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Judge John Hodgman and Bailiff Jesse Thorn are back in chambers this week to clear the docket! Guest Kurt Braunohler joins them to discuss cases regarding tacos, culture recommendations, a dispute against the Judge himself and more!
Kurt's new podcast, Wedlock, which he co-hosts with his wife Lauren Cook, premiers on Audible on April 20. You can listen to the trailer here. His other podcast, Emotional Hangs, is available on Feral Audio, and wherever you download podcasts.
Sign up for Judge Hodgman's newsletter at bit.ly/hodgmail. If you're in the Western, MA area this summer, make sure to check out the Solid Sound Festival, where Judge Hodgman is hosting the Comedy Stage. Judge Hodgman's newest book Vacationland is also available for pre-order at bit.ly/painfulbeaches.
MaxFunCon tickets are still on sale for MaxFunCon West in Lake Arrowhead and MaxFunCon East in the Poconos! Visit MaxFunCon.com for more info!
Judge John Hodgman and Bailiff Jesse Thorn clear the docket and rule on pizza ordering, when to watch the next season of Game of Thrones, cereal dust, learning to drive as an adult and more.
Judge John Hodgman is going on tour to dispense live justice with Bailiff Jesse Thorn! Mark your calendars and get your tickets! Check out the right hand side of this page or visit www.johnhodgman.com/tour!
Here's a list of Hong Kong recommendations from listener Joseph, in reference to the Baggage Claims episode:
Take the airport train into the city and get off at Kowloon station. The station is connected to the International Commerce Center, which has a bar on the top floor (the 118th) called Ozone. It's in the Ritz Carlton, and the concierge will offer to store your bags while you go up (it's free and not as awkward as it sounds). The bar itself is a little too sleek for its own good, but even if you're not a member of the Mossack Fonseca crowd, it's worth going for the view. Order a beer and go to the semi-enclosed outdoor area and you'll look across the harbor and see the world's most impressive skyline from its tallest building. Not bad!
In terms of food, Hong Kong is best know for two things: dim sum and siu mei (the roast meat you see hanging in restaurant windows). For dim sum, if you're not afraid to go local and fight their way past the hungry grandmas, I would go to Lin Heung (two locations: one in Central and the other in Sheung Wan, both on Hong Kong island). They're both very local and well established, but the staff probably won't know much English. The other option is to go to a more foreigner-friendly place where they can order from a menu. There's no shame in this option and I would suggest Dim Sum Square in Sheung Wan. Sheung Wan is our kind of hipster neighborhood, so you can check out the galleries and cafes and whatever on Tai Ping Shan Street.
For siu mei, the heavy hitter is Joy Hing, which is located near the bar district in Wan Chai. It's been around forever and has or had a Michelin star. I usually get a plate of rice and a mix of barbecue pork (char siu) and that crispy roasted pork with the snappy skin (siu yuk). But really the standard of all these siu mei places is quite high, so you can pop into any shop you see. My neighborhood spot-- Sun Yuen on Queen's Road West--is great too. Wherever you go, it shouldn't cost more than maybe 6 USD.
As for going out, my favorite spot is Visage 1. By day it's a single-chair salon on a hidden alley down some steps from one of the nightlight areas (Soho). On Saturday nights, however, it turns into a jazz(ish) bar. It gets incredibly cramped (there's no stage), but there's always excellent live music. You don't have to be a "jazz person" to enjoy it. I spent one of my best nights there getting jabbed in the ribs by the bow of a fiddler in a bluegrass band comprised of off-duty Disney performers.
I'd also suggest you stroll around Mong Kok, which is the neighborhood people think of when they think of Hong Kong. It's crowded and filled with those iconic neon lights (for now--the government is campaigning to reduce light pollution, so they won't be around much longer). The area around Public Square Street is a good spot for people watching and the kind of street life theater that makes it fun to live in a city: old people do their outdoor karaoke and there are a lot of sex shops and fortune tellers. There's one guy who uses a psychic bird to read your fortune. It can be a bit dodgy but you'll be fine. The neighborhood also is home to the city's Nepalese community and there's at least one great Filipino restaurant, Belinda's Food Trip, which I think is staffed by off-duty domestic helpers and the food is top notch. Fun to walk around in, especially at night.
Hong Kong isn't a cultural superpower, but there are some things to check out. Cantonese opera is a dying art, so you should catch a show at the Sunbeam Theatre before their lease expires. Nearby is Oi!, a exhibition space housed in a nice colonial building, and Parasite, a contemporary art center that gets artists from across Asia. Back across the harbor is an 'artist village' called Cattle Depot which has people doing interesting work; there's a great arts space there called Videotage which does a lot of installation art and new media stuff. And there's the burgeoning artistic hub in post-industrial spaces in Chai Wan, though I don't know much about it. The museums are all a bit meh, except for the charmingly awkward Geological Museum on the campus of Hong Kong University. Actually, across campus the University Museum has a decent collection of Chinese antiquities and paintings. Nice old-school tea room, too.
Finally, you should get out of the city. Two suggestions: hike/walk/ramble across a small mountain called Dragon's Back on the south side of HK island. It can be crowded (it's Hong Kong!) but it has beautiful views of the coast and you'll usually see a few paragliders in the sky. The trail ends near Shek O, a little beach town caught in the 60s. You can take a bus back to the city. Easy and worth it. The other choice is to spend a day on Cheung Chau island. The island doesn't allow cars and really there's just one fishing village, so it's pretty slow paced compared to the rest of HK. Good seafood too. You can walk around the island in a couple hours. There's also a decent beach there, which I think is where one of HK's few Olympic gold medalists learned to wind surf. Take the ferry from Pier 5 in Central to get there.
Also, it's a long flight, so there's plenty of time to read Ackbar Abbas' Hong Kong: Culture and Politics of Disappearance. I've never read a more insightful account of the forces that have shaped this city, both physically and culturally. It's probably at the library and worth a look.
One more tip: you definitely should not go to Lan Kwai Fong, our dystopian nightlife district, unless you're into getting vomited on by drunk Australians.
Thank you, Joseph!
Tickets to MaxFunCon East are still available! Join us over Labor Day for an all-inclusive weekend of live comedy, podcasts, music, and educational sessions.
Judge John Hodgman rules on overfilling ice cube trays, the best spelling of Elliot for a baby, dog park etiquette, podcast recommendations and more.
If you're curious to know about Magic the Gathering methods suggested by listeners, you can find them below!
Hannah suggested that the friends play:
"Constructed, in which players make their decks ahead of time with whatever cards they can get their hands on. This format is the problem the plaintiff is complaining about.
Or drafting, where they each open a pack of cards and take turns picking cards from those packs until each has built a suitable deck for play. At which point, the two play with these new decks that did not exist prior to the game at hand."
Mark suggested another mode of play:
"I've used this one in friendly, non-tournament play and it helps even the playing field. Everyone brings their favorite decks, and each player randomly selects one of the decks that was brought." Essentially, each player has an equal chance of using an "overpowered" deck during a given match.
and Gabe thought of these:
Reject rare draft
(in which each player donates 45 cards and then drafts cards. The rares are "donated", as everyone takes home the deck they draft and no attempt is made to return the rares to the original owners.)
(In Peasant a deck may contain up to 5 uncommon cards and the rest must be common. Peasant Magic was created by Rob Baranowski who felt that players with limited access to cards should still have an opportunity for competitive play.)
(where each player tries to build the worst deck possible, because each player gives another player that deck to play in the tournament.)
BONUS: Judge John Hodgman, Bailiff Jesse Thorn and Expert Witness and Automotive Enthusiast Rhea Butcher clear an all-automobile-related docket in a sponsored bonus episode of Judge John Hodgman. They'll weigh in on whether you can avoid being a jerk with a vanity plate, how to decide whose car to drive to the malt shop, new-car advice, and more!
Rhea Butcher's upcoming show Take My Wife will be available on Seeso.
Here's an amazing extended list of best practices from listener and car expert Nick:
* Warming up your car in the winter. In the vast majority of instances, this is unnecessary. This is something that people typically do for their own comfort. They claim that the warm-up is good for the car, but they tell themselves that to assuage their guilt about wasting fuel, polluting unnecessarily, and perhaps doing more harm than good to their car. The crux, for most of these people, is dishonesty and laziness. The car is designed to be warmed up by driving gently until normal operating temperature is reached.
Exceptions include: older carbureted vehicles, sub-zero temperatures, some turbocharged vehicles
* Proper air conditioning use. The proper way to cool a car’s interior quickly after it’s been baking in the sun is to turn the A/C to the coldest setting, set the blower motor to high, be sure the intake is in the fresh air position (not recirculate), and roll all the windows down. This is the fastest way to get the car comfortably cool. I have a friend who refuses to believe this, claiming that the best practice is to keep the windows up. He is wrong and will stay wrong.
Exceptions include: rain, insect swarm, otherwise foul circumstances
A note on fresh air vs. recirculate: the best strategy is to keep the setting on fresh air, using the recirculate setting sparingly as conditions dictate. Keeping the selector set to recirculate all the time can lead to the car smelling stale, making the car’s owner “that guy” with the gross car. The smell comes on slowly enough that “that guy” is the last one to know how gross he is.
* Fast lane etiquette. The primary purpose of the far left lane is passing. Cruising in the left lane is not only rude and entitled, it often leads to clusters of traffic and encourages frustrated drivers to attempt to make up for lost time by speeding. Furthermore, the fast lane is no place to prove a point to the car behind you. The proper thing to do is make way for faster cars should they approach from behind, helping to prevent traffic clusters. The faster car, after remaining behind the slower car for a sensible amount of time, is permitted a quick flash of the headlights to signal the driver in front. That driver’s responsibility is to make way without taking offense.
Exceptions include: HOV lanes, heavy traffic, surface roads
* Clearing snow and ice before driving. All piled snow should be removed from the vehicle in a way which doesn’t cause damage to the paint. In most cases, a brush will suffice. Once bulk of the snow has been removed, every window and mirror on the car should be cleared entirely, along with every exterior light (brake lights, headlights, turn signals, etc.).
Judge Hodgman and Bailiff Jesse Thorn clear out the docket on free refills, open mics (or is it open MIKES?), canoe weekends and what to do if your friend recommends a book he hasn't actually read.
MaxFunCon East tickets on sale NOW! Join us over Labor Day for an all-inclusive weekend of live comedy, podcasts, music, and educational sessions.
And if you live in Los Angeles, tickets are also one sale to see Judge Hodgman perform his one man show, VACATIONLAND at the Largo on Thursday June 9th!
Judge Hodgman fills us in on the birthplace of Italian-American pizza, garbage and breezeways, the adventures of Alex Vennenzula, and more.
MAXFUNDRIVE starts next week on Monday March 14th! Get ready and get excited!
Judge Hodgman and Bailiff Jesse rule on toaster ovens, purchasing "singles" in card games and whether a couple should go for the animal trifecta - two puppies and a kitten.
Judge Hodgman and Bailiff Jesse address airplane etiquette, the importance of Hamilton, swear words and more! There's no explicit content in this one, but you may not want kids listening to it all the same.
If you're looking for the hotel mentioned in this week's show, it is the Mayfair Hotel in Miami!
Judge Hodgman and Jesse clear the docket on shouting at drive thrus, ski trips, subway turtles and more, and also set the record straight on Sha-Na-Na. Happy New Year!
Judge Hodgman and Bailiff Jesse clear out the docket, taking on the right way to share a suitcase, how to order at restaurants without infuriating your server, and "The Game".
If you hurry, you might still get tickets to Bailiff Jesse's World Tour of Several American Cities with Bullseye! Our Manhattan, Philly and DC shows are sold out but there are still a handful of tickets left (as of this writing) for:
Wednesday November 18 - Cambridge MA with Barney Frank, Mission of Burma and Lamont Price
Thursday November 19- Brooklyn NY with Tavi Gevinson, David Cross, Aparna Nancherla and Pharoahe Monch
See you there!