Dear Ernie Cline

Dear Ernie:

As I was packing clothes for my trip to Australia, I came across an old t-shirt for VIP, your high school band. Man, I don’t remember how long I’ve had this shirt or how, in fact, I came in possession of it — I seem to remember a trip to Texas and fighting sixteen cowboys in a bar parking lot outside of Abilene for it, sometimes three or four at a time, but I may be misremembering — but it reminded me that, like you, before I was a writer, I was a high school rock and roll musician myself: I was in a band called Dead Rats Don’t Fly, and let me tell you, we rocked the greater Eastern San Gabriel Valley area back in the day. Good times, my friend, good times.

And, I don’t know, maybe it’s time to get the band back together. What do you think?

Or, we could form a band. Hey, it worked for the Rock Bottom Remainders. Why not us? As you can see, I still have the critical rock and roll moves:

(Any rumors that this stellar rock and roll leap ended with me on the lawn, clutching my knee in agony, is just that: rumor.)

Oh, and also, I hear it’s your birthday today. Happy birthday, man. May your day be filled with friends, fun, rock and roll and the occasional weird mystery.

Yer pal in the rock n’ roll lifestyle,


(P.S.: For anyone wondering what it is that I’ve got there in my hot little hands, it’s a Warren Ellis Signature MandoTenor — that’s Warren Ellis the musician, not Warren Ellis the author. I bought, slightly prematurely, as a “finished the new novel” gift for myself. Since the new novel is not yet finished (sigh), I still haven’t actually played it yet. And now I’ll have to wait until I get back from Australia to play it. But it’s fine motivation to finish writing.)

24 Comments on “Dear Ernie Cline”

  1. And you have the checkered Joe Spiccoli Vans. I can actually see the visible waves of rock-n-roll coolness coming out of my computer screen.

  2. so, if the leap didn’t end up in you clutching your knee in agony, why is the dog seemingly trying to run away from you? You might not have hurt yourself, but did you by chance land somewhere near where the dog was standing at the time?

  3. The fact that you can still wear that T-shirt is awesome! Oh, and “Poor Man’s Bidet” gets my vote.

  4. My understanding of how guitars and similar instruments are played is strictly limited, so please explain: is it actually possible to play both of those attached guitars at once? Or do you switch between them as needed?

  5. Warren I play the mandolin and the octave mandolin and I’d say you pretty much have to switch between them. You could conceivably strum to hit both sets of strings but it would just sound like noise, since you couldn’t possibly fret them both.

    OTOH the switch will be *much* faster if you don’t have to remove-and-replace, so you could play both in a single song.

    John–are the strings on the lower neck an octave below the strings on the upper neck? I’m just trying to parse “tenor mandolin” and I can’t figure out if “mandola” (fifth below) or “octave mandolin” (octave below) is the correct equivalent. Also, I didn’t know you play the mandolin! Cool–me too! I also play the octave mandolin but in my case they’re two separate instruments.

  6. Dear John,

    Yay, the beard is back!

    ‘Cause you look sooooo much better with a beard.

    (and what I think about how you look matters soooooo much)

    pax / Ctein

  7. I don’t remember exactly when or how old I was but my grandparents took my mom, my brother and I to Disneyland. We must have flown but I flat out don’t remember it but I’m assuming I would have remembered driving from Sacramento to Disneyland.

    If we actually drove then my first flight was to New York from California as part of a high school trip.

    I really don’t remember much about either flight. This sounds weird but I remember my first time on an elevator more. I was really young and the whole family went to what I think was Macy’s. We drove to Sacramento from Roseville, which was HUGE for us even though they are close, and we get in the elevator and I just couldn’t stop smiling but because I thought it was so fun. I turned away from everybody because I didn’t know what anyone to think it was weird I was smiling so much about an elevator ride.

  8. Ctien:

    Actually, the beard is off again, due to a tragic trimming mishap this morning. It’ll be back eventually.

    Warren Terra:

    Typically you play one or the other other. There’s a switch on the guitar to turn on/off the pickups depending on which instrument you want to play.

    Cat Faber:

    When I get back I’m actually planning to restring both to Uke tuning, in which case yes, they’ll likely be an octave apart.

  9. Hi John – I’m interested in attending events you may be appearing at in Melbourne – where could I get details of these? Apologies if you’ve already notified via a previous post on whatever.

  10. I was about to comment with amusement that the dog appears to be just sniffing around like this is perfectly normal behaviour, but if folks prefer to see it as running for its life, I’m ok with that. :)

    Also, along with Kevin, I would also like to know where to look for details of your Australian Tour. As an author, i mean; the one as a rock god may have to wait.

  11. Ernie Cline, as in author of Ready Player One? Boy howdy, small world.

    I think I would pay good cash money to see youse guys in a gig together. Sadly, I doubt either of you will be anyplace I can get to easily in the near future, mandolins or not.

  12. If you can still fit into a tee-shirt you had in high-school, you should thank whatever God’s you aim to please and go buy *another* guitar as a reward.

  13. Safe journey John, and looking forward to meeting you at the banquet on Wednesday night.

  14. Wait, you’re from *Claremont*? My wife and I went to college there. Per your bio, I missed sharing a town with you by a matter of months.

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