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Best of Summer: Goblins, toenails, and beach rap — Finding joy in small doses

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In times like these, you've got to take joy wherever and however you can get it. In this episode of Endless Thread, co-hosts Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson swap unexpected sources of joy they've bumped into recently — from a goblin-themed Reddit post, to the scariest toe talons on the internet, to a funky 1980's little-known bop about going to the beach on Massachusetts' North Shore.

This episode originally aired on March 18, 2022.

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Full Transcript:

This content was originally created for audio. The transcript has been edited from our original script for clarity. Heads up that some elements (i.e. music, sound effects, tone) are harder to translate to text. 

Ben Brock Johnson: Amory, we're looking for the joy.

Amory Sivertson: Whewwwww. (Sings) Joy, where are you?

Ben: Are you just like, are you like in a musical right now? Or maybe it's like that almost sounded more operatic. You know, the opera of Amory’s life. (Sings) Joy. Where are you joy?

Amory: I’ve been moonlighting as a musical theater artiste.

Ben: I just like the idea of an opera where Amory is searching for joy.

Amory: (Sings) Joy. Where are you, joy?

Ben: So we're searching for some joyful stories today because it just feels like we should be doing that. You know what I mean?

Amory: Mmm hmmm. Big time.

Ben: Yeah, and I've got a couple of small items.

Amory: A couple doses of joy?

Ben: Yeah, a couple of joy snacks.

Amory: Love it.

Ben: What do you got?

Amory: Mine is on the musical wavelength. Maybe that's why I'm feeling so melodic right now.

Ben: Well, mine are both shorties. So maybe it's a double shortie. And then a longie?

Amory: Yeah, sounds good. And then I'll pump up the jams.


Ben: So my first one is one that you know and I think many other people know. I think you originally shared this with me, and I just, I just feel like it's, you know, we've been we've been needing to talk about it.

Amory: I think I have a guess.

Ben: Yeah, this comes from the "confessions" subreddit and the title is "I like to creep around my home and act like a goblin". Do you know this one?

Amory: I do. I do, yeah. But I could use a refresher. Honestly, I'm not sure that I made it past the headline because it's like, yep, that that sounds good.

Ben: Oh, it gets so much better. It gets so much better.

Amory: Good, so I both know it and I don't know it, and I am ready for this ride.

Ben: Okay, so this is from a user named Sasuke-in-SSBU. This was posted - I think it was posted on Christmas Day. So the post says: "I don't know why, but I just enjoy doing this. Maybe it's my way of dealing with stress or something, but I just do it about once every week. Generally, I'll carry around a sack and creep around in a sort of crouch-walking position, making goblin noises. Then I'll walk around my house and pick up various different quote 'trinkets' and put them in my bag while saying stuff like 'I'll be having that' and laughing maniacally."


Amory: I was gonna ask for your goblin voice, thank you.

Ben: I’ll be having that. I think that's better.

Amory: That's pretty good.

Ben: "And then laughing maniacally in my goblin voice ('trinkets' can include anything from s*** I find on the ground to cutlery or other utensils). The other day, I was talking with my neighbors and they mentioned hearing weird noises like what I wrote about it. And I was just internally screaming the entire conversation. I'm 99% sure they don't know it's me. But God, that 1% chance is seriously weighing on my mind."

Amory: Oh, he should invite them over.

Ben: Yeah, they - well, it could be a woman. Could be a female goblin.

Amory: You are so right. I hope it is. I hope it's a lady goblin.

Ben: A lady gob?

Amory: Lady goblette.

Ben: What's your lady gob voice? Can I get a lady gob "I'll be having that?"

Amory: I'll be having that.

Ben: Oh, that's like a more fairy goblin. I like that. Yeah, that's good.

Amory: My whole body just contorted down to do that voice.

Ben: Haha, you went into the goblin crouch?

Amory: I'm a method actor Ben. A method goblin.

Ben: A method goblin. You got to get into that goblin mindset.

Amory: You know it.

Ben: The top comment is "Bruh I'm laughing my ass off. It's so weird yet innocent I have no idea what to think about it hahaha." And then someone said, "I hope OP never stops doing this because it seriously brings so much light into this life." I agree with that. So that's my goblin story. And for my next trinket - this is a weird question, but can you look at my Twitter feed?

A: Yeah, Twitter dot com.

Ben: I have a post from this morning, where I say, "welp, that's enough internet for me today gonna call it."

Amory: Oh, I think I did see this. But I did not zoom in on the picture because, because reasons that will soon become obvious. Okay, you should describe this photo.

Ben: I mean, like, I don't even really know how to describe it, but it's somebody who has found, I don't even know if it's a B.B. gun or not. It might be a real gun, but the picture is pointed down at the gun and down at the floor. And behind the gun, the gun is in the foreground, and it says "Pawn shop find - Jericho 941," and forgive me, I don't know a lot about guns, so this may be a very real gun. It looks real. But in the background of the shot is naked man legs, I guess we could say, going from about mid-thigh down. And I don't know what to say, but this person has crazy toenails. Like someone commented, I believe, on this picture, someone commented, "you could run up a flagpole on a sprint with those talons." And that's basically what they are, is talons. And the thing that's messed up about this Amory, the thing that is crazy, is because the internet, people started responding to this with more pictures like this.

Amory: What?

Ben: And I don't understand.

Amory: Of their own toe talons?

Ben: Look, so click on the tweet. Click on the tweet that I retweeted. Click on that one.

Amory: The good Reddit tweet?

Ben: Yeah. Now, scroll down a little bit to the one of the gummy worm.

Amory: There’s one of dog feet, that's good. Okay. To the gummy worm.

Ben: Do you see the, it says..

Amory: So it's someone holding a gummy worm, and then their toes are just like long dagger toenails painted hot flaming red. And the caption is, "look at this worm, excuse the foot." Which like - the foot is not the problem. It's what is coming like piercing out of the foot.

Ben: I just, it has to be a genre, right? Or like, I don't know if it's the same user who's making these photos? I honestly don't know. But this is like, I don't know what to say about this, but it's like, it brings me joy. It does bring me joy because it is clearly so ridiculous. And these look like fake, they seem like it has to be fake. Like people can't be walking around with toenails like this. I just don't, I'm sorry. I don't believe that this is possible.

Amory: From a very practical standpoint, putting a foot like that into a shoe, you know, unless these people live in warm weather climates where they are only wearing flip-floppies -

Ben: Is this what real clown's feet look like?

Amory: Real clowns? Oh, because the big shoes. That's true. If you're a professional clown, you've got like a good three to four inches of toenail space there, if you so choose. Yeah. Also, I can't tell if the toenails are painted, they look like they might be painted like a minty green. But maybe that's just what happens to the color of your toenails when you really try to push the limits of toe nail length.


Ben: Ughh. All right. Well, you know, we'll post images. Go to my Twitter feed, go to my Twitter feed if you want to see photos of this. I'm @TheBrockJohnson. You can find them.

Amory: This is good. We were like micro-dosing joy.

Ben: Joy and terror all mixed together. All right. We'll be right back.


Amory: So I think we're just going to start with the old hot hit of music. I sent you a link.

Ben: Okay. You want me to watch this video?

Amory: Watch is a generous term. Just fire the link.

Ben: Okay.


Amory: You hear that crashing waves sound?

Ben: Whoa that was quite a synth like note run.

Amory: Yeah.

Ben: This is very, this is very, I want to say this is like early 90s. It feels like late 80s, early 90s.

Amory: This is from 1984.

Ben: Oh, wow, early. Okay. It was ahead of its time. That's what I'm trying to say. Okay. It says "Russ McQueen - To The Beach."

Amory: Yep, to the beach.

Ben: And it's just like a photo of like a family from what looks like the early 80s, all standing maybe near a beach.

Amory: Mmm hmm.

Ben: It's very, it's very funky.

Amory: Very funky. Can you describe the person in the center? It's kind of a blurry photo, but there's a person in the center wearing a hat. I don't know how well you can see that.

Ben: Oh yeah, I see that guy. Yeah, he's the center of attention

Amory: For sure.

Ben: Yeah.

Amory: Yeah, he has kind of a fedora on.

Ben: He's wearing white pants, which is a bold move for any man and certainly any man, oh you know…

Amory: The way the light is hitting his shirt, it looks like the shirt might have a little shimmer to it, but I can't really tell.

Ben: It's got a little sheen on it. Yeah.


Amory: Okay, so Russ McQueen, long time musician, he plays keys and sings, so that great little synth run that you heard - those were the stylings of Russ McQueen. He's also a deejay and he's local to our area here in Massachusetts. He's performed a lot around the North Shore in particular. And he is my father in law.

Ben: Ohhhh!

Amory: Ohhhh yeah. And like you said, he is the life of the party. Like, you think you're a ham, Ben, and you can't hold a candle to, you can't hold a disco ball to Russ McQueen. He has a whole big plastic storage tub full of various hats and wigs that he brings to the gigs that he plays.

Ben: Okay.

Amory: And I watched a video of him earlier today where he's performing at some sort of assisted living or independent living center, and he's serenading the crowd with the song "That's Amore", a while wearing a big pizza hat on his head.


Amory: And at one point, a petite woman using a cane walks in and he gets down on his knees and knee walks over to her. This is like a 70 plus year old man. Knee walks over to her to sing to her at eye level.


Amory: And then, you know, the next minute he has a giant foam cowboy hat on and he's singing Alan Jackson's Chattahoochee.


Ben: I've always, you know, I'm someone who's always trying to Chattahoochee.

Amory: You are. You could have a Chattahoochee off. So he just has boundless energy and he really loves nothing more than making people smile. And back in the 80s, he made this song, To the Beach. It's been kind of this family lore where I've heard the song before. I know that the song exists. I know that there are copies of it in the world, like seven inch vinyl copies of it. But it doesn't, you kind of forget about it until it gets brought up for one reason or another. Like it did just over the course of the past week or so. Because my husband and I recently went up to my in-laws house to help move some things around, clean some things, and my husband found this old drum machine in a file cabinet. It's a Yamaha RX7...


Amory: But my in-laws weren't using it anymore, so we adopted it. That's why it's here next to me. And my husband belongs to the Discord channel for a podcast called Election Profit Makers. Are you familiar with this podcast?

Ben: No.

Amory: It's hosted by, or co-hosted, by a guy named David Reese that I like a lot. He's kind of a a humorist and quirky guy, and they basically just bet on certain things happening in the news. But they have this really popular Discord channel that's taken on a life of its own. And there's a channel in there that's called something like "pedal missed connections", so instrument pedals. But Mike posted a picture, my husband posted a picture of this drum machine and was like, "Hey, check this out". And he didn't realize it until after he posted the picture that the name "Russ McQueen" is on the drum machine like a little label maker label.

Ben: Right.

Amory: And someone in the channel was like, "You mean this Russ McQueen?" And they linked to a page on a site called Discogs. Do you know, discogs?

Ben: Oh, yeah. This is like a website, it's sort of like an online marketplace and also community for deejays, basically. I think. Right?

Amory: Oh, possibly. Yeah, I know it is as like a an online marketplace. There's a lot of vinyl, old rare vinyl being sold there. Or you can tell people when you're looking for something. So this Disccogs post, you see a picture of To The Beach, the single, released in 1984. Genre is funk slash soul, style is boogie.

Ben: Style is boogie.

Amory: And you can see that it last sold earlier this year in January for, I believe, like $27 or something. Or it has sold for as much as $27. This single from the '80s. Then we find a link, we start digging around because we're just like, who is buying To The Beach? We find an Etsy link where a signed copy is being sold for $27. We found just recently, this is on a site called Gripsweat that I don't know about, it sold back in 2019 for $75. So, I'm going to play you a little more of the song right now because you just got a taste of the lyrics, but I want you to actually, I want you to hear the lyrics. And you know, my dad's also a musician. Your dad is a musician. There is great joy in hearing our parents, I feel like they won't appreciate being called elders, but our parents being themselves before we existed, before we were glimmers in their eyes. So I just want to play through the first chorus of To The Beach to celebrate some some love for the boogie woogie Russ McQueen of the 80s.

Ben: I love that. Yes. Let us boogie.


Ben: Okay.

Amory: That’s Salisbury beach on the North Shore.

Ben: Clearly.

Amory: Well, some people don't know this very beach in Massachusetts, Ben.

Ben: Doo doo doo doo doo...Life is a champagne bubble.

Amory: You hear those bubbles sound effects?

Ben: Oh, great bubbles...there's like so much lingo in here. I can't even figure out what's happening.

Amory: I know, it's just North Shore Massachusetts in the '80s.

Ben: But it's pretty great.

Amory: He references the Tick Tock, which was like a popular nightclub on Salisbury Beach, on this like local beach.

Ben: It's not like a social app that's like destroying our world?

Amory: He played there all the time. It was like a big part of his personal and professional life from the '70s to the '90s. And when it closed down - I forget when it closed down - probably at least a decade ago now, when it closed down, it was just one of those, you know, the loss of a real local institution. Yeah, so this song brings me joy. I hope it brings you joy.

Ben: It does. It makes me yearn for summertime. I'm ready for my hot girl summer.

Amory: Mmm hmm. Exactly. Because we're still stuck in this like, it's sunny and there are birds, but it's also 19 degrees right now where I am.

Ben: Yeah, same. Yeah. And also, I'm married, so I don't - what I mean by that is I'm ready to be a part of the hot girl summer. Like I will be a hot girl this summer. Yeah. Does that make sense?

Amory: Yeah.

Ben:  I mean, it doesn't make sense, but you know, I mean.

Amory: I support you having whatever kind of summer you want to have. Hot Girl Summer.

Ben: Likewise. Hot dad summer.

Amory: Long toenail summer.

Ben: Long toenail summer! Weird, creepy photo summer. And I just like, I want to be at the beach. This song makes me want to be the beach. God, I'm ready.

Amory: Here's to Russ McQueen, a legend. Here's to all of our parents being cool and doing kind of strange, quirky things before we were alive. And here's to the person in Estonia who just gave this a five star rating on Discogs. Thank you for that. Russ McQueen appreciates it. I'll pass it along. And you know, Mike and I are trying to figure out who these people are that have recently paid a large sum for just the ability to listen to To The Beach uninterrupted. So we will get to the bottom of that. If you, too, are a Russ McQueen fan out there, you let me know.

Ben: Yeah, I would happily, let's go to the beach in Estonia. Do they have beaches? I think they do. So, can we do that?

Amory: Sure.

Ben: Yeah, whoever is in Estonia and bought this record, let's play it out of a boom box on the beach in Estonia this summer.

Amory: To. The. Beach.

Ben: (singing the synth riff)

Amory: Very good. You're already a true fan.

Ben: Yeah. Heck yeah. Heck yeah. All right. Well, those are our joy stories this week.

Amory: Yeah. Stay strong, everyone. Take care of each other. Summer will come someday. And stay safe and find joy in the meantime.


Amory Sivertson Senior Producer, Podcasts
Amory Sivertson is a senior producer for podcasts and the co-host of Endless Thread.


Ben Brock Johnson Executive Producer, Podcasts
Ben Brock Johnson is the executive producer of podcasts at WBUR and co-host of the podcast Endless Thread.



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