby said it was awful because they would just gather around him, lift him up on their shoulders, ”Look at our beautiful boy” and then they would pinch him because he had failed to smile big enough or failed to solve the math problem. John is very appreciative of that insight because there weren’t that many witnesses outside of the family and there is not a sense where a lot of it came from. It is nice to be witnessed, John didn’t know that, but it is true and he would never have figured that out himself! There was not a feeling of ”We are all in this together and I am here for you no matter what” in John's family, but it was much more like ”Get out there and do it and bring back wealth and accolades to us or you will be punished in a way that you will not be able to interpret for decades”

When John came back and was sitting on his couch, his sister actually texted him and asked him if he was okay, because it was not just the ”We are all just regular people!”, but it was a whole data dump. Libby was there in Alaska in the 1970s when people were putting out cigarettes on each other. Susan asked ”Are you alright?” and John sent back ”XOXO”, which is a way of saying ”Fine, whatever! LOL! Fuck off!”

John was sitting on his couch telling himself ”You are just regular people!” and then ”Shut the fuck up!” He actually wrote a little song and it had been a long time since he had been motivated to work on a song just to shut everybody up. Anger is a thing that comes out of John that is scary to other people and it seems like a big motivator, but he is not really angry as much as he is super-sad, disappointed and injured. He wrote this song to put something over here.

In a lot of those situations John doesn’t have anybody to call (see RW93) and he is not complaining because he has designed his life around not having anybody to call. Most of his closest friends are like ”Doing good? Great! Call me when you are feeling better!” and John is fine with that, but there are moments like last night. A lot of times being somebody’s drunk Saturday night call is enough because somebody was thinking about him the right way, but John doesn’t have anybody to call in these moments.

He picked up the guitar, which had always been his thing in moments like that, but he hadn’t done it in a long time. It was the thing about Kurt Cobain that John admired so much: There was an element in his music that was him as a six year old unfiltered. If a six year old could write music, some of his songs would feel like that. John admired it and tried to write songs like that for a while, but he couldn’t do it. John Lennon harnessed that in a way that was sometimes disturbing, but he was very in touch with that raw broken childhood feeling. Lennon was super-mad while Cobain felt a little bit betrayed, but also that he didn’t deserve any better. For John it was a component of becoming a loner: Every time somebody came into his room they were like ”You know what kid, I love you, and you are fucking up!” Maybe if nobody came into the room it would be better?

Merlin gets angry when there is disruption to the fake world of comfort he has created in his own mind. It is not anything he chooses to produce, but if he is living in his rickety 7-sided lighthouse made of dreams, some little world of his own design and he has beaten back all the daemon dogs from the lighthouse, if that gets disrupted it will come out as anger. It is a form of lonerism.

Outro (RL314)

There are T-shirts available. Merlin loves it when he sees somebody coming through the rye wearing a Roderick on the Line shirt! He looks at the person and says ”Handsome!” John winks at them and they say either All the great shows or that they have a small backpack, which is an OG that goes way back, or they do the universal greeting from their world, which is ”Mr. Roderick!” with their hand out.

What John loves most is if people wear Roderick on the Line shirts to shows played by John’s friends, like ”Hello Mr Hodgman”, wearing a Roderick on the Line shirt, because then John hears about it both in an appreciative way and also a slightly begrudging way. John recommends to get a size small so they are tight and look good. "Get them a little tight and text John on Saturday night!"

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