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In this episode, we’ve got a Film Review of House of the Dragon Episode 1, a feature segment on a genre of creativity called Surrealism, Carl King visits the town of TWIN PEAKS, I answer a listener question, and we wrap it up with the Album of the Week: Of Natural History from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.
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I’m Carl King, and this is The Carl King Podcast, where I talk about music, filmmaking, and general creativity stuff. To support this podcast, head over to Patreon.com/carlking, and join for just $1 or $5 per month. Special thank you to my Illusionist $51 level patrons, both Hank Howard III and Chewbode.
Quick shout-out to my music endorsements: Vienna Symphonic Library, Fractal Audio, Ernie Ball Strings, Toontrack, and Millennia Media. All 5 companies make amazing musical gear that I love to use.
Now let’s start to prepare to start getting started!
Alright. Here’s what we’re gonna do in this episode. We’re gonna do a little Carl King The Human Update. Then we’ve got a Film Review of House of the Dragon Episode 1, a feature segment on a genre of creativity called Surrealism, Carl King visits the town of TWIN PEAKS, I answer a listener question, and we wrap it up with the Album of the Week: Of Natural History from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.
And remember, if you are listening to the audio version of this podcast, there is also a VIDEO version on my YouTube Channel. That’s YouTube.com/carlkingdom I think.
So let’s go.
CARL KING THE HUMAN UPDATE
Here’s a Carl King The Human Update, from Carl King the Human Update.
Just YESTERDAY, I got back from Seattle and Vancouver, where I celebrated my 74th Birthday. I went up there with Chewbode and our female human wives. I ate a bunch of vegan nachos. So happy 74th Birthday to me and my crappy knees.
But hey, Carl King isn’t wasting any time. I’m here today to tell you all the things. And THAT is what makes me the most trusted podcaster in northern Los Angeles county.
One little CarlKingdom News Item: my latest book, ROBOTS & ALIENS, DEEP LINER NOTES 1996-1999 was reviewed on INK19.com. INK19 was the first magazine to EVER review one of my albums, and also the first to INTERVIEW ME. Anyway, Robots & Aliens is a digital book, 126 or so pages, all about the making of the first Sir Millard Mulch CD. Full of photos, stories, liner notes. All sorts of artifacts.
You can read it, but it’s ONLY available to my Patreon Patrons at the $5 level and up. So to read it, head over to Patreon.com/carlking, and do what you’re supposed to do. Anyway, the review by Charles DJ Deppner was nifty, and I like how he referred to my life as an Escape Plan. A link to the review is in the show notes.
So here we go. Grab a handful of low-fodmap crumbs out of the bottom of your backpack and let’s get into this episode’s FILM REVIEW.
FILM REVIEW: HOUSE OF THE DRAGON EPISODE 1
OK, maybe so maybe this week’s film isn’t actually a film, or maybe it’s just a very long film. Who cares, anymore?
You know, it’s been a long time since Game of Thrones ended. Has it really been 10 years? Wow. It has. So it makes sense that by now, the audience has aged. Yeah, we’re old now. And this is a show for older people. It’s mature. Slow paced. Feels more like a British drama.
House of the Dragon seems to be going in a different direction. They could have doubled-down on what excited everyone last time: the nudity and gore. But they didn’t. I think that was a good move. The nudity was there, the gore was there, but it wasn’t over-the-top.
Let’s hear it for those 17-second intro credits. Thank god. No more fast forwarding through the obnoxiously long 3D animations of maps and cities. To be honest I always dreaded that opening sequence and felt it was a waste of time. Let’s get to the dang story.
Now speaking of the dang story, this one takes place 172 years BEFORE the other show. And Carl King has no complaints with that. I think jumping waaaaay back in time is refreshing. I wish Star Wars would do that. Let’s get out of that same old cramped universe full of the same characters and actors. Let it go, because in my opinion, the shark has been jumped.
But we’re not here to talk about Star Wars. We’re not going to talk about Judy. With House of Dragon, there’s a focus on visual storytelling going on, and here’s how I know. There’s a major plot reveal that only happens visually, about halfway through the episode. It’s not spoken in dialogue until much later. But when that visual reveal happened, I looked away for a moment and TOTALLY missed it.
Later on, another scene wasn’t making sense, so I had to go back. What the heck? Sure enough, I found the information I needed, right on there on camera. Totally my fault, and the filmmakers should stick to their strong choices.
Here’s a super cool detail I appreciated: There’s a scene where King Viserys I Targaryen is off on his own, building model cities. Like a dad with his model trains.
Here’s a screenwriting thing: before you kill off a character, make us LIKE them. It will have more impact.
Casting decisions. I don’t know. I don’t know how much I’ll be drawn into these actors. Time will tell. Matt Smith does seem like a good choice for Prince Daemon.
But here’s something disorienting. They cast two different actresses to play who I assume is the most important character: Princess Targaryen. There’s Emma D’Arcy as the older version and Milly Alcock as the younger.
I don’t know at what point we will we jump forward in time in this series and swap them out, but it seems like a dangerous choice. Because throughout the first episode, it’s all Milly Alcock. We’re investing in her, caring about her. Soon, she’ll be gone, replaced. We’ll have to continue watching and see how that works.
I was looking through the cast on Wikipedia. Dang, there are a lot of characters in this show. Targaryens, Baratheons, Velaryons. Even some Lannister-y-ons. And a Stark.
About the cinematography. I noticed they use super-wide lenses. Tilting up and down, causing everything on the sides to bend all over the place. Lots of wide shots, showing how big and grand the Targaryen empire was back then. I don’t recall if Game of Thrones did as much of that.
The musical motif from Game of Thrones was brought back, but in clever ways. It’s there, I noticed it, but it wasn’t obnoxious. That was a relief.
Carl King would give this show 5 out of 5 Stars on Letterboxd, because I need to consume as many Game of Thrones TV shows as possible. Unfortunately this TV show is not listed there yet. Sometimes TV shows appear there, sometimes they don’t. It’s not Carl King’s fault. By the way, if you’re on Letterboxd, you can add me. I’m CarlKingdom over there. Let’s be Very Good Friends.
Now here’s this episode’s Feature Segment.
WHAT THE HECK IS SURREALISM?
Who here has heard of Surrealism? Ever used the word Surreal? What did it MEAN to you? Well.. Did you know Surrealism was actually a FORMAL ARTISTIC MOVEMENT? A GENRE? Until a week ago, Carl King did not.
According to Wikipedia, Surrealism began somewhere between 1917 and the 1920s — making it over a HUNDRED YEARS OLD now.
The more I read about it, the more it kinda blew my mind. Because surrealism was a pretty big deal. And I never knew this, but it influenced many of the bands, books, and movies people like us enjoy.
Disclaimer: I got a lot of this information on Wikipedia. So it could entirely be LIES. In fact, maybe I’M lying about half this stuff, and it will be used a reference for more Wikipedia articles on Surrealism. So let’s dig in. I want to tell you about it.
Basically, Surrealism is about “liberating the imagination.” Allowing the subconscious to express its ideas without concern for rationality. Creating a dreamlike quality where anything can happen. You know, painting of people with multiple heads, stuff floating in the air that shouldn’t be floating in the air. A breakdown of reality.
That style got its start right after World War I, and kinda came out of the movement called Dada. And Dada was strongly, overtly anti-war. This was in 1915 or 1916.
Just a couple of years later, a group of French artists who literally declared themselves Surrealists got together and wrote manifestos.
But there was also a sense of humor to it. For instance, there’s a famous Surrealist illustration by René Magritte, of a smoking pipe. You know, like a grandpa or 1950s dad might smoke out of. Below it are the words: “This is not a pipe.”
Surrealism has been sneaking its way into modern pop culture ever since.
I’m putting a link in the show notes to a fascinating old film on YouTube about Dadaism and Surrealism. And by the way, check out that narrator’s voice. Sound familiar?
Now, when someone says Surrealism you might think of the paintings of Salvador Dali. But Dali was born in 1904, so he was only 13 years old when those French surrealists established the style. But he DID officially join the movement in 1929. When he was 25 years old.
So anyway, what’s with that name: Surrealism? A French writer named Guillaume Apollinaire actually made it up in 1917. He wrote a letter to a friend and was like “I’ve decided my style is surrealism.”
Apparently he was onto something. Because over the next few years, two COMPETING groups of creative French people formed, and decided THEY were the Official Surrealists. Kinda like Sneetches on the Beaches. Both groups even wrote their own manifestos. And they basically went to war with each other.
According to the leader of one side, Andre Breton, Surrealism was a REVOLUTIONARY style. And he meant: it should cause an actual revolution. As in, Art should change society. It was a political thing. Because, you know, Surrealism is serious business. They even opened a RESEARCH OFFICE.
I can’t help but think… was this whole battle between Surrealist groups all just part of the performance art? Have I been tricked?
Anyway, Breton’s faction won the Surreal War, and here we are.
Fast forward to 2022, and Carl King is less interested in the political aspects of French Surrealism, and more about Surrealist Humor. But what is THAT, exactly? Well. I’m going to rip this line directly from Wikipedia, because it’s so good:
“Portrayals of surreal humor tend to involve bizarre juxtapositions, incongruity, non-sequiturs, irrational or absurd situations, and expressions of nonsense.”
Yeah. That’s the good stuff. So that’s where we’ll focus today.
MY INTRODUCTION TO SURREALISM
Now. How did Carl King first get into Surreal Humor? My earliest memory of that genre was a short film called Hardware Wars. I must have been 5 or 6 years old, living in Nokomis, Florida. I had a TV next to my bed from as young as I can remember. Something about it HOOKED me. I’m guessing a lot of kids would like it, and then just move on. But for some reason Carl King didn’t.
Maybe Surrealism just happens to be my flavor of comedy. Nonsense makes me laugh. I have NO IDEA why. But do I have any choice about that? Think about it. What makes you laugh? Now ask yourself WHY it makes you laugh. It’s a bodily reaction, like sneezing.
Maybe those of us who are into surrealism have a different organ or taste bud that detects the flavor. And if you don’t have it, the comedy won’t register to you. You’ll just wonder “why are those people doing that?”
Back on the topic of Hardware Wars, there was another short sci-fi film spoof in the same style called Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind. Both of those sci-fi parodies would get broadcast on the TV local sort of public access station, WEDU. I still remember their voiceover slogan: “WEDU. Channel 3. Tampa, St. Petersburg.”
As a little kid I was obsessed with both Hardware Wars and Closet Cases. I’d tune into the station all the time hoping they’d play them again. I didn’t even know what kind of humor it was. I was just experiencing it viscerally. I craved more.
This is a weird little side note, but my book, So You’re A Creative Genius… Now What? Was actually PUBLISHED by the PRODUCER of Hardware Wars, Michael Wiese. I remember freaking out, and THAT little factoid was the reason I grabbed the pen and signed the contract!
Now back to my story on Surrealism. Starting around 8th grade, my parents divorced and I spent afternoons and evenings with nothing but my guitar and MTV. And that’s where I was introduced to a show called AL TV, hosted by… WEIRD AL. For hours at a time, he “took over the station.”
In Episode 5, aired on April 20, 1988, that’s where I first heard They Might Be Giants and other what is sometimes called novelty music… like Fish Heads by Barnes and Barnes. Also from that episode, Weird Al’s fake interview with George Harrison made a BIG impression on me. I’d quote it all the time.
So there I was. Twelve years old, and Weird Al’s broadcast melted my brain. I taped most of that episode on VHS and watched it over and over.
But you know what? Thinking back, Here’s a striking thing. MTV was, on the surface, a mainstream entertainment channel whose bread and butter was MUSIC VIDEOS.
BUT FOR SOME REASON, in those days, MTV was highly experimental and artsy. Did some surrealist art school students hijack the studio? I think so. However it was happening, it was intentional. Whoever was in control, they aired a ton of creatively challenging material. Late at night there was Liquid Television, where Beavis and Butthead got their start.
In the middle of the day, unexpectedly, there was Pirate TV… a supposed illegal takeover of the station. Even the Half Hour Comedy Hour could be pretty OUT THERE.
In the afternoons, it was Just Say Julie and a game show called Remote Control. There were nonsensical commercials with characters like Randee of the Redwoods. Even Pauly Shore was kinda surreal. I think?
Hard to believe, but MTV even aired Monty Python’s Flying Circus every day. That whole universe HAD to have been an influence on me, but I was never the type of fan who memorized the sketches or knew the names of the actors. I think I just absorbed it subconsciously.
Late at night, there was a segment on MTV called Post-Modern MTV. Listeners, the usage of art terminology can’t be a coincidence. I’m telling you, it must have been those dang art students.
Right around then, the first Naked Gun movie came out. I remember laughing so hard at the oblivious straight-man Frank Drebin played by Leslie Nielsen. Airplane, of course, had come out in 1980. In it, there’s that iconic running gag where Leslie Nielsen comes into the cabin repeatedly, totally deadpan, saying “Just wanted to tell you both good luck, we’re all counting on you” He even walks in and does it AS THE PLANE IS CRASH-LANDING. It’s 100% surrealist humor.
For Christmas ’89 I got the Steve Vai Flex-able album. What a Venn diagram of homemade weirdness and virtuosity that was. Reading the liner notes, it felt so personal, like it was written from one oddball to another, in a language no one else would understand. Like joining a secret society. The album begins with a song about aliens called Little Green Men and ends with a super dissonant track called There’s Something Dead In Here.
That cassette was my way into Frank Zappa. My first album by him was Absolutely Free, a bonkers sort of… opera. The form was complex. It was discordant layers of sound, performed by a jangly group of hippies. I could never tell when one song ended and the next one began, like was all one big piece. But I listened to it quite a bit until it made enough sense for me to enjoy it.
By the way, Frank Zappa officially considered himself a DADAIST, which I mentioned was the art movement that came just BEFORE Surrealism.
That same year, 1989, I was introduced to the books of Douglas Adams: The Hitchhikers Guide to the GALAXY series. And GWAR’s Scumdogs of the Universe.
Later in high school I heard the first Mr. Bungle album, which was life-changing for me. More of that high level musicianship combined with nonsensical humor. Just what my 16-year-old brain needed.
Then there was Ween. Kurt Vonnegut. The Tick. Evan Dorkin. Jhonen Vasquez. David Lynch. The Book of the Subgenius.
And on the extreme end of the spectrum of auditory surrealism, there’s Negativland. You can go deep into their material, catching references they made to their other albums. Characters go away and show up years later. Their creations are a nearly unlistenable puzzle to decode. They might also be considered Post-Modernist, because a big part of their work was re-contextualizing existing art.
Towards the end of high school I was exposed to the original Adult Swim lineup, specifically Space Ghost Coast To Coast. And that was THE ULTIMATE. I’m still trying to make my own version of THAT. Will I ever have my own show on Adult Swim? Dang it.
Anyway, this is all to say, the young Carl King was exposed to these scattered bands, comic books, TV shows. And Surrealism was the invisible thread connecting all the things I liked. I became a connoisseur of non-sequiturs. If I could say a non-sequitur to someone on the street, and they responded immediately with another non-sequitur, they passed the test.
If you were to add up all of these things, there is clearly a HUGE audience out there. But for some reason surrealism lacks a unifying force. I’ve always wondered: why don’t all the surrealists team up and take over the world?
THE HISTORY OF SURREALISM IN AMERICAN POP CULTURE
The more I thought about this subject, I began to wonder: How did the ideas of the French Surrealist spread throughout American Pop Culture? What was the trojan horse that brought it in?
One seemingly obvious culprit is Monty Python. Were they responsible for bringing Surrealism back? A strong possibility.
Let’s see. They started their TV show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus in 1969. I don’t know how long it took for that show to reach the US. Frank Zappa already had a few records out by then, but there’s no way he was reaching many people, either. Hmm.
A few years before that, in 1966, there was Firesign Theater. Admittedly, I know very little about them, but have heard their name a lot.
After doing some very scholarly and peer-reviewed research on Wikipedia, Carl King discovered that BOTH Monty Python and Firesign Theater were directly, HEAVILY influenced by something called The Goon Show. That was a comedic radio program that began in 1951. And Peter Sellers was a part of that.
So maybe it was THE GOON SHOW that brought it back. So, I tried listening to The Goon Show. But I couldn’t understand a single word of it, due to the audio fidelity and heavy English accents.
Well, maybe it’s a dead end. Maybe Carl King will never know.
And then it occurred to me. What about MAD MAGAZINE? Aha! Back when I was in elementary school I read LOTS of Mad Magazine. My mom bought it for me all the time at the grocery store. And I’m sure she had NO CLUE what kind of sick stuff was really in it.
Turns out MAD began in 1951! Way older than I expected. Also, 1951 is the same year as The Goon Show on the other side of the Atlantic.
I did some more digging. MAD was edited by a legendary dude named Harvey Kurtzman. Having gone to art school, he CERTAINLY knew of and was influenced by the French Surrealists — Even though his main career focus was cartooning for comic books. Just like everyone in music school gets exposed to John Cage.
Going back in time, Mad’s first issue was under the EC Comics brand like their other titles: Weird Science and Tales From The Crypt. Where weird science was Sci-Fi and Tales From The Crypt was Horror, Mad was COMEDY. They released new issues only a few times a year, I think quarterly.
And in 1954, something important happened. It was Issue Number 11. The cover was a cartoon parody of LIFE Magazine, a character with grotesque teeth. Something so intentionally UGLY had never seen before on the newsstands.
But Mad Magazine went COMPLETELY OVER THE EDGE into the surrealism, maybe even post-modernism with Issue 24, in 1955. From Issue 23 to 24, the transformation was shocking. If you read Issue 23 and then 24, you’ll see how drastic the shift was. The art, the satirical writing. It came out of NOWHERE.
The reality, or the sur-reality is this: With that issue, number 24, they shifted from a comic book format to a magazine format. And it’s an unbelievable issue. Everyone should go read it.
For context, Let’s look at what else was going on in 1955, when MAD Magazine decided to relaunch. MAD Issue 24 was just 4 months before the Vietnam War began. It was the year of Rock Around The Clock and Tutti Fruity. The very first McDonalds. And the opening of Disneyland.
So MAD Magazine was EARLY on the scene. Cracked Magazine came along a bit later, in 1958. And The Beatles didn’t even form until 1960.
Twilight Zone was 1959. National Lampoon was 1970.
Zap Magazine with R. Crumb was much later in 1968. In the “Book Of Weirdo” R. Crumb says he saw MAD Magazine Issue #11 on the newsstands as a child, and describes the powerful impact it had on him.
And according to Wikipedia, Terry Gilliam himself, of MONTY PYTHON said: “MAD became the Bible for me and my whole generation.”
SO THERE IT IS. Mad Magazine seems to be Surrealistic Humor’s place of Re-Birth in America. If anyone knows of anything in mid-50s mainstream that was as Surrealist as MAD Magazine, let me know.
WHAT I PROPOSE
Okay. So here we are. Carl King has been making albums, books, and movies for like 30 years. And after all this reading about surrealism, it’s obvious… there is already a name for all that stuff I love and all the stuff I create.
Here I was, just doing what I do. And I never knew I was in a GENRE. But dang it, Mr. Bungle, Adult Swim, these things belong together, under the banner of Surrealism.
So here’s what I propose. We can stop using the words “weird” and “crazy” to describe art and music and movies. We can retire those two words. (Now I doubt Weird Al will want to change his name to Surreal Al, so he gets a pass.)
From now on, I’m going to use the term Surrealist. And hey, I’m even putting it in my bio. Starting today. Because if it was good enough for the original surrealists, it’s good enough for me.
MODERN DAY SURREALISM
Carl King will now wrap up this exploration with a recommended list of even more recent Surrealist creators and creations. Particularly, surrealist humorists.
I’ll post my favorite YouTube links to all of these items in the show notes, and I encourage you to watch them. Here they are.
1 – Neil Hamburger
2 – On Cinema At The Cinema with Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington.
3 – The Eric Andre Show
4- Homestarrunner, especially: Trogdor The Burninator.
5 – Key and Peele. Especially “Continental Breakfast.” And “Explaining To Your Boss How You F’d Up.”
6 – Fensler Films GI Joe PSAs
7 KISS Shreds
Neil Hamburger Live At The Phoenix Greyhound Racing Track
On Cinema At The Cinema
Eric Andre – Lauren Conrad Interview
Trogdor The Burninator
Key & Peele – Continental Breakfast
Key & Peele – Explaining To Your Boss How You F’d Up
Fensler Film GI Joe PSAs
One last item. The Happy Mutant Handbook (published in 1995) was a little encyclopedia of creators like Ivan Stang, Harry Partch, Ween, Roger Corman, Mack White, Basil Wolverton, Jim Woodring. I actually started MutantMall.com back in the day to be the online version of it. I thought: someone needs to start a single online place to find and buy all of these things.
And folks, this is just unbelievable. As I was typing my notes for this segment, I went back to look at The Happy Mutant Handbook, and discovered the following:
“Editor’s note: In some ways, the Happy Mutant philosophy is the cyberspawn of the behavioral shenanigans of the Dadaists, Surrealists, or the lesser-known but more interesting Situationists.”
Surrealism was RIGHT THERE, all along!
Okay, now that you know everything Carl King does about Surrealism, let’s move on to The Listener Question of the Week.
This week’s Listener Questions comes from MODIAK.
Modiak wants to know more about things I am currently trying to overcome. Well, Modiak, Carl King has an answer for you.
Here’s what Carl King is trying to overcome. Like right now.
I have this deep fear, maybe even a belief, that everything I make — every song, every blog post, every animated show, every book, every podcast episode, will go completely unnoticed, and no one will like it or even pay attention to it. That I’ll never be able to make a living off of any of this stuff.
I go through periods of depression after every major release. I remember being super negative and disappointed after the release of That Monster Show. My very specific goal was to get an agent or manager involved. I gave myself 3 months of hard work, promoting it and sending it everywhere I could think of. And nothing happened. The YouTube views died off and it felt like no one cared. I felt terrible about myself, having spent all that money and energy.
I went around resenting the world and coming up with all sorts of negative reasons why the show didn’t catch on. Things like that make me want to stop being creative forever. And I’m not kidding at all.
But there’s another side of me that is COMPELLED to keep trying. After a period of feeling it’s completely over for me, something inspires me to get back at it.
I had been listening to Cal Newport’s podcast “Deep Questions” for the past couple of years. I was envious, in a good way, of his format and style. I like how he’s able to reach his audience OUTSIDE of the social media algorithms. He helps people but also gets to mention his books. It’s a good thing all around.
I kept thinking, man, I really want to do that. But I’m terrified no one will listen to it and it will fail. But I decided to try making just ONE episode in that format. Instead of doing long interviews, I made a show starring ME. To put myself up front. To see how it felt.
And it actually felt GOOD. I ENJOYED the process.
Here are my sort of Founding Principles for The Carl King Podcast. They’re kind of like mantras for me, to keep me going. I plan to return to them if I feel that depression and fear of failure coming on:
1 – Don’t count on input from an audience. I have to go first, and be the INITIATOR. Make things happen. I can’t wait for others. It has to be like, here I am, and a show is happening now, because I want it to. Like my old boss, John Wolf, the party was wherever he went.
2 – I want to create for other people what Mark Borchardt creates for me with his Cinema Tonight program. A friend. I listen to his adventures. His observations on the world as he goes to a grocery store. His life or death concern over getting the NYT Sunday paper. It’s personality based, and I see the world through his eyes. His own eccentricity.
3 – This Carl King Podcast is a marathon. It will take time, and for now, it’s going to grow one single listener at a time. Some episodes will be hits, others, not so much. Look back after 100 episodes. 1000 episodes. Not after 1 or 10 episodes. Keep going.
4 – I need to at least AIM to create truly outstanding content with INSIGHT. By insight, I mean stuff like 10 Myths About Introverts. That’s what matters. New thoughts, even if they’re only new thoughts for me. Don’t focus on marketing and stats. Anything I do other than create new, valuable content is artificial inflation, is a waste of time. Clicks will disappear quickly. Don’t chase clicks.
5 – Enjoy the process. Keep it fun for Carl King. And so far, it really is.
Thank you Modiak, for sending ANOTHER good question.
If you have a question for me to answer on the show, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now, Carl King visits TWIN PEAKS.
CARL KING VISITS TWIN PEAKS
Twin Peaks is the greatest TV show ever made, in my opinion. Sometimes I say it’s Legion, but no, I’m wrong when I say that.
Every time I watch Twin Peaks, I’ve always thought, man, I wish I could LIVE in that town. Well, last week, we went to Snoqualmie, Washington, where parts of Twin Peaks was filmed.
I had been there before a few years ago. And it was shocking how much the area had been developed. Condos, apartments, suburban new construction which may have utilized machinery with the latest attachments. I was last there in June 2019. To my memory it was quite rural and looked legitimately like a preserved woodsy town. So in only 3 years there was a rapid build-up of civilization. But it’s not bad, not overbearing. Just a lot more civilized.
It was also warm. Temperature was 87 Degrees F. Hotter than I prefer, and definitely hotter than last time.
Our destination was Snoqualmie Falls Park, which is the waterfall from the opening credits of Twin Peaks. If you follow the wooden path, you can pretty much get the exact shot from the show. I think possibly they shot from lower down on the slope or cliff, but close enough.
That building to the left, in real life, is called the Salish Lodge, which served as the external shots of the Great Northern. The internal of the Salish is nice and cozy, but definitely not anything like the Great Northern we know from the show. Much, much smaller. You won’t see all that log cabin look and native decoration.
I found myself saying “she’s dead wrapped in plastic over and over.”
First thing we noticed: The Salish Lodge smells like something. Carl King thought, what is that scent, because it sure is Powerful. My wife described it as smokey leather, tobacco, and fur tree. Even though I don’t have a strong sense of smell, it was too strong for me and actually made me cough.
We looked around a bit had lunch in the upstairs bar there called The Attic. Go up the stairs, and you’re there.
The west side of the room had gigantic windows overlooking the falls. If you’re lucky to get those seats, you can eat right there. I think they face West, into the sun. Because of that, the tiny room is a bit claustrophobic and stuffy for my tastes. They also have a stone oven right there where they bake pizza.
I’m on a pretty strict special diet, and the menu doesn’t have ANYTHING except a boring salad with greens and tomato for weirdo vegans like me. By the way, I always say, “I’m a weirdo vegan” to avoid sounding like a superior snob.
I got to watch their SDC making our food. What the heck is an SDC? That’s secret code for Seriously Disgruntled Cook. When the waitress asked him the ingredients of the salad dressing he had a little tantrum. He grabbed the ingredients book off the shelf and SLAMMED it on the table. He ripped through the pages one by one. Totally childish. Later as he went about cooking he banged plates every chance he got. It was like making all that noise was the only way to tell everyone he hated his job.
I ended up with that simple salad and boring potato chips. Chewbode ordered a big plate of nachos. Interesting to note: they make their nachos with potato chips instead of corn chips. Huh.
Chewbode and I each ordered a cocktail called a Dale Cooper. It had a powerful bitter aftertaste. It was good, but I drank only maybe 1/3 of it. Because Carl King takes it VERY easy with any alcohol or caffeine. I don’t want to do anything that ruins my energy or riles up digestive problems.
Part of the way through the meal, I felt a little overstimulated. So I excused myself, went downstairs, spent a few minutes hanging out in the quiet lobby in front of the fireplace.
Both the park and the lodge have gift shops, but this time around the amount of Twin Peaks branded memorabilia was seriously diminished. I assume there was some legal issue, but I can’t imagine why. I don’t know which studio owns the TV series. Maybe some combination of ABC, CBS, Showtime — anyway, they shouldn’t mind some more fandom keeping the show alive. It would only boost their viewership.
I’d say there is a major opportunity for a serious Twin Peaks / David Lynch themed museum and store in the area. It could be opened anywhere in town and would have non-stop visitors.
The gift shop did have some Twin Peaks-esque shirts, but were not high quality cloth. It was the kind of rough, cheap brand you’d wash once and end up it all deformed and shrunken in unexpected ways. Like maybe it would get very short and wide for no reason. Carl King hates that.
But I did get myself a hat, with the Salish Lodge logo. Good enough.
A lot of the gifts are less obvious, unless you’re a Twin Peaks fan like me. I did pick up a collection of enamel pins with the Twin Peaks character names on them. Those were kinda cool? But definitely not too creative. Again, there is a major opportunity for merchandising here. If there is a cool Twin Peaks store in the area, I don’t know about it.
And there’s one last thing I didn’t get the opportunity to see, because it’s another thing I didn’t know about. Because there are plenty of things Carl King doesn’t know about. The city of Snoqualmie has put up an actual Welcome To Twin Peaks sign, in the original filming location. Oh well, I’ll try to stop by on my next visit.
Any Twin Peaks fan should head over to Snoqualmie and tell me what you think.
Now let’s find out about This Week’s Album of the Week.
ALBUM OF THE WEEK: OF NATURAL HISTORY
This week’s album of the week is Of Natural History, from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Yes, from those Atonal, otherworldly beings who painted themselves white and drove around in a bus, talking to trees.
Of Natural History was released in 2004 on Mimicry Records, not long before my How To Sell album. Since our albums were coming out somewhere around the same time, I even tried to get the gig opening for them. But that did not happen.
Now I would call this band… Surrealists, but they probably defy all categorization. They’re such a unique band, it’s hard to even describe the music. They build their own instruments, both percussion and stringed, and it’s all very analog and noisy. But totally coordinated in a 20th century composition type of way. However, I do think there were improvisational aspects, too. The songs seemed to morph over time.
By the way, a few years back they swapped a few band members and also their name — so you can now find a band called Free Salamander Exhibit carrying on their artistic tradition. Carl King did a full interview with them on this very podcast, Episode Number 12. So… go listen to that.
I loved the the first Sleeptime record, Grand Opening And Closing, from 2001. So when they came out with a new one, I sure was ready.
Of Natural History is a bit more… muddy in tone than the previous release. It’s got a more, perhaps suitably, natural “acoustic” sound. The drums are less crisp, more roomy. Maybe more primitive to fit with the theme of the album.
There are some powerful songs here, and FOUR of them stood out to me. Mainly because I found a personal connection to them.
1 – A Hymn To The Morning Star
The first is Track 1: A Hymn To The Morning Star. I like to think of this track as a gentle lullaby to celebrate the birth of baby Lucifer. Folks, it is very creepy sounding. It also feels like it’s Part 1, and the next song would be Part 2.
2 – The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens The Discussion
And so, next up is Track 2, The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens The Discussion. Listeners, I am pretty sure this song is about Satan. Because the Satan of the Christian Bible is known to be The Adversary. His name literally MEANS Adversary.
But in this song, it feels like a more Earthly, Pagan angle. If Satan is all about Earthly power, then maybe this song is more about the worship of the Earth itself, and the Animals of the woods. I have a cool memory of Sleepytime playing this one live. At the end of this song, there’s that slow “I Am The Adversary” line. As he sang it, Nils acted out the “As Above So Below” hand pose of The Magician from The Tarot. Then he REVERSED his hands for the second line: “And must remain The Adversary.” Spooky!
3 – FC – The Freedom Club
Track 5 is FC – The Freedom Club. It’s a straight-up tribute to Ted Kaczynski, also known as The Unabomber. Coincidence, back in 2003 or so, I asked Sleepytyime’s singer, Nils to narrate some passages from Industrial Society and Its Future, for my How To Sell album. Little did I know, at the same time Sleepytime was recording this very song. This song also follows the “Nature” theme, as Kaczynski was a hermit who lived in a shack in Montana. Another cool memory: Nils dedicated this song to Sir Millard Mulch when they played it live in Orlando.
4 – The Creature
Track 8, The Creature is another memorable piece, vocalized by Dan Rathbun. It’s an almost Dr. Seuss-like fairy tale, but very dark. I’m pretty sure The Creature referred to here is, um, Humanity.
This is a strong, conceptual album. Brave work.
OK, that’s the end of this Episode of the Carl King Podcast. Remember to subscribe on Spotify, Apple Music, or anywhere else you listen to these dang podcasts. And support the creation of more episodes by joining my Patreon for $1 or $5 a month. That’s Patreon Dot Com Slash Carl King.
And as always, special thanks to my $51 a month Patrons, at the special Illusionist level, Chewbode and Hank Howard III. Thank you to ALL of the Very Good Friends of Carl King for listening, and as I always say: please Stop making mistakes, and Have a Correct Week.