RL339 - Internal Grace

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

  • Recording early, John setting the wrong alarm (Sleep)
  • Merlin’s daughter not being allowed to make her parents look bad (Merlin Mann)
  • When children beat you with logic (Children)
  • Being prepared for all kinds of situations (Attitude and Opinion)
  • Ordering two milkshakes from Denny’s in the middle of the night (Currents)
  • Killing Eve (Movies)
  • Watching a lot of TV, Game of Thrones (Movies)
  • John visiting a baseball game (Sports)
  • Merlin growing up in Cincinnati (Merlin Mann)
  • People ruining beautiful old houses by adding floors to them (Architecture)
  • John opening a comedy show about wet dreams (Shows and Events)
  • TV shows that could be tighter, flipping between channels (Movies)
  • Merlin no longer flipping through channels, but streaming content (Movies)
  • Doing a deep-dive on the Internet (Internet and Social Media)
  • Merlin eating ice cream with M&Ms (Currents)
  • Getting a good-quality pill-cutter (Currents)

The Problem: They Griswolded the view, referring to ”They Griswold at the view”, when people are building a master suite on the top floor of old houses because they like the view and then they only look at it for 30 seconds once in a while (source).

The show title refers to a virtual secretary role in your head that takes care of the admin.

This episode has been pre-recorded on 2019-05-27, one week prior to release.

It is pretty early! Merlin is very tired and had a lot of ice cream. John wishes Merlin a happy nondenominational day of happiness because he just wants to thank Merlin generally because this episode is supposed to be evergreen. They should just have a nominal day of gratitude!

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

Recording early, John setting the wrong alarm (RL339)

Professor Lupin had a really tough night. Merlin’s family was out of town and he literally overdid everything: The meat, the TV, the pudding course. He had some dad time, he had some pudding course, some drinks, and he probably watched seven hours of TV because he could watch whatever he wanted. Then he had to wake up and so did John. Now Merlin is laboring under a little bit of a yoke of his recent past and some decisions he made.

John set his alarm for the wrong time and as he was luxuriating in his 5th hour of sleep he heard the sweet tones of his daughter running down the hall, talking in a ”Good Morning, Mrs. Torrance!” (from The Shining) style over-done vocal fry to scary monster level, which is her new thing. John taught her to say that without knowing what it means and now that she has really inhabited the character he regrets it.

That Grace person who runs John’s calendar says: ”Can you call Merlin?” - ”You set the alarm for 09:40am, but really you are talking to Merlin at 09:00am!” and it was 08:47am and: ”Here we go!” Another day, up and at ’em! Merlin can’t believe John was on time only 13 minutes later. He must be Iron Man! John is audibly slurping on his coffee. The key is to splash some water on your face and then splash some more water on your face, to do it in stages!

Merlin’s daughter not being allowed to make her parents look bad (RL339)

Whenever his wife is away, even if she only goes out for a run, Merlin strives to have the house be nicer than when she left. It is his National Parks philosophy and he is John Muir of doing a shit job on the dishes. He doesn’t always succeed at it and he is having to fight a certain amount of 11-year-old inertia with ”Can we not have all the art supplies on the floor?” Sometimes he needs to put it in really stark terms and just say: ”You are making me look really bad!”

There are a few reasons why you wear a jacket: It is San Francisco and the weather can change in all kinds of ways. That is what preparedness is for. The coldest winter John’s dad ever spent was a summer in San Francisco (Winston Churchill). Sometimes Merlin has to tell her: ”Look, it just started to rain!” It might get warm, get cool, get warm, a little down and up and down, and Merlin does not let her walk to school in the rain and be pre-cold without a jacket because he wants her to be dry and comfortable.

She is only allowed so much latitude in how her parents are made to look bad! Merlin doesn’t like to put it in those terms, but sometimes this is what it comes down to. She is not allowed to have pinworms or lice. She doesn’t turn in her homework? Bad on her! But if she goes to school in the rain without a jacket when she is fortunate enough to have a jacket? No, she is just not allowed to make her parents look bad.

She takes out literally all of the markers and the sharp knife and then there is cardboard that makes little pellets like a rabbit. Cardboard can be sharp and Merlin has cut lots of fingers on a cardboard. Why is he even revealing this? He is very vulnerable right now! Sometimes he has to tell her that she had been watching a fair amount of TV since she got up and when mom left the house she was still watching TV, so it would be very valuable to both of them if the TV were not still on when mom got back.

When children beat you with logic (RL339)

Sometimes John's daughter employs inescapable logic, like for instance ”I’m not cold and I’m not going to get cold!” which is iron-tight, or ”Why are you guys allowed to have screens now?” or something to the effect of ”You don’t have to quit talking with your mouth full!” - ”I don’t have to do anything, I could fall asleep right here on this table! I could pick up your spaghetti right now and dump it on your head! The only consequence I would feel is that you would still be mad about it years later, but I am willing to bear that consequence. There are no rules in my life, but your life is bound by rules.” There is a huge difference between John talking with a little bit of scabetti [sic] over in the side of his mouth and saying ”Don’t talk with your mouth full!” and her with spaghetti cascading down her face into the pockets of her dress. She is not wrong because John did have some stuff in his mouth.

The logic can be difficult if you fall into that trap, but the child has logic for almost everything. Merlin has tried to play the logic card on his racist grandfather who was a Schreiner and it didn’t go great. John never met either of his grandfathers, except he met one of them when he was an infant. The same is true for Merlin’s daughter and her grandmother. John’s Ohio grandfather was really racist, which is also where Merlin comes from.

Merlin’s grandfather was giving periodic updates on why black people aren’t allowed to be Freemasons. It was logic and it was something Merlin needed to know about, but it is not true anymore. Some of their listeners are masons and every time they mention Masonry they hear from them. Merlin did some masonry in construction class. He built some bricks and he got his golden trial (?). A High School student is never so tall as when he stoops to help a crippled prick (?). Merlin was not in DeMolay, but his mother was a rainbow girl (International Order of Rainbow for Girls).

Being prepared for all kinds of situations (RL339)

Merlin wants to talk about preparedness because he knows John has an interest in that. Everybody wears a backpack in San Francisco because you don’t know if MUNI is not going to happen that day and you might need a poncho. You need to mitigate the problems that you can anticipate, like ”My arms are cold”, which is why you need a light jacket.

Merlin bridged the gap between mid and new San Francisco and can not carry a much smaller backpack than his current one. All of his garments are made out of Alpaca and Peruvian Monkey Silk. They look like normal windbreakers, but they are $700 and are made out of special microfibers that wick away any remorse you might have had. Those comically-small backpacks that look like Micro-Parachutes are very convenient. John insists that all of his daughter’s clothes are made out of wool, leather and Mithril. She has to wear an English pre-World War II Boy Scout backacks [sic], which is why: preparedness! ”Is she into Night’s Watch? Did she take the black? We don’t say that anymore!”

There have been women John was attracted to, but then he didn’t like her footwear because she couldn’t climb a fence. Although this has not been required that often in John’s life, you never know what is going to happen. If they had to chase a cat burglar or two and if your shoes can’t go over a chainlink fence, the cat burglar could get away from you by going over a chainlink fence. It would have been an untidy end of the date.

Some people say that you will become paranoid if you over-prepare for things that are unlikely. John is not a paranoid, but he has always been aware of his perimeter and those who might attempt to cross it. A lot of times in his life he heard something in the house, he got up, put on the sword over the bathrobe and pursued the source of the noise. The one time he didn’t do that John had an actual cat burglar, an actual possum in the form of a tweaker (see The Burglary), a thing that marks you!

Every normal car has 5 full-size tires. When you get a flat you put on the replacement tire and put the flat tire in the trunk, but will you immediately go to the tire tsar in the neighborhood and buy a fresh tire? Do you replace all of them as a responsible person who knows how to rotate? Typically not! Even if you are not thinking about it, some part of your personal Grace is always conscious of the fact that the flat tire is back there and she is not going to sleep as well. If you are inflicted like Merlin, your internal Grace might experience a huge amount of stimulation in the few days after that because you have magical thinking and you say that if one broke, then the other ones won’t break or similar and Merlin’s internal Grace will say: ”Eh, you are good!” and this is the problem!

Merlin stopped saying: ”I told you so!” because it is not surpassingly useful if the child just fucked up and is at a very vulnerable moment. They spent their whole lives trying to notice ways to not spill milk on things and they are ready for this on the kitchen table, but let’s not spill milk on the pretty new couch too. Merlin spent his whole life trying to avoid the spilling of things onto the other things, but when it does happen he gets Eye-of-the-Tiger, he gets super-calm, while the child is very emotional. He says: ”You know what? These things happen!” Merlin got a new Internet couch, you put it together yourself and it is pretty good. It is hard to buy a couch.

Ordering two milkshakes from Denny’s in the middle of the night (RL339)

John's family is trying to follow a diet plan that doesn’t just involve eating skibetti [sic] and milk shakes every day, but later last night John’s daughter’s mother was looking at her phone, he was looking at his phone, and she said she just did a crazy thing: She had Postmates deliver them two milkshakes from Denny’s. John agreed that it was insane and he immediately forgot about it and didn’t take it seriously until a half hour later the door bell rang and a guy was standing there in the middle of the night, holding two milkshakes in big cups that said Denny’s.

They looked at each other and John said ”This is ridiculous!” - ”Yeah man, but chocolate and peanut butter is my favorite, too!” - ”Chocolate and peanut butter? What are you even talking about?” He handed John two milkshakes and John went back into the house, dumbfounded that at 11:30pm a random stranger could hand you two giant milkshakes. John’s daughter’s mother asked: ”Which one is mine?” - ”What do you mean?” - ”One of them is chocolate peanut butter” - ”The delivery guy knew that one of these was chocolate peanut butter! What kind of conversation did he have with the people at Denny’s?”

Killing Eve (RL339)

Last night John was introduced to a new episodic television program. He was sat down and he was told that he was going to watch the TV, which happens sometimes: ”We are watching a new TV show tonight!” - ”What? Who?” - ”You don’t get a choice!” and so John sat down and this TV show called Killing Eve came on. It came apparent that there were 4 or 5 strong female leads and John didn’t understand what kind of sorcery this was, but it turned out to be really good television program.

His daughter's mother told him that the lead actress was the famous actor from Grey’s Anatomy, a show John never saw. Then she listed 3 or 4 media properties that John had not seen and she tried to triangulate to it. John does like a little backstory and be filled in on who is who and what is what. It also has Mrs. Weasley from Harry Potter in it, but John has never seen those movies. She is the lady super-boss. In Season 2 there will also be the Quidditch teacher from the first movie.

Everybody has basically been in all of Harry Potter and Dr. Who. His daughter's mother was trying to get John to know who the people were by talking about the media properties that people who had worked with them were on, like: "She was on a show with the guy who was in this other movie John never saw". You swing from one vine to the next! Merlin agrees that Killing Eve is a good choice. He recommends Patriot that John and his daughter’s mother already watched and Russian Doll with Harry Nilsson.

Patrick Dempsey is not the fellow with the face from Killing Eve, but he was in Grey’s Anatomy. John was being guided to understand who the actress that he was watching on the show was by being told that Patrick Dempsey was once in some other thing, but his daughter's mother was just showing off by naming names that John knows from magazines he read in dentist’s offices in the 1990s / 2000s. It is not Patrick Duffy, although Merlin thought that for a second.

Watching a lot of TV, Game of Thrones (RL339)

Merlin’s family was out of town and he watched TV for seven hours. It feels great because Merlin wants to watch the TV he wants to watch. He doesn’t permit a family binge of a program he does not like. They had been binging 30 Rock and just finished the entire run of that series. John agrees that it is a good show. John is wondering if all Merlin watched was TV shows or if all three Godfather movies were in there as well.

Merlin is continuing his rewatch of Game of Thrones from the start. During the second part of his watchings he was really getting into the ice cream. He watched 3 or 4 episodes from the end of season 3 and the beginning of season 4 which he has on Bluray and it looks really good. It is a very good program! Merlin doesn’t have a bespoke Bluray player, but he uses his Playstation video game system that is excruciating to use. A Bluray is like a Super-DVD. Game of Thrones is still holding together on second watch, it is really incredible!

They continue talking about Game of Thrones and Merlin says that it was one show for the first six seasons and a different shows for the two mini seasons because travel stopped mattering and the ravens did all the heavy lifting. Merlin has covered this in an episode of Reconcilable Differences (Episode 105). Many weeks ago the show concluded and there are a lot of hot takes. Merlin didn’t hate it, but he felt a bit narratively cockblocked. He didn’t have to post about it, though because you don’t need to post!

A lot of that last season of Game of Thrones was: Who is this? There were so many important callbacks and you don’t get to joke how Brienne is constantly asked if she is a knight. The Pod (Podrick Payne) says: ”You can’t be a squire because I’m not a knight!” You are not the assistant regional manager, but you are the assistant to the regional manager.

Merlin’s also finally dipped into a show that has come highly recommended from a bunch of people and John should check it out: Chernobyl on HBO. Imagine Das Boot except it is about Nuclear Power in the Soviet Union plus corruption. It got the English guy from Mad Men (Jared Harris) and Dr. Selvig from the Avengers movie (Stellan Skarsgård), and now Merlin is doing this thing to John that John's daughter's mother is doing to him! Merlin has watched all three current episodes back to back while he was eating the steak that would later undo him. It is awfully well done!

John visiting a baseball game (RL339)

Later today John is going to the baseball game with friend of the show Jason Finn (see picture) He got yelled at by some people for supporting their own hometown baseball team because the feeling among some of John’s friends is that their baseball team should be punished. They feel very strongly about sports and when their baseball team betrays them enough times it becomes their worst enemy.

John told another friend of the show who John has been to 100 baseball games with that he was going to the baseball game with Jason and their reply was ”Why?” - ”Why? It is America’s pastime, it is one of the things we do!” This isn’t the friend which frenched the bird (see RL21) or the former superfan, but this is the lead singer and guitarist of an enormously popular band who used to be very into the local sports team and now they feel betrayed. This is the thing about sports people that John doesn’t fully understand: You take your team's defeats personally to the point that you are embittered, like: ”Oh, hey, I’m going over to a dinner party at your ex-girlfriend’s house” and they would say ”Why?” because she is the worst.

Merlin says that one of the myriad reasons why he has so little interest in the behind-the-scenes stuff is that there is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff with their local sports team and no shade, no lemonade against anybody’s feelings, but although Kevin Durant is probably going to the Knicks (or not) Merlin still likes watching basketball. ”Barry Bonds is chosen (?). He got the cold and the cream and the cream and the swamp. He got the lime and the coconut!”

(some music)

Merlin growing up in Cincinnati (RL339)

Merlin grew up with The Big Red Machine (the Cincinnati Reds baseball team) in his prime childhood baseball years during 1975/76. There was Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion, Ken Griffey, George Foster, and Sparky Anderson. It was some great fucking baseball and they were all terrific! The Pete Rose (betrayal years) were much later (in 1989). It is like growing up with the (New York) Yankees: It is easy to like that team, but you are always an underdog if you root for Cincinnati anything because Cincinnati is always punching above its weight. It is rough!

Merlin’s grandmother would say that in a place like the one where John’s mom comes from there is a humbleness, not just humblebragging, but genuinely: ”We are hill people here!”, while Cincinnati on the other side puts on airs and is like The Surrey with the Fringe on Top: ”Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry!” because it is right between Indiana and Kentucky. You are the Demon Spawn, the Cincinnati snow or Cincinnati sand, depending on where you come from. It is a bastard town, but it thinks it is fancy because it is different than the rest of Ohio. Ohio is a big state and when Merlin was a kid it was solidly a working class union state where they made the tires. It is like the Luxembourg of Ohio.

People ruining beautiful old houses by adding floors to them (RL339)

When you are buying a house you should buy the house you can afford in the nicest neighborhood and not the fanciest house in the neighborhood that is falling down. John learned that lesson the hard way. Merlin is not sure which category Cincinnati is in, but it is not the good one. It is like the house where somebody got a bonus and put a hastily erected second floor on top. In Florida there are no zoning laws and they will just let you put a house on your house, like a child using LEGOs irresponsibly.

This was very popular to do in Seattle, but at great expense. Why would you make it look consistent with the previous house and with the rest of the neighborhood? You probably want it to be nicer than the one below and maybe even heavier, and people did this even in nice neighborhoods with beautiful four square homes, these nice neo-colonial three-story homes with beautiful big dormers up on the top floor, a mix of Greek and Colonial, something involving columns, which was meant to be the signifier of fanciness to new money in the 1980s. You can picture the upstairs room with light flooding in and all that architectural interestingness up there.

In the 1980s it was popular that a young urban professional couple might buy these 1898 houses because for whatever reason they wanted an 1898 house, but they also wanted to take everything out of it and replace it with things from the 1980s. They wanted to take the load-bearing columns out and put some non-load-bearing columns in and they wanted to take out the interior walls and replace them with glass bricks, all this kind of thing.

They often felt like the dormers on the top floor didn’t provide enough headroom. Maybe they built a handball court up there, but often they also sensed that there was a view available to them from those windows and they needed to have that view. They would blow out the dormers and put giant elephant ear dormers instead and John still can’t understand how a person can look at a beautiful home, think to themselves that they could improve on this, and then build a thing on top of a thing!

They are starting with a gracious home and they think it would be great to put huge Dumbo ears on it. They never go up there and they don’t care about the view, even though there is a view. All they do is stand at the window. Merlin has family members who did a tricked-out second floor to make a totally huge master suite with two closets, but if you have a big house like that and you put a master suite in there, why would you climb three flights of stairs? What kind of Richard Simmons life are you living? Take out the dining room and put the master suite right there!

Once in a while they will walk over, open the curtains, Griswold at the view for 30 seconds, but as you drive down the street you wonder what they did and who did it. Every once in a while John will stop and take a picture of one of these houses where someone took a house from 1898 and thought they could improve on it, but they didn't know about scale and proportion because they never took an art history class. Merlin can’t even come up with a good analogy for this!

These houses have an internal consistency, a practical and aesthetic internal logic, and there are so many ways you can fuck that up. If you have the dough to do this, you probably have the ambitions to look a little bit fancy. Just go Downtown and do something or find an abandoned lot, one of those old motels! Capitol Hill still has a lot of those pretty old houses, although they tore down John’s grandmother’s house and built some kind of old-folks home there.

John used the term young urban professionals, which used to be a thing they would say in an abbreviated format called ”double income no kids”: DINKs, which sounds like ”Thank you for your service!” There is a reason they are not allowed in the Freemasons! They are just fucking normies with money who can fuck up a wet dream. They get a house that they could afford theoretically, but then they put another house on it, which is emblematic of a lot of gross things.

John opening a comedy show about wet dreams (RL339)

A couple of days ago John went to a comedy show, which is not a thing he usually does, but he went because one of the comedians, an old friend and stand-up comic who was making a live album, asked John to perform and be the voice of God. John agreed to do that, but as he got there he was asked to do 10 or 15 minutes before another comedian was supposed to do 10 or 15 minutes until John's friend would do his show, meaning John was supposed to be the opening comedian, which is a very unusual way to frame that. John just insulted the audience for 10 minutes and the guy did a whole bit on wet dreams, on nocturnal emissions.

The guy was talking about wet dreams as a thing that he had a lot, but at some point in his life he stopped having them although he was enjoying them. Neither John nor Merlin ever had a single wet dream in their entire life. Merlin must have arrived just a couple of days before they would have started and he was able to dig the trench on his own. Is it a Snipe Hunting thing to trick the new guys? What if it is not a thing? There are guys who have masturbating socks and in 1950s movies some people were cutting holes in the bottom of popcorn barrels. John never wanted any of that!

Merlin has never been to Nicaragua, but he assumes it does exist. John has to assume that nobody would make wet dreams up just to gaslight them, but Merlin is not sure about that. It has always been very confusing to John and for a long time he was waiting for it to happen. Merlin can’t tell which one he is supposed to feel more guilty about: Is he supposed to feel guilty for not having had a wet dream because he is an onanist of old? It seems like a Snipe Hunting type situation: ”Here is your special bag, go find the snipe!” They say that and then they look at you and if you say: ”Oh, I never had one” - ”Masturbator!” You don’t have the stones to say: ”Not only do I not masturbate, but because I am sciencey I know that wet dreams are a myth!” Maybe they could do a Mythbusters on wet dreams?

TV shows that could be tighter, flipping between channels (RL339)

There is Mythbusters for kids now and Adam Savage just turns on his money printing machine and fills his house with money. Merlin likes that guy a lot, but he thinks the show suffers from the cable TV problem of ”This could be a lot tighter!” They do recaps before the commercials and directly after and the Asian fellow and the enthusiastic lady get very excited about shooting the gun at the Whirligig.

R. Lee Ermey once had a show where he was just shooting different guns (called Lock n’ Load with R. Lee Ermery in 2009). John was intrigued by a show where he would come on and fire some civil war musket and yell at him for half an hour, but that is the premise of a five minute show. Here is a gun, here is where it is from, now watch! That might be better as a YouTube episode!

They had to stretch it out to make it half an hour long with a lot of yelling, a lot of recapping, and a lot of graphics in Army font that would also be recapping something he had just yelled at you because there are only 5 things to say. Merlin calls it a cable problem because it is for people who are fucking flipping around and they will see R. Lee Ermey shooting some guns and they have to recap what happened with the stock.

Merlin no longer flipping through channels, but streaming content (RL339)

When he was flipping through the channels Merlin would have as many as five programs on the docket. You had to jump in on MTV and see what was going on there, back when they would still show music videos. It was also great to just watch a show like a person and leave it on, but on cable there are going to be commercials. There is something special with jumping between just two shows, because then you get to benefit from the ”prev”-button to go between two things with just one click, which is cool!

Now Merlin doesn’t flip anymore because he only watches what he wants to watch and he uses the fanciest version of the non-cable service for streaming TV called Hulu where you get relatively few commercials** He used to watch a lot of cable news on there, but he has gotten off this. They have DVR-like functionality and they can show you all the episodes of 30 Rock and that will then be in your bastic [sic] over here of things he likes to watch. Merlin doesn't jump around watching live TV anymore.

He has also eliminated almost any chance that he will be staying in a hotel, looking at the television and trying to figure out where Sex and the City is. What does he do when he wants to watch something and it is not on Hulu? Merlin is heavily subscribed. There is a not-terrible service called Just Watch. In the past he had the terrible habit of just buying movies. When he wanted to watch Mean Girls he would just buy it on iTunes, but it might be streaming somewhere and you never know because it could be on Netflix, and there is all kinds of weird stuff on HBO and there is stuff an Hulu.

It happens all the time that John has to go to each one of these things and search for the thing he wants to watch, but Merlin recommends to use the Just Watch app. Merlin wanted to explain the concept of ”In Medias Res” to his child, which she instantly got: It means you are dropped into a TV show and don’t know what is happening and you have to suss it out from watching it. A very good example is Breaking Bad. John prefers that to movies that start you off like you never saw anything before.

Merlin showed his daughter the cold open of Breaking Bad and it was exactly as good as he remembered. There is a man in a gas mask in his underwear, driving an RV full of liquid drugs, money and bodies and he pulls off the road and makes a video of himself for his family. He hears sirens coming and he goes out, standing on the road with a gun pointed. How do you not want to watch every episode of that show? Also, the way Lost starts is perfect: There is a guy on the ground, there is a dog in the jungle, ”What is happening?” and he walks to the beach. It is still beautiful, but people say Lost doesn’t end well.

Doing a deep-dive on the Internet (RL339)

The other day John did a deep dive on the Internet for no good reason. Nowadays every deep dive he does should be for a reason, but he did one on (Leonid) Brezhnev, (Yuri) Andropov, (Konstantin) Chernenko, (Mikhail) Gorbachev for no reason because he was not boning up on anything. He did not do any Boris Yeltsin dancing videos, but Merlin highly recommends the ”Best of Yeltsin” videos. John has never in his drinking life been as drunk as Boris Yeltsin was all the time! John cold-opened himself with that, he didn’t start with Brezhnev, but he started right in the middle and then he had to go back to see how his characters ended up there.

John should have asked himself how he got here and what he had done. There are not an infinite number of hours in the day and he has to do various things. He would want 26 hours in the day, that would be real nice. He could have had 2 more hours of sleep before recording the show today instead of robbing Peter to pay your Paul and the coffee-sipping that could be heared on this show would have been a lot less noticeable.

Merlin eating ice cream with M&Ms (RL339)

Merlin was putting many handfuls of M&Ms into his Vanilla Bean ice cream container as it got lower because then you have more room for M&Ms in there. John Siracusa calls that grinding in video games and Merlin did the grinding of getting a trench, or a moat. He had some pure Vanilla Bean ice cream, which is a good-ass and highly underrated ice cream, he made a moat around the center and dropped in all the M&Ms. At the time that felt like a deep dive that was going to be good for him. They are healthy, shiny, delicious and perfect, and they add a little crunch to your thing.

John Siracusa eats ice cream in centimeters. He has a built-in barometer for how to eat ice cream that is as organized and well thought-out as the rest of his life. When Merlin opens the ice cream, he has already decided to stop living a lie and he literally throws the lid in the trash immediately. John admires that so much! He has done that just a knowable number of times. You can’t cut an M&M in half, you could do it with one of those pill-cutters from Walgreens, but John’s pill-cutter just explodes his pills, or maybe he shouldn’t be using it on capsules.

Getting a good-quality pill-cutter (RL339)

Merlin wonders where to get a nice pill-cutter, like an OXO version. Every time John buys a pair of cuticle scissors, he thinks: ”There has got to be the finest one of these and I am not going to find those at Bartell’s", but he would probably find them at places where hairstylists shop where they have $900 scissors. John is willing to spend the money to get the nicest mustache trimming scissors on the planet. They have a whole store for that in Germany, over at the Scheisse Platzen, but John needs directions! He needs the pill-cutter that can cut an M&M without chipping the candy. It is like Bruce Lee: You hit an inch behind the board.

John wants a whole drawer full of those things because he always had this problem with his dad. John would say: ”This is a shitty piece of stereo equipment!” - ”Yeah, but it bought it from some guy who pulled up in a Lincoln Continental and opened the trunk and here it was and I bought it!” and then they were friends forever and he officiated at his wedding. John would say: ”Look over here in the garage at the 7 other non-working tape players we have. Why didn’t we just buy one good tape player once?” - ”I wouldn’t have met all those great guys!”

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