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Can a writer mess with science for poetic purposes? If you enjoy Narnia, would you enjoy The Fountainhead? Is there a right social construct to teach? And more!

 (00:00) to (02:00)

Hank: Hello, welcome to Dear Hank and John!

John: Or as I prefer to think of it, Dear John and Hank.

Hank: It’s a comedy podcast about death where me and my brother John, we answer your questions, give you dubious advice, and bring you all the week’s news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Hey John.

John: Hi

Hank: Hi. How are you?

John: Uhh you know that part in Rushmore- actually you don’t cuz you’re not familiar with Rushmore. [Hank laughs] I can’t believe you haven’t seen Rushmore at least 12 times. How can you even claim to be my brother? Anyway there’s this part in Rushmore where, uh, one of the characters says, uh, “I ain’t even here, Sargant, I’m in Cheyenne, Wyoming. That’s how I am. I’m not, I’m not really here to be honest with you. I’m in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I’m just like, uh, I’m- I’m working a lot, and I am engrossed in my work, and I am not really capable of thinking about anything else. How are you?

Hank: Uh, uh good. How do I get you here? I need I need a brother.

John: No

Hank: For my podcast,

John: I, I have to stay in Cheyenne, unfortunately. I have to stay in Cheyenne, Wyoming as long as possible because it’s the closest I, uh, really ever come to pure happiness. Or actually it’s not like happiness, but pure like fulfillment or engagement

Hank: Oh

John: Or whatever. Like, you know how spend your whole entire life stuck inside of the, the prison of yourself, and there’s no escaping it, and it’s sort of like a horror movie in that like you, you live inside of a consciousness

Hank: Stop trying to make me uncomfortable with the prison of my body, John. I want to not recognize- I don’t wanna- I don’t wanna think about-

John: Yeah no and lots of people, lots of people are able to very successfully not think about it, and I actually think that is the correct strategy, so we can just move onto the short poem if you’d like

Hank: Uh well first I’ve got to say that I got a comb on an airplane, and it’s falling apart in my hands and I’m like,

 (02:00) to (04:00)

Hank: “why did they even give me this terrible comb? Why did they make it out of something that can’t- that is incapable of, of holding it’s ‘comby’-ness?” Second, I have to say, John, how are you feeling about PodCon?

John: I’m very excited about PodCon, but if we can briefly return to the issue of your comb, I just want to note, Hank, that there are first world problems, and then there are “the-free-comb-I-got-for-sitting-in-business-class-on-an-international-flight-did not-live-up-to-my-expectations” problems. [Hank laughs] Because I, I know a lot about air travel, and so I know how you get those free combs, and, um, if you ever complain about that again, I am disowning you.

Hank: [laughs] Uh, yeah, I guess I was complaining about it. I just, I’ve had it for a while, and I’ve been using it, and I guess I’ve been fidgeting with it too much, and now- now it’s missing a number of tines.

John: Well, life is hard and full of disappointments. I’m very excited for PodCon. For those of you who don’t know, there is a podcast conference coming up planned by my brother, Hank, and some other people. Uh, it’s in Seattle, and it’s gonna be lots of fun. I’m gonna be there. Uh, tons and ton and tons of people are gonna be there.

Hank: Yeah, we have- I decided to reach out to two of my friends in the podcasting world, Travis McElroy and, uh, Joseph Fink of Welcome to Nightvale, and uhh, they were like yeah, yeah, that is a thing that should exist, and we got together with the rest of their teams and the rest of my team, who’s here with me on the podcast right now, and uh, we’re doing a Indiegogo campaign for it, and it’s going well.

John: You can, uh, you can attend remotely if you don’t want to travel to Seattle and/or can’t travel to Seattle, but you can also attend in real life with your physical body, and it’ll be like listening to podcasts, only you know, like, uh, instead of spending the time that you listen to podcasts in that kind of nonsensorial place where, uh, audio can take you, you’ll have to be with your physical body in a room with a bunch of other people with bodies.

 (04:00) to (06:00)

John: So um, you know, upsides downsides.

Hank: [laughs] Uhh, there will be many amazing and weird things happening, but for uh, for uh, remote backers we’ll be sending out all of the stuff that happens in audio form, but for the people who are going to be there in real life, it is nice to do things with your real physical body. Right, John?

John: Yes, absolutely

 Hank: I like my physical body, even though it hurts.

John: Unfortunately, you have no choice

Hank: It hurts. Sometimes you do have no choice. That is, that is a bit of uh, that is a bit of uh, you know, I don’t want, like isn’t it nice sometimes to not have a choice? Cuz I hate choices, so I would like if it was like what body do you want to be in this morning? That sounds like a lot of work and a lot of stress I have to think about that. Now it’s hard enough picking pants.

John: Right. Yeah. For me, the ideal situation would be if it was like, “do you want to be in a body today?” and I’d be like, “Nah”

Hank: Just no body at all

John: Yeah

Hank: Oh

John: I’m gonna take the pleasures of the senses and just, puh, get rid of them completely. That’s not true. You’re right, no its much more complicated than that. Can I read you a short poem?

Hank: Okay sure

John: Everything is more complicated than you want to make it. Nothing fits on a bumper sticker, so we got a short poem suggestion from Crystal She wanted me to read a poem by Rupi Kaur, so I’m going to uh, this one is very short. “I am water, soft enough to offer life, tough enough to drown it away.” Just a good short poem Hank.

Hank: Mhmm

John: Good short poem about water, toughness, and softness

Hank: You know I did think for a tiny bit that the poem you were reading was about what can and cannot fit on a bumper sticker and I was like ooh that one was interesting.

John: [laughs] I guess actually, that’s a pretty good poem as poems that fit on bumper stickers go, that was a pretty good one, Hank should we answer some questions from our listeners?

Hank: Uh, sure let’s do that. This one is, uh, from Grace, uh, I thought that it was interesting because Grace has a pretty cool job, but is also worried about it. “Dear Hank and John,

 (06:00) to (08:00)

Hank: “I’m about to complete my first year working at a somewhat well known online website covering politics” that shall apparently go unnamed “I don’t want to do anything else besides the job I’m doing, but I’m struggling with the current war on the media it seems like ‘the media’” in quotation marks “is such an undefined character. What is the media? Am I part of the media? Am I as culpable as the makers of dredge report? How can I handle when friends or family blame the media for how they receive their news? And most of all, how can I, a fairly low down on the food chain, but still with a platform to express my views to others, make a difference in a fairly stubborn political bubble? Gnus and newspapers,” this is gnus like g-u-n-s. Nope! G-n-u-s oh god.

John: G-u-n-s is just guns, I mean-

Hank: What is a gnu? Is it like some kind of animal?

John: It is exactly like some kind. It’s not just like some kind of animal, it is some kind of animal.

Hank: I found it. It’s some kind of animal.

John: Yeah

Hank: Anyway, “gnus and newspapers, Grace”

John: Yeah, I mean, Grace, the good news is that, hopefully, you knew when you were getting into this job what you were getting into because people have hated the media since time immemorial. Like, there’s been a lack of trust in newspapers since there were newspapers.

Hank: Yeah, it, it does. It feels a little like we had a brief moment of everyone was, like, kind of on board with it, and then, and now its its like moved back into the being, like, everything is fake and, and if-

John: Uhh I don’t think people think everything is fake. I think people think everything is shaped by-

Hank: Right

John: By and that they can’t trust any facts, but I also think that’s largely because people and, to an extent, news media organizations aren’t doing a good job of differentiating between reporting and analysis.

Hank: Yeah, it, it’s become very clear to me that even I don’t have a really great grasp on that. Like, I know the difference, I know what the difference is.

 (08:00) to (10:00)

Hank:  “and I know that, like, collecting and disseminating information is extremely valuable and without that there would be no conversations worth having, but I mostly don’t consume, like, here’s-what-happened, I consume what-does-this-thing-that-happened-mean.

John: Yeah, I think the great risk, Hank, and we’ve talked about this a lot, is that in general, a lot of times, when people are trying to contextualize the news or present themselves as trying to contextualize the news, what they’re really trying to do is to frame the news to meet your expectations or to fulfill the confirmation bias of a particularly group or whatever. Like, it’s not really about context deep down, it’s about framing.

Hank: Yeah

John: And people like frames. They want to look at the world through the frames that, you know, kind of confirm what they already believe to be true, and so I understand why that stuff works, but it isn’t news.

Hank: Right but it is, it is the thing that you can- that you get views on, and that, like, that’s where we’re at.

John: Yeah

Hank: We uh there’s this uh problem where, if we’re looking at what, uh, what we should be consuming, it’s different from what I want to consume, and it comes down to like, “okay should I read the Wikipedia page on this controversial topic or should I, uh, read what my, like, what my feed is throwing me about, like, the take that it most, uhh, makes me feel good about the way that I feel about the world and mostly confirms my world view and my understanding of the people who I like and don’t like” I’m going to go with that second thing because reading the Wikipedia page is boring.

John: Uhhm, yeah, but also because going with the second thing allows your mind to indulge exciting and surreal conspiracy theories and that feels good right? [Hank laughs] Like, there’s a reason that everyone believes, including me by the way, believes conspiracy theories that if they were proven to be true would be great news for them.

 (10:00) to (12:00)

John: It’s because, like, it’s an incredibly attractive thing. It’s like gossip on the largest possible scale.

Hank: Mhmm

John: I, I mean we have this tension between what is good for us and what feels good in the moment. Not just when it comes to news, right? Like, I have it all the time when it comes to McDonald's. I think we live in a world of abundance. We live in a world of abundant information or at least those of us who are blessed to live in the parts of the world that are defined by abundance, we live in a world of abundant information, abundant food, abundant this, abundant that. Where it’s not about how much stuff you can have because you can have a lot of stuff. You can acquire a lot of combs [Hank laughs] relatively inexpensively. It it and we- I feel like we have to get better as a species at understanding that more is not always better, and what feels good right now is not always what we actually want.

Hank: Yeah, um, so what would I say to Grace? I would say we all, especially the people in media and whatever, that is, and of course like the great thing about blaming the media is that of course whenever you say it you mean the media that you don’t like. So you can say it and yeah so it doesn’t- its not about you its about people having opinions about something that they saw, but trying to find ways to get information across that is both accurate and is is new and uh is uhm contextualized and- but also entertaining and so its like figuring out ways to do that that’s what’s important, um, and, and doing that without resorting to “how can I write a headline that sounds misleading, so that people will click on it” because I have gotten really frustrated by this new trend of having really great articles that have really bad headlines uhm because 90% of people only read the headline, and so 90% of people come away with an inaccurate point of view on the situation 

 (12:00) to (14:00)

John: Yeah

Hank: So don’t do that

John: Well I think it’s hard, and I think it’s complicated and I have to say that its very difficult to go against human nature of the whims of the market forces, um so, let’s move onto another question.

Hank: Okay, sorry Grace.

John: Yeah I don’t think we have any good news on that front, Grace. We both feel a little a little discouraged. This question comes from Haneen. “Dear Green brothers, my name’s Haneen, and I’m a big fan of the pod, and recently in our Arabic class, we were reading a poem in which the poet was praising a certain king saying that he built his kingdom to reach higher than Gemini. And our teacher explained this choice of constellation, aside from it rhyming with the rest of the poem, because quote ‘Gemini is the highest constellation.’ I was taken aback by this statement. Is that true? Can a constellation even be high? [Hank laughs] Aren’t they all a bunch of stars floating in endless space? And also, it made me think, does a poet or a writer have the right to mess with science and actual facts just for the sake of making their work sound beautiful and poetics? P.S. sorry for any grammatical mistakes. English is not my native language as you may have, probably noticed. I might die at any moment, Haneen.” [Hank laughs] First off, I just want to say that this email has fewer grammatical mistakes than almost any email we’ve ever received.

Hank: Yeah you’re quite good at that. Also, excellent sign off. [laughs]

John: Excellent sign off. It’s true, you might die at any moment. Hey, so I liked this question hank because it kind of has questions for both of us. “Does, uh, a writer have a right to mess with science and actual facts just for the sake of making your work sound beautiful?”

Hank: Mhmm

John: Uh, a question that I know a thing or two about, and, um, and then, secondarily, “Is there such a thing as a high constellation?”

Hank: Um, well, in terms of distance from the Earth, all constellations are, well, for the most part, are made up of stars that are very far away from each other.

John: Oh yeah

Hank: So they appear close to each other in the place of the sky, but, um but they are varying distances away. There are exceptions to that where some star clusters, uh,

 (14:00) to (16:00)

Hank: in a constellation are actually part of a grouping in space, but mostly that is not the case. Um, but there are also, you know, so the certainly the higher, like the higher stars, like the further away it is for the most part, that means it’s farther away from us. And, uh, so the really high constellations are the ones that are made up of stars that you can’t even see.

John: Wait, no, but I think it’s not that stars need the top of our sky are necessarily further away than stars near the bottom of our sky.

Hank: No, well indeed a star, like where a star is in the sky changes all night long. And also depending on where you are on earth, so there- there is yeah.

John: Right

Hank: There is no- there is no star that is at the top of the sky first of all because the sky is a dome, uh, and so the top would just be like whatever happens to be right above you at the moment I guess, cuz it’s not like what’s on the north side no, but that’s going to change anyway. Like all that stuff moves around- moves around all night. Cuz the- cuz the earth is spinning around.

John: It is a matter of perspective

Hank: Correct. Um and then yes, so I don’t know if there is. I don’t know anything about constellations, so I can’t tell you If there is anything particularly high about Gemini. Uhh, maybe there’s something.

John: Nor can I tell you anything, however, uh I can tell you that the stars in Orion’s belt. There’s a very visible constellations from Indiana. I don’t know how visible it is in the rest of the world, [Hank laughs] but Orion the Hunter there’s these three stars that look like they’re in a complete line and they’re very bright in the Indiana sky, uh, and they are literally hundreds of light years apart from each other like they are further away from each other than they are from us.

Hank: [laughs] Yeah

 (16:00) to (18:00)

John: Its so mind blowing to think that they look inches apart, and they are so, so, so far apart. As for the second question.

Hank: Well there’s nice, nice visualizations you can experience. There’s actually a kind of game, but its more of like a simulator thing, where you can download this software, and you can go around, like, you can go from the Earth, and you can move off and see what the sky looks like from other places and it’s very cool.

John: That sounds cool. We’ll, uh, we’ll put a link on the Patreon., and you don’t have to pay to get this, uh, all the things are free, but you can pay. We won’t get mad. The second question, though, I think is a really interesting one because there are times when I think its okay to mess with facts, but you’ve got to know that you’re messing with them. Um, sooo or that’s my theory anyway. I did this in The Fault in Our Stars where I, uh, wanted- there was a line I liked that some infinities are bigger than others. Which is true, um, but the way that Hazel talks about that is untrue, and I liked the tension of that. Um, I think looking back I would have made it clearer that Hazel was wrong, somehow. Because I think a lot of people walked away from that thinking that there are more numbers between 0 and 2 than there are between 0 and 1, which is not true. [Hank laughs] And I- I wish I had not accidentally misinformed a large swath of, you know, like a generation of American teenagers about, um, infinite cardinality, but I did, so no getting around that. I think in general, like, you have to work with the world as you find it, uh, as a writer, and part of that is trying to be honest about, uh, science, but there are also times in my work, uh, and lots of people would say this is a bad thing about them, where I’ve taken things that are true in science and tried to apply them to other things in life where they may or may not be true.

 (18:00) to (20:00)

John: Um, like you know the idea that energy isn’t created or destroyed, well that is not an idea that you can scientifically apply to the human spirit.

Hank: Mmhmm, yes, yeah, I think that that is a common thing that happens. Where we try to appeal to the, like, the, you know, the things we know about science. The realities of science, and we try to apply them to things that don’t- aren’t actually affected by them, but in general--

John: Yeah

Hank: Like I, I feel like if you, like, certainly it has to be internally consistent, so one of the great things about writing is that you don’t have to write inside of our universe with our universe’s rules. Like there are other universes you can write inside of. Like, you can write inside of other universes, but if your stuff exists inside of our universe, you’re gonna get called out if you’re- if you are, uh, creating an, like, a, uh, thing that does not exist, but if its magical realism, do it- do it up. Like that’s one of the great things about fiction is that we can, like, we can see- we can imagine universes that are different from ours, and those are going to be resonant in ways that are beyond just how it affects the story and like how and beyond just creating a cool world. There’s also truths that can be told that way. Um, but it is also- it can be very, uh, it can be a dangerous tool because it, uh, you- especially if you are trying to, um, uh, do more than, like, create more than beauty. If you’re trying to create ideas, and you’re appealing to ideas that, like, you’re creating truths that aren’t actually true, then that’s a really good way to sell an ideology that isn’t accurate, and I, like, I often see that in in, uh, in- in discourse more than in fiction. Where people are like “well I know that this particular example of this- of this thing is made up, but its indicative of a larger truth. I know that, like, I know that what I’m saying right now, I understand that I was caught lying or- or citing something that was fake, and I didn’t realize was fake, but its indicative of a broader truth,”

 (20:00) to (22:00)

Hank: and it resonates with people because they see that, uh, that- that, uh, that this is basically true even if the all of the, uh, examples are not accurate, um, bleh

John: Speak- speaking of which, we have another question from Sara: “Dear John and Hank, On my flight tonight, the person sitting next to me noticed I am currently reading The Chronicles of Narnia. I told him that I’d never read them as a kid and thought I’d give them a try. Now he said he loves CS Lewis, and proceeded to discuss the books with me at length. At the end of our conversation, he asked if I’d ever read Ayn Rand because quote ‘if I like The Chronicles of Narnia, I would really enjoy The Fountainhead. Especially if you’ve only read two books of his, would you consider enjoying The Chronicles of Narnia a solid basis for someone to enjoy The Fountainhead? Sara” No. No, Sara, I would not.

Hank: You know, John, I’ve never read The Fountainhead

John: I got sixteen problems with this guy sitting next to Sara on the airplane. Number one-

Hank: You’re gonna list them out, oh goodness, this gonna-

John: Number one, you never, ever interrupt somebody when they’re reading a book to tell them that you have also read that book. The only exception to this, and it is a questionable exception, is if you have written the book in question. It is sometimes, only sometimes, acceptable I think- to say, “Uhm, FYI, I wrote that book, so”

Hank: Yeah I, I did once see someone reading The Fault in Our Stars in a bookstore

John: Yeah

Hank: And I was like, [splutters] nope, nope, not gonna do it

John: Yeah

Hank: Not gonna do it, just-

John: Yeah, no, and that’s probably the right call

Hank: Oh I think definitely. Like, what would I have done? “Hey, my brother wrote that book, look at me, I’m cool”

John: No, I mean I might’ve walked up to them and said,

 (22:00) to (24:00)

John: “That’s a good one, you should buy it.”

Hank: You know, when I go into Barnes and Noble, I do go to your section, and I turn them facing out. Cuz if just the spine you’re not getting as much shelf real estate.

John: Yeah

Hank: So I rearrange some stuff, so that your books can face out. I hope you appreciate that work I’m doing for you.

John: I do appreciate that, but I also always feel like it maybe hurts somebody else who’s probably a nice person, but I do appreciate it. Anyway-

Hank: You shouldn’t do it, but I’m allowed because its my brother

John: The number two thing is: if you like The Chronicles of Narnia, it does not mean that you will enjoy The Fountainhead, all it means is that that person has read, like, an extremely narrow set of fiction. I can probably name like five other books that person has read. Probably some Robert “heinline” “heinlyn” however you pronounce his name.

Hank: I bet- I bet he’s read- I bet he’s read The Lord of the Rings trilogy

John: Probably read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I suspect he’s read 1984, but, like, not in a way that really took it to heart, umm

Hank: [laughs] You know we’re being dah, oh

John: Fahrenheit 451, um, I don’t know if you know this Hank- Lord of the Flies -- I don’t know if you know this about me, but I hate hate hate hate hate hate The Fountainhead. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. I know that a lot of people listening right now don’t hate it, and I’m sorry because I probably am making you feel, like, not great, and I’m sorry, I don’t want to make you feel that way, but it’s just, I just hate it. I just, I think- I think the world would be better if it didn’t exist, uh, and I think that the ideas in it are a vintage example of what you just described. Where you create a fictional world, uh, in which, uh, a bunch of things that are not actually true are true, and then, because people feel like it reflects something true about their experience, uh, that is based on the idea that they are somehow special or unique and the world is- is aligned against them,

 (24:00) to (26:00)

John: but it’s not aligned against other people it’s just [becomes a giant squid of anger]

Hank: Mmhmm, I, uh, yeah. We’ve got another question John. It comes from Becky who asks, “Dear Green brothers,-“

John: The third thing I don't like in this situation

Hank: John can you skip like the middle, uh, the middle 13 things, and skip straight to 16?

John: Yeah, but I I’m starting a spinoff podcast, um, called “Issues I Have With the Guy Sitting Next to Sara”

Hank: Aright, well I’m also excited to hear that. This one is from Becky who asks, “Dear Green brothers, I’m a US citizen working  in Mexico for the year with an NGO, and its recently come to my attention that my Mexican colleagues were taught and firmly believe that there are 5 continents: Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, and I, on the other hand, I and the other US citizens in the office were taught, uh, and believed until recently, that there were 7 continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America. Although this was an earth shifting discovery for me, I can appreciate that continents-“

John: That was only 6. That was only 6.

Hank: What I didn’t say all of them?

John: You didn’t say all of them, but its kind of better that way because it points to how made up continents are, so just go on

Hank: “Although this was an earth shifting discovery for me, I can appreciate that continents are a social construct. So my question is this: is there a right social construct to teach?

John: Yes

Hank: Oh there is?

John: Yes. First off, I think its crazy that we differentiate between Europe and Asia when they are clearly, obviously, inarguably one continent.

Hank: [laughs] Yeah, I mean it’s interesting that, uh, that the Mexican colleagues also think that Europe and Asia are separate- separate continents. There really only one argument to be made, John, in my opinion. There is- there is one continent

John: Nooooo

Hank: Can- does- is-

John: There used to be one continent, I agree, but now there are two continents

 (26:00) to (28:00)

Hank: I am, I am willing to accept 2 cuz there are two really big, but if you look from the top, all that stuff’s really close together.

John: Yes, but we don’t look from the top because nobody lives up at the top because it’s so cold. I mean it’s getting warmer every year, but it’s still fairly cold.

Hank: I’m just saying, I just flew from America to Europe, and I don’t think I saw the ocean the whole time.

John: Mm I’m just gonna just go ahead and call bs on that one. Maybe it was a cloudy day, but you flew over the ocean. I promise, there are-

Hank: I flew over some limited swaths of ocean.

John: So the two continents, just to be clear, the two continents this is like my argument that everything is essentially a shade of brown, um.

Hank: [laughs] That’s- that’s why I feel like there’s one continent.

John: I mean, um, I’m concerned that I’m undermining my authority so much that a bunch of people are going to go out and read The Fountainhead or alternately that I hate The Fountainhead so much that it’s gonna make people want to read it. Maybe I should just ignore it because actually the opposite of love, Hank, is not hate, its apathy. Anyway-

Hank: Mmm

John: Anyway, there are two continents. There is Afro-Eurasia, which is obviously one continent, and then there is the Americas, which is obviously one continent. Now I realize this leaves out a bunch of places like Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand. Those places are not, they just don’t count.

Hank: Well no, it’s not that they don’t count. Do you have to be on a continent?

John: No. Greenland- no one argues that Greenland is a continent, but it is a large landmass that contains people. Iceland is not a continent. Neither is Australia. I mean- I mean I understand the Oceania argument because you want to include all the people, but lets- you can’t include all the people because we’re talking about weird social constructs. There’s two continents: Afro-Eurasia- maybe okay, there are three continents: Afro-Eurasia, Oceania, I’m backing down on Oceania. O-shee-anne-ee-uh? I don’t even know how to say it. It’s such a made up idea that I don’t even know how to say the word.

 (28:00) to (30:00)

John: I’m back- okay, es, I’m backing down.

Hank: But there are, lets establish, are there people who are not on continents?

John: Yes

Hank: Yes, Hawaiians and astronauts

John: [laughs] I’m pretty sure, actually, Hawaii is technically part of Oceania. Its Oceania. It’s just, like, all inclusive of the oceans. I think it might include some, I think it might include Madagascar.

Hank: [laugh] Yeah Oceania. Madagascar, Hawaii, and Greenland. That’s what Oceania is.

John: Yeah Mada- yeah, definitely Greenland is in Oceania. I don’t think you’ll find any disagreement about that. The question is, are the Caribbean islands in Oceania? Like, what about Bermuda? Like I’ve never been to Bermuda, but I was like, I was thinking maybe it would be fun to go on a beach-y vacation. So I was looking on Google Maps like all just like south of Florida where all the Caribbean islands are, and I was like man I can’t find Bermuda anywhere here. That’s because it’s not anywhere near there. It’s up by like South Carolina.

Hank: Yeah, it’s up there where the Bermuda Triangle is.

John: First off, I have no- I mean I thought the Bermuda Triangle was just south of Jamaica.

Hank: Nope, it’s up by Bermuda.

John: I’m pretty sure the, uh, okay, first off, just, not to correct you, Hank, but the Bermuda Triangle one point of it is in Bermuda, the other point is in south Florida, and the third point is in Puerto Rico, so, in fact, a number of Caribbean islands are inside the Bermuda Triangle. [Hank laughs] I’m not as much of an idiot as you would like to have me believe. However, Bermuda itself is, like, basically, it’s, uh, it’s basically one of, like, Maine’s outer islands. I mean it’s much closer to Canada than it is to Jamaica.

Hank: It sounds like when you say Bermuda you’re like, oh yeah, this has got to be, but I mean, I think it is fairly warm and tropical-ly because it’s in the middle the ocean, and it’s really far off the coast. It’s a weird thing.

John: It seems like

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John: one of the locations that would have been, uh, mentioned in the classic Beach Boys song “Cocomo.”

Hank: Uh, indeed, Bermuda is the first one in the list.

John: Oh, it is, it is mentioned “Bermuda, Jamaica, girl I want to take ya” I believe it is

Hank: No no no no

John: Did I just violate copyright?

Hank: No its “Bermuda, Bahamas, c’mon pretty mama” is, that’s the second one

John: Oh

Hank: It’s the second one

John: Okay. No no it’s- it begins “Aruba, Jamaica”

Hank: “Aruba, Jamaica, Ooh I want to take ya, to Bermuda”

John: Bermuda is third.

Hank: It’s third. It’s in the second stanza.

John: “Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go,” um, is there really a place off the Florida Keys called Cocomo? Because there’s a place about 40 minutes north of me called Cocomo, Indiana, and I would not describe it as tropical.

Hank: [laughs] I don’t think that there is a real place called Cocomo in the, uh, there’s a- there’s a- a Sandals Cay is a privately owned island in Jamaica that was formerly called Cocomo Island, but I think after this song’s

John: You think so?

Hank: I think- I think. I’m gonna check. Formerly called Cocomo Osland was originally named after the, uh, the song that was not written by The Beach Boys, just performed by them. The inspiration-

John: What?

Hank: The inspiration for this song was a poolside bar in Islamorada in the Florida Keys, so

John: Who wrote the song?

Hank: Uhh, John Phillips, Mike Love, Terry Melcher, and Scott Mackenzie

John: Mike Love is in the- Mike Love is in The Beach Boys

Hank: Okay

John: For the record

Hank: What about Terry?

John: Is John Phillips of, uh? Isn’t John Phillips in like Peter, Paul, and Mary or something? Probably not in Peter, Paul, and Mary since he’s not named Peter, Paul, or Mary.

Hank: No, he was in The Beach Boys, but also in The Mamas and The Papas

John: The Mamas and the Papas, I was close. Okay, I was close.

Hank: But he was not in The Beach Boys, he was just associated with The Beach Boys according to this Wikipedia page.

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Hank: His name is not Ryan, so I don’t know why I’m on his Wikipedia page right now.

John: Yeah, anyway, the best part about this whole bit, Hank, is that literally nobody who listens to this podcast remembers The Beach Boys song Cocomo except for you and me because it came out in 1989. So like, uhh, and also I don’t think it was that big of a hit, I think our parents just liked it a lot. So, sorry.

Hank: I was- it was-

John: Sorry to everyone who’s listening

Hank: First of all, I cannot believe that it came out in 1989. I always assumed it was much earlier than that because most of The Beach Boys stuff was much earlier than that. Second, it was me and my girlfriend in third grade- it was our song.

John: Was it really?

Hank: It was.

John: That’s pretty cute.

Hank: Yeah I still rem-

John: That’s pretty cute, [Hank laughs] you know my first song- my first song with a girl was that, uh, Tiffany song

Hank: Mm Think We’re Alone Now

John: I Think We’re Alone Now

Hank: Which was also not by Tiffany

John: Which I owned on a vinyl.

Hank: Oh yeah

John: Probably not, yeah, no that was a cover. I own that on vinyl. My first two vinyl records were Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which is a properly good album, and, uh, Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now, which, uh, does not hold up that well.

Hank: Uhh, I do remember you owning that record, John. I’m not making this up, my- do you remember what my first vinyl was, John?

John: I 100% know what your first vinyl was. I don’t know if you know, but I’m 100% positive. Do you want to say it at the same time?

Hank: Uhh, sure

John: Okay 3 2 1 The Chucky Cheese album

Hank: Supergirls ohh, you’re right it probably was the Chucky Cheese album

John: It was 100% a Chuckie cheese 45 that played like Happy Birthday on one side. It might have even been Showbiz pizza. It played Happy Birthday on one side, but it wasn’t the usual happy birthday song it was “dadadadadadaddada I think it’s your birthday” [laughs]

Hank: Yeah, yeah that one. I think its your birthday is that what they say? I was, uh, I was thinking it was the Supergirls album, but that was- that was later. Which was like a collection of a bunch of, like, girl rock bands

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Hank: from the 60s and 70s on two, uh two- two LP’s.

John: Yeah that was actually a pretty good album.

Hank: It was really good. It was good. I think Paul- Paul got it for me off Time Life, Time Life subscriptions.

John: Quick, uh, quick follow up question. What question are we answering?

Hank: Really for people who were born significantly before 1980, like, uh, we’ve really made this, uh, we’ve limited our- the scope of our audience dramatically with this last conversation, but there is one continent and Cocomo is not on it.

John: Oh, oh that’s- that’s how we got here. The continents. Oh my god. Oh my god. I wish, like, I wish I could get a diagram of the series of sentences [Hank laughs] that led to this moment.

Hank: Well we, we, we, we’ll, work through it, do you want to move on or can we just admit that- that continents are a made up idea?

John: Before we move on, I just have to quickly say that today’s podcast Is brought to you by Sandals. Sandals: secretly sponsoring this podcast. Can we maybe get 378 free Sandals days, Hank?

Hank: No, thank you. [John laughs] Honestly I do not- I do not have the time or interest, uhh, uhh, for any Sandals days. This podcast is also brought to you by The Media. The Media: you don’t like us for some reason.

John: Hank, I’m just gonna stop you right there and say that I love a good all-inclusive vacation, and I do not like you talking smack about them, and I suspect when you’re kids get older, you’ll like it too. And, of course this podcast is also brought to you by Oceania. Oceania: a word that John is trying to learn how to pronounce.

Hank: And finally this podcast is brought to you by subpar combs. They’re not very good.

John: But they were free.

Hank: Yep. Alright, John, I got one more question for you.

John: Okay

Hank: It’s about- it’s about me. I hope that’s okay.

John: Yep, sure

Hank: This question comes from Lilly who asks, “Hank, What are amber lamps?

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Hank: “I love your song Amber Lamps, it’s so relaxing, but I had no idea what amber lamps were so I looked up “what are amber lamps?” and I found a very odd meme. Did you write an entire song about a meme? The meme was created in 2010, so it’s entirely possible that your album Ellen Hardcastle, which came out in 2011, could have a song about a meme. [John laughs] I’m very confused and would like an answer. Forever confused and obsessed with books, Lilly” Yep, that’s all I got to say. That is- that is what- that is- yep it is a- it is a nice, calm, soothing song that is about a meme.

John: Yeah, Hank wrote a song about a meme. It’s not- it’s not even really his first song about a meme, I would say, it’s like

Hank: No

John: It’s- it’s one of the lesser known memes, and it’s also one of Hank’s lesser known songs.

Hank: [laughs] It is, yeah. I mean honestly I was finishing that album, and I was like, “I really feel like there should be one more song on this album” and I was like, “uh, well, I guess if something strikes me” and then it struck me, and I recorded it, and I put it on there. and I did it all in an afternoon by myself. So, uh, it’s- it’s a bit of departure on that album. It’s like suddenly, “what are we doing now?” Yeah, its about a meme.

John: Alright speaking of, uh, what are we doing now? Uh, it’s time for the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Hank, do you want to go first or do you want me to go first?

Hank: Oh the news from Mars, it’s bad news from Mars, John.

John: Mm

Hank: So you’ll remember that Donald Trump, our president of my country-

John: Yep

Hank: Uh, said that he wanted, he would like to see, and he was- was rooting for and was excited about getting, uh, astronauts on Mars during quote “during my first term, or at worst during my second term” uh, so NASA has responded.

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Hank: They’re not gonna do that. [John laughs] That’s basically the NASA officially-

John: The official NASA response is “nah”

Hank: Yeah, they- they’ve- they’ve said, “The White House asked us to look at the plan that we have today and see if we can keep going on that current plan” said the acting administrator Robert Lightfoot. Who is, what an amazing name for an administrator of NASA. Uh, “they have asked us, they have not- they have not asked us to go to Mars by 2024.” It’s terrible news for me, John, uhh, but its confirmed that Donald Trump was like, “alright jump over this 50 foot high building” and NASA was like, “uh, can we have, like, I don’t know, a trillion dollars?” and they were like, “that’s not how this works” and they were like, “no we can’t, we cannot, unaided, jump over a 50 foot tall building.”

John: Yeah, I mean that’s not a huge surprise, Hank. That Donald Trump said that he was going to be able to do something that he is struggling to execute. [Hank laughs] It’s kinda been a theme of the presidency so far. The news from AFC Wimbledon, well Hank, it’s the silly season, as they call it. It’s the off season. We’ve got two long, brutal- actually more like three long, brutal, horrible months of, uh, of this. Uh, however the silly season kicked off in earnest earlier today, Hank, when a news report came out in which Wimbledon manager Neil Ardley said that he quote, “might have to do some wheeling and dealing” uh in order to improve the squad. Uhh, not a lot of money at AFC Wimbledon. It’s not a, uh, particularly well-funded team. Owned by its fans, as I may have mentioned a few times. Not owned by some, uh, billionaires. So it’s gonna be, ah, but its also necessary to improve the squad because of the lack of a goal of the month in April. Due to the no goals, uh, so, uh, that might mean some selling, might mean some players,

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John: uh, will get sold. That is at least the takeaway that a lot of people on Twitter have is that players might have to get sold in order for other players to be bought, which would be a shame because I really like the current AFC Wimbledon squad, but I’ll tell you what I also like: staying in league one.

Hank: Yes, me too

John: You weren’t listening, but that’s okay, I’m not mad at you. Hank what did we learn today?

Hank: Ohhh we learned that Gemini is so high- [John laughs] its so high in the sky.

John: We learned that, uh, Bermuda, Jamaica, Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, Greenland, and- and uh Antarctica are all in the same continent.

Hank: Of Oceania. We also learned, uh, that Hank and John, uh, don’t ask us about The Fountainhead

John: Yeah just don’t bring it up. [Hank laughs] And lastly we learned that, uh, Hank’s first album was a 45 from either Chuck E Cheese or Showbiz Pizza.

Hank: It was definitely Showbiz Pizza cuz we didn’t have a Chuck E Cheese back then,

John: Yeah, we grew up in different times, guys. It was hard out there.

Hank: That’s right, and we listened- we listened to The Beach Boys later hits.

John: Alright, it’s time for us to go record our weekly podcast “This Week in Ryans” which, uh, you can get over at Don’t feel obligated, you’re not missing much, [Hank laughs] but if you want to, you can sign up for it, and it helps fund Complexly shows like SciShow and Crash Course and The Art Assignment and Sexplanations and lots of other stuff, so thanks to everybody who donates though the Patreon. Thanks, uh, thanks to all of you for listening, and I think Hank’s gonna read the credits now.

Hank: Yes, this podcast is edited by Nicholas Jenkins, it’s produced by Rosianna Halse Rojas and Sheridan Gibson, our social media manager is Victoria Bongiorno, our music is by the great Gunnarolla. You can email us at or on twitter @hankgreen and @johngreen, we love to see your tweets, and as they say in our hometown  

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Both: Don’t forget to be awesome