It is post Christmas and we discuss the swag we gave and received.

We had a wonderful time with family and discuss the holiday festivities.


New Year’s Eve Celebration with the Music of James Bond – The Cleveland Pops Orchestra

Dickens of a Christmas – Ohio History Connection

Welcome to Ohio Tea Company – Ohio Tea Co

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension – Wikipedia

Pogo (comic strip) – Wikipedia



Alan: but, okay. So here, first of all, here’s the the Christmas shirt,

Stephen: the, oh, that’s awesome.

Alan: Spiderman swinging from the the web with lights on it, so I’m, anyway that’s really

Stephen: great.

Love that. I got a peanuts, at the end of the Charlie Brown special when they’re all singing in a group. My mother got me that as a sweatshirt, but you can turn it on. And the some of the snowflake sparkle,

Alan: that’s, oh, that’s really good. .

Stephen: Yeah, I like that a lot. Then it’s launched

Alan: the I love that special.

It’s funny. I don’t, is that the thing I’ve rewatched the most times in my life? That plus the Grinch, it just is, it’s perfect. It’s got the little peanuts dancing, where they’re all , Pigpen able to create, a dust storm in the snowfall

Stephen: and stuff, right? . And I love the little meme that’s been going around saying, ah, Christmas time, that time of year when you get to watch Snoopy eating human femur bones,

Alan: That’s really good.

Cause they’re large, they’re brought to serious law, that’s funny.

Stephen: Cheaper. So how was your Christmas man? Good. Good Christmas.

Alan: It was really good, it Colleen and I really have a swag fest, because it’s just the two of us. We don’t have kids. Obviously. Kids are the real focus of Christmas in lots of ways, but, , and we don’t tend to do it, that it’s okay give me a car with a bow on it.

We tend to just have all kinds of little interests, and over the course of the years, people talk about things and then hopefully you remember. And so that turns into a nice possibility of a gift and stuff like that. So you can get a whole table full of, books that cost $15 each, or nice CDs or clothing.

We had just the wrapping of things is funny. I’m really good about the origami of wrapping, I’m really good about folding the paper perfectly and everything is nice, tight quarters and everything. And I measure it so that it. Exactly fits the ends of the packages instead of folding over.

And Colleen is really good at bs I know I’ve mentioned this before. She’s, she makes her own bs. That’s buy a box of BS from Costco and I make sure that they’ll, they have an elastic backing or if I’ve used them before, I just roll the tape into a little loop. And, but she by hand or using a thing called the Bo Dabra she’s elegant boas and she’s really good.

Like all ladies are, I think about matching, so here’s the paper that she chooses. And then I, over the course of time again from Costco, I, it’s funny, I never mean to be such a shi for them, but I am so satisfied with the quality and the cost of things that I often get. At Costco, they have big reels of two inch wide ribbon that is perfect for the kind of ribbons that she likes to.

And you get like a hundred yards for 15 bucks or something like that, right? So it’s kinda 15 bucks for a ribbon. But she’s had some that, I think I’m going on 20 years of her having had this. Only certain ones has, she actually ran out of, because she used them so frequently because they’re beautiful or they’re the right color, they match more things and stuff like that.

Soap, she has a huge, we’ve had to actually get like the container store level plastic boxes for our wrapping paper and our bows and every, does this, our ribbons, that kind of stuff. And then over the years you accumulate so that we have. Just dozens and dozens of things to choose from. And so the ability for her to make really beautiful packages where it’s, here’s the white on blue snowflakes, and then here’s the, blue, like a gradient ribbon and stuff, and they just, they look like you went into, I don’t know, Neman Marcus who said, Hey, wrap this.

That’s cool. The CEO of the company. And it’s just really perfect. I have my precision wrapping and she has her beautiful artistic wrapping between the two of us. We just have a pile of stuff under the tree, and so it takes us an hour in the morning to go back and forth. And she gets, she’s really good about putting nice things in stocking and I usually I almost get her something pretty and shiny.

And that’s where that goes. That’s the, the tangerine goes in the toe of the stocking, but last week before we’re done, it’s always, so I got a really beautiful Tree of Life pendant this year that has multiple kinds of gold and Really Oh, nice. So they can do I, I don’t know what to call it sparkle cut, laser cut where it isn’t like a diamond where it really refracted and so forth, but it is where as you move it, it catches the light differently and stuff.

So it’s shiny. And in fact, I even have, I have my visual age, I got , so it’s kinda funny. So first of all, Christmas of course, is not at all about the swag. We’ll get into that. We had a very nice time over at Colleen’s, sister Bridgets and the whole fa clan Fitzgerald was there. There’s a little bit of, now there’s sadness because we’ve been losing our parents.

And so instead of the whatever that continuity, now everybody’s doing fine, making the best of it, but there’s like an empty sea kind of a feeling sometimes too. You know what I mean? You won’t hear, you won’t hear the same. My mom always, she loved blueberry muffins and so every Christmas breakfast was little muffs to warm your heads, that kind of thing.

Everybody has, their family thinks that they repeat because they were said in the houses and stuff, and that’s the way of keeping them alive, yep. And circle of Life, a couple of my nieces and nephews are now having and like two, each, two couples each have two kids, and so it.

After having had a Christmas of, Hey, we’re gonna have a nice dinner and then talk and play some games. Now it’s kid Energy is everywhere. So of course they’re running around and they’re, and the dog is whatever the kids are doing, the dog’s in on it, that kinda thing. And it’s just, it’s really fun.

But it true is chaotic. You can’t really have a conversation if someone’s gonna run into you and wanna play with your, this toy right now with you. And it’s kinda funny, I’m usually in my past, I’ve in the kids that, the one that the kid always wants to like, come read this book with me.

I’ll sit it in your lap. And for whatever reason these kids, they pay much more attention to their parents. And maybe because Kelly has many brothers and sisters. and they are more dotting aunts and uncles than we are. We’re not a big feature in their lives. And so get to watch instead of having to be, the Yes.

Hand me the little plastic phone and I will indeed answer it. That kinda thing. . Yeah. So very fun. The chow was always great at Kline Fitzgerald and everything was just wonderful, except just this morning before getting on the call, we found out somebody tested positive for Covid. Oh geez.

Fuck me. I, we, Colleen, I just made a comment about this. Someone wrote a really nice note about how this time between Christmas and New Year’s is a liminal space. transition between one thing to the other and then that you really get to not have to be on purpose for anything.

You can just cocoon yourself. You can relax, you can just on a whim, go see a movie or stay inside or whatever. And unfortunately, Colleen and I, because we have been. Doing the out of the Covid cocoon type thing, we lined up a whole bunch of different stuff. Let’s go see the zoo lights, let’s go to a comedy show.

Let’s go hear James Bond music. Now we’re gonna test, we haven’t tested yet, but now it’s all up in the air. And maybe like you want to go into the New Year’s strong and hitting the ground running. And now it’s gonna be, man, if I test positive, I’m not feeling anything. I have no congestion, no sore throat.

I’m really doing okay. But I don’t wanna be a carrier either. So now I gotta think, am I really gonna go to a comedy club even masked up? I can’t in good conscience, I just won’t be tight white. I won’t expose people.

Stephen: And like you said, wrench it’s so weird cuz we both lost our fathers this year, so it’s the first time without that.

And my sister, and he usually gives my sister money to buy presents for my mother. From him. So there were a couple of those under the tree that she had gotten before he passed away. So that, it was a little weirdish, but my mother didn’t break down. It didn’t ruin the day or anything. It was more laughter about it.

And oh my gosh, of course he didn’t just buy a bag of popcorn, she, he bought her like 25 pounds of popcorn in

Alan: like the big bin. The tin of

Stephen: popcorn? Yes. It was different bags. So it was like red popcorn, yellow popcorn, purple popcorn this popcorn, it just all sorts of stuff to pop not already popped.

And it was a laughters like of course, gotta go out and make sure you, and then I was laughing cuz I channeled my father. We went shopping yesterday, me and Colin, and I was like, oh, wrapping paper’s really cheap. Oh, I like this. I like this. We gotta reclamation. And he’s like, you look like your father.

So there was a some humor in there, but it, yeah. But like you said though, the last couple years, what if, oh, it’s covid. We can’t see anybody. And you miss those opportunities. And when those kids, we last time I saw you, you were crawling and now you’re like you’re getting ready to drive and I haven’t seen you in so long. . It’s a, where’s the, yeah. That’s a balance. That’s rough.

Alan: Yeah. Yeah. We. I don’t know. We have, we are fully vaxxed, we’re as safe as you can get, right? But the last vaccine was like September. So we really are coming up on, if they’re gonna have another one every six months or something like that.

We wanna make sure we get the latest. People have been talking about it for a while. I think that’s what’s gonna happen, that it’s gonna be much like flu, that you’ll find out what the new strains are for that year and they’ve gotten less lethal but more infectious in some ways. And so you go and get yourself protected against the three that are the most common in the world, or that you might bump into, cuz it’s the United States instead of China or whatever else it might be.

And we’ll just keep being safe as much as we can and staying healthy so that if you do get anything, you have to fight it off instead of going down. I got friends that seem to get respiratory ailments every single year and I, luckily Colleen and I are pretty good constitutions in that regard.

We don’t get a lot of colds or flus or anything like that. Here’s hoping. This will now be just kind of part of that sad, weird force field that’s all around us of all these things that might impinge on you. But it I sent some things to my mom, for Christmas for her, and they, and I, wrote a little note saying, Hey, please open the, he’s on Christmas and stuff like that.

I really don’t know how they do things out there. When we were out there visiting with my dad, we brought some gifties, and already then it was she was like, happy to get them, but didn’t seem to be, who are these from and stuff like that. I’m getting, it’s a year in now. I’m getting used to the idea of you, you want to be loving to your mom, but you don’t have to.

Deep concerns like you used to about this will be exactly what she likes. She loves chocolate covered cherries. Nowadays, it really seems to be, no matter what, you get ’em, if you are pleasant about it. She loves your company, she loves your attention. It isn’t about the gifties. And yet we tried to get a little snow leopard to go with her menagerie of plush toys because she really, that’s part of the, one of the things that she’s re reverted to embraced is she loves that feeling of closeness.

She is, she’s all alone for three quarters of the time that we’re out there. Of course, not all alone. She has nice staff and the other residents do chat with her and stuff. It’s not all isolated and yet, boy, it isn’t family, so

Stephen: it’s not and with the way her brain is working it, it doesn’t have.

I’m going to plan to do this and I’m going to go and, it’s that function. Yeah. It’s like you said, like a fog which you yeah. Which kind of brings up with the covid and parents passing away and getting older and problems. All of us, what I’ve always tried to make sure I do with my kids is, Hey, we gotta enjoy it.

Let’s not say, oh, I don’t feel like going to see the lights this year because it might be the last one and you wanna enjoy it. And you go, man, I really wish we would’ve done that. I, and I hate, I’ve always tried to never have a, oh, I wish I had done that. It does happen. There’s some things still, but we did a whole lot of things this year that we enjoyed seeing lights and going tostan hut, all the things

Alan: that yeah.

In fact, can you send out a Christmas letter and photos and all the kinda stuff,

Stephen: which I got, and thank you. I didn’t know about Phil Plak until your letter, and I was like, oh my gosh. He was such a, was

Alan: host in a couple of the like, metro groups and stuff like that,

Stephen: but yeah. Yeah. And he was, I talked to him for two hours at my first RG at Bill and Bri’s house, so I had a special bond connection with him.

And I just talked to Dave about that in September and and I was like, oh, so I sent my condolence, of course I felt like an idiot cause I said, Merry Christmas Dave, I hope you’re having a great day, . And then I’m like, I’m sorry, I just read Alan’s letter.

Alan: Exactly. Yeah.

Yeah. That is a weird thing. In this era of social media, you really do assume that everybody gets the word to everything all the time. And it, I, I might be on pretty much every day, but other people they check in once a week and whatever other things have pushed things off their control.

They can be in the dark. So it That was it’s boy, getting older is you start to lose people. You lose your family Yeah. And your friends and that kind of stuff. And it isn’t easy, especially when some people are just so vivid in my mind as to when I first met them, or joyful time that we had, we used to get together at methane stands for New Year’s Eve for a whole New Year’s weekend and play a lot of games and have a lot of laughter.

Everybody contributes food. But one of the most wonderful things was where everybody like hits midnight and they go, I’m done with games, but I’m not tired yet. And you finally have that heartfelt, the philo philosophical the wonderful conversation that it and Phil was often a great contributor to that.

Yeah. Some people, they just get older, some people get wise and Phil seemed to really be a mench that he really had great philosophies on life and great, like his stories were. Wonderful to listen to and wonderful to hear what he got out of them or that sometimes the world is just

Stephen: not the best

Alan: and you have to get through it and

Stephen: go on.

He’s one of those not regret things. Cuz the last time I saw him was a couple years ago at an RG and his mind was starting to go a little bit and I’m like, Hey Phil, how you doing? He was a little bit like who are you? And I’m like, and I told him who I was and Oh, okay, and how you doing? We talked for a couple minutes and, had a great conversation.

He loosened up and we were laughing and, good. And that’s the last time I saw him cuz we, he didn’t go, we didn’t go to rgs and stuff and then, so I was like, it’s same thing with my grandfather. I remember the last conversation I had with my grandfather and we were laughing. He told me stories and, going to definitely be missed.

So yeah. But, okay, so yeah,

Alan: go ahead. real quick. One of the reasons that I mentioned the letter was because what you said, like I really was a quite a workaholic when I first started in my career. I was doing well, I was making good money, and I was making good raises, bonuses every year because I could figure things out that nobody else could.

And yet I then luckily read various different things about, what are people put on their tombstones. It’s never, oh, I wish I would’ve spent more time at the office. It’s, the regrets are what hurt, not the things they tried and might not have succeeded. The things that they did that were wonderful.

Those are the great memories, and especially, I’m a, I’m an accumulator. I have lots of things, but I’ve also read a number of times that, it’s the experiences that are really what make you happy, not you having every toy. And so I really have, over the course of my life, tried to shift to that, embrace that.

And that’s very much, people read our letter and they’re, they get man, aren’t you guys exhausted? And it’s no, we love doing all those things. We love doing things that we don’t know how it’s gonna come out. You just wanna keep trying things to see if it is of interest to you. And exactly what you said, I don’t want to have the regretted of we talked about doing it and didn’t, and once in a while, of course, the world is tough.

There’s too much work to get done, or whatever it is. And yet then you don’t take that as the excuse to stop doing it. It’s more as soon as I’m back to healthy, after my cancer year, what we do, we’re going to a comedy festival. I made it, I’m here.

Stephen: I’m now not, I’m not gonna hide in the house.

I’m gonna


Alan: like, let’s on borrowed time. Now the challengers of the unknown, right? What are we gonna do to make it so that we thank the universe for letting me stick around? So we do all different kinds of things and love sharing that. And that’s part of the thing we hope for the letter is that people will be inspired I’m not gonna, do it 24 or seven, like Helen, Colleen, but I could go on a driving vacation.

I could go to a comedy festival. I could go to a buffet. You know what I mean? The silly things that us, who knows why is so happy. Maybe it’ll inspire somebody to like, Do that too and share that. This is really cool. Especially also if it’s I do a lot of things with good planning, but sometimes it’s just, I read about this and let’s go and we just do it with no prep.

mean, It turns out great sometimes, most times me

Stephen: and the kids one Christmas we were coming back from something, I think we went down to Cambridge. They do a Dickens Christmas and they dress up like Victorian England and carolers, and they have the shops decorated and stuff. We were coming back from that and we got rerouted somewhere and there’s a road close.

So we were driving. I’m like, oh my gosh, they’re having a winter festival. I pulled in the parking pot. Let’s go. You know what I mean? It was just wonderful. Very spur of the moment. Didn’t even know about

Alan: it. Yeah, we, so some of our fondest memories are exactly that. We’re just like, we had no idea this was even here, but we had a wonderful two hours exploring.

Yeah, exactly.

Stephen: Okay. Yeah. So speak with all of this, one of the gifts I got, Colin he teared up a little bit on this was. One of his fondest memories is sitting and watching Walker Texas Ranger with Chuck Norris, with my father. Sure. They would sit and watch it and he remembers that when he was little.

So I found a picture of him and my father watching something and I put it on a mug and I got him the first season of Walker cuz Colin’s really into tea. And I said, now you can sit and drink your tea and watch Walker with papa. And he teared up a little bit. He was very, a bittersweet gift. And I just hope it helped bring met good memories for him.

Yeah. Yeah,

Alan: that’s, I, we met, I’m, it’s cool that he has tea, and one of the tea is one of those things that you can keep prying new teas forever. You know what I mean? There’s all we have a place called the T Lab right here in Lakewood that you walk in and there’s like hundreds of teas here.

Yeah. I wouldn’t even know dark, but I know I can say don’t like constant comment. That’s boring. How about the midsection? The, whatever.

Stephen: Let me tell you, he in that way, yes. Yes. Colin has become a tea connoisseur, and we went down to the Ohio Tea Company in Canton. Which they have little jars all on the shelves.

And little n nick, nooks and crannies and Right. You tell ’em what you want and they take it and they measure it out and they weigh it. And I’m like, man, if they don’t do good with tea, they have a drug operation all set up right here. It’s like breaking bad, . Exactly.

Alan: Little blasting

Stephen: bags.

Exactly. Yeah. And these aren’t like the stuff at the store where it’s 24 tea bags for $6. This is like an, you get it by the ounce. And he had a couple of ’em. He’s I’ll take two ounces, and it’s like 12, $15 for two ounces. And I’m like, oh my God. They could be verified

Alan: prices too. That’s right.

Stephen: Yeah. But he, for his birthday, a friend got him a teapot that you can adjust the temperature and it’s a, an exact temperature setting. And he’s, that’s cool. He told us for Christmas, we got some special. Made Christmas teas. So for Christmas day, he educated all of us. He’s okay, this type of tea you gotta have at this temperature and this somewhere between there.

And when you steep it, it’s only for this long. Don’t steep it longer. And so we were like learning about teeth and you know what? He’s absolutely right. The teas, the flavor was amazing. I’m like, I can never get store bought tea and get boiling water and ruin it again. It was like, I was like, wow, this is totally amazing.

That’s one of the things, always learning something, always exploring. I would’ve never thought teas were that big of a deal. And he’s no. And he’ll tell you, oh, this tea, you need this one a little hotter or this one you need to steep for a little longer. And just whatever.

Wow. So tea is a big deal and it’s wonderful.

Alan: Wonderful. It’s funny. I never gained that good sense. I’ve tried many teas when I worked at a place called Bubby and Za, a delicate contestant in college. They were one of the first places that carried two dozen different ts. And of course cuz it was college, they had midnight madness and Morning Thunder.

The ones that were like high hyper caffeinated. So awaken study. But they also had the first herbal teas, the first non caffe, caffeinated teas. And I tried everything and you kinda learned I guess I’m a big fan of, I like fruity teas. I didn’t like Chami was supposed to be, Hey, that’s good for if you get a cold, it clears your head.

And yet there was some element to it that I didn’t like. I really understand Zen from how much I like sweet instead of bitter. So anything like Earl Gray that had a bitter note to it is I don’t think I’m gonna have this again. .

Stephen: That’s funny you mentioned that. Cause Colin did not like Earl Gray also.

But he said it’s because I’ve been brewing the water too hot and steeping it too long. He’s it needs this temperature and this long. And he said, the flavor is amazing if you do it right cuz the tannins in there, actually the chemical consistency changes if the water’s too hot. So you might have done that or gotten that and he’s right.

I thought, oh, the fruit teas, cuz they’re sweet. I like those. But we had teas that it’s like people drinking wine or beer where they’re like, oh, hints of this. And a note of that, that , I’m like, oh my God, I can taste the raspberry and there’s the french toast flavor. I mean it really was all those flavors coming out.

So I, that’s kinda what

Alan: I was leading to is I might have had all those different teas, but that no, just, it’s exactly what you’re saying. What did I do? I took pot water that we kept in a pot almost near boiling and I, that’s how I did every single tea. Whereas, so I would’ve had that little chart of.

Here’s the tea and here’s how you prepare it and what takes honey and what doesn’t, what takes us sick and what whatever. There’s SAS and stuff. I would’ve been a much, I, this is, late seventies, early eighties, so we’re going on 45 years. I would’ve been even a more discriminating tea drink or maybe even more of a big fan if there would’ve been something served perfectly instead of generic with slightly different things of just the flavor itself.

You know what I mean? Yeah. Yep. Yep. I’m, I will, I, Colleen likes lots of different teas and I’ve learned to get, we don’t, I don’t go to the T lab. I tend to go. Get her like the plantation mint that she likes and the orange zinger. There’s various different good tea companies and she seems to like them enough that there’s no need to get something really specific.

These generic, but various different tastes work for her. But I’ll have to tap into a tea book and see, hey, if you think you had, orange zinger before, if we do it just right, what do you think? It’s exactly the water temp and you make it with a T-ball instead of you know what I mean? I’ll have to see how all that goes.

Can I to restroom?

Stephen: All right. So good. I also got, let’s see. Vicky got me some hats cuz I’ve been saying, you know what, I want some hats. So she got me a fedora, she got me like one of those Irish news boy hats. I got a right black leather cowboy hat and it looks fantastic. It’s awesome. We’re getting stands so I can put all my hats on stands now.

Very fancy . And my, my mother, me, oh, you mentioned earlier about the laora of music and stuff. My sister and I were laughing cuz we each got my mother books and we got ’em from different library book Sales . It’s yeah, Mo Mom’s Worth a $2 bag of books, .

Alan: So I, I did have this, we do Secret Santa in Colleen’s family because getting gifts for 30 people is just too overwhelming.

So usually you get one person that they have put out a wishlist and then one secret Santa takes care of them. So I had a show this year and. He’s a golfer. And so I got him a bunch of golfing books and as I’ve, this is here’s the capper for my year on Amazon. I was really making a point of buying only new, cuz I’ve had such bad experience with buying used, even when use like new that they just seem to have lowered things notches and notches so that I continually get things that are just chewed on.

You know what I mean? It was used as a book stop. It was, it’s the cover the spine is cracked in multiple hideous white lines. Hideous. I hate that. But anyway, so I made a point of there, there’s a three books in a nice slip cover set from Golf Digest about ha to be the perfect golfer if you will. And I bought it new and it’s still arrived with the slip cover being broken.

And I and I gave it to him and I said, I know it’s the books that matter, but I told him that story of I really tried to get you un, I wasn’t haunting to use books because for a gift you don’t do that. Colleen and I might do it for each other cuz it doesn’t matter to each other and we know it.

But I was just like even when you try not to have the world, it still forts you, it still has little odd things like that. But I got a mother, I got him the Tiger Woods book and the, and that and I got him, he wanted some CLE wear, so I got him like the perfect shirt and the perfect hat and the perfect, and he was very happy.

You hope, one of the joys when people are opening their gifts is that yes, they’re gonna not only just say, oh thanks, but yeah, and then, but you see their eyes light up and stuff and I was, he, so he really liked the assortment of things that I got him. I’m very pleased that based on his list and was a little bit of not just check items off the list, but think, okay, if he likes this, I’ll probably like this.

So I got him a couple surpris. One of the interesting things happened, things that happened was we went over to Dick’s Sporting Goods to get the cle wear, and they had a huge pyramid of blankets, like what you might bring to a ballgame or something like that. Because here in Cleveland, let’s play when it’s negative 10 and, Hey Jess I saw literally that pyramid was shrinking while we were in there because so many people were, this is the perfect size and the perfect and all that kind of stuff.

So I got him one of those, and that’s one of the things that when he popped open the box is it was like, ha ho, he was rarely happy and it was impulse, kinda a spur of the moment thing. And yet I hit a good, I hit a home run on that one. Yeah. You know what I mean? So

Stephen: I was talking to somebody about that.

I’m like, that’s part of the best fun. Me and Colin were talking he was like, man I got ’em such and thi I got ’em. Like I always get ’em classic rock albums and I’m running out of good ones to get ’em. So I went back to the source and I got him a whole stack of blues artists, like the original blues artists and stuff.

And he was very good. He ecstatic. And there were a couple other things when he is oh, this is awesome. Hadn’t thought about it, but it fit. And I’m like, that’s, when you know somebody, you can find that perfect gift that they may not have thought of, whereas right past family I’ve had their holding was, here’s my list of five things.

Okay, I’ll get those five things. There you go. Ra, unwrap ’em. Merry Christmas.

Alan: My, my obligation has been met. You know what

Stephen: I mean? That’s not Christmas, my mother and this I laugh, I’m like, really? I love doing things like pizza, making homemade pizza, but I’ve gotten away from a lot of that, cuz of all the carbs and stuff.

So she got me a pizza stone, a really nice pizza stone, and I’m like, what are you doing?

Alan: And. Yeah, it is. It’s enabling, it’s encouraging that , you know what that pizza stone looks really good for? It works for cauliflower crust pizza. Yes. And stuff like that. So instead of going full Durham wheat or whatever, I’ve been able to switch my pizza habits . So

Stephen: I’ve found a few things. King Arthur Wheat is supposed to be one of the better. Pizza making dough for diabetics cuz it’s low carbs and it crisp up and looks good. So I bought some to try. They said you can mix it with some carbos, which I know you’ve mentioned.

So I’m gonna get some of that, mix some in to, experiment a little bit so we can eat pizza. Colin’s I don’t care. I’ll make lots of pizza, I’ll make use of it. I’m like, I guess I know you’re getting that in my will . Exactly.

Alan: I’ll tell you, Deso is my. Frozen pizza, if you will.

It’s really close to restaurant quality, but not for 25 bucks. It’s for eight to 12, depending on when you find it on sale and stuff like that. And that on a pizza stone turns out perfect. It’s really cool. I’m very happy with

Stephen: that. Then I’m going to run out after this and I’m going to get something to join out and get some ingredients.

We’re gonna do pizza tonight, , there we go.

Alan: And probably like you, I don’t leave well enough alone. If I get like the triple meat pizza, I still put mushrooms and onions and maybe peppers on there. I like cook. I like all the, every bite has a ride of flavors and stuff like that.

And I cook it for a little bit longer than what it says. Cause I figure, now I’ve added density layers to it and it I cook it until the onions on top are crisping instead of floppy. You know what I mean? And that, not crisping, but were, they’re clear cooked, yes. If you I try to make it the, that’s the.

It’s a little thing that pops out of the Turkey. It’s onions for me on pizza. . Yes. That kinda thing.

Stephen: So what else? What else did I write down that I thought, oh , this was awesome. I was mentioning this a while back, so I’ve been really getting back into music. I think I told you I got that keyboard replacement a while back.

We got electric drums. I’ve got the guitar out and I’ve really. pushing myself a bit to take the time, and I saw an ad for these virtual drums. It’s just drumsticks, but when you hit ’em, it makes the sound of real drums, so you have to really hit in the right place. And I’m like wow. Those are pretty cool.

I’m like, oh man. But for that price, they’re not that cool. I’ve got drums. I don’t need the, I’m like, it would be fun to take with me wherever, but , Vicky gotta pair for me. She got me these virtual drumsticks. Oh man, that’s sweet. They’re so cool. You just sit there banging in the air and it’ll hit hook up to a Bluetooth speaker.

And you’ll hear it. So it’s like you’re really playing the drums and it’s almost magical. It’s so cool. That’s

Alan: cool. You set it to different kinds of drums, like now they’re set for snare. Now they’re set for symbol or buttons

Stephen: on the it’s a standard sounds for the drum set, the snare is always in the right place.

Your high hats, your symbols, your toms, so they’re in the right spots for really playing. It’s, I’m like, that is so cool. She was so happy cuz she. It was something you wanted, it was maybe a little pricier than, we usually do and stuff, but she’s I just said I’m gonna get it. She’s like an extra glass of wine or two may have been involved in that decision.

But , she was very ecstatic because she ha she said for 15 years she hasn’t had Christmas with anybody but her son. And there’s some oh boy, problems and issues between them right now. So she didn’t even talk to him or see him this whole season, so to come into with our family and she was like a little kid.

She’s get call. She’s call still asleep. We’re gonna go upstairs and bang pans and wake ’em up. So she was like a little kid again. That was great. Opening time. Santa’s been here. Exactly. Yeah. So that that was a good time. That was fun.

Alan: I think I mentioned last time that I put a big list out for my Secret Santa.

Instead of them saying here, get me these five things I had a list of 30. So they could choose amongst them and whatever they liked. And they’ll be able to say I know enough about this that he will like the Emerson Lincoln and Palmer City because I like them, or something like that.

But what I also put on the list is, I’m, I tend to get things for myself all the time because I shop for them and I have my $7 CD limit, and there’s all kinds of things that they just don’t come out use or they don’t come down in price. And so that’s what’s on the list is, boy, I really want that Jet Rotel album, but the Zel gene never came down off of 15 bucks.

Oh, I guess somebody else has a gift. We’ll do what I just have trained myself not to do, which is by re wholesale retail instead of wholesale. You know what I mean? So I I had, Jack had me and one of the very nice compliments that he had was, as I, as he, he went through my list. It was like, Man, I kinda I don’t know what some of these are, but when I look online and read about ’em, they’re this is so cool.

Who he, I didn’t even know this existed. And this guy actually has all of these things. So he was very complimentary about my esoteric taste. The range of my tastes was like an inspiration to him, to, I got a, he got me a couple books and he’s I didn’t wanna read ’em before I gave ’em to you, because you can tell something that’s happened.

But he’s I’ll lend it back to you. He’s okay. , it was, that’s nice. It was very nice to be like that, that I’m not only. The relentless geeky guy that he’s enough of a geek that he could appreciate. What a cool book, what’s some cool music, what a cool puzzle. All that


Stephen: of stuff.

And it’s so weird cuz we talk about this stuff. It’s here’s all the artists we like, here’s the movies we’ve seen, here’s the games we’re playing, here’s the puzzles we’re doing, here’s the 3D printer, here’s the programming. And it’s all these things. And then when I’m like with quote unquote normal people and they’re like, wow do you ever like sleep And don’t you just relax?

And I’m like, this is relaxing. Sleeping for the week. Yes. Sleep when I’m dead, it’s fine. But then on the flip side, they’re like, oh, have you watched this show? I’m like no I haven’t watched that . Yeah, I’ve got the piece they

Alan: watch nine seasons of, and I’ve never seen a single episode. Dancing the Stars just doesn’t too much for me or whatever else it might be,

Stephen: so Yep, same. Yep, same .

Alan: So here, visual time, I got the Emerson Lake and Palmer, this is the. A tribute concert that they did after Keith Emerson passed All kinds of great fellow first previous band members or people that admired him.

So they got every excellent keyboard player in the world, Jordan Rues, and and it’s called Fanfare for the Uncommon Man. And so it’s just loaded with good yell. And then let’s see. I also got the last, the Keith Emerson. Let me get less glare here over in front of my where we played with Mark Bonilla, who is a fantastic guitarist.

Sounds enough like Greg, like that they’re eish. And I think I mentioned that I went to see Pro Jack. Yes. When I was out in California this last time. He was the guitarist for projects. So it all comes together, I got hear him live,

Stephen: so that’s very cool. And Colin and I went to the website and we were listening to the little videos and stuff they have, and I’m like, oh my gosh, this, these guys are awesome.

I’d love to get, it’s like a greatest hits of Prague Classic Rock .

Alan: Exactly. What’s interesting is I really love them and whenever they tour, I’ll see them again. There’s a band in town called Prog Nation that do similar things for their virtuoso musicians. You really have to have the chops to be able to play hard of the sunrise or lado, a guitarist that can play lado.

What? And yet we, we love seeing that. And because instead of it being we’re gonna hear. a lot of places are doing now. Hey, it’s the, we’re gonna play an entire album. And so it’s kinda like fun cause I really love that music, but there’s no surprises. Whereas when you have these guys, you don’t know what their favorites were, that they’re gonna throw in some rush and some Kansas and some e l p and some guests and some genesis and like gentle Giant to get a fewer and, it’s very cool to get that smorgasboard that greatest hits in their influences growing up. This is the song I wanted to learn how to play on guitar. And here I’m gonna share it with you now. , know, that

Stephen: kinda, yeah. Wonderful. Yeah.

Alan: What else do I have? I also got the, yes, the Live Royal, the Royal Affair in Vegas.

We saw the Royal Affair Tour in Pittsburgh, so this is that. And then, oh my god, co. Colleen really knows me well and she knows, I hope you don’t mind the Visual AIDS tour to four. Yeah, no, this is

Stephen: perfect. Make people, Hey, if you wanna see what he’s holding up, go to YouTube. We’ve got a YouTube channel, we’ve got links on the

Alan: website.

here’s the book of questions, and I think this is like the, maybe the original, but revised. They’re, this came out they’ve been around for about 30 years now, where it’s like just something that you bring out at a party or have as a couple, and you’re like, it asks big philosophical questions and you get to know the person.

Like the very first one in here is, would you rather never drive again or never telecommunicate again or lose a. . what? I don’t want any of those , but the expression of how would you even rank them if you had to choose one? Of course, I’m not giving up a hand and yet and I think to myself, we’ve loved our driving vacation, some of the highlights of life, but we do that 2, 3, 4 weeks out of the year compared to, I’m online every day.

It’s how I stay in touch with my friends. It’s, I’m a computer guy. I can’t, right. And so I would, if you rank them and it really was some evil man holding a gun to your head, I would have to give up my driving vacations in order to maintain this. And just that quick thing of, I would base it on how much time do I spend doing it?

How much would I miss it? How much is it part of me? Whereas I don’t know, other people would, maybe they really would. I could drive one-handed, right? One-handed, they have cording, keyboards. I don’t just lefthand, I, I. , that’s, you don’t realize how big a thing that is to you because I know any number of people that have had to give it up it involuntarily based on injury or mishap.

And yet I’m sure you’d learn to compensate. If I lost an eye, I wouldn’t stop reading. I would just wear a patch and learn to do and long covid now where people don’t eat or drink the same anymore cause they don’t smell as well. It would be a huge change, but you wouldn’t give off.

So all those interesting discussions, so that we, oftentimes, Colleen and I take a break during the day where, she’s working at often sitting at the couch laptop wise, and I sit on the loveseat at our little right angle and we just have a conversation and she often comments on her favorite parts of the day because we really talk about everything under the stars and we really do boy each other’s spirits and stuff like that.

and I don’t really understand how uncommon that is until when she talks about that with other people, they’ll say, my, my husband just doesn’t do that. You know what I mean? He’s kinda a bear in his cave and he comes out and he takes care of business. He posts the lawn and that kind of stuff. But, and not only husbands, but wives, sometimes they’re just not conversationalists.

They’re information sharers or they just, they’re reticent. They’re, they aren’t, they’re internal, kinda like cowboy electronic, whereas I’m bubbly and I talk about it everything all the time.

Stephen: This May, I think it goes right along with the omnivorous and everything is that it’s part of that.

It’s, too many people are like this is just my life. I go to work and come home. I’m done with everything. I’m just go watch TV and ne we, that’s not how our brains work. Even if you’re having to drive to work and come home, it’s still okay, now I’m gonna go learn to play this new chord on guitar.

Now I’m gonna listen to this music. There’s a new show and that, just a million things going on. It’s just, I,

Alan: another thing that I’ve always thought was you don’t really understand how well you know something until you try to give it away. So whenever I do a talk, I’m aware of wow I know a lot about this, and yet there are things that I couldn’t explain fully about all the history of that or why.

And sometimes like, why do I like it as much? And getting into respective and being able to share that with other people is its own very cool exercise. Self-understanding is an important thing. So Whenev, whenever we have these conversations it’s like instead of, I don’t know how many people, they read something online and then they parrot it back.

and it’s I don’t only do that. I wanna understand it enough that I could explain it to somebody else if I had to. Or I could say, oh, that’s not all right. This part is okay, but this part is, they made a leap of logic there. That’s not a leap. It’s a stumble , and I don’t wanna buy into it.

And so it’s very cool to have those conversations and just be in the practice of what do you know and how do you know it, and what’s your confidence level in it? And would you fight for this? Or would you just say lean that way, but, I’m li I’m always willing to listen to other information.

It’s a regular exercise in that civil discourse. And between the two of us, it’s, it should expand everywhere, and if I sit down at a coffee shop and someone tells me about fracking and it’s not all good because of this and this, I’m glad that you’re making money off of it. I wanna be able to have that conversation where it’s conversational.

Immediately start yelling at each other, immediately go to the opposite ends of the, chasm and just start throwing things across ,

Stephen: that similar type of conversation I’ve tried and had a few times with people with electric cars. You had the people like, oh, we need electric cars. Go to solve all our problems.

I’m like, I doubt that. And then you hear other people, oh, electric cars are going to ruin our country. And this I doubt that too. Are they the panacea that answers all of our energy problems? No. What issues are there with electric cars? Because they still need manufactured somehow. And the chemicals in the battery are worse than necessarily the carbon for the fuel.

What’s worse, what long term and how do we handle the batteries and does it change our whole setup? Cuz now we need to put in electric charging. There’s more issues than just, oh, we’re not using fossil fuels. , but a lot of people won’t delve that deep into it, and it’s just like, no, I’m just this opinion.


Alan: that’s the end of it, right? a, It’s a yes or no. It’s a win loss or however you wanna term it. That, that way of talking about things instead of, wow, this is a tricky thing. Yeah. Life messy and complex and the way you get to a conclusion is not by deciding what you want and then filling in underneath your support.

Don’t you do it, look at all the facts and then say on balance I’ll tell you what, , I had a person in my past that really was more that they decide what they think is right and then they find supporting evidence. And it’s really and what I would say I thought about this and this.

They thought I was picking away at them instead of saying actually this is the way I think I collect a lot of data. And I of waited as to how believable and how important what the, know, what the weights of phase are. And that’s what guide me biggest decision. It’s, it was also like I’ve talked about my choosing spreadsheets.

Whenever I have presented at Tator and the next time that people do that thing, they don’t use it. They just say, Nope, we’re going here. Cuz that’s what I want. It hurts me a little bit because I showed them a good way. And yet that’s not how people think. No I haven’t proven again and again.

So it’s my, I love consumer reports because they do a lot of that. How do you know product is good? If it’s a dishwashing liquid, does it get off this kind of food, does it leave a, a sheen on it or not? And there’s all kinds of factors that go into the final on balance. This guy’s an 87 and this guy’s a 79.

And then, but the price for the 79 is half of the 87, so it’s might why you might wanna be able to give up a few feature. and I think that way all the time. Either I learned it from consumer reports or I’ve always thought that way. And then when I found consumer reports, like they’re doing all the work that I would do, but I don’t have to bite.

And that different bottles right of motor oil to find out which is the best motor oil, .

Stephen: And it’s a difference of understanding what the truth and the facts and checking it out is as opposed to what the marketing has implanted in your brain as the truth. And there you’ve probably heard of Gorilla Marketing Jay, blah, blah, blah something, I forget his last name.

They, he relates a story in one of the first Gorilla marketing books where him and some ad marketing guys got into a cab and they were talking about convention they were about to go to blah, blah, blah. And the. Cavi is oh, I don’t believe in any of that marketing stuff. They’re like, oh really?

What toothpaste do you use? And the guy said, oh, I use this toothpaste because I don’t have time to brush all the time in between my cab rides. And they all laugh because that was the marketing of when you don’t have time, ours is the best.

Alan: Absolutely. The tagline. That’s right. .

Stephen: That’s, it’s difficult and that’s what people get and that’s what certain politicians do also and prey upon is that way of thinking.

And the people that fall into that. Consumer reports is their non-par, supposedly, I’ll give it that is supposed non-partisan. Third party that really evaluates not based on who’s giving them money or anything. So Exactly. That’s important. And

Alan: that’s, I’ve almost liked that, when Mad Magazine could be funny about everything, cause they didn’t take ads and when they started to take ads because Time Warner bought them was like, it’s the end of an era.

Even if they try to talk about how there’s still a Chinese wall between the editorial and the content side of the house, now you, you can’t believe that. You know what I mean? It’s wow, they’re not making as much fun of Jameson as they once did, because apparently that’s also a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner or whatever, and oh I, anyway, that, , AJ Jacobs, who I love, has done all kinds of, he’s a very good, he’s like the George Clinton of journalism by that meaning he decides I’m gonna live a year according to what the Bible says.

in every way. And so he lets his beard grow and he keeps kosher or it’s both old and New Testament and the difficulties of doing that in the modern world. He talks about that they’re very like autobiographical while really doing a tons of fact-based stuff while also commenting on this works, but this doesn’t, this is absurd.

And he’s done that for investigating his family tree and he had a great book called The Puzzler where he has the same fascination that you and I have with puzzles and games, maybe even more of either you. And he said, I’m gonna spend a year investigating this in every way. I already do the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Let’s go to that cool crossword puzzle tournament in Stanford, Connecticut. And in fact, one of the things I got for Colleen and I this year are the books that collect various different tournament level crosswords from them. Because maybe this year in April, maybe next year in April, we’re gonna go into training and do our cross proposals and actually time ourselves and see, there’s something. I have all kinds of things that I’ve always wondered. I do these all the time and I’m really pretty good at ’em. Like when I sit on the airplane and I do the airplane crossword puzzle and people look over because you’re doing it so fast, maybe really I’m at that level that I’m a, a good solver.

And yet you also know that there’s people that they not only do crossword puzzle, that’s the only thing that they do. Yeah, that’s, I’m gonna go there and I’m not Mr. Hot stuff, and I’m gonna get my ass handed to me because a five year old perfect vocabulary guy that does nothing but Scrabble and crossword puzzles is just a machine about these kinds of things.

Yeah. I’m curious. Speak with people. I don’t care about the competition. I wanna be with the will shortage of the world that everything is. Punny and word knowledgeable and fascinating. You know

Stephen: what I mean? So yeah, speaking of that, we’ve gotten into a new slight family tradition of watching Jeopardy and yelling out the answers, trying to , see who can get whatever answers.

And we Ethan comes over and like me and Colin and Ethan and my mother, were all sitting there yelling and try Oh, I, oh, I didn’t get that one. Oh, I should have known that. All those types of things. , so for Christmas, I got Colin and my mother and Alex Trebek, Funko Pop . , that’s

Alan: fun.

That’s, yeah. Yeah. He’s still with us in spirit, mean? yeah. I really like Ken Jennings, that he’s the now full-time inheritor and stuff like that. And actually I have nothing bad to say about him. He’s not Alex, that’s all the people were so used to Alex that thinking that there’s all kinds of things that people think, oh, nobody could do it, but Johnny Carson.

And then along come, not one, but two, but five different successors. And there are other people that can feel

Stephen: even big shoes in their own way. Nobody’s can be Johnny Carson, but they can be themselves and be as enjoyable in their own way. And some of ’em are way

Alan: Exactly. Exactly. Let’s. The complete book of Buckaroo Boni.

Nice. Wow. Have you ever seen this movie? Yes. I didn’t even listen. Missed it. Colleen is so good about when I make little references to, that’s the movie that had Peter Weller and Jeff Goldberg and Clancy Brown. Like everybody, John Lisk, like loaded with young stars, so that when they’re, they do that for the nine Oh 2, 1 0 9, 0 1 2.

Oh, they like talk about then they all went on to have big careers. This is that kind of movie plus, right? It’s so witty and so weird and so much fun. I’m a rockstar brain surgeon, , mean. So I haven’t, I, these are, I’m. When you get a whole bunch of new books, you’re like what am I gonna read first?

These are all Crays , right? See what mood I’m in. So the whole buck, and I keep reading rumors about this, if you remember the movie, it’s the Buck Rubi and his veers in the fifth Dimension, right? And at the very end they have that Buck Rubi will return, versus the syndicate or something like that.

I should know it. I really should. They should be internally burnt into my brain, and yet I keep seeing rumors that they might actually do it. Wow. They might get the band back together and make another Boni movie. I would be, the special effects would be so now advanced. But also just to see each of those characters with a few years on ’em.

It’d be

Stephen: fascinating as long as they keep the feel and the campiness and they don’t try and do something totally different and make it better. .

Alan: Exactly. Let’s see. Nudge the revised edition. Oh, so I love reading books about like, how we think, how people think. I love the Freakonomics books.

I so this is about the a, a good way to persuade, we talked earlier about advertising where it’s like mimetic and you have a good tagline and it gets in on people of without them realizing there’s a whole bunch of subliminal seduction books that came out 50 years ago about, oh, they put little images of skulls in the glass, in the ice, in the glass.

And then you’re like, I fear death, but for some reason I’m fascinated with this drink. So nudge is about how you set small incentive default values. Little ways of saying, I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but the default value for how you’re gonna set up your 401k is. , let’s say it’s 3% cuz that’s what your company manages.

And just that little bit of trying to make the world a better place by putting in good default values can make, it’s amazing how much it helps people make good decisions that from a blank piece of paper, they would’ve gone, how about zero or 10, A nice round number? How about nothing? Cause I don’t know anything about it.

You give them the idea that someone who cares about you has thought about you and they’re right there by your side. They’re not trying to tell you what to do. Cuz some people are automatic rebels. You know what I mean? So the thought that goes into how do we get people to adopt social programs when you know that there’s gonna be some kind of automatic skepticism, even resistance.

How do you get like taking people from thought to action? It’s so hard. Every, every diet plan, every workout plan, every, everything is about just overcoming momentum and getting people to act. And this is a fantastic book about that revised edition. So we’ll see what that says in 2022, the year of social media and mimetic warfare.

And what have they learned about, you can get people to believe in, observe things, awful things, atrocity things, as well as you can get them to believe in, Hey, everybody gets a puppy . You know what I mean? So anyway, , know, I’m going on too much here. Profiles an Ignorance. Andy Borowitz is the best fake headline writer out there, right up there with the onion and so this is his latest take on how did we get to where we are that we actually elect people that are so obviously, if not incompetent, actively evil.

And yet we’re like he’s our guy. , so how have they learned to manipulate the political landscape or the mcap or they dress in a nice suit so they look respectable, but there’s nothing of the responsibility of you’re an expert in a suit and don’t worry, I will guide you forward.

How you deal with the, all those kinds of people that it’s disheartening in the same way that Gray Lord wasn’t Chicago, all these corrupt judges all under charges and yet two thirds of ’em got reelected. Really? All of Chicago is, yeah, but he’s my guy. It’s okay if he’s taking a couple bribes because that’s his, you know what I mean?

And now we have the BS and the Taylor Greens of the world. Like you can’t have had two or four, six years of them and not say, get the hell out of

Stephen: I’ve said destroying the country. I’ve said this before, . I’ve said, with all the crap we’re seeing with all these politicians, I’ll take another Bill Clinton, who plays around little sex stuff with the interns, that’s nothing, I’ll take that every day.

Alan: It’s all those discussions can me lead to what that sense of proportion is that people have, they’re like, wow, you continually voted for gas companies and so we are killing the planet. But even worse over here is someone who fooled around and they’re both bad. But if I had to take what has the greatest impact, what’s truly evil versus the other?

It’s kinda like the nine levels of seven circles of hell that came up with. There is a way to rank those things in some ways small. There’s even like Catholic terms for it, right? Cardinal versus vinal versus yes. You know what I mean? There’s really levels of sin and don’t equate them. Like especially when someone does it and your response is everybody who does that, no.

It’s evil all the time and everybody who does it should be stopped. It doesn’t make it better that somebody doesn’t make it acceptable. , somebody else does it. They all should not lie, cheat and steal. They, oh .

Stephen: Yeah that, that’s long term. That’s a long conversation there, . I know.

Alan: I know. Let’s see.

The midnight guardian, I’ve

Stephen: got that. Oh did you get that for me? Yes, I got you the whole set. So now I wanna give, oh I don’t have the whole set. I don’t have the whole set. No, you’re gonna be

Alan: happy. Ok. Yeah. know, I dunno. I love that Stubborn wordsmith or not, but John Brun is a local author that Recreates help ethos so well, yes, he really does great.

From and so I’ve been a big fan Hay for a long time and I had a chance to meet him at a bookstore in liquid and we got along well and then I just visited him at a bookstore in Shaker Square where actually drove just to talk to him. And you know how you get to know people online and you’re like, okay, we’re simpatico.

I really thought that you would like these. So besides Yes,

Stephen: thank you because my copy, I can pass that off on the somebody else.

Alan: Okay, so you know these copies that I got you, that I had him signed them to you. Nice. That’s awesome man. Guys pass off. So I can’t believe I cop to it. And that’s so funny.

Tomorrow, tomorrow if you come to the chat, you’ll be getting your little gifty. I

Stephen: got some, you have to accept my steam friend request.

Alan: I haven’t been on the huh? I’ve been busy. I’ve been busy. Silly Christmas cards on all kinda stuff, but still I got your thing. Hey, I sent you an invite.

I will indeed do it. And also I, that world, one of the joys of doing games is that to do them in that shared world. Yeah. So just sent me think back. Back in blood. Back for blood. Back for blood for. It’s a shared world, zombie apocalypse type game. Yes. And I haven’t done this for a long time, so I’m really looking forward to doing it.

And unfortunately, what did I do? I, we have things going on virtually every night this week. Oh yeah, tonight we’re going to, to wild winter nights. Tomorrow. I’m speaking. Thursday is a comedian, Steve Hofsteder. Friday is games with Colleen’s sisters. Saturday is New Year’s Eve, so we’re gonna see James like we talked about, right?

Hey, as soon as we’ll go on a big adventure and you can take this little pod out on the run and teach him how this game works and you don’t let me die so quickly. How about next week? We’ll get to

Stephen: it. Man. Soul man game gaming can fit in with stuff. And John Bruning real quick, his one writing partner, Jim Beard.

I met him yes. At one of Collins Crypto Zo zoologist Bigfoot festivals. I met Jim Beard. He wrote the story for one of the Star Wars comics I have. So I have a Star Wars comic. He signed. That yeah, so that’s how I met those guys.

Alan: The way I met Bruning first was I went to a pulp fest here in Cleveland that’s like the Holiday Inn in Westlake or something like that.

And I loved those because I really loved the pulps, that’s the time of doc and the shadow and that’s why I liked it too. Yeah. And so there I was wandering the room and I’m like, wow, there’s still all kinds of cool new stuff coming out. And his from flinch books looked like some of the best.

And so I, I sample amongst all these various different things and then his was the one that was so good. There’s I get number two and number three and I love going to those things cuz you find out, I think we’ve talked about the Walden Newton universe before. Yes. There’s all kinds of things that I thought doc Savage, there are all 181 were written and then there were some additional Walter, no, Walter Murray, William Murray, I should know.

But then it you think it’s done. If I read all these, I’m undone. No, somebody is still because they loved him too. Yeah. Doing the faith recreation they’re putting in, they know them just like I do. So that the, that all of him and his fabulous five act in character, it’s not I just took the name and then I read it into the ground by not knowing how to write it.

I love going to those places, kinda like what we talked about. Any other thing. It’s not only about the things there, it’s about the people that like those things. I love the company of those people. Yeah. And I try to go to those. I there’s a regular big one in Pittsburgh that I’ve never made.

Same here. I just need to go like I do for my pinball weekend. I need to go and just knowing nothing about it, but I know I’m going to like those people go to Shadow weekend, go to, whatever they often have a, it’s h HP Lovecraft weekend or whatever else it might be, and I’ll just immerse myself in whatever cool things they’re getting.

One of the joys of reading those old things, we’ve talked about this a little bit before, is. . There’s a tendency nowadays for soap people to be the world came into being when I came into being, they won’t watch anything that was like filmed before they were born. They were being older. Man, I grew up loving that stuff.

How did I learn about the whole, kinda like twenties to the sixties cuz I was only born in 59. Like by reading Mad Magazine, by reading the poll, by reading what was the world like when it was the Great War, not World War I. Cuz they didn’t know there was the World War II yet. The advent of jet travel where you would didn’t have to cross the Atlantic on a boat and all those things.

When they discovered radioactivity and its uses when they, and its, and it’s damages and stuff like that. , it’s the books were maybe not written necessarily to create that sense of time. Sometimes when people write a Victorian, a Sherlock Holmes novel, they try to make it feel like it should cuz they’re writing it in the modern era about then back then they were just writing about how it was cars had running boards and, there were durables in the air and things like that. And it’s, I love drinking that in and knowing that there was a world before I came into it. .

Stephen: So speaking of that, one of the things I ran into and got for Colin that I knew he’d love, it wasn’t on my list to get, and I even told Vicky, she’s really?

You’re getting all of that for him? And I’m like, oh, trust me. This is going to be the big gift of the year. She’s seriously? I found some original POGO books by Walt Kelly at the antique store. Absolutely. He was flipping out about it and talking to that. He’s like, oh my gosh, this is talking about McCarthyism.

And he got into the history of why Walt Kelly did what he did and, and it’s just absolutely fascinating. And everybody has named this guy and Pogo as an influence. Neil Gaiman named them as an influence. That’s exactly

Alan: right. There really are, there’s some strips that for their time, were already a step above.

You know what I mean? They talked about real world events, but with fuzzy little animals. So that kinda like when he used puppet shows to tell the truth, , or science fiction. So they, those are really great. I have some them, I have some Nemo and Slumberland books where like the fever Dream illustrations that he was able to do were like nothing else going on.

And bill Waterson from Calvin and Hobb has talked about the reason that he really demanded of newspapers that they not shrink him down to the same size as ever had other strip. Cause he wanted to be able to do the big Yep. Quarter page or whatever it was. I want to have a dinosaur that looks like a dinosaur.

Yes. I don’t wanna scrunched little, that kind of thing. And that was inspired by the incredible kinetic of an NEMO and Slumberland. Yep.

Stephen: Penant. Absolutely.

Alan: Yep. Very cool. Let’s see. Hamilton Mazes, which I know very little about, but it’s a particular kind of maze where you have to make sure there’s a single path that connects all these.

And so it’s Matthew and amazing and all that kinda good stuff. So Colleen found me things like, I don’t know much about that. How did she find a book about puzzles that I am not, oh, I love

Stephen: those. That’s even better.

Alan: How amazing. , all of the Marvels, which is a history of the Marvel universe. Wow. I often start my talk I do.

Many comic book talks about this ongoing shared mythology is like the biggest work of literature in history. It’s as big as Greco Roman. You may, it might not be as many years, but the cast of characters, the many contributors, it really is a modern mythology. And this is the it kind goes into, here it all is.

Here’s while Marvel comics and and this is Marvel in particular, not only dc, not instead of DC. They were all going on at the same time. You’d often have crossovers in those books where, hey, spider-Man happens to swing by the Baxter building or something like that. But the fact that the world was big and that Tony Stark was inventing this at the same time that Donald Blake was picking up the stick that made him into Thor the same time that the Hulk was getting irradiated, Bruce Banner turning into it’s very cool, the archetypes that were brought in and just the entire entwined history of all of that.

Yeah. This is like reading Bullins mythology. Wow. For the Marvel Universe. Wow. And so I’m I had, when I first came out, I talked about it and Colleen was one of those other, you, I’ll remember that one. This is from

Stephen: Jack.

Alan: So list, it was like, and one of the books he said, I really wanted to read that.

And it’s . Then finally, this is the. It’s a really cool site called Information is Beautiful. A guy has an amazing talent for how to do graphics that illustrate data statistics ratios and stuff like that in a way that’s very like persuasive and perceptive and stuff like that.

And so I just I love where it isn’t the driest way to do things. And here’s another shout out. There’s a guy named Edward Tufty that you might have heard of. His first book was called something like visual Approach to Statistical Analysis.

Stephen: What A Dry

Alan: Lighthearted, Lighthearted, exactly that.

And yet it’s amazing how perceptive he is of, it’s not only a matter of portraying, it’s that you have to do it. Tells the whole story. You don’t have a graph that’s badly proportion to make your point. It has to be the truth. You should choose visual elements that don’t distract from, but instead concentrate the getting the message home.

A pie chart should be anyway. He’s like my hero for that kind of stuff because one of the things he does in his books is not only show all the good examples, he shows all the crap examples that people have gotten away from for a long time. When you have a little, a bar chart and you realize that it’s logarithmic instead of proportional like that, it’s meant to do that, to show that this is a geometric instead an arithmetic progression.

But in the real world, that matters a ton. If you’re looking at how much money is that really? How many people? Is that really how many people died? Is that really this is, he seems to have, read some of the same sources and really makes a point of, I want my stuff to be, if you show people this chart, they’ll understand nutrition, they’ll understand climate change, that, it really shows that this is like incontrovertible evidence presented perfectly so that you can Oh, that’s cool. Yeah. Drill down into the data. You can explain it to somebody else. As we alluded to earlier, I just, I love that someone is really, I don’t know, truth is pretty cool. and someone who’s dedicated to that and is saying that, don’t be a PowerPoint presentation where you’re just trying to like rush through it and gloss over things you don’t like, dedicate yourself to really telling the whole story.

You’ll, whatever you might, you’ll gain in credibility. You know what I mean? You really wanna be the guy that when people talk about you, they’re not he’s a Sharpie. He’s a used car salesman. He, they want it to be, you might not get. You might not like what he has to say, but what he has to say will be truthful and important.

And I guess that’s one of the things I hope to make it to my gravestone and that somebody will like, yeah, he was kinda like that. He was mostly like that. He joked around a lot, but that was a way of getting at the truth a lot too.

Stephen: Yep. Nice. Getting

Alan: so

Stephen: end of year

Alan: I got Colleen some, you know how you get col for, you’re, so as you watch someone opening a gift, like you were saying, when you know that this is really gonna hit it out of the ballpark for Colin, I got her shirt that, it is called a lithograph that in tiny print, it has the entire little house on the Prairie book and it forms the little house in.

And so I, she’s really a big fan of Laura Engels Elder and Prairie Books. So I knew she’d like that.

Stephen: I got one of those. Me and Colin got a new montoya and it’s got Princess Bride on it. It’s the whole thing. Fantastic. Exactly.

Alan: Exactly. . also got her she loves coffee and she really has like her favorite.

She, we’ve tried Starbucks and everybody else and she really likes Pete’s and there were Petes in Cleveland for a while, but they’ve folded up and went back across the Mississippi . But I can still find ’em in grocery stores. But I like seeing if there’s any other thing that she might like. So I’ve gotten her cone of coffee and that’s very interesting to her.

Whereas Ko Luk, which is the one that the civics eat and then excreted, then you make coffee out of those beans. Like for it’s 10 times as expensive. Is it 10 times as good? No, it is not. I just wanna be able to say, yeah, I ate the poop coffee. D , right? I got her. I discovered you mentioned that downstate, you’ve been to Cambridge and there’s all kinds of cool things right here in Ohio.

What did I discover? There’s a city called Baltic, as yes. In up country there’s a Baltic coffee company. Of course I have to buy things from a Baltic coffee company. I was, not too subtle. It was like what kind of coffee have you liked that you have you tried that you liked and didn’t like?

And so it’s doesn’t care for a lot of Central American, whatever the bitterness or the wrong notes in there. But she really likes South American, likes Hawaiian, doesn’t like Jamaican, doesn’t really care for a lot of Sumatran Indonesian, but likes a lot of African ding. So I got her like five half pound samplers of Congo, Ethiopia, Peru, Columbia.

Nice. I got her some nice coffee to try and I, the first one she tried was the Congo, cuz she had never had that before. And yesterday it was a hit. So Nice. Good. I hope that I gave her that little bit of variety in the same way that you talked about the teas. And we have a pretty good coffee maker, but I and the bags don’t come with any specific instructions and I don’t know that I want the morning coffee.

She wants to hit the button and have it take three minutes, not 20 minutes after I freshly grounded it and then made sure I put some chicory in with it, right? Cause that’s how you make this kinda coffee. I’ll see which ones of these she likes and Hey, Baltic Coffee Company. Now I want to go there.

It’s the, they actually do small batch roasting and say, my name is Baldis . And that’s why I wanna buy one of each, because I need to have vaulted coffee littering my house.

Stephen: You need to become the spokesperson.

Alan: Maybe that’s it. My, my wife is the coffee, how she’s a bti and she says this stuff is the best, right?

I think, and I also forgot, I got her a little penant. That is the tree of life that I already mentioned. This, I’m sorry, catches the light beautifully cuz it’s kinda like laser cut. Certain things that I was really I had a lot of confidence that she really will like this. And she did. When you get nice little, ooh, the little perfect coup.

That’s a little coup . , right? Anyway. Plus many other books and many other, my, my way of shopping for clothes at Costco this year was like walking along, running my hands on things. It was like, this is the softest thing here. Let’s get one in her size. . So I got her and I got her like just all kinds of, keep her warm during the winter.

Also, as you get older, it seems to be more and more like maintaining body heat is an important thing. Yeah. All. It’s an impossible thing. And she always appreciates it when I get her the wrap or the sweater or the layering pieces. So you’ll stay warm and we go to Zoo Light tonight, and we go with

Stephen: her.

Like I, I gave Vicky this little bet. Vicky, this little bag set of spa day. It was for things to go and have a at-home spa day. And she was so excited and I was kinda laughing because that yeah. She was laughing because it was my silent auction gift from the western pa Mensa RG that I won. Okay.

So I knew

Alan: she’d like it very much. She would like it. And I don’t know, I’m a guy like get in and out of the shower with cleanliness in mind. Colleen loves her soak. We actually, that’s one of the few things we really, we’ve improved upon the house in multiple ways. She’s been in for 35 years, me for 20.

When you’re gonna get a new bathtub, it’s let’s not just get a bathtub. Let’s get exactly the tub that you want because you’re can have it the rest of your life. And you don’t want every day to be like, oh, I could had this. No weak tub. So no little knees out, her full immersion

Nice. Very good. Exactly. Swag fest. Yes. I love the fact that Christmas gives you the opportunity to do that, to look at all this cool stuff and to see that wonderful smile come on somebody’s face and I just it’s a delight to be able to do this. So I hope everybody else had a wonderful Christmas.

Sure. Sounds like you. And we

Stephen: did wonderful. I had to drive on Friday during that horrible storm for a little bit. That was a treat, let me tell you. Everything worked out, but man,

Alan: it was not, yeah. We were still in relative civilized city stuff. Whereas you’re out like where there’s a penalty for going off the road.

There’s a ditch.

Stephen: Almost was in an accident because the snow had blown over on my side of the road and I had to slow down and stop. But it was a whiteout. So the guy behind me couldn’t even see me and it was like an action hero coming out of smoke. He comes barreling out of the snow and I see his face go and he hit his brakes.

And he’s it didn’t even slow down. Yeah. Fantastic. But he slid next to me instead of into me. And I, he was like, hon, I’m glad it happened. But honestly I didn’t try. It just went, that’s,

Alan: no. Yes. , it wasn’t any, it was Providence, not his actions. That’s

Stephen: okay. My, my mother said it was my father watching over me.

I’m like, are you kidding? It was too cold out there for him. He wouldn’t have been . Alright, man. We gotta talk about Avatar next week. I’m curious about it. Absolutely. .

Alan: All right, go ahead. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. We’ll see you tomorrow night. We’ll chat again next week. Yes. Okay.

See you tomorrow. Take care.