TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 485: Corn Husk Dolls and Pumpkinheads

Time to clear the docket! Card game etiquette, tea bags in the garbage disposal, taco night, hat problems, waking up one’s significant other, and jorts.

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 485

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. With me as always is clear-breathing East Coaster— [John laughs.] —Judge John Hodgman.

john hodgman

[Sighs.] How are you doing out there—? I mean, on top of everything else, there's a dense layer of smoky, apocalyptic fog, and fear, and anxiety. How are you holding up, Jesse? Are you... okay, or okay-minus?

jesse

[Laughs.] Well, I'm definitely okay-minus overall. But in the context of the smogulous smoke that's outside of my home... it's going okay. I somehow ordered two air purifiers two days before the air got bad here in Los Angeles.

john

Oh!

jesse

On for the upstairs of my home, and one for the downstairs of my home. I don't know why I did it. I think I was just looking for some way to fill the hole in my heart—

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

—left by the nightmare that is 2020.

john

Yeah.

jesse

And I thought, "Maybe this will get rid of my persistent anxiety throat-ache." It hasn't, but... it has kept my family healthy, to the extent that we have stayed indoors.

john

I'm very glad to hear that. I also have been indulging in some self-care. You know, I try to watch a little bit of a movie every night.

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

Because what else is there to do?

jesse

Sure.

john

And on top of all of this, I've—this is a minor thing, but it—there is some justice that needs to be served to a particular actor. In my self-care routine, I—I know nostalgia's a toxic impulse. But it's less toxic than everything else this year. [Laughs.] And I decided to go back and revisit... Superman: The Movie, directed by Richard Donner in 1978, starring Christopher Reeve.

jesse

Sure.

john

Which is a delight. You've seen it, surely, Jesse.

jesse

I've seen Chris—Superman: The Movie, yeah!

john

Yeah.

jesse

And I've seen the one where he he's—ends nuclear weapons.

john

Yeah! The—

jesse

That's like Superman IV or V or something.

john

The War for Peace.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Superman IV: The War for Peace. So... look. Richard Donner is an amazing director. This thing has a look and feel that veers between pure fun and pure reverence. It's playful, it's lyrical, it's wonderful. Margot Kidder recites a poem. Christopher Reeve is the greatest. Of all Supermens. But here's the thing, Jesse. I have—when was the last time you saw it?

jesse

Oh, 25 years ago.

john

Yeah. I mean, it's been years for me. [Stifles laughter.] And I did not notice until—now I am a grown man. I did not notice that the person that they cast as young Clark Kent... is also a grown man! [Both laugh.] And I know in the seventies—like, I figure—like, he's supposed to be in high school. And he's clearly a grown man! The actor's named Jeff East. And he was either 20 or 21 years old when they filmed it. But because it was the seventies, all male actors looked like they were 38 anyway.

jesse

Yeah. [Laughs.]

john

With the exception of Christopher Reeve, who kinda looked like he was 21 years old, even though he was older! It's like—

jesse

The entire nation was afflicted with a case of Burt Reynolds-itis.

john

[Laughs.] Yeah. Who was offered the role, by the way! [Jesse laughs.] Of Superman.

jesse

[Laughing] Wow.

john

Turned it down. James Caan—

jesse

Who knew that Superman loved chewing gum so much? [Both laugh.]

john

And smirking.

jesse

Yeah.

john

And smirking in a rapscallion-y way. They didn't wanna give the role to Christopher Reeve, because he looked too young and skinny. But then when they're casting Clark Kent as a young man... they get a—a skinny... grown-up! Now. That's okay. That's just how it goes. When I was a kid, I never noticed. I never noticed that this grown-up looked like a grown-up. Because I thought all teenagers were grown-ups. They had—children actors could have been hired. But they didn't.

jesse

Right.

john

Now I understand. Now I see it. But what I remembered of Jeff East's performance as young Clark Kent, is it's a terrific performance! And it is. He's really, really good at it! And... we're lucky to have seen him running fast by that train! What I didn't know until I looked him up—because I was like, "What ever happened to that guy?" First of all, this guy, the indignities they heaped upon this grown man. Not only did they re-dub all of his dialogue—Christopher Reeve is speaking every line that that guy speaks! I never knew that. They re-dubbed Jeff East's dialogue with Christopher Reeve's voice. [Stifles laughter.] And they applied prosthetic makeup to this guy! To make him look more like Christopher Reeve. They could have just hired Christopher Reeve and made him wear a—like a college sweater or something!

jesse

[Laughs.] Just given him a Jughead hat.

john

[Laughs.] Yeah! Yeah, exactly! Exactly! A fur coat, and a little Ra-Ra banner, or something.

jesse

[Laughs.] And had him sit on a telephone pole.

john

Yeah, exactly. I guess that would be college. That would be appropriate for a 20-year-old man!

jesse

Yeah.

john

21-year-old man, maybe. Depending on when they filmed it. Anyway. Jeff East, though—he had had all of this hassle and indignity. Like, when Pa Kent succumbs to the heart attack—spoiler alert—Jeff East is so good when he finds that little green, glowy crystal that becomes the Fortress of Solitude, when he says goodbye to his mom. He's amazing! Why didn't he work more? And he didn't, perhaps because people saw him in Superman, like... "That's not a teenager, that's a grown man with lumps on his head to make him look like Christopher Reeve." He was only in a very few movies other than that. Including Up the Creek with Tim Matheson, a Animal House ripoff which I did not see. And a Wes Craven movie, and Pumpkinhead, the horror movie directed by Stan Winston. Creature effects master Stan Winston. Which I also never saw.

jesse

Well, I'll tell you this. In college, my friend Noah—I'll leave his last name out, because he now works as a political consultant; I don't wanna embarrass him. But my friend Noah was convinced that—[stifles laughter]—the DMX song "Up In Here" went, [growly] "Y'all gon' make me lose my mind, Pumpkinhead, Pumpkinhead!" [John cracks up, laughing and clapping. Jesse laughs.] [Usual voice] Not the strongest DMX impression from me, by the way. [Laughs.]

john

Well—obviously I couldn't tell. Sorry.

jesse

Sounded a little bit like a Southern Cookie Monster. [John laughs.] DMX is from New York. [Laughs.] Plus I should've thrown in a few dog barks at the end, just to make it clear that I was doing DMX. [Laughs.]

john

That's—I forgive you. You did a good job. Just like Jeff East did a—a—you know what? You didn't do as good a job as Jeff East, given thankless circumstances. He has now retired from acting. He is living, I gather, in Nice, France, with his second wife. I hope he's very happy. And in his honor, I'm gonna watch Pumpkinhead tonight. Directed by Stan Winston. I've been looking at this Pumpkinhead since I worked at FilmFest Video in New Haven, and it came out on video! Never watched it! I'm gonna watch it tonight, in your honor, Jeff East. 'Cause you deserved better! And this is the sound of a gavel on that. Let's—let's serve some more justice.

jesse

Here's something from Ryan: "My beautiful fiancée Sam and I love to play rummy together. Sometimes we get a little loose, and when we're sitting on the same side of the bar or table, she looks at my cards. She says I should hide them better. I think she just shouldn't look at my cards!" [John laughs.] "All I ask is she keeps her eyes on her hand."

john

I'm troubled by this. Obviously this goes back to a time when—unless they have a bar in their house. Time—reminds me of a time when you could go out to a bar, and play a game of cards with your beloved.

jesse

You and all your friends could cram into a phone booth. [John snorts.] Could have a Lindy Hop contest. [Laughs.] Wait—

john

Charleston contest over a—

jesse

Charleston contest, thank you.

john

Yeah.

jesse

Thank you for—I was getting—already getting angry letters from, uh, Lindy Hop enthusiasts. [Stuffily] "The Lindy Hop began in the late 1930s..."

john

[Laughs.] Yeah, I know. We're gonna get a lot of letters for this one. Charleston contests, of course, featured prominently in It's a Wonderful Life... where Jimmy Stewart played himself as a teenager! There was precedent! Why did you put poor Jeff East through this?! Christo—anyway. [Deep breath.] The image of them sitting at the bar, playing cards, in a pre-pandemic time, was a wistful, charming image of a lovely couple. But, uh, then I—the image of sitting on the same side of the table to play cards, like in their home? If you have a table, sit across from each other to play cards! Don't sit on the same side of the table! Now I feel like you're a couple of weirds. But listen. Before I rule on this. Jesse Thorn. You play cards? You have played some card games, ever?

jesse

I have played cards. I mean, cards fall under my general rubric of all competitive games or things that I struggle with emotionally, because I want to win them so bad, but I also feel guilty about how bad I want to win them, and when I win I don't feel good, but when I lose, I feel bad.

john

Do you—what's your game? Bridge? Whist? Rough? Australian Rist? [Inaudible]?

jesse

Oh, I—[laughing] nothing but bridge. [John laughs.] Just all bridge, all the time. My wife and I and the Andersons who live next door, come over every Thursday evening for bridge. And canapés.

john

Uh-huh. And bridge mix.

jesse

Yeah, and bridge mix. [Laughs.]

john

What about any of the rummy variants? Like, uh, rummy 500, gin rummy, contract rummy?

jesse

I played a little bit of gin rummy with my mom. That was her game.

john

What about dummy rummy? That's a rummy game. You ever hear of dummy rummy?

jesse

No, I haven't heard of that!

john

That's a real one. You know what a fake one is?

john

Mummy rummy. [Jesse laughs.] It's when you—[stifles laughter]—it's when you play—

jesse

[Laughing] Wait, was that what I was playing with my mom when we played gin rummy?

john

It's—there are two variants. One when you're playing with your mummy.

jesse

Uh-huh.

john

And the other when you are a—a—a desiccated, reanimated corpse.

jesse

Oh, I—didn't I mentioned that my mom is a desiccated, reanimated corpse? They filled—

john

Oh no!

jesse

They filled her body with honey to preserve it better. [Both laugh.]

john

What about Lemmy rummy, you ever play Lemmy rummy?

jesse

[Laughing] With Lemmy from Motörhead?

john

That's right. [Both laugh.] Sadly Lemmy has passed away, but he was an incredible player of Lemmy rummy.

jesse

Sure.

john

In addition to being a—a truly amazing figure of rock and roll, and human being. He was incredible.

jesse

Yeah. Shout-out to Hawkwind, by the way.

john

Yeah.

jesse

I don't wanna let this Lemmy discussion pass without shouting out Hawkwind.

john

Yeah. Hawkwind.

jesse

When I interviewed Lemmy for my Public Radio show Bullseye, it was at South by Southwest, and I interviewed him at the famous Austin barbecue restaurant Stubb's.

john

Yeah!

jesse

Where they were going to be playing that evening. And the rules were... He would do the interview in the morning, but only at 11, which was the earliest he was available. For any activity. And he sat down with a full bottle of whiskey, and a shot glass. [Both laugh.] As he joined me for his—his first meal of the day. And he was so lovely and charming, and bright and interesting. Just as you would expect from a guy who invented such—who was in two very important rock bands. But, you know, especially Motörhead, certainly. He's just a—he's just a joy.

john

So when you are playing your card games, and you are so desperate to win, because this is an anxiety for you, do you cheat? Do you look—

jesse

No!

john

Do you take the opportunity to look at your other player's cards?

jesse

No, I'm not a cheater, John.

john

Right.

jesse

I'm a straight shooter. You know that.

john

Yeah. Exactly. I mean, obviously it does not sound as though Ryan is complaining that Sam is purposefully looking at his cards, to cheat. But she is scolding him. And I get scolded this a lot. When I sit around and play cards with my family, which we do from time to time, some gin rummy. Never Lemmy rummy, unfortunately. I am often told that I am loose with my cards. And... I am like Ryan! I'm like, "Just don't look at 'em!" But I would say that if you are a player, and you accidentally catch a glimpse of the other player's cards, it is fair for you to say, "I just want you to know that I can see your cards, in case you want to make an adjustment." But beyond that? Just look at your own cards. In life in general! Just look at your own paper. Look at your own quiz. Look at your own work. Do your work. Do not be concerned with the other person's work. Pay attention to what cards they're discarding, obviously. That's a key to how—that's how you win Lemmy rummy. If Lemmy puts down an ace of spades... you—you— [Both laugh.]

jesse

His signature card.

john

His signature card! That means he's got a pretty sweet meld going, without aces or spades. Lemmy always hangs onto that ace of spades, so when he discards an ace of spades, just give up. Give up, 'cause he's got it. He's got—he's going down for gin.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

I have one offering for Ryan.

john

Yeah. Please.

jesse

Ryan is engaged to Sam. And finds her beautiful.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

They're probably in love. Odds are.

john

Sounds good.

jesse

She might be being cute with him!

john

[Inaudible.]

jesse

And if she's being cute with him—which I think he's in a position to figure out, if he gives it some consideration.

john

Yeah. Yeah.

jesse

Or some communication. If she's being cute with him, I think he should let her be cute with him. Because their ability to smooch together, which might come from her being cute with him, is probably more important to their relationship than whether they're following the rules of rummy exactly.

john

You're saying it's a—it's a gentle, flirtatious tease.

jesse

I think it's entirely possible it is. I'm not there, so I don't know for sure.

john

Mm-hm. Yeah!

jesse

But it's very possible that it is, and that he is maybe valuing their—[stifles laughter]—their card game over being cute together. Which is an important part of being in love, and eventually getting married, which is their plan.

john

Alright! I'll support that interpretation. And only Ryan and Sam should know... if she is being cutesy-flirtatious in her tease of him. [Stifles laughter.] Or if they're just bickering with each other.

jesse

Mm-hm. [Laughs quietly.]

john

[Nasally, gravelly voice] "I can see your cards again!" [Slightly lower gravelly voice] "Well, you should look at your own hand!" [Usual voice] That's—I mean—

jesse

John, whenever I play bridge, there's so much bickering. I usually—but my wife and I play with, uh, our neighbors, the Bickersons? And— [Both laugh.] If they're not around, we just play with Garfield and Odie from the other— [John laughs.] Our other neighbor. Okay.

john

I'm ready to watch that sitcom, once we can film safely again. Maybe I can coax Jeff East out of retirement in Nice, France, to play Mr. Bickerson.

jesse

Mark says: [Stifling laughter] "My beautiful, never-wrong, incredibly selfless wife undoes all of that goodness by throwing tea bags into the in-sink garbage disposal." [John laughs quietly.] Real rollercoaster ride of a sentence.

john

All of that goodness is—is literally thrown down the drain.

jesse

"This just feels instinctively wrong. And I'm guessing it has terrible outcomes for the life of the garbage disposal thingy, and probably the planet. I have done absolutely zero work to investigate whether this is advised by the manufacturer or not. It felt like something that needed your, and only your, unique insight to adjudicate."

john

You don't want my insight. You want me to search the web for the answer, because you're too lazy to do it, Mark. So you're already—you're already on my, uh, disposed tea bag garbage list for that. But before we go to that, Jesse, do you have a disposal in your home?

jesse

I do have a disposal in my home. It is one of the great joys of living in a single family home in California.

john

Yeah. And do you have house rules about what goes down the disposal, and what does not go down the disposal? [Long pause.]

jesse

I put eggshells down there, and you're not supposed to. I've done it for ten years, and I'm not gonna stop now. I love doing it. Every time. I love to imagine them getting crunched up in there.

john

[Laughs.] That was a great and guilty pause. And I appreciate that, 'cause I do the same. And guess what, Jesse?

jesse

What?

john

You're not right. But you're not wrong, either. I mean, there is no consistent, definitive guide to what is okay and not okay to put down the garbage disposal! If you go online, you will find very, very contradictory advice from equally experienced-seeming plumbing websites, and home websites, and what have you. And eggshells is one of those things where it's like, "You should never do this. Eggs have a membrane that will wrap around the spindle," or whatever. [Jesse laughs quietly.] And then someone else will say, "But it sharpens the blades!" And someone else will say, "There are no blades!" and... and, uh—and there are all kinds of disputes. And I think that it has to do with different kinds of garbage disposals. And you should follow the recommendations of your manufacturer. I can tell you this. Don't put a whole box of Cheerios down the garbage disposal. If you read my book Vacationland, you know that that will... [Both laugh.] That will—that will—all that fiber will immediately expand. And—

jesse

I think about that every time I clear my children's breakfast dishes. [Both laugh.]

john

Well, you can put a little down! Just don't put a whole box down, 'cause you think it's expired and that that's the way you should get rid of it. Throw it out for the birds. Don't make a Cheerio tumor in your pipes. Jesse, what about this scenario? What if you have made a classic corn husk doll... right?

jesse

Right. Sure.

john

But what if you discover that the corn husk doll has become possessed by an evil demon? Can you put that corn husk doll down your garbage disposal? [Pause.]

jesse

It doesn't seem like the kind of thing that you should put down a garbage disposal, but on the other hand... I mean, the other day, I got some water on my mogwai.

john

[Laughing] Uh-huh? Oh no.

jesse

And I had to put a few gremlins down the garbage disposal—

john

Oh no!

jesse

—and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

john

But there's a difference, right? Because—[stifles laughter]. Poor gremlins. The evil gremlins are creeps.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Yeah. But—

jesse

It was—they were mostly spider gremlins.

john

But corn husks, unlike gremlins, are tough and fibrous. And there is some consistency of belief that fibrous things, like celery, avocado peels, a lot of fruit peels, and stringy things, like celery and banana peels, should not go down there. That is consistently agreed upon. And by stringy things, you might include string! Like the kind that attaches to a tea bag! I am hoping, uh, Mark's wife, that you are not throwing down the tea bag, the string, the staple, the piece of paper. 'Cause a staple is not getting ground up and sent back into the waste treatment center to be biogas. That's not a living thing! That's a inert material. Even taking the tea bag off of the string... you know—[sighs]. I—I don't know what model you have, but to me that seems like... that's problematic. That bag is gonna be a problem.

jesse

Once mine broke, and the guy told me he was upgrading it by a horsepower. I was pretty excited.

john

[Laughing] Whoa!

jesse

Yeah. It was probably all those eggshells.

john

[Laughs.] Uh, yeah. No, I, uh—I would follow your manufacturer's advice. Call them. Or write to them. And ask them. And I bet they will confirm that a fibrous bag full of tea with a string and a staple on top of it is not a good thing to put down your disposal. And more to the point, I would suggest that when information is available to you—look, I'm glad you're a listener. But when you can find out information, do it! Find out the information for yourself! Don't put that mental burden on me, Judge John Hodgman. But it was nice hearing from you, all the same, Mark.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Let's take a break. More items on the docket coming up in just a minute, once I check the health of my garburator. [John snorts.] On the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

The Judge John Hodgman podcast is of course always supported by the members of MaximumFun.org. All of the folks who've gone to MaximumFun.org/join to support us, and the other shows that they listen to in Maximum Fun's network. We're very grateful to all of those people. This week, we are once again also supported by our friends at Babbel, who make a wonderful language-learning app that you can use on your phone just a couple minutes a day, and pretty soon you'll be learning a language!

john

You know, I've spoken before on the podcast, Jesse, about how I've been using Babbel to brush up and re-learn my Spanish. And it's been terrific. And in that vein, I have a question for you, Jesse.

jesse

¿Qué?

john

¿Que puedes echar into triturador de despo deseos de alimentos?

jesse

What—what does that mean, John? For our non–Spanish-speaking friends. [Laughs.]

john

What can you put in your garbage disposal? [Both laugh.] Because when I was doing all this Internet research about what you can and can't put in the garbage disposal, I went to the InSinkErator website. InSinkErator is a brand of garbage disposal, very well known. And they said, "If you wanna know what you can put in your garbage disposal, we have a handy infographic. Click here." And I clicked there, and the infographic is very handy, but for some reason only in Spanish! [Laughs.] There was no English-language version of it! And boy, would I have been stuck. Would I know, Jesse, if I could put las piñas into my garbage disposal? No. Would I know if I could put los plátanos, or los hojas de maíz? That's corn husks. The kind that turn into demons. No. I wouldn't know whether or not I could do it, 'cause I didn't know any Spanish, or I didn't remember those vocab words. But luckily, Babbel has helped me re-learn. And by the way, this isn't an ad for InSinkErator. This is an invitation to you to learn and brush up on your language skills, with Babbel! Oh, and by the way. Don't put las piñas, los plátanos, or las hojas de maíz in your garbage disposal unless you have an InSinkErator Evolution Model 100 or 200. They can handle it, apparently. According to this infographic.

jesse

Wow! Wow, they really have evolved.

john

But Jesse, don't—this is not an ad for InSinkErator. This is an invitation to you, our listeners, to learn and brush up on your language skills with Babbel. The daily lessons are 10 to 15 minutes. They start by teaching you words and phrases you will actually use, like "Don't put those piñas in the InSinkErator!"

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

Like, "Don't put those piñas in the garbage disposal!"

jesse

InSinkErator (in-sink-ayr-uh-TOR), in Spanish.

john

[Laughs.] In-sink-ayr-uh-DOR. Then sentences gradually get more complex, and soon you're practicing short conversations. Lessons are thoughtfully created by over a hundred language experts. And their teaching method has been scientifically proven to be effective across multiple studies. And there are 14 different languages you can choose from. Including Spanish, obviously. French, Italian, German. Go to Babbel.com and see if the language you're interested in is there.

jesse

Right now when you purchase a three-month subscription, Babbel will give our Judge John Hodgman listeners three additional months for free! With the promo code "Hodgman." That's double your value, John!

john

Yeah! That's three additional months, free. If you go to Babbel.com and use promo code "Hodgman" on your three-month subscription.

jesse

That's B-A-B-B-E-L.com, and the promo code is "Hodgman"!

john

H-O-D-G-M-A-N. Babbel. It's how you're gonna learn a language!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

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sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

john

[John makes a rapid series of high-pitched "doot" noises.] Hello! It's Judge John Hodgman, reporting to you from a separate timeline! With a timestream newsflash. Directly after the recording of this episode, I checked a social media website that I don't often check. Where I had put a query out to the InSinkErator company, regarding the tea bag debate. And I saw that they had replied... and their reply was, "Hi, John. Thanks for reaching out." [Chuckles.] You're welcome, InSinkErator. "Yes, you can put tea bags! If the string/staple has been removed." So there you have it! If the string and staple are removed, you can throw that tea bag down your InSinkErator-brand garbage disposal. But look, this isn't an ad for InSinkErator. Maybe you have a different kind of garbage disposal. Call them. Go to their website. Or better yet... don't go through the trouble of taking the string and the staple out, just throw it away! You might be grossing out your partner! Alright. I return you to your timeline! [More rapid, high-pitched "doots," ending on a slightly warped one followed by some mildly explosive sounds.]

jesse

Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. We're clearing the docket this week. We have a letter from Stacy. She says: "My family of four makes tacos at home at least once a week. My nine-year-old daughter fills a hard shell with normal taco goods, then puts that inside a soft shell with a layer of refried beans holding the two together. My husband says this is wasteful, and it throws off the ratio of fillings for everyone else. He wants her to consume one shell at a time. I say she eats it all, she's not wasteful, and that he should plan for the amount of food we need. Texture is key to a good meal. She isn't gluttonous. Also, taco fillings can be eaten in a variety of ways, not only in a shell. So leftovers with no shell isn't a problem. Who's right, and who's wrong?"

john

[Clears throat.] The daughter, obviously. But first, we haven't even posted this episode yet. And somehow I've gotten ten thousand emails about what is okay or not okay to put into the garbage disposal.

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah.

john

[Stifles laughter.] Thank you for your feedback. Somehow—I don't know how you knew that we were talking about this.

jesse

And I've also composed 7,000 emails about what does and doesn't go in a taco.

john

So let's talk about tacos, Jesse, 'cause I know they're an important part of your life.

jesse

Yeah, they are. That's true.

john

And your favorite taco place recently closed, right? [Pause.] Wasn't there—

jesse

My favorite Mexican restaurant has announced its closing, but has not yet closed.

john

It has not yet closed.

jesse

They're still running, yeah.

john

What is your opinion upon Stacy's daughter's taco technique?

jesse

You know, I believe... that if you're at a restaurant, and they try and serve you a hard shell taco with a bunch of iceberg lettuce and pieces of tomato on it, and—and ground beef in the bottom, uh, that you should get out of that restaurant.

john

Mm-hm!

jesse

But I don't have a problem with that as a—as an easy home family meal, in the classic American casserole cuisine tradition. It's a nice meal, it's easy to make. You can just take the refried beans out of a can. You know, I have no problem with that at all. And in that spirit, rather than in the spirit of a quote-unquote "authentic taco," though I'd say "authentic" is problematic here—but in that spirit, I say go to town! That sounds fun to me.

john

Yeah. I mean, the distinction you draw is important. Because the tacos that you describe, that you get to enjoy in Los Angeles everywhere, and which I get to enjoy in New York only sometimes when the one truck is parked outside the ATM on the corner, probably followed the taco convention that you are used to, which is soft shell always.

jesse

Yeah. Two softened corn tortillas, usually softened in a griddle. On a griddle.

john

Right. And then filled with langua, or...

jesse

Whatever.

john

...asada, or al pastor, por pestor, or what have you.

jesse

Sure. Not ground—not the classic, uh, sorta Taco Bell version, which is hard shell, ground beef, iceberg lettuce, pieces of tomato.

john

Right. Yeah. That is—

jesse

Possibly hot sauce on top.

john

Right.

jesse

But not pico de gallo.

john

We used to call that "taco," in—in Anglo-American, uh, middle-class cuisine. But that is not—that is a distinct food group that we can now call Taco Bell cuisine.

jesse

Yeah. Or, in deference to our friend Nick Wiger of the Doughboys, we can call it Del Taco cuisine.

john

Sure. But actually, I will be more specific to Taco Bell, because I have really played this out in order to give our listeners time, uh, to start their incredibly long letters of complaint to me about this. But I'm already on top of it! You can throw it away! I wasted your time this time! [Cackles triumphantly.] Becaaause... they are—what they know, and what I learned, doing research, is what Stacy's daughter is doing is replicating a Double Decker Taco. Specifically, a Taco Bell menu item much beloved by many Taco Bell aficionados, which is a hard shell taco with ground beef and lettuce and whatever, that is nestled inside of a soft flour tortilla that has refried beans in it. And it sounds great. And by the way, the Double Decker Taco is one of nine Taco Bell menu items recently discontinued, much to the consternation of Taco Bell-istas. So I respect Stacy's daughter's lifehack. I don't know whether she got this from Taco Bell, or whether she came at it from her own ingenuity, much like both Newton and Leibniz invented the calculus. But it's great! And I can only feel that the specious argument that this young woman's dad is making about wasting food items—I mean, that is... that is obviously a cover story for the deep fury and jealousy he feels for the fact that his daughter is a genius, and he is not. That his daughter is inventive, imaginative, and sees ingredients, and puts them together in a different way. I absolutely find in favor of this young woman. And I'm gonna eat this food tonight!

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

You know what? I'm gonna upgrade everybody's taco night immediately, real quick.

john

Uh-huh?

jesse

Without adding any extra work of note. Instead of buying ground beef for your beef tacos, buy what they call flat meat. In some butcher shops or grocery stores, they might actually call it carne asada, but just buy flat meat. And all you really need to do to season it for a pretty good asada—and there are very complicated asadas that are wonderful as well. But, uh, flat meat is a great eating meat. Very flavorful. You don't need to do much. What they do at most taquerias for asada is take flat meat, put a bunch of salt and a bunch of garlic powder on it. And I know that there are cooking enthusiasts who are... fundamentally opposed to garlic powder for various reasons, and so on and so forth, blah blah blah blah blah. But you just do that, and then if you have access to a grill, you grill it. Otherwise you can pan-fry it, pan-cook it. And then you cut it across the grain. That's as easy as seasoning ground beef with taco seasoning. But it tastes a lot better.

john

I'm too hungry to continue. I'm too—I'm too hungry to continue this. Thank you.

jesse

I know. I know. Let's move on to Ellie's question. Ellie says: "My friend has a hat problem. But it's not the amount of hats she owns."

john

Uh-oh.

jesse

Most people think of—not like, possessed hat, or itchy hat, or...

john

Yeah.

jesse

"The problem is what she wants to do with them. She wants me to steal someone's hat. Someone who I hardly know. I let this go, until she recently informed me she wants to sleep in a pile of hats." [John laughs.] "Please tell me what to do. Thank you, Ellie. Sent from my pile of hats."

john

[Laughs/sighs.] This is one where I really have to blame myself for not inviting Ellie and her friend on the podcast live. Because there's so many—there's so many questions. [Laughs.]

jesse

Yeah.

john

That I have. First of all, does Ellie's friend want Ellie to steal from a specific person whom Ellie hardly knows? Is there a specific person who's got a specific hat? That Ellie's friend wants for her hat bed? Or is it just a random sort of, like, gang initiation dare? "Go steal someone's hat. Go steal a stranger's hat."

jesse

Also of interest to me is, why is it someone that she hardly knows?

john

Right!

jesse

Like, do strangers' hats not have the same snooze juice?

john

I think that there must be a specific hat.

jesse

Yeah.

john

What is the power? What is—why is it important that it be stolen, as opposed to borrowed or purchased? And why does Ellie have to do it, instead of Ellie's friend? And what kind of hats? And if you're gonna sleep in a pile of hats, which... I could see being a special—you know, everyone has their little weirdsies, as Linda Holmes says. That could be a little—that could be—that could have a special power for you in your imagination. But I still have questions. Are the hats, themselves, on a bed? Because that would be very bad luck, as we know from the movie Drugstore Cowboy. Or are they just piled up on a floor?!

jesse

I think you put down a layer of your harder hats. Construction hats, fireman hats.

john

Okay.

jesse

Army man hats.

john

Okay. Okay.

jesse

Then you add a second layer of caps.

john

Uh-huh?

jesse

And you start with brimmed caps, and then you go to like a baseball—baseball-style caps.

john

Uh-huh.

jesse

And five-panel, skateboard guy–style caps.

john

Uh-huh.

jesse

And then on top of that, your Caps for Sale–style caps.

john

[Laughing] Uh-huh.

jesse

Your woolen caps! And then on top of—

john

Your newsie hats?

jesse

On top of that, uh, you put your, like—your watch caps. You know, your watch hats. Your—your beanies. Your—

john

Mm-hm. Mm-hm. Your toques.

jesse

Your toques. Then on top of that, you put those—you put some angora hats that your grandma crocheted for you, or knit for you, onto a layer of soft angora.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

I mean, there might be cashmere here, but I'm—I'm not asking people to get enough cashmere hats to cover an entire bed.

john

This is a lot of ingredients. You're basically describing, or inventing, the cheesy crunch gordita of hat beds.

jesse

John, it's simple. It comes right to your door, vacuum-packed in a cardboard box. [John laughs.] You open it up and watch the miracle as it expands.

john

For all of the wonderful partners that we've had on the show, we've never had—unlike every other podcast in the world, I don't believe we've ever read an ad for a mattress. But I am encouraging everyone within the sound of my voice, any entrepreneurs out there, please start a—[laughs]—hat bed company! [Jesse laughs quietly.] An Internet hat bed company. So that we can advertise Internet hat beds on Judge John Hodgman. They come right to your door. They cut out the middleman. We bought a hat bed mattress factory in Germany, so that we could bring a—high-quality, low-cost hat beds right to your door. [Jesse laughs quietly.] I'm ready for this.

jesse

I have to say that Ellie's letter... about being brainwashed and conscripted into a criminal conspiracy to steal hats for a hat bed... is like the world's most adorable QAnon conspiracy theory. [John laughs.] And it all takes place at a pizza restaurant in Washington, DC. [Laughs.]

john

Look. The principle here is "Don't steal." So obviously I'm finding—it's not even in Ellie's favor. She asked, "What should I do?" Don't steal someone's hat for your friend. However, I am ordering—well, I'm not ordering. I am really requesting some answers to my question, Ellie. I would like you to please submit a clarifying document, asking, "What person? What hat? Why?" And then I will—I order, as penance to your friend, that that person write a clarifying document describing why they want to sleep on a bed of hats. And what kinds of hats, specifically. I need more information. Not to make my ruling, which is "Don't steal." But to get—to get this idea out of my head! [Jesse laughs quietly.] I feel like I have been possessed—I've been possessed by these questions, much like a corn husk doll is often possessed by an evil spirit! [Jesse laughs louder.] Which is—happens all the time, by the way. Don't make corn husk dolls. They just get—they're just a—basically a demon trap.

jesse

You know what I would say, if someone asked me to go steal a hat for them for their hat bed?

john

What?

jesse

[Stifling laughter] "Y'all gon' make me lose my mind, Pumpkinhead, Pumpkinhead." [Both laugh.]

john

That was a better DMX.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Let's take a quick break. When we come back, disputes about waking up. And of course, denim shorts.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

Music: Three bouncy beats. Graham Clark: Hi! My name's Graham Clark, and I'm one half of the podcast Stop Podcasting Yourself, a show that we've recorded for many, many years. And, uh, at the moment, instead of being in person, we're recording remotely. And, uh, you wouldn't even notice. You don't even notice the lag. [Long pause.] Dave Shumka: That's right, Graham! And, uh, the great thing about this— Graham: Uh— Dave: Go ahead. Graham: No, you go ahead. Dave: Okay, and— Graham: Okay, go ahead. [Someone stifles laughter.] Dave: And you can listen to us, uh, every week on MaximumFun.org. Graham: Or wherever you get your podcasts. Dave: Your podcasts. Music: Three bouncy beats.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Judge Hodgman, we're taking a quick break from clearing the docket. Let's talk about what we've got upcoming. What's going on with you, John?

john

Well, all ten episodes of the short form animated series that, uh, I will not name on this podcast, that I made with our friend David Rees, are now available on Hulu. If you haven't had a chance to check them out, please do so! We're really proud of it. They're 11 minutes each. You could watch 'em all on a single Saturday morning with some sugar cereal, in your pajamas. Just go to Bit.ly/dicktown. That's Bit.ly/dicktown, all one word, all small letters. And of course Medallion Status, my latest book of embarrassing personal revelations, is available in paperback starting October 13th, wherever you get your books. I will be doing some virtual events that I will be announcing soon, but one that I can talk about very happily right now is I will be virtually visiting the Mark Twain House, the former residence of Mark Twain, in West Hartford, Connecticut. A state that really is in New England, even though I often forget about it. And I will be joined in conversation there, uh, virtually, with Professor Benjamin Click, who is a professor of Mark Twain-ology at St. Mary's College of Maryland. He's the professor who invited me to the college, uh, where I fell down. It's all told in Vacationland. He's a really funny, smart guy. And the last thing I'll say is: Thanks to all the listeners who wrote in recommending places for me to go phone bank, places for me to write letters to voters. I am more engaged in this election than I have been ever before, and even though the idea of calling up strangers and talking to them may sound terrifying, it's actually been tremendously fun and one of the first times I've actually felt excited rather than merely terrified.

john

And I also thank the folks who wrote in, who feel disappointed that I'm talking about politics at all. I get it. I understand. I wouldn't do it unless I felt I had a moral obligation to do so, in this particular time. So if you have anything you wanna say to me about that, feel free, please, to write me at hodgman@maximumfun.org. I think this is a time for us all to hear from each other, and talk about what we value. Jesse Thorn, I know you have no political opinions whatsoever. Uh, so what else do you have going on?

jesse

Well, Nick Wiger, the Doughboys' famous burger boy, is on Jordan, Jesse, Go! So if you want, uh...

john

Double Reed himself?!

jesse

I know. Seventy-five minutes a week of, uh, total nonsense that will lift your heart and lower... your values. Uh— [John laughs, Jesse stifles laughter.]Jordan, Jesse, Go! is the podcast for you! Go check that out. And of course, regular listeners know that I have an antique shop at PutThisOnShop.com. And we are launching fall! We've got a big drop that drops this week, and then weekly drops of new items in the store every week for about six or eight weeks thereafter, including among many other things, a bunch of production scripts for great episodes of The Simpsons, and all kinds of neat stuff. It's all at PutThisOnShop.com, and if you use the code "Justice," Judge John Hodgman listeners get free shipping! On everything but the very most heaviest, big, awkward items. You know, there's a few things that cost like $50 to ship. We—we have to charge you for those. But...

john

Like a vintage garbage disposal?

jesse

Yes, exactly. Ninety-nine out of a hundred things in our store, you get free shipping in the United States with the code "Justice"! So go to PutThisOnShop.com.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. We're clearing the docket this week, and we have something here from Maya. Maya says: "Hello! My name is Maya. I just recently moved in with my partner of three years, Taimur." T-A-I-M-U-R. Sorry, Taimur (Tai-muhr), or Taimur (Tai-mer). I'm doing my best. "He is so lovely 99% of the time, except for when he has to be woken up. He requests that I wake him up from naps, so that he doesn't sleep for too long. Then he gets very grumpy, and says things like, 'Ugh, you're so mean to me!' and 'Stop hurting me!' while he's half asleep." [Both laugh.]

john

Whoa!

jesse

"It hurts my feelings, even though I know he doesn't mean it, and he's just half asleep and out of his mind. I would like the judge to order him to get his sleep schedule together. So no more staying up until four AM to play video games on the weekends, for example. Then he won't have to take naps, and I won't have to be yelled at by the love of my life, who happens to turn into a grumpy toddler when he's sleeping. Longtime fan of the show. Thanks."

john

Sleep hygiene is very important, and I have to say that during this period of... staying at home a lot, my relationship with sleep hygiene—[laughs]—has gotten, uh, unhealthy, actually. [Both laugh.] You know, I was working on a 17-year sleep deficit of being a parent to one and then two children. And once it became clear that no one was gonna be getting up early anymore in this household, I have been sleeping so hard and so long. And I've been feeling so good, and mostly not guilty. But now I feel like I gotta be a regular human being again, and get up before ten AM. Get out of bed before ten AM. You've got littles in your house, Jesse, so you—you're up and at 'em no matter what, right?

jesse

Yeah, and my sleep hygiene is a immense priority to me because of my chronic migraine headaches.

john

Right.

jesse

For which sleep is the—probably the number one most powerful trigger. So I really keep a very consistent sort of 10:30 to 6:30 schedule for my sleep.

john

Yeah.

jesse

I try and add a little on the beginning and a little on the end, if I can.

john

I have so enjoyed catching up on my sleep. It has made me feel so much better. But just recently, I've kinda felt like—mm. Now I feel drenched in sleep. [Jesse laughs quietly.] I don't feel—I don't feel sleep-hygienic, I feel sleep-dirty. [Stifles laughter.] Gotta shake it off a little bit. But the point—you know, I—obviously I will rule in Maya's favor that I do think that Taimur (Tai-mer)—and again, we hope we're pronouncing your name correctly—that Taimur's gotta get his act together and not stay up 'til four in the morning playing video games. Look, I—I get it. Gaming late at night, and all night long, that's fun! I know that's fun. But that's for children! That's for children and teenagers and 20-something-year-olds. Maya and Taimur are engaging—are embarking on a life together of cohabitation. That's—now it's grown-up time! Not only are you probably physically a little bit older, it's time to be aware of the fact that you are sharing the space with another person. And you need to practice fairly good sleep hygiene, so that you don't yell at your loved one when you're waking up! You ever have to wake Theresa up, Jesse?

jesse

She wakes up before I do in general circumstances. She's more of an early-to-bed, early-to-rise person than I.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

Uh, so I generally don't, but I have had to. And I have had—one of my children had a night of night terrors.

john

Oh no!

jesse

A few months ago. And I think that the half-asleep, half-awake state in a loved one when they are upset—something that I really identify with Maya around—

john

Right.

jesse

—is how terrifying that is.

john

It's really distressing.

jesse

It's really, extraordinarily distressing. And, you know, I talked to some doctors about night terrors. They said generally speaking, they're not even remembered by the person having them. They don't represent an actual psychological trauma, but man, are they scary. [Laughs.]

john

Yeah, they're distressing to your partner, Taimur. And in particular, like, "You're so mean to me" is I think substantively different from "Stop hurting me." Which...

jesse

Yeah. But also both of those are particularly upsetting and galling.

john

Yeah.

jesse

In similar measure. Because this is a favor that you have asked of your partner, to do this thing for you.

john

Yeah. You are asking Maya to be your mommy and wake you up from your nap. Which, by the way, is also not a healthy thing for a cohabitation of equals. You're a grown-up! Set an alarm. Get your sleep hygiene together. Set an alarm when you're taking a nap. Take responsibility for yourself. Especially since you know that when you ask Maya to wake you up, you are hurling invective at her, which is painful for her! One time my wife woke up, years ago—I've probably told this story before. She woke up, and she was just looking around. And at the time, she had a cat named Francis who was just this big, fat, dumb cat. And I said, "Are you okay, honey?" And she said, "It's a supermarket caper, and Francis is in charge." [Both laugh.] Now, that was a—that was enjoyable to me! That fugue state. That twilight state between sleep and wakefulness has been a great story that we tell each other all the time, as we imagine this poor dumb black—and now sadly late—cat, leading a heist in a Price Chopper or whatever. [Jesse laughs quietly.]

john

But if she had looked at me and said, "Stop hurting me," uh, it would be hard to forget that.

jesse

I'm with Maya almost all the way here. I do have one... point of distinction, or difference, with their assertions here. And that is that if Taimur was sleeping normal hours at night, he wouldn't have to take a nap during the day. I don't think those things are oppositional.

john

Mm-hm!

jesse

I think taking a nap during the day can be a really healthy—

john

Oh, yeah!

jesse

—delightful, rejuvenating experience. It's one that I've only discovered in my thirties. I was a resolute non-napper for a long time. I learned to nap as a man. And it's added a lot to my life. I don't nap every day, by any means. And certainly right now, my—my family is too... busy and intense during the day, because everyone is in the house all the time. My children are young. But in general, I've found that taking a nap in the early afternoon is a big boon to my life, and my ability to stay happy and healthy the rest of the day. So don't throw the baby out with the bathwater here.

john

Yeah. Well-noted.

jesse

Taimur, you're the baby. Because you're asking— [John stifles laughter.] [Talking-to-a-baby voice] You're asking your parent to wake you up!

john

Yeah. [Laughs quietly.] And by the way, baby, don't sleep in bathwater. That's dangerous.

jesse

[Usual voice] Yeah. That's also true.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Okay, here's something from Scott.

john

Yeah.

jesse

"Please tell my son Hugh that cutoff jeans aren't jorts!"

john

Hugh? You're wrong. Obviously they're not jorts.

jesse

Yeah.

john

They're sheans. [Both laugh.] You know why they're called sheans, Jesse? A lot of people think it's because they're short jeans. Sheans.

jesse

Are they sheared jeans?

john

No, they're named for the actor Martin Sheen.

jesse

Oh, wow!

john

It's his favorite kind of... bottom half garment.

jesse

Isn't that fun.

john

Fun fact: Every episode of The West Wing where he's shot only sitting behind the desk? Sheen is wearing some sheans!

jesse

Yeah.

john

Yeah. Hugh, stop it.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

I'm—I'm recording a cover of Edwin Starr's classic hit "War (What Is It Good For?)"

john

Yeah.

jesse

And it's gonna be called "Jorts (What Are They Good For?)" [Both laugh.]

john

Absolutely nothing.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Say it again.

jesse

The docket is clear. That's it for another episode of Judge John Hodgman. This week's episode produced by Jennifer Marmor and Kristen Bennett!

john

Hi, Kristen!

jesse

Follow us on Twitter at @JesseThorn and at @hodgman. We're on Instagram at @judgejohnhodgman. Make sure to hashtag your Judge John Hodgman Tweets #JJHo, and check out the MaxFun subreddit to discuss this episode. Submit your cases at MaximumFun.org/jjho, or email hodgman@maximumfun.org. We'll talk to 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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