TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 451: SerenDIPity

Judge John Hodgman and Bailiff Jesse Thorn talk about heated cat beds, setting the table, morning noise, ranch dressing, singing in the grocery store, and more!

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 451

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, ready to clear the docket. With me as always is the one true king of podcasting, Judge John Hodgman.

john hodgman

This is not a dictatorship, Jesse. There—podcasting has no king.

jesse

[Laughs.] There is a king, and he was appointed by the independent judiciary!

john

I am merely but a regent with a lifetime tenure. [Both laugh.] Ruling in the place of the boy child king of podcasting, who would be... [laughing] Travis McElroy.

jesse

Yeah. No doubt about that.

john

Yeah. Right.

jesse

It's Travis.

john

It's gotta be. Of all of the McElroys, Tra—[laughs] Travis is the most princely, and the most sort of like, aristocratically erratic. [Both laugh.]

jesse

I bet Travis is wearing an ermine robe right now. [Both laugh.]

john

I bet—I bet—you know what? If anyone in the world is gonna be just randomly wearing an ermine robe right now, it'd be Travis McElroy. [Stifling laughter] And what's happening right now is Travis McElroy is listening to this podcast in his ermine robe, going "How do they know?" [Both laugh.]

jesse

We know 'cause we love ya, Trav!

john

Yeees! But you shall never be king. [Both laugh.]

jesse

Let's get to the justice. Here's something from Kit. She says: "Dear Judge Hodgman. My husband Jimmy thinks it's perfectly okay to deny our cats heated pet beds in the winter, in the hopes that they will snuggle and dogpile with him while we sleep. I think this is a monstrous abuse of their feline good will, and that a truer test of their love is them choosing to snuggle, instead of being forced to snuggle for survival. He says I'm denying the cats their one job! Who is right?"

john

Feline good will? Those words don't go together! [Laughs.]

jesse

[Laughing] Cat people are really something, John!

john

They really are. Do you know—this may change your opinion on the case. But I wrote to Kit after I got this, and I said "Well, how many cats do you have?" And she said "Only seven." [Both laugh.]

jesse

So they—he—her husband Jimmy could be crushed by the pile! [Laughs.]

john

I know! When she said he would be smothered in cats, I was like "Well, that's hyperbole." No, it's true! [Both laugh.] Seven cats! And believe me, not one of them has good will towards you! [Jesse laughs.] They may have a deep connection to your bodily warmth, and a certain tolerant fondness for you. But Jimmy and Kit both know that if they had the choice between a human being and a heated bed, never mind seven of them to choose from... they're gonna pick that heated bed! I've never heard of a heated bed for cats or dogs, Jesse. Is that something you have?

jesse

It is not something I have. And it's not something that I believe myself to be denying my pets. [John laughs, Jesse stifles laughter.] I don't think it is the divine right of pets to have a heated bed.

john

Yeah.

jesse

Though it might be nice for them! I mean, I can understand. I think my wife might like a heated bed.

john

Have you ever slept with an electric blanket?

jesse

I haven't ever. I mean, I've never lived somewhere cold. [Laughs.]

john

Right. [Laughs.] Right. I grew up in New England, which of course is a region of the Northeastern United States comprising five states and one commonwealth.

crosstalk

John: And that's cold. Jesse: Yeah, not familiar, but... John: It's cold up there. Jesse: Yeah. John: No.

john

It's cold up there, and there were still some lingering electric blankets hanging around in some of the homes of my friends and family at a time when it was widely accepted that if you turned on an electric blanket, you would burn to death that night for sure. [Both laugh.] There would be a short, and you would just go up in flames. And I don't even know if they still make 'em—I'm not gonna look it up right now—and if they do they probably have got some better safety mechanisms. But they're—it was like a New England regional legend that these things were just folded up quilts of death. And yet, one time I stayed in a home in Maine in the dead of winter and I found one, and I decided—I was an adult, and I decided I—you know, I would take the risk. And I plugged it in. And obviously I am not a ghost; I am speaking to you now, so it's not a spoiler to say I survived the night. But once I got over a long period of fearing that I was going to burn up to a crisp, it was the greatest feeling I've ever had in my life, to be covered in that heated blanket. Maybe I slept better knowing that I was risking death. I don't know! [Jesse cracks up, John laughs.]

jesse

'Cause you had like, burned-out pleasure centers in your brain?

john

Yeah, you know, it was like, I was such a risk-averse person! You would think that I wouldn't be able to sleep at all, but something about it just made me feel like "Yeah, I'll stare into the abyss!" Every time you go to sleep it's a little rehearsal for surrender to the sweet darkness of death anyway.

jesse

Sleep is the cousin of death! As Nas once said.

john

That's right! Why not add some risk to it? I think they're probably fine. I don't think, Kit, that your cats... would burn up in a seven heated bed house fire. But nor do I think they're going to perish—[stifles laughter] if they don't have them. And frankly, I think you've given over as much of your life to these cats already. 'Cause I'm sure you've already—given the fact that you have seven cats, I presume you have gotten rid of all your furniture and just replaced your couch and side chairs with kitty condos, anyway.

jesse

[Laughs.] Or just bales of cardboard boxes.

john

[Laughs.] Yeah. I don't love the picture of your husband Jimmy covered in seven cats, getting his quote-unquote "snuggles." That's gross. But— [Both laugh.] But I think that his—the crux of this, his secret feeling, is "I don't want seven flammable cat beds in my house." [Beat.] How many litter boxes do you think she has?

jesse

[Laughs.] I—[laughs] I bet she has to change 'em twice a day, and they still smell.

john

That's probably true, Jesse, but I think that probably Jimmy and Kit, and all seven of their cats, who probably have... interesting names and I'm a little mad she didn't tell them to me—uh, I bet they have a great time. A smelly time, but a great time. I rule in Jimmy's favor.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

What if they got a heated mattress pad? That would turn their entire bed into a heated... pet bed.

john

So the two of them could be sleeping in bed with all of the cats, and when the time comes they'll all burn together?

jesse

Yeah! No one wants to survive the other.

john

I think this is—it's a solution that I will not recommend, for legal reasons. [Jesse laughs.] But it's out there. [Both laugh.]

jesse

Here's something from Clay: "I'd like to bring the case against my girlfriend Stacy. Almost every night after work, I cook us a meal from a meal kit. This is our after-work routine. Stacy showers and plays video games while I cook dinner. Then we eat and watch a show together. Domestically we have a fairly even split of chores, and though I feel like I do a little more than my share sometimes, I'm sure she feels the same way. If I'm cooking the food, plating the food, and washing the dishes—all of which are my responsibility—I'd like to have the judge order Stacy to set the table. With our schedules, we end up eating dinner rather late. I like that she enjoys playing video games, and I don't wanna feel like a mom. But if she would set the table, it would help get the food to our mouths more quickly. An extra bonus would be if she could help me do the chopping of vegetables, which she enjoys and I do not." [John laughs.] Dubious claim.

john

I—[laughs]. I know. She probably doesn't enjoy chopping up vegetables, either! Do you, Jesse?

jesse

No one enjoys chopping vegetables! I mean, like, you might enjoy chopping vegetables if your... life is empty— [John laughs.] —or the alternative is terrible. I mean, I'm not saying that chopping vegetables is a horrible torture or anything. And you know, maybe some people might find it somewhat meditative.

john

Yeah!

jesse

[Stifling laughter] Or they may wish to stab or chop someone or something else, and they're using the vegetables as a proxy. [Both laugh.]

john

What is the best vegetable to chop, what is the worst vegetable to chop?

jesse

[Exhales thoughtfully.] Wow, that's a tough question, isn't it?

john

Mm-hm. I hate carrots, and I don't like chopping up carrots.

jesse

No, 'cause they're gonna roll around on you, and they're hard to chop in half so that they don't roll around on you!

john

Yeah, and also I don't wanna eat 'em. So why am I doing it?

jesse

You're wrong about that one.

john

No, no—

jesse

A roasted carrot is one of the greatest of vegetables.

john

Yeah, no, no, everyone likes what they like. I just don't—I don't care for 'em.

jesse

Well, you're mistaken.

john

Um, what else? I like, uh—

crosstalk

John: I guess I like ch—I— Jesse: Some rosemary. Olive oil. Garlic.

john

Oh, you hitting me with a recipe?

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah, well, just for roasted carrots.

john

Gimme Jesse Thorn's famous roastees.

jesse

Chopped carrots. [Stifles laughter.] Add some garlic, you know, smushed up or chopped up. Some rosemary from the bush in my back yard.

john

Yeah.

jesse

And then roast 'em up! And then [smacking lips] "Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!"

john

Are you selling rosemary from your back yard on the podcast now? [Both laugh.]

jesse

No, I sell it at—

john

Jesse Thorn's Back Yard Rosemary?

jesse

[Stifling laughter] I sell it at the farmer's market in Maryland! [John laughs.] I sell it outta the back of my Volkswagen Minibus!

john

That's either a reference to the past or the future. [Both laugh.]

jesse

Yeah. Hard to say. [Laughs.] We don't always record episodes in the same order that we release them.

john

I take it back. There is one carrots recipe that I like a lot, and that is my mom's—my mom got it from her friend Jackie Brown. Not the movie, but my mom's friend. And it's a recipe for horseradish carrots.

jesse

Hm!

john

With a crumbled up Triscuit topping. And it's really good, I'm gonna post it on the InstagramJudge John Hodgman Instagram—so that everyone can make it, 'cause it's good. I like that. But that is a real chore to make! 'Cause you have to cut the carrots into little match sticks, and it's hard! I don't like it! I would use a meal kit, I guess, for that. Pre-cut carrots or whatever. You ever use a meal kit?

jesse

I've used meal kits, but I don't think I've ever used one where they came with pre-cut vegetables. I've always had to cut the vegetables.

john

Right, right, right. I guess I'm asking you that question just to drag this out a little bit, because obviously Stacy's wrong. [Both laugh.] Stacy, don't be lazy and play a video game when Clay is making you dinner all night long. Just set the table. It's—you know, many hands make light work, etc., etc., etc. But... now back to the meal kit. I've never used one, do you like 'em?

jesse

I like 'em pretty well, yeah! I use them primarily because, uh, I am a podcast host.

john

Right.

jesse

Whose podcasts are sometimes sponsored by meal kit companies. [Laughs.]

john

Yeah!

jesse

And they send you meal kits so that you can talk about them, having used them, and I've used several kinds. I've enjoyed them all!

john

Hi. The presenting sponsor for today's Judge John Hodgman is Jesse Thorn's Roasted Carrot Kit. [Both laugh.]

jesse

[Stifling laughter] Featuring organically grown rosemary, and some carrots I got at the grocery store.

john

[Stifles laughter.] Would you—would you prepare one roasted carrot kit for one Judge John Hodgman listener? Would you be willing to do that?

jesse

Yes. I would, yes.

john

For an appropriately generous contribution during the MaxFunDrive?

jesse

Absolutely. No doubt about it.

john

Alright. Then I will commit with you to prepare one John Hodgman's Mother's Friend Jackie Brown Official Horseradish Carrot Meal Kit that I will ship to you for an equally appropriately generous and considerate donation during the MaxFunDrive. And we'll figure out a way to do this. So stay tuned, 'cause MaxFunDrive is just around the corner! But meanwhile, Stacy, set the table.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

john

Boy, that's two women in heterosexual romantic partnerships who are wrong in a row. This is a new record for Judge John Hodgman.

jesse

You know how I said I have a rosemary bush in my back yard?

john

Yeah?

jesse

I do. Uh—

john

Ah!

jesse

It's gigantic, and, um—it's actually a series of several—it's sort of a rosemary hedge. And my dog Coco, the elder of my two dogs—

john

Yeah.

jesse

—sometimes will go in the back yard and hide.

john

Yeah?

jesse

And I like to pick her up and sort of sniffle my nose into her.

john

Yeah, of course!

jesse

'Cause she has kind of fuzzy fur and she smells like popcorn. Sometimes I pick her up, and I can tell she's been in the back yard because she smells very strongly of rosemary. [Both laugh.] It's like dog perfume!

john

That's fantastic! Well, then—well, then—

jesse

Yeah, and then I roast her up to get the caramelization. [Laughs.]

john

I was—[laughs] I was gonna say, that's actually an argument to get Coco a heated dog bed.

crosstalk

John: Because you run her through the rosemary bush, and then throw her into a— Jesse: [Laughing] Okay, okay!

jesse

Okay! Let's take a quick break!

john

No, I'm not talk—I'm just saying—listen!

crosstalk

John: Hear me out! I'm not saying— Jesse: [Laughing] Let's take a break!

john

I'm not talking about that! I'm just saying it'll warm Coco up, and she'll emanate rosemary, and it'll be like doggy aroma therapy! That's all.

jesse

[Laughs.] More items on the docket coming up in just a minute on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

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[Three gavel bangs.]

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. We're clearing the docket this week. Guy asks: "My wife and I sleep on separate futons in the same room in order to maximize comfort and sleep quality. On the days when I wake up first, I'm very careful not to make unnecessary noise, even though she's able to fall back to sleep easily after being woken up. My wife, however, creates a lot of noise, because she is quote: 'In a hurry!' unquote, and doesn't think it's a problem that I cannot fall back to sleep in most cases. I'd like you to order my wife to turn the bedroom doorknob, close the door, then slowly turn the knob back in order to avoid—[stifling laughter] the click heard 'round the world." [John snorts.] "Like any considerate human being would do."

john

What I'm reflecting upon is—what are the cases we've had so far? First we had Kit and Jimmy and their seven cats. Then we had Clay and Stacy, who every night, Clay cooks and Stacy plays video games and then they watch a TV show together. And now we have Guy and his wife sleeping on separate futons. And obviously not being woken up by children. Like, how great it must be to not have children. Like... [Both laugh.] To just play a video game, eat dinner, and then watch TV. And then go to bed on your separate futons, and the worst thing you have to worry about is that your spouse or partner might accidentally close the door a little too hard! [Jesse laughs, John stifles laughter.] To stop you from your glorious lie-in. Or that, you know, all you have to think about is whether to get heated beds for all your fur babies. I love my children! At one point I made a reference to couples who were "childless," and someone wrote a very pointed email to me saying I should say "child-free." And I want you to know I love my children, and if you have children, I love your children too. I think children are great. But a couple making a choice to not have children? [Wistful sigh.] What a life! What a life you must lead, where this is the worst of your problems. Specifically within the realm of sleep.

jesse

Sometimes my wife sends children into my room—or our room—to wake me up. So I'll just be sound asleep, and then I'll just hear "Da! Wake up! Wake up!"

john

[Cackles delightedly.] I mean, I say this as someone who—like, I love that, and I—obviously I'm someone who every 30 minutes or so thinks about the fact that my daughter is about to turn 18 and then I burst into tears. It's not that I don't love 'em. You know what I'm saying. That's—that's—yeah. [Sighs.] Two futons, huh? Alright. Let's talk about that now. [Both laugh.] I mean, there's a precedent in the Judge John Hodgman law book that it is my recommendation that one should not confuse the wonderful intimacy of marriage with the very highly personal and singular necessity for sleep. Especially since sleep is a solitary pursuit that often involves farting. And that therefore... [Jesse laughs.] ...married couples should sleep as far away from each other as possible. And if their circumstances in this world allow it—the space and money can support it—that they should get a king bed at a minimum, and at a maximum, the perfect sleeping arrangement is separate villas on an Italian island that are separated only by a... a reflecting pool. [Both laugh.] Or a marble walkway! With a marble walkway down the middle, so you can visit each other from time to time. [Jesse laughs.] Where is Guy writing from?

jesse

Guy is actually writing from Japan.

john

Alright.

jesse

Which is I presume why he believes that in order to maximize comfort and sleep quality, he should sleep on a futon.

john

Yeah, that flies in the face of my learned experience of sleeping on futons.

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah.

john

That it's very, very uncomfortable. But perhaps it is cultural, or perhaps they got better futons over there than the ones I would get when I first lived in New York from like, Futon World or whatever. But yeah, wow! He's real—so they've really done it! They've really done—gone all the way. They are sleeping in separate beds!

jesse

Yeah.

john

I have to imagine that they're sleeping pretty well! But still Guy is complaining. Because his wife is not being as quiet. Maybe they need to move to separate rooms? I don't know.

jesse

Is it only that she's slamming the door on the way out? The clicking of the handle of the door as the door closes is what's irrevocably awakening him?

john

Maybe he's like a super taster, except with hearing. Super hearer.

jesse

Maybe he's just really committed to staying woke.

john

[Laughs.] I think that—yeah! He's asking specifically for the ruling about turning the knob back slowly to avoid the click. And if that's the only noise she's making that you have a problem with, then Guy, I think that you need to accept that even though you've separated your lives into separate futons, and you don't have children, you are still living with another human being. [Stifles laughter.] And that person has—is going to be emanating sounds and smells, and words, and has needs that are not yours, no matter what. There is always going to be a certain amount of sacrifice that you are going to have to make. If that one click is the only thing that is bothering you, then I think you're just gonna have to deal with it. If, on the other hand, she's making all kinds of noise, and the only thing you want her to do is just save you from that one click, that's a very minimal and small thing to ask. Only you know, Guy, which is the truth. It's a puzzle box! It's a—a whatchamacallit, a Schrodinger’s Cat box. [Both laugh.] I don't know what's in there! I don't know whether she's making a lot of noise, and the click is the most reasonable thing to ask, or whether she's not making any noise at all and the click is the only thing you're asking. So Guy, you have to choose what's gonna happen here. Only you know whether the click heard 'round the world is the only noise, or just the tip of the noisy iceberg. If it's the only noise, deal with it. If it's the tip of the noisy iceberg, you're perfectly entitled to be free of one little noise like that."

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

And I'm gonna throw something on top of there.

john

Yeah, please.

jesse

Get some earplugs, homie!

john

[Whispering] Oh, snap.

jesse

Dude! Get them plugs!

john

Yeah, right?

jesse

Plug it up! You know, John, I'm a really good sleeper.

john

Yeah.

jesse

But I am also very dependent on getting good sleep, because interruptions in my sleep schedule are a migraine trigger for me.

john

Right!

jesse

So my beloved and perfect wife is often the one—typically the one—who gets up with our kids when they wake up early. And I found that that process, whether it was a—you know, a small child wandering into our room, or Theresa getting up out of bed and, you know, doing what she needs to do to get out of our bedroom and so on and so forth, was waking me up. And you know, that is a threat to my productivity in a given day. And so I started using earplugs. Despite having—you know, I grew up in the city, where things are very noisy. I'm used to sleeping in a relatively noisy environment. But it was waking me up first thing in the morning, and I started putting in earplugs... It is a dream! It's great! I'm sleeping like a baby! Like a reverse baby! Like a baby if babies slept well. [John laughs.] Babies are the problem here—[laughing] that I'm trying to address.

john

Yeah, Guy, I order you to get some earbuds as well. And then take your futon and just put it in another room, in a totally isolated room with no windows. That's another thing you could do.

jesse

[Laughs.] Here's something from Craig. He says: "Dear Judge John Hodgman: I recently made a salad for dinner, and placed an assortment of salad dressings on the table, including a bottle of ranch."

john

Wait a minute. Is this a question, or just a brag? [Laughs.]

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah.

john

I mean, it was a pretty cool brag. [Laughs.]

jesse

Classic dressing brag. [Laughs.] "When my daughter Hannah noticed the bottle of ranch, she inquired as to why I placed it on the table, and I replied that it was for the salad. In a confused voice, she asked why anyone would put dip on their salad. It appears that she has grown up exclusively understanding ranch to be a dip! I tried to explain that it originated as a salad dressing, but she would have nothing to do with this logic. She pointed to the bottle label, which had a picture of assorted vegetables cut up, as proof that it's meant to be a dip."

john

Cut-up vegetables again!

jesse

Yeah.

john

Twice in the podcast! Ugh.

jesse

Yeah. Seren-dip-ity is what they call that.

john

Seren-dip-ity?

jesse

That's also how they refer to the film Serendipity. [Both laugh quietly.] "I seek a decision supporting my position that ranch is a salad dressing sometimes used as a dip."

john

Well, Jesse Thorn, first of all... thank you. Because you know, my book Medallion Status came out last year. The paperback's forthcoming, of course, but after that, you know, I don't really have a big... project, like a book project or a screenplay project or an acting project lined up at this moment. So like, the future's a little unsure for me. And luckily, I have the consistency of this podcast—this wonderful chance to talk to you, and to talk to all my friends out there in the world. This project is ongoing and wonderful, but I've been kind of having to think about what's my next thing to do at this stage of my career. And now I realize it is to open an all-dip restaurant called Seren-dip-ity. Duh. [Both laugh.]

crosstalk

Jesse: You know, it— John: How has this not happened?

jesse

[Laughs.] There's only one man who can answer that question, and I believe it is Nick Wiger from The Doughboys. [Both laugh.] Who would not call it a restaurant. He would call it an all-dip concept.

john

[Laughs.] You know, I—it's funny you should mention Nick Wiger, because Nick opens his and his cohost Mike Mitchell's show The Doughboys with a little historical essay about whatever fast food or chain restaurant they're reviewing that week. And I was gonna pull a little Wiger here and give you some history of another great business idea, which is ranch dressing. But I'll do it in a Socratic form. Jesse?

jesse

Yes.

john

Do you know who invented ranch dressing? [Beat.]

jesse

Uh... Francis Hiddenvalley?

john

[Laughs.] No. Good guess, though. Steve Henson, who was a contract plumber in Alaska—I think he was working on the pipeline up there, and he had to make a lot of meals for his coworkers, and he invented this mixture of buttermilk dressing and a particular collection of herbs and chives and stuff. And then he and his wife bought a dude ranch, and they called it Hidden Valley Ranch! And he made the dressing for the restaurant and the dude ranch, and people liked it so much that they started taking home jars of it, and then he and his wife started making up pre-mixed packages. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing is actually based on a real ranch, in a... actual secret valley that no one can find. [Both laugh.] That's not true. They could find it. But that—the ranch is gone now. Do you know when ranch dressing first became nationally available in a shelf-stable bottle?

jesse

I don't, no!

john

What would be your guess?

jesse

1975

john

1983, which to our younger listeners—

jesse

Wow.

john

—sounds about like 1975. One million years ago.

jesse

But I'm older than shelf-stable ranch dressing!

john

I know! You would—it's a relatively recent phenomenon, and a huge one! And you know who bought the Hidden Valley Ranch recipe and trademark from Steve Henson and his wife?

jesse

Lex Luthor.

jesse

[Stifles laughter.] Almost as bad! Clorox. [Both laugh.] While ranch dressing is now a generic term, and other companies make ranch-style dressing, [stifles laughter] Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing is owned and operated still by Clorox, and that makes it gross. And I love ranch dressing! That feels gross to me. And in 1992, ranch dressing became the post popular dressing in the United States of America by sales, eclipsing—what would you guess was the second-most? [Jesse exhales thoughtfully.] Or what dressing did it unseat? I guess is what I'm asking.

jesse

[Exhales again.] Balsamic vinaigrette? Italian! I'm going Italian.

john

Italian, you win! [Laughs.]

jesse

Yes!

john

I know all of this because I went to the Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing website. And learned a lot of information about Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. I felt like I should go to the source. And one of the things that I learned... is that, first of all, they have a rewards program. [Laughs.]

jesse

[Stifling laughter] Yeah...

john

Called Ranchology Rewards. [Both stifle laughter.] Where you create an account, and then you "like" things on their website, and—I don't think you get free dressing! I think you just get Internet badges, and different status levels of ranch-liking. Like—

jesse

You know, when I told my dad that I was gonna become a podcaster, he asked why I wouldn't become something more practical, like a ranchologist.

john

[Laughs.] I mean, the sheer—the sheer sheerness of creating a... ranch dressing loyalty program is incredible! Especially since you do not need to breed loyalty of ranch dressing. Everyone loves ranch dressing; it's more popular than Italian! I also went to their FAQ, and learned a very interesting thing... "Question: Can I use the dip mix for salad dressing, and vice versa? Answer: Yes. It's all about what texture you're going for. Use the dip mix if you prefer a thicker dressing, or the pourable dressing as a dip if you prefer a smoother, creamier texture." So! Craig! It turns out... your daughter is correct! They are not interchangeable; they are not the same thing. Ranch dressing, according to Hidden Valley Ranch, is smoother and more pourable than its dip form, which I presume uses more sour cream and mayonnaise to make it thicker.

jesse

Probably more xanthan gum.

john

[Laughs.] You're right, Jesse, probably more xanthan gum. So I will not support your position that ranch is a salad dressing that is sometimes used as a dip. Hidden Valley Ranch sells it in different forms! And personally, if I were making a—from scratch, a homemade salad dressing or dip, I would use less xanthan gum! I don't use any xanthan gum. But you know, I would not want a salad dressing that has the texture of a dip. And I would not want a dip that has the texture of a salad dressing. And you can adjust the texture very simply by adding more liquid, like milk, or more—a more gloppier dairy product, like sour cream or mayonnaise. What I wanna say is, though, congratulations to you for making that salad. That was something else. You made a salad for dinner, and I love the fact that you put out a whole bunch of different dressings. That's something that I don't see enough of at a home table, and it makes me feel like I'm in a buffet line at craft services on break from shooting a TV show. And I love it.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

[Laughs quietly.] Speaking of breaks, let's take a quick break. When we come back, we'll hear a case about supermarket singing, and we'll hear a letter from a listener.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

We're taking a break from Judge John Hodgman. We're in chambers. What have you got coming up, John?

john

Well, Jesse, you know, here we are at the end of January, and thus the countdown begins for the debut of I, Podius, the very special podcast miniseries in which Elliott Kalan of The Flop House and I—John Hodgman of the Judge John Hodgman podcast—watch, re-watch, and talk about the appropriately famous—and even infamous—1976 BBC miniseries I, Claudius, about ancient Rome and featuring [stifles laughter] some of the most amazing mid-seventies British character actor performances of all time, including Patrick Stewart with hair. And before you know it, it will be all there in your feeds for you to enjoy as well. Elliott and I came up with this idea. We were talking about it during MaxFunDrive last year. I learned that Elliott had never seen I, Claudius, which is weird, 'cause all Elliott does is see things. And I made him watch it, and we talked about it, and we had a great time talking. And then thanks to you folks at MaximumFun.org, you hooked us up with producer Jordan Kauwling, and she added a whole other element to this conversation that was great. And we ended up interviewing lots of members of the cast. We had lots of letters from people who had watched it and been traumatized by it as children, 'cause it's a very frank, adult show. And it just ended up being a really fun project that I hope you will check out! Do you have to have seen I, Claudius to listen to the podcast? ...Probably not! [Stifles laughter.] Because we do a fairly good job of recapping everything. But I think it would be fun, if you've never seen I, Claudius or haven't seen it for a while. It's an incredible piece of television, and you might enjoy yourself watching an episode. You can download it I think on iTunes, or on Acorn is another service. Watching an episode, then listening to the podcast, and watching an episode and listen to the podcast... and by the time you get to the end of it, [stifles laughter] Jordan and Elliott and I just sit around having a conversation about what just happened, and I feel like we're all pretty close to—to tears! [He and Jesse stifle laughter.] It was a very emotional experience. So please check out I, Podius, and, um—we were really thrilled to make it, because we—you know, we reached a certain membership benchmark goal at MaxFunDrive last year. It was originally gonna be a members-only thing, but then we just let it—we're letting it out to the whole world. And if you like it, I would only ask that you consider, you know, stepping up and supporting MaxFun during the MaxFunDrive when it happens in just a few weeks. Because obviously, you know, we rely on your support to keep everything going here, and the lights on, and the hot and cold running podcasts flowing. So think of us at MaxFunDrive when you listen to I, Podius, available wherever you get your podcasts! What are you—what's going on with you, Jesse?

jesse

Well, first of all as the business mind—as the unquestioned, powerful, steel trap–like business mind behind Maximum Fun—I just wanted to make clear, there's no monetization strategy for this podcast, I, Podius.

john

No.

jesse

This is really just a thank-you to everyone who has become a Maximum Fun member, and we hope that it encourages people to think of us well when the MaxFunDrive comes around the corner. So please do listen to it, it's really, really fun, and we—[laughs] we did pay Jordan to make it. [Laughs.] So—

john

Yeah, Jordan—well, Jordan worked hard.

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah.

john

I mean, all I did was—[laughs] all I did was watch this thing that I love, and then talk about it with a friend that I love. But it still took time, and Jordan worked really hard. So please think of us, and I, Podius, when MaxFunDrive comes around.

jesse

I will mention the two guests who are on this week's Bullseye, my arts and culture interview program from Maximum Fun and National Public Radio, and the two that are on next week's podcast. And I will just say it's a great time to check in on Bullseye. This week we have Joe Pera, who's the creator of maybe my favorite show on television right now, Joe Pera Talks with You. Which is a slow, dry, but very heartful live action show on Adult Swim that is so beautiful and hilarious. And Joe Pera—if you're wondering, if you've seen the show and you've been wondering, Joe Pera is for real. And Greta Gerwig! Who directed I think my favorite movie of the year, Little Women, a movie that just destroyed me. I just loved it so much, and she is such a genius. Like, such an incredible genius.

john

Snubbed!

jesse

Yeah.

john

I'm gonna say snubbed.

jesse

Snu—I—

john

Snubbed at the Oscars.

jesse

I agree, but you know, if you're an Oscar voter, you know what to do. She's—the movie's nominated in a few categories nonetheless.

john

Right.

jesse

And then next week on the program, Lynda Barry, the comics writer who is so stunningly inspirational about making creative work that you can't even believe it, and her books are so brilliant and amazing. She came to MaxFunCon last year and just lit up everyone's life.

john

Boy. She's really—

jesse

She's an incredible woman.

john

Really, really special.

jesse

And then my favorite comedian in the world, and one of my favorite people in the world, the great Maria Bamford. Who has a new special called Weakness is the Brand.

john

Yeah. Also incredibly special!

jesse

Ugh.

john

Jesse Thorn, you get special people to be on Bullseye because you're one of the best interviewers in the biz.

jesse

Yeah.

john

You're a thoughtful person, and you've got incredible taste. And I cannot stress enough how much I've learned, and how many important creative people in my life whose work I've been introduced to for the very first time by listening to Bullseye, and what a treat it is to hear it every week. So everyone within the sound of my voice, if you're not already subscribing and listening regularly to Bullseye, do it, and if you are already subscribing and listening to Bullseye, tell someone about it! 'Cause it's one of the best.

jesse

And not to brag, but returning to the show in a couple of weeks to tell us about the song that changed his life? One Huey Lewis.

john

Nooo! Really?

jesse

Yeah. Yeah.

john

Do you know what the song is? I mean—well, you have to tune in to find out, but will you tell me off the air?

jesse

I'll tell you off the air.

john

Okay.

jesse

Let's get back to the docket.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. We're clearing the docket this week. Here is something from Bridget: "Honorable Judge Hodgman, I bring the case against my life partner Alex. He says that when I sing along to the music playing at the supermarket, I seem old. I say the music is good! So why wouldn't I sing along? The supermarket wants me to have a pleasurable experience in their establishment, and shopping must be done!" [John snorts.] "I seek—" [Laughs.] I like Bridget's flair. "I seek a verdict in my favor, and an injunction: if the music is good at the supermarket, Alex should signal pleasure in some way, such as nodding his head to the music, occasional lip-synching, or at least smiling in my direction when I am singing." [Laughs.] Wow, big ask—she closed with a big ask.

john

Yeah, we'll get to that in a second. I don't understand what Alex is mad about. She doesn't seem old to me! He should be so happy that he's life-partnered with a quirky dreamer from an eighties movie montage! [Jesse laughs.] Who's singing and dancing in the grocery store!

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah! Congratulations on living the Zach Braff lifestyle!

john

[Laughs.] I'm sorry that—I'm sorry that Bridget's flair and brio and all the other words that we use today cause you to scowl! You old grinch, Alex! Jesse, you ever sing along in the grocery store?

jesse

[In the tone of speaking to Alexa or Google Assistant etc.] Hey, Grocery Store, play Huey Lewis and the News: Sports. [John laughs.] [Regular tone] Come on! I don't know! I—I probably would sing along in a grocery store! I mean... honestly, like, who could hear, for example, [stifling laughter] the song "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon without going—

crosstalk

John: [Singing] Booo doop boop boop. Jesse: [Singing] Bahhh dop bop bop! Bahhh dop bop bop! John: [Singing] Booo doop boop boop! Boom, boom, boom, boom! Jesse: [Laughing] That's like—that's what it is to be human! John: [Singing] Bada boom boom boom! Boom boom, boom boom, baradum boom boom! [Back to speaking.]

john

[Laughs.] Yeah, that's true. We have a small grocery store near our home that we go to, and um—it's called The Bad Wife. [Laughs.] Mr. and Mrs. Lee, who—it used to be called Seventh Avenue Grocery; they did a huge renovation. And they decided to give it a new name. And for various cultural and probably language miscommunications—they later explained they wanted to be called, like, The Forgetful Spouse. You know, like, this is a place where if you forgot one thing for dinner, you can go out really quickly and get it. And you can be assured that that thing from The Forgetful Spouse is of very high quality, because the place has the best produce in the neighborhood. Best artichokes I've ever eaten come from that place, and an incredible selection for such a small store! I love them! And now I just take for granted that the name is The Bad Wife. But I can also say, they also have incredible—I don't know what service they're using, Apple Music, Spotify, but they've got incredible playlists in there. I heard the Mountain Goats in there one time.

jesse

[Laughing] Is there anything more Park Slope on Earth than being in your local corner grocery and hearing the Mountain Goats?

john

But it's not typical Park Slope! Because you have to know that within our block radius, we have five corner groceries. [Laughs.] That's more corner groceries than there are corners, for a block. [Jesse laughs.] And yet none of them are playing the Mountain Goats! They're all just playing whatever's on the radio. But they have killer playlists in The Bad Wife! And it is totally—I do not think they are trying to be cool in any way, they're just this incredibly lovely awesome expert grocer older couple, with interesting taste and interesting ideas. "Let's call it something different! Let's play some Mountain Goats! Hail Satan!" Anyway... Uh, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, Bridget. Alex should not police Bridget's enjoyment of the world around her. He doesn't have to enjoy the world around him, and clearly he doesn't. [Jesse laughs quietly.] But he should not police her enjoyment of the world around her. She may be acting... in a way that is a little bit embarrassing to him. But maybe he should, you know, learn from the manic pixie dream girl in his life to open up! [Laughs.] No. I equally think that Bridget should not be policing Alex's response to the music in the supermarket. Like, she's literally telling him to smile more, and that's awful. Bridget? You do your thing, and dance to the music and sing along to the songs while getting your artichokes at The Bad Wife. And Alex, you do your thing and just scowl and barely tolerate it. And it'll be fine!

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

[Laughs.] Here's a letter from Stephanie. This is in response to episode 439, "Traffic Stopper," in which we heard from someone who wanted to know if she could bring her own hot sauce on her Peruvian vacation instead of consuming the local hot sauces. Stephanie says: "As a Peruvian American whose husband frequently likes to douse pollo a la brasa—which is a chicken that is rotisserie-roasted over charcoal—in ketchup and barbecue sauce..."

john

[Disgruntled] Hm.

jesse

"...I had a visceral reaction to hearing the writer's plans to travel with their own hot sauce in South America. Beyond the aji verde and aji amarillo Bailiff Thorn mentioned, there is a whole world of amazing hot sauces, salsas, and cremas. Rocoto is very popular, often used as a base to house sauces. My mom uses this with some salt, pepper, lime, and sliced spring onion to make a topping for hardboiled eggs." Mm!

john

Mm!

jesse

"It's so good! It even makes the chalkiest yolk palatable. Most restaurants will have at least one house hot sauce to accompany foods. Peruvians like it hot!"

john

Rocoto!

jesse

Rocoto.

john

I'll have to give that a try.

jesse

"Here's some advice for heat-seeking travelers. If you're a foreigner, the assumption will be made that you'd like your food mild. If you reach for the house hot sauce pot, or order a dish that is traditionally spicy, you'll get dramatic warnings. Learn the phrase 'Me gusta picante: I like it spicy,' and you'll have a much better experience of Peruvian cuisine."

john

Mm!

jesse

"If you ever have the chance to visit, absolutely try the mayonnaise. It's less thick than ours here, but made with lime juice, so it adds a sublime brightness to sandwiches and tuna salads. Avoid the ketchup at all costs." [John laughs.] "It's basically candy, and absolutely vile." [Laughs.]

john

Here's a recipe on The Spruce Eats for crema de rocoto. Rocoto pepper sauce. Looks great! Yeah. Uh, you know what I like, Jesse?

jesse

What's that?

john

It spicy. I like it spicy! Me gusta picante! I'm something of a heat seeker. [Both laugh.]

jesse

That's Nick Wiger's catchphrase, John.

john

Uh, yeah, maybe—you know what, I hate chopping up vegetables, but I feel like I wanna chop up some of those rocoto peppers and start making up some spices! Some hot sauces! That would be fun, right?

jesse

Yeah. I think that sounds like a lot of fun! John, you know how our friend Nick Wiger from The Doughboys, uh... [stifling laughter] really loves the Minions from the movie Minions?

john

[Stifling laughter] Yeah.

jesse

Do you think I could make it my thing that I really love Josh Gad's snowman from the movies Frozen and Frozen 2? Because I really do love Josh Gad as the snowman in Frozen and Frozen 2. Like, I think he's super funny and really great, and like, my favorite part of those movies. [Both stifle laughter.] Which I like pretty well! But I just love Josh Gad in them. I'm like "Oh my god, this snowman is hilarious." Could that be my thing?

john

That could be your thing! That could be a recurring gag. A catchphrase. A motif, if you will. And it'll keep listeners coming back again and again and again!

jesse

Yeah, they'll talk about it with their friends. "You know how—well, on my favorite podcast, Jesse Thorn is always talking about—[both stifle laughter] that great song from Frozen 2 where Josh Gad, uh, is facing the passage of time."

john

[Laughs.] Exactly. And I would just like to say—since we're talking about The Doughboys—Doughboys! Visit my all-dip restaurant, Seren-dip-ity! Review it! [Jesse laughs.] Get me in that Platinum Plate Club, come on! We got ranch dip. We got rocoto—crema de rocoto! Me gusta picanteee! We got the famous Peruvian watery, lime-y mayonnaise. We got Peruvian candy ketchup! It's all the dips you want! You can dip—and you know, we're—I'm gonna chop up the vegetables myself, even though I hate it, and you just dip 'em and you eat 'em! Wouldn't you go to an all-dip restaurant? Would you go to an all–hors d'oeuvre restaurant, Jesse? Come on. That would be great!

jesse

You know, we once went out to dinner at a restaurant with a friend named Josh. And Josh just ordered three appetizers.

john

Ugh.

jesse

And it blew my mind because I immediately knew, having spent a long time trying to decide what I was gonna eat at this restaurant, which had a very basic menu—fancy restaurant, but basic menu, and nothing that jumped out at me. I think I probably ended up ordering a cheeseburger or something. But I immediately knew as soon as Josh said it, "Oh. Yeah. That was right. That was the right thing to do. Three appetizers, one as an appetizer and two as a main, is exactly the right choice."

john

The best thing to have for dinner? ...All dips. Just dips.

jesse

Dip it, dip it, dip it! Just stick your chunky little fingers in there. [Lip smacking sounds up and down a scale.] [Both laugh.]

john

Is the docket clear?

jesse

The docket is clear. That's it for another episode of Judge John Hodgman. This week's episode produced by Hannah Smith. You can follow us on Twitter at @JesseThorn and @hodgman. We're on Instagram at @judgejohnhodgman. Make sure to hashtag your Judge John Hodgman Tweets #JJHo, and check out the Maximum Fun subreddit, MaximumFun.Reddit.com, to discuss this episode. Hey, a shout-out to our producer-in-exile, Jennifer Marmor, who's on maternity leave. We got to meet Jennifer's baby the other day.

john

[Delightedly] Ugh!

jesse

And ohhh maaan! I'd like to put that baby in some dips and ["yummy" eating sounds]! [Both laugh.]

john

That baby is not only very cute, but also I can tell, very intelligent.

jesse

Yep.

john

'Cause—sorry. 'Cause some babies are dumb.

jesse

[Laughing] Not 'cause Jennifer is intelligent?

john

No, I'm saying—I'm—[laughs] saying there's some babies you look at them, and then go "That's a beautiful baby, but not the smartest one I've met." They'll get there. They'll get there! Don't worry about it, baby. You got time to learn. But also, this baby—I've never said this about a baby before—this baby? Jennifer Marmor's baby? Debonair.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Debonair baby.

jesse

A real grace to this baby.

john

Yeah.

jesse

Uh, submit your cases at MaximumFun.org/jjho, or email hodgman@maximumfun.org. No case is too big, or... too small. John, I gotta go get some pollo a la brasa! I think I'm gonna go to the restaurant in the neighborhood where I am right now called Pollo a la Brasa, which is a really great restaurant, to get a pollo a la brasa! You gotta take it out though, 'cause the whole place smells like smoke. [Laughs.]

john

I'd join you, Jesse, but I gotta work on my dip menu, and also I live on a different coast.

jesse

[Laughing] Okay.

john

But I'm telling you, Jesse! I looked into that baby carrier, I'm like, "Is that Jeremy Irons over there?" That baby's debonair!

jesse

[Laughs.] We'll see you next time on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

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A cheerful guitar chord.

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About the show

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