Reconcilable Differences

By Relay FM

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Description

John Siracusa and Merlin Mann try to figure out exactly how they got this way. Hosted by Merlin Mann and John Siracusa.

Episode Date
191: Love and Cleaning
5787
John learns a little about a legendary Hollywood producer, and Merlin may not know how to do his job. Apple announces some new products, London Bridge is down, and your hosts continue their tour of mini-topics.
Sep 17, 2022
190: Three Whys Later
4917
Things kick off with a brief debate on whether using things wrong makes you a hacker. In Follow-Up, John has updates on that announcement about dropping a device in a plane seat, and Merlin expresses skepticism about announcements in general. Then, there's some updates related to the prior discussion of performance reviews. Believe it or not, quantifying the unquantifiable is even more difficult than it sounds. And, finally, we learn why John is still behind on his podcasts as well as why Merlin liked it better when podcasts were less…_professional_. In our members-only bonus show: John has updates on _Half-Empty Nest Syndrome_. [Sign up today](https://www.relay.fm/rd/join) to get lots of extra stuff and to support our program. (_Recorded on Tuesday, August 23, 2022_)
Sep 02, 2022
189: The Cutting Edge of Technological Grievance
6021
In Follow-Up, John reminds everyone that RecDiffs listeners knew what’s bad about TV stands before any of the normals. John also shares his Vacation Results—alongside some anthropological observations on the state of air travel in 2022. Finally, your hosts dig in to the continuing saga of John’s TV. (_Recorded August 9, 2022_)
Aug 19, 2022
188: Ten-Year Cleanse
3928
This week finds both John and Merlin helping things leave their house. In our members-only bonus show: John previews vacation planning progress. [Sign up today](https://www.relay.fm/rd/join) to get lots of extra stuff and to support our program. (_Recorded on Tuesday, July 19, 2022_)
Aug 06, 2022
187: Beauty Fades
5482
Once John is ready, things kick off with a discussion of Merlin's increasing asymmetry. Follow-up concerns pinned messages. Merlin thinks Marco still doesn't understand what a priority is, and John thinks skeuomorphism doesn't mean what it used to mean. John graciously saves Merlin's sanity, and then your hosts express skepticism about the wisdom of offering subscriptions in premium automobiles. As an extended mini-topic, you hosts talk about the recent FX show, _The Bear_. John points out that Merlin is still misquoting Billy Joel. But, **so** close. Finally, John is discovering life with SwiftUI to be a bit of a drag. (_Recorded on Tuesday, July 12, 2022_)
Jul 22, 2022
186: QD-OLED Vaccine
5460
Things kick off with Merlin proposing a new title for himself which John immediately vetoes for cause. In Follow-Up, John claims that he knows what month it is, plus there's some promising new data on John's TV project. 👉 Time is running out, so please consider [**buying our shirt**](https://recdiffs.store). The main topic concerns the question we've all been asking for over two years: _is it the after times yet?_ Is Covid "over" to a point where we can feel good about making plans and…_doing_ things? In our members-only bonus show: John and Merlin read each other their ideas, and then eventually settle in for a deep discussion of _performance reviews_. [Sign up today](https://www.relay.fm/rd/join) to get lots of extra stuff and to help support our program. (_Recorded on Tuesday, June 28, 2022_)
Jul 08, 2022
185: A Shirt’s Journey
4597
Things kick off with an immediate derail into Merlin's Apple Health data, with John noting that he never liked _Statistics_. Next up, your hosts have—at least by their standards—a pretty big announcement. This leads to an appropriately in-depth exegesis into the process of making and selling a t-shirt. Side topics include Scott Pilgrim, JavaScript, domain names, throwing money at artists you love, and just one of the _numerous_ ways Factory Records managed to lose lots of money. 👉 If you think you might enjoy having one, please consider [**buying our shirt**](https://recdiffs.store). In Follow-Up, John is still monitoring the trades for insight into whether he wants to buy the TV he thinks he wants to buy. This is, as you know, not a decision John takes lightly, so he has sought the counsel of a Former Professional TV Calibrator. Which is apparently a job. In further Follow-Up, John's toes are still a mess—and John saw the charts that prove it. In the interest of equal time, your hosts discuss the stuff that _they_ buy from creators they love. Merlin has a cascade, and John doesn't wear his own shirts. Or hoodies. This leads to the sad backstory behind John being contacted by one of his heroes. Imagine getting an email from somebody whose photo used to hang on your teenaged wall asking you to stop doing something. *Moof*. (_Recorded on Tuesday, June 14, 2022_)
Jun 24, 2022
184: Back Door Preparation
6561
Telling strangers what you do for work, Merlin's life as a Ricky Montgomery dad, and How to Talk to People. In our members-only bonus show: John has questions about Merlin's Bike Results, and Merlin has gotten religion about how we make cities. [Sign up today](https://www.relay.fm/rd/join) to get lots of extra stuff and to support our program. (_Recorded on Thursday, June 2, 2022_)
Jun 11, 2022
183: The Pinching Opportunities
6709
Things kick off with a dive on the hacker mindset, black swans, corner cases, and the exception that proves the rule. Whatever that means. This leads to a side trip into security, troubleshooting, and the difference between non-linear thinking and untethered madness. Finally, in a conversation both sprawling and comically on-brand, your hosts explore the concept of *properness*. What does it mean to do something properly, when should it matter, and what are the risks and benefits of demanding that certain things always be done a certain way? (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 17, 2022_)
May 27, 2022
182: Disapproval Has a Scent
6237
Things kick off with some discussion of food, which finds one of your hosts trying to prove with science that he tastes everything _better_. Also, there is not a band _or_ a sports team called "The Miami Giants." Next up, John frog-marches Merlin through a check-in on his terrible sleep. Finally, on the heels of releasing their annual [member](https://www.relay.fm/rd/join) episode, John and Merlin answer some of the very good questions posed by one of their friend-guests at length. (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 3, 2022_)
May 13, 2022
181: I Saw Your Wife
8156
Things kick off with an unexpected chalk talk from Merlin on the provenance of a favorite phrase as well as an even less expected history of his college's dorms. In follow-up, John would like to clarify that he knows the difference between a TV show about pirates and a Southern California hardcore band. Merlin offers to make John a mix tape. After confidently announcing he's not going to talk about his Synology updates this week, Merlin talks about his Synology updates. Next up, John has project updates pertaining to his security camera journey, including his exasperation at the lack of one blindingly obvious feature. Believe it or not, this leads to a discussion of the sorry state of smart home products. Finally, your hosts dig into the AppleTV+ series, _Severance_. Spoiler horn fires off at `1:31:12`.
Apr 29, 2022
180: I’m Doing a Lot of Stuff with Computers Right Now
6212
In follow-up, John has corrections for himself, but Merlin says he knew what John meant. Errors are so much easier to identify once everybody else has had a chance to see them too. In further follow-up, both the listeners and John have some advice for Merlin on programmatically scooting Git files around on his Mac. This week's mini-topic involves some crossover with _Do By Friday_ via a consideration of the varying depictions of J.H. Christ in the iconography of different faiths. Merlin admired his church's minimalist design aesthetic, but John recalls a parishioner at his childhood church espousing strong feelings about getting the man back on the wood where he apparently belongs. As a main topic, your hosts dive into some recent features introduced by Plex—several of which would seem to scratch some of the itches brought up in their recent streaming media discussions. (_Recorded on Tuesday, April 5, 2022_)
Apr 17, 2022
179: I Believe in the System…Kind Of
6997
Things kick off with Merlin blowing his nose and John hearing it. In Follow-Up, John brings us up to speed on his recent adventures in jury duty. Merlin has thoughts on what we can infer from a drug tester who keeps sipping meth from the big control jug. Next, John is (yet—_further_) trolled by the jackals who make announcements about their future TVs. Merlin wonders if maybe John should just learn to weld. And, finally? There's **John's Main Topic**. (_Recorded on Tuesday, March 22, 2022_)
Mar 31, 2022
178: Ill-Advised Fashion Muse
5234
In follow-up, John continues to be trolled by the announcements of television makers, and Merlin clarifies which Blu-ray box he recommends. Also, Merlin has nice things to say about the Peacock app. As something like a main topic, John finally presents an authentic Italian-American's take on the "doing Italian food wrong" meme. Merlin wonders about locating the line between personal preference and natural law. Next up, Merlin needs John's Tech Support for a Git question And, finally, your hosts reflect on their podcast marriage. (_Recorded on Tuesday, March 8, 2022_)
Mar 19, 2022
177: I Have Dim Hopes
7635
Things kick off with a withering review of presentations by children. Follow-up covers TV pricing updates alongside John's complicated entertainment-stack needs. As a main topic, your hosts dive deep on [John's recent post about streaming video apps](https://hypercritical.co/2022/02/15/streaming-apps "Hypercritical - 'An Unsolicited Streaming App Spec'") and [a follow-up post about how people feel](https://hypercritical.co/2022/02/17/streaming-app-sentiments "Hypercritical: 'Streaming App Sentiments'") about the streaming apps they use. (_Recorded on Tuesday, February 22, 2022_)
Mar 05, 2022
176: The Curse of Convenience
5990
Merlin apologizes about the links last week, but John saves the day by picking up the tabs. Follow-up covers listener feedback on CRI and what Gmail's little envelope means. Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts are extolled. John has an update on his Ongoing Appliance Rebellion but has nothing new to share on his Ongoing Toe Rebellion. As a main topic, your hosts dive deep on _spaces_. The places where we live, work, hoard, purge, and hang up just so, *so* many coats. Can there be a taxonomy of spaces that helps us better pursue the lives we'd like to have? Merlin thinks your spaces should be a willing partner (rather than a bossy adversary), while John sees benefits in giving your desk a fresh start (via a fresh attitude). Is it weird to take advice from someone who's terrible at something, or is that maybe sometimes the best teacher you could hope for? Merlin contorts John's "Empathy for the Machine" to make a broader point about what can qualify as a machine. (_Recorded on Tuesday, February 8, 2022_)
Feb 19, 2022
175: One Giant Mountain
6485
Things kick off with your hosts not quite talking about John's scanning project, but it quickly turns into a dive into tiny on-screen targets, DRM that prevents screenshots, and why, oh, why don't streaming services make things easier to share? In follow-up, Merlin shares his new enthusiasm for the powerful combination of Git and Visual Studio Code. John expresses disappointment that Merlin still hasn't renamed his hard drive. Finally, John has important updates on his body. (_Recorded on Tuesday, January 25, 2022_)
Feb 05, 2022
174: Cardamom & Turmeric
5155
After some discussion of the pre-flight and Merlin's problematic meal, there's a surprising amount of donut-related content, including identifying the unexpected challenges of running a successful Donut Friday. Merlin has some thoughts on the perils of cute ordering. In follow-up, John highlights some helpful listener responses on LED bulbs. Man, light sure can be complicated. As a main topic, John tells us why Sony is breaking his heart and making his journey to buying a new television more difficult than it needs to be.
Jan 21, 2022
173: The Chicken Project
6060
John opens with a question, and Merlin admits to thinking about John in the morning. This leads to some U2 content and quick look at Disney's _Encanto_. In follow-up, John shares some updates on his freezer situation and implies that he still plans to talk about his body soon. This week's main topic concerns Merlin's Wisdom Project.
Jan 06, 2022
172: First, Make a Hole
6688
Your hosts discuss John’s new freezer.
Dec 24, 2021
171: Time Off
5569
Things kick off with Merlin's ongoing confusion about the role of the pre-flight. Merlin thinks John is being kind of terse, and John almost quotes what The Wolf said—and, yet, he somehow remembers exactly what model of car The Wolf drove. Then, there's a fair amount of talk about old Apple keyboards. Merlin abuses his relationship with John to get some tech support. In follow-up, John takes an unprecedented third crack at explaining _security through obscurity_. John can't even imagine ever sharing his screen, and Merlin bemoans the normalization of terrible security practices. In something like the opposite of nostalgia, your hosts remember their "college ID numbers." In the main topic, Merlin finally took a *real* vacation.
Dec 10, 2021
170: Overton Shame Window
6515
In follow-up, your hosts fix a couple errors, then complain about restaurant delivery apps and label makers. The hammer drill is considered and demoed. As a main topic, your hosts discuss the future of gender. (*Episode recorded Tuesday, November 16, 2021*)
Nov 27, 2021
169: Open Up the Frog
5563
Following an accidental pre-show, John bans clapping, and Merlin announces he doesn't want to run a store. In an epic mini-topic, John addresses how he deals with safely getting rid of old media. The answers will *not* surprise you. Next, Merlin has questions about lawn signs. Frank Chu is remembered. The main topic is _Lifestreams_. What were they, and why have you never heard of them? (_Recorded on Tuesday, November 2, 2021_)
Nov 13, 2021
168: The Robes of Science
5961
Your hosts did their first pre-flight, and it went pretty well. Next up, in direct contravention to the dictates governing the uneasy peace with ATP, there is some *computer talk*. Specifically, Merlin wants to know if John really didn't do any research, and John wants to hear Merlin's reactions to Apple's recent announcements. (Editor's Note: At one point, John accidentally/casually reveals the existence of a *queue*, and, of course, it's all Merlin can do not to stop the program, start over, and spend three hours interrogating John about this previously undisclosed queue. If John thinks he's off the hook for discussing this in the future, he is super wrong.) Then, despite putting it off for as long as they could, your hosts finally return to the concept of _grit_. Merlin confesses to being more frustrated with the fans than the concept, and John has some thoughts about oat bran. Also, Merlin is obviously more frustrated with the actual concept than he's comfortable admitting. Can we reliably reverse-engineer grit from success? And how do we account for the grit it takes many folks just to survive day-to-day? John admits to being skeptical about any skeleton key, and Merlin thinks parents get way too attached to stuff that makes them feel smart. (*Episode recorded Tuesday, October 19, 2021*)
Oct 29, 2021
167: A Close Italian Reading
6073
John will not relay messages from Merlin to John's wife, and Merlin feels like he's finally getting over whatever passes for summer. Marco hates it when his phone hits his junk, and both of your hosts consider how an eagle, a monkey, and a bucket of water can do heroic work together. Also, Merlin can't remember several things, but he claims to have a method for back-solving the stack. In vitally important Follow-Up, Merlin has found the original recipe for "Bachelor Pasta," which, naturally, leads to a deep dive on _The Modern **MAN'S** Guide to **LIFE**_. Together, your hosts learn how to buy a computer in 1987. Merlin has _finally_ gotten religion on Twitterrific muffles, but John seems a little reluctant to lead a challenge involving regular expressions. As a main topic, your hosts wonder how many cults they've each been in—and, hey, what even is a cult anyway?

The Most 1987 Book Probably Ever
The Most 1987 Book Probably Ever

(but not the pea juice)
(but not the pea juice)

Why did it have to be snakes?
Why did it have to be snakes?

Yeah, but where'd the bucket come from?
Yeah, but where'd the bucket come from?

The leads are weak?
The LEADS are weak?


Oct 15, 2021
166: Our Monster
4558
Follow-up brings a couple corrections and a quick dive into the technology that was going to change how cities are designed. John thinks it's a miracle that the New York subway was ever built, and Merlin thinks a lot of politics is mostly about telling people they were right. As a main topic, John encourages Merlin to share some happy memories of his family's monstrous cat, and Merlin cries a little. This leads to a discussion of the journey of new pet acquisition.
Sep 30, 2021
165: In the Drift
5651
John wonders about up-talk greetings, and Merlin confesses to some recent situational imbibing. Follow-up addresses the "Too-Rye-Ay" question, the enumeration of pasta shapes, and how many kinds of beetles there actually are. Tangents include celebrity biographies, Adam and the Ants video casting, Alta Vista search operators, and the actresses that Merlin collects. The main topic concerns Merlin's recent turn as Mr. Mom.
Sep 17, 2021
164: Casual Injustices
5906
There's follow-up on Merlin's Vacation Results, and your hosts wonder which Doctor they'd each be. The big topic of college continues with thoughts on the thistle of standardized testing.
Sep 03, 2021
163: Big Flyers
8611
Merlin shares his Vacation Results.
Aug 20, 2021
162: A Pile of Bed
5937
Remembering various animal actors, enumerating genres that need a name, considering the philosophies behind "bag in a bag," and contrasting college with the ordinary crucibles of post-adolescent life.
Aug 07, 2021
161: ASCII Salad Bar
6718
Exploring Italian food, celebrating markup languages, and (finally) beginning to tackle the topic of **college**. (_Recorded on Tuesday, July 13, 2021_)
Jul 24, 2021
160: The Spouse Trap
6402
Merlin just woke up, John is full of beans, and things get a little silly. Meet Lidlicker.
Jul 10, 2021
159: The Narrow Priesthood
4773
Cameras! Just *so* much about cameras. But, also: amusing primates, Taylor Swift, ““content creation,”” crummy band managers, widespread misunderstanding of Lucille Bluth, the genius and tragedy of Howard Ashman, `RFC1178`, plus John shares his nostalgia for one indefatigable computer naming scheme.
Jun 25, 2021
158: Wait for the Wave
8213
This week kicks off with Merlin offering a heartfelt *thank you* to John for helping him know where he is. John shouldn't need to wiggle, and Merlin can't imagine ever asking for the return of "contact." Your hosts agree accessibility is good for everybody. John has updates on drama in the NES Tetris Scene, and Merlin remembers bringing a pencil to the arcade so he could cheat. John repurposes an excellent graphic by Neven to ask how buttony a button needs to be to look like it's a button. This leads to a surprisingly interesting mini-dive into practical UX and ways that an affordance can let you know that it's an affordance. As a main topic this week, your hosts discuss Theme Dining Nights. Why can't more experiences be like John's old deli? Differences regarding leftovers are, unfortunately, not reconciled. John's worries that his dispose-all may be starving to death. (_Recorded on Tuesday, June 1, 2021_)
Jun 11, 2021
157: Champion Snackers
5508
Things kick off with some call confusion, a boombox cameo, and a roundtable on the problematic nature of John Hughes's movies. *Automobile?* This leads to some nostalgia for the 1979 film, _Breaking Away_. Your hosts debate which one of them is which character in the movie, but both agree it’s still a stone cold classic. Next up, your hosts talk about a resurgence of interest in PlayStation games at Merlin’s house. John has a lot of thoughts, but his memory is getting really bad. Finally, John wants to talk about “super babies.” What happens when two talented people sire a child? Seems like sometimes they inherit their parents’ genius, and other times they just want to run in the opposite direction. What roles do wealth, support, and expectations play? And how about the times when someone would very much prefer that their kid _not_ get into the family business? Your hosts disagree on whether one super baby’s name is terrible but agree that “geriatric pregnancy” is kind of an awful term. (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 18, 2021_)
May 28, 2021
156: Feeding the Meetings
6234
Things kick off with the usual disagreements about who’s driving and who’s in the trunk, but then things briefly settle into an interrogation of the purpose behind begging for podcast ratings and reviews. Does it actually, _really_ help new people to discover the show? John tries to remember a song, and Merlin fondly recalls _un cheval maladroit_. Next, John has some thoughts on grass and how it grows. Merlin wonders if it might be another “Trust Your Mechanic”-type situation. Both of your hosts agree it seems like there’s maybe a lesson about life in there somewhere. Then, at last, it has come to this: **The _Reconcilable Differences_ Quorn Pre-Post-Mortem Spectacular**. While it is (obviously) way too early to talk about this business as if it’s done, it does feel like a useful moment to look back at what we’ve learned and what has changed—even as we look forward to what we might continue to learn and what might continue to change. What BS did you miss, and what BS would you be happy to never have to deal with again? Whither handshakes and awkward hugs? When will we stop doing that weird retail crab walk? Will mask people remain mask people? Should more of us learn “the claw?” What about subtlety and uncertainty? What about society and culture? Has the epistemological cherrypicking of The Dumb Guy just become our permanent way of life? Finally, your hosts share some preliminary wish list items for post-Quorn life and work. (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 4, 2021_)
May 13, 2021
155: I Don’t Feel like It’s an Edge
5403
Our members’ special episode is coming soon, with a special guest. Become a Relay FM member to get access to this and all our past special episodes. In the meantime… Merlin needs a 4K monitor, and Apple won’t end his suffering by making one. John got his first vaccine shot, so he’s not sweating it. Merlin’s grandmother liked to make lists and talk on the phone with retail staff. Do you have the exact product she needs? No sense in driving all that way if you don’t. Perhaps there is some post-COVID wisdom in this. John’s smart outlet is once again smart. Not like everbody says! Like, dumb! It’s smart, and it wants respect! Meanwhile, Merlin’s Internet disappeared for a while due to a clerical error, which seems unfair. John missed a credit-card payment, which *also* seems unfair. John’s son needs to learn how to pump gas, and also how money works. Watch out for the skimmers! Boy-Merlin sometimes had to go out for cigarettes, but he turned out fine. John’s garage remains smol. It is apparent that *some* people don’t know what a basement is. Merlin did time on a "concrete apron" in Florida, where it smelled like clay.
May 01, 2021
154: Put Your Chair in the Queue
4388
Things kick off with the usual disagreements about the doc and its proper usage. Merlin thought he was going to be driving, but John curtly redirects him into the trunk. Follow-up brings a handful of fun D&D-related content, including the work of John's talented Cousin Frankie. Outrage-based documentaries are considered. The main topic this week is **vaccines and vaccinations**, as your hosts share their frustrating and mostly fruitless journeys toward that elusive date with the needle. Hope you like filling out forms and hitting "refresh." (_Recorded on Tuesday, April 6, 2021_)
Apr 16, 2021
153: Banana Ball
5173
Your hosts skip the pre-flight, then end up talking a little about preparing for a performance. Novelty sports experiments are considered. Following some corrections, self-analysis, and technological digression, Merlin's computer poops the bed. Covid considerations continue to interfere with life, and sometimes you have to fight your family's optimism a little. Merlin tries to use an analogy from a TV show, and John introduces the class to "The Plumber Problem." John has recently discovered a beloved artist's Patreon and highlights the influence of his work. It can feel pretty frustrating when the internet doesn't love someone or something as much as you do. Just remember, there are a lot of easy and inexpensive ways to let someone know what their work means to you.
Apr 03, 2021
152: Warnings of Gales in Trafalgar
5460
John has questions about Merlin's use of the doc, and Merlin is confused about the challenge this week. Merlin never got his nap, but John has thoughts in general about things being played _at_ him. Which leads to an exploration of how your hosts differ in the role various sorts of audio play in their lives. Should meditation be "relaxing?" Why do people react so differently to ambient and environmental sounds? What can you do when spouses differ on nighttime noise options? And why in the _hell_ is Merlin listening to old UK weather forecasts on the reg? Next, inspired by a plaintive earworm from *Hamilton*, John presents a main topic: **what does relaxation mean to me?** Which is to say, how would your hosts prefer to "Take a Break," and how would they each go about, say, spending a month upstate? John is uncannily good at the stripping away of things, but Merlin struggles with unhooking without heavily consulting his various demon dogs. That said, we can all agree on the need for a break from quorn. In related news, despite our best efforts, sometimes the people we love the most can make us the most insane. Things wrap with Merlin interrogating John about his real world definition of a "vacation." Hopeful plans for the future are conveyed.
Mar 19, 2021
151: Fully Emptive
6103
Things kick off with some questions about Merlin's naps, then proceed to John's Follow-Up on accents, dialect, and pronunciation. John shares a historical artifact of 80s teen retail life, and this leads to nostalgic reminiscing about the classic arcade games of youth. John has a toe update (*sorry*), and Merlin wants to learn about an anomalous genital condition—but only if he can be assured it will involve _no images_. There's some Follow-In via John's more popular program regarding privacy, then there's some fun facts about US states. Merlin is proud of his household's young Billy Joel fan. In something like a main topic, Merlin has questions for John about his take on the twisting path to expertise. Are we talking about a fast yoyo or a slow climb? Is it really more like bottom-up versus top-down? Things conclude with a surprisingly difficult pop quiz on the lore of states.
Mar 05, 2021
150: The Stands
4591
Merlin meets a new neighbor, and John still wonders whether he lives in the woods. This leads to a deep dive on clothes that don't fit. John has doubts about Merlin's reported height. In follow-up, John corrects the record on the provenance of his family's Christmas tree stand. In what turns out to be an ongoing stretch of sematic satiation, this leads to an exploration of Stephen King. Are any of the adaptations as good as his books? And what happened when a canine-having Mainer wanted some of those Mahzes-bahs they have up to the store? Next, the focus turns to TV stands. While pretty much all of them are incompatible with John's house, this generates a careful visual interrogation of the bizarre manner in which Sony thinks your home works.
Feb 18, 2021
149: Babysitting the Dragon
5388
"Friend" of the Show, Elliott Kalan, was on TV's *Jeopardy*. No spoilers, but his little buzzer hand was held high. John is *not* doing intermittent fasting, but his meal schedule is all messed up. Also possibly his life schedule. Merlin likes a Snickers bar (or Kit-Kat) when he's on the road, but he doesn't like being fat and poopy. A short episode of *Back to Work* may have accidentally found its way into the show. (You’re welcome.) Be careful who you let run the railroad.
Feb 06, 2021
148: McLaren of Theseus
6463
John gets quizzed on abbreviations as Merlin revisits his early career working for The Man. California has a lot of things you're not allowed to buy. Then, there's some haircut updates plus some quick advice on knowing when to take a break. Merlin thinks just ""wearing a mask"" doesn't make you a good boy, and John thinks he's pretty good about picking up Daisy's poo from the landing strip or whatever it's called. As a mini-topic, John brings a fascinating mystery involving cars, hairs, and an unexpected new dining spot. There is some disagreement over who chose the main topic of Christmas tree stands, but you could not have picked two better people to review their history, materials, design flaws, and improvement opportunities. Merlin makes a case for leveraging _The Economics of More Fun_, and John tries to make him feel bad about his new TV. [This is false. –Ed] Finally, terrible TV features are enumerated and decried. (_Recorded on Tuesday, January 12, 2021_)
Jan 23, 2021
147: Pan-Pan!
5462
Things kick off with a cameo and Merlin's abortive attempt to make a connection. Next, John reeds Merlin the riot act on his unintentional use of red receipts. Merlin pleads _nolo contendere_ but, as you can imagine, this does not dissuade John from explaining how he broke some cockamamie social contract. The complexities and risks of asynchronous communication are explored. Merlin makes a case for broader use of *procedure words*. He also wants to learn how to do those cool hand signals. In Follow-Up, John shares some encouraging news about his childhood teppanyaki destination. Enthusiasts of life's ephemera are celebrated, and John professes his own enthusiasm for a free grill-cleaning show. Teppanyaki videos are further discussed, because they are *awesome*, and it was cool to hear how many of you agree. *Competence Porn* is enumerated, before the conversation somehow turns back (yes, _again_) to teppanyaki videos. As something like a main topic, Merlin offers a sheepish series of recent anecdotes regarding technology and hasty decision-making. He seems not to remember this being his idea (_he_ did that), which he is surprisingly not all that sheepish about. But, let's be honest. Technology can be terrible and very confusing. With that said, the new Macintoshes are very good. And, finally, Merlin narrowly dodges a bullet with another completely avoidable bonus consumer technology mishap. (_Recorded on Tuesday, December 29, 2020_)
Jan 08, 2021
146: Rogue Rice
5604
Things kick off with (_surprise, surprise_) some complaints about Skype, alongside ruminations on what might eventually replace it as the podcaster's app of choice. Also, please don't asterisk your first-person swears. It's unseemly. In some important John-centric Follow-Up, the listener is brought up to speed on the status of his eyeglasses and, regrettably, his deeply problematic toe. John also has a terrible song from a video game to share with the class. As a main topic, John has questions about Merlin's weird obsession with teppanyaki videos. Sometimes, you just want to watch somebody be great at their job. This leads to a nostalgic amble through the storied event dining of your hosts' youth. Birthday Boy gets to pick the place, but do be sure to warn your siblings when the tabletop inferno is about to pop off. Also, your hosts debate the role and timing of salting meat. After-times meal planning is proposed. (_Recorded on Tuesday, December 15, 2020_)
Dec 24, 2020
145: The Opposite Mistake
5267
Things kick off with John's dissection of Merlin's bespoke automated filler text. This leads to a _fascinating_ discussion of Lorem Ipsum, type specimens, and lexical anomalies. Which, of course, leads to a look at _Tenet_ (available in cinemas everywhere now). John has some sports analogies, and Merlin found himself rewinding a lot (in the cinema, of course). Merlin likes specificity, and John sees protons and anti-protons across Nolan's oeuvre. In further media dissection, your hosts talk about _Ted Lasso_ and _The Crown_. Sometimes, you just get lucky and find the right show at the right time. Your hosts share wisdom from their kids' schools. (_Recorded on Tuesday, December 1, 2020_)
Dec 11, 2020
144: The Other Side of the Owl
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Things kick off with some new hardware, an examination of hair hats, and a look back at a self-similar fast food clown. John has questions about Merlin's projects. In the extended members-only episode, John and Merlin talk about making art. Go to to become a member today. (_Recorded on Tuesday, November 17, 2020_)
Nov 26, 2020
143: The Shape of Time
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✅🇺🇸 (_Recorded on Saturday, November 7, 2020_)
Nov 12, 2020
142: The Threshing Machine
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Things kick off with a discussion of election plans. What a time. In an addendum to a previous topic, John talks about what it was like to actually attend the infamous Action Park as a kid. This leads to a discussion of the roller coasters and thrill rides that Merlin adores and young John very much did not. In the extended members-only episode, John and Merlin listen to music that was personally recommended to them by you, the listeners. Go to to become a member today. (_Recorded on Thursday, October 22, 2020_)
Oct 29, 2020
141: The Panopticon of Frasier
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Things kick off with a post-mortem on the recent song challenge as well as an extension of that challenge that requires input from you, the listener. Hit us up at [@RecDiffs](https://twitter.com/recdiffs) with `#listen`. John goes a little meta to interrogate how Merlin's brain functions and wonders where a catch phrase *actually* started. Maybe you know? **You** do that. Considering phrases we picked up from relatives and/or TV. John has questions about Merlin's experimental garage panopticon. After providing some context on how and why one might have a box full of disused security cameras, Merlin lays out the details of the bizarre surveillance state he's created to track and analyze the movements of a recent visitor. Things get more than a little Dale Gribble. The rest of the show concerns news of a popular social media platform announcing their intention to minimize the reach of fringe conspiracy groups and content. No spoilers, but if you're a big fan of Facebook, you might want to skip this one. Because, oh boy, do your hosts ever go *off*. (_Recorded on Tuesday, October 6, 2020_)
Oct 15, 2020
140: I Know What to Do in a Tree
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In follow-up, John has extensive clarifications regarding the importance of saucing the pasta in accordance with his instructions. So, of course, he also has some more instructions. Ultimately, John just wants to help you, the listener. Moving on to kids and eating, your hosts contrast their views on how to manage a constantly moving target. Merlin doesn't want to contribute to an eating disorder, and John has grave concerns about whether his son could survive when confronted with an unopened container. As a main topic, John wants to talk about Dangerous Things We Did as Unattended Kids. Inspired by the recent documentary about Action Park, your hosts recall some of the inadvisable things they each did in the absence of adults. No spoilers, but Siracusa _easily_ wins this one. How is this man still alive? In the extended members-only episode, John and Merlin challenge each other to curate and present some songs that they think their co-host might like. Go to to become a member today. (_Recorded on Tuesday, September 22, 2020_)
Oct 01, 2020
139: Everything's a Competition
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John quickly puts the kibosh on Merlin's idea for a special theme episode. John has Follow-Up on his self-imposed egg homework and invites some friends for a socially-distanced meal. Merlin's kid attends a socially-distance birthday party. What a fun time to be alive, huh? John's usual method of remembering a song fails him, and Merlin bemoans the weird chronological gaps in what makes it onto YouTube. Fancy restorations of music videos are addressed. John can never remember what he's said in a podcast episode until he listens to it. A novel musical challenge is posed for the next member episode. Merlin likens John to a passive-aggressive rodent. In a nice way. John saw a movie Merlin loves, but, as usual, Merlin is reluctant to hear what John thought of it. In what has fast become a regular segment, your hosts complain about where other people keep putting things. Merlin is rethinking his pots and pans strategy, and John introduces a new technology in fancy cookware. John's daughter has a somewhat daring approach to learning how a fire extinguisher works. The most dangerous shoes are the ones that can't move. As a main topic, your hosts talk about _those_ movies. You know the ones. The ones you discovered when you were supposed to be asleep and you weren't allowed to watch anyway? Yeah, those. Then, there's the movies and trailers that just scared the bejesus out of you. Before the internet, it was very difficult to find almost anything.
Sep 17, 2020
138: Their Terrible Butts
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John has Follow-Up on the name of an Australian rock, and Merlin learned New Zealand's true name from an old Split Enz song. Doesn't seem all that difficult to call things by the old name, but what do we know? Merlin did not watch any educational YouTube videos, but John is just asking the question. A glimpse into Merlin's perilous journey into John's pasta sauce recipe is teased. John job-shames Merlin for some reason. Then, Merlin digs up a _very_ old email exchange with John that, in retrospect, set the tone for their entire relationship. John has some questions about what Merlin _was_ planning to do before he forgot about the recording. Welcome to the highly specialized and deeply opinionated world of cast iron skillets. This leads to a riveting tour of Merlin's history with the notoriously finicky kitchen implements, including leaning how to use, maintain, season, and re-season them. It's ultimately less of a tool than a _project_. Which can be fun if you like that sort of thing. This, in turn, leads to some strongly held opinions about the broader topics of sound kitchen praxis and, as ever, the Sisyphean role one inhabits as the only person in the house who understands how to do things properly. John speaks passionately about furniture and floors and the various scratches he apparently just has to live with now. What do you expect when you're a Zentradi? Finally, Merlin went and got a banker's box, and brother, you really do not want him to go and get a banker's box. (_Recorded on Tuesday, August 25, 2020_)
Sep 03, 2020
137: The Fifth Flavor of Entertainment
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This week finds John perusing some of Merlin's homework. This leads to a discussion of the benefits and risks of educational tourism. Will there be any Math on this Math test? John presents a new "Secret Brit," but it turns out that there is a Turns Out. For some reason, your hosts are really putting The British Empire on blast. Merlin is kind of out of it, and John is still thinking about his bug. There's an aside about nature documentaries and the extent to which they are either "real" or legitimately educational. Still. They can be pretty great. It's that time of year again, so it is necessary to review some COVID-era Vacation Results. As nice as it is to get everyone out of the house, it's definitely not a normal Summer. But, it remains critical to periodically force children to go places. Why are we still not throwing _all_ of the assets at the problem? As ever, we have not earned optimism. Also, there is no motorcycle to drive up your steps, and, if there were, it would not be free. Is this our 1943? John wonders what it will take to get critical mass, and Merlin explores wishlists for the after times. (_Recorded on Tuesday, August 15, 2020_)
Aug 20, 2020
136: The Left Side of the Diving Board
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Things kick off with John rejecting some of Merlin's canny improvements to the doc. The doc *really* needs some work. It doesn't get any easier as Merlin attempts to do a normal podcast thing, but John keeps stepping on his bit. **John** does that. Anyway. Thank you. John has some follow-up on his haircut situation as well as sharing some important drop cloth advice. Next up comes a potential new segment called, "Secret Brit." Is that guy English? And what about her? Is she that gal from the other thing? Merlin got out of Russian dashcam videos just in the nick of time. And, also, hey, why is it so difficult for streaming media apps and the hardware on which they run to do the most basic stuff? Just…*why?* John wants to get Merlin off of the main topic mindset, and Merlin reminds John they *really* need to work on the doc. In apparently not a main topic, your hosts talk about the state of modern Mac window management. There are things John has just given up on. Merlin thinks he should maybe learn the basics of *Statistics*, but John thinks he should just learn some *Logic*. Merlin is not here for the Wagyu. In the extended members-only episode, John and Merlin talk about s03e11 of _Shark Tank_. Yes, the one with the Sullivan Generator. Go to to become a member today. (_Recorded on Tuesday, July 28, 2020_)
Aug 06, 2020
135: Clutch Foot
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Things kick off with a huge thank you to everyone who [gave Siracusa their money](http://GiveSiracusaYourMoney.com/), followed by a survey of listener suggestions for the name of the member feed. In follow-up, John shares some detailed updates on his chronically troubled toe. Merlin finds this content *extremely* challenging. Merlin relates an upsetting Walgreens anecdote, and John shares his etymological research on when you learn the notes to sing. Merlin can't get his tween to *one-ee-and-uh* with him. For a main topic, your hosts interrogate some additional axes for choosing media—especially the axis of available attention. You really super-get this when you have a fresh baby. Legacy notions about the dangers of screen time are explored and debated. We can all agree that this is a tough time for kids and connection. In the extended members-only episode, John and Merlin discuss the 2001 Satoshi Kon film, [*Millennium Actress*](https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0291350/). Go to to become a member today. (_Recorded on Tuesday, July 14, 2020_)
Jul 23, 2020
134: Romeo Delta
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Things kick off with an announcement on a new way you can help support the program—as well as get some _challenging_ new content. Please [give Siracusa your money](http://GiveSiracusaYourMoney.com). In follow-up, John has a very important haircut update. His barber was reluctant, and the experience was a little fraught. Do our ears and head really keep growing, or is that just a myth? Merlin puts a hat on a hat on a hat, and John badly confuses his Mels. Then, things move on to _time_. Can you choose to be tricked by your own clocks? What if every clock is different? What even is time? John has a history with clock manipulation and sometimes invites too many snoozes. This turns into a broader meditation on punctuality and character. Are late people late for one reason or is it a whole situation? Can you know how long something takes until you really *know* how long it takes? Can you? (Spoiler: you cannot.) John gets to the party early, and Merlin super hopes he actively offers to help with the crudités. Merlin used to be late for everything, and John interrogates how exactly that so drastically changed. Also, why did we arrive at the airport six hours early, daddy? Breakfast muffin, honey. Please, just eat your breakfast muffin. Merlin is grateful for people educating him (even when that's not their job). Unconscious bias is unconscious. And, finally, Merlin had a pretty wild bug with the iOS beta, and you won't believe what happened next. (_Recorded on Tuesday, June 30, 2020_)
Jul 08, 2020
133: Shave Daddy
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Someone has tampered with Merlin's bell, and John is looking forward to his "vacation." This leads to an exploration of seemingly hippie-dippie workplace policies and how they actually get applied in practice. Especially for everyone who's not the boss. In follow-up, John has an update on a recent addition to his home. Boy, they really wanna push those extra "features" on you, don’t they? No one should have to worry this much about water. In further follow-up, Merlin has a huge update on something he finally persuaded his family to do for him. 🐱✂️ John has never seen _Shark Tank_. Merlin is confused about the buttons on his keyboard, and John has thoughts on what’s in the actual code. Merlin hates his clock. You can really tell when the people who make something don’t love it as much as you do. John gets *yet another* free dingus, and Merlin loves him some surprise baby photos. (_Recorded on Tuesday, June 16, 2020_)
Jun 24, 2020
132: Bigger in Three Dimensions Than I’ve Ever Been
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In America, you are not allowed to hit back. Black Lives Matter. (_Recorded on Tuesday, June 2, 2020_)
Jun 10, 2020
131: The Past is a Grotesque Animal
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Things kick off with a review of recent household paper cuts. Breaking the AirPods Rule, not using the hand rail, and barely surviving the chute into the kill zone. John hears the case of Merlin's exploding plumbing in order to adjudicate whether it constitutes _an actual emergency_. Service people are all about lead generation, but, John appreciates the input. The consequent verdict leads to exploration of minimizing COVID attack vectors. Speaking of riding things out, again with John's toe. Just the one. Descript is also discussed. For a main topic, John wants to talk about regrets, lost loves, and things that could have been different. Better put, John wants Merlin to talk about this, so he does. Witness his confessions. (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 19, 2020_)
May 28, 2020
130: Good Quorn
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Quarantine updates, Banana Results, follow-up on John's sleep heat needs, and home improvement is also sheltered-in-place for now. In a main topic, John asks Merlin to talk about why he loves improv comedy so much. What part of your brain do you want scratched?
May 13, 2020
129: Chocolate and Toy Story
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Things kick off with Merlin bemoaning John's emerging role as his primary existential creditor. John reminds Merlin that all that grinding is just continually *sharpening* him. In follow-up, your hosts thank the many, _many_ listeners who remembered the movie that John and Merlin clearly could not. Turns out, it was not "Batman." Or "The Notebook." This leads naturally into a main topic that pulls together a bunch of previously discussed topics: **how do you get your family to watch really good movies**? Like, _high-quality movies_. Not bad movies, but good movies. As we all know, John is a tough rater, but his diligence has paid off. Merlin's kid hasn't shown much interest in _The Godfather_. We learn that John has given Merlin his pasta sauce recipe, but Merlin hasn't tried to make it yet, and, when he does, he'll probably do it wrong. Related: do not ask for John's pasta sauce recipe, because it is not supported. Finally, John may have discovered a Secret Weird Thing about bananas, which—you guessed it—leads to more homework for Merlin. (_Recorded on Tuesday, April 21, 2020_)
Apr 29, 2020
128: Ciao, Francesco Rinaldi!
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Things kick off with John describing an unknown movie in bullets and Merlin thinking it sounds a little like Batman. Of course, this just ends up leading to John chiding Merlin for not utilizing his quarantine time to finish his long-overdue homework. The guys end up talking about the confusingly-titled resurrection of Merlin's old podcast. John has questions, and Merlin does his best to respond. Sometimes, you wanna give yourself a blue ocean, even if you never end up changing very much. Much like Neil Peart said. This leads to a nostalgic stroll through the before times of the internet. Back when you had to buy all the misspellings and just hope you came up high on AltaVista. Also, what comes *after* Google? Man, the web used to be such a primitive, ugly affair. Time was, putting a field and two buttons on a web page was some pretty radical stuff. Brand names and regional fizzy drink appellations are briefly debated. Finally, the baked ziti topic somehow also rises from the dead. And, John is *still* affronted that Merlin feeds his family that execrable swill from a jar. (_Recorded on Tuesday, April 7, 2020_)
Apr 17, 2020
127: Advice Nurse
6150
On top of all the sheltering-in-place, John is nursing a new injury, and Merlin doesn't love hearing it described at all. This leads to some medical technology discussion plus an on-air debriding agent demo. In a main topic, your hosts try to share some ideas on sustainably working remotely from home. History and experience can be pretty good teachers, but working yourself to a damaged nub is a terrible game for the young and should be considered harmful. And, then there's the technology we use to stay connected and the managers who need to manage. Were you aware that Tom totally knows Craig Chaquico? Listen, team, there are going to be _a lot_ of adjustments, but also some great opportunities. We swear. Hang in there, stay inside, and please take care of yourselves. (_Recorded on Tuesday, March 24, 2020_)
Apr 02, 2020
126: Social Distancing
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Things kick off with some soap talk, and then there's a deep dive into the current state of…things. Stay home, friends. There's some follow-up on Billy Joel Results. In the main topic, your hosts discuss what makes for a good car movie. John thinks it's different for car people, and Merlin saw a Tesla. Sometimes, it can be difficult to enjoy media that gets details you care about wrong. For homework, please watch FX on Hulu's _Devs_. (_Recorded on Tuesday, March 10, 2020_)
Mar 20, 2020
125: You Can't Hang a Graduation on the Wall
6125
This week kicks off with some virus talk. Merlin is worried that we've lost the recipe for ice, and John is feeling very cynical. Don't worry about the giant barrel full of explosives; the water will cushion that. John remembers chicken pox parties, but Merlin is confused about exactly how a quarantine works. In follow-up, your hosts wrap up their (mostly spoiler-free) discussion of _Cheer_. As it turns out, cheerleaders are kind of a lot like soldiers, and you really wanna be on the lookout for those entrepreneurial dads. Merlin dreams of typewriters. John requests an update on _Millennium Actress_ progress. The main topic is the career and oeuvre of New York resident, William Martin Joel. When John was growing up, Billy Joel was everywhere and was a lot like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Then, John left Long Island. There is some disagreement about whether Billy ever technically got "big," but you gotta know that the man is a very gifted melodicist. John wonders how he would function in a Beatles-like band, and Merlin just really loves those bridges. John seems to kind of envy Billy's helicopter lifestyle. (_Recorded on Sunday, March 1, 2020_)
Mar 05, 2020
124: Figures of Action
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Merlin is healing just as John is getting sick. Merlin has chained several bad decisions, and John has concerns about Merlin's office wall. John has moved some things around in the doc. In follow-up, John has acquired some Studio Ghibli from iTunes and reports back. This leads to further discussion of the beauty of Miyazaki films and a consideration of what makes them so special. Are the roles of filmmakers similar to the work of comics artists? What if you're just not a fan of currently fashionable inking techniques? *Hollow bones*. Your hosts talk about the new Netflix show, _Cheer_. They could have gone a lot of directions, but we can all agree that there are many, many injuries to be had. Next up, a recent _Roderick on the Line_ conversation leads to a consideration of the voice in your head alongside the ability to visualize. Consciousness is very difficult to discuss. Finally, there's some back-door Secret Weird Things People Do about the cadences that trigger stuff in your head. Especially songs. John thinks Merlin definitely doesn't have an actual photographic memory. And she's loving him with that body, I just know it. (_Recorded on Tuesday, February 10, 2020_)
Feb 19, 2020
123: Squirrel List
5265
This week kicks off with some accidental video and an update on Merlin's ill health. John has been maintaining some lists, and Merlin shares some confessions of the Banker's Box lifestyle. Many things still need to leave my house. A litany of the lost things is presented and analyzed, and a catechism for finding the lost things is interrogated. In follow-up, Merlin is ready to present his iTunes Results regarding the acquisition of Studio Ghibli movies. John finally draws a line in the sand. Why split the movie? Why no extra features? Is it Siracusa's day to watch Roderick? The magic of Miyazaki is extolled. So much smoking. Speaking of media homework, John has a new assignment for Merlin. Then, some documentary talk in general. John is back to harassing Merlin about how often he washes the towels, and Merlin is provoked into making a confession of fanciness. Some friend. John, in turn, confesses to being upset by Merlin's ghastly pet companions. Everything in the house is Bando'd. Merlin has some questions about Daisy's technology stack. This leads to a pretty deep dive on the design trade-offs that go into contemporary dog-tracking innovations. Finally, the boys return to Secret Weird Things People Do, and John has a bath mat concept for consideration, plus a hot tip on bathtub materials. (_Recorded on Thursday, January 30, 2020_)
Feb 06, 2020
122: A Fib of Omission
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Things kick off with an administrative meeting about the doc. Merlin tries to keep John from sneaking in, and John thinks Merlin should just use his eyeballs. Analogy sandwiches and their contents are debated. John lives with an unnamed two-towel person, and Merlin thinks he knows who it is. Spock loses his phaser, and Merlin earns his first multisyllabic laugh from John. Merlin can tell whether you are an AT&T customer, and John thinks phone calls in general are creepy. Merlin demonstrates his robot hands for John. Merlin thinks he's an open book, and John realizes there's always something to be yelled at about. There's also some fairly harrowing cat follow-up. In a mini-topic, John talks about Studio Ghibli movies (finally) being available digitally, and Merlin offers to take one for the team and report back. Also, some talk about metadata. Merlin has questions for John about what constitutes a "rally." Is there a better word for having to thread an existential and chronological needle in life? Because that's what Merlin needs a name for. Regardless of what you call this phenomenon, it's not about being first or fastest; it's about timing all the jobs and obligations that you know about, as well as leaving padding for when (inevitably) more comes up or stuff changes. Like project management and software development, life has a funny way of hiding dependencies and disguising milestones. This leads to a deep dive on understanding the culture of your environment and the foibles of human nature. People, amirite? (_Recorded on Tuesday, January 14, 2020._)
Jan 24, 2020
121: Impotent Hydra
5984
Things kick off with John's Mac Pro prep mess. This is all *well beyond* Preparing the Way. This leads to a surprisingly detailed exploration of the challenges posed by setting up a new workspace given the constraints of the room and gravity. Cables, man. *Cables*. In a related topic, Merlin is struggling with post-holiday mess stress. Sisyphus is pushing another Sisyphus up a hill. You *really* don't want to make Daddy bring in his banker's box. How long before the elves arrive to remove all these yogurt containers? Maybe they'll "do it later." Stuff your sorries in a sack! Also, this new bean bag chair is very, _very_ large. Christmas Results are discussed further, and John has makeover ideas for Merlin's lounge. John's vegetarian has recently widened her palate. Finally, John has a new pinboard, but there are some design and integration challenges. Merlin gratefully receives the only gift he's wanted for years. 🎢
Jan 09, 2020
120: Where the Packages Sleep
5749
In the interest of timeliness, this episode, recorded Tuesday evening, has been rushed to you on an accelerated schedule. John continues to Prepare the Way, his wife can't close one eye, and there's a Spoiler Slot on HBO's _Watchmen_. (_Recorded on Tuesday, December 17, 2019._)
Dec 19, 2019
119: Emcee of Thanksgiving
6086
Things kick off with a review of Thanksgiving results that quickly swerves into a deep dive on hotels. Why is Merlin obsessed with this one Marriott in Gold Country, and how come John avoids bunking with roommates? Then, there's a swerve back to the holiday of gratitude, and the boys envision a world in which you won't get anywhere near the turkey until you've dealt with an upsettingly mercurial new host. And, even then, you'll be called upon to help solve a stomach-churning murder mystery. There's just a little bit of _Survivor_ talk. Why don't the castaways like the odds of rocks, and when will Coach and Russell return as mentors? Merlin has been excavating old hard drives, and John can't understand how he ever got to this point. Hug your backups, people. Speaking of food, things wrap with a twist on Secret Weird Things People do: *what's the deal with food?* (_Recorded on Tuesday, December 3, 2019._)
Dec 12, 2019
118: THAT's the Star Wars!
6847
Things kick off with a check-in on _Watchmen_. Is John feeling more confident about it? There are MacGuffins inside of MacGuffins. John is still enjoying the Apple TV+ shows, and Merlin thinks expectation deflation can really work in your favor. John didn't remember that Jennifer Aniston was in _Office Space_. In a related mini-topic, Merlin wants to talk about _The Mandalorian_ as a way to explore what we like about _Star Wars_. Unsurprisingly, John is avoiding a poster, and Merlin gets schooled on the importance and greatness of _Return of the Jedi_. Thank goodness for our fellow fans who grew up to make new _Star Wars_ for us. John has qualms with Merlin's neologism and doesn't even like when people do that anyway. The summer of 1982 was *wild*. Your hosts try to explain live TV to their children. Also: telephones. Finally, it's time to clear out some more Secret Weird Things People Do. No spoilers. Just…listen. (_Recorded on Tuesday, November 19, 2019._)
Nov 27, 2019
117: That’s Not the Rigatoni
6788
Things kick off with some quick Macintosh and video game nostalgia. John redrew his sprites, and Merlin enjoyed some stolen pinball. Merlin did lots of work this week. Your hosts discuss Sayonara Wild Hearts in particular and Apple Arcade in general. Merlin's family recently rented a *very* large automobile, and its various interfaces are reviewed. John declares the vehicle to be as ugly as it is large. Where is innovation welcome, and where is it mostly preferable to avoid? And what happens when that "innovation" was really just kind of a cheat? Apple TV+ is on the docket, but, first, Merlin wants to share the detailed results of his scientific Apple TV and Siri experiments. This leads to him saying much more than "exactly one thing," and it takes much longer than the promised thirty seconds. Strap in, because this one is quite a ride. John takes over to talk about his thoughts on the new Apple TV+ shows. Viewers and critics seem to really disagree, but John found things to like. Reviews and ratings come up again. Mikhail Baryshnikov is not the guy from _Die Hard_, and there is **so** much TV. Damon Lindelof seems like a really smart guy. John gives a thumbs-up to The Space Show but feels like _Watchmen_ is still walking a line. John crosses-over with _Do By Friday_. (_Recorded on Tuesday, November 5, 2019._)
Nov 14, 2019
116: Brown Sludge Water
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John opens with some follow-up questions, and Merlin realizes it's going to be one of _those_ episodes. John calls out Merlin's racism against his people. Both your hosts are now living the arms-free lifestyle. Merlin has follow-up on his ongoing Siri and Apple TV experiment, and, improbably, this leads to further discussion of Cupertino's frustrating quality slide. Voice dinguses are reviewed, and IMDB is bad. John has some water issues, and Merlin's lizard apparently has an unconventional face. Then, more with the Apple complaints. Messages is making Merlin look insane. John has some harsh words about Merlin's _Star Wars_ spoilers, and he doesn't even like those movies anyway. Getting tickets to the movie requires some detailed instructions, but then it ended up being unnecessary. Sometimes, it's just easier to do stuff yourself. Avoiding spoilers is difficult, because, as stipulated, pretty much everything is a spoiler. _Watchmen_ is lightly discussed. John's level of commitment to media he doesn't actually like is remarkable and weirdly admirable. And, finally, John has questions about Merlin's bizarre obsession with the House of Commons' Brexit proceedings. To be clear, John is not _telling_ the joke, he's _communicating_ the joke. (_Recorded on Tuesday, October 22, 2019._)
Oct 31, 2019
115: Rational Twilight
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John has some questions about productivity, and Merlin has realized the new dragon is an attractive nuisance. Merlin has questions about his costly new chair, and John offers some further arm removal encouragement. John's flying monkeys chime in, and Merlin gets a reference in one. Merlin's family watches some _Star Trek_, and technical drawings are considered. John gives Merlin some stick about his _entirely proper_ USPS formatting. Next, John has follow-up on using the Apple TV TV TV app, and Merlin is very impressed with his results. Believe it or not, this leads to discussion of problems with using the Apple TV. How do you click left on a diving board? John agrees to skip talking about the new dragon for now, but, somehow, still manages to work in some side dagger. The PG&E power debacle is discussed. Merlin assures John that his spreadsheets are safe. Your hosts return to their Secret Weird Things People Do project. You'll have to just listen and judge for yourself: are John and Merlin secretly weird? (_Recorded on Tuesday, October 8, 2019._)
Oct 16, 2019
114: Confronted with a Jar
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Thanks to everyone who pitched in to raise money for St. Jude! Your hosts talk about playing Apple Arcade games with a PS4 controller, and Merlin wants to hear John's take on the new Apple TV app functionality. John doesn't want anything to screw up his place, and Merlin never wants to watch something with the Starz app. Believe it or not, this leads to some criticisms of Apple TV. John thinks he might be getting sick, and Merlin remembers when children were pumped full of cold medicine. John considers mixing up some placebos. In a mini-topic, your hosts discuss Merlin's chair results. John again makes the case for removing the arms. Games are discussed a little more. In a side-door main topic, middle school is discussed, and this leads to an exploration of the value of test prep and learning how to understand and exploit systems. Not everybody learns that. John thinks everyone needs to learn how to find food, and Merlin finally appreciates the gentle wisdom of his high school Drama teacher.
Oct 03, 2019
113: Ambient Pleasure Generator
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Things kick into gear fast as John interrogates Merlin about his weird reaction to the recent Apple event. Why all the Charlie Brown? John has calibrated his expectations for these things, but Merlin still struggles to articulate what felt so off this time. Maybe it's just not understanding the profile for the Apple customer any more, but who knows? Then, your hosts return to **Secret Weird Things People Do**, and this week it's John's turn. Merlin wants to learn about the benefits that John gets from keeping his things nice. John's introduces a _fascinating_ new thought technology involving the swirly circles emanating radiation from sources of pleasure and pain. Merlin thinks minimizing entropy can be a great source of pleasure plus a bulwark against madness. The benefits of the Tiny Life Improvement Project are extolled, and ways of detecting sources of both radiation and weirdness are examined. (_Recorded on Tuesday, September 10, 2019._)
Sep 19, 2019
112: Here Comes the But
6297
After some opening remarks, your hosts reveal the _very_ special guest for their forthcoming [member](https://www.relay.fm/membership) episode. They also invite you to please help Relay with a really cool project to benefit [an excellent cause](http://stjude.org/recdiffs). Merlin has some follow-up on his Apple TV, and John wants to understand why Merlin overpays his bills. Talk turns to the evolution of ecommerce. John assures Merlin he's still a valuable part of the team. John critiques how well or poorly Merlin helped Roderick fix his computer. Talk turns to the care and feeding of a Synology NAS running Plex. Merlin gets John to talk a little about Phoebe Waller-Bridge and her TV show, _Fleabag_. This leads to a brief, spoiler-free discussion of this terrific series. Two enthusiastic thumbs-up. This week's main topic is the backdoor pilot for a multi-episode arc: **secret weird things people do**. _Are we even able to even realize when there's something extremely weird that only we do?_ The inaugural sub-topic is Merlin's strange obsession with making spreadsheets. What is he tracking and why? Does he really need to know the historical price of asthma medicine he doesn't even use any more? Are Halloween costumes and flashlights the sort of thing a normal person would ever need or want to track? And, importantly, what sorts of things will John be trying to notice about himself? Does he have anything like separate sock drawers, and how even would he know? Tune in next time to find out! (_Recorded on Tuesday, August 27, 2019._)
Sep 05, 2019
111: Brackets Around the Brackets
5822
John wants to take another shot at promoting Relay dot fm, and Merlin admits a shame. In follow-up, John has an update on _Millennium Actress_. As you know, Satoshi Kon is not the bitcoin guy. Listener response about cast iron skillets was huge. Merlin has updates on his Apple TV, and John has trouble understanding Merlin's beta obsession. Unsurprisingly, this leads to yet another discussion of the Apple TV's ample room for improvement. Children are not qualified to know which things are good or bad. In what amounts to a main topic, John interrogates Merlin about his weekly reminder errand. John assures Merlin that he does not ever need this reminder, and Merlin assures John he has his reasons why he does things. Merlin does not like creating unnecessary work for himself, and John has thoughts about the implicit encouragement to overextend oneself. How are you training your audience? John knows how this book turns out. (_Recorded on Tuesday, August 13, 2019._)
Aug 21, 2019
110: Five Dollars in a Bar of Soap
6527
This week kicks off with a critique of Merlin's new haircut and eyeglasses. Also, Happy Birthday to Relay dot fm. John's recommendation of a movie viewing option is very quickly withdrawn, but then he has an even better recommendation. Next up, your hosts talk about John's experience with opening his Twitter DMs. This leads to a discussion of PR spam and the people who make it. What are the benefits and risks of making yourself more available? It's important to know what not to needle people about. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop! Merlin reads some listener mail, and John briefly disappears down a series of recursive memory holes. Talk turns to chairs. Late chairs, lost chairs, and extremely coincidental chairs. _Chairs!_ Finally, since John has recently returned from his Summer trip, it's time to review his vacation results. (_Recorded on Friday, August 2, 2019._)
Aug 08, 2019
109: My Self-Hypnosis Period
5843
This week kicks off with John quizzing Merlin about his **vacation results**. After the usual quibbling about terminology, Merlin confesses to being terrible at travel. John thinks vacations don't have to be fun for everybody all the time, but Merlin feels like he was definitely a drag. Can't we just have a plan? If you want ice cream, just put it on the dang calendar. Travel anxiety is discussed. Next up comes an extended meditation on **kitchen things**. Merlin cleans his pan with chain mail, and John's cheese grater finally died. Knives should not be sharp in the wrong places. In what becomes an unintentional **lightning round**, the guys cover internet consumer products, a podcast recommendation, Atari arcade games, more mispronunciation virality, jokes people miss, the Baader–Meinhof Effect, and the pointlessness of asking your family not to talk to you. Merlin tests his wife's mental TiVo-ing skills.
Jul 25, 2019
108: Next Week is Now
5932
Merlin is not mentally-prepared, but John reminds him that preparedness is an illusion. Or is it? The boys try to remember quotes from _The Godfather_. Sally is a cool name. Your hosts discuss what happens when your friends have different taste in movies, and then you have to listen to them talk about it on a podcast. I mean, who doesn't like _Hot Fuzz_? John and Merlin recall the probematic films of their youth and enumerate several that their kids are specifically not encouraged to watch. John lets his son choose the movie by genre only, and Merlin worries about robbing his kid of a precious film gift. Merlin has thoughts on the humanity of Vines, and John doesn't enjoy Merlin's favorite Vine, although, Merlin really likes John's frog video. Why are the Daddies popping all those cherries, and what's the name of that Ewok guy anyway? In follow-up, Merlin has some excellent ancillary material on _Hamilton_, but John just won't let him have this one. Isolated track videos are discussed. Your hosts struggle through various aspects of Boston indie rock history. This week’s main topic is the controversial debate over running Apple betas. Who should and shouldn’t be running them? What are the risks and benefits? And what happens if all your iCloud data gets borked, smart guy? Things get a little silly, and the guys start doing voices. John has a challenge for Max. In Super Tech Support, John helps Merlin diagnose a weird iOS audio problem. John struggles with his Console, and Merlin does one last voice. (_Recorded on Tuesday, June 25, 2019._)
Jul 10, 2019
107: Aren't We a Pair?
6722
This week kicks off with John iteerogating Merlin's authentic Italiano recipe for baked ziti. Merlin says it's a hit with his family, but John has a _lot_ of problems with the ingredients. Not least the yogurt. John has a much simpler approach, but Merlin is anxious about stirring the sauce. Sometimes, recipes come with very long anecdotes, and we should be woke about that. Tall poppies think they're better than you, and sometimes, it can be hard to frame the things you choose to make with the world. Merlin's ideas for podcasts are considered and rejected for practical reasons. Next up, John wants to hear about Merlin and his family finally getting to see _Hamilton_. You really get an idea in your head about how something should sound, and then you get all mad when somebody doesn't do the thing. Alex did get better, but his Mother definitely went quick. Also, Éponine loves him—but only on her own. Finally, the boys settle in for a Spoiler Slot on the HBO miniseries, _Chernobyl_. Spoiler horn fires off at `1:02:14`.
Jun 27, 2019
106: Tales from the Elder Days
5633
This week kicks off with Merlin doing John's bit. Merlin has a new ATP shirt but hasn't earned it yet. Your hosts disagree on which of them has the worse taste and sense of humor. Merlin gender-swaps his face and sends it to John, and this leads to a discussion of hairs. John has some information on genes and earwax. The history of product packaging is discussed. Merlin shares some things he made for a different podcast, and John preemptively declares that he failed at the challenge. Merlin still doesn't understand what's allowed in show notes, and John isn't nearly finished demonstrating that this wasn't the actual challenge. The guys tease some visual homework you might want to watch. In a mini-topic, Merlin complains about words he doesn't like and phrases that should probably be replaced. Maybe he should just pen a piece on their ouster. Unless John takes him to task. There's a brief fever dream on references and pronunciation. John blew the chance to do some of Merlin's bits on his other program, but John couldn't get in. John wants to revisit knife sharpening, but Merlin realizes it's a trap. John thinks the Floppers don't listen to the program, and Merlin implores Stu to please reach out. Miyazaki is quite a smoker. So, of course, smoking is discussed. Provided it makes it into the final edit, your hosts _finally_ discuss the Japanese Moving Video. Believe it or not, John has high expectations about the moving process, and Merlin unsubscribes. Do you have any idea what goes into properly packing books? _Do you?_ (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 28, 2019._)
Jun 12, 2019
105: Bastik in a Bastik
6744
John is coming in hot this week, and Merlin is kind of struggling to keep up with him. Merlin tries to compensate by making up some lyrics, and John explains canary traps. Merlin forgets things. John intērrogates the virality of podcast mispronunciations, and before long, the listener is subjected to a blinding fusillade of quips, japes, references, bits, and metacommentary that you will be forgiven for finding exhausting. John incepts Merlin, and Merlin regrets doubling-up on his 100-year words. Merlin catches John up on his cat's costly health issues, and John has a nested solution for dealing with feline proprioception issues. Then, they almost talk about the Japanese Moving Video, but they don't actually talk about it, so John says it still can't be in the show notes. Apparently, people are drinking bleach, and Merlin's mouse starts to die. For a main topic, your hosts fire off the Spoiler Horn (`47:31`) to talk about _Game of Thrones_. In particular, they consider fan reactions to the final episode (including their own), but also want to explore _why_ those reactions were so strong. Also, what is a rational response when a bit of media that you love breaks the rules that made you love it in the first place? (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 21, 2019._)
May 29, 2019
104: True Bottom
5647
This week kicks off with John confronting Merlin about his lack of a checklist and Merlin confronting John about his paltry micturition. This leads to Merlin explaining why he's a recycling whale who deliberately withholds his bounty from one particular Tusken Raider. Going to the bathroom can be a sleep-extinction event. John's kids can't print, and now it's _his_ fault. Merlin's kid still can't activate planning mode. There are generally concerns about declaring "done." Preparedness drills and contingency protocols are implemented. John worries that his children will die of exposure. Everybody's pretty much done with buying nice clothes. Suddenly, John gets all aggressive about getting to the main topic, and Merlin has a terrible time adjusting. He's supposed to be ready for anything, and now John has gotten thrown off his rhythm. This week's main topic, at last, is **Jobs We Were Terrible At**. No spoilers provided here except to say that John wanted a job related to computers, and Merlin wasn't as good as he thought at one of his favorite and canonical jobs. Lots of good talk about understanding (or misunderstanding) your own expertise, and trying to learn something useful from "failure." Finally, John utterly eviscerates Merlin's links on behalf of you, the listener. (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 7, 2019._)
May 15, 2019
103: Minimum Viable Joke
4743
This week kicks off with some follow-up on John's epic fridge journey. In addition to *many* photos of uneven refrigerator doors, John has also received several warnings about what he needs to be watching out for. John also appends his anecdote to include a related new appliance, and Merlin recommends a tactical ice option. Your hosts discuss the mysterious tween Whisper Network. Merlin thinks John might be a Buddhist. John revisits Merlin's oopsies with apparently not remembering to record podcasts. There's initially some confusion about lists, but there's clearly no confusion about Merlin's overdue need for a checklist. Merlin hopes that John can help remove his defects of character. John shares that he didn't get his money's worth from a recent podcast. In a mini-topic, your hosts talk about _Game of Thrones_ and kids. Hey, everybody likes dragons, but could you ever *really* produce a suitably kid-friendly version that makes any sense at all? An edited collection exists, but John is definitely not sold on how the edits got made. Merlin suffers a brief distraction to perform some financial tech support, and John briefly impersonates a YouTuber. Merlin needs some help finding an artifact from his youth, and John has beef with whether the artifact is actually funny. Then, that becomes a whole thing, and the guys reminisce about old newspaper cartoons. Next up is what John describes as a "quick item" about buying a couch. The struggle is real, people, and John hasn't seen anything he really likes. John has twice as many kids as Merlin, and they loosen the legs of things. Your hosts seem to agree on the widespread problem of improper furniture scale, but they do forgive the monsters their Brobdingnagian home furnishings since they live in the midwest. Which is large. Is it okay for a couch to be permanently moist? Finally, John closes by extolling the benefits of a proper headboard. (_Recorded on Tuesday, April 23, 2019._)
May 01, 2019
102: Preparing the Way
7055
Your hosts discuss John’s new refrigerator.
Apr 17, 2019
101: Duke of Bits
6597
This week kicks off with a critique of the GUI for Skype. What’s Merlin’s problem with Swing anyway? John introduces the “MPU” then mostly agrees to drive. John interrogates Merlin about a recent and notorious technical problem with one of his other programs. There is talk of check lists plus more fretfulness about the topic that cannot be discussed. Next, your hosts respond at length to a listener’s question about things they’ve given up. Status is less pursued, insight on privilege is sought, and hope for interesting side projects is, alas, abandoned. Finally, John looks for help regarding the help he was offered by an internet quiz. (_Recorded on Tuesday, March 26, 2019._)
Apr 03, 2019
100: Tungsten
6484
This week, Merlin feels a little thin, and John *still* has to re-position his windows. Every time. John has follow-up on peanut butter and a theory about the balls in Merlin's brain. In further follow-up, John has achieved success in his ticking-clock _Destiny_ project, but it doesn't mean quite as much as his achievement in _Super Monkey Ball_. In related news, a regular _Destiny_ segment is not currently planned. Merlin is very happy with the streaming quality of _Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse_, and your hosts agree it's sometimes hard to know exactly what you're getting with iTunes movies. In one of their least controversial discussions, your hosts also agree that *The Godfather Part II* is very good. John shares follow-up on his Apple ID adventure, and Merlin doesn't like when Apple payment stuff acts weird. This leads to some long-overdue exploration of the terribleness of credit cards and banks' erratic fraud detection. Why are you mad at me? Do you recognize this purchase? Daylight Saving Time and childhood bedtimes are discussed. This is not a juggling time. This week, we fire off the horn at **`1:12:16`** for a Spoiler Slot on the 2018 documentary, _Free Solo_.
Mar 21, 2019
99: Coconut Scenario
5958
Merlin thinks John is late, and John thinks Merlin needs to check his NTP server. Merlin's family is watching *The Office*, and this leads to a discussion of sitcom conceits. John assigned some secondary homework this week, so the trailer for _Yesterday_ is considered. Merlin realizes he shouldn't look at links, and John almost admits to liking a given time-travel movie. John has questions about the provenance of "karmasuck," and Merlin accidentally talks like Mario. Other purported Merlinisms plus business jargon are discussed. In one of the greatest reveals of the podcast, John reminds Merlin what "peanut butter" means. Merlin almost did his primary homework, but John agrees it had arrived really late. It's called _Free Solo_, and you should watch it for future discussion. John's palms have only ever been more sweaty when playing the video game, *Super Monkey Ball*. Then, John describes the video game, *Super Monkey Ball*. This leads to updates on John's current video game project in _Destiny_. Merlin thinks John should have a podcast about _Destiny_, while John thinks John shouldn't have a podcast about _Destiny_, and he explains why. Merlin has a possibly-apocryphal anecdote about The Beatles (assuming they existed). John has trouble finding tickets for a movie, and Merlin's wife is going to run for a very long time. John thinks Merlin should encourage his family to save themselves. Merlin needs to be rebooted, and John shares a harrowing ordeal involving Apple IDs. John says you can't locate a corpse using RFID since that's not how it works. (_Recorded on Tuesday, February 26th, 2019._)
Mar 07, 2019
98: You’re Killing Your Father
5717
This week kicks off with some weather talk but quickly pivots to the frustrating world of presentations and bad presentation culture. Why does this have to take over the whole screen, and why is that control thingee covering a bunch of the slide? Also, who just joined the call? In a mini-topic, Merlin risks John's wrath by asking a technical question: *why* does turning something off and on fix so many problems? John has answers, and anecdotes about state-confused devices are shared. Why won't children let parents share their expertise with them? Just, why? John has a mental model about how the TV remotes flow, but no one seems very interested. Unsurprisingly, this leads to the airing of household grievances. Can't we just always have the flaps face the same way? Shouldn't we just stack the forks here in the forks area? Why is Daisy leaving caltrops in the hallway? Does a child's backpack really need to extend seventeen feet? Can we please just leave some space that accommodates the snack bags? Do we really need _all_ this toothpaste? **_Good try!_**
Feb 21, 2019
97: Invisible Work
5797
This week kicks off with John reminding Merlin he needs to study up to make better jokes. Merlin thinks John just needs to buy a better long sword at the pop-up. Things move quickly into a mini-topic on the *Black Mirror* episode, "Bandersnatch." Does this unusual experiment potentially represent a new way of telling stories, and can we expect to see more uses of interactive tech on TV? John has strong opinions on the platforms that are best suited for video-game-like interaction. Meanwhile, Merlin is still anxious that he picked the wrong cereal. Controversial British comedians are hotly debated. John removes Merlin's changes to the Google Doc. *Again*. This week's sprawling main topic is "Emotional Labor." Why is it that women usually get saddled with being the Office Mom (as well as the "House Mom"), and why the heck doesn't Ralphie's dad help Randy put on his snowsuit? Who ends up ordering the birthday cake as well as justifying the ways of boss to employee? Further, how do we account for the tonnage of invisible work that, by custom more than policy, some people end up having to both identify *and* do? John thinks people don't realize how exploited they are, and Merlin cops to having bizarre personal hangups that make common power differentials infuriating. Finally, how do we get better at identifying the unfair distribution of emotional labor, and what even can we do about it? Putting up with this stuff may come down to a coastal disposition about people who flake. The lessons of _Survivor_ are invoked. (_Recorded on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019._)
Feb 07, 2019
96: Mr. Scrapie
5816
This week kicks off with a warning. Merlin has had some small reboots, and John learned about a new brain disease. John confronts Merlin on his disloyalty, and this leads to John interrogating Merlin's newfound fondness for NBA basketball. Yes: sports are discussed. Then things turn to some follow-up on Merlin's recent office cleanup, and John introduces how refuse is "aging" in his house. Merlin cops to some stacking and defends his fad diet. John's weight is within his limits, but, man, does he have beef with pants sizes, and Merlin is very sympathetic. Your hosts both want people to eventually tell them the truth. This week also features the premiere of `#AskRecDiffs`, in which _your_ questions are answered. This week's question concerns adjusting to major milestones in life. John got on-board with his re-prioritizations, but Merlin confesses to missing the lightness of his youth. John has a strategy for eventually going fishing, and Merlin continues to aggressively project-manage his life. At least there's no more dealing with roommates, amirite? (_Recorded on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019._)
Jan 23, 2019
95: Shadow Childhood
5319
This week, John is just back from his holiday trip, and Merlin thinks he's a *titan*. Merlin's daughter wants to be a monk, and the art of AD&D is discussed. John has more questions about Merlin's Britishisms. We are introduced to "Hello, Richard" and the flats of San Francisco are re-litigated. The taxonomy of the Google doc is also re-litigated. Although it won't turn into one-third of every episode, listeners are invited to ask your hosts questions via "`#AskRecDiffs`". In what becomes a mini-topic, your hosts fantasize about **Break Time**, and what one does when one has a little time to oneself. Sleeping counts. Also, where, again have all the scissors gone? Have we just stopped doing Inside Voice? A listener thinks there's too much talk about TV, but it is stipulated that TV is part of our lives. In further follow-up, your hosts talk more about _Survivor_. John says Merlin is still watching it wrong, and John finished Season 37. He has thoughts. _Survivor_ rules, tactics, and editing are considered. Then, there's more **Project Talk**. Merlin introduces the idea of "The Message Gift," and John wonders if Merlin's new desk has memory. Amazon should let you say when a box is from Santa. So much cardboard. And, now the IKEA child's kitchen is in danger of being disappeared. John is just slightly rearranging things, and Merlin's door still wants to kill him. (_Recorded on Tuesday, January 1st, 2019._)
Jan 10, 2019
94: Hiding the Machete
6517
Things kick off with some discussion of the recent _Do By Friday_ Holiday Party, then John takes the axe to Merlin's latest experiment with the show doc. In follow-up, John catches us up on how his jammed thumb is mending, and your hosts talk about TV fixes and calibration. John reminds Merlin what they've already talked about. The list of Big Topics is briefly scanned. In further follow-up, Merlin asks about locating hard-to-find Mac files, and John wishes Merlin had asked him about what he was actually trying to accomplish. Early OS X is discussed, and Merlin reminds John how much he liked _Hypercritical_. Merlin encourages John not to Google something. This week's main topic is the long-running ABC reality show, _Survivor_. Perhaps you've heard of it. But, with Merlin (finally) watching it for the first time in earnest, this provides John the opportunity to talk about why he's watched it since season 1, why he likes it so much, and what it is that makes the show special. Merlin repeatedly says "Season 24" when he meant to say "Season 20," and John expresses admiration for how the show cannily evolves for the better. (_Recorded on Tuesday, December 18th, 2018._)
Dec 26, 2018
93: Forty Gronks
6522
This week kicks off with a dive into the sad world of middle-aged injuries and afflictions. John missed a step, and Merlin experiences a grave sweatpant malfunction. Does it always take this long to heal, and why do people keep putting things in other people’s areas? John interrogates Merlin about his heartbeat, and Merlin reveals he’s conducting a personal longitudinal study. John still has concerns, and the problem of unreliable podcast statistics comes up. John tracks the nutrition stats for his fad diet in his head. Self-knowledge and mindfulness are explored. Merlin has the receipts on Mr. Davison’s butts, and pretty much everybody used to smoke. At `1:24:28`, the spoiler horn fires off for a discussion of the Amazon Prime Video series, _Homecoming_. (_Recorded on Tuesday, December 4th, 2018._)
Dec 13, 2018
92: Zoom in on the Fish Head
5818
This week’s *wraparound episode* kicks off with coverage of Merlin's new overalls and baby-bottle-nipple hat. John has some thoughts on this new sartorial turn, and Merlin has questions about John's sleep. Merlin gets an alarming message. Merlin expresses gratitude for John's introduction to a new band, and this leads to a discussion of how your hosts discover, consume, and curate music these days. Who's wearing a Beatles wig, and when does it work? Tricking kids into liking music is considered. Your hosts agree that children are the worst. Stupid babies. In follow-up, Merlin apologizes for the recent crappiness of an app he'd recommended, and John talks about the simple problem he actually needs to solve. Bad TV interfaces come up. Yes, *again*. Merlin has questions about John's fad diet, and John still loves carbs. Diets are further discussed. *Saturday is treat day*. Finally, John helps Merlin understand which places are and are not on Long Island. (_Recorded on Tuesday, November 15th, 2018._)
Nov 29, 2018
91: Truck Stop Floor Mat
5601
This week kicks off with the Mid-Term Election Extravaganza. Merlin is definitely not watching the results, and John realizes he shouldn’t have checked in at all. Listeners are assigned Spoiler Slot homework being the Amazon Prime series, _Homecoming_. Also, upon John’s recommendation, Merlin bought a very large book. Your hosts talk about the phenomenon of The Movie Before the Movie, and where it’s been best deployed. John talks about the ordering of a homework laptop. This leads to a discussion of the access to technology most schools seem to assume all their students will have. And, wow, so many channels to monitor. John knows there’s _something_ going on, and Merlin feels like Ron Weasley. Is Thursday definitely ukulele pants day? The new look of Chrome is disparaged at length. John has numerous notes and corrections regarding how Merlin is not helping John Roderick. Your hosts explore the shocking incuriosity of children and the prevalence of butt-dialing. John has a lot of questions about band names. Merlin checks in on the election. This week’s main topic concerns the Gimlet podcast, _Heavyweight_, and how we think about redoing (or undoing) the past. (_Recorded on Tuesday, November 6th, 2018._)
Nov 14, 2018
90: Cargo-Cult Thoreau
5936
This week kicks off with some *Dear Evan Hansen* talk, and Merlin admits he still hasn’t *earned* the second act. This leads John to interrogate this odd affliction of Merlin’s. Both hosts finally address how, whether, and when they commit to the full consumption of cultural products. Why does John so often stick with the whole season of a C-plus TV show, and when does Merlin know he’s ready for the second half of a given Broadway hit? This leads to a broader discussion of what gets you hooked on, especially, a TV show. Is it the world, the rules, the mood, or what? Sometimes, we just want to spend time in a world with our friends. Merlin finally asks John to explain his fondness for apocalyptic literature and media. Is it the desperation, the canny resource management, or just the lighter traffic and dearth of meetings? This goes to interesting places as your hosts recount growing up in the long shadow of imminent nuclear annihilation and terrifying epidemics. Naturally, this takes the discourse toward generalized anxieties, grave money concerns, and the neural rewiring that remains years after the animating experiences that first made us so broken. A chaste new society is pondered and provisionally named. (_Recorded on Tuesday, October 23, 2018._)
Nov 01, 2018
89: Popcorn Problems
5159
This week, Merlin has a lot going on, and John has questions about how _Do By Friday_ works behind the scenes. In turn, Merlin has some iCloud questions for John. There is discussion of photo management and the trend line for Apple’s dependability in services. John worries about losing his hearts, and Merlin gets some really terrible prints made. In-home intercom systems are recalled, and the sorry state of your hosts’ childhood electronics is explored. Updates to smart cylinders and screens are considered. John likes trying to stump his dinguses, and Merlin gets excited to regroup his speakers. Merlin thinks John should make his family listen to the radio, and John frets about his children’s (literal) attachment to their devices. In this week’s main topic, John recounts his recent experience seeing _Hamilton_ live on stage. As usual, Merlin is scared about what he’ll say. Also, as usual, Merlin ends up being That Guy as he stans for American musicals and pines for high-quality moms in _Dear Evan Hansen_, making this up as he goes. Finally, there’s a mostly spoiler-free discussion of Netflix’s _Maniac_. (_Recorded on Thursday, October 11, 2018._)
Oct 18, 2018
88: Static Contraction
7385
This week, John has a musical request for Merlin, and Merlin agrees to hop on the court. This leads to a discussion of musical fingernail trimming, and the revelation of an upsetting new callus. John has questions about Merlin’s crazy bandwidth. This leads to misty, water-colored memories of the way we downloaded. Time was, no one could get ISDN, and John makes a funny goof. John did not fix the document. In follow-up, Merlin has an update on homework at after-care, then kind of goes off about who is and is _not_ allowed to boss his family. John worries about discovering the real reason dingalings do what they do. In further follow-up, John addresses feedback from Listener Todd about Merlin’s TV settings. John suggests the only real way to calibrate your screen. Don’t worry; they make it fun. Merlin thinks Netflix’s 4k quality may have ruined him, and a nerdy TV site is endorsed. Merlin gets John invited to a Slack, and John explains _Star Wars_ razors. At `1:31:45`, Jim fires off the Spoiler Horn for a discussion of HBO’s series, _Succession_. (_Recorded on Tuesday, September 25, 2018._)
Oct 04, 2018
87: Looking for Something to Manage
6688
This week kicks off with some complaining about Google’s UI cruft. Also, why are school websites so bad? Technology old and new is discussed. John just wants to upload a photo, and Merlin learns a _lot_ about targeted individuals. John is skeptical about whether this is really a thing, but Merlin is pretty sure it is. John thinks Merlin missed an opportunity to be a guru, and Merlin has thoughts on how not to be that particular guy. In further discussion of crappy business software and practices, your hosts reminisce about Gantt charts and other bad ideas. Managers just want to know what people are doing, and sometimes that takes a surprising amount of effort. Merlin thinks hammers and nails are a problem for everybody, so…where are we with that? John and Merlin argue about the Google doc for a *pretty* long time. In further important metatalk, past and future homework is reviewed. Merlin has beef with Slate. In follow-up, John is brought up to speed on the situation with homework at aftercare. Merlin endorses _Succession_ for John, but not without (yes, more) complaining. What is the DEAL with HBO’s video quality and excruciating banding and artifacts? John notices these things too and thinks compression is an issue. Too many channels in the band! John just wants correct 24 frames-per-second. John endorses _Castle Rock_, and Merlin has an app for John to track his TV watching. In the interest of consistency, the episode ends with yet more complaining. (_Recorded on Tuesday, September 11, 2018._)
Sep 20, 2018
86: Horse’s Feed Bag Full of Food
7343
This week, Merlin is losing his mind, and John’s kids can’t _even_. Merlin praises his kid’s tech-savvy teacher, and John has questions about how well Merlin has been following his orders. Merlin admits that he literally has not. Homework is discussed, and John confesses to once starting the world’s longest book report. John recounts his career of creative abuse of Macintosh skills back in elementary and high school, and Merlin dons his notional 43 Folders hat. The topic expands to a wider exploration of Big Ideas in parenting, education, and pedagogy. Merlin has a little niggle, and John remembers when parents had a modest annual kiss budget. Then, things get _gritty_. Can models help kids? Want a Rice Krispies treat? John clarifies a previous insane reference you couldn’t possibly understand, and Merlin vents a little. At `1:26:29` the spoiler horn fires off for a discussion of HBO’s _Sharp Objects_ Season One. (_Recorded on Tuesday, August 28, 2018._)
Sep 05, 2018
85: Comedy’s Not Funny
6447
This week kicks off with John’s candid assessment of Merlin’s new facial hair experiment, and Merlin expresses sympathy for John’s own grave face challenges. Ziti is briefly discussed, and Merlin has a feature request for _ATP_. John has some questions about a podcast Merlin likes, and this leads to a discursive walk through ***what makes a podcast stick***. John doesn’t want to know how much Chapo makes each month, Merlin makes some recommendations, and your hosts struggle, as ever, with recommending pretty much anything. The Relay FM membership drive is on, and we’d love it if you’d consider [supporting it](https://www.relay.fm/membership). Ziti is discussed further. John may blog more about video games someday. Maybe. This week’s mini-topic finds John interrogating Merlin about ***camping***. Merlin doesn’t like leaving the house, and John learns about bear boxes. Merlin shoos his child away, and John reminisces about his young and moist tent days. Merlin has some tips and a lot of gear. John’s daughter’s camping was more—how does one say?—rustic. John has some follow-up regarding a good opportunity to see _Perfect Blue_ on the big screen, and the boys reminisce about the time when _Star Wars_ was scarce. Merlin remembers when Betamax tapes were costly. Finally, the horn fires off at `1:23:13` for a Spoiler Slot on _A Quiet Place_ (2018). (_Recorded on Tuesday, August 14, 2018._)
Aug 23, 2018
84: Camptivities
6522
Again with the Skype, and the show is off and running with a quick gloss on Programming, Scratch, homemade Pong, and another podcast where John adjudicates what is or is not a thing. John goes bowling, but it isn’t _proper bowling_, and Merlin doesn’t actually make it into arcades so much anymore. John explores the squalid underworld of Gambling for Children, and Merlin talks about some recent high-quality dogs he’s met. John thinks Merlin is nowhere near ready for a canine in his life, but Merlin just wants a sweet, precious, cos-playing Corgi. Merlin wonders when it’s time to talk about Elon Musk, and John draws comparisons to his favorite big-talking, emotional CEO. Merlin doesn’t like John personally, but continues to listen to his old podcast with Dan. John has some follow-up on his daughter’s time at sleepaway camp. The Sorting Hat erred, there *may* have been a spinal injury, and scurvy is a concern. *Anyways…* Children are observed via GPS, and spouses just disappear in another county. How hard is it to pick up a phone? Merlin has two pieces of business, including some pre-talk about a future Spoiler Slot. Then, there’s a brief update on the Mann family raiding Professor Siracusa’s Plex. Merlin’s daughter was reportedly last seen somewhere near The Lost Woods. This week’s main topic is a goodie: ***the things only you notice***. The things only you care about. And, sure, the things only you *don’t* notice (but probably should). John sees scratches on his Mac, Merlin wants to know who slightly moved a cable, and why in God’s name do people keep turning the scale 90°? Where does this agita come from, how do these emotions get misdirected, and why in the hell is this pizza box here? On the other hand, how even can you know what you don’t know if you don’t know what you don’t know? John makes a strong case for obliviousness. (_Recorded on Tuesday, July 24, 2018._)
Aug 09, 2018
83: A Pit of Feek
5160
This week, Merlin has managed his time poorly and John has notes about the verisimilitude of Memoji. John’s daughter is at camp and Merlin thinks the show notes are just a mess. This week’s mini-topic cover’s Merlin’s struggle with a sound bar. This leads to some TV (set) talk. John is in the market for a new one and Merlin asks for some tech advice. Plants are discussed. John brings us up to date on his recent trip to England, and Merlin talks about Cho Chang. John has some notes on Merlin’s ice cream workflow. John has many layers, and Merlin just wants to get back to his life. Merlin’s family raids John’s Plex, and Professor Siracusa has some recommendations. Zelda is discussed, and John has a thought on Link’s gender. The Mann Family Summer Movie Project is discussed. Finally, the boys weigh in on The Civility Debate. (_Recorded on Tuesday, July 17, 2018._)
Jul 26, 2018
82: Summer of Intentionalities
6326
This week starts with an inhale as Merlin fails to solve several of John's musical puzzles. Then, there's some R.E.M. talk. As you do. This week's mini-topic involves ***Merlin's Summer Projects.*** Merlin likes choosing the right word, and John doesn't really _do_ projects. This ends up leading to some deep discussion about buying a guitar and trying to get better at it. John can't understand why Merlin would paste a screenshot, and Merlin likes watching John edit the Google Doc. This week's main topic is ***Getting Big in Podcasting***. Our fellow Relay host made a video about getting on a podcast network, and this leads to a broad exploration of value, independence, friendship, and the unique power to make something you love. (_Recorded on Tuesday, June 26, 2018._)
Jul 11, 2018
81: Sixteen-Tile Puzzle
5709
This week opens with Merlin’s heavy reappraisal of *Isle of Dogs*, plus an anecdote that involves his wife slapping a remote out of his hands. John shares some strong opinions about motion smoothing and reveals the stunning secrets of Instagram. Your hosts discuss New England. John reveals a new wrinkle in his daughter’s recent dietary radicalization, while Merlin points out that John has a lot of balls in the air. It is agreed that all houses should probably come with documentation. Your hosts may have the ultimate white whine. That said, there *are* consequences. In what ends up being the accidental main topic, John and Merlin dive into the impossibilities of ***Keeping House***. Stackers and pilers are contrasted, large trucks are hastily hired, and things (still) need to leave John’s house. Fantasy house management is explored, but throwing air conditioners from the attic is, sadly, just not going to happen. (_Recorded on Tuesday, June 19, 2018._)
Jun 28, 2018
80: Death is an Easy Diagnosis
6059
This week’s *wraparound episode* begins with the annual WWDC reporting live from the show floor. Then, Merlin explains a joke and shows John an image you can’t see yet. John has trouble stopping the flow of *WIRED*, and Apple TV apps are further discussed. Merlin briefly uses his Nest camera as a voice dingus. *Very briefly*. Your hosts talk about how they handle the Wild West of two-factor authentication, and what happened with that whole Amazon tube lady dustup. John has thoughts on what it would take for these things to get smarter. Merlin accidentally freaks out his landlord with Technology. John provides an update on solo-dadding and his new domestic vegetarian, and Merlin is still up against it with the family’s disruptive snacking workflow. John has follow-up on Merlin’s other program and his recent foray into Instagram. The fretfulness of preparing kid lunches and getting hair brushed is discussed. This week’s main topic finds John interrogating Merlin about the ***germophobia threat model***. Merlin tries to distinguish his carefulness from a three-letter condition, and John reminds us why he doesn’t make lists. Also, how hard is it to just pick up the phone and make a call? It’s not that hard. (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 29, 2018._)
Jun 14, 2018
79: Goofball Island
5549
This week kicks off with a main topic: ***Kid Independence Projects***. Merlin is trying a new thing, and John admits that he’s *pan-fretful*. What kind of stuff do you undertake to encourage your kids’ independence and responsibility? What about the fires and the knives? Merlin is proud when his daughter deceives him, but John’s a little disappointed with his kid’s failure to cover her tracks. Can you even **imagine** your kid having to go to church? In follow-up, John updates us on how his beloved TV fared during the sleepover dance party. Merlin shudders to recall the unbelievable tween drama of a very large sleepover. Merlin was hoping John had forgotten he’d agreed, out of nowhere, to definitely watch _Millennium Actress_. Would you like to speculate as to whether John remembered? Merlin confesses his Broadway kick. John interrogates Merlin’s sleep and napping habits, then reveals what would happen if he had a week at home alone. Merlin shares an unexpected side-gift of the Kid Independence Project, and both hosts continue to embarrass their daughters very deeply.
May 31, 2018
78: Right Above Self-Actualization
6600
This week kicks off punctually, with some follow-up from John on Destiny 2 users getting more vault space to hold all their stuff. Why not 3000 slots? Who even knows? Merlin confesses that he’s terrible at controlling his PlayStation and extolls the magic and perplexity of *Movies Anywhere*. Siri control of Apple TV is discussed. In more official follow-up, John has updates on the systematic **_chair cleansing_** at his office. John has a rooting interest in the last rebel chair, and Merlin wonders if John’s maybe thinking about it a little too much. John also updates us on the status of ***his peckerhead***. Merlin is happy to hear John checked out _Monster Factory_ but continues to be sad that the McElroys aren’t John’s cup of comedy tea. Other homework is reviewed. Next up comes a short and mostly spoiler-free discussion of the movie, **_Isle of Dogs_**. John’s curious what Merlin thought was so kid-unfriendly about it, and Merlin obliges, albeit with important additional details. _The Fantastic Mr. Fox_ is lauded. Merlin thinks six podcasts is too much podcast, and John says that’s nothing compared to real performers. For some reason, _Les Miz_ keeps coming up, and Merlin endorses the comedy of John Mulaney. This week’s main topic is tricky to label, but let’s call the jumping-off point, ***Millenials and Quality***. Does curating the stories about one’s possessions potentially represent a subtle generational divide? Merlin has a young and cockamamie theory about why younger people obsess about coffee and backpacks, and John notes that everybody used to keep their houses way nicer. John struggles to identify the things he doesn’t know he doesn’t care about, and Merlin finds portent in his Grandmother’s biannual stripe of cleanliness. Things wrap with John’s concerns for his television in the presence of dancing, and news is shared about a family member’s bold new dietary declaration. (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 8, 2018._)
May 17, 2018
77: Prodigal Bird
6939
This week, John and Merlin come in _hot_ with an accidental main topic: ***punctuality***. Is punctuality important, and how much tardiness can we abide from our pals and business associates? Merlin wonders if _expecting_ punctuality might be a form of privilege, and John has strong feelings about the police, just in general. In follow-up, Merlin clarifies where you can listen to that Simpsons episode of _The Incomparable_, then applauds Jason Snell's editing skills and suggests ways to give other podcasts your money. John still can't get into the McElroys, and this continues to break Merlin's heart. John says Merlin continues to make fun of him wrong. John also has remarks and some follow-up on Merlin's co-host from another program. Merlin takes his sleeping pill, then John has some important updates on the return of his chimney's ***avian peckerhead***. John still lives in a drum, and Merlin thinks it's time to deploy a reconnaissance drone. John still really, really doesn't want to fall off his roof. Voice-controlled devices are further discussed, but not in a way that will prevent John from saving his best stuff for his more popular program, which used to be about cars. Merlin takes off the gloves to talk turkey about the state of the Apple ecosystem, and John wonders if our nerd complaints are complaints you'd *only* ever hear from nerds. John answers a portentous final question from Merlin. (_Recorded on Tuesday, April 24, 2018._)
May 03, 2018
76: The Dandelion of Content
7309
This week’s episode has _lots_ of really good follow-up. Follow-up on accents, Face ID, how Roderick records, and Merlin’s new internet friend. John provides much-requested follow-up on Twitter’s recently announced changes. This leads to a broader discussion of free speech and platform ownership. John and Merlin embarrass their families, fret about Disney, and talk about some excellent Simpsons lines. Combed, biscuits, chicken, yellow, mailman…very good. (_Recorded on Tuesday, April 9, 2018._)
Apr 18, 2018
75: The Most Popular Meat Grinder in Town
7740
This week, things kick into gear quickly with a mini-topic about ***Instagram***. Why isn’t Merlin on it, and why does John like it so much? John likes it as a refreshing break from word things, but Merlin still thinks there are too many hashtags and birds on wires. Merlin really misses the salad days of Flickr, but of course John derails it to yet another goof on Merlin’s pronunciation. And, then, the boys are on to accents. _‘Ello, guv’na!_ Next, your hosts wind back around to the occasional topic of ***celebrity relationships***. Merlin thinks he could be friends with a given minor celebrity, and, unsurprisingly, John balks. John and Merlin acknowledge and explore their different brands of crippling self-doubt. In something like a main topic, your hosts talk about ***Facebook***. Schadenfreude aside, Merlin struggles with why anyone is still there, while John’s not so sure some people will ever leave. Finally, your hosts ruefully wonder when they'll know it's time to walk away from the services they _do_ like. (_Recorded on Tuesday, March 20, 2018._)
Apr 04, 2018
74: Stingy on the Fives
7585
This week’s first mini-topic concerns ***John's office chair***. Honestly, why can't people just leave John's chair alone? Why always with the moving and the replacing? A chair is a very personal thing, and John likes his chair. So, what, now he has to get a bike lock or something? Merlin wonders if the form is actually hooked up to anything, and John thinks Merlin's cat looks like a towel. The second mini-topic gives Merlin the opportunity to blow off some steam about ***FaceID***. Merlin wonders if he is the only person with a problematic face, and John thinks Merlin might be razzle-dazzled. Cool AR demos are briefly considered. In an accidental mini-topic, your hosts talk about ***the importance of hot food***. Don't they know how they hurt Daddy's heart? Appropriate deployment of the InstantPot is discussed. This week's main topic concerns ***The Oscars*** and the general phenomenon of industry award shows. What makes us get into these things, and who do we pull for? Who deserves an overdue Consolation Oscar, and why were 90s movies so weirdly unenduring? Merlin thinks of _Avatar_ like The Silence, and John has strong opinions about who gets overlooked. Merlin's relieved John is not his Dad, and John proudly utilizes every part of the star range. (_Recorded on Tuesday, March 13, 2018._)
Mar 22, 2018
73: Ladyhawke Times
8000
This week kicks off with a return to an old chestnut: _Twitter_. John doesn’t want too many things to check, and Merlin finds some therapy. The distinction of the “muffle” is highlighted. This week’s mini-topic concerns the ***new Google Calendar UI***. Merlin thinks there’s just too much clicking, and John would like some better information density. The influence of old Mac habits is explored, leading to a nostalgic visit to the bygone, halcyon days of using a Macintosh. The sad and downward history of TV interactions also comes up. John wonders why intertitles make typey noises, and Merlin has no problem identifying LONDON. In an unintentional mini-topic, your hosts talk about ***kids going to camp*** and wonder about the unintended consequences, both positive and negative. Merlin thinks about everything as a project, and John has updates on Daisy, who is increasingly going rogue. For something like a main topic, things turn to ***trying to talk to kids about…stuff***. A _Predestination_-style thought experiment is considered. (_Recorded on Monday, February 26, 2018._)
Mar 08, 2018
72: The Seventh Alarm Clock
6529
This week kicks off with recalibrating some expectations and repeatedly clicking some buttons. Merlin likes dog shopping and dislikes that dumb Winston Churchill movie. In follow-up, John scores a monarchical point to listener, "`swilliams`," and Merlin likes Parliamentary questions. In an accidental nano-topic, your hosts discuss the decline of **Shame**. In further follow-up, John has some more tips on getting the lyrics right. In this week’s mini-topic, John has some pointed questions about Merlin’s quote-unquote **Caffeine Addiction**. Is Merlin a Fake Migraine Girl? John still doesn’t like coffee, and Merlin is weirdly protective about his eyeglasses. Much like the great John Hurt. This leads to a broader discussion of addiction, focusing on how smoking used to be much more of a thing. Pivoting off of Merlin’s obsession with infrastructure, John throws a very large piece of very red meat on the table: **What If Productivity, but Too Much?** In the pursuit of efficiency and professional development, how do you know when you’ve gone too far? And what are the downsides when you do? (_Recorded on Tuesday, January 30, 2018._)
Feb 22, 2018
71: Racist Uncle Baby
6719
This week kicks off with John tweaking his settings and then slides into a quick tour of some cool commands that a lot of veteran Mac users don't know about. John's not looking for thanks; he's just making a point. Merlin observes that the commands are in his fingers, not his brain. Some follow-up commences, covering scoot-scoots, _Patriot_, potential topics, and, of course, Aimee Mann. Merlin's niece joins an all-star cast dressed as a vulva. John endorses a recent _Flop House_ episode, but Merlin still doesn't understand what constitutes "spookily good-bad." Even though no one asked, Merlin explains how great Genesis used to be. In an accidental mini-topic, your hosts wonder whether _Free to Be You and Me_ is now "problematic." Can babies even be racist? Merlin has thoughts on the Overton Window and what feels special about The Moment. John has questions about pronunciation that may have troubling implications. This week's broad-ranging main topic is ***Lyrics***. John wonders how many people care about the words as much as he does, and Merlin considers what happened when Lisa met Chelsea at the knocking school. How does your experience of a tune evolve when you not only learn the _actual lyrics_ but the _actual story_? Why are so many of the songs with gay characters so moving? Merlin blows smoke up Roderick's lyrical skirt, and John finally unwinds the storied tale of his early-internet lyrics site. Which was the only correct lyrics site. (_Recorded on Tuesday, January 30, 2018._)
Feb 08, 2018
70: Where the Fish Was
6334
This week kicks off with Daisy making a run for it and pretty much everything being Merlin’s fault. Merlin gets mobbed up in a terrible app, and John considers funding a big, beautiful fence. This week’s mini-topic finds John _voir-diring_ Merlin about his weird new means of transportation. Merlin just wants us to explore our options, but John is skeptical about how it’d perform in bitter east coast climes. John wonders about all the city spikes, and Merlin endorses knife videos. After firing off the horn at `1:02:19`, your hosts dive into a Spoiler Slot on the Amazon Prime Video series, _Patriot_. (_Recorded on Monday, January 15, 2018._)
Jan 25, 2018
69: Concentric Circles of Hangers-On
6215
This week kicks off with follow-up on _The Barkley Marathons_ and the totally bananas mental and physical capacity of endurance athletes. Your hosts dive into an accidental mini-topic on ***the art of podcast titles and show notes***. Merlin tries really hard, but John knows he can always do better. The next mini-topic ends up being about who gets each of your hosts ***feeling starstruck***. Merlin meets (yet) more of John’s heroes, and John’s not loving it. John isn’t sure what he has to say to anyone anyway, and Merlin tries to make the case for wholesomeness. John still has a little problem, but he’s working on it. In this week's Spoiler Slot (starting at **`1:04:39`**), your hosts discuss ***The Last Jedi***. (_Recorded on Tuesday, January 2, 2018._)
Jan 11, 2018
68: Bellicose Phone Booth
7853
This week kicks off with some talk about a recent Holiday Party and a rumination from Merlin on why people like podcasts. Quick follow-up on kids and passwords yields to a resigned shrug about the seemingly impossible epistemology of children’s anecdotes. John worries about Merlin’s office and offers some new notes on his pronunciation. This leads to an unintentional mini-topic on ***kids’ toys***. John’s wife has found a new way to buy toys, and Merlin makes the case for the raw power of Lady Train. Quick ideas for charitable giving are shared, and the phenomenon of the Very Special Episode is discussed. Merlin wonders if people have always been so tribal, and John has a theory. John, perhaps unsurprisingly, does not trust machines to do his blocking for him. After firing off the spoiler horn at `1:27:12`, your hosts enter the Spoiler Slot to talk about a remarkable documentary called ***The Barkley Marathons***. (_Recorded on Tuesday, December 19, 2017._)
Dec 28, 2017
67: Everything That’s Good About Garlic
6808
This week kicks off with some discussion of humidity, noisy clothing, an attempted delivery, and that whole ongoing “are flats a thing?” debate. Under protest, Merlin is persuaded by John to discuss a recent acquisition of new technology. Merlin thinks security is a little like a mall, and John gauges success by a relative dearth of complaints. The pronunciation of “aunt” is discussed. In a mini-topic, John has some things to say about ***garlic***. Merlin’s convenience cubes are explored, while John shares several ways to leverage and deploy this pungent treat. The complex relationship between children and garlic is appraised. This week’s main topic goes into ***kids and security***. Or, more specifically, what kids learn (or don’t) about password hygiene and the broader landscape of basic InfoSec. Merlin is at the end of his rope, while John declares that no system is good. Are schools missing an opportunity to model better behavior when it comes to using devices? How even could you teach kids _why_ they can’t use the cat’s name as a password? Will they end up just reverting to the mean, such as it is? Things wrap with some spoiler-free TV talk. Both of your hosts enjoy that cowboy show with the lady from _Downtown Abbey_. (_Recorded on Tuesday, December 5, 2017._)
Dec 14, 2017
66: Inherent Injustice
8697
This week kicks off with the traditional monthly discussion of Skype. Even as John disallows another word from the program, Merlin tries to explain the intricate interplay between all the great shows. Your hosts agree there are too many services they pay for and that credit cards are annoying. In a lively mini-topic, John brings up **teaching kids to cook**. How do you prepare your progeny for eventually feeding themselves? Merlin feels like he missed a window, and John couldn’t opt out of _Home Ec_. Merlin finds kids un-persuadable, and John shares his household edict on dealing with the perception of childhood injustice. Sometimes, you gotta know when to adjust the shower curtain. For this week’s main topic (and Spoiler Slot), we find **Merlin playing _The Last of Us_**. This one’s too good to spoil, but, suffice it to say, John declares it’s a very hard game, while Merlin still hasn’t even learned how to use a ladder. (Caution: the spoiler horn for _The Last of Us_ fires off at `1:18:45`) (_Recorded on Tuesday, November 21, 2017._)
Nov 30, 2017
65: The Mustard of My Father
7315
This week kicks off with Merlin having a rare on-air beverage to celebrate, but not too many, unless he feels like it. John helps Merlin remember some things that he couldn't remember he’d forgotten. Luckily, we record this program. John thinks the water fountain story has been robbed of its power, and Merlin learns that cornhole is real. John tackles the first of several unfounded points about himself, but Merlin still thinks John is arbitrary. Britishisms are debated. This leads to a nostalgic visit to The Early Internet and a recollection of how each of your hosts chose to roll with signatures and sign-offs and whatnot. John employs a little dash, and Merlin apologizes for trying to digitally impress a celebrity. He is _the worst_. The stern admonishments continue as John lashes Merlin for not making Max buy a new phone differently. John prefers to stay in his bathrobe since they usually come in the morning. Excitingly, new iPhones are discussed. Merlin lashes himself for accidentally stepping on John’s Full Media Blackout. In his defense, he was cooking tofu a new way at the time. John reminds us that he can erase memories from his mind. _Thor: Ragnarok_ is lightly discussed. Merlin’s sweet precious angel made another doodle in her bastik and seems to be warming up to her little kennel. Unsurprisingly, John has notes. The first mini-topic is ***hot dogs***. Yes. Hot dogs. So, for a while, your hosts talk about hot dogs kind of a lot. Remember: you are paying NOTHING for this content. Your hosts tread lightly through the minefield of ***primary school culture celebrations***. Merlin has a terrible time coming up with memorable ancestral garb, and John has concerns about how well the factual roots of a given family tree will play with ten-year-olds. Merlin flatly refuses to apologize about macaroni and cheese. Hot dogs are further discussed. In what ends up being a main topic, John wants to address why Merlin is so ***steamed about Steam***. The balance of the episode finds your hosts arguing about passwords, security, paranoia, and what we should do when confronted with two text fields and a button.
Nov 15, 2017
64: All Fight
7339
This week, John drives, and Merlin leads from behind. Your hosts are pretty sure they remember talking about having trouble remembering whether they’ve talked about memory before, but no way does that stop them from taking their deepest dive yet into the many troubles with human memory. Or, at least it’s the deepest dive that they can remember taking. _For now_. Anyway. This leads to an exploration of cognitive tricks and the potentially narrow line between **science and balderdash**. How even will we solve this rebus? Should it have been a nice top hat instead? And, how do we feel about medical(-ish) health panaceæ that _may_ work but no one really knows why? Merlin has a long history of cockamamie, and John fervently hopes that he only ever develops problems Real Science understands. The contemporary bugaboo of **gluten and its ilk** are discussed and argued by both anecdote and analogy. Elaine looks like she put on five, ten pounds. Then arrive many mini-topics. There’s some follow-up and further clarification on **Merlin’s Fancy New TV** which leads to some YouTube talk and consideration of how these youths today consume media. Next up, the boys talk about **misheard lyrics** and score the results of a recent private argument about same. John really prefers the slam dunk when he can get it. Merlin can't even remember which songs he couldn't remember the lyrics to. (Again with the memory.) Confessions about other embarrasing things they never knew are revealed. Merlin thinks he's a little too left-brained, and John's not having this terrible mnemonic. Beloved **nineties comedy programs** are recalled with fondness. This pivots to some talk about, of all things, **podcasts**, and Merlin gets a little wispy talking about a program he really misses doing. John reveals that he has finally capitulated and listened to Merlin's actual favorite podcast. No spoilers, but you will learn what happened when John got up on this sauce doctor's blessing with his *dog tongue*. John dissects The Original Peaches' recent guest appearance by Mr. Jordan. Merlin reiterates how much he hates comedy podcasts. Things wrap with John's concerns about **Roderick's tech world**. Merlin tries to defend himself, but John's concerns about Roderick seem to just expand. Fight fight fight. Bite bite bite. It's *The Reconcilable Differences Show*. (_Recorded on Tuesday, October 24, 2017._)
Nov 02, 2017
63: Five Stars for Jeremy
6899
This week kicks off with Merlin’s Bon Jovi snobbery and John’s concerns about Bono. The excellent _Vietnam War_ series is discussed and mutually endorsed. With the overdue return of Ordinary Time, your hosts cover some exciting Nest IQ Cam follow-up and debate face recognition in the macOS Photos app. There’s some worrisome follow-up on those iOS password pop-ups and how they could potentially be exploited by ne’er-do-wells. Merlin gives Jeremy five stars, which (eventually) segues into this week’s main topic, ***Automated Systems***. Specifically, the ones that Merlin thinks create way more work than they save. John says it’s just shotgun spray and probably not a big deal. Merlin’s not having it and still feels scared to check into a hotel. What algorithm makes the system freak out? Your hosts crave an interaction model even CGP Grey could love. This week’s B story is ***Merlin’s New TV***. After initially telling John the wrong model (oops), your hosts dive into this new world of 4K and Ultra HD. Cables are rerouted, adapters are installed, and gyroscopes are slowly mastered. John is still holding out, and, oy vey, all these wires and bars! The whites are **so** white! (_Recorded on Tuesday, October 10, 2017._)
Oct 18, 2017
62: The Old Lady and the Duck
5661
This week kicks off with a meander through Skype avatars, back-to-school night, and personal metadata quirks. Merlin feels bad about getting a new TV, and John assures him it probably won’t be terrible. On separate occasions, John and Merlin both demonstrate a lot of restraint. Merlin apparently doesn’t know how to (not) turn off his PlayStation, so John walks him through it. Paul’s in the basement, Sahm’s on the roof, and Merlin doesn’t even know how to make fun of John to his satisfaction. Typical. Your hosts accidentally discuss tech, John provides a sitrep on his mouse offensive, and Merlin admits grudging admiration for his sugar ants. John’s dog has a regression, and Merlin’s cat costs him _another_ grand. The main topic this week is ***Twitter***. Your hosts discuss their following decisions, their bespoke mute and block strategies, and some of the Sisyphean methods for trying to stay out of a canoe. Merlin feels bad about lots of things, but John ain’t no follow-back girl. Merlin says handle does not equal-equal person, and John thinks celebrities don’t actually read their timelines. Merlin responds to the Republican candidate’s texts, and nobody texts John hardly at all. Who’s Holden Caulfield _now_? Things wrap with the airing of grievances about children and their terrible habits. John’s son has excellent hair. (_Recorded on Tuesday, September 19, 2017._)
Oct 05, 2017
61: Rat King of Glue Traps
5496
This week kicks off with dives into religious time, talking like a wizard, kid manners, and the times your hosts did and mostly did not get recognized. *Google me!* John gets hung up on Merlin’s avatar choices, and both hosts get Happy-Go-Jackie on the junkiness of Apple’s Mac apps. John’s kid made a comic, and Merlin has some diminished expectations for his Cat Lady and her van. Then, there’s an improbable amount of _Seinfeld_ discussion. Main topic this week is **Household Pests**. The gloves are off as extreme measures are employed to deal with John’s mouse invaders. So much for that vegetarian snake and all the sickening fraud and malfeasance of the Big Extermination industry. It’s not pretty, and it won’t be popular, but nobody loves seeing a mouse in the house. Brace yourself for extensive mouse lore and the eldritch contents of John’s tentpole. (_Recorded on Tuesday, September 5, 2017._)
Sep 21, 2017
60: Anything Can Be a Smoothie
5173
This week kicks off with some Daisy updates and surprisingly deep dives into online banana quizzes and proper application of The Bristol Scale. Merlin hates having a freezer full of fruit, and John has frankly had it with all the Britishisms. Merlin kindly offers to buy John a new dingus, and John demurs with extreme prejudice. Moving onto John’s doggy spy camera, your hosts find much to dislike about many IoT devices. John reviews Merlin’s recent Amazon review and schools him on how to avoid creaming his audio the next time his Mac wants to die. Why do kids just talk into the air, and since when did blindly issuing commands to Dad become such a thing? I’m ***in the BATHROOM.*** Lacking time for a Big Topic, the boys talk more about webcam stress, smoke detector travails, and what a monstrous parent one would have to be to let their kid know about _The Flop House_. Aloha.
Sep 07, 2017
59: Herbal Bourbons
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This week kicks off with some travel woes, news stress, and how Merlin is laboring to save “Planty.” John learns his concerns about Merlin’s multitasking afternoon bath habits were well-founded. The beauty of non-obvious movie effects and CGI are lauded. This week’s main topic is ***Mid-Life Crisis***. What even is it? How do you know if you’re having one, and how many will there be? How come there’s so few movies about women going through this? John dings Merlin for yucking on Red Corvette Guy’s yum. There’s some spirited discussion of power ballads and soaring hard rock opera. 'Cause nothin' lasts forever—even cold November rain. At about `1:44:49`, your hosts retire to the Spoiler Slot for (yes, *finally*) a look back at _The Leftovers_ Season 3. They remember some of what happened and even some of the order in which it happened. What was so exhilarating and so frustrating and so ultimately satisfying about this very weird show? Stick around after the end for some insight into how even John’s estimable Terminal skills couldn’t save the first hour of Merlin’s audio. So it goes. (_Recorded on Tuesday, August 15, 2017._)
Aug 24, 2017
58: Elective Plumbing
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This _double wraparound_ episode kicks off with updates on John’s ongoing struggle with Daisy’s potty habits. Merlin tries to help, but John suffers neither his analogy nor his blatant Male Answer Syndrome. Merlin still thinks John may be a doggie racist. Further, few differences are reconciled in debating which are the best MCU movies. Merlin’s daughter goes to theme camps, and John pushes back on assuming how much stuff in movies is intentional. Conspiracy theories around _The Shining_ are discussed. Gold? Mirrors? Goofy? Are you _getting_ this? After teasing a long-overdue Spoiler Slot (that never ends up actually happening), your hosts wonder whether every working actor in the U.K. will eventually be on _Doctor Who_. This week’s main topic concerns ***Liking Things to Be a Certain Way***. Coats, backpacks, FUNtainers™, and doll shoes all have their place, so why is it so hard to keep them there? Preferences for Mac configuration are explored at length, and no, you can’t see their desktops. John says he needs more bulwarks, and Merlin doesn’t disagree. Your hosts wrap by considering how individual perceptions and personal hang-ups divide family and other stakeholders. (_Recorded on Thursday, July 19, 2017._)
Aug 14, 2017
57: Losing my Stormtrooper
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This week kicks off with Merlin walking John through his exciting new nap workflow. John has significant safety concerns. In dog news, it seems Daisy has discovered toilet paper. This week’s accidental main topic finds your hosts ending up talking _a lot_ about ***80s Music***. Why are all the lyrics sites wrong? U2 vs. R.E.M.? How even would you make a radio mixtape? Is it really just a matter of trust? The more on-purpose main topic is ***Taking Care of Things***. How did John get so careful with his stuff, and what exactly *would* happen if water dribbled on Merlin’s signed _FF_ #1 with baby variant cover? Should spilt milk make anyone cry, and why is there rice **everywhere**? The TV has a three-foot perimeter, but the plastic runner has been taken up for one day, because Jesus. (_Recorded on Thursday, July 11, 2017._)
Jul 27, 2017
56: Living Inside an Apology with Pie
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This week kicks off with thoughts on breaking-in new stuff, a tutorial on washing blue jeans, and, regrettably, the official retirement of Barrel Week. Eighties comedies are _problematic_, Richard Dawson had a pretty sweet mic, and our calendars are still **such** a mess. John’s got beef with deliberately-distressed stuff, Merlin commits to a new lifestyle, and John helps you find photos of his dog. John also provides encouraging updates in Dog Follow-Up. Merlin wonders why all schools smell like boy pee. This week’s main topic is all about ***Full Media Blackout***. Todd is heavily credited with originating the term, which describes the ultimate no-spoiler, zero-information lockdown to which one may wish to commit in the run-up to the release of new media. What even is FMB, why would you do it, and how do you choose which stuff gets the total treatment? Just as important, how far will _you_ go to stay unspoiled? Things wrap with a quick cut at ***Things That Need to Leave the House***. You know that sideboard, those baby shoes, and all the rock ‘n roll t-shirts? Gone. Out. Done-zo. You must reverse the flow diagram! (_Recorded on Thursday, July 6, 2017._)
Jul 13, 2017
55: Dog-Shaped Dog
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This week kicks off with some discussion of Yakov Smirnoff’s beard, why Merlin wants to buy a drill, and how John feels a little vindicated about his read of _Fight Club_. In follow-up, John catches us up on how things went after his wife listened to the house duties episode. Merlin just wants to be loved, and John just isn’t sold on the benefits of being a _no-shoe household_. This week’s mini-topic concerns John’s fraught relationship with a noisy summer appliance. You just need to get something meaty in there. The main topic focuses on a new addition to House Siracusa. No spoilers, but it’s a pee-poop-nipping machine and a sweet precious angel. John admits to an awkward expression of casual doggie racism, and Merlin apparently measures difficulty with barre chords. (_Recorded on Tuesday, June 20, 2017._)
Jun 29, 2017
54: Literally the Least I Could Do
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In this wraparound episode, your hosts kick off with follow-up on _Arrival_ (no spoilers) and why John gets sad when people don’t listen to the program. Merlin has questions about YouTube influences and quickly forgets John is on The Incomparable. Do dogs like NPR, and how would we even know? Can you please turn the TV off, _please_? George is getting angry! John’s bird seems to be moving further away, and no wrist rockets have been acquired. A strict edict on choosing an internet handle is mutually ratified, and John addresses WWDC as-a-thing. (You should have called in during the PIXAR episode.) The main topic this week is ***Housework and House Duties***, which John quickly persuades Merlin is, indeed, a trap. One-hundred percent fraught. What do you do around the house, what are you good at, and what do you like or dislike? John wants a pie graph and then receives one in real time. John’s kid transport duties thread a needle, Merlin is awesome at drawing a bath, and both hosts obsess over the heat and timeliness of their meals. John laments water management, Merlin enjoys wearing headphones, and John sleepily struggles with the morning sandwich detail. Anyway. Please remember to like and subscribe. (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 29, 2017._)
Jun 15, 2017
53: Birds All Day Long
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This week kicks off with some follow-up on John’s bird-enemy and why a person would ever eat popcorn with a spoon. A (spoiler-free) check-in with _The Leftovers_ Season 3 leads to a further discussion of trailers, recaps, and…spoilers. Your hosts address their approaches to “His ‘n Hers” media consumption, and the joys of watching closely. The main topic this week is ***PIXAR***. Specifically, your hosts react to a recent article on whether Disney has “ruined” PIXAR, then proceed with candid opinions on whether or how House Mouse might influence House Luxo. (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 23, 2017_)
Jun 01, 2017
52: This Bird Can’t Get Laid
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Follow-up kicks off with Merlin’s iMac repair and why it’s fun to buy things with your phone. Strategies for tricking kids into watching media are explored, and John talks about why he’s still a TiVo man. _Engadget_ hangs John’s Mac. Merlin bemoans point-of-sale systems, and John provides important corrections from his wife on that weird metal Visa card he got. Merlin updates us on some unusual tech support for January’s #grassfed bag of blood incident, John struggles with getting logged-in, and then the blood bag gets a surprising Turns Out twist. In this week’s accidental main topic, John addresses **his new bird-enemy** and the Wile E. Coyotean lengths to which his desperation with living in a drum may drive him. Things wrap up with John’s fond memories of _This Old House_, alongside his variety of interactions with the program’s TV-famous craftspeople. (_Recorded on Tuesday, May 9, 2017._)
May 18, 2017
51: Pull Here, Dummy
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This week, John and Merlin fret about their kids’ health and inherited emotional baggage. Merlin fails at becoming Sisyphus, while John is pessimistic about keeping anything in pairs. John shares his recent experience at a concert by his celebrity crushes, Aimee Mann and Jonathan Coulton. Jonathan gets dressy, and Aimee receives an important message from the Ancient Bird. Finally, talk turns to travel, with both of your hosts having recently returned from time away from home. John shares tales from his first extracontinental journey, including miles of walking, weird money, and a dramatic run-in with airport adhesives. (_Recorded Tuesday, April 25, 2017_)
May 03, 2017
50: Barrel Week
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This week, Merlin helps a friend and John disallows an awkward neologism. John wonders who refills the store-smell machine. John surprises Merlin by (finally) watching the film, _Les Misérables_, and shares his impressions. What works, what doesn’t, and why does the sewer need to be so sewery? In a surprisingly robust main topic, John recalls his youth spent playing handball and many other New York street games that Merlin had assumed were just made up. Dodgeball is debated, Merlin shares his very very sad homemade games, and John reluctantly learns about stolen valor and the people who pretend to be cops. Less surprisingly, there’s some important Follow-Up on…Follow-Up. John revisits the provenance of his invention and its legacy, and reveals a double-turns-out about the role Merlin’s bit may unintentionally play in ensuring its proper credit. Merlin just wishes everyone could be happy with how everybody already likes them, but John makes sure Merlin’s week in the barrel includes some candid feedback from listeners. Finding themselves suddenly short on time, your hosts talk about Merlin’s recent acquisition of a MacBook Adorable and why it can sometimes be so danged hard to recommend Apple products. John looks at the background of photos, star-effs with a showrunner, and explains why he documented his withdrawal of a very nice gift to The Original Peaches. (_Recorded on Tuesday, April 11, 2017._)
Apr 19, 2017
49: Celebrity Outreach Program
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This week kicks off with John analyzing Merlin’s various mouth noises, self-styled music cues, and personal sound effects. Both hosts get songs stuck in their heads. John lays a trap for Merlin, and Merlin shares an important new dream with the Ancient Bird. At length, your hosts get a little meta, with follow-up on things Merlin still hasn’t watched. Many mini topics are considered, discussed, and/or discarded, but what John wants—what’s most important to him—is that Merlin just pick one damned topic already. This week’s main topic is ***Follow-Up***. John has strong feelings about properly crediting the provenance of this segment, and, honestly, he really asks for so little in life. This leads to a discussion of how one’s ideas often develop a life of their own. Credit is also reassigned for things your hosts didn’t _actually_ invent. General-purpose strategies for the proper deployment of bits is discussed. Things wrap up with a meditation on Aimee Mann, the layers of performance, plus an important adjustment to Merlin’s ongoing directive for eventually introducing John to famous people. _Recorded on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Many thanks to Jim Metzendorf for editing this episode!_
Apr 05, 2017
48: Slim Pickings in the Terrarium
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This week kicks off with John talking about the new Zelda game alongside thoughts on what it takes to keep a franchise great. In follow-up, John addresses online angst and agita about the recent discussion of _Arrival_. Next up, Merlin gets his time in the barrel as John disabuses him of his self-styled situation as "the dumb one." Merlin tries gamely to change the subject to how status works in improv, but finds his knife further sharpened in the bargain. Your hosts reluctantly accept that their college friends may no longer be 19. At 1:17:17, we turn to the Spoiler Slot, featuring that long-teased discussion of the whackadoo Netflix series, _The OA_ (as well as passing references to _Sound of My Voice_). Then (**then!**), at 2:11:15, we have an unprecedented _second_ Spoiler Slot for follow-up forensic analysis of _Arrival_. (_Episode recorded Tuesday, March 14, 2017_)
Mar 23, 2017
47: Now I Dream in French
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Merlin admits to almost watching something on TV and encourages John to talk him out of buying a new laptop. John has concerns about dander diamonds, and Merlin briefs John on the mechanics of modern version control. This week’s first topic is **self-driving cars** and how soon they’re likely to be ready, as they say, for prime time. John cannily revisits his Parameters of the World and, no, he doesn’t need your damned telemetry. Later, you'll find The Spoiler Slot filled with a spoiler-heavy discussion of the 2016 movie, ***Arrival***. If you haven’t seen the film yet, be sure to bail out before the spoiler horn is deployed at (1:13:13). [Watch it. It’s good.] Merlin pulls a pretty dramatic turnaround but still has some beefs, while John has very strong opinions about whether one character might be a monster. Merlin has no difficulty choosing the saddest line in the movie. (_Recorded on Tuesday, February 28, 2017_)
Mar 07, 2017
46: Some Form of Ballast
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This week, things open with a shockingly thorough discussion of chickens that somehow pivots to Costco caskets, TV buying decisions, Merlin's increasingly strange pronunciations, and John’s reluctant agreement to become a cron job. Follow-up covers John finding those charts about global living conditions and Merlin finally figuring out how to remember the name of that one song. There's a fair amount of memory talk, including more explorations of John's perpetual memory doubts and mistrust, plus, Merlin introduces another one of his “runx” files. Main topic this week is ***Valentine’s Day***. Why Merlin hates it, and why John thinks it has its purposes. Why is tonight’s Holy Day of Obligation different from all others, and why exactly did John have a mat? (_Recorded on Tuesday, February 14, 2017_)
Feb 23, 2017
45: The Blood is Normal, Right?
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This week starts off ignominiously, with John and Merlin both not remembering several things. Merlin proposes *The File Card Effect*, and John knows not to be too smart when searching Google. John celebrates the proper use of Title Case, while Merlin frets over wearing his memories down to a nub. Mini-topic this week is Merlin’s latest fraught and stressful experience on jury duty (yes, again). John *voir dires* Merlin about his eligibility and poor continence, and Merlin introduces John to how one anxiously, tentatively chooses to play The C.G.P. Grey Card. Main topic this week is **John's Cautious Tech Optimism**. How does John see technology's role in potentially bringing out our better angels? Why is dystopian sci-fi so depressingly myopic? How much does technology ever really change human nature? And what hinders a culture from doing a more ambitious job of yoking technology to the problems it might be great at addressing? (_Recorded on Monday, January 31, 2017_)
Feb 08, 2017
44: Assistant Manager Material
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This week, it doesn't take long to get deep in the stack on texting people in the same room, John's take on pound-sign hashtags, and the location of Merlin's missing meat. The mini-topic this week is **tattoos**. Specifically, why Merlin has developed such strong feelings about tattoos, plus John's vision of a world free of theoretical tattoo discrimination. For the main topic, your hosts address **Money on the Internet**. How have technological and cultural changes altered our idea about what's valuable and how much people are willing to pay for it? What happens when VCs are mostly investing in other VCs? How come Lucky Smells Lumbermill pays its employees in coupons? And, is there a company out there that could provide us one-millionth of the web ads while getting paid to protect our data? John takes pity on The Algorithm. (_Recorded on Monday, January 16, 2017_)
Jan 26, 2017
43: Pack Mule with a Checkbook
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This week, John won’t talk about his job, Merlin has jury duty (yes, *again*), and your hosts do some follow-up on documentaries. The disappearing of classic episodes of older PBS shows is lamented. The main topic this week is **Dad Stuff**. Dad Jokes, Dad Hats, and Dad…everything. In particular, when did Dad Jokes become a thing, and exactly what part of that label is supposed to be so bad and insulting? John finds a lot to like about true Dad humor, while Merlin finds himself overwhelmed by a rapidly-widening aperture. Following a bracing blast by an increasingly contextual spoiler horn (1:25:58), John and Merlin float into the epic, three-to-five-dimensional world of Christopher Nolan's 2014 science fiction epic, *Interstellar*. (_Recorded on Tuesday, January 3, 2017_)
Jan 12, 2017
42: The Punching in Me
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This week, Merlin introduces John to a thriving culture of internet busybodies. What happens when we’re only ever exposed to people who look or think like we do? What would we do with free access to an all-you-can-eat Fun Dip buffet? In follow-up, John learns about “Bay Lake,” but badly confuses his celebrity folk heroes. Around a YouTube series Merlin a perimeter creates. Your hosts debate which movies really are mostly terrible. (_Murrrrrph!_) Also, Merlin’s Netflix account gets borrowed for a morning. The main topic this week is _Merlin’s documentary obsession_. Turns out: there are a lot of turns-outs. John and Merlin explore what’s so tantalizing (or off-putting) about some documentary films—as well as the whole genre as a thing. Merlin suggests watching A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love In the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation, and John is very reluctant to recommend 18 hours of New York history. Merlin learns how Jesus died. (_Recorded on Tuesday, December 20, 2016_)
Dec 22, 2016
41: Jingling Keys
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This week kicks off with some contentious claims that Merlin is a crammer and John is a monster. Merlin reminds John that he is out of his depth, and John remembers things. Also, some brief talk on Apple router alternatives and learning to tolerate morning notifications. Lots of follow-up on Free Will, including thoughts on Heisenberg, tail-chasing, and provocative recent scholarship on whether what we see is “reality.” John wants to see more math. A mini-topic spins out of listener feedback: what’s the distinction between being clever versus being smart? This leads to an exploration of humor, creativity, and the attraction of trying to make the right joke at the right time. Around 01:45:00, we fire off the spoiler horn for an extended discussion of season 1 of HBO’s _Westworld_. (_Recorded on Tuesday, December 6, 2016_)
Dec 15, 2016
40: Slippery Slope to Dr. Manhattan
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This week, John has follow-up from Jason the Ranger regarding the weird smell in his house. Next up, your hosts have a few quick thoughts on the recent presidential election and the extent to which convincing voters that citrus fruits are bipeds might have changed the outcome. The main topic this week is _**Free Will**_. While Merlin has concerns about bong talk and living in a fingernail, John quickly gets things refocused on people's garden-variety defenses of free will and where they probably come from. Marbles and stars seem to follow mechanistic rules of the universe, but humans sure don't like things being the boss of them. John roughly specs the hardware needed to know everything that's going to happen, and Merlin wonders whether we're maybe a fact and a half from living in a medieval village. Why don't we all just kill each other, and what if no one cared what we wanted in a new Mac? Does it matter whether people believe in free will? John's answer may surprise you (but probably won't). (_Recorded on Monday, November 21, 2016_)
Dec 01, 2016
39: Rocks Aren’t Magic
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As your hosts brace for the quadrennial U.S. Presidential election (yes, this was recorded the night before), Merlin illuminates the seedy underbelly of YouTube upload workarounds, John says Merlin’s head is definitely getting bigger, and Merlin considers John’s new theory regarding helium and weight loss. Merlin pronounces more things wrong and misses more of John’s references. John shares the mysterious tale of the weird new smell in his house, and Merlin outs himself as a relative humidity nerd and baking soda life hacker. This week’s main topic covers _teaching kids about technology_. When, how, and what should young students learn about computers at school? How far have things come since Merlin’s Business Administration class and the lectures John suffered on RAM vs. ROM? Can a deeper interest in the wild and unexplored possibilities of technology be encouraged amidst the more practical and vocational approach to using today’s computers? Should poets and playwrights encourage their kids’ enthusiasm for coal mining? (_Recorded on Monday, November 7, 2016_)
Nov 16, 2016
38: The Monkey God Situation
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This week, John has been encouraged to pierce Merlin more, and Merlin still hasn’t watched _Millennium Actress_ (although they offer a helpful listener suggestion on how you can). Your hosts compare how they use Twitter these days and talk about the different ways they deploy the heart icon. They wonder aloud about who actually sees what on Twitter. The main topic this week has Merlin probing John’s thoughts on the idea of a thing being “wrong within normal parameters.” John calls someone a “super doof,” and both hosts share their strategy for not ending up on a desert island. For the conclusion of the episode, (after about `1:14:19`), the spoiler horn is fired off for a discussion of the controversial Season 7 premiere of _The Walking Dead_. (_Recorded on Tuesday, October 25, 2016_)
Nov 01, 2016
37: A Useless Angle for Swordfighting
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This week, John and Merlin reminisce about the Flowbee, sea monkeys, and the alternately disappointing and satisfying quality of the action figures in their youth. Merlin briefly impersonates Dan Moren and shares that his iPhone activation problems were not unique. John conclusively demonstrates the _mini_ ways that Merlin can’t hear himself pronouncing everything wrong and bemoans the travails of jumbled Contacts syncing. The main topic this week is _whether we’re living in a simulation_ (and how we’d know it). This leads to a spirited tour of scientific methodology and why it so often _turns out_ that some things don’t…turn out. Is coffee killing us, saving us, or what exactly is the deal here? Your hosts consider the times when it’s useful to question reality, and John still has concerns about smoking. They read and discuss Sylvester Stallone’s mail. (_Recorded on Tuesday, October 11, 2016_)
Oct 18, 2016
36: The Ragged Edge of What's Possible
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This week’s follow-up covers good news/weird news on Merlin’s wife’s phone, more on “accessibility” settings, and how craftsmanship and quality often war with management. The main topic is _solo parenting_. Facing The Shoe Crisis, thrice ruining the dinosaur eggs, and finding yourself in a Staples line that’s literally not moving. Is fear and anxiety really such a smart and time-tested motivator? Is it telling that John and Merlin’s partners don’t seem to sweat mornings when _they’re_ not around? Also, we learn why neurosis is *always* built into the price when applying _Siracusa’s Incompleteness Theorem_. (_Recorded Monday, October 3, 2016_)
Oct 04, 2016
35: A Lot of Them Are Tricks
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This week kicks off with a look at the rise of vaping, the decline of public infrastructure, and whether it's okay for authors to sign their own books in the airport store. Merlin (*finally*) figures out how to join Slate Plus, John reminisces about Yahoo!, and both hosts advocate strongly for the vanishing genre of slow-paced movies about how things get made. The main topic this week is _magic and superstition_. What delights (or angers) your hosts in a magic show? Why can't Cardini get rid of those cards? Merlin admits he's superstitious about his water heater, and John reveals how he learned not to mind when his plane takes off. John cruelly schools Merlin on why he should stop trusting himself. (_Recorded Monday, September 12, 2016_)
Sep 21, 2016
34: All These Assistant Principals are Now Dead
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This week, Merlin figures out what's weird about John, and John declares Merlin to be a clique mixer. The main topic this week is _high school reunions_. Or, at least it starts out that way. John and Merlin are both pretty good at not going to things, then ruminating about it. (_Recorded Tuesday, August 30, 2016_)
Sep 06, 2016
33: Survival Bucket
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This week opens with some follow-up on John’s recent sauce talk, including suggestions on selecting tomatoes and sweating the iffy authenticity of olive oil. John helps Merlin understand modern peaches. Listeners are encouraged to support Relay FM and are tantalized with details of a very special episode that will soon be available for members only. The main topic this week is _ratings and reviews_. John talks about how he drinks eagerly from the fire hose of product recommendations as well as sharing his perspective on how he thinks about his epic OS X reviews in retrospect. (_Episode recorded Tuesday, August 23, 2016_)
Aug 25, 2016
32: Pigs and Bunnies
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This week kicks off with some follow-up on John's receipt of the coveted Blue Check on Twitter alongside some speculation on the lack of motivation that seems to smother even Twitter's most half-hearted approaches to managing abuse. Further follow-up concerns pronunciation of "Marina" (say `məˈrēnə`), thoughts on being "The Other Guy" on a podcast, and more discussion of *thought technology*. Also, we all get dumb PR email, and, sorry, it looks like _Millennium Actress_ got pulled from the YouTube. The big topic this week? _Sauce_. More specifically, John walks us through how he cooks, stirs, and deploys delicious spaghetti sauce at scale. Merlin admits to failing at home fries whilst super-high. A general discussion of cooking practices reveals that Merlin is _probably_ America's greatest microwave wizard. Also, John and Merlin hold a spirited Science Debate on whether and how lighting a match may or may not tackle flatulent effluvia. *With Science*. (*Episode recorded Wednesday, August 3, 2016*)
Aug 09, 2016
31: Backsolve From Your Urges
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This week we open on John struggling to jump through the hoops to get _verified_ on Twitter. This leads to a discussion of the myriad ways in which abuse thrives unchecked in the absence of decisive action by Twitter-the-company. John excruciates over his now-required bio blurb. In follow-up, several listeners are thanked and acknowledged, and Good Cop John just can't believe Merlin isn't a more strident and principled critic of "The Popcorn Trick." The main topic is what we talk about when we talk about _Evolutionary Biology_. John runs through some common misconceptions, popular misnomers, and widespread errors of analogy on this mostly misunderstood topic. Merlin candidly admits that he still doesn't really understand what he doesn't understand. * * * * * Note: Since this episode was recorded, Paramount Vault appears to have pulled the _Millennium Actress_ video from YouTube. Team RecDiffs will update if it reappears. (_Episode recorded Tuesday, July 19, 2016_)
Jul 28, 2016
30: Captain of the Living Room
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This week kicks off with Merlin ranting about his mixed feelings about spoiler warnings, and, as usual, John assumes the role of Good Cop on the audience's behalf. Then, there's some discussion of how John has been gently introducing Merlin to his favorite anime films. Note: audience homework to watch the film _Millennium Actress_ for future discussion is assigned. The main topic can be roughly called, "my part of the couch." More specifically, why are your hosts so piqued about how hard it is to have nice things—let alone _their own things_—in their respective households? Is this a simple tragedy of the commons? Are they just unintentionally acting like 50s TV Dads? Will their daughters eventually steal literally everything? And, honestly, how hard is it to put your phone just anyplace besides John's exactly-iPhone-6-sized spot on the mantle? It seems so simple.
Jul 14, 2016
29: Six Fax Machines
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[**N.B.** This episode contains a very brief discussion of plot points in the movie, _Finding Dory_. Skip from `0:15:41` to `0:19:33` to avoid minor spoilers.] This week kicks off with a discussion on the nature of inflammable jammies and general rehearsals for panic. There's some quick FU on Ted Leo, followed by some lessons of _Finding Dory_. This leads to yet 👏 another 👏 dive into Pixar films and what your hosts compulsively crave from them. Like: what would happen if Pixar went Full-Metal-Kubrick on creating a seriously committed sci-fi movie for grownups? In passing, your hosts agree that _Game of Thrones_ is really good, and that Sansa Stark is most definitely a serious badass. The main topic this week is…💫 **The Fuuuuuuture!** 💫 To wit: Merlin can't contain his fascination and admiration with how John's rationality and long view of history has colored and redirected his own conceptions about what the future holds. How does John evaluate and interpolate new technology? How should inchoate cultural vectors inform our thinking? Why do some kinds of change take such improbably more time than others? And how much do we *really* want to learn about cannibalism? (_Episode recorded 2016-06-21_)
Jun 30, 2016
28: Getting to Know a Broken Person
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This week starts with a vigorous dive into the X-Men movie franchise and what exactly your hosts love and don't about modern superhero movies. Then, Merlin briefly lapses into some serious *Glenning* by torturing John with anecdotes about hanging out with Aimee Mann (plus some assorted randos John’s mostly never heard of). The main topic is *repping*, a pickup of the frequent theme of a program Merlin does with Another John. How do we choose the ways we represent ourselves to the world? Whether it's clothes, cars, haircuts, bumper stickers, music or what-have-you: what are we repping, and how often are we even remotely pulling it off?
Jun 16, 2016
27: The Morning Prompts
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This week opens with John's meditation on pronunciation, accents, and the gradual disappearance of America's once-diverse tapestry of vowel sounds. This somehow leads to a rueful examination of the modern media landscape, focusing on the Big Black Box where all the ugly and capricious business of media distribution probably gets decided. Merlin confesses his existential dread about appearing on _The Incomparable_ then happily names names regarding his picks for a non-existent Favorite Hosts draft. Things really kick into high gear as your hosts finally (_FINALLY_) go toe-to-toe on the hot topic of iOS app quitting. Why Merlin is so mad at John and why John insists Merlin is still wrong. Then? Then, things get oddly reconciled as the gloves come off and the boys start tag-teaming on Apple's buggy and broken services, with especially strategic kicks to the biscuit reserved for those inscrutable requests for iCloud logins to which so many fans are treated throughout the working day. What's it going to take to shore up dwindling confidence and frayed credibility? Why are Google and Dropbox so much better at getting this stuff right? And, when the heck will there finally be enough time to talk about Free Will?
Jun 02, 2016
26: One Dollar Cat
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This week starts with some updates on Merlin’s cat, her newly discovered medical conditions, and Merlin’s ruminations on how much he’s prepared to tolerate regarding her health budget and snack preferences. In follow-up, the boys address the length of the last episode and debate the merits of chapter markers. Are they an attractive nuisance that encourages people to pick up one of your host’s terrible media consumption hygiene? Also, more talk on smoking, and we learn that John is surprisingly tolerant about how people talk. The main topic this week explores how a young John first began measuring the parameters of the world. How can we tell if something is true? Are Bigfoot, telekinesis, and space travel each really a thing? (Episode recorded May 10, 2016)
May 19, 2016
25: Zarro Droogs
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This week opens with some followup on the ownership of *Star Wars* and the zero-sum game of ugly corporate distribution battles. John visits San Francisco, sees Todd and Merlin, and there is talk about the modern history of film VFX. Merlin catches John up on the extraordinary amount of _The Walking Dead_ episodes he's been watching (out of order), and John doubles down on his shocked perplexity regarding how Merlin does almost everything. The main topic this week is—wait for it— _drugs_. In particular, the listener is treated to an epic tour of the "four toadstools" that mark Merlin's journey with the forbidden pharmaceutical wild side. Winded and worn, Merlin begins provoking John for answers and anecdotes on the times he's taken crazy risks. Mildly harrowing stories ensue. John tortures himself with thought experiments. Also, John hates smoking. (Episode recorded April 26, 2016)
May 05, 2016
24: I Will Outrun Death and Thermodynamics
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This week, John and Merlin have two really big topics. Things kick off with a discussion of _Star Wars_. In particular, there is extensive discussion of your hosts’ interests and preferences regarding preservation and fan restorations of the original trilogy, along with a wish list, speculations, and pipe dreams for an _official_ re-release. We can dream, can’t we? Next, the dolorous spoiler horn fires off for a detailed examination of _The Walking Dead_ (TV series). Lots of talk about how and when the series works in general, followed by passionate complaints on the controversial Season 6 finale. Are we finally too far gone? Spoilers start at 01:22:23. (Episode recorded April 5, 2016)
Apr 21, 2016
23: A Sprite Man
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This week, things kick off with a lively discussion of ASMR, furries, bronies, juggaloes, some more car talk, teenaged drinking, and John’s libido. The main topic is *sense of humor*. How, where, when, and from whom did the boys learn what makes them laugh? How come British things seem extra funny? Why does Lisa need braces? How did the Harlem Globetrotters get away with using a ladder? Does she go? Eh?
Apr 07, 2016
22: Jericho Turnpike
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This week, John and Merlin kick things off with a discussion of the non-English languages kids get exposed to and how *Mandarin* maybe isn't the new *French*. The main topic focuses on _cars and driving_. First, there's the automobiles that their families did or didn't drive and why. Then, John educates Merlin on the evolution of consumer car design over the past 30 years. This leads to more personal thoughts on their early days of driving, including the madness of *Driver's Ed* and the indignities of failed road tests. Following some excellent driving hacks and Best Practices, things conclude with a sad litany of dumb auto accidents.
Mar 22, 2016
21: Throg the Important Caveman
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This week kicks off with some depressing follow-up on Merlin’s stove and his concern that John might think he’s a terrible person. John bemoans the dilapidated state of his own house as well as his grudging tolerance for that state. The main topic is _meeting your heroes_. Who do you wish you could meet and why? What would you say to Steve Jobs in an elevator or Bill Murray on a plane? John marvels at Merlin’s comfort with his many celebrity connections, and Merlin gives some handy tips on not acting like a total creep.
Mar 10, 2016
20: Stove Vigilance
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This week, John and Merlin kick things off with a discussion of the Sturm und Drang around dealing with kids’ homework. Things continue with a mostly spoiler-free discussion of _The Leftovers_. The main topic is _trust your mechanic_. How to survive working with the experts who diagnose **and** fix your problems. John's not a Dead Kennedys fan, and Merlin's just so irrationally mad about the state of his oven.
Feb 25, 2016
19: Four Toes
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This week, John and Merlin start out by talking about the value of exposing yourself to new or uncomfortable ideas (and how it can be difficult). Following a tuneful diversion on their favorite music as kids, the boys jump into the main topic: _how and when to recommend things to other people_. What's right and for whom? How do you distinguish the "best" versus your "favorite" as against "the best place to start?" Why Merlin goes conservative and John is reluctant to recommend things at all. Also: who's right for The Flop House, and how do they score Scorsese, R.E.M., U2, and Wes Anderson? (Recorded February 2, 2016)
Feb 11, 2016
18: It's Devastating
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This week, John ruthlessly critiques Merlin's Google Docs style, followed by a tentative announcement about how listeners can help support the show. The primary topic this week is _names and naming_. Merlin struggles in vain to pronounce John's name to his satisfaction, John reveals his middle name, and the boys dive deep on the lore, reality, and complexities of how both people and stuff get their names. Apologies to Daenerys, **BETH!**, Liz, and Jeh-*NIGH*-fur. Finally, Merlin reveals that his family has acquired a PS4 that he doesn't really understand very well and that has been used mainly to repeatedly enter passwords and decorate a makebelieve Disney house. John scolds Merlin for half-heartedly starting _Journey_. (*Recorded January 5, 2016*)
Jan 28, 2016
17: Don’t Touch the Banana
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This week, John critiques Merlin's online editing skills, which leads to a discussion of coding conventions. Merlin, in turn, critiques John's propensity to murder a joke by telling it in weird bullets. Next up, we learn that Merlin has (**finally**) watched _The Game_ all the way through, which leads to a spoiler-heavy dive into this terrific 1997 David Fincher film. (Note: Please listen for the spoiler horn, then skip from `00:16:21` through `00:40:47` if you haven't watched the movie yet.) Finally, the boys tackle the topic of _jobs_. First jobs, early jobs, what they did or didn't learn from them, and how their younger work lives shaped their later future employment choices. (Episode recorded December 15, 2015)
Jan 14, 2016
16: Ancient Bird
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This week, John and Merlin start out by exploring the challenges of sleep and AppleTV. Next, John probes Merlin about why exactly he’s so interested in remembering and recording his whackadoodle dreams. We learn, for example, that _Permiso_ delivers 3 to 5 surprises per day. Finally, Merlin interrogates John about why he dislikes and avoids scary movies.
Dec 17, 2015
15: Emotional Swimsuit Season
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This week, your hosts cover TV buying decisions, the legacy of Star Wars, thoughts on holidays, and how to not end up raising Dudley Dursley.
Dec 03, 2015
14: Children's Shoes
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This time out, John and Merlin start with a consideration of parenting advice and (surprise) the _Star Wars_ prequels. Then, the wardrobe is opened for a discussion of _clothing_. What your hosts choose to wear and why, and how best to telegraph the desire to be a non-combatant in the fashion race. Merlin encourages listeners to give John _a virtual makeover_.
Nov 19, 2015
13: The Mickey Suit
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This episode, John and Merlin have a spirited debate on netspeak and emoji talk (🤕👹😭), then address the Wonderful World of Disney (World), including what makes it great and what keeps it relevant.
Nov 05, 2015
12: Hobbit Tendencies
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This week kicks off with some further discussion of salad and the video game, Destiny, and then proceeds into some talk about the current TV season and the state of late-night programming. The centerpiece of the episode is a lot of talk about _travel_, focused on the myriad reasons your hosts find it so terribly difficult. Observations on helplessness, motion sickness, money, and the titular "Hobbit tendencies" emerge. Things conclude with a meditation on _introversion_: what it means to have it (or decide that you have it), and what constitutes the super-wide spectrum between social anxieties and the more garden-variety aversion to, say, wearing pants.
Oct 22, 2015
11: Frog Board Room
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This week, the boys return for Season Two. Things kick off with a clandestine follow-up discussion of evolution based on an unreleased episode of a different podcast. Don't ask. The ball really gets rolling when John ruefully updates us on the stressful state of renovations to his house—and how his quest for quality collides with whatever passes for quote-unquote craftsmanship today.
Oct 08, 2015
10: That Darn Cat
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This final episode of Season 1 kicks off with some fascinating FU on [Clever Hans](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clever_Hans) and proceeds into a listener question about John's feelings about "faith." Finally, the boys settle into a detailed exploration of "Merlin's world of music." From AM radio (through a pillow speaker) to abortive accordion and trombone lessons to impersonating Pete Townsend through the Bacon Ray years. The episode concludes with some updates regarding the future of the program.
Sep 24, 2015
9: Late Bloomer
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In this penultimate episode, John and Merlin start with a discussion of salad and some followup on _Destiny_ (John can't even believe he forgot Xur). This week's main topic focuses on the many aspects of being a "late bloomer." From secondary sex characteristics and serial social prickliness through figuring out how to be in a family and studying the anthropology of the opposite sex.
Sep 10, 2015
8: Devouring Essence
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This time around, John and Merlin talk about time-shifted media releases, corporate speak, and Dave the Marketing guy. For the main topic, John educates Merlin about the first-person shooter game, "Destiny." Merlin feels overwhelmed, while John says we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Aug 27, 2015
7: 50 Shades of John
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This week, John and Merlin do some follow-up on John's picky eating and his family's failures at meal planning. Both men cop to loving soup. Also some updates on Destiny. Then on to the _big_ topic: how does John's mind work, and how did he get that way? (Recorded July 17, 2015)
Aug 13, 2015
6: Mud and Gaffer's Tape and Broken Lenses
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This time kicks off with Merlin's torpor, then continues with FU on miscrediting _Synecdoche, NY_, recommendations on the making of _Fury Road_, and an extended meditation on the social psychology of web commenting. Then on to the scintillating topic of the week: _food and cooking_. In which we learn that your hosts and their families are both/all screwed up **and** hopeless in different ways. All involved are, as they say, _chopped_. Merlin is weird, but not bulimic; John is picky, fretful, and hopeless; and children continue to be a problem that cannot be solved.
Jul 30, 2015
5: Shiny and Chrome
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This week, the boys kick things off with some followup on Merlin's bad media viewing habits, some incomplete homework, and more on the "tells" in *Total Recall*. The remainder of the episode is dedicated to a spoiler-heavy look at *Mad Max: Fury Road*. If you haven't seen it, treat yourself to a cinema viewing as soon as you can. John and Merlin's world is blood and fire.
Jul 16, 2015
4: Ohio Intervention
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This week, after John derides Merlin's terrible media viewing habits, the boys share their affection for divisive films and revisit the spectacle of "Hell in a Cell." For this week's primary topic, John probes Merlin's spotty history with video games, then sketches out the current console landscape. Merlin is assigned preliminary homework to start catching up.
Jul 02, 2015
3: Helena Sell
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This week, John and Merlin finally set themselves to the task of beginning to argue about their differences. After a look at their feelings about reviews (and review culture), John takes Merlin to task for his stance on the 1999 film *Fight Club* (and *Fight Club* culture). Then, things conclude with a passionate debate on the societal impact of sports (and sports culture).
Jun 18, 2015
2: Thrown to the Wolves of Puberty
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In this episode, John and Merlin discuss the origins of the show, including their contrasting approaches to authority, conformity, and contrariness. Also, Merlin credits John with helping him become less horrible, and John deposes Merlin about his year in military school.
Jun 11, 2015
1: We All Ruined It Together
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In this inaugural episode of Season 1, John and Merlin begin framing the conversation on exactly *how they got how they are*. From the dungeons of Usenet to the dragons of roving bullies, origins are explored, awkwardness is catalogued, and differences are provisionally reconciled.
Jun 03, 2015