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Much love and many thanks to announcer Moira Quirk.

Your charmin ghosts are Danno Sullivan and Clare Sera

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Much love and many thanks to announcer Moira Quirk.

Love the show so much that you'd like to leave a review? We'd appreciate nothing more. Click here, and let your expert review-leaving begin!

Got a request for a special expertise? Leave us voicemail with your questions or comments. Over at the website, you'll see the little microphone floating in the bottom-right corner. That's where your expert voicemail leaving happens.


Swell AI Transcript: The “CANNON SAFETY” Expertease

00:00 Clare Danno Sullivan People of the world, welcome back to the podcast of knowledge expertise. I'm your host, Danno Sullivan, and we're trying something a little new today. You know, week after week, we've been bringing you the recognized expert in a field, but today we're going live and we're going local to small town Idaville for a local expert,

00:22 Danno Clare Sera, who is the Idaville expert in polishing the town hall cannon. You're listening to Expertise, spelled wrong, the podcast where the world's most expert experts discuss their areas of expertise expertly. Clare Sera, cannon polisher of Idaville, welcome to the expertise knowledge podcast. Boom, you got that right. Listen, I am so happy to be here. I'm so happy that you would take the time out to listen, watch, hear and see all that

01:06 Clare I bring. That's what local expertise is all about, Clare. The spotlight turns to you and we're going to watch now, ladies and gentlemen, as local Idaville cannon polisher, Clare Sera, demonstrates exactly how the process works. Clare, I understand that this is a ceremony that occurs each morning at dawn or just before

01:25 Danno dawn? Just before dawn. Dawn comes after me and she makes sure she does the inspection.

01:31 Clare I see. So this is not one person doing the job. This is a whole team making sure everything goes smoothly.

01:36 Danno Yeah, I mean, I do the job. I get the job done. I'm the one that does. But Dawn supervises. But Dawn checks my work. We call her Eagle Eye Dawn.

01:46 Clare She can see if a polish has not been buffed. Yeah. You do want your polish buffed, just like you say. Yeah. I mean, I'm no expert like you, but I've had some dull things around the house that I've buffed inadequate. I've had some dull things that I've polished, not enough on its own. No.

02:04 Danno But when you polish the buff, wow, does that bring out the gleam? Oh, Dawn would love you. Let me tell you that.

02:12 Clare Are you single? I wish. Because Dawn is married and I don't want you to make any overtures if she comes by. Now Clare, you're using a lot of really pro-American words here. Words like overture, words like eagle-eyed. Yeah. Oh, yeah. This really is a proud ceremony that harkens back to the earliest times of American history. Well, sure. When did the ceremony first come to Idavel?

02:37 Danno Well, the French brought the ceremony, of course. The cannon itself was made in the time of Louis XI. Oh, so that would be the 1100s based on Louis XI, right? That's right. That's right. That's when this cannon was first created and it was made of a real specific amalgam of metals, French metals. French metals, the most potentially lustrous metals of all. They're lustrous when they've been polished and buffed to a gleam. Let me tell you that. They came with very specific, very specific instructions on how to get this looking right.

03:12 Clare Now, Clare, I do want to hear about those specific instructions, but just as a side note, as we're going around the country for expertise local, I'm seeing a lot of small towns with a lot of town halls, each with their own decorative cannon on the steps. So far, this is the first one I've heard about made from French metals.

03:32 Danno How did Eideville happen to have this overlap with France in the world of cannonry? Well, you know, America is greatly indebted, of course, to the French for their cannons and their fries and we heartily thank them. So we like to give the cannon, we call it the American go over with the French know-how, you know, every day pre-dawn.

03:56 Clare So is it the French ones over with American know-how? It's the French go over with American know-how. Yeah, that's right. So you mentioned the steps of the French go over. Yes. Would you mind just walking our listeners through the steps of Eideville cannon polishing?

04:13 Danno No, absolutely. Well, now, as you can see, before you came, I got my materials prepared for the our listeners at home. I'm just going to pop open this. Well, you go ahead and talk.

04:23 Clare I'm just going to open up my reticules of polish. My guest, Clare Sera, has donned an apron or a smock, probably more accurately, of kind of a rough Lindsay Woolsey. Is that accurate?

04:34 Danno Oh, she's come in after dawn. Oh, I see. Another part of the team, Lindsay and Woolsey? Yeah, she's the granddaughter of Admiral Woolsey, of course, you know, the great, great-granddaughter. Cardinal Woolsey, Admiral Halsey. Yeah, Lindsay Woolsey, who's married to Admiral Halsey's great, great, great-grandson.

04:59 Clare After dawn has given it the American once over, then Lindsay Woolsey fires it. Just to test the efficiency of the polishing.

05:09 Danno Well, of course, I need to explain this to you. You're an outsider from a big city. The polishing is not just for show. The polishing of the cannon is inside and out, and it is to gain the fastest flight

05:23 Clare of the ball. This is really quite a shocking revelation. As I've mentioned, I've visited so many small towns and seen so many cani. So far, every single one of them has been purely decorative. A lot of them, they actually will fill the barrel with cement or mortar so that it cannot be fired. And you're telling me that your cannon is specifically polished every morning before dawn by a team of four. You, Dawn, Lindsay and Woolsey. Halsey, Lindsay, Lindsay Woolsey and Halsey. So all of a sudden, I am understanding just about 100 yards in front of the town hall, listeners, there is a pit in the ground of charred wood, detritus and destroyed buildings. I'm piecing it all together now. This is part of your test.

06:14 Danno Pre-dawn to make sure that the cannon still fires. That's right. Oh, absolutely. I mean, isn't that the most American of all things? We don't do things just for show. It's like we get down to it. And you know, we polish the balls themselves as well, the cannonballs. And I should be getting started. I hope you don't mind if while we while we talk.

06:32 Clare No, I wouldn't mind at all. In fact, if you'll just carry on, I can sort of explain to some of our listeners, in fact, to all of our listeners what you're doing.

06:40 Danno And if you've got any tidbits that you'd like to share, yeah, yeah, because of course, this is the first step is the stripping down the stripping away and I use a rather hard

06:48 Clare brush. The three women of the team have now stripped down and Admiral Halsey is still in full uniform off to the side. So the sound you're hearing now, ladies and gentlemen, is just the sound of three naked women.

07:06 Danno Just I'm pretty sure that's the sound of fatty bits squishing together. That's the sixth member of our team.

07:13 Clare She just showed up just giving a big wave to fatty bits. All right. Put some American muscle into this. Yeah. You need somebody with some fatty bits to get a cannonball all the way up into that

07:25 Danno muzzle. That's right.

07:27 Clare Down the black hole, we say there it goes. She is referring to the cannon for our listeners at home. It sounds so patriotic, isn't it? Must make you proud to live in Idaville.

07:36 Danno So listeners at home, they're just doing a little extra polishing there. Yeah, they're pushing the cannon forward now, all seven of them together, right to the edge of the steps and a small crowd of mostly children that's… You may be able to hear some panting right now. Well, this is what we call the layer where, you know, there's nothing like the breath of Americans on French metal to get the final polish.

08:05 Clare And now we're just going to elbow grease that, you know. You can hear the squeaking of the Lindsay Woolsey on the iron balls. Oh, I'm just… I'm going to put my apron back on for this part. She has been entirely nude up to this point, ladies and gentlemen, but the apron is a welcome addition. Lindsay, an air of ceremony to the ceremony. So a group of small children. Oh, it looks like a tour group coming through town, not locals. I can tell by their blue and white uniforms. Very charming. A European group on a field trip standing down about 100 yards or so in front of the town hall. Of course, Don's got to give the cannon the once over. Oh, right. It is a whole series of events. This is like the command down… Okay, I'm going to lower my voice now, ladies and gentlemen, for this very patriotic performance by Lindsay and Woolsey playing both ends of the trumpet at the same time. It's the French national anthem being played with American chords. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. Cardinal Woolsey now seems to be out of breath. I think…

09:15 Danno Are they playing Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder at this point? Okay, we got the okay by Donna. I don't know if you saw it. Everything has to take place now within three minutes of the okay. Okay, so it's thumbs up all around. Okay, if you can just take a picture of this for your listeners, the gleam on this cannon as the sun is rising up over the town of Idavel. This is the kind of day that makes me shiver beneath my apron, if you know what I mean. This is what it means to be an American right here. The cannon is being lit, the gleam… Some of the children are being a little bit blinded by the… Just make sure that they stand in the right place.

09:52 Clare I'm not sure they've seen the caution signs that you've put down there because of the gleam coming off the cannon. As long as they're standing clear, I leave that to the tour guides. For our listeners at home, there is a missile path clearly marked, please do not cross this line it says, but it does say it in English. Five, four, three, two… It does look like this maybe is a non-English speaking tour group. And I can just see what's about to happen. Ladies and gentlemen, I have never seen a cannonball shot in slow motion before, but it is happening now. My apron. Lindsay Woolsey has lost both her Lindsay and her Woolsey. It's caught wrapped around the cannonball, perhaps to the safety of the students below. It's thrown off the air velocity, twisted around in such a way that the cannonball… Oh, praise be to God. If I could get something, some praise music on the trumpet. It has dropped the cannonball about 20 feet short of that tour group. Oh my goodness. And those children are able to visit Idavel unscathed.

11:00 Danno Oh, what a day. One for the books. One for the books for sure. Oh, excuse me, my apron's wrapped around my head there. Sorry about that.

11:08 Clare Yes. Clare, that was a close call indeed.

11:11 Danno Does that sort of thing come up often? It really does.

11:14 Clare It really does happen more often than you'd like to think. First of all, I'm surprised that you have tourist groups coming to a place like Idavel at all. I guess it's probably strictly to see an operating cannon. But I am a little surprised too that you don't have more safety measures in place.

11:27 Danno Is that not the American way to take every possible precaution against a lawsuit? Not the American way of Idavel. We're not I don't know. We're Ida-ville. We welcome folks finding out for themselves what life is all about, which includes a, you know, cannonball to the head every now and then. I hope you caught it. Did you catch it? Did you see it? We caught the whole thing on audio. You know, I think that we thought you might have had a camera. It's like I'm wondering, you know, really, if you're really just a radio play, how that's really going to how this this whole day is going to play.

12:02 Clare It was a lot of work. What we do a lot of times, Clare, is we'll actually excise the audio of one of our guests and bring in a professional actor to redo the lines. So, you know, don't be disappointed that you can't see the cannon that you've worked so assiduously upon. And please don't be disappointed if if your own voice is not in the podcast.

12:20 Danno Well, you know, it's just it's the big city ways. You know, we took our chances trying to show you what a little taste Idavel life is like day to day.

12:29 Clare But if that's not good enough for your fancy britches, then you just keep it moving, sir. Well, Clare, we are going to keep moving. So before we go, I did get a phone call from Cardinal Woolsey before our team arrived here to interview you. And they mentioned that you've been at this for 50 years now.

12:45 Danno And this is your day of retirement from polishing the cannon. This was my final day and it was caught on camera for eternity.

12:55 Clare Well, microphone cut on microphone and my voice will be placed. You are an actress. Yeah, right. You are a professional actress.

13:02 Danno We'll be eternity on a microphone. I can't imagine a better way to be honored for all the work that I've given to my beloved

13:10 SPEAKER_00 country than to be recorded and replaced. The Expertise, spelled wrong, podcast is free. And like the Amish, all are welcome. Be sure to sign up for our email announcements at and follow us in your favorite podcast app like the Expert Podcast Listener we know you are.

13:36 Clare 50 years as the Ida Vilt Cannon Polisher, what are you going to do with all your spare time now that you're retired? What about getting your own cannon and going into business for yourself?