RL12 - Cold-Calling the Jewess

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

  • Radiohead (Music)
  • Getting sick of things that are recommended too much (Attitude and Opinion)
  • Metallica (Music)
  • The Beatles
  • John’s reading glasses (Style)
  • Recording in a castle (Music)
  • Aimee Mann (Music)
  • Jerry Lewis (Music)
  • The video store guy (Factoids)
  • Vinyl Fever, Love Will Tear Us Apart (Music)
  • R.E.M., Merlin buying Murmur, the keyboard-oriented music (Music)
  • Carl Newman, Zumpano (Music)
  • Carparts (Music)
  • Hidden tracks (Music)
  • John’s roommate having sex (Early Days)
  • Soul Asylum (Music)
  • John trying to pick up a girl in a café who was listening to Soul Asylum (Stories)
  • Not making rape jokes (Podcasting)
  • How Merlin and his wife meet, be careful where you meet people (Merlin Mann)

The problems:

  • Merlin’s sniffly allergies (sorry); ˚
  • directions for the connoisseur of keyboard-oriented music; ˚
  • your hosts’s chronic and irreconcilable Sloan disconnect; ˚
  • that time when Tiny Tim wheeled over to The Magazine Shoppe with John’s Radiohead; ˚
  • the dynamics of recording in a rented castle; ˚
  • almost getting ASCAP’d for a Little Grass Shack; ˚
  • favoring amongst the four R.E.M.s; ˚
  • how Carl Newman’s maybe a little like a cat; ˚
  • overdue credit for Hetfield’s pointing; ˚
  • getting Telecasters into the trunk;
  • almost getting to Merlin’s rules;
  • skipping hard over “Electioneering”;
  • relocating John’s candles to the piano; ˚
  • some follow-up on “The Jeez”; ˚
  • tucking a beard in a belt; ˚
  • goin’ deep catalog on Jerry Lewis; ˚
  • sniffing at the indestructible SM57; ˚
  • high-profile christening of Hotel Motherfucker; ˚
  • going to see the doctor of divinity;
  • suspending the D; ˚
  • Tom Wolfe scoffs that it lacks a “persuasive theory”;
  • and how one mysterious visitor very nearly filled Merlin’s wife with spiders.

The show title refers to John trying to pick up a girl in a café who was listening to Soul Asylum and who looked jewish enough.

They start the show singing each other’s names, but John thinks Merlin needed a better song for him.

The Exchequer is the minister of finance and when Merlin was in High School, he really wanted a band called Exchequer, but it is not really a good name.

John moved the candles, which is massively successful because it is all under the piano and John is much happier. Merlin finds it super-creepy //(see this tweet, link to image).

Merlin would find it lame if they had a feature on this show. Part of what makes Roderick on the Line such a national sensation is that it is flipping the podcast blogs.

Merlin has allergies right now really bad. He tried taking some herbs for it, but it made him nauseated. Here is one of the things about California!

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

Radiohead (RL12)

Is it ping pong when you only play the black keys? There is a John Lennon song and a Radiohead song, the one that is impossible to learn because it was written by geniuses, the piano one from one of those later records that was all bleeps and bloops. They kept putting out those records that were bleeps and bloops and John was supposed to not like them, but every one of them had some great song on them that couldn’t have been composed by mere mortals and John was like: ”You assholes!”

It took Merlin a really long time to warm up to Radiohead because he was way over it and he was fucking tired of hearing about how great Radiohead was. Everybody said he had to listen to them, but Merlin objected to being told that if he didn’t like them he wasn’t smart. It is like admitting you don’t read books.

John had his Radiohead moment when he was reading English pop magazines while working at the magazine store (see Employment History). It was the best job in the world and it was the longest job he ever kept. He would sit behind the counter in this newsstand and people would come in and ask if he had the local newspaper and he would say ”What kind of newspaper stand would this be if we didn’t have the local newspaper?” and they would throw their quarter down on the counter and storm out. John got to feel superior all day and he would read the English pop magazines, before Mojo and Cue (Q) became just about repackaging The Beatles every issue. NME was always hard for John to swallow because he wasn’t 17 anymore and NME was very (Bruce) Vilanch-y.

John was reading an in-depth article about the recording of OK Computer. The guy was waxing romantically about how this record was being made and how these guys were making this incredible work or art. John picked up the rotary dial phone (this story obviously plays in the 1960s), told the operator to connect him to the Independent Record Store, which was down at the other end of Broadway, and asked them if that new Radiohead record was coming out anytime soon. The kid told John that it came out that day (1997-06-16) and he started to whisper like he was in church.

John asked ”Is it good?” and the guy said that it was amazing and that John had to get this record. They were having a real phone experience! John replied that he doesn’t get off until midnight from his magazine store, but the record store closed at 11pm, and the guy offered John to bring it to him. 20 minutes later the kid came in, wearing the hipster outfit of the time, brown Levi’s Cords with boot cut bottoms and a chain wallet or whatever people wore back in the day and he handed the record to John with both hands and John gave him $10 or however much records cost. Tuppence! John flipped him a copper. Merlin was kind of hoping that John would say he was in a wheelchair or hobbled in with a home-made crutch.

Everybody has stories about certain records, like how we found them and why they matter. The fact that this guy at the record store made this trip and the coincidence that John was reading the article, which is not something he normally does, always made him treasure this record above and beyond the initial experience of the music. He isn't sure if that first song with that hypnotizing bass line passes the smell-test, but of course it is a great record. Merlin always heard that the lyrics were ”I went back to save the airbag”. Like all records there is only one song Merlin despises and on this one it is Electioneering, but other than that it is a pretty much flawless record. It is the punky one and it is a skipper.

Getting sick of things that are recommended too much (RL12)

Merlin explains the concept of an availability heuristic: With certain things you see a pattern often enough and you say ”Meh, that is not for me!” The pattern John is expecting now is that Merlin is going to segue into talking about Sloan, which John wants to put a bow tie on because he doesn’t want to talk about Sloan. There are a lot of people in Seattle that would talk to Merlin about Sloan and they even try to talk to John about Sloan. John has seen them half a dozen times.

One Chord to Another (by Sloan) came out the same year. How can John not like G Turns to D? Merlin sees this all the time with John: A switch flips and the more you hear about a thing, the more you are so fucking never going to consume this. Merlin had a lot of good reason to feel that way, but now he fears that he has become The Wire guy and The Move guy: You got to watch The Wire and you got to listen to The Move. He does it until everybody is sick of it and no-one likes it and now they are mad and don’t want to listen to it.

Metallica (RL12)

Merlin wants to talk about And Justice For All, which is a tremendous record. John thinks these triggered drums sound like he is playing a phone book and there is nothing about the drums in Metallica that he likes. James Hetfield is such a tremendous musician, although his taste and his judgement are sometimes in question, but he has created a massively popular band with some classic music in spite of the fact that his drummer and lead guitar player are both absolute musical abortions who couldn’t figure a turnstile with a sherpa and a flashlight. They are not bright men!

Merlin watched the documentary and he always thought that Hetfield was goofy, setting aside the alcohol stuff that was dumb as shit. Kirk Hammett was the genius, but it is clear that Hetfield plays all the good parts before he points at Kirk Hammett through the glass and says ”Okay, you have 45 seconds, do your spoodly-doodly thing!” If Lars Ulrich’s dad would have been in Metallica, that would have been an incredible band. He is the little dwarf who lives in a toad stool and who appears halfway through the movie and talks shit about all their music. He is one of those guys who tucks his beard into his belt. Just for watching that movie you need a Vitamin B12 shot and afterwards you are pulling for Hettfield, who is the Paul (McCartney), the one who is trying to hold this shit together, although Paul probably had fewer of the Hettfield daemons or at least they were easier to market.

The Beatles (RL12)

John thinks that Paul (McCartney) is haunted by the fact that nobody takes him seriously. Getting divorced from a lady who lost her leg in a mine is complicated! The thing about The Beatles that no-one ever talks about, like they did about the Led Zeppelin era, is all the birds they shagged when shagging bird was a thing you could do. Then Paul McCartney married a 45-year old one-legged girl (Heather Mills). Before that it was the photo lady (Linda McCartney) who couldn’t sing and frankly wasn’t pretty.

There is a recording from a soundcheck with just her monitors. Her face is on frozen vegan dinners in the supermarket, but when John sees that he thinks it will taste terrible like an old panty. She died in 1998. Paul would never have divorced her because they were the love of the ages. Merlin thinks he was trying to do a Yoko thing. There is John Lennon ice cream by Ben & Jerry’s and it literally says on it ”John Lennon is a trademark of Yoko Ono”. Merlin has a copy of Let It Be, but he can’t watch it.

John’s reading glasses (RL12)

John is wearing his reading glasses right now and because they aren’t his prescription they are making everything look super-convex. They are magnifying glasses and John looks like John Linnell with super-big eyes. By the time Merlin met him, John Linnell had absurd jokey magic store glasses on that made his eyes the size of silver dollars. He has very thick glasses, but he also has huge eyes. Merlin finds him very handsome and that floppy hair is hard to do. It is the different kind of handsome where you just feel like snuggling up in his armpit, but he is probably about the last guy in the world who would let you do that. You could get in the dog bed with John Vanderslice and just roll around and he would be totally into it. He is here right now, snuggling in John’s armpit.

Recording in a castle (RL12)

Merlin wonders if OK Computer was recorded in the castle. John thought it was recorded in a canal barge, but he is probably thinking of October by U2. U2 definitely recorded in the castle. Didn’t they record OK Computer partly in hallways and bathrooms? Merlin might be thinking of Planet Telex, which he also wants to talk about. John knows that David Gilmour has a studio in a boat on the Thames, either to get away from Roger Waters, or because at a certain point he could either throw his money in the Thames or he could build a studio on a barge in the Thames.

There is a Supergroup involving Nick Lowe and Roger Waters that Merlin wants to talk about. John is a Roger Waters fan. There are 11 things wrong with that, first of all that John says he is a fan. Nick Lowe could join that Supergroup they are putting together with Anthony Kiedis on vocals and Robby Krieger on guitar, all the best players! They could have Lars Ulrich on drums, just the cream!

Recording in a castle might be a Brian Eno thing, it is the bottom thing and they made all the bottom drum sounds in the stairwell of the castle. Merlin thought he put aluminum foil in his kick drum. John knows that he would throw a drum stick at any recording engineer who got within 15 feet (4.5m) of his kit. He only wanted far mics, but recording engineers always want to put a mic close up on something. They would sneak in and move the mics closer to his kit and he would huck sticks at them until they got scared and ran away.

If you get an SM57 far enough up an engineer’s ass, you get a very dry sound, that is what they call it in the industry. You can put an SM57 on any instrument, you can hammer nails in with that thing, and you can make an entire record with just one SM57. Merlin has smelled some really bad SM57s, but they all pretty much worked, it is always the cord and very seldom the mic. They smell like low tide when the tide goes out and the crustaceans are rotting on the beach. It is like the Telecaster: They made it perfect the first time. You could take it apart and put it in the trunk.

When Merlin talks about recording in a castle, he probably thinks of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (Jane Seymour). She owns a castle that she rents out to bands to record. Merlin saw her boobies in something once when she was young.

Aimee Mann (RL12)

This week Merlin started following Aimee Mann. She is a real Facebooker and does that really well because she likes longer-form exchanges. Merlin has to give her some longer form, which is not even funny, what if he was Romeo in black jeans? Here is the thing.

That Michael Penn record (called March), the one with the No Myth on it, is a great record. He is a great songwriter! Aimee Mann is not married to John Brion, but Michael Penn. John Brion is the one who was in the band (Jellyfish) with Jason Falkner. He is also great! Matthew Sweet is also great and he is a big fellow now, making records with Susanna Hoffs who is as beautiful as she ever was. That cover of September Gurls is awful!

Jerry Lewis (RL12)

Jerry Lewis is still with us, right? (he was at the point of this recording) Robin Goldwasser is the only person Merlin can talk to about Jerry Lewis and she matches Merlin shot for shot on Jerry Lewis. John addresses the audience, saying that Merlin on the topic of Jerry Lewis is a thing to behold. He should have a Jerry Lewis centered podcast all to himself because he loves Jerry Lewis both earnestly and ironically, he loves his complexity and there is plenty of room for irony with the love and the giving and the thing.

This is an industry that fears a genius, but there is also the inescapable truth that Merlin resembles Jerry Lewis and there is a deep identification with him. Merlin sees John’s discomfort and raises him an asshole. From now on, if John really wants to get him when he goes (Brian) Vilanch, John can go Jim Carrey, because if he hears that one more time, he is going to fucking gut somebody! Like in the Kung Fu movies he is going to show them their heart while it is still beating. Merlin doesn’t remind John of Jim Carrey, his face isn’t as elastic.

The King of Comedy by Shawn Levy started as an authorized biography, but quickly became totally unauthorized. It is about a man who paid a bell boy to crush up his Percocets, who was throwing a champagne bottle at a wall saying ”I quizzen this hotel motherfucker!”, and who kept a loaded gun in the bathroom next to his drugs that his family found. Only Robin understands Merlin on this. John says that you do need a gun in the bathroom and he is with him 100% there.

Merlin's friends who are crazy with weapons told him not to ask them too many questions because you need an element of surprise. You don’t just ask where all the guns are in the house, because it is like asking where the porn is. It is distributed, you have to level your resources, you don’t want to come home and meet a guy who has been in his house for 30 minutes and collected all his guns, petting his best gun and the rest are on the coffee table and ”Welcome home, John! I’m a big fan of your podcast! Why don’t you have a seat!”

The video store guy (RL12)

At the time there was the typical record store guy, just as there was the camera store guy, guitar store guy, video store guy, and comic book guy. There was a video store guy in Sarasota who loved fucking with people. You would go in to this awesome Indie store where you could get all these crazy hard-to-find-films and if you asked him for advice he thought you were a bozo and he would recommend something horrible to you ”You should try Stars and Bars”, but that was awful!

Vinyl Fever, Love Will Tear Us Apart (RL12)

When Merlin was younger and had a modest amount of money, he would buy his records at a place called Vinyl Fever in Tampa, which was a 30-45 drive at 14th and East Fletcher Avenue near the university that Merlin is super-grateful he didn’t end up going to. It is not the one that looks like a wedding cake, which is the university of Tampa, which is totally different.

They had great records, they had imports, and it is where Merlin bought his Love Will Tear Us Apart 7” which he still has and which says ”BW These Days”. BW stands for ”Backed With”. Merlin bought it in 1985 and it cost them literally $17 to make those but they charged a quid. Nobody does even know what a quid is! They joke about different names for currency.

R.E.M., Merlin buying Murmur, the keyboard-oriented music (RL12)

At the time Merlin knew that in order to make the next step in his life he was going to have to buy a copy of Murmur (album by R.E.M., released 1983-04-12). It came at a strange point for him because on a trip to Vinyl Fever he might walk away with The Secret Policemen’s Other Ball, Into the Gap by the Thompson Twins, and a Joy Division 7”. John suggests Merlin to buy that Zappa record that is all orchestral arrangements (with the London Symphony Orchestra). John got fooled by that one time because it was only $0.99. The kids today don’t understand this because you can just download the entire Hüsker Dü discography and when you come back from lunch you got it all, but back then it was truly an economic decision.

Merlin went to Vinyl Fever when it was almost closing time and he was holding two LPs in his hands for $8.69 each. He asked the guy about them because those were $8.69 that cannot go to anything else, like ”This R.E.M. records, this Murmur, I heard a lot about it, is this good? Should I get this?” and without missing a beat he goes ”It is pretty good if you like keyboard-oriented music!” It was the classic code: "Tic Toc, the store is closing!" and Merlin was holding something like The Thompson Twins, maybe In the name of Love, and a record with a Kazoo on the cover that might be keyboard-oriented music and you know what, Merlin bit the bullet, he bought it, took it home and spun it. He probably got it at the same time as The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball.

Merlin doesn’t remember what the other record was, it might have been a Thompson Twins record, but Into the Gap (released 1984-02-17) was probably not out yet (no it wasn’t). It could have been Funboy3, who did something with Bananarama. Our Lips Are Sealed was Funboy3 and the lead-singer of Funboy3 (Terry Hall) co-wrote Our Lips Are Sealed with Jane Wiedlin. They each did a different version of it on their respective record. She wrote a lot of the hits, she was a great writer and a super-fox. John tried to be friends with her on Twitter, but there was a culture gap, a communication gap and she was living in a different world. (see RL233) He was really hoping he would strike up a friendship with her, but to Merlin that would be hard-frenching and he will stop it right there, because that is disgusting and he doesn’t want to encourage any more ping pong talk.

Merlin’s friends literally laughed at him. Merlin did the thing that John hates, played the first 10 seconds of every track, and his friend, who still was not out of the closet, went ”My God, it’s a country record!”, and the Merlin of 1984 reckoned it was a great keyboard country record. If you loved keyboard-oriented country music like Bob Wills, Texas Playboy Centerfold, then Murmur makes a ton more sense. Start with the Chronic Town, jump to Reckoning and then you are maybe ready for Murmur, but get the remastered version, which is a whole different world.

Merlin thinks it would be fun to do a series on R.E.M. records, or at least the ones Merlin is familiar with. He would go all the way to Monster, while John was wondering if Merlin would go up to Green or exclude Green. John stops before Green. Up to Green he knows every note, but from Green on it is ”okay, whatever! Pick your tunes!”

They really did lose Merlin, though. He thinks they should be 4 bands and he really likes one of those bands, he is okay with the second band and he is happy for them that they are successful. They gave Ken Stringfellow a job, but there is so much wrong with that. They just prolonged his life and gave him new places to find fresh blood. When Peter Buck was living in Seattle, John's good friend Sean Nelson recorded some songs with him and learned that the way R.E.M. writes songs is that Peter writes 600 songs, he records them in his attic with bass-line, guitar, mandolin, all that stuff, he makes CDs with 30 tracks on them, every one of them sounding like a classic R.E.M. song, and then he sends those CDs to the other guys and Michael Stipe picks which ones he likes to start writing his parts to.

Most people don’t realize how much of a headphones album Murmur is, but you are not going to believe how Murmur sounds in the remastered version, but Merlin’s ears are totally dead. The Bonus-concert on both are great as well and Merlin strongly urges John to get those. The classic anecdote from the recording of Murmur is that R.E.M. was the first band in history where all 4 guys kept saying ”Can you turn me down in the mix? I like my parts to be lower.” Merlin loves Bill Berry’s drumming because he is so Ringo, he is so fucking solid. Some people say he has a limited palette, but Merlin just loves his drumming so much. There is nothing wrong with limited palette drumming, unless you are Lars Ulrich.

The people who give that bullshit about Ringo not being a good drummer should listen to Rain! Usually the people who don’t like Ringo’s drumming are not coincidentally Megadeth fans. Merlin likes Megadeth, but there is nothing about Megadeth to like. Merlin thinks that out of the Big Four (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax, see The Big Four: Live from Sofia, Bulgaria), Megadeth is a little overrated and compared to the other stuff of the time they are a little campy.

John thinks that Megadeth is a jar of pre-mixed ketchup and mayonnaise, but not in a way that it is light orange, but like that peanut butter and jelly that is swirling (Goober Grape), like an epoxy with two tubes. He is like Metal Epoxy, he is terrible and for the last 10 years he has been completely into the Jeez. There has been a process over the last 15 years of really making Jesus more and more hip all the time. 50 years ago, Rock ’n’ Roll music was still Devil JigaBoo music and now Rock ’n’ Roll is Jesus music, certainly in Seattle there is a lot of it. John often talks about this with Mr Bazan almost until they are unconscious from lack of oxygen. To Merlin he seems like a nice guy and he asks John to hook them up.

Carl Newman, Zumpano (RL12)

Once Merlin introduced himself to Carl Newman at a New Pornographers show and it was like his first introduction to John Doe: How many sheets to the wind can you be? He strikes Merlin as shy. Merlin was as don’t-be-creepy as he could, given that he is the world’s maybe single and giantest Zumpano fan and an old-school from-the-first-note New Pornographers fan, but it went very badly and he doesn’t even want to talk about it. The thing about Paul Newman in John’s experience is that John was always a massive fan. How can you not like Zumpano? They are amazing! Sean Nelson and Eric Corsan, former bass player of the Long Winters both introduced John to Zumpano.

Carl Newman was like a hero to John and one time after a show Nabil, who used to have a record store and now runs a label, was like ”Oh, I was just hanging out with Carl Newman” Carl Newman was at the show, he was a Long Winters fan and he was hanging out with Nabil afterwards, but he didn’t get John which John was upset about. The next time John and Carl Newman were both standing backstage at a Rock show, he kind of sidled over to him and ”Hey, how is it going? I’m John!” and he knew who John was, but there was that feeling of ”So… ahm… you and me… here we are standing next to each other now and we know each other and we know each other’s music, so it is okay for me to say that I really like that record you made” and it went completely sideways immediately because he just said ”Oh, thanks!” and John didn’t know what more to say. It was awkward only because John made it awkward. Paul was being normal.

Over time they have seen each other multiple times, they communicate via email, and they tweet back and forth, but you can’t just sidle up to him and expect him to say ”OMG! Hi! Superfan!” He is like a cat, you have to get away from him to come to you. He is on the shyer end of the spectrum. John finds him an amazing songwriter and a super-nice guy.

Zumpano’s version of Jimmy Webb’s Orange Air song, BW of Wraparound Shades. They did a whole session of Bacharach & David songs and they…

They start singing and Merlin is sorry he cut off the Skype jam (see RL11), he got a little shit for that on the Internet and he will never do it again. Both of their listeners were mad, John’s girlfriend and also the other one.

Carparts (RL12)

Merlin loves Carparts so much, especially the first half-second of breathing of that song. It is pop-music and you never something like this coming, which is the thing about pop-music. Poof! there it is! You could never create this without it being stupid, but that song ”Mother of God! Hello it is me!” There are some Beatles songs like this where you got the little before-the-song thing.

Hidden tracks (RL12)

Merlin’s band always did the totally stupid hidden track deal, but in the 1990s you always had to have a hidden track. It was so played out!

Would John singing with his dog and his dad be a hidden track? John's dad used to sing Little Grass Shack to him when he was a little kid and through his whole life. Every time they were driving in the car for a long time, one of them would start singing and the other one would take the harmony parts and they would sing that song together.

John needed 10 songs for his first record to fulfill his deal with Barsuk and he only had 9 songs. It was a plenty long enough record and could have been 9 songs, but they still needed 10 songs and they did Little Grass Shack as their 10th song. John thought it was just some song that the slaves sang to each other, but it was still under copyright. It was written by somebody, the sheetmusic was still out there, and it was owned by one of the big music publishers, Sony, BMG or whatever.

John put it on the record anyways and he didn’t get ASCAPed, but he just didn’t mention that it was on the record. There are technically only 9 songs on the record, but the 10th song isn’t really hidden because to have it be a truly hidden track on a 1990s style pop record there needed to be 20 seconds of silence for it to come as a surprise.

There was one record, maybe Michelle Shocked or Indigo Girls, that had 17 minutes of silence before the hidden track. One time around 1987 John was staying over at a girl’s house, they were all baked and making out and listening to Michelle Shocked, as you did. Maybe they were listening to Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. It was the time when you could be a dude and listen to that kind of music and it really affected John. They were baked, they fell 98% asleep, and being baked took care of the last 2%. Then after 17 minutes of silence this record played the secret track and they both jumped up out of bed into combat pose.

Merlin was trying to play Fast Car on the guitar and finds it a total abuse of the Dsus4. He should be the fucking mayor of Dsus4!

John almost turned into Mickey Rooney when telling that story. It was before girls relentlessly shaved all the hair off of themselves, when girls were natural girls and they were basically like boys, but with girl parts, like a Japanese shrub situation. They would sleep with each other and listen to lesbian guitar music because it was the 1980s. Merlin did that as well.

Merlin had two of these songs when he would be baked and going to sleep in college. It was I don’t Know, one of The Replacement songs on Pleased to Meet Me where you can hear a knocking coming out of stereo right, and there is a Church song that does the same thing even more so, probably Almost With You. Merlin listened to that record ever night. John doesn’t have go-to-sleep-records, because he doesn’t listen to music that way.

John’s roommate having sex (RL12)

John had a phase where his room-mate was having sex with his girlfriend really loud and John had to put on music to drown them out. He usually put on Loveless by My Bloody Valentine and just cranked it. John's room-mate wasn’t fighting back until he climbed out of his loft. They lived in a huge warehouse and there were no walls, so he was at the other end of this 60 foot (18 m) long room, and both their sounds echoed around. It was terrible and they were creating a sound apocalypse 20 feet above the ground and 30 feet from either of them.

John could hear him climb down the ladder and turn down John’s My Bloddy Valentine because it was interfering with the lovemaking he was trying to do. Then he went back up the ladder, John waited until his room-mate was back in bed and John could hear them start giggling, canoodling again and John would get out and crank it all the way back up again and go back to his little bed. He would never come all the way around to John’s bed and be like ”Fuck you, man!”, but he would just turn down the stereo again. John also had some Kip Winger record from a cassette tape he found on the street and that was his nuclear option.

Soul Asylum (RL12)

Merlin had a next-door neighbor, a pretty nice girl, who had a little four-day-crush on Merlin and hit him a little bit. Merlin didn’t look like Jim Carrey then, but he looked like the guy from Princess Bride combined with Michael Palin, early Dave Pirner, and somebody with a restraining order.

Soul Asylum used to be really good. Every band in Minnesota started out wanting to sound like Hüsker Dü and ended up fucking sounding like the later Replacements. Look at the heroin guy with the Winona Ryder (Merlin mentions her because she dated Dave Pirner) or the first few Lemonheads records. John is not familiar with Hüsker Dü. Clam Dip & Other Delights (by Soul Asylum) is a great record! The cross-over one produced by Ed Stasium called Hang Time, they put out a video for Cartoon.

Merlin started a band in college to play three songs:

  • September Girls by Big Star
  • Cartoon by Soul Asylum
  • That’s When I Reach for My Revolver by Mission of Burma

Those were the three songs that made him want to start his first band. They also wrote some good pop songs, but Merlin should be in a Turkish fucking prison for the rest of his life for what they did to Couldn’t I Just Tell You by Todd Rundgren.

John trying to pick up a girl in a café who was listening to Soul Asylum (RL12)

One time in 1991 John was sitting in a café and he was looking good that day. He had combed his hair, he was wearing a sweater, and he was sitting there drinking coffee. At that age he knew that guys picked up girls, he understood that this happened, but his experience of dating girls was that they had a class together and she sat next to him in the class and pretty soon they were going out.

He knew that there were guys who walked up to girls in bars and cafés and 20 minutes later they were ripping each other’s clothes off back in one of their little shitty apartments. John would have liked to be one of these guys and try this out and he was sitting in this café drinking his coffee and there was a girl at a neighboring table who was really pretty. She was wearing glasses, she had dark curly hair and she was also wearing a sweater. John likes Jewish girls and she was jew-y enough.

Merlin called her jewess, but John doesn’t use that term, but maybe Hebrewmine. Just cold-calling somebody, like cold-calling the jewess, was very hard for John to do. ”I’d like to talk to you about your insurance” or whatever. She had headphones on and John leaned over and his opening gambit was, he is ashamed to say, ”What are you listening to?” Merlin said it was just as bad as ”Can I sniff your panties?” She responded positively, like ”Oh hi, I’m listening to Soul Asylum” and John said ”Oh, Soul Asylum, I know about Soul Asylum”

They started to talk to her about Soul Asylum, John scooped his chair over and pretty soon he was sitting at her table. They were talking and John was so excited that this girl was receptive to his entré that he was giving her everything, the shotgun blast of everything he knew and he probably started to perspire, because he was like ”Am I doing this right? Is this working? Do you like me yet? Should we go? Are you married? Would you like to be married?”

After about 20 minutes, this is something John is still ashamed of, she started putting her books in her bag, she leaned in close with a rye, almost Ani DiFranco look on her face, and said ”I think you are just trying too hard” and she put her stuff in her bag, said ”Bye” and walked out. John sat there in this crowded café, there were like 90 people in this place, Espresso-machines going, music playing, and John was certain that everyone in the room had heard the line as if it had gone out over the Public Address system.

John bathed in shame! He had been trying way too hard, but at the same time he asked himself ”I thought that trying was what you wanted? That’s what people want, that you are trying?” and he immediately stopped trying and didn’t try again for 14 years. In the interim John smoked pot for the first 4 and the next 10 he just sat in the corner, sneering and checking the closet door every minute and a half to make sure the knob was still locked. People would come over and say ”Hi, is this seat taken”, and John would go ”You know what? Fuck you! Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!” It is a tragic tale, one of many and this is why John is such a porcupine.

This all happened at the time of Nevermind. It was sweater weather, Nevermind by Nirvana and Ten by Pearl Jam had been released, but they had not swept the nation yet. It was a pregnant moment. After that summer Merlin didn’t know where to turn because there were so many records he loved! It was an amazing time!

There was a golden age of Indie Rock, maybe not for the kind of bullshit that John listened to, but for him it was this Matador/Merge era and there was also Pavement. Merlin finds this topic so fucking boring, because nobody cares about music, it is like two people in a record store and there aren’t even record stores anymore! People want to talk about Facebook and vampire shows. Merlin liked Guided by Voices, they could have just said that at the top of the show. Merlin doesn’t understand why it is such a problem for John to like Sloan and Guided by Voices. John watched the video and it is fine. His expression is fine.

Not making rape jokes (RL12)

One of Merlin’s December resolutions is to stop talking about what he has learned, because nobody fucking cares. This is the problem and the false dilemma: One one hand, every douchebag guy thinks like Merlin: You start out with a very earnest and nice thing, which is ”I tell girls that they are nice and I like them and they will like me”, which in retrospect is incredibly creepy and a total turn-off. On the other hand you got the seduction community dickheads which is ”date rape with a persuasive theory” as Tom Wolfe would say.

John remarks that Merlin has been saying the r-word and they had been taken to task on some Internet comment pages for making light of rape. John’s position is that they have never made light of rape and he is very upset about this because their podcast was posted on Metafilter and some commentator said that they can’t listen to this although they liked both of these guys and think they are really funny, because they made a joke about rape. Merlin thinks they made a joke about rape jokes, which is an entirely different matter. John was so mad! He didn’t respond because he knows enough not to respond, but he just doesn’t know enough not to read the thing. He reads the thing and then he steams.

As Merlin was urinating it occurred to him that he is John's sidekick, like Robin or Kato. John is going all ping pong again and just he can’t do that. Merlin would never do anything to impeach on what John has to share and how John helps people, but if he were going to state rules, but he is not, he would say ”No computer, no politics, no addressing the audience and no discussion people’s response!” Right now they have broken all of them, which is seriously ping pong.

As a serious rule, Merlin is not encouraging rape, he is encouraging that they say what these fucking seduction community douchebags are. It is more about the forum than about the seduction, it is more about leveling up. Let’s not get into that! Merlin has to urinate again!

How Merlin and his wife meet, be careful where you meet people (RL12)

Merlin met his lady when he was in line at a pharmacy getting some fashion contact lens holders. He wrote about this and will link to it (He was joking). Merlin met his lady at a Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 show and they were introduced by a mutual friend who gaslit both of them, saying to Merlin’s wife ”You got to meet this guy, he really wants to meet you, he is really into you” and saying to Merlin ”You got to meet my friend, she is really interested in meeting you” John’s dad used to do this to him all the time. ”Your cousin really wants to play on your new record” and John would say ”Oh, alright” and he would call her up. Merlin never asked because he is no Scott McCoy, but if John would ever want him to do nothing in a studio, he would love to be there.

Here is Merlin’s rule: You got to be careful where you met them! Merlin’s wife is the exception that proves the rule, whatever the fuck that means. It should never have worked out, they were in a bar, they were both been drinking, Thinking Fellers was her favorite band at the time, they started making out in a bar at the show, which Merlin did once ever, she grabbed his butt, they went home, three weeks later she moved in and now they got a kid and whatever. This totally breaks the rule in a lot of ways, it was an amazing night, Merlin is not a big Thinking Fellers fan, he likes the turtle song (My Pal the Tortoise), but he is not as into it as she is. Peak night!

John thinks that if it had been at a Posies show it would not have worked out, because Ken Stringfellow would have taken her back to his coffin. The night Merlin and John met, Ken insisted on driving in the car with Merlin’s wife while Merlin drove with John in the van and John was thinking the whole time ”I hope he doesn’t put spiders in her”

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