TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 494: Cat-or-Dogical Imperative

Alan files suit against his wife, Elaine. He’d like to get another cat. Elaine, however, would prefer adding a dog to their family. Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 494

Transcript

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse thorn

Welcome to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. I'm Bailiff Jesse Thorn. This week, "Cat-or-Dogical Imperative." (Categorical Imperative.) Alan files suit against his wife Elaine. Alan thinks their cat Muffin needs a companion. He'd like to get another cat. Elaine, however, would prefer to add a dog to their family. Who's right? Who's wrong? Only one can decide.

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[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape on the floor, footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman enters the courtroom and presents an obscure cultural reference.

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[Door shuts.]

john hodgman

You're very handy. I can tell. I bet you like to podcast a lot, too.

jesse

Podcasting is dead.

john

Oh. That's very fascinating. I podcast a lot, myself. Some people think I'm too intellectual, but it's a fabulous way to spend your spare time. I also play racquetball. Do you have any hobbies? Like swearing litigants in?

jesse

Alan, Elaine, please rise and raise your right hands.

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[Chairs scrape.]

jesse

Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God or whatever?

alan

We do.

elaine

Yes.

jesse

Do you swear to abide by Judge John Hodgman's ruling, despite the fact that he's currently in talks to star in a remake of the 1970s Disney sequel The Shaggy D.A.?

alan

[Chuckles.] We do.

elaine

Yes.

alan

Yes.

jesse

It's got a great theme song, sort of Music Man-y. Judge Hodgman, you may proceed.

john

How does the Shaggy D.A. theme song go, Jesse?

jesse

[Singing] We're gonna elect him our shaggy, gonna elect him our shaggy D.A.! [Speaking] But then there's like a patter part.

john

Oh, is that really it?!

jesse

The—yeah! The verses are patter, and the—that's how the chorus goes. I don't have the verses committed to memory.

john

I'm glad I didn't have Alan and Elaine be seated, because I'm sure they wanted to dance to that. And they did a good job. [One or both litigants laugh quietly.]

jesse

Yeah. Well, they certainly would have been roused, because it was a rousing rendition. [More laughter.]

john

Yeah. Alan and Elaine, please be seated.

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[Chairs scrape.]

john

For an immediate summary judgment in one of yours' favors, can either of you name the piece of popular culture that I—and our Bailiff Jesse Thorn!—paraphrased? I'll give you a hint; the word "podcast" was not in this actual quote. [Someone laughs quietly.] We swapped that in for something else. Can either of you name the piece of popular culture that we sort of quoted? As I entered the courtroom? Elaine, do you have a guess?

elaine

Yeah. The only—I mean, the only movie I know in reference to cats and dogs is The Truth About Cats & Dogs, so I'm just gonna...

john

The Truth... About Cats & Dogs.

elaine

About Cats & Dogs.

john

That is a good guess. I'm putting that in the guess book. Alan? What is your guess?

alan

Uh, I think I know what this is. I think it's from Ghostbusters.

john

[Exhales sharply.] Hm. Wow. ...Wow. [Elaine laughs.]

alan

A movie I've seen several times.

john

Interesting. [Alan chuckles.]

elaine

With our children. Yeah. [Chuckles.]

john

So your guess is... that this is a quote from Ghostbusters. And probably you would guess that I chose a less-quoted quote from Ghostbusters. Because the quote that I would want to use would be what, Alan?

alan

"Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria."

john

Yeah. Exactly.

alan

Yeah.

john

But that would be a gimme.

alan

Right. Right. Right. So you went with the racquetball—

john

Well—

alan

When I heard "racquetball," I was like, "Oh, I—I've only heard someone say, 'I also play racquetball' like... once in a movie." I remember that.

john

And who said it?

alan

Ohhh. The—the actress from... [Laughs.]

john

Mm. Mm-hm.

elaine

Dan Aykroyd?

alan

No, the lady that's the secretary at the—at the front.

elaine

Ohhh!

alan

And she's like, "You promised me you'd give me a day off." And—

elaine

Oh, right.

john

Right. So, you don't know the name of the actor or the character. Would that be true, Alan?

alan

Yep. I'm gonna say I—you got me.

john

'Cause I—I was putting a lot of Annie Potts sauce on my reading.

alan

Ah! Thank you. There it is.

john

But—

alan

You did. Your tone was right on there, with Annie Potts tone.

john

Well, uh, Alan—okay. You're at—[grumbles] mm. You're absolutely correct. As much as I tried to hide it, that is a quote from Ghostbusters. It's Janine, played by Annie Potts, talking to Egon.

alan

Mm. Mm-hm. Okay.

john

Uh, Spengler. [Stifles laughter.] Played by... the—augh. Now, see? Now I feel like an idiot.

alan

Harold Ramis?

john

Harold Ramis. Thank you, Alan, you and I did it togetherrr! [Alan and John laugh.] But luckily for you, because you could not name the actor or the character... You are spared humiliation, 'cause I've decided that's not the cultural reference after all. This is the new cultural reference! I have to adjust my speakers... [Quiet clunking and clicking.]

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Speaker: Right now we're listening to the 8-track, and we're mixing—sort of playing the role of the conductor, putting together, in this case, a pair of tracks which has all of the string section. It sounds like this. Music: [Lively music starts up.] Speaker: There's a harpsichord track. And two flutes. And there's this nice solo that's split up into two tracks. [Music continues.] Speaker: Let's put 'em all together. [Music continues.] Speaker: It needs a little more echo. [Music continues.] Speaker: Yeah, that's good. [Music fades out.]

john

Now, I played that for you for two reasons. One, just so that everyone knows... that I always have a backup cultural reference. Just in case. [One or both litigants laugh quietly.] That's not true. I had this one—I—I never do. And I've rarely been caught as flat-footed as I was today by you, Alan. But luckily, I did have this alternate in place. Because—can you—do you know who that was, speaking? Either of you? Elaine or Alan?

alan

No.

john

No.

alan

No.

john

That was Wendy Carlos. Who celebrated her 81st birthday a couple of days ago, from this recording, on November the 14th. Wendy Carlos is a pioneering composer, specifically of electronic music. She helped develop the Moog synthesizer. And now—Alan's really shaking his head now.

alan

Yeah. Yeah.

john

He's nodding like crazy. You know this person?

alan

Yes. [Laughs.] I know the Moog synthesizer, yes. Yes.

john

You know the Moog. Oh, yeah. So... get to know Wendy Carlos. She also composed the soundtracks for A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Tron.

alan

Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

john

And this interview with her, which is—must be circa 1980 or so—uh, is an incredible thing that circulated on Twitter. Just—it's just an interview with her in her studio in Greenwich Village. But she is basically draped in every frame by cats. [One or both litigants laugh.] It's incredible. Like, she is—she's talking about the original—the very first 8-track, that she has in her studio. Very first 8-track ever made is in her studio. And she's just got a big Siamese cat just sitting on her shoulder.

alan

[Chuckles.] Nice.

john

And then the rest of the thing, there are two Siamese cats, 'cause this is about—this whole episode's about multiple pets—sitting on top of her synthesizer as she does this whole thing. It's great. [Alan laughs.] It's on my Twitter feed. We'll put a link to it. Wendy Carlos is also a pioneer in the trans community, because she is—happens to be a trans woman who came out very early on in the history of that community. And is just an incredible creator, and someone worth celebrating. So there you go! Uh, all guesses are wrong. [The litigants laugh.] Now the question is, which one of you two is wrong? Let me understand this. You have a cat named Muffin. Correct, Alan?

alan

Correct.

john

Right.

alan

Yeah.

john

And you would like to add to your pet portfolio another cat. Correct, Alan?

alan

Correct.

john

And Elaine, you would like to add to your pet portfolio a dog. Is that correct?

elaine

That's correct.

john

Alright.

elaine

And I find your cultural reference really amusing, 'cause I don't know if you IMDb'd Alan, but he's a part-time composer. And he wants to add more cats. So this is like, almost like a doomsday for me. [Multiple people laugh.]

john

Yeah, this is the one time that I did not IMDb search both litigants before getting on the line, so... [Multiple people laugh.] Alan, what are your claims to fame? Did you compose the music to Tron?

alan

Oh—[laughs]—no. I was beat out, uh, by that. No, I—for a brief time we were in LA, and I was pursuing a career in film music.

john

Oh, okay.

alan

So composing and interning for bigger-name composers.

john

Cool.

alan

And I had the idea of composing music for film. So I—I'm familiar, a lot, with film music.

john

You were the one who came up with that?!

alan

[Laughs.] Yes.

john

You had the idea for composing music for film?!

alan

Yes. For my—yes. Yes.

john

Wait, are you Alan Silvestri?! [The litigants laugh.]

alan

That'd be nice. Yeah.

john

That would be nice, right?

alan

Yeah. Yeah.

john

Okay. But now you live in Seattle, is that correct?

alan

Correct, yeah.

john

Right. I am granting myself to treat you both as hostile witnesses. [The litigants laugh.] Because, uh, as an only child and a cat person, this entire discussion disgusts me.

alan

[Chuckling] Okay.

john

Uh, you—you have—you have children already. Correct?

alan

We do.

elaine

Three.

john

Oh, that's more than one, I believe. Ugh.

alan

[Laughs.] Yes. Yes.

john

Yeah. So I—you know, on a cellular level, I—it's hard for me to understand what you're even contemplating here. Because, you know, it was hard enough for me to imagine what having two children would be like. How do you divide your love between two creatures in your house?

alan

Mm-hm.

john

Never mind then adding a cat, and then adding another animal. Why would you wanna siphon your love away from Muffin?! That seems mean! [Alan laughs quietly.] And cruel! We'll talk about your "why"s.

alan

Okay.

john

I mean, I get it. Look. We have one cat. Lolo the dumb-dumb cat. And we think frequently, because she's so... kind of dull, and she spends most of the time staring off into space, we wonder, "Should she have a little friend?" We've often thought about how much fun it would be to get a greyhound, and then get—put a little saddle on the greyhound, so that Lolo can ride the greyhound around.

alan

[Laughs quietly.] Mm-hm.

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

That would be great.

jesse

Sure.

john

A lot of fun can be had. You—Jesse, you have two dogs.

jesse

Yeah. Two saddles.

john

Two— [John and others laugh.] Exactly. And I—I know that you can have more than one cat or dog, just as you can have more than one child, and it's okay. But I'm terribly afraid of the unknown. What happens if we add a greyhound, and all of a sudden that greyhound is chasing Lolo around, 'cause the greyhound thinks she's a rabbit? And then my certainty of what will happen, since this is a cat we're talking about, is even greater than my certainty of the unknown. My fear of the known is great, because you know what's gonna happen. Whether it's a cat or a dog, Muffin is gonna hate you. [Alan laughs.] Deeply. For a looong time. And cats know how to get revenge. But you are both settled on this path, correct? I can't convince you to just leave well enough alone?

alan

Well, I mean... this is why we're here talking to you, is to—maybe you can find—you—I've watched—listened to this for many years. You always come to a good judgment, as far as like, most parties are all happy with the results.

john

Great! Let Muffin be an only child. Next case!

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[Three gavel bangs.]

john

[The litigants laugh.] No, this isn't about—I'm not a part of this dispute. I just need to explain my bias. But I refuse to recuse myself. You have a dispute. I'm gonna settle it.

jesse

John, I don't think Muffin being an only child is even realistic. Cats can't read alone in their room, and they can't carry briefcases to high school. [John and one or both litigants laugh.]

john

It's true. It's true. I don't even think they like to read Edward Gorey. [The litigants laugh.]

jesse

Yeah.

john

So, alright. Alan, tell me about Muffin. How old is Muffin?

alan

I think he's... six? Is that right? He's—?

elaine

Five?

alan

Between five and six. Somewhere around that age.

john

The prime of Muffin's life!

alan

Yeah. Yeah, we rescued him. And, um—

john

Good job.

alan

Yeah, he's a—I guess a tabby, right?

elaine

Mm-hm.

alan

Like a housecat tabby. He's very sweet. He's very calm. Uh, with three kids that sometimes, uh, can do rough play with him. He's pretty chill. He doesn't—you know, he's a good cat.

john

How old are your kids?

alan

Let's see. Eleven, ten, and eight.

elaine

We got Muffin because of a request from our oldest.

john

Oh, okay.

alan

Yeah, when she turned—

crosstalk

Elaine & Alan: Seven. Elaine: Mm-hm. John: Yeah.

alan

We made the deal—I think we made that deal when she was about five?

elaine

Three. Like three.

alan

Oh, okay.

elaine

We thought seven was so far away.

alan

Yeah.

john

And—right. Right. So she—your daughter, your eldest daughter, correct? Am I understanding that correctly?

alan

Right. Right. Yeah.

elaine

Mm-hm.

john

Alright. Requested a cat, and you bequeathed Muffin upon her.

alan

Yes. Yes.

john

Alright. And she's 11 now. Does she still—does she have a connection with this cat? Does she have an investment in whether Muffin have a—a—a furry friend or no?

alan

She does. She has an opinion on this. She—she's kinda Muffin's mom. She comes down and gets him his little snack in the morning, and she plays with him, and you know, she helps manage the litter box. So she's—she's very much involved.

john

So Elaine, what is your eldest child's feeling about this new cat/new dog situation? Not that children should rule the roost! I'm just wondering.

elaine

I think her feeling is that she wants—she's like you. She wants neither.

john

Right.

elaine

She doesn't want to add—right, that's her love.

john

Right.

elaine

Like you said, she's afraid the attention will be taken away.

john

Right.

elaine

Or that Muffin will stop loving her in some way.

john

Right. That will—that's going to happen. So why are you both intent upon ruining both the lives of your cat and at least your oldest child? Elaine—is your—

elaine

'Cause we're parents. We just— [John and Alan laugh.] You gotta—you gotta just throw it in, and see what happens! Right? Grab popcorn, and just...

alan

Part of the job.

elaine

Yeah. They ruin my life, so— [John and Alan laugh.]

john

Vengeance shall be yours. Alan, I'm afraid that, uh, you are losing this case currently. [The litigants laugh.]

alan

Oh, I know. Yeah. Not surprised.

john

Elaine just made a really important point. Which is, it's your job to destabilize things.

alan

[Laughs.] Yes.

john

For your children, to help them grow.

alan

Sure. Sure.

john

And an—an addition of a dog would really do that. Now, Alan, you want this—you want a cat. What is the reason for wanting this extra cat? Toxoplasmosis—

alan

[Laughs.] No, no.

john

—or do you think Muffin has something lacking in his life?

alan

No, I—I was thinking—well, first, we have a neighbor. And she's always had two cats, and I see them play together, and they're just—they're siblings, so it is a little different, but they're very close together. And seeing two cats play together and having fun is—is—you know, that gave me the idea that maybe he would like some companionship. Muffin is mostly an indoor cat. We let him out occasionally, but mostly he's inside. And currently, we're all indoors. We're all here. We're working, and we're going to class, and going to—you know, doing work. So right now there's plenty of people around to do stuff, but this idea came many months before, thinking that if I go to work, and the kids go off to school, and... you know, maybe he would like a companion! Maybe he'd like an extra friend, like—

john

Gotcha.

alan

And I just thought maybe a cat would make the most sense to bring into house, as far as a companion for Muffin, to keep him company.

john

When you say, "We're—" you know, "We're all stuck inside here," you're not saying, "We need some more entertainment. We need cats fighting each other."

alan

[Laughs.] No.

john

You're saying that when we move forward into a new and better normal and we're able to be outside again, you're concerned that Muffin will be lonely.

alan

Yeah. I think so.

john

Do you have evidence that this is a possibility?

alan

I don't. No. Trying to read the cat's mind is obviously hard. We're probably projecting a little bit, you know—

john

Right.

alan

—and that's why I feel like, "Maybe he's lonely!" and Elaine's like, "I don't think he's lonely. He's probably fine."

john

So Elaine, what do you think is the situation with Muffin, and why do you want a dog instead of a cat?

elaine

Well, I think Muffin, first of all, is a cat. I think cat wants to be alone, so I don't know... bringing another cat... is what Muffin is seeking, right? In companionship. We're his companions. And Muffin is five, and he's—or six. And he's kind of acting like a teenager. So he's kind of, you know, not... I don't know. It's a cat! Like, it doesn't listen to you, doesn't do what you wanna do, and... you know, it would mean one more being rolling their eyes at me and walking away from me, so— [John laughs, Elaine stifles laughter.] It's—you know. So it's like, if we're gonna get an—I don't want another teenager. Like, I want a dog who would just unconditionally love me.

john

Yeah.

jesse

John, I have three children and two dogs. And, uh, unlike my—for example, my three-year-old, Frankie—my dogs have never said to me, "Daddy, no. I 'on't 'ike you." (I don't like you.) [John cracks up, Alan laughs.]

john

That is true. Cats will often say to you in not so many words— [Alan or Elaine laughs.] "I don't like you." [Alan chuckles.] Cats have conditional love down. Dogs do tend to be a little bit more fawning. Do you have an idea of what style of dog you're looking for, size-wise?

elaine

Not really. I think we both agree, you know, we'll look for a dog that is gentle, you know, and plays well with the kids, and is just, you know, chill. I think. I think that's more important to us than the looks of the dog, right? That doesn't—

john

Yeah, no—

elaine

Should not judge a book by its cover.

john

Right. But there's no—it's not like you grew up, like, "I've always wanted a lab." You know what I mean?

elaine

Oh. Right. No.

jesse

I mean, except to the extent that we all grew up wanting our own Marmaduke. [Someone laughs.]

john

That's true.

jesse

In your kitchen right now, there's already a long string of sausages. [Alan chuckles.]

john

Yeah. There is a human in our household who's very into getting a Great Dane.

alan

Oh, gosh. No.

john

And I'd have to explain to him, "Those poops are the size of human poops. You don't want that." [The litigants laugh.] You don't want that. I don't.

elaine

Yeah. Alan's the dog person, though. He grew up with dogs. I didn't even really grow up with dogs. So...

john

Oh!

alan

Yeah. Yeah, I grew up with both. And I love both. I do. I love dogs, and I love cats. Seattle is a very dog-friendly town.

john

Mm-hm.

alan

There's lots of dogs. Our neighborhood actually has a lot of cats. And a lot of outdoor cats. They come and look at Muffin through the window, and they stare at him, and they walk away, and... I know where this can go. It could go either my way, or it could go Elaine's way, so it's like, I—you know, it's—when—it's—I'm prepared for that type of judgment. I'm only thinking of, you know, the purpose of why I wanna do this was just—I think he's—I think he could use a companion! I'd love to see him curled up with another cat on the couch, playing around—

john

Yeah, you want what the neighbors have. What's their last name? Jones?

alan

Yes, I wanna keep up with the Joneses. Yes. [Laughs.] Sure.

john

You want that Jones cat magic!

alan

[Laughs.] Yes.

elaine

But we have another neighbor that also has a dog and a cat. Why can't we be those Joneses?

john

[Exhales thoughtfully.] How does that cat and dog get along?

elaine

Very well.

john

Do they cuddle up together?

elaine

Yes, they love each other. And they brought out more love in their children than they've ever known, is what she described it to me.

john

Oh! More—how so? 'Cause now they had more poops to pick up? [The litigants laugh.]

elaine

Yeah, probably. I think it's just—you know, I think you expand your heart. Right? I mean, I don't think—

john

Hm. I'm gonna make a note of that. "Expand your heart." [Someone laughs.]

elaine

I mean, that's from the Grinch! Right?

john

"Expand... your..." [Pencil scratching on paper.]

elaine

Your heart expands to the size of—what is it?

crosstalk

Alan: Yeah. He—his heart grew so many times. Elaine: Mm-hm. Grew three si—three times. Alan: Yeah.

john

Dr. Seuss. You're gonna bring Dr. Seuss into this? [Alan or Elaine chuckles.]

jesse

Let's take a quick recess! And hear about this week's Judge John Hodgman sponsor. We'll be back in just a moment on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

It's the Judge John Hodgman podcast. I'm Bailiff Jesse Thorn. Every episode of the Judge John Hodgman podcast, of course, is brought to you by the members of MaximumFun.org, all the folks who've gone to MaximumFun.org/join to make this podcast and all the MaxFun podcasts they listen to possible. We're also, this week, supported by our friends at... Babbel. ¿Juan, que es Babbel?

john

Babbel is a website! And an application. To help you learn a whole bunch of different languages. What are the languages you can learn?

jesse

Indonesian.

john

Okay. Now, can I tell you something about Indonesian? I'm glad you brought that up. I mean—

jesse

[Laughing] Please do.

john

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jesse

Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

john

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jesse

Right now, Babbel's offering our listeners three months free with the purchase of a three-month subscription, with promo code "Hodgman."

john

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jesse

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john

Right. So Jesse, it's 2020. And you know I have officially dubbed this the year of staying in bed as long as possible.

jesse

Yeah, I got that proclamation. [Both laugh quietly.]

john

Yeah. I'm glad. Glad that got to you. But whether it's getting a good night's sleep, or hiding away from the new day that has started, it's no fun if your sheets are garbage! Jesse, are your sheets garbage?

jesse

I mean, they're probably garbage compared to these Brooklinen sheets!

john

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jesse

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jesse

Yeah. [Laughs.]

john

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john

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jesse

Yeah.

john

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jesse

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sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

john

Who would do the work of taking care of this dog? This hypothetical dog.

alan

Probably the parents? Yeah?

elaine

Probably us. Yeah.

alan

I think that would be our job.

john

Yeah, but I'm talking about between the two of you.

elaine

Oh, it's a shared job. I mean...

alan

I—you know, someone's gonna have to take the dog out for the walk at night. Someone'd have to get up early in the morning, take the dog out for a walk then, and, uh, it—we know it's gonna fall onto us for the most part.

elaine

And we'll share evenly.

john

Alan, do you believe that that's true? That the dog duties (doodies), in both spellings of the word "duty," (doody) will be shared equally?

alan

I think so. Yeah. I—that, I'm not too worried about.

john

Alright. You're not making a very good case for yourself, Alan. [One or both litigants laugh.] At this point you should be saying, "Elaine has never had a dog. She doesn't understand what's involved. I do. It's an—a completely extra level of care. They—they—"

elaine

I've had three kids.

john

No, I'm—Elaine. I'm—you don't have—I'm on your side.

elaine

Okay. Oh, okay.

john

I'm—I'm doodying on Alan right now. [Alan laughs.] Uh, you should be saying that Elaine doesn't know what a dog entails, and you, Alan, are gonna—it's gonna fall to you, and it's not gonna be fair. Not only are you not going to have the pleasure of watching two cats cuddle, but also you're gonna be taking care of this dog, and Elaine won't. But you're not even making that argument for yourself. You don't want—

alan

Well, that one—no. I'm not—that wouldn't be fair to Elaine, and I've listened to this show so much that I hear couples and guys kind of try to make that claim, and similar, and I know that's just not true with Elaine. I know that she'll—

john

No.

alan

We'll split the work, and—but yeah, I mean, we'll both have to be out there with the little plastic bag, scooping up after the dog, and it's fine, you know? It's a thing. But as far as splitting the duties, or who's responsible... [John snorts.] Yeah. It would be—it would call to us.

john

You said, "Splitting the duties!" [The litigants laugh.]

jesse

I'd recommend alternating on the duties. [John and the litigants laugh.]

john

Yeah, that's probably good. Rather than cutting them in half? [More laughter.]

jesse

Yeah.

john

Well, speaking of duties, there is the case—and I know this because you sent in some evidence—that you will need to get more litter boxes. And Elaine, you sent in a—one of my favorite images in life. Which is a cat sitting in a litter box, trying to act like this is normal. [The litigants laugh.] And it's one of the great—Jesse, have you ever had a cat?

jesse

I've never had a cat, myself.

john

I gotta say that, you know, there are a lot of rewards to owning a cat. There are some downsides, too. For example, you have a box of poop in your house. [Multiple people laugh.]

alan

Yes.

john

And when you see that box of poop, you're—you're kind of reminded. It's like, "Oh, I am hosting a parasitic creature." [More laughter.] "I'm—my mind is no longer my own." But every now and then, you'll wander by, and you'll see the cat in that litter box. And it's the greatest—it's the most hilarious thing. [A litigant laughs quietly.] Because it is this creature that is obsessed with its own dignity, being caught in the act of pooping or peeing. [More quiet laughter.] And the look on its face is hila—it just pretends that you're not there. It's so humiliated. I don't know where you got this picture, Elaine, but this is exactly what this cat is—like, "Mm. I'm not here!" [The litigants laugh.] But you sent in this picture of a litter box because—because why?

elaine

Because we—when we adopted Muffin, I mean—[sighs]—we, you know—like any new parents, right? Cat or human. You just wing it. So you get one litter box, and you think that's enough for a cat.

john

Right.

elaine

But then Muffin starts to not poop in the litter box, but outside the litter box, which we couldn't figure out why. Like, "Is it dirty? Is it smelly?" But then upon researching and talking to the neighbor with the two cat, she said, "Oh, you didn't know? Cat needs a plus-one box." [Jesse and John laugh.] And whatever—like, who on Earth—?

jesse

And the cat's gonna need to be in VIP.

john

[Laughs.] That's right.

elaine

Yeah, exactly! Like—

jesse

Cats always order bottle service.

john

That's right.

elaine

Exactly. So apparently, yeah. If you have one cat, it's—you have to have two litter boxes—

john

What?!

elaine

—and if you have two cats, you have to have three litter boxes. Yeah! And lo and behold, when we got the second box, Muffin starts being normal, and uses the litter box. Like, weird things about cats. It's ridiculous.

john

I've never exper—I've had cats for forever. Sometimes one cat, sometimes two cats. I've only ever had one litter box. And you also have some evidence here that suggests that there is a cat expert who confirms this advice?

elaine

Yes. If you Google "cat litter box problems—"

john

Yeah.

elaine

—apparently there's a cat expert named Jackson Galaxy.

john

Jackson Galaxy?! [The litigants laugh.]

elaine

Who recommends 1.5 litter box per cat. I don't know what—

john

One-point—

elaine

I don't know where he's arrived at 1.5, but you just round it to 2, I guess.

john

I wanna go to the pet store and go, "Yeah, could I get a half litter box, please?" [Multiple people laugh.] "A demi litter box?" [More laughter.]

jesse

I wanna go to the pet store and ask to speak with Jackson Galaxy. [John and Jesse laugh.] And then they reply, "Uh, I'll get him. Also, this isn't a pet store, it's a bong store." [John, Alan, and Jesse laugh.]

john

And then you have a picture of Muffin's litter box, which looks... [Whistles.] What's going on here, Elaine?

elaine

Yeah, that's another thing. He's messy. Like, cats are... you know, they'll just kick the litter everywhere, in every direction. I don't know what it is. Like, burying or whatever it is. It's everywhere. So we try to get litter box with covers, but then he wouldn't use the litter box with cover, or he would use it and then come out, and just stepped in poo. Like, just has poo on his paw.

john

Poo paw.

elaine

And just steps everywhere. Yeah. I don't know. Cats are weird!

john

So your solution to the "one litter box is not enough" problem was to take another full-size litter box and shove that in front of the other litter box, in a narrow niche? [Someone laughs quietly.]

elaine

Yes.

john

That's what it looks like to me.

jesse

Plus it looks like—if I'm interpreting this picture right, you also have a R.O.B. the Nintendo robot.

john

[Laughs.] Yeah. [Alan laughs.] Looks like you got a little R2-D2 in there. Some kind of robot in there?

elaine

It's a—it's a Diaper—it's—well, you guys have kids. It's Diaper Genie, but for cat poop. So it's called Pet Genie.

john

Oh, okay! I got you. All of these photos, of course, will be available at the Judge John Hodgman show page at MaximumFun.org, and on our Instagram, @judgejohnhodgman. But wh—uh, I'm not sure that you necessarily wanna run to check out this photo. Of this litter hellscape. [Alan chuckles.] Where in your house did you shove all—where is your poop niche in your house, that you shoved all these things in? Or your apartment, or whatever?

alan

In our basement.

john

Basement.

alan

We have a little extra room where the water heater is, right? And—

elaine

Yeah. We—and that's—we built that specifically for Muffin.

john

Wow.

elaine

So he had his own—I mean, I didn't—let me show you a picture. We cut out a hole for him, 'cause he couldn't use the cat flap. He would freak out. And then so we cut a hole in the sliding door, just so he could—

alan

He could just go in and—

elaine

I mean, this cat is like VIP.

john

I'm no Jackson Galaxy though, you guys. I kinda feel like if I were to add an extra litter box, I might put it in a different part of the basement.

elaine

Yeah, but—

john

So that Muffin would have a choice. Instead of this—he has to walk through a litter box to get to a litter box!

alan

[Laughs.] Yes. Yes. [Elaine laughs.] But the good thing is we can close that door all the way, and with the little hole cut out, he can go in and out, and contain all of that litter box stuff in this little room, and not—

john

Just get rid of the litter boxes, and just fill this whole thing with litter! [The litigants laugh.]

jesse

It seems clear to me that the only answer to this is to get a dog to intimidate the cat. [Someone laughs.]

elaine

Yes! Thank you! Exactly. To put it in its place.

john

You don't like Muffin, do you, Elaine?

elaine

I do love Muffin. I adore him. Um, but he's a cat. I mean...

john

Yes. There's a—there's a built-in contentious relationship there.

elaine

Exactly.

john

Cats do not enjoy making you happy.

jesse

Yeah. When I come home at the end of a long day of work—at least when I was going to work—uh, there is no better feeling when your children are completely occupied with yelling at each other, and your spouse is completely occupied with trying to manage the potential violence between your children, [stifles laughter] to have a dog come up to the door who is absolutely thrilled that you're there.

john

Yeah. I can see that. But it looks like, on your evidence, Alan, that Muffin is a—is into you! And at least one of your children. You sent in some very snuggly photos.

alan

Yes. Yes. [Inaudible.]

john

What is this evidence of?

alan

I—I—from the research I did—fairly limited, admittedly. But some of the research is that cats can be pretty clingy if they're in search of companionship. It could—one of the symptoms could be that they're kinda clingy.

john

Right.

alan

And Muffin likes me. And likes Elaine, too. You know—

john

Hm...

alan

—and curls up with us, and sits on us, and I don't—I think I tolerate it a little more than Elaine does. There's a picture of him just lying on my son. 'Cause he just—he just wants to be there. Wants to be—you know. Get that attention.

john

Yeah! This is what you—I mean, first of all, this is a enormous cat. [The litigants laugh.]

jesse

Yeah. The cat is spread out on your son the way that the batter spreads out when you're pouring it into a pan to make a pancake. [More laughter.]

alan

Yeah, it just goes all the way to the edges.

john

I mean, this—your son is under a blanket, so I cannot see the specific width of this child, but this cat is stretched way over past either side of this child, and it does not look like this child could get up if he wanted to. [Alan laughs.]

elaine

Yeah, Muffin is his excuse. "I can't do my homework 'cause Muffin is on me." [Someone snorts.]

john

Yeah. Yeah. I'm familiar with that. [Alan chuckles.] If in our house, um, you're sitting on the couch? The cat—our cat, Lolo the dumb-dumb cat, will sort of snuggle in between your legs if you're like—if you have your legs out on the couch, kinda like, half lying on the couch. And that means—"Lolo has legs" means the person who is on the couch cannot get up to do anything. [One or both litigants laugh.] And must be waited on hand and foot and legs.

alan

Cat law.

john

Cat law. So you want this to stop. You want your cat to stop cuddling with you.

alan

I only think that if—that could be a symptom of maybe him being so clingy—and I do like it. I don't mind it at all. It's—he's very sweet. But you know, he'll—he will sit right on top of me, while I'm trying to do something.

john

Right. So this is evidence that he wants a little bit more social interaction than he's getting.

alan

Yeah. Exactly.

john

And you sent in some pictures of some clawed-up chairs and stuff. What is this evidence of?

alan

Yeah, they can be destructive if they're acting out, or they're in need of some social interaction. He can really go to town on some of the stuff we have that—I don't know if it just feels good to him, or he just has this extra energy, or whatever it is, but he will scratch away on certain furniture in the house. And it's another thing that could—it could be a sign that more social interaction, another companion, could be helpful. Maybe that's why he could be acting out.

john

That—it's a cat. It's gonna scratch everything.

elaine

Yeah, exactly. Two cats are gonna double the scratches.

john

Double the scratches, three times the litter box... [John and the litigants laugh.]

elaine

Laying on every human being they can find.

alan

[Stifles laughter.] That may very well happen, yes. That's, uh—I am not a lawyer, obviously! [Elaine laughs.] I—there are some holes in this. But I just—I feel that perhaps—maybe the scratches would go down? I don't know. It's possible they could go up.

john

Mm. Hmm.

alan

But maybe with this companionship, he would be a little more occupied. Maybe when I'm trying to make dinner, he doesn't do that thing around my legs, where I'm trying to open the oven, and I don't wanna burn him, but he's just gotta be all up in there. You know, maybe when—if he has another kitty, you know, he won't be so intent on just ripping through that chair, or that mat.

elaine

Well, a dog will keep him occupied. Chase him away.

john

Yeah, I mean, that is a—that's an argument as well, Alan. I mean, a dog—

alan

True. Yeah. That's correct. That could do it. I still think that—I think a cat might be more happy with a cat friend.

john

And what do your, uh, your kids say? Not that they matter, Elaine. I agree with you. Children don't matter. They've ruined your life. [The litigants laugh.] They've introduced chaos. But you're about to introduce some more chaos.

elaine

It's payback time. [Someone stifles laughter.]

john

Alright. [Alan laughs quietly.] And you would say a dog is greater payback? [The litigants laugh.] They would be angrier about a dog than a cat?

elaine

No, they'll have to do chores, right? They're gonna have to go take the dogs out for a walk. They're gonna have to learn responsibility.

john

Mkay. I think I heard everything that I need to in order to make my decision. Do you have any other evidence, or thoughts that you wanna add? Elaine? Alan?

alan

The only thing I can say is that I do think with cats, sometimes we do go overnight, or we'll stay overnight places, and we can take off, and we can leave for a night with a cat, and come back and—

john

You have three children, sir!

alan

No, I mean, we take the kids, obviously! [Laughs.]

john

Where are you gonna go overnight?

alan

[Chuckles.] Camping, maybe, or off to a cabin...

john

Yeah! Maybe in another five years, we'll see. [Someone chuckles.]

jesse

Yeah, there's nothing dogs hate more than camping. [Multiple people laugh quietly.]

alan

Okay, that was a bad example. But yes—

john

Oh, Alan. [The litigants laugh.]

alan

I was thinking you can leave the cat alone; you can't leave a dog alone. That was where I was trying to go with that. 'Cause a dog will go crazy if you leave a dog overnight, you know? It's—

john

It's more work! Dog is more work. Dog is more work.

alan

Yeah. Yeah.

jesse

Maybe you should just get a houseplant. [Alan laughs quietly.]

elaine

My son did suggest a Venus flytrap.

jesse

Oh, yeah. Those are kinda hard to—

john

Ohhh!

jesse

They're hard to take care—surprisingly hard to take care of.

john

Yeah.

elaine

Yeah, you have to feed it bugs, I think. And I—

jesse

Yeah, you gotta find bugs.

elaine

That's where I draw the line. Yeah.

jesse

Yeah. Around the house.

john

You gotta find bugs. Yeah. Basically, you become a pet for the Venus flytrap. I've been there. [One or both litigants laugh.]

alan

A minion.

jesse

Then of course it starts demanding blood, and... [More laughter.] Eventually, you feed it your boss...

alan

[Laughs.] Right. Right. Start singing songs. Yeah.

john

They call it the Dracula plant!

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

It's the favorite plant of Draculas.

jesse

Number one.

john

Yep. Alright. Well, I'm gonna go climb into my litter room and, uh, make my decision. I'll be back in a moment with my verdict.

sound effect

[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape, crunchy footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman exits the courtroom.

sound effect

[Door shuts.]

jesse

Elaine, how do you feel about your chances in this case?

elaine

I feel pretty good. I feel like it's a pretty straightforward case. You know, I think Alan, you know, has a lot of holes in his argument, so—and luckily, I feel like my arguments are pretty strong.

jesse

Alan, how are you feeling?

alan

We'll see. I feel like, uh—I trust whatever he decides will be good. Again, I know I didn't have, like, a iron-clad case, but I just said what I thought was on my mind, and I felt like I gave a little bit of evidence, and tried to make my point, and I leave it to the court.

jesse

Do cats even like other cats?

alan

Sometimes. [Jesse and the litigants laugh.] We've done some—from what I've read, yes, it's possible.

jesse

"Let's roll them bones, and find out!" [More laughter.] Well, we'll see what Judge Hodgman has to say about all this when we come back in just a moment.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

Music: Chill, rhythmic synth music plays in background. Jesse Thorn: Hey, friends! Jesse here, the founder of Maximum Fun, and I have some really great news to share with you. This year has brought a lot of changes for all of us, and one tradition that we were grateful to be able to hold onto is our annual pin sale to benefit charity. This year, through your generosity and love of pins, you helped raise $95,400 for GiveDirectly. If you’re a member and you bought pins, they’ll ship in January. In the meantime, your support will provide direct cash relief to families impacted by COVID-19 across the United States. Even in this incredibly tough year, the MaxFun community remains extraordinarily kind. And whether or not you bought pins, you can continue to help by heading to GiveDirectly.org. And as always, thank you. [Music fades out.]

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Judge Hodgman, we're taking a quick break from the case, in chambers, talking about what's going on. What's going on with you?

john

Well, first of all, I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who heeded my call to Bit.ly/CALLGEORGIA. Uh, had a excellent time phone banking with the democrats of Somerville to help get out the vote in these two important Senate run-off races in Georgia. Thanks for joining me. I hope that you will continue to look for ways that you can be involved in your state, local, and national elections. Wherever you may stand, it's important, I think more than ever, we realize how important it is to be engaged. Beyond that, I'm just gonna tell you that our—the TV show that I made with David Rees, which is called Dicktown—that's right; we made a TV show, and we decided to call it Dicktown—is available over there at Hulu. Just go to Bit.ly/dicktown. And then I will also say that, as always, all of my books are available anywhere you can buy or—or borrow a book, of course. But if you'd like a signed and/or personalized copy of Vacationland, Medallion Status, Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, That Is All, they are all available to you via Books Are Magic. They will have Medallion Status and Vacationland in stock. They might have to special order the earlier ones. Just call them up, or go to their website, BooksAreMagic.net. And when you complete your purchase on the website, there's a little spot where you can add extra instructions.

john

You could say, "I would like this signed by John," or, "I would like this signed by John and personalized to my wife Gladys, or my partner Mark Venture from Star Blazers." Anything you like. However, uh, you don't need to write jokes for me. I'll take care of that, thanks. [Jesse and John laugh.] Jesse? [Stifles laughter.] What are you up to?

jesse

Well, we still have up in the Bullseye feed my hour-long conversation with David Letterman.

john

Ooh! That was incredible.

jesse

Um, it is—yeah, thank you! It is, I think, uh—I found it to be a moving and insightful conversation. And I hope people will check that out. And also, John, this is a traditional shopping week. This is the week that we often—our minds turn to the holidays, and the gifts we're going to give, and I happen to run a store. It's called the Put This On Shop. It's at PutThisOnShop.com. It is an adjunct to my menswear website, Put This On, PutThisOn.com. And we have all kinds of vintage and antique treasures for every giftee in your life. If you wanna show that you put a little thought into a gift, go get them something special at the Put This On Shop, and almost everything ships for free with the code "Justice"! Because you are a Judge John Hodgman listener. So PutThisOnShop.com, and use the code "Justice."

john

Yeah. I mean, I like PutThisOnShop.com because if I'm kinda, like, on a total blank for a little thing that I wanna get for a friend or relative for the holiday, I just kinda, like, look at this stuff, and then I find stuff for people! Like 1920s dog breed pins!

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah, those—those are really good.

john

I got someone who's gonna enjoy those! Those are so handsome! Look at those dogs! Jaunty little promotional Dobbs top hat! I don't know who that—I think that one's for me.

jesse

You know, John, we sold those musical cigars that I talked about before, but we still have these giant teeth that are on—each half of the jaw is— [Both laugh.] They're connected with like, a gooseneck—like a gooseneck lamp—

john

Yeah.

jesse

—so that you can move them in any direction, [stifles laughter] and I can't—I can't overemphasize how too big these teeth are. [Both laugh.] They're really amazing. Somebody's gonna get this for Christmas, and it's gonna blow their mind.

john

Get over there to PutThisOnShop.com! And I may add, also, MaxFunStore.com! Because you will find lots of little gifties there for the people in your life who love MaxFun podcasts! Lots of Judge John Hodgman T-shirts. T-shirts and doodads from all your favorite podcasts, so... you can stuff a lot of stockings! Tastefully, and I daresay economically. Just by going to PutThisOnShop.com, PutThisOnShop.com, PutThisOnShop.com! You only have to go once. [Jesse laughs quietly.] And then enter in MaxFunStore.com, see what they got over there.

jesse

Let's get back to the case.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

sound effect

[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape on the floor, crunchy footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman re-enters the courtroom and presents his verdict.

sound effect

[Door shuts.]

john

So Alan, you know, I—first of all, I want to apologize for, um, batting you around like a caught mouse. You deserve better in my courtroom. Because I understand your feeling, and your desire. I've seen cats cuddle up together. It's incredible. As a natural cat person, I want this in my life. I feel you. And, you know, you—when you go and check out Wendy Carlos, [stifles laughter] she also has a website that I don't think has been updated since 1998, but there are lots of photos of her multiple Siamese cats just hanging out together. But... they are all related to each other. And I—in my limited experience, the cats that really love each other tend to be litter mates. Not to say that it can't be done. We had two cats for a number of years. When I merged my household, and my—and my cat dowry with, uh, my wife's household and her cat dowry. I had Petey, she had Francis. They... over years, learned to be in the same room with each other. But it took a long time. Cats are social, as you pointed out in your evidence. And in time, can be socialized to be together. But it does take time. I mean, we—we honestly—it took years for Petey and Francis to be able to chill together. And, like, I would bring my wife into the room so we could take a picture if they happened to be on the same bed together, but like five feet apart. [Someone laughs quietly.] That was a huge, momentous occasion.

john

Elaine, you want a dog because you are an agent of chaos. [Someone laughs quietly.] You—if you're gonna up the chaos, you're gonna go all the way, and just go cross-species. Like, "Let's just see what happens." And a dog obviously is a big question mark! You know? Because I've seen those Tom and Jerry cartoons. The dogs hate the cat! They wanna eat the cat with the—that was always a weird thing about Tom and Jerry. You know that—you knew the cats wanted to eat the mouse. That's what cats do. But dogs do not go around trying to eat cats. [John and the litigants chuckle.] But every time, and I—I still have it in my mind, when that dog would see Tom the cat, the dog would put on a napkin—tie a napkin around his neck, and get a knife and fork. Gross. [Alan laughs.] That's a gross image! A bulldog carving into a cat!

jesse

That said, when I'm living on a desert island and someone comes to rescue me, when I see them, they do look like a fully dressed turkey. [Multiple people laugh.]

john

So either way, what you are proposing is ruining your existing cat's life. And making it scared and sad, and weirded out. I mean, I'm gonna go ahead and put Margaret on blast. You don't know Margaret. Margaret used to work at Books Are Magic... where you can order signed and personalized copies of all my books for the holiday season. That's a plug. BooksAreMagic.net. Margaret got a cat. Named it one of the best cat names of all time. Birthday. Had that—had Birthday the cat—Birthday the cat was so happy. I would follow that Instagram, see that happy, big old cat just enjoying life. And then Margaret and her roommate went and got another cat, a little boy they call Baby. And now they only take pictures of Baby. Except in the background, you just see Birthday, sad. [The litigants laugh quietly.] She tries to convince me that it's getting better. It's not getting better for Birthday. That's an only child who just got a sibling. The worst. [More laughter.] Dog could be the same! Dog could ruin Muffin's life. We don't know. We don't know. [Sighs.] And yet, so much of what life is about is making these choices, not knowing what the outcome is going to be! When it was suggested to me that we have a second child, I was like, "That's impossible. Who knows what's gonna happen?!" [Alan laughs quietly.]

john

And then someone said to me, "Expand your heart," or some stupid stuff like that. [Elaine laughs quietly.] And we had that second child, and guess what? My heart expanded! I trusted the other person with whom I was having children—my wife. Why didn't I just say that? [Someone laughs.] I trusted my wife to know better, or to at least know more than I did, because she grew up with siblings. And it worked out! Worked out great. Not always easy! But it worked out great. I don't know what moved you guys to have three children. Come on, that's too much!

elaine

Agent of chaos.

john

Jesse, you know.

jesse

Yeah, I agree. As the parent of three. [Jesse stifles laughter, the others laugh.]

john

It's very hard for me to appreciate, but what you're doing is correct. You both—you want to expand the chaos in your life, and see what happens. You're willing to roll the dice. Alan, your cases are equally strong. Because essentially, they're based on... kind of nothing. You kinda just want another cat! Elaine kinda just wants another dog. You could leave well enough alone, and be perfectly happy. But you—you wanna flip this table over, one way or the other. And the problems with cats and an extra cat or an extra dog, in terms of what they are going to... cause to your household to happen, what's gonna happen to Muffin's quality of life and yours—equally unknown, basically. I think that the compromise position here is a dog. I think it's the better move. Here's why, Alan. And I'm sorry. I wanna see two cats cuddling more than anything. I want that in my life so hard. But I—it's so hard to achieve. I've looked at Muffin. Muffin is a huge cat. [The litigants laugh.]

john

Muffin clearly can hold his own. Muffin is not gonna be pushed around. He can push back on that dog, that dog starts bringing out that knife and fork. [More laughter.] Muffin is at a time in its—in his life when he is extremely playful. He is a teen. He is a teen cat, as Elaine pointed out. If he were an elderly cat, I would feel less inclined to go along with this. I also noticed that your litter situation is a hellhole. [The litigants laugh.] And I don't think you should add to it. I think it's time that at least one animal in your house poop outside. [More laughter.] 'Cause this is not—it's not gonna get better, in that litter nook that you've fashioned for Muffin. And I think you need to rethink all of your litter situation. That's... [More laughter.]

john

Shoving one box—one litter box in front of another litter box is not—I promi—I've never met Jackson Galaxy, but I'm sure that is not what Jackson Galaxy meant by getting another litter box. You might as well be putting one on top of the other. [The litigants laugh.] Now, what I would suggest—this is an extra compromise position—is see if, in Seattle, you have the opportunity to foster dogs that are waiting to be adopted. I'm sure you've considered this.

elaine

Yes.

john

You could foster one or two dogs, just to see what happens with Muffin. And maybe you'll get lucky, and maybe one of these foster dogs and Muffin will have a—a love connection. And then you enjoy what's called a failed foster. You just keep it. You'll be doing good in your community while you do it. And you'll have a real life, on the job training of what it'll be like—what the emotional and, uh, chore landscape is gonna be with these two animals.

alan

Yeah.

john

So I would suggest you look into that. But then... I—you know, look. This is the other part of parenting, right? Our children grow. They move out. Life proceeds. We lose family members. Muffin dies. It will happen. Sorry, Muffin. [Whispering] That's when you move in, Alan. Get two cats. [Multiple people laugh.] [No longer whispering] Let Muffin have the greatest life Muffin can have. You've already made a commitment to this cat. You can try adding on a foster dog. That's my recommendation. See if that enlarges not only your heart, but Muffin's. Muffin—and Muffin deserves a chance to enjoy an enlarged heart. Sounds like a condition. [More laughter.]

jesse

My dog literally has an enlarged heart. [Jesse, Alan, and John laugh.]

john

Aw, which one?

jesse

Cocoa. She has to take pills.

john

Ohhh, Cocoa...

jesse

They're beef-flavored.

john

Ohhh, Cocoa and Her Beef-Flavored Pills sounds like a great Dr. Seuss book.

jesse

Yeah. [One or both litigants laugh.]

john

Fulfill and honor your commitment to giving him the best life possible. And then, should a natural transition come along... [Multiple people laugh.] I don't care if you have a dog at that point. Go ahead and get two cats. 'Cause the dog doesn't—

alan

Alright!

john

The dog's gonna be thrilled. [Multiple people laugh.] Two cats. Brother and sister, brother and brother, sister and sister.

alan

Sure.

john

Right.

alan

Yep.

john

And then everyone gets what they want. Except your children. Which is the whole point. [One or both litigants laugh.] This is the sound of a gavel.

sound effect

[A cat meows.]

john

Judge John Hodgman rules; that is all.

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[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape on the floor, footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman exits the courtroom.

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[Door shuts.]

jesse

Alan, how are you feeling?

alan

Great! It—I knew it would be a good judgment, and it was a good compromise, and you know, I think, uh—this was a lot of fun.

jesse

I like how hard Alan is working not to be a jerky husband on this show. [Jesse and one or both litigants laugh.] He has clearly heard—heard the inflexible, unheeding husbands. [More laughter.]

alan

Yeah.

jesse

In past, uh, heterosexual married relationships on Judge John Hodgman, and has resolved to take a different path.

alan

[Laughs.] Never turns out well for those guys, and, uh—yeah.

jesse

Elaine, how are you feeling?

elaine

Uh, awesome. I am so glad he made the right call. I've not—I didn't know what to expect, coming in, 'cause—you know, Alan loves Judge John Hodgman, and I felt like I didn't know as much about it, but I feel like he's... wise beyond the rule of law, so I'm very happy.

jesse

Well, Alan and Elaine, thanks for joining us on Judge John Hodgman. It was great to talk to you.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

Music: Upbeat, fun music. Lisa Hanawalt: Hey, if you like your podcasts to be focused and well-researched, and your podcast hosts to be uncharismatic, unhorny strangers who have no interest in horses, then this is not the podcast for you. Emily Heller: Yeah, and what's your deal? [Lisa laughs.] I'm Emily. Lisa: I'm Lisa. Emily: Our show's called Baby Geniuses! Lisa: And its hosts are horny adult idiots. We discover weird Wikipedia pages every episode. Emily: We discuss institutional misogyny! Lisa: We ask each other the dumbest questions, and our listeners won't stop sending us pictures of their butts. Emily: We haven't asked them to stop! But they also aren't stopping. Lisa: Join us on Baby Geniuses. Emily: Every other week on MaximumFun.org. [Music ends.]

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Another Judge John Hodgman case in the books. In a moment, Swift Justice! But first, our thanks to Andrew Eppler Zindell for naming this week's episode, "Cat-or-Dogical Imperative." If you'd like to name a future episode, be sure to like Judge John Hodgman on Facebook, where we regularly put out calls for submissions. You can follow us on Twitter at @JesseThorn and @hodgman, hashtag your Judge John Hodgman Tweets #JJHo, and check out the Maximum Fun subreddit at MaximumFun.Reddit.com to chat about this episode. We're on Instagram at @judgejohnhodgman. Make sure to follow us there for evidence and other fun stuff, and Judge John Hodgman is produced by Jennifer Marmor. Uh, with help from a certain tiny Marmor's bubble lawnmower this week.

john

Aw. But no appearance from, uh, leaf blower! Over at your house.

jesse

I know! No leaf blower!

john

Yeah!

jesse

Record on a different day, with no leaf blower!

john

Oh, I miss that guy.

jesse

Now Swift Justice, where we answer your small disputes with quick judgment. Luke says: "My wife insists that the park is 'down the road' from us, despite the fact that it is both uphill and northward. I contend it is 'up the road.'"

john

This is something that I was always mystified by. You know, Jesse, that I am a weird anglophile.

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

Among other things. And how it is convention—

jesse

That's a lover of weird angles.

john

That's right. Uh, I like oblique angles. I like acute angles. I like 'em all.

jesse

Mm-hm!

john

Uh, in England, they would always say, "up to London," no matter what direction you were coming from. And I couldn't understand that, until I appreciated that in the imagination of a person living in London, London was above everything else. It is a centering of itself, such that everything else is below it. And that, I can only imagine, is why Luke's wife says "down the road," because their house is the center of their lives. And everything else leads down from it, into some gutter that is not them. Whereas Luke situates himself in a rational Cartesian grid, that includes all points equally, and therefore describes where the park is via cardinal direction—North, South, East, West—with the common convention that if it is North of you, you are going up to it! I prefer the latter! A relational system where none of us is above the other. It's easier to understand, when you put it that way. You're actually creating a rational system of direction that another person could follow. So I'm gonna tell Luke's wife that park is up the road, as the crow flies. [Both laugh.]

jesse

There's so much "as the crow flies" controversy on Reddit this week.

john

Ohhh my goodness. Oh my goodness.

jesse

People are upset you didn't give drive times, apparently. That's it for this week's episode. Submit your cases at MaximumFun.org/jjho, or email hodgman@maximumfun.org. No case is too small. We'll talk to you next time on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

music

A cheerful ukulele chord.

speaker 1

MaximumFun.org.

speaker 2

Comedy and culture.

speaker 3

Artist owned—

speaker 4

—audience supported.

About the show

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

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

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