TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 432: Dowager Mayor

This week on Judge John Hodgman, it’s time to clear the docket! Judge Hodgman and Bailiff Jesse are in chambers to discuss new neighbor etiquette, peanut butter storage, phone battery monitoring and more! Plus, the Judge catches up with a high school friend and helps him with a dispute!

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 432

Transcript

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse thorn

Welcome to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. I'm Bailiff Jesse Thorn. We're in chambers this week, clearing the docket. And with me, as always, is the one true king of judging: Judge John Hodgman.

john hodgman

Please, Jesse, not a king! A constitutional monarch, at best.

jesse

I'm sorry, [laughing] who voted for you, friend?

john

Only the people of Nabu—[both laugh]—that has an electoral monarchy! [Jesse laughs.] Jesse Thorn, I'm back in Brooklyn, New York! And I'm just sitting here putting gold putty on a LEGO Hulk, getting ready to send these galleys of Medallion Status, my new book out, to famous Corgis of Instagram Chompers and Linus. I'm here to take care of some justice biz!

jesse

[Laughs.] My business is sending books to dogs, and business is good!

john

[Laughing] It really is, 'cause they can't say no! [Jesse laughs.] They can't say no. They just love to sniff the books!

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah, sure! I mean, they probably have some means of, uh, expressing disapproval. This is a family podcast; [laughing] I shan't say what it is.

john

Do Sissy and Coco want copies of Medallion Status?

jesse

No, they're more into, like, Sarah Vowell.

john

Oh! Oh, bailiff, my bailiff, you know how to wound a constitutional monarch. [Jesse laughs.] That was unfair. Let's now make things fair. Do we have some, uh, justice to dispense, or what?

jesse

Here’s something from Ryan. They ask: "When moving to a new neighborhood, whose responsibility is it to introduce themselves first? The new neighbor, or the established neighbors? Additionally, what's the time frame in which the introduction should happen?"

john

It's interesting. A couple of years ago, in the summertime in Maine, a gentleman came to our door with two small children and his wife. They had moved into the neighborhood. I don't remember the names of the children, but I certainly remember that the gentleman's name is Mike, and his wife's name is Dolphin. And they were wonderful. [Jesse bursts out laughing.]

jesse

[Laughing] Ss-sorry, Dolphin, I bet you're cool.

john

They were totally cool. I think Mike was weirdly into marine biology, and Dolphin was just named Dolphin. So Mike and Dolphin came by to introduce themselves, 'cause they had moved into the neighborhood. And this was impressive… for two reasons. One: it was extremely neighborly, especially for New England and specifically for Maine, a region of the northeastern United States famed more for its misanthropy than its neighborliness. And two, [laughing] because it was in Maine, they had to walk, I think, a mile and a half to get to us. [Jesse laughs.] And it did not seem that they were going to stop, either. They were gonna walk to every house that they could reach to say "Hello and welcome to the neighborhood." And it impressed me thrice, because I would never in a million, bazillion dolphin years or human years do that myself. It just was so generous, and kind of unusual to my experience! And of course, we've never spoken to them again since. But I remember it. Jesse Thorn, there in Los Angeles, is there a custom? Do people introduce themselves to their neighbors?

jesse

I introduced myself to my neighbors. Such as they are, anyway. Well, my house has—uh, on one side of it, uh, someone's back yard. Just because of the weird geography of—of the lots. I introduced myself to my other neighbor when I got there, and I—I try and introduce myself to people when I see them out walking their dogs more than once.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

But I do feel like—the question of responsibility, to me, suggests a sort of very un-neighborly obligation. [Laughs.] You know what I mean? Like a sense of duty—

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

—uh, that is incompatible with neighborliness. Like, [John laughs] that if we made Ryan do this, they would, like, do it with silent resentment.

john

Right. Perhaps this is not what you're saying, but I'm going to say it anyway: it might violate one of the great principles of neighborliness, [stifling laughter] which is to leave everybody else alone.

jesse

[Laughs.] The person whose backyard backs into my backyard—we share a back fence—she had some sort of property dispute with the previous owner of my property.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

And at one point she called me, when I was in Atlanta at a conference—she called my house, got my wife, got my phone number from my wife—uh, she's like an—65-year-old lady—and threatened to sue me, and told me that I shouldn't cross her because she's a lioness.

john

[Laughs.] That's a way to introduce yourself, for sure!

jesse

[Sarcastically] Yeah. Friendly. I was like, "Oh, I baked you some cookies!"

john

Yeah. In our apartment building here in Brooklyn, when we moved in—now 12 years ago—there was a lot of neighborliness. There was a lot of open-door policy and a lot of socializing. And I think, to some degree, this had to do with the fact that we all had young children about the same age. So we were always hoping that if we left our doors open, our children would run out of our apartments [Jesse laughs] and into someone else's open doors. [Laughing] And this happened!

jesse

[Laughing] You would—you would leave your door open, but also leave—uh, like a powerful industrial fan blowing outward.

john

[Laughing] Yeah, exactly. Like, every time our kids would try to come back in, it was Marcel Marceau walking against the wind. [Jesse laughs.] [Voice strained as if struggling against the fan] "Mommy, Daddy! [Wordless cry]!" It's like, "Can't hear you over the fan! Sorry." A number of those neighbors have moved on now, and we remain close with a couple of couples; but mostly those doors have closed. And I think one of the things that happened was one of our upstairs neighbors ended up being a.. pathological liar?

jesse

Oh, wow!

john

And we think that this person may have suffered a little Munchausen's Syndrome about describing personal ailments that may or may not have been real ailments. And then they left. If this person is within the sound of my voice, and they know that I am talking about them, please know that I think very fondly of the time that we spent with your family; but it was this moment of realizing that the people you live close to, you may not know at all. And when you do have an open-door policy of that kind, you see other people's lives are abysses that you are staring into. An abyss just like yours. Like, in a neighborhood, every house—it's like in Stranger Things, The Upside Down? Every house is The Upside Down. It is a dark reflection of your life and choices. And it's sometimes not comfortable to look into, to see how other people live. That's why the saying is not, "No fences make great neighbors," [laughs] the saying is "Giant steel barriers—"

jesse

"—keep lionesses out."

john

[Laughing] Yeah. These are regional differences, and I think that Mike and Dolphin may have come from a part of the world where it would have been considered profoundly rude not to introduce yourself to the neighborhood when you moved in.

jesse

When you say a part of the world where it would have been profoundly rude, uh, is the part of the world that you're talking about "under da sea"?

john

[Laughs.] Things are much hotter under the water.

jesse

Yeah, that's—

john

Join us and see.

jesse

Yeah, that's what I've heard.

john

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, incredible talents. And of course, uh, Howard Ashman taken much, much too soon. But in any case—Ryan, you know your neighborhood. If it is the case that there is an expectation that all neighbors should be introducing each other to each other, I would say take the bull by the horns, pull off the Band-Aid, and several other clichés, and just get out there and Mike and Dolphin it. First, so that you don't suffer under the presumption that you are a non-neighborly person. But I think—all these cases, there tend to be structures for this, such that you don't have to just go and home invade everyone around you. You know, there are road association meetings, and condo board meetings, and homeowners association meetings, and the secret meetings that you go to sit with your neighbors and discuss whether the new new neighbors are polite enough or whether you should burn them in a wicker man— [Jesse laughs.] These are the chances for you to say hello to your neighbors.

jesse

Outside of the question of etiquette, there is a… practical consideration here. And that is, whether or not you choose to be a generally neighborly person—that is, whether or not you choose to spend time with your neighbors—which, you know, like—I'm a city dude through and through. My neighbors are the people of the world, and I don't choose to spend more time with the people who live next door, uh, sort of for that reason, you know what I mean? Personally.

john

Right.

jesse

But when you live nearby people, you are likely to have your path cross with them. And it may well be that your path crosses with them in conflict. And… it may be a big thing, or it may be a little thing. I'm thinking of a neighbor's dog who bit my dog.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

And it's a nice neighbor, and I—probably a nice dog.

john

They were fighting over the, uh, advanced readers copy of Medallion Status that I sent.

jesse

[Laughing] Exactly. And in that situation—or, say, in the situation when I got into a conflict with my direct next-door neighbor over the manner in which I put out my trash cans, I was grateful that I had taken the initiative to introduce myself to them and do something nice. I think I probably—when we moved in, I probably brought—brought some neighbors—you know, a few chocolate chip cookies. Because, you know, even the most basic bond of trust is better than no bond of trust.

john

If you're in a neighborhood that is not as misanthropic as Maine, you lose nothing by—by getting out there and walking around like you're selling a product or a religion and knocking on doors, and saying "Hi! It's me and my wife Dolphin." And some people will be impressed and will think of you forever, as I have of Mike and Dolphin. And some people will think you're—you're oddballs, and wish that you hadn't bothered them; but they'll know that you made a gesture, and no one will think badly of you. But—but I think that there is—there is lots of opportunities for—for a more low-key, neutral territory hello while walking dogs, so long as they are not biting each other. Make a nice gesture. Get it out of the way, and no one will think badly of you. That's what I say.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Here's something from Christopher: "My wife and I have argued over where the peanut butter should be stored. I believe peanut butter should be in the fridge, because it tastes better cold and some peanut butter requires refrigeration."

john

Scoff.

jesse

[Laughing] "My wife believes it should be stored at room temperature, as it's easier to spread that way. We've polled strangers for years, but we'd like this matter decided by the highest of courts."

john

Sure. Christopher, you've polled strangers for years. [Laughs.] And 99.99% of respondents have said, "Don't put it in the fridge." But you think that peanut butter tastes better when it's cold. Scoff!

jesse

[Laughing] That's really a wild opinion. [Both laugh.]

john

You know, I had the pleasure of appearing on one and only one episode of Parks and Recreation, and so I made a really big point of—of having an audio signature, and I signed off and said "And I am August N'Butu A-Clementine."

jesse

Yeah, I know, you played me. Don't think it didn't pass my attention that they cast my colleague to play me on television!

john

Whoa. You know, normally projection is what's done in a movie house, not on a television screen, Jesse. [Jesse laughs.] That episode was written by the great Megan Amram, [laughing] and she wrote the line that is still my favorite thing, where Leslie Knope is just saying something, and my—and my horrible character just goes, "Scoff." [Both laugh.] Jesse, do you disagree with me? Where do you keep your peanut butter?

jesse

I think that generally my peanut butter is in the refrigerator, but it's not because I believe it belongs in the refrigerator. It's just because that's where the rest of the condiments are—

john

Yeah.

jesse

—as a matter of convenience. And I agree that it's easier to spread when it's not refrigerated, I agree that generally speaking it does not require refrigeration; and I think that this thing about, uh, the temperature of peanut butter making it taste better is bananas. [Beat.] Now, bananas make peanut butter taste better.

john

Bananas make peanut butter taste better; and if you keep them out, they're more easily spreadable than if you keep them frozen.

jesse

Can I suggest something about your Parks and Recreation episode?

john

Yes.

jesse

So you played alongside great Dan Castellaneta—

crosstalk

Jesse: —in that episode— John: I did. Jesse: —as I recall. John: I did.

john

Man of many voices.

jesse

And Dan Castellaneta, a man of many voices, did a crazy NPR guy voice that many, many people perceived—quite reasonably—as a ridiculous parody of NPR-iness. Like a comical, silly parody of NPR-iness.

john

Right.

jesse

I know there are a lot of Parks and Rec fans who listen to this show. I'm—I'm quite certain of that.

john

And at least one cast member.

jesse

Oh-ho-ho! Yeah, well, the great Nick Offerman!

john

Our friend Nick Offerman. At least one!

crosstalk

Jesse: Yeah. John: Maybe even listening to this one.

jesse

Yeah. Who knows? Maybe, uh, Pratt's listening right now.

crosstalk

John: Pratt! Pratt! Pratt! Jesse: While he's doing his backyard archery or whatever.

john

[Laughs.] You just made him miss his shot! He just got so excited, he just—he just shot wide! [Jesse laughs.] [Imitating bowstring twang] Fwing!

jesse

You know, he's a movie star now; but he still gets excited when he hears his name on his favorite podcast.

john

He was in that scene! He was in the background! I'm—I'm technically in the Marvel Universe! [Jesse laughs.] Anyway, go ahead.

jesse

I just wanna say that anyone who loves Parks and Rec, enjoyed that episode that you were on, but has never heard the show Bookworm on KCRW with the wonderful Michael Silverblatt—uh, who does a really wonderful job on that great show—should listen to it. It is not a parody, it is one to one. It's not hyperbolic, it is just him doing Michael Silverblatt's actual speaking voice.

john

I hope you did not feel that I was doing a Jesse Thorn!

jesse

No.

john

You know the one piece of acting sauce that I put onto that meal?

jesse

Mm-hm? Ice-cold peanut butter? [Laughs.]

john

I realized that all professional public radio reporters choose a very specific way to pronounce their name.

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

Do you know what I mean? So it's like, "I'mmm Syllllvia Poggiolllli," which is—that's not funny way to pronounce her name; she has an accent—but you understand what I'm saying. There's always that—very specific ways.

jesse

It's, like, important to your identity, and you do it every time, so you get into a pattern, a way that you do it. Sort of like when Terry Gross says [almost as one word] "Fresh Air!"

john

"Fresh Air!" Right. Exactly. It's a kind of signature, and so I made a really big point of—of having an audio signature—and I signed off, said, "And I am August N'Butu^ A-Clementine." [Jesse laughs.] In any case, let me say this about peanut butter. When things are cold, they have less flavor. The molecules are moving more slowly, therefore there is less aroma, therefore there is less flavor profile. If you don't like the taste of peanut butter, then by all means keep it in the refrigerator, 'cause you are dampening the taste of peanut butter. In my opinion—and I believe my opinion is the correct one—peanut butter is meant to be kept out, just like regular butter. And what is more, I have left all kinds of peanut butter out on the shelf! All natural! Oil on top! Chunky! Creamy! Fresh! And at no point did I ever get sick, or did it ever go bad. Maybe 'cause I'm eating all that peanut butter within an hour. [Laughs.] If I have peanut butter in the house, that's how fast it'll go. You know, obviously, consult your doctor; but there's no meaningful risk of spoilage, no meaningful risk of illness. I would say it—putting it in the refrigerator decreases the flavor profile, and it also makes it inconvenient to spread. It's no great sin, my dear bailiff Jesse Thorn, for you to keep peanut butter in the refrigerator if that's how it fits into your workflow. But Christopher, in this case, your wife is correct, and you are wrong.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

[Laughing] Let's take a quick break. More items on the docket coming up in just a minute on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

The Judge John Hodgman podcast is supported, as ever, by thousands of kind souls who became members of Maximum Fun and listen to this very program. You're probably within the sound of my voice right now. Thank you. We love you. We're also supported, this week, by our friends at Dashlane, which is a password management app that keeps all your online information safe, secure, encrypted, and easy to access.

john

That is correct. Dashlane. That's what it's called! It remembers all your passwords, so you don't have to remember all your passwords. Now you have to put these special characters into passwords all the time, like an ampersand or a caret.

jesse

They won't even let you use one that doesn't have a—eñe in it or whatever.

john

Yeah. I can't remember all the special characters, capitalization, and length requirements for every single website I've ever visited in my entire life! But guess what? Dashlane can. It seamlessly autofills all your login information, syncing automatically across your computer, your phone, your tablet, and it even stores your payment details, so go ahead and get weird with your passwords! Make your password punctuationpun1935&&ñçJesseThorn, [laughs] or make it easy. Just let Dashlane generate a real stumper for you. They'll keep it safely stored in a password vault only you can unlock. So check out www.Dashlane.com/hodgman—that's me!—to get Dashlane free on your first device. As a special offer for Judge John Hodgman fans, they're even offering a 30-day free trial of Dashlane Premium, which includes VPN, dark web monitoring, and more. If you like it, use code "hodgman" at checkout to save 10% on your Premium subscription. That's code "hodgman," all small letters, H-O-D-G-M-A-N. Dashlane! That's what it's called!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

[Wolf howls. Dramatic piano and organ music. Throughout, the wolf howls again, and a crow caws.] April Wolfe: Hello there, ghouls and gals. It is I, April Wolfe. I'm here to take you through the twisty, scary, heart-pounding world of genre cinema on the exhilarating program known as Switchblade Sisters. [Sinister echo on the title.] The concept is simple: I invite a female filmmaker on each week, and we discuss their favorite genre film. Listen in closely to hear past guests, like The Babadook director Jennifer Kent, Winter's Bone director Debra Granik, and so many others every Thursday on MaximumFun.org. Tune in! If you dare... [Thunder booms, something growls over April as she cackles evilly, and then all sound abruptly cuts.] April: [Rapidly] It's actually a very thought-provoking show that deeply explores the craft and philosophy behind the filmmaking process while also examining film through the lens of the female gaze. So, like, you should listen. [Same sinister echo effect] Switchblade Sisters!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. We're clearing the docket this week; and Judge Hodgman, we actually have someone on the line with a case for this docket-clearing.

john

What? We never have people on the line for a docket, Jesse! This better be a very special occasion!

jesse

It is a very special occasion, John. You know this litigant from your days at Brookline High School!

john

Everybody in the world, this is my old high school friend Jonah Givelber, whom I do not think I have spoken to since graduation day, 1989, when I said to you, Jonah, "Goodbye—not forever, but for 30 years." And here it is! It came true.

jonah givelber

I was just gonna say, John, that I actually—I was—we were in my parents' house a couple month—in June, I guess, with my—I was—

john

Yeah.

jonah

—I was there with my older boy, and I read what you wrote in my—in my yearbook.

crosstalk

Jonah: And it was something to the effect of— John: Yeah.

jonah

—"Goodbye, but see you again soon." It—it—and here we are! Not seeing each other, [John laughs] but communing.

john

Joney 'Velber, you have at least one child that you refer to as boy. How many children do you have?

jonah

I have two boys.

john

And do you have a spouse in your life?

jonah

I do, indeed.

john

And what have you been doing every day for the past 30 years?

jonah

[Thinking noise] That's such a good question.

john

Let's start. June 29th, 1989, what did you do?

jonah

[Laughing] Am I—um, you want me to—to run through every day?

john

I would hope so, yes.

jonah

You—you know, this is actually gonna segue into why I've reached out to you, but what—what I've done, and I assume you mean professionally, because that's typically what people mean when they say "what have you been doing?" But anyhow—so I have been a stay-at-home father since two thousand... mm, I don't know, seven? But the reason that—that I needed to reach out to you is because I know that you deal with, um, issues of, I guess, universal import.

crosstalk

John: Yeah. Jonah: And I have encountered one, which is that I—

jonah

—I am much cooler than my boys think I am, [all three laugh] and I thought you would be a fantastic person, John, to litigate this, because you've seen me in—in action! I mean, I really was something else.

john

You were, and clearly you still are, something else. So how—how old are your sons?

jonah

Uh, 17 and 14.

crosstalk

John: This is the exact same age— Jonah: And they used to think I was really cool. But, you know— John: Well, right! Jonah: —not anymore.

john

When your kids are little, it's like you're famous. You know what I mean? It's like you're a famous person. And then when your kids get to be 17 or 14, it's sort of like, "Yeah, were you on those Apple ads about ten years ago? Sad, you haven't done anything since then."

jonah

[Laughs.] But I don't even have that to fall back on.!

jesse

John, are you telling me that you can't just tell your kids that you once met Patrick Warburton and shut down any worry about whether you're cool or not? [Jonah laughs.]

john

Meeting Patrick Warburton is a cool thing for a person to do; for you to do, Jesse; for you to do, Jonah Givelber. Have you ever met Patrick Warburton?

jonah

[Laughing] I've never met Patrick Warburton, but I would be so much richer—my life would be so much richer for it.

jesse

I have met Patrick Warburton; and the first time I told my children, they actually each individually wrote a poem about how cool l am. [Jonah cracks up.]

john

Jonah Givelber, while it is—it is normal, right? For kids to not think that their dads are cool, and while this is a podcast that celebrates the inevitability of cool persons' degradation into weird dad territory— [Jonah laughs]—while this is universal, [laughing] you are asking me to say that you are the single exception.

jonah

[Laughs.] Yeah! You know, I wasn't sure I wanted to go there, John, but I'm—I'm okay with that. That I'm the unique example of the dad who has somehow bypassed weird dadness, and just really is cool.

john

What argument would you—are you making to your kids to point out how cool you are?

jonah

Alright. Like, I've tried to think of cool things, like—when they were babies, you know, we didn't do lullabies, but I used to rock them in my arms to Jay-Z, and to Notorious B.I.G., and to Shaggy and other rap music.

crosstalk

Jonah: They now love rap music! Jesse: [Almost laughing too hard to speak] What— Jonah: So I think I should get some respect for that! I get no respect for that. Jesse: [Still laughing] Didn't you— Jonah: And— Jesse: [Still laughing] Wait, hold on!

jesse

[Still laughing] Did you just say Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., and Shaggy?

jonah

I did. [Jesse continues cracking up.] I—the—I know they don't—the three don't really fit together 'cause Shaggy's sort of been left behind where the other two are still prominent.

jesse

[Still laughing] Well, I mean, Shaggy has that new album with Sting that he made!

jonah

I mean, I—I could go on. There're other rappers who—you know, of import, but—but the reason I mentioned Shaggy is because that was really—that was particularly soothing for the boys. I don't know why.

jesse

[Winding down.] With no disrespect intended towards, uh, Shaggy, who's obviously a—a talented musical artist, uh, he's not the first name I would pick [laughing] if I were making a list of cool music.

jonah

No, no, no! I—I'm just trying to be—I'm just trying to be real.

john

Alright. They're not buying that argument, and—and my bailiff laughed at that argument. Give me another argument.

jonah

[Laughs.] Okay, my second argument—and John, you may remember this. You may not, 'cause it—it—it's not necessarily been that much importance to—to, say, your life—

john

You fell out of a tree and had your spleen removed, I remember that!

jonah

Yes. Yeah, no, no, no, but that—[John laughs]—that's not the—the whole accident thing, I haven't gone there. But, um—I mean, they know about it, but I haven't asked for their respect in that particular arena. Although I'm happy to talk about it. But it's, um, my success with—with the ladies in high school! I—I—I had—I had a girlfriend as a junior, and then—uh—

john

Yeah.

jonah

—two as a senior. Not at the same time. But my point is I have an understanding, or had, of, you know, how one might wanna approach the ladies.

crosstalk

Jonah: I try giving my boys any advice— John: Yeah, but you know what—

jonah

—and they think I'm, you know, absurd.

john

But you wanna know something, Jonah?

jonah

Yeah.

john

Like, you and I have not kept in touch.

jonah

Mm-hm.

john

But I remember that you had a girlfriend in high school named Camille, right?

jonah

I did indeed!

john

And you know what I learned in the past couple of years, by accident?

jonah

What? What'd you learn?

john

She's a Scientologist now. So—

jonah

[Disbelieving] No!

crosstalk

John: [Laughing] Yes. Jonah: Really?! Oh my god, that's so funny. I know she's— John: I was reading— Jonah: —like, an actress, [laughing] but that's kind of upsetting, I guess.

john

At least a few years ago, she showed up on one of the Scientology news sites that I follow, that follows Scientology, and she was in an ad for Scientology. I'm like, "Oh. That's Camille; that was—that's who, uh, Jonah was dating!" So that's pretty cool. You can say to your sons, [Laughing] "Hey, I dated a future Scientologist."

jonah

[Laughs.] I'm going to! That's—I'm gonna—I'm gonna come with that tonight! I feel like that may be the—the angle that—that's been missing. You know what I mean?

crosstalk

John: Right. Yeah. Jonah: 'Cause the other thing I was gonna mention to them is how—

jonah

—you know, I was listening to you guys the other day when you were talking with, uh, LeVar Burton—

john

Yeah.

jonah

—and John, you mentioned how you—you knew the Grand Magus of the Church of Satan.

john

We—we're acquainted.

jonah

I know. Uh, but—but what—what I mean is that—uh, I feel like that—there's—there's a—a depth—like, a lot of people are like, "Oh, I know this guy, I know that guy," but to know some—[laughing] to know the leader of the Church of Satan, that's quite a—a—what—what can I say? An acquaintance—

john

So you're—oh, yeah, for sure. I'm—I—I always drop Peter H. Gilmore, High Magus of the Church of Satan's name when I can. I have his email, of course. So your third argument you're gonna make—and then we're gonna get to my ruling, but the third argument you're gonna make to your sons is, "I went to high school with a guy who knows the head of the Church of Satan"?

jonah

[Laughs.] No, the—I'd see—I'd think of that as, like, sprinkles on the sundae. I was wondering—and I've actually tried this on them—uh, you know, the whole humming and beatboxing. And I—and I—

john

Yeah.

jonah

—told them, "Your—your father not only can do this, I did this in front of—in front of a large audience twice in a day and got rave reviews!" And somehow, the humming and beatboxing doesn't really appeal, either. [Jesse laughs.]

john

Well, I was gonna ask you, can you still hum and beatbox? 'Cause I remember that you beatboxed and hummed at the same time, I—I remember when it happened, in the SWS common room on the fourth floor. I remember you were like, "Watch what's gonna happen here," and I remember collecting my brain from the walls because my head was exploded.

jonah

[Laughs.] Yeah, it was—it was a—it was a pivotal time.

jesse

Do you have other cool skills from 1984, like super rad BMX moves or something?

jonah

No. You know, I learned to hum and beatbox 'cause I thought I was gonna try to get on David Letterman's Stupid Human Tricks, and I thought, "Well, I don't really have any tricks," so I—I aimed low. And then I sort of perfected my low—I guess my—my low aim, so to speak?

jesse

[Laughing] Okay.

john

Jesse Thorn, this was literally almost 1984! Like, this was in 1988 or—or 6 or 7! When—you know, in Brookline, Massachusetts, this was—this was a big innovation.

jesse

Jonah is making an argument for why he was cool in 1987, and I don't doubt that Jonah has an argument for why he was cool in 1987, but his children ages 17 and 14 were not even alive at the time. I—I think I need to hear an argument for why he's cool in 2019!

john

Well, can you still hum and beatbox, Jonah?

jonah

I can hum and beatbox.

john

Alright, do it now. Do it!

jonah

[Hums and beatboxes to the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In."] [John and Jesse laugh very quietly throughout.] That's a little bit, John, is that good? [Jesse laughs.]

john

"When the Saints Go Marching In," right? [John and Jesse laugh.]

crosstalk

Jonah: Yeah! That's—that was— Jesse: [Laughing] I— Jonah: —that's 100% "The Saints Go Marching In."

jesse

[Laughing] You're a proponent, Jonah—you're a proponent of the real golden age of hip hop.

jonah

[Laughing] Yeah. Yeah. Of course. Yeah, yeah.

crosstalk

Jonah: Well put. Jesse: [Laughing] 1924.

jonah

[Laughing] Yeah.

john

Alright. Your first argument was you sang, uh, cool songs from your youth to your kids as a young parent.

crosstalk

Jonah: I rocked them in my arms— John: Oh, you played it! You played— Jonah: —while we listened to them.

john

While listening to it, right. Okay, that—I'm gonna tell you right now, that doesn't make you cool. That makes you every dad on Earth. That's like—"Oh, I'm gonna—I'm gonna put this cool song from my youth into my child's head! 'Cause I'm not down with this—you know, 'Wheels on the Bus,' 'Itsy-Bitsy Spider.'" [Jonah laughs.] "Here comes Shaggy!" You are not revolutionary. That's—every—every dad does it. It's a wonderful impulse to share the culture you grew up with, with your kids; that's great. And you had good taste; I don't care how many bailiffs laugh at you. You had good taste [Jonah laughs] in high school. You introduced me to a lot. You introduced me to KRS-One!

crosstalk

John: You! Jonah: Of course!

john

Okay, so there. Two: telling your high school–age sons that you actually had girlfriends in high school—that's not cool. [Laughing] It borders a little on creepy. No. It's a little weird.

crosstalk

Jonah: Okay. You know, that's what my wife says? [Laughs.] John: And—yeah.

john

I wouldn't go around bragging about dates you had in high school.

jonah

For sure.

john

Saying that you are six degrees of Church of Satan—[laughs].

crosstalk

Jonah: [Laugh.] That might be my strongest argument now, John. I've decided. John: That—you know—yeah.

jonah

I—I've changed my whole—my whole argument.

john

Yeah. In fact you're three degrees of Church of Satan, which is really pretty good.

jonah

Yeah.

john

That's okay-cool. The beatboxing and humming? I was thrilled to hear it, but that's just a nostalgia trip for me, and nostalgia is the most toxic impulse. So all of your arguments fail on their face, Jonah Givelber, except for two things. One... You beatboxed and hummed! For a podcast audience of tens of numbers! [Jonah laughs.] I don't know. I don't know what our listenership is. You did it, and you're not afraid!

crosstalk

Jonah: No way, I embrace it. John: That was cool!

john

And the other thing is... You're a stay-at-home dad, the coolest thing in the world! Being a stay-at-home parent is awesome.

crosstalk

Jonah: It's amazing. John: And it's a—it's an incredible experience for both child and parent, if it's possible to do in your life.

john

I envy you. I envy you, Jonah Givelber! I—you know, I—I stayed at home a lot 'cause I was—you know, un- or marginally employed, and usually self-employed, so I got to spend a lot of time with my kids. But I envy you, Joney 'Vel. I've often dreamed of… just being a stay-at-home dad to your children. Weird, isn't it? [Jesse laughs.] So you tell them that Judge John Hodgman thinks you're cool, and that Judge John Hodgman used to be on some TV ads, and that he and Jesse Thorn know Patrick Warburton. And if that's not cool... nothing is. And you know what they're gonna do? They're gonna roll their eyes.

jonah

They might not, though! I mean, I—I—um. I feel like if anyone comes out cool from this particular interaction, it might be you and Jesse. [John and Jesse laugh.] Somehow it'll elude me, and I don't know why that is. It's a little sad.

john

No. If we are as to The Beastie Boys, you are Ad-Rock. And that is the coolest, highest honor that I could bestow to anyone. So I'm really glad you called in, Jonah. I think you're cool. It shouldn't matter whether your kids think you're cool, and it's a shame that your sons don't realize you are a cool dude. This is the sound of a gavel. I gotta hang up and move on!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jonah

Alright. Great talking to you, John! Great talking to you, Jesse! Bye.

jesse

Let's take a quick break. When we come back, we'll hear a case about telephone charging habits.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

["War" by Edwin Starr plays in the background. An upbeat, funky song.] John Roderick: Hey everyone, it's John Roderick from the Friendly Fire podcast, here with Adam Pranica and Ben Harrison. Adam: When was the last time you really liked watching a war film? With Friendly Fire, you get to do it with us! Ben: Yeah! You don't even necessarily have to have seen the movie to get a lot out of an episode of Friendly Fire. John R: In many cases, we would recommend that you not watch the movie, because there are some really, really bad war movies. But a bad war movie makes a great war movie podcast! Adam: And in all cases, we recommend you listen to our show. [Ben laughs.] So subscribe and download to Friendly Fire wherever you get your podcasts! Ben: To the victor go the spoiler alerts. Music: War! Huh!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

We're taking a quick break from the Judge John Hodgman podcast to tell you... that you can see us all around this great nation—and abroad—in November! Yes, that's right! We're going on tour, to as many as some places! [Laughs.]

john

We hit the road back in January on the West Coast. Now we're taking it to the East Coast. Toronto, Ontario; Durham, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Washington, DC—Portland, Maine?! All of these are places that we will be going to! What dates, Jesse?

jesse

November 6th, we're in Toronto. November 7th: Durham. November 8th: Atlanta, Georgia. November 10th: Washington, DC. November 11th: Portland, Maine. All those tickets go on sale Friday, September 13th. That's Friday, September 13th; and you'll be able to find links to each of those shows at our website MaximumFun.org; and, if you're a member of Maximum Fun, keep an eye on your email inbox, because you will be emailed a very special code that allows you to buy advance tickets starting Thursday, September 12th. All the best tickets are for our best pals, and our best pals are Max Fun members.

john

That's September 13th, tickets go on sale for the general population. September 12th for Max Fun members; keep an eye on your inbox for a special code. And we're talking about 2019, if you're a time traveler. Listen! If you've been to a Judge John Hodgman show before, you know what to expect. If you've not been, let me tell you what to expect! It's me, your judge, John Hodgman. Your great bailiff, Jesse Thorn. Live on stage. Hearing cases on stage, taking cases from the audience, having a great time. Special guests, special merch! And you also know that I, John Hodgman, have a book coming out October 15th called Medallion Status, so if you have that book, you can bring it to me after the show and I'll sign it for you and say thank you! And if you don't have that book, we'll be organizing book sales at these events! And you can always pre-order it at Bit.ly/MEDALLIONSTATUS. That's "MEDALLIONSTATUS," all one word, all capital letters. And it's gonna be a great time! Get ready to enter codes and buy tickets. Judge John Hodgman, live justice—

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs]

john

—on sale Friday, September 13th. Let's get back to the docket!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. We're clearing the docket, and we've got something here from Kelsey. "My boyfriend Andy constantly checks my phone’s battery percentage. He usually responds with a 'tsk, tsk, tsk,' a head shake, or a pained cry: 'Oh, he's dying!' Andy thinks failing to keep one's battery at maximum charge is not only irresponsible, but cruel to the poor phone, who must endure the trauma of a near-death experience over and over again. He runs to plug it in like he's hooking it up to life support. I do try to stay charged, but I have an erratic schedule that can keep me away from the office for hours. And when my phone does die, I'm quick to hunt out the nearest public outlet. If you rule in my favor, Andy doesn't get to squeal about my phone battery anymore. If I lose, I vow to fully charge my phone every night, carry around the external battery he got me, and never go below 20 percent—except when camping."

john

Except when camping?!

jesse

[Laughing] That's the only time you actually need it! [Both laugh.]

john

Jesse Thorn, do you have a habit with regard to charging your phone? Do you have a workflow?

jesse

This must be like that thing where some people like to get to the airport really late, and some people like to get to the airport really early.

john

Yeah. And sometimes they travel together, like me and John Roderick. [Both laugh.]

jesse

My experience is that I plug my phone in when I go to sleep, I unplug it when I wake up, it's 2019, and I have never run out of batteries. It's never been a problem. I'm utterly baffled by people who take it to the edge. I don't know how they even make it to the edge. I'm utterly baffled by people who are obsessed with people who take it to the edge, [laughing] and I'm completely confused by people who are obsessed with keeping at 100%. It's a binary thing! It either is on or off. [Laughing] You know what I mean? Like, all you have to do is keep it above one percent.

john

One time, John Roderick and I went to the airport, and—I like to get there really early, and I like to get on that plane first. And John Roderick, who is a man of much greater stature—he should be the mayor of Seattle. We all agree.

jesse

Yeah.

john

He is the mayor-in-waiting of Seattle. The dowager mayor. [Jesse laughs.] But—[laughs]—like you, Jesse Thorn, he is a tall, lanky person, who doesn't wanna spend any more time on a cramped airplane than he can possibly spend. So one time, out of a gesture of… friendship on my part? And I think psychological mind games on his part? He convinced me to wait to be the last person on the plane. The—the two of us would be the last person on the plane that we were boarding together. And I've never been the last person on the plane. And I thought my heart was going to explode. [Jesse laughs.] Even now, thinking about how long we waited in the gate to board that plane, I'm like—I'm getting flush. The plane's gonna leave without me!

john

I am similar when it comes to the phone! Like, I am not as laissez-faire as you are. There's a lot of battery-checking in my life and in my house. Because, you know, I will run a battery down, going down a Instagram, covering-a-LEGO-Hulk-with-golden-putty, uh, rat hole. I will wear a battery down checking and re-double-checking the route that I'm taking, uh, in a car or—or on foot, because I don't trust myself to remember the intersection where there is the recording studio that I've been 100 times before. I do worry about the battery when it's at 30—and certainly at 20%, I really start to get nervous.

john

So I sympathize with boyfriend Andy, and I empathize with boyfriend Andy; but like you, Jesse, it has really never really happened that the phone has just run out. Partly because I'm an—of an "always be charging" mentality, and I will always plug in when I can; but in regular use, once you get pretty low, you know to just put the phone away and enjoy actual life. So I'm gonna side with Kelsey, and in the same vein as "people like what they like," people feel about this the way they feel about this, and Kelsey can manage Kelsey's own power management! You know, there's an issue as well with regard to what's good for the phone. You know, the woman at the AT&T store, when I got my first cell phone, told me "Don't charge it up again until it was fully drained, 'cause it's worse for the battery”. That was 15 years ago or whatever, but I still think about that.

jesse

That's no longer true for modern batteries.

john

Oh, it isn't? Okay. But I still have this 15-year-old battery.

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah.

john

I'll say this: I went on an Internet, and I saw TechRepublic—and I don't know who they are—but they said, you know, keeping it in the 40–80% range prolongs the life of the battery. Maybe that's true, maybe that's not. But I think science, and my bailiff Jesse Thorn, and even I, are basically saying "Chill out, Kelsey's boyfriend." "He" is not dying. The phone's pronouns are "it" and "its." It is not a he. It is not a living thing. It's going to be fine. It's not even a thing you would normally anthropomorphize! Like a boat, or a stuffed animal, or a LEGO Hulk. This LEGO Hulk that is getting draped in golden putty right in front of me can't breathe, but that's because it's inanimate. It's gonna be fine.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Here’s something from Greta. We heard from her in the docket episode, Episode 424: "Barbecuties." Her dispute is with her father. She complains that when she watches TV, her dad has a tendency to watch along from the foyer.

john

Right. They would all watch TV, like, on the couch or loveseat, and Dad would kinda hang back and like, peer around the corner nervously, right?

jesse

Yeah, and say stuff, like, complain about the show, from over the shoulder and eight feet behi—it was very unusual. [Laughing] The specific thing that he would complain was that he said her shows make him nervous.

john

Right. And so I asked what shows does she watch that make him nervous? Are they scary shows? Are they—you know, what are they? And so what did she say?

jesse

This is what she said: "My dad’s hallway shows are mostly sitcoms where 'someone is about to get in trouble.'" [Laughs.]

john

[Laughing] Yeah.

jesse

[Laughing] In other words, sitcoms!

john

[Laughing] Sitcoms. Right.

jesse

[Laughing] She's—her dad is upset by comic misunderstanding. "The anxiety extends to situations where the stakes are social or emotional, like in shows such as I Love Lucy, Seinfeld, and Bob’s Burgers."

john

Three shows that are almost interchangeable in how alike they are. [Jesse laughs.]

jesse

"He's perfectly comfortable watching the carnage and poor decision-making on display in Band of Brothers or Dunkirk." Yeah, well, of course! All dads love watching those things! That's like putting Br'er Rabbit in the briar patch! [Laughs.] "He likes the shows enough to hold him there, but presumably stands in the hall so that he can make a quick and quiet getaway if he senses any oncoming secondhand embarrassment." [Laughing] The number of television sitcoms… that are not animated by uncomfortable social situations—

john

Right.

jesse

Like, I guess there's episodes of Happy Days where, like, a stranger comes to town and threatens to beat somebody up. But that's about 1% of sitcoms. Almost everything is "there was a comic misunderstanding that caused social unrest." [Laughing] There's not a lot of physical threats in sitcoms.

john

[Laughing] Sounds like a very disturbing episode of Happy Days.

jesse

Yeah, well. You'd be surprised.

john

You know, one thing I'll say though—Parks and Rec, a very sweet sitcom! It was not a situation where you're—you know, as they call it, "cringe comedy," where you're watching someone about to be humiliated or humiliating themselves a lot of the time, or putting themselves in social awkwardness that makes people nervous. And they were so sweet because, uh, even though they never invited me back on the show, they referenced my character later on like I still lived in that world! I didn't get any money for it, but it was nice.

jesse

I actually—John, I don't know if you know this, I actually wasn't cast in it at all.

john

What?! I thought everyone got a shot!

jesse

No. I was on Comedy Bang Bang once. Maybe that's what you were thinking of.

john

Yeah, and—oh, and of course you're a voice on Archer, on FX!

jesse

I have not yet been cast as a voice on Archer, which seems strange!

john

No greater injustice have I witnessed than this. I thought by now for sure.

jesse

How many cast members of Archer has Terry Gross put on NPR? Maybe Jon Benjamin's been on. So one. In my case, the answer is all.

john

Archer? Get with it. Give Jesse Thorn a voice roll. There's a version of Archer still on. Right?

jesse

Yeah! Archer's picked up for two more years. One time I went to lunch with them and played Apples to Apples.

john

Yeah, they should have just recorded you playing Apples to Apples and made that a—an episode of Archer. The other thing about Greta was—I understand—like, for her dad, some of those sitcoms to him feel like watching a TV show about me waiting 'til the last minute to get on an airplane. Just nerve-racking! But the other thing about her dad that she mentioned was that he has, quote, "high-stakes hobbies," and I wanted to know what those high-stakes hobbies were! Did she give us any of that information, Jesse Thorn?

jesse

It includes, but is not limited to: "Power tool repair, scuba, tree surgery, winter scalloping, sword collecting, skeet shooting, duck hunting, and a general interest in diesel mechanics." And she also adds that she would like to add to the list "antiquing for art pottery and vintage stemware, both of which items are very breakable."

john

Oh, I didn't realize that her dad is John Roderick. [Both laugh.] John Roderick, host of Friendly Fire on Maximum Fun, as well as other podcasts! Get them. I sympathize and I empathize with her dad. I understand why this makes him nervous, even though he's a sword-collecting, skeet-shooting, duck-hunting, winter scalloper. Social awkwardness makes him feel awkward. But you either get in that room and watch the show, or you leave the room. Hovering like that just makes everyone feel awkward. That's my re-ruling, I guess. I hope it's consistent with what I originally said.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

There's a postscript on this that says, "About ten years ago I saw John Hodgman at the Wagon Wheel restaurant in Gill, Massachusetts. I didn’t say hi, but it’s one of my best stories to tell at parties."

john

Oh! I wish you had said hello, Greta. It's okay to say hello to me—uh, you know, unless it's obviously intrusive or I'm, you know, in an awkward situation of myself, or having a meltdown at an airplane gate because John Roderick is bullying me into not getting into my seat as quickly as I would like.

jesse

[Laughs.] The docket is clear! That's it for another episode of Judge John Hodgman. This week's episode edited by Jesus Ambrosio. Our producer is Jennifer Marmor. Follow us on Twitter, @JesseThorn and @Hodgman. We’re on Instagram @judgejohnhodgman. Make sure to hashtag your Judge John Hodgman Tweets #JJHo, and check out the Max Fun Subreddit at MaximumFun.Reddit.com to discuss this episode. Submit your cases at MaximumFun.org/jjho or email hodgman@maximumfun.org. We'll see you next time on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

john

And I am August N'Butu A-Clementine.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

music

A cheerful guitar chord.

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

speaker 4

—audience supported.

About the show

Have your pressing issues decided by Famous Minor Television Personality John Hodgman, Certified Judge. If you’d like John Hodgman to solve your pressing issue, please contact us HERE.

Follow @judgejohnhodgman on Instagram to view evidence from the cases tried in court.

How to listen

Stream or download episodes directly from our website, or listen via your favorite podcatcher!

Share this show

New? Start here...