How Our Childhood Informed Bleak Creek

Welcome to Ear Biscuits, I’m Link. And I’m Rhett. This week at the round
table of dim lighting, the light’s a little bit brighter because the excitement’s a
little bit bigger because– Yeah. Our book is, if you’re
listening on the audio version is just about to come out tomorrow! October 29th! If you’re watching the video version, this thing’s been out by this thing. You know. By this thing. Give it to people. We’re so excited because we’ve, it’s such a big project or us, and this is such a big culmination, thank you for listening to this right now, and, we just wanna make
this a shared experience of celebration, a milestone of, we made this thing, and it’s a big thing, it’s a freaking novel. It’s a lot of freaking work. How long we been working on this thing? I tell you, the inception
goes back two years. Two years. And again, we work on so many things that don’t take that much time, that take, you know, a day,
and then a couple days later it’s on the internet, and this is, because it is simultaneously
very personal, which we’ll get into
today, but also very much one of our most, if
not the most creatively ambitious thing that we’ve ever done. It brings those two things
together in a way that is just, it’s just energized us. So this week at the? Round table of dim
lighting, we’re going to be exploring how our childhood
informed the novel, and the way we’re gonna
do that is we’re actually gonna read some of the novel. And I wanna say– And then, just riff on it. No spoilers, no spoilers. This is a generally spoiler free– No it’s– It’s a completely spoiler free in the name of like traditional spoilers, like you’re not gonna spoil
any of the story or the plot. I’m very comfortable
saying it’s spoiler free. I mean once we– And you’re a spoiler stickler. Oh yeah. Once we picked out the
excerpts that we’re gonna read, I went through and marked out the things that I considered spoilers and I have a very, very
low tolerance for spoilers. I mean, I’m surprised you’re even letting people see the book.
Right. I mean that’s how crazy you
can get about this sometimes. If I know I’m gonna watch a movie, I do not watch the trailer. I do not, all I wanna know from people if they’ve seen a movie I wanna see is– Is it good? Do you recommend that I see it or not? And you just say yes or no, that’s all, I don’t want you to tell me anything else. I’m just like yeah but, it’s like no, no, don’t. So, you can listen easy. We’re not gonna, we’re gonna introduce you to some of the characters,
and we are gonna skip around the book if you’re looking
at the video version, you can see my tabs here. And I will say those of you who, depending on when you’re
listening to this, are coming to the Bleak
Creek conversations, if you’re listening to this
right when it comes out on the audio version, you can still go see
us in New York tonight, and then you know, the rest of the week we’ll be in different places.,, you can find out about that. Also gonna be on Fallon. We’re gonna be on Fallon. The Tonight Show. We’re going to be reading
distinctly different passages that we will get to in
Bleak Creek conversations, and of course, the conversations is kind of a totally different thing, we’re gonna be showing the
documentary and all that. So you can enjoy both of these, we’ve taken pains to make
sure that they’re different, and we’re discussing
different things today. Yeah. You know what, let’s get into it. Let’s read the prologue. You do the honors, and we’ll go back and forth
on different excerpts, but why don’t you just
break into this prologue, read that, and then we’ll
kind of set up more of, I don’t know, just the, just our general approach to this thing. Why did we even do this? So this is the only thing that has, as we’re recording this, has
been officially released. But I’m gonna read it anyway. The boy raced through the
woods, blood streaming from his hand, he was growing
faint, can’t pass out, just gotta make it to the fence. He heard his pursuers yelling, they sounded as panicked as he felt. He didn’t know if the
dizziness was due to blood loss or the shock of what had just happened. They were gonna kill me. He had know this place
was twisted from day one when they’d stripped him of everything, including his own name, but even with all the
vile things he’d seen. He had still assumed that
the brutal punishments were designed to
intimidate, not exterminate. That’s why he’d been so
calm, willingly letting them guide him along blindfolded and gagged, right up until the moment
they’d sliced his palm. What if this particular
test was no different, maybe he was doing exactly
what they wanted him to, running through the trees
like a trophy animal. They’d only cut his hand, no arteries, plus he’d somehow gotten away
from the two men holding him, one of them enormous, much
bigger than any of the other adults he’d seen there, had they purposely let him go? No, he shouldn’t sell himself short, he’d fought like hell. The boy felt a flash of pride, all those hours of memorizing
Jean-Claude Van Damme, his moves had been worth it. Can’t wait to re-watch Kickboxer. He struggled to move at a full clip as branches, rocks, and logs snuck up on him in the sparse moonlight. He dodged the obstacles
hoping he was heading in the right direction. Where’s the damn fence? He saw it just before he collided with it. The grass of the pasture on the other side of the chain link’s glowing a dull gray under the night sky. He started to climb without thinking, pain exploding as the metal wire slipped into his open
wound, he stifled a scream, hoping to conceal his
exact point of escape. While clenching his jaw,
summoning the resolve to hoist himself up the 10 foot barrier, he saw it, a cut section of fence not five steps away, lucky. As he pushed his way through the flap and stood in the pasture, he heard the roar of
an engine to his left, the pick up truck was hurtling across the pasture in his direction. They were trying to head him off. He broke into a sprint
toward the cover of trees bordering the pasture, his
shadows sprawling in front of him as the headlight shined on his back. He was confident in his speed, 99th percentile in the
President’s challenge shuttle run, he’d timed himself. But they were closing the distance fast, get to the tree line. He’d knew there would be
a barbed wire cow fence at the edge of the field, he’d have to clear it in stride. In only a matter of seconds
they would be upon him. He was steps from the trees, the headlights lit up the short fence, helping him judge his distance. He stutter stepped to set up his leap, then threw his leg in
the air, a clean jump. He heard the truck skid
to a stop on the wet grass behind him, the doors
opening, men screaming. He knew this stretch of forest well, there was barely a patch
of nature around town he hadn’t explored. Another 100 feet or so and
he’s make it to the clearing. He broke into the lane
cut through the forest, a grassy corridor that
followed the sewage line along its lazy descent to
the water treatment plant. He heard the chasers clumsily
moving through the woods crashing into branches and
crumbling to themselves, morons. Randomly choosing a direction, he dashed down the clearing, reaching a
manhole in less than 50 steps. He grabbed a nearby stick
and jammed it into the notch on the cover, just as he’d
done a thousand times before, no longer thinking about
his throbbing hand. The weighty metal disk lifted, releasing an acrid smell. He raised the lid on his edge, and swiftly descended into
the rank darkness below, skittering down the iron
rungs, as fast as you could. The disheveled man popped out of the trees no more than 10 seconds
after he had dropped the manhole cover in place. The boy listened as their
cursing voices passed them. He waited in stinking silence
for another five minutes. Thrusting open the cover, he
emerged into the damp air, the boy fled deeper into the woods. And we’re off to the races! The lost causes of Bleak Creek. Go to or
anywhere books are sold. You know, I don’t wanna, this isn’t about, this isn’t about an ad
for you to buy the book, this is about a celebration, assuming that you’re here with us and that you wanna read the book, so we’re not trying to
convince you of anything. But who was that boy? Hmm. Was it?
You’ll find out! Was it Rex, was it Leaf? It certainly wasn’t Rhett or Link because those characters
aren’t in the book. True. I mean, as you read through this thing there’s so many things that jump out to me that are from our childhood. I think, just to take,
and we can talk about some of those things for the prologue, but just to take a step back,
I think the inception of the lost causes of Bleak Creek occurred in the wake of the success of our coffee table, slash
memoir, slash advice book, The Book of Mythicality, still available wherever books are sold. And our agent at the time, you know, we were still having
conversations with him based on the success of it, and he just, you know, he had a call
with us and just pitched why don’t you guys, would
you ever consider doing your version of a Hardy Boys novels, like think about young Rhett
and Link in a fictional world, and then he sent covers of– Different covers of Hardy Boys. Hardy Boys books, from I guess that’s like the, I was gonna say the 60s,
I actually don’t know. Well it was a very long
stretch, 60s included, probably 50s through 90s, I don’t know. So, and you know the thing
is, is, our answer was yes, a resounding yes. Sounds very cool. We have considered this. Mhm, yeah. In fact, we have talked, for years, we have talked about, you
know, how do we bring out, how do we take the things
that we kind of know about what it was like growing up in the south and some of the adventures
that we went on, and how do we translate that
into something creative. We’ve always assumed that
that would be a film. You know, I think that’s
how we’ve talked about it, it’s like all right, we’re
working on all this stuff, but we’re kind of working up to this place where we’re gonna make
something that, you know, the south is a character and it’s got kids who are friends, and they’re dealing with something, and we’ve kind of slowly been working, and we’ve got like loose concepts that are kind of floating around, but we had not ever considered, well, maybe you should start with a novel. And it wasn’t until Mark,
our agent at the time, basically was like, said
exactly what Link said, and that was when we were like oh, this is a way to actually
get the ball rolling on this idea, and maybe this is actually the perfect answer to that. Yeah, and then when we started
to talk about the specifics like pulling together all of
the previous conversations that you just mentioned that
we had had over the years, it very quickly gained momentum that yeah, this can be about us as kids, basically. And then we started to pitch
that and it gained momentum. And it very, very quickly,
I’d say almost immediately, we knew that we weren’t
going to make another version of the Hardy Boys. I was a big Hardy Boys fan growing up. A big choose your own
adventure fan as well. But that’s for younger kids. It’s younger kids, and
there’s a campy-ness to it. And this is, we were like, we wanna make a book that’s got humor in it, of course, but we want this to be sincerely
dramatic, and thrilling, and scary, and dark, along
with that humor, and also– And for us, and in terms
of target audience, something that we would want to read. This is not a children’s book. No. There’s been lots of talk of
like is this an adult book, is this a young adult book? All we can say is that
it’s a lot like what we do with everything else we do, it’s kind of for everybody. I mean sure, I mean like Shepherd asked me can I read it, I was like yeah, it’s got some stuff in there
that is a little off color and might scare you a little bit, but, you know, he can take it, and then anybody who is in high school right now, I mean, because these characters
are going into high school, it makes sense for them to read it. And of course, if you’re like
us and you grew up in the 90s, there’s a lot, we go way
beyond Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Kickboxer.
And I think a lot of that’ll become clear in the other excerpt. 90s references, yeah. Let’s jump into some specifics here. This boy, who, again,
you’ll have to discover later who that is, if
it’s one of us or not, when he goes into the manhole at the end, it’s like I have a specific
vision, like I know the specific manhole because
we did this, you know? If you leave your house and
you go around the corner, there’s, of course there
were, there are sewage lines and manholes everywhere, and we might have jumped into more
than one, but you know one particular one I’m thinking about, but across the street from,
you go around Adam Nicholson’s, well you go down the
street from Adam Nichols and it’s more like where
Justin lived, Justin McCloud. Yeah. And then you go down into the woods. Headed towards Lake Small
and then you get into, yeah. So you get into the woods and there’s like these big corridors where
the trees have been removed and they put in sewage lines to get from one part of Lake
Small into Buies Creek. And I assumed that this
exists in other towns around the world, but it
was definitely something that, I mean the interesting thing is that it didn’t really exist
over near your house because there would be like
corridors for power lines, but there was something, because there was a water treatment plant, I guess there still is
a water treatment plant, and it’s very close to Keith Hills, the country club that I lived outside of, did not live inside of,
but there were these corridors cut through the trees, and it was basically how
we sort of mapped out the woods that we played
in, and could also, if you continued following them, you would get to places, like, we talked about this in
The Book of Mythicality how we followed one of these
for a really long time, and some turns, and ended up
at Chris Barefoot’s house, and we were like, what? He lives over here, and this is connected, now I’m near I’m near the
Harnett County Airport, and this is blowing my mind. But at one time we just
went up to a manhole, and we took a stick, or I kind of think we had to get a crow bar,
but we eventually learned how to do it with a stick. A lot of times, in fact, we didn’t put this in the documentary, maybe we’ll make this like a special scene for the society or something, we opened up a manhole
right next to the river using a stick, cause a lot
of times they didn’t put them in quite right when
they set them back down, so you could kind of get a stick in there and kind of pry it open. It would be tough for a
kid to do it by himself, but you know, this is fiction. But if your hand’s cut. But if you’re running for your life. Yeah, he’s running for his life. I bet the adrenaline
could pull that thing off. And so, we pulled off the
lid of a manhole cover down in the woods beyond Justin’s house, and then you crawl down
the ladder to the bottom. And you just sit there, you smell it. You smell the waste of all your neighbors. And there’s like an accumulation of– What’s old. Refuse I’ll call it. But it was wild, it was like man, we’re like feeling like a Ninja Turtle. It seemed like a portal to another place. I was really trying to
work in a Ninja Turtle reference at the end of that, but then it didn’t happen,
it didn’t come together. But there is Ninja Turtle
reference in the book. That’s right, it’s just not
right there in the prologue. I would recommend going
down into the sewer. No, no, don’t do that. More than twice, I would
recommend doing it once. Everybody needs to be able
to say they’ve been into. Don’t go into sewers
with sores, especially. You skipped over a part
that was also an homage to something that happened to us, and that is the story
we’ve told several times about, you know, we would
go to these pastures, cow pastures, and we would
run around, chase cows, and then there would
typically be like a short barbed wired fence that
had a, usually had, like a line, either in front
of it, or right on top of it, which is an electrified fence, and of course you’d pee on it, or you’d do whatever, touch it, and dare your friends. I’ve never peed on it. So you’re talking about when
I went over on this thing. Yeah, but, so the idea of running, cause what we did, our
story, in real life, is running from a bull. Literally when the bull turned on us and started running after us, and me, and you, and Ben ran, and me and Ben got over the fence, and then of course you,
tried to get over the fence and got stuck on the barbed wire fence and seesawed over it,
and then your leg came up and caught the electrified fence and you had began to get
shocked in a pulsing pattern, which is how these things work. Which was funny to you, but not to me. Right, you were crying, we were laughing. I wasn’t crying a lot, but I mean. You were crying enough. Yeah, and actually, in the documentary, where we went back to Buies Creek, you can see the field in
Bleak Creek conversations. But, you know what, let’s
get into some other excerpts, and reminisce on some other things. But first we wanna let you know that along with the release of the book, we’ve got some Bleak Creek merch. Check it out at There’s this sweatshirt,
which is modeled after our Buies Creek colors and mascot. Cause in the book Bleak Creek High School, and Bleak Creek Middle
School and Elementary School is all in the small town of Bleak Creek, which is what it used to be back in the old days of Buies Creek, and these are the colors,
and they were the demons. And of course, a restaurant that, will we get into this? Yeah we’re gonna talk about Little Dino’s which was the restaurant– Show it to the people. That was in Buies Creek, pizza place, the official ring T for Little Dino’s, and there’s other stuff too. Home of Big Gary’s world
famous kidney stones. Got a lost causes t-shirt. We’ve got a pig picking t-shirt. There’s other things. It’s all over at, get your Bleak Creek merch. And yeah, if you’re listening, well November 4th, this’ll be out. It’s confusing, isn’t it? Right, yeah? Okay, let’s hit another excerpt here. I’m gonna skip forward to chapter 10. But it kind of serves as
an introduction to the book if you haven’t read
anything yet in some ways. So I’ll just read through this. Chapter 10, right at the top. Rex and Leaf walked into the cafeteria on their first day at
Bleak Creek High School. This moment had been building
in Rex’s mind for years, ever since his older
sister Misty told him that whoever you sat with
at lunch that first day could determine your future. Brad Stewart was the
smartest guy in eighth grade, she said, but he sat with
the Gardner twins his freshman year and now he
drives an ice cream truck. He, Leaf, and Alecia had developed a plan. Instead of buying lunch,
they would bring their own to avoid the hiccup of having
to go through the line. Then they’d take their own brown bags, lunch boxes were strictly off limits, a sacrifice particularly
challenging for Leaf, directly to the spot of
their choice, sit down, and wait to see who naturally joined them. The only rule they agreed on was that Mark Hornhat wasn’t allowed. An initial scan of the room revealed that nearly every table was already taken with very few students
in line buying lunch. Maybe their plan wasn’t
so original after all. They walked around
methodically, not talking, Rex doing his best to
play it cool and blend in, not an easy task considering he towered over almost everyone, while Leaf somehow forgot to move his arms as he walked. After two and a half laps
around the cafeteria, Rex looked at Leaf an
motioned with his head toward a table next to them, a handful of guys and
a girl they recognized as upperclassmen were
deep in conversation. But there were three open seats. Mind if we sit here, Rex asked. Huh, a blonde girl with
a jean skirt asked. Go for it stretch, a
guy with a Vanilla Ice to the extreme T-shirt said before turning back to jean skirt and picking up where they had left off. Thanks. No sooner had Rex and Leaf sat down that they got a powerful
whiff of eternity. Mark Hornhat appeared beside them as of he’d been perched somewhere waiting for them to decide on a table, a very Hornhat move. Hey, hey fellas, he said, taking his lunch out of his backpack. High school is pretty rocking, huh? So many hot babes. Rex and Leaf just started at him. They both realized they
stood little chance of repelling Hornhat. Freshman lunch plan 1992
was quickly falling apart. Oh man he said, what y’all did at that second Baptist fundraiser was so rad, I can’t wait to see Ghost
Dog so I can relive it. Does Boikins have lunch this period? I wanna congratulate
her on her performance. Especially the part at the end, ha ha. Rex and Leaf continued starting, coming to grips with the fact that Hornhat might be a permanent fixture
of their cafeteria crew. Rex knew Hornhat’s dad was a doctor, so at least eating with
him on a regular basis didn’t guarantee a future as
an ice cream truck driver. First day of high school. When we conceptualized
the book we knew that we wanted sort of the
added tension and build up that comes from the anxiety associated with starting high school, right? So that happens, you know, that is the end of the summer of 1992, and these guys are getting
ready to go to high school, and there’s all these apprehensions, and of course, so I have
an older brother who, when I was–
His name is not Misty. His name is not Misty, it’s Cole, and he was a senior when I was a freshman. And so a lot of the
perceptions that you have about high school come
from your older siblings who kind of been down that path before. Of course I didn’t have one of those. Right, but you had Cole, and me, and then you could, so
it was all filtered down. So, this was not, I can safely say, this particular piece of advice about who you sit with their
first day at high school is gonna determine a
lot about your future. But I do believe in this advice. Like I actually think that, and this is the kind of thing, you know, I told this to Lock when he was getting ready to go to high school. All you did was make him nervous. I didn’t tell him this specific thing like who you sit with
determines your future. Could be an ice cream truck driver. I just said, the only thing I said is the kind of people that
you surround yourself with will determine your future, but this is sort of the pinpointed. Well it’s true because
we’re creatures of habit, and if you stake your
claim in the cafeteria and unless you make an active decision, the passive thing that
happens is that’s where you end up staying, and you
know, the group of friends, just the people that are next to you are the people that you’re
literally rubbing shoulders with and, you know, it’s just, it
just kind of goes from there. So it actually, it’s a big moment. Well, and there is a principle at play, like I actually, that name Brad Stewart, that, I put together two
names there, Brad Inman, and Chris Stewart.
Yeah. And the reason I did that is because those guys were like, Brad
Inman and Chris Stewart were sort of the best of the
best of their classes, right? Yeah. And, I don’t– They were like heroes of upper class. I haven’t kept up with either of them, but I have every reason to believe that both of them went
on to become successful at whatever they endeavored. And, they did not become
ice cream truck drivers, I will say that safely. And this person is not based on them, legally I need to say that, it’s just in honor of those two guys, I took those two names
and put them together, but it was what if there was a guy who was this, in eighth grade, he was this person that everybody knew was gonna be super successful, but he made the choice to
sit with the wrong people and become an ice cream truck driver. That was just a very
fun thing to play with. Cause it does happen. You too could be an
ice cream truck driver. And you know what? There’s no shame in that. Okay, well, you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth. Listen, stay firm man. Okay, I mean some people
are ice cream truck drivers, and some people live in the neighborhoods where the ice cream trucks come. Just leave it. Yeah, I shouldn’t have said anything. But we, I mean as we reminisce, and we’ve done that a lot,
on and off Ear Biscuits, on and off the internet for over a decade. We often come back to that,
to all the expectations associated with headed into high school, you know, it’s like,
we’ve spoken before about the girls that we had heard their names or just seen them at rival,
when you played rival basketball teams in middle school. Or like one person had gone
to a different pool for a day. Yeah, so we talked about all that. If they knew the girls at the other pool. We really got excited about that moment. You know?
What a build up. Of course, you know, from a
practical planning standpoint, it kind of gives you a bit of a runway if you want the story to
continue beyond just one book, if you know what I’m saying. Oh well, I would yeah, yeah. I know what you’re saying. And you know, but when it
comes to the cafeteria, I do remember one story
that I may have told before, but it’s been quite a while, but I remember it, wasn’t
the first day of school, but you remember where we sat? And it had to have been our freshman year, because Erica, was a senior. Right when you walk in
or walk out on the left. So, man, Erica. She was, she was notable. Yeah she was. For a number of reasons. She was a popular girl. Yeah, and, if you access, when
we’ve told the story before I may have censored it more
than I’ll censor it here, but I remember, we knew where she lived, you know, she was a senior, she was, she was fun to look at a freshman. I’m just gonna, you know. She wore very, very specifically
bright pink lipstick. And she had jet black hair, but then she died it blonde, and there was like an
ombre thing going on, which you might just say, okay, she let her roots grow out, but there was something. It did a lot for us. That’s all I’ll say. As a 1992 boy from Buies
Creek, it did a lot for me. Yeah. And, you know, not to
mention the cleavage. She was not bashful.
Nope. I mean we knew where she lived, and you know, you could get, you could get to Anger by driving on 55, or you could take this little shortcut, which, yeah, it took a little bit longer, but let’s take this shortcut so we can go in front of Erica house because well she
would sit on her front, she would put out a beach chair, and she would sun bathe in her front lawn. Wouldn’t you? Yeah I would. So, you know, we, I tended to
fixate on her a little bit. And I think she knew that. Where we sat in the cafeteria, she would, when she would get her
tray, she’d walk by. Mhm. And man, I can’t remember exactly what led her to say something. Yeah I’m having trouble remembering. This is the part of the
story I can’t remember, but you know, because we’ve
been on the internet long enough I could probably access an
earlier version of this story and figure out why, what led
her to say what she said, but I will never forget what she said. She said– Hold on, let’s think about this. Yeah, cause I said something to her. I think we, there was a dare. Will you say something to Erica? I think that’s what it was. And you did. Cause I had never spoken to her. And I think it was I like something. You said something, I can’t
remember what it was, man. Can’t remember that part of the story. But I took the dare and I
did say something to her. I believe that she walked by. And she turned to me and said is your little hard? And I said, in my memory I said no, but my big is. I probably didn’t say that,
I probably didn’t say that. You know what, I think you could say that. Let’s just change the story. I definitely said no, but my big is. Right, that’s the only
way to come back to that. Yeah. Whenever I think of the
cafeteria at our high school, I always remember that moment, I don’t remember anything
around it apparently, and like what led up to it. But I do remember that, and
boy it was embarrassing, but thrilling. So we didn’t put that scene in the book because that would’ve
been a little distracting, but here’s something else
we did put in the book. Sorry Erica. And this ties in with. It shouldn’t have been like that. Am I going to the right place, now? I’m going to Jeanine. Yeah, let’s introduce the
character Jeanine, and Big Gary. Again, this all happens at Little Dino’s the T-shirt I’m wearing. Big Gary’s kidney stones
weren’t as vomit inducing as Jeanine had been, I burned my lips with oregano oil. What? So I, because I was getting a sore throat I put oregano oil and salt and warm water and I gargled with it,
but it kind of burns, it kills things, but it burned my lips. Your breath probably
smells like Little Dino’s. And this was like two
days and lips are still, I actually just put
some of your peculiarly perfect peppermint, peanut
butter peppermint lip balm on my lips to try to sooth them. It’s working, but, I feel
like it’s affecting my speech. Big Gary’s kidney stones
weren’t as vomit inducing as Jeanine had been expecting. In fact, if she hadn’t already
known what she was staring at she might have mistaken
it for a jar of pebbles, something she would have kept
on the shelf in her bedroom during her collecting
pointless things phase. Now don’t forget this side, Big Gary said, turning the jar so
Jeanine and her camcorder could capture every cubic
inch of kidney stone. While the colossal man wore a
nearly constant broad smile, his eyes betrayed the
baseline level of skepticism he reserved for anyone from
outside of Harlan County. Great, Jeanine said, her
eye pressed into the lens, zero emotion in her voice, really great. They were standing in
the back of Little Dino’s pizza and subs, Donna
behind them, already emersed in the process of washing dishes. Big Gary had a habit of filling
any gaps in conversation with a series of gentle
but guttural noises, almost like he was tasting
something he liked. The volume and frequency
of these sounds increased at Jeanine racked focus across the jar. As she stood there, pointing her camcorder at a grown man’s rock collection, birthed from his own urethra,
listening to him say mm mm over and over again, she
couldn’t ignore the voice in her head screaming this is
why you went to grad school? This is why you’re thousands
of dollars in debt? So you could do this? I’ve been waiting so long
for someone to film these, Big Gary said, staring
at the jar with pride. Resisting the urge to say, seriously? Jeanine zoomed out to
capture Big Gary in his booger green Little Dino’s
polo shirt in all its glory. She couldn’t imagine any
color looking worse on camera. That’s why I keep them displayed
on the counter out there. This jar, Big Gary held it as close to the camera lens as possible, filling up the frame with
a blurred nothingness, is a symbol of all the
pain I went through. Shows how tough I am. You know that expression look
at the stones on that one? Big Gary paused as if he were
waiting for Jeanine to answer. That’s actually the bumper
sticker on my car, she said, calculating that Big Gary
wouldn’t detect her sarcasm. Well then all right, Big Gary said, so you know what I’m getting at, look at the stones on this one, my stones. Jeanine couldn’t help but smile, but not for the reasons Big Gary thought. She turned to see if Donna
was smiling too, but nope, she was sliding a rack of glasses into the industrial dishwasher
and pushing it closed, initiating a loud splashing and humming. So tell me, Big Gary said, speaking louder to compete with the running dishwasher, is this gonna be like in the
movie theaters and what not? Definitely, Jeanine said, doing her best to wipe the smile off her face
as she lowered the camera. Wow, Big Gary said, nodding excitingly and releasing a barrage of mms. Barage of mms. So that’s Big Gary, and that’s
Jeanine at Little Dino’s. Yeah Jeanine is another key character. You know this, the book
isn’t just about Rex and Leaf and following their adventures, but there is an adult
character as well, Jeanine, and I’m not gonna say anything
beyond what was revealed in this passage, but as you can
see she went to film school. I’m a big fan of Jeanine. She’s got this, she
always knows what to say, like she can be a smart ass, she’s, you know, she’s,
I enjoy the way that she forms the connection with Rex and Leaf that’s kind of interesting,
you know it’s like, they much like us are
aspiring film makers, so it’s like there was. Instant respect, cred. And grounds for that connection, which proves to be very
necessary with what they need to accomplish.
Right. Well and the whole idea
of putting kidney stones, featured in this chapter,
and a lot of kidney stones, if you read the book you’ll
understand what that’s about. But, and this was actually
sort of a central point, it was one of the, as we were
piecing together the story, and kind of coming up with
what exactly is going on in Bleak Creek, kidney stones is actually was kind of a starting point. So it’s interesting that it’s
a starting point for Jeanine and what she’s trying to accomplish. Now you’ve never had a kidney stone? I haven’t. I’ve never had a kidney stone. But I am fascinated, I’m fascinated by and
obsessed with them because I, you know, I feel like I
have a tendency to get, and this might just be in my mind, I feel like I get weird,
I get weird things, like you know I’ve got herniated disks, and I’ve got psoriasis,
and I had that thing happen with my eye, and you know, I was a chronic nose bleeder growing up, and I’m a pretty, I’m
not like a sickly person, but I feel like I have
these, you know, weird, not life threatening,
but annoying maladies. So you feel primed to get a kidney stone, but you think yours will be
shaped like a ninja star? Well not that, my brother has had them. Ninja star stones? He’s had kidney stones. And, you know, they say. They’ll bring you to your knees, man. The conventional wisdom
of the kidney stone is that it is the only
thing that is comparable to a woman giving birth
that a man can experience. My brother can attest to that, basically it’s hell on Earth. It’s hell, and it’s not
really, you always think, oh this must hurt when it’s
coming out your ding a ling, and that’s not, that’s
not the part that hurts. Coming out your ding a
ling is the fun part. Really? It’s when it begins, it gets
dislodged from your kidney. Yeah. When it basically moves and begin to work it’s way down to your ding a ling. Through the urethra as we said. No, the urethra I think
is from the bladder. Oh. It’s gotta get to the bladder. So it’s the process from getting from the kidney to the bladder, which, there’s, I’m sure there’s a name for that too. It’s not the urethra as far as I know. And that process, and what most men, or women who have this
happen to them, think, is oh, I pulled a muscle, I’m
having a really bad back day, and because I’ve got
lower back issues already, every time I feel something,
and it’s a little bit different I’m just like oh no, I’m
gonna get kidney stones now because Cole got them, and it’s just a matter of
time before I get them. My dad had one and it was so big, cause they say, well the best
thing to do is just to pass it and they want you to catch it so they can analyze it for some reason. I think that’s also fun as well. Yeah they, I guess you
get a special basket. They give you a lollipop
if you take a kidney stone to the doctor’s office. But it’s kidney stone flavored. Don’t get your hopes up. But that depends on what you ate. If somebody’s ate a lot of lollipops. A lot of tea, you drank a lot of tea. Kidney stones taste like tea. I mean you could open up that jar and taste on of Big Gary’s I’m
sure when he wasn’t looking. Sprinkle them on your
pizza like that red stuff you put on pizza at the table. I think they’re just made of calcium. My dad’s was so big
that they had to go in, go up in there, and then they
grabbed it and crushed it. Ouch. And then my nanny, I
remember when I was a kid, she went in and she came
out from a procedure, and she had a T-shirt and it
said I’ve been lithotripsed. Lithotripsy-ed. That’s a T-shirt you can get? Lithotripsy is when they blast
sound waves at your kidney and break up a kidney stone to make it smaller so it can pass. And for some reason only certain stones are candidates for that. Like my brother, I don’t
think has had that done, I think he’s just had to pass them. He’s had a lot though. He’s, I don’t know, maybe
three, four, I don’t know. Big Gary’s had a jar full of them. And there is, so as we
were trying to figure out like how many kidney stones are too many because it unfolds why
there’s kidney stones and why people are getting them, why Big Gary has them,
and why there are so many, the world record for
kidney stones is actually, there’s somebody who passed,
I don’t remember what it was, the numbers of kidney stones
that we put into the book were based on looking up what’s
a reasonable amount here, what’s like a maximum
amount of kidney stones. In a year? It’s not a ridiculous amount. There are some people who
can form them that quickly, depending on the conditions. That’s gotta be a nightmare. I don’t wanna ever experience that. Let’s read another excerpt. But Little Dino’s was an actual place. Yeah. In Buies Creek, it was the
only restaurant in town, it wasn’t that great. I actually don’t remember
ever eating there. We also didn’t spend a lot of time, we didn’t like spend money on food. You know, we ate at home, and it wasn’t like hey mom give
me $5 I wanna go get pizza. Is it my turn to read an excerpt? It is, yeah. Rex now turned into a gravel driveway. The small wheels of his scooter
grinding to a crunchy stop on the loose rocks that lead
to the house of Travis Bathoon. Not only was Travis the
nicest person Rex and Lead had ever met, seemingly
never disparaging anyone, but he had an untold number of jobs, landscaper, septic tank
pumper, chimney sweep, house painter, and most
important, volunteer fireman. He traveled from job to job
on his bright red moped, and wore a thick black leather belt that held a walkie talkie,
two beepers, a flashlight, a large bowie knife, and a giant keyring loaded with what looked
to be 30 keys or more. The teenagers around Bleak
Creek regularly referred to him as redneck Batman. He didn’t seem to mind the moniker, and Rex and Leaf didn’t
know if that was due to his unwavering positivity or just the general allure of being
compared to Batman. Suffice it to say, when
Rex realized he needed a fire extinguisher, he
immediately thought of Travis, who called Rex back three
minutes after he beeped him. Rex walked the rest of the way
up to the single wide trailer which Travis referred to
as his ranch style house, despite the wheels under the mobile home being only somewhat obscured
by the wood lattice skirting. Travis opened the door before Rex even reached the front steps. Hey man, he said, flashing his
signature grin, come on in, my casa, your casa. Rex didn’t often see Travis
without his utility belt, he seemed smaller. Thanks Travis, Rex said, hit
with the smell of solder wire and bacon grease as he stepped
onto the brown shag carpet. He’d only been to Travis’s
house once before, as he always seemed to be out and about. Glad you’re here, Travis said, adopting a serious tone, he added, you know, I ain’t supposed to
share the tools of the trade with a layman like yourself, but I’m willing to make
an exception for you. Now what do you need it for again? For Polter Dog, Travis asked. No, a new project, it’s
kind of experimental. You mean like about
chemistry or something? Rex felt horrible lying to Travis, but it was just too easy and necessary. Sort of, yeah. You boys are so dang
creative, a chemistry movie. That sounds awesome. Yep. You sure you don’t want me to come and keep an eye on things
when you do the pyro? Travis asked. I live for that kind of stuff. He leaned in and spoke in a whisper. To tell you the truth, that’s
why I’m a volunteer fireman. I love to watch stuff burn. Catching himself, he said loudly. Of course, I love putting it out too. I don’t think you’d find
this too interesting, just sparklers, Rex said,
adding another thread to his web of white lies. Hm, yeah, that ain’t really even fire. Travis paused, looking at
the fake wood paneled wall, all right, lemme get it. Travis got up and walked
through a bead curtain to the back of his trailer. Rex stood waiting, surveying
Travis’s assortment of what looked to be about 100
California raisins figurines on the kitchen counter. There were lots of repeats, at least 20 of the one on the skateboard. They’re cool as hell, huh? Travis said, returning with an ancient looking fire extinguisher. Yeah, pretty cool Rex said. Smartest thing Hardy’s ever did. I wish they’d bring them back,
he said, shaking his head. Anyway, here she is, he extended the fire extinguisher to Rex. Thanks Travis, I really
appreciate this Rex said. My pleasure buddy. Travis Bathoon is one of
my favorite supporting characters in the cast. He’s the type of guy that we feel like we’ve known forever, it’s
like a very Harnett County type guy, it wasn’t based
on one particular person. There’s a lot of people like this, there’s a lot of people who just have a lot of equipment on a belt. On their person at all times. And do a lot of different things, and you can’t point to
the one job that they do cause they do a multitude of jobs. So he’s kind of a composite
character in that way, and also I do think that the reference to thinking of your trailer as a ranch home, I didn’t ever hear anyone say that, but that struck me as a very funny thing. Something they could have thought. Well because, you know, there’s different styles of trailers,
there’s different levels. Sure Rhett. You got some trailers that are just like I’m not trying to disguise,
like it’s obvious, like we don’t have any skirting on this, we could hook a truck up to it and immediately get out of here if we needed to. Yeah, but some people, they
don’t unhook the truck. But then there are the
ones that are established, the wheels haven’t moved in years. They’ve planted like a small
garden around the trailer, and you begin to be lulled
into the impression that this is just somebody’s ranch style home. There might be a foundation under there. I think the thing about Travis is, is fixation on things burning. That was based on a true story. Or maybe not, maybe don’t
wanna be too incriminating. We’ll we’re not, I’m not
gonna say who it was, but we were told, there was
rumor that went around town, and I believe he was at some
point prosecuted for this, but there was a rumor that
a person who was on the volunteer fire department. Was always the first to
the scene of the fire. And it turns out he was
setting homes on fire, but not occupied homes,
like abandoned homes. Abandoned homes, they go up quick. Like how’d he get here so quick, like, my ex step dad Jimmy
was also a volunteer fireman. And my next door neighbor
Pete Dinklage was. And in the middle of church, sometimes, like, the pastor
would be giving a sermon, and then you could hear across town, the siren go off for
the volunteer firehouse. They didn’t use beepers,
they just had a giant. He actually had a beeper too. But they use a giant
siren that can be heard throughout the entire town of Buies Creek. And if the preacher would be preaching, and then all of the
sudden Jimmy would get up and run out of the back of the sanctuary, and I thought that was cool. Super cool. Cool as hell, one might say. Right. Which is another saying that we took from somebody specifically. But, you know what, let’s
just read another excerpt. Yeah, just quick shout
out to the California Raisins though because California Raisins were a big part of our childhood,
we both collected them, I’m sure you collected more than I did, but I had the full set in my bedroom. Oh you know I had the full set. And, they released them, so
this is one of those things where, when you’re writing a
book that takes place in 1992, like we actually went
to pretty great lengths to make sure that the timing
of everything was working out, like okay, were they out by then, and were they still out? So the reason that Travis
says, cool as hell, and the best thing Hardy’s ever did, I wish they’d bring them back, is because in 1992 they were not out, they had been taken off,
Hardy’s wasn’t doing that, but Hardy’s bring them back
later, and then I think again, but this is one of the
California Raisin-less times of Hardy’s is when the book takes place. Tough times. And we wanted to get that
right, it’s important. In my trumpet case, my trumpet that I play when we do shows, I still
have my California Raisins trumpet player inside of that case, cause from seventh grade. Okay, we’re gonna divide this one up. Oh. This is the conversation from chapter 13, between Rex and Leaf,
and so we might as well just read it as Rex and Leaf. I’ll be Rex, you be Leaf. How about that?
Okay. This may be familiar
to you if you know of– If you’ve been watching
our videos for a long time. As they crouched in silence,
watching and waiting, they noticed the cicadas
belting out their pulsing songs around them, making the forest seem alive like it had a giant beating heart. I’m kind of hungry, Leaf said. Terror and hunger were off
and interchangeable for him. Here, Rex dug around in his backpack and chucked a huge zip
lock bag over to Leaf. Brought some trail mix. Thanks, Leaf said, instantly comforted by a familiar snack. You can have some too Ben, Rex said. I’m okay Ben said. Still pretty full from
my three squirrel dinner. All right, Rex said, as you notice Leaf taking out individual peanuts from the bag and consuming them one by one. He was tempted to say something, but he was well acquainted
with Leaf’s pickiness. His aversion to olives,
mushroom, and pepperoni had sabotaged many a pizza order, and either way, this was no time to bicker
over trail mix etiquette. Then Leaf popped another
peanut in his mouth, chewing so loudly the sound
began to rival the cicadas. Hey, Leaf, don’t, let’s not, let’s not do it like that. Like what? Leaf asked. Like eating all the
peanuts and nothing else. But I don’t like M&Ms and raisins. I’m avoiding them. Yeah, but you’re throwing
off the whole ratio. My mom had a specific mix in mind. You think your mom is gonna be upset about me eating the peanuts? No, Rex said, growing more flustered, but when you eat trail mix you’re supposed to take a handful, everybody knows that. What you get is what you eat. Maybe quiet down a bit,
Ben said from between them. Sorry, Rex said. Yeah, Leaf said, depositing
yet another peanut onto his tongue. You offer me a snack and
then you’re telling me how to eat it, makes it
kind of hard to enjoy. Okay, Rex said, reaching
his arm across Ben, give me back my mom’s trail mix. No, Leaf said, holding the bag close. You– He didn’t finish his sentence because that’s when the chanting started. Oh crap, the chanting. The what, what? So, you know, if you looked at the videos, that’s a weird way to say it, if you watched our Mythical Roadtrip. 2011, our trip from North
Carolina to California. There’s one called trail mix,
so you can check that out. Trail mix and argument. That’s the original inception
of this particular exchange, which we, we had it– We had in real life. In that video, and we had
versions of it in real life. We’ve had that conversation
multiple times. Every time I eat your trail mix. So you already know that Rex and Leaf are very, very much based on Rhett and Link, and, but they’re different
in a lot of ways. Yeah, I like pepperoni. That we made them Rex and
Leaf, but you prefer sausage. You don’t. That’s true. So I’ve tried to get pepperoni many times and you’ve changed it to sausage. I put this– I don’t like M&Ms in my trail mix, fact. I put those exact things in there because you have sabotaged many
a pizza order in real life. That’s all I’m gonna say, then we didn’t talk about
you not liking tomatoes in this passage, that
happens in another passage. Yeah, in the Little Dino’s scene. So again, there’s a lot
of us that personally informs these characters
and the way that we interact with each other, the way
that we have interacted with each other throughout
our entire lives, and the way we continue to
interact with each other is the way that you’ll
see Rex and Leaf interact with each other, and I think that that was the most fun aspect of this for me is the fact that we get
to pull on the things that are actually true about us, and were true about us, but then take them to
completely crazy places because we’re writing a novel, this is a fictional exercise. And speaking of crazy places, that’s when the chanting
began is, you know, the dot, dot, dot, into a crazy place. And you know, the excerpts that we chose, were more about introducing
you to some of the characters and you know, helping convey
the humor and the setting, and just kind of the lighthearted
tone to The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek, but suffice it to say, there’s a lot of darkness, and– We can’t read any of that
without giving away too much. The pages are the same color throughout, but if I were, if we were to track them, we could have put a gradient, because as you go, it gets darker. That would be a difficult
printing exercise, probably. Can we make a gradient across the pages so it’s all dark by the
end and you can’t read it? And it flips over to white text on black. Somewhere in the middle. In the middle it’s just gray on gray and you can’t read anything. That’s the mystery. That’s a good idea. That’s why it’s called a mystery novel cause you don’t know the middle is. Yeah, I mean it gets real. It does, it gets very serious. I hope you get scared. I just can’t wait to start hearing from your experience as a reader. #BleakCreek. Please let us know. Well, and I would say, if you listened– That’s something I’m very excited about. If you’ve listened thus far, you probably either have
already bought the book, or you’re planning on
buying the book, but, and I’m sure we’re gonna say this again, we understand, and there’s a little bit of a chip on our shoulder
with everything that we do because in today’s world,
in 2019 where you’ve got, anybody can be a YouTuber,
really, it doesn’t, you can call yourself a YouTuber, all you gotta do is have a camera and make videos from your bedroom, there’s a very, speaking of a gradient, there’s a large gradient
between, you know, we’re doing this for a living, right, we’ve been doing it for a
living for a long time, but– You trying to say we’re awesome? No, I’m just saying,
we’re never going to shake the perception that comes
along with being a YouTuber. And I understand the eye
rolls that come along when someone who is a YouTuber,
who’s only gotten famous because they make videos that anyone can upload to the internet, then decides to write a novel. And if you, like I said,
if you listened this far, you don’t need to be convinced about this, you’re like, oh they’re
passionate about this, I’m sure that I’m gonna
enjoy it, whatever. But just so you know, because
I think we’re all a team here, Mythical Beasts kind of working together for whatever we’re going for,
Mythical world domination, it’s very important that this book gets beyond the Mythical herd,
you know, I think that for anyone who enjoys this genre, mystery, thriller, horror,
but also comedy mixed in, and also time period
based thing, in the 90s, there’s a lot of touch points for this, and we really just want
it to connect with people who may have just concluded,
oh those are the guys that eat goat testicles on the internet, why the hell would I care
about a book that they wrote, trust me, I understand that sentiment. But I think that, obviously
we’re trying to get the message out that
this is something that we feel is a book that can really capture your interest, and keep your interest, and whether you know us or not. So we would just ask,
like Link was saying, you know, if you’ve got
a copy for yourself, share it with somebody else,
buy a copy for somebody else, buy a copy for somebody for Christmas. Somebody who, and if you know
they would have a problem knowing that it’s coming from a YouTuber who eats goat testicles– Take the cover off. Take the cover off and don’t tell them who Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal are. Take this part off. Because we think this
story stands on itself, and stands on its own. It stands on itself. It stands on itself and on its own. That’s cool. And we don’t think that it
needs to be accompanied by hey we’ve got a show that
a lot of people watch and that’s why people
are gonna buy this book, that’s not what it’s about for us, this is an artistic enterprise that we’re very, very passionate about. Did you get the chip off your shoulder? No the chip will always be there. Is your little hard? Mm, my big hard. Bingo. #BleakCreek. Thank you for taking Rhett’s
advice into consideration, speaking of advice, do you have? I have a recommendation. It’s a book called, no
I’m not gonna do that. You thought I was gonna do that. You thought my Rec and Effect was gonna be The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek? Well I really want it to be. But I’m gonna give you another rec. Don’t make it another book. I’m gonna give a musical rec, and maybe this is a, music
that you could listen to while you’re enjoying The
Lost Causes of Bleak Creek. I’ll put this on my Spotify. It’s probably already on your Spotify. Whitney, Whitney Houston. Now– ♪ How will I know ♪ You should listen to Whitney Houston, no, not Whitney Houston, but there’s a band that’s called Whitney, it’s
not a person named Whitney, it’s just some dudes who
call themselves Whitney, and if you’re not careful and you say, you know, tell Spotify to play Whitney, sometimes they’ll just
play Whitney Houston, so you have to say Whitney the band. I’m going to recommend a
specific song which is, is it Forever? What the name of their
last album, Forever? Forever Turned Around. So Forever Turned Around, first of all, I think you can just
shuffle play these guys, and they’re singing in this falsetto, and it’s this very, it’s just a groove, and it’s just very much chill music, but if you’re gonna listen to
one song as an introduction to Whitney I suggest Forever Turned Around which is the title track
from their 2019 album, which is guess is their latest
album Forever Turned Around, Whitney, check them out,
listen to it as you’re enjoying The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek. Shout out to Julian and Max. In the meantime I’ll be
aggressively knocking, trying to knock off
the chip on my shoulder with your help. We’ll speak at your next week. To watch more Ear Biscuits, click on the playlist on the right. To watch the previous
episode of Ear Biscuits, click on the playlist to the left. And don’t forget to click on the circular icon to subscribe. If you prefer to listen to this podcast, it’s available on all your
favorite podcast platforms. Thanks for being your mythical best.

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