TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 511: Litter Crime

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Appalachian turns of phrase, and cooking. Plus, we seek a ruling from the Court’s Official Automobile Expert Rhea Butcher!

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 511

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... the King of Park Slope. [John laughs.] Judge John Hodgman. There's probably a—quite a few people with a greater claim to that. Probably Mads Mikkelsen or something lives in Park Slope. [Both laugh.]

john hodgman

[Shudders.] You talking about Hannibal?

jesse

Yeah.

john

You talking about Kaecilius?

jesse

Yeah.

john

You talking about, uh, the—uh, red—uh, bloody teardrop from, um, Casino Royale?

jesse

Yeah. Talking about Mads Mikkelsen here.

john

Does he live in Park Slope?!

jesse

I'm just—I presume that he lives in Park Slope.

john

Ohhh.

jesse

Depends, I guess, whether he has kids or not.

john

Yeah, no. I was gonna say, there are no Kings or Queens of Park Slope. It is, um—I don't know what, um—[stifles laughter] rule by children is called?

jesse

[Stifling laughter] Mm-hm.

john

Do you know what I mean? Uh—

jesse

I believe it's ruled by—by giant strollers. Those are the true Kings and Queens of Park Slope, are those strollers where you're like, "Is this two strollers taped together?"

john

[Laughs quietly.] Yeah.

jesse

But it only has one seat. This isn't, like, one of those strollers for twins.

john

Double-decker strollers are very common. I think maybe it's a—

jesse

Land Rover strollers.

john

A Lord-of-the-Fly-ocracy? I don't know!

jesse

Yeah. [Inaudible.]

john

Lord of the Fly-archy?

jesse

I'll tell you, any time I'm in Park Slope, Judge Hodgman?

john

Yeah.

jesse

I feel like a king. You know why?

john

[Laughing] 'Cause you're wearing a crown.

jesse

Yeah, well... [Both laugh.] They give it to you at the airport. It would be rude not to wear it. [Chuckles.] Uh, it's because somebody'll say, like, "Aren't you Jesse Thorn from NPR?"

john

Yeahhh, it's true!

jesse

And nobody—nobody in my neighborhood has ever said that.

john

It's a—

jesse

You know what I mean?

john

Yeah, I know.

jesse

But this is—this is my country! This is where I go to see Brooke Gladstone on the street. Park Slope, Brooklyn.

john

Uh, just on—on my street! On my street! A block away! She lives.

jesse

Yeah.

john

I've never seen Mads Mikkelsen. It's been—and it's been years since I've seen Steve Buscemi. [Jesse sighs.] Can I tell you something, though, that I like about my neighborhood a lot?

jesse

What's that?

john

Well, you know, I sit here in my office in Brooklyn, and I face the windows looking out over the back yard of this building. And I see all these other—it's a real Rear Window type situation. It's a real New York scene. Like I'm Jimmy Stewart in a cast, peeping on my neighbors with a—

jesse

Yeah.

john

—with a long-lens camera. And I hear—sometimes I hear snippets of music people are playing. It's very lovely. Sometimes people get out on the fire escapes and they read a book. It's very—you know, it's—it's, uh—it's what you picture. It's a cinematic picture of New York City, to a degree. And I'm a little bit depressed, because earlier today... some one of my neighbors was playing a sousaphone. [Beat.] [Both laugh.] And I've heard this person—!

jesse

That's from—that's from what, The Butter Battle Book?

john

No! Someone was playing—look. Can I tell the difference between a sousaphone and a regular tuba by ear? Probably not. But this sounded—this—this—this bottom felt deep. You know what I mean?

jesse

Yeah.

john

And... I think it was a sousaphone.

jesse

A Hodgman's guide to the orchestra is what we're doing here.

john

Yeah. And I've heard this person before. 'Cause one time, I swear they were playing the bass line from the theme song to Treme, and I was so excited. The TV show Treme. Starring Rob Brown of Blindspot. It was so, like— [Singing] Dum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum! Bum, bum—! [Speaking] I was like— [Sings wordlessly to the same tune for a second.] And I was really hoping, like, they would be playing it by the time we started recording today! So we would have a new character in the... Judge John Hod—Hodge-man-iverse. Like, you know! Sousy! The sousaphone! Instead of Leafy the leaf blower.

jesse

Yeah.

john

But then they stopped. But it reminded me how much I miss our friend Chanell Crichlow of PitchBlak Brass Band, who played with us at the Bell House a couple of times ago. Because she is an incredible sousaphonist, and tuba player, and she also plays something called a flugabone.

jesse

I have to say, John. The highlight of all these years that I've been doing Judge John Hodgman—we've been doing this show 12 years, or something like that. I'm always glad to see my friend John. I'm always glad at funny things that happen on the show. But truly the highlight of the entire run of this program, for me—[stifles laughter]

john

Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

jesse

—was that time when I saw the PitchBlak Brass Band, uh, huddled backstage around a phone playing a YouTube video, but I couldn't tell what it was.

john

Right!

jesse

And then in the next song break on our live show in Brooklyn—

john

Yeah!

jesse

—they came out on stage and, uh, [stifling laughter] spontaneously played the theme from Night Court. [Both laugh.]

john

They had learned it between shows!

jesse

They had learned it—[stifles laughter]—they did a song—they did a—it was within the same show, John!

john

Yeah!

jesse

It wasn't even between shows!

john

Oh, really?

jesse

It was—they did a song at the top of the show.

john

Right.

jesse

You know, 15% in.

john

Right.

jesse

And then we went back on stage, and while we were on stage—

john

Right. Okay.

jesse

—they were backstage, learning the theme from Night Court[John exhales sharply, and claps.] —'cause we had mentioned the theme from Night Court. Then they came out and performed the theme from Night Court. Which goes hard! The theme from Night Court is great in and of itself.

john

Right.

jesse

Get a really heavy brass band playing it... It blew the house down.

john

Yeah. You don't—

jesse

It was spectacular.

john

You don't even know—until you've had someone play a sousaphone right in front of you at your stomach, you've not lived. You've not lived.

jesse

Yeah. It's truly spectacular. I think that was the same set of shows where they, uh—they played "Minnie the Moocher." And our friend Guest Bailiff Jean Grae sang "Minnie the Moocher."

john

Yep! Yep.

jesse

I had never heard Jean sing, and she is a wonderful singer! Not that I should be surprised. Her mother was a brilliantly gifted jazz singer who was discovered by Duke Ellington.

john

Right.

jesse

And recorded with Duke Ellington. But she is a wonderful singer, which I had no idea of! She came out and—again! Blew the house down. Anyway, we should dispense some justice.

john

Well, luckily—luckily, Jesse, we have Zoom now. So we don't need to do live performance anymore. [Jesse laughs.] In—in the United States, the world, for the rest of time. [Laughs.]

jesse

Yeah...

john

No, it'll come back. It'll come back, everybody! We're gonna get back there. And until then, if you wanna check out some really good tuba, sousaphone, and flugelbone content—and find out what a flugelbone is—PitchBlak Brass Band is—they've dispersed; they're all doing solo projects. But go check out Chanell, @tubafresh on Instagram. Check out her reels. It's incredible.

jesse

We're gonna get back on the road, John. This is my promise to the Judge John Hodgman audience.

john

Right.

jesse

'Cause this is my one remaining life's goal. We will return to Toronto, Ontario, Canada...

john

Uh-huh.

jesse

...before they detonate the Rogers Centre, AKA the SkyDome. Because I wanna stay in the hotel in the SkyDome. [Laughs.]

john

That's right!

jesse

That's my only goal in life! I just wanna be in the hotel in the SkyDome, and I need one of the rooms where you can see the field in the SkyDome when the lights are on.

john

I think that you should be there—as long as they will guarantee your safety...

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

I would like you to be there as they demolish it. I want you up there in the hotel room, in the penthouse! Wearing your crown. As the SkyDome collapses beneath you. And I want you to just... surf the demolition—

jesse

[Sighs, whispers] Oh, yeah...

john

—all the way down to home plate. In your—in your crown.

jesse

Yeah. You know what? They don't even have to guarantee my safety, John. They don't even have to guarantee my safety. If there is a—a giant wave of pieces of the SkyDome?

john

Yeah.

jesse

You know? Uh, a tsunami of memories of Joe Carter's legendary home run, or the time José Canseco hit a ball into the upper deck.

john

Right. Sports.

jesse

Uh, I will surf upon that wave like I was Bodhi from Point Break. And I will—that is how I will go out! Just like Bodhi. He wouldn't let the FBI catch him. He just went and caught the biggest—spoiler alert for Point Break. He just went out and caught the biggest break he could find, and died out there on the water.

john

Pointed at it. That's why it's called that. "I point at that break!"

jesse

He let the ocean take him, and I will let the SkyDome take me. Okay!

john

I never saw—I never saw that movie.

jesse

Let's get into the jus—[stifles laughter]—let's get into the justice. Here is a case from Hannah: "Recently, one of our two cats committed a litter crime! And left an—" [Both laugh.] [Laughing] A litter crime?

john

Mm-hm!

jesse

Are litter crimes real crimes? That's— [Both laugh.] It's like mind crimes. Okay! "Recently, one of our two cats committed a litter crime, and left an unburied stink in the bedroom litter box. My husband suggested we play rock-paper-scissors to determine who had to bury the offending mess. I agreed, and he stated 'Whoever gets best two out of three wins.' After two draws and a win, I declared victory. My husband chafed at this, and said that draws don't count! After a brief argument, he agreed that I was right, and he should've been more specific when setting terms." [John sighs.] "Later, when we relayed this story to friends, they took his side, stating that 'best two out of three' implies that one person must win at least twice before victory is declared. Was I right to declare myself the winner after one win and two draws? Thank you, Judge! Love the show, and I loved Dicktown."

john

Dicktown!

jesse

The television program co-created by Judge John Hodgman.

john

And David Rees! Bit.ly/dicktown.

jesse

Watch it now on Hulu.

john

Um, thank you, Hannah! For mentioning the show. And attempting to bribe this judge with flattery and praise. And plugs.

jesse

Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

john

I appreciate that. But I must resist your bribe, and look at this with clear eyes.

jesse

Yeah, because you didn't mention IFC's The Grid! [John snorts, Jesse stifles laughter.] The show that I hosted in 2009! [Laughs.]

john

That's right. You gotta—you gotta bribe both the bailiff and the judge.

jesse

Yeah.

john

And also, I gotta be clear-eyed and firm when it comes to litter crime. [Laughs.] Litter crime! One of the great phrases. And one of the great mysteries! How often is your cat not burying its offending stink?! It's pretty common behavior for cats. There are a lot of mysteries here, in this one. [Jesse laughs quietly.] This is a—this is a—we need a real... litter criminologist to dig into what's—so to speak. To dig into what's happening in this litter box. And how this cat's humans are reacting to it! I mean, Hannah, my solution would be—if our cat, Lolo the dumb-dumb cat, you know, had a—an offending mess in the litter box that was, you know, smellable... do what I do! Ignore it for several weeks! Until it stops smelling! [Both laugh.] An alternative would be to just cover it up! Just go and... scoop the litter box, real quick! But somehow, this turned into a rock-paper-scissors game. And... I have to say—Jesse, you play rock-paper-scissors?

jesse

No, but I'll play a little bit of Rochambeau.

john

What's Rochambeau?

jesse

...Rock-paper-scissors. [Laughs.] Same thing.

john

Is it really?

jesse

Yeah! But you say "Rochambeau" instead of "Rock, paper, scissors."

john

And are the—are the hand sig—the—you know, it's still a rock, and paper, and scissors?

jesse

Yeah. It's—it's a regional thing, I think.

john

I have never heard this before. And you know I love regionalisms. Thank you, Jesse.

jesse

You're welcome.

john

I'll put it in my—my book of regionalisms. That's what it's called east of the Mississippi. West of the Mississippi, it's called Best Foods.

jesse

Carl's Jr.

john

Yeah! [Laughs.] In any case! When you play Rochambeau, or any sort of... tournet, and it's a best two outta three... what does that mean to you?

jesse

You have to win two.

john

You have to win two. You have to win two! This is obvious. Right?

jesse

Absolutely.

john

What is happening here, Hannah?

jesse

Hannah's weaseling.

john

Hannah is weaseling, and clearly Hannah is an effective self-advocate. And that this has gone on for a long time. Because after she clearly did not win the two out of three, and declared victory on two draws and one win, and her husband chafed? That's a fair chafe! That's obviously a fair chafe. Everyone knows you gotta win two. Out of three. That's what it's called two outta three. But then a brief argument ensued, and then he agreed? That you were right, Hannah?! What is going on in your relationship that you are able to force him into agreement to something that is obviously untrue? "He should've been more specific when setting terms." Boy, oh boy! The psychological power you have over this guy! It's very, very... very intense, and deserves some interrogation on your part. No wonder your friends agreed with your husband! Best two outta three implies that one person must win at least twice before victory is declared! [Sighs.] So what I would say is talk to your vet. To make sure there's no problem with your cat not burying its poops. Or! Uh, talk to Sarah, our friend who is the cat groomer and cat behavior expert up there in Toronto, Canada. At Cleopawtra (Cleo-pow-tra) Cat Services. Cleopow—pawtra. Sorry. Cleopawtra. Cleopawtra.ca. Just to make sure everything's going okay there.

john

And then I would talk to your husband, and you guys should have a conversation about why it was so easy for you to trick him into believing that were right about something that you were very wrong about. This conc—of concern to me.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Here's something from Julie: "I did not know I was from Appalachia until my now-spouse told me I was. I thought I was from the East Coast, which you'll probably find laughable when you find out that I'm from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, ten miles from the West Virginia border.

john

Mm. Mm-hm.

jesse

"My spouse Will is a graduate of the judge's alma mater." We should explain for people who don't know that Judge Hodgman went to DeVry Technical Institute.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

"And knows the East Coast. One of Will's favorite activities is to comment when my hick ways are showing."

john

[Disapproving] Mm.

jesse

"Long ago, I thought I had rid myself of all my Southwestern Pennsylvania-isms. Like saying, 'My clothes need washed.' But there is one which may remain. Please issue a judgment on whether it's correct to say, 'I never ate a tomato until I was 19 years old.' Will is convinced this is a holdout Appalachism. He says if you've never eaten a tomato, you have never eaten a tomato, and that fact cannot be changed by eating a tomato later."

john

Whoa.

jesse

"Is it better to say, 'I had not eaten a tomato until I was 19 years old'?"

john

Hm.

jesse

Two questions here, John!

john

Yeah...

jesse

One is, "Is it correct?" One is, "Is it better?"

john

I think it comes down to correctness. Right? Is it correct—is it more correct to say, "I had not eaten a tomato until I was 19 years old"? Is Julie incorrect to say, "I never ate a tomato 'til I was 19 years old"? Now, you said that I went to DeVry Technical College, 'cause you're making a little joke at my—uh, at my... stuffy, Ivy League expense.

jesse

Yeah.

john

'Cause of course I went to Yale University, four-year accredited college in Southern Connecticut. And I guess that Will did, too. And I have to say... I never disliked a fellow Yale grad until today. [Jesse laughs.] Okay, look. I know Julie a little bit. We've exchanged emails from time to time about a lot of different things. Uh, I know she's—she and—is a wonderful person, and I trust that her husband is as well. I know that they will take this in good spirit. Uh, "hick" is a classist slur. Please don't use that term. And please don't internalize it, Julie! There is zero wrong with your having grown up in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. And there is zero reason for you to feel... scrutinized! Uh, by your Yale-y husband. For the things that you grew up saying! I'm a fan of regionalisms. You know what I mean?

jesse

Yeah.

john

I mean, that's what we call them here in New England, the region of New England that is the southeastern part of Canada.

jesse

Saying, "My clothes need washed" is cool.

john

[Chuckling] That's really good!

jesse

That's great. That's really fun. I'm really into that.

john

I might—could start saying that now!

jesse

Yeah.

john

I never said it before today. [Laughs.] You know? I understand what Will is getting at. And perhaps... [hesitant] gramaaatically, he has a point? But it took me multiple readings of the two different phrases to discern what the difference was between "I never ate a tomato until I was 19" and "I had not eaten a tomato until I was 19." There is, I guess, a grammatical difference, but "I never ate a tomato until I was 19" sounds extremely natural. It's obviously colloquial. It's perfectly understandable. And there's no reason to split this hair! If you're both, you know, just kinda, like, word and grammar and usage nerds, I guess it could be fun to debate. But I do take issue when grammar is used as a cudgel, or to point out, uh, a lack of education. Or to make someone else feel self-conscious about the way they express themselves. Because it's—mm, it's gross, Will! Sorry! And the thing that happens when you're so busy correcting someone else's grammar is you're missing what they are saying. Which the—which is that they never ate a tomato 'til they were 19 years old! That's an incredible story. [Stifles laughter.]

jesse

Yeah.

john

That's a story—there's a lot going on in there! Like, "Well... wow! Why not? Why didn't you—what was going on in your life? You didn't eat tomatoes 'til you're 19. Is it a cultural thing, is it a regional thing? What was your growing up like? What was it like when you first ate a tomato? What was it like when you—what did it taste like when you finally ate it? Why didn't you call it a to-MAH-to, by the way?" Sooo, you know, listen—listen to what people are saying when they're saying their things. And don't get so hung up on trying to scrub someone's Appalachisms out of them. Because regionalism in language is one of the things that makes language fun! And expressive! I don't—you know, sometimes I say on this show "prolly" instead of "probly." Or "prob-a-bly." And I had someone write in. And—thank you, listener, for listening, but they're like, "I notice you doing this. And I suspect that it's [mumbling slightly] probably—" It's—sorry. "And I suspect that it's PROBABLY you resisting the fanciness of your Yale education." It's like, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" That's just me imitating my wife, who grew up saying "prolly"! [Jesse laughs quietly.] 'Cause she grew up in Atlanta! I don't know why she says "prolly." [Laughs.] I just like the way it souuunds!

jesse

It's fun.

john

I mean, you have to be careful when you... when you adopt different regionalisms, too. Because you don't wanna be inappropriately culturally appropriative. Right? But what you really wanna do when people are talking is not listening to how they're saying it, but listening to what they are saying. And I say you should go ahead and say, "I never ate a tomato until I was 19." I think you should say, "I never et a tomato 'til I was 19 years old"! "Et"! E-T! Don't let Will push you outta that one. Because "et," E-T? That's a playable Scrabble word! [Jesse laughs quietly.] You go get him. Go get him, Julie!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Do you think we have Judge John Hodgman listeners who have never eaten a tomato?

john

Of course!

jesse

I mean, we have at least a few listeners who... live in Europe before tomatoes were introduced from the New World. [John laughs, Jesse stifles laughter.] But leaving—leaving those people aside. Pre-Cortés people. Do you think we have listeners who have never eaten a tomato?

john

Yes. I know for a fact. Because I am now routinely getting emails from eight-year-olds and eleven-and-a-half-year-olds... that statistically speaking, there are probably some—as advanced and sophisticated as they are, to write me beseeching letters on email—on email, of all things! They're not coming at me via, uh, TikTok! They're like, uh—they're like 35-year-olds! "I'll send an email to Judge John Hodgman." And they're eight, eleven years old. We'll hear from them later. But statistically speaking, I bet even though they're very, very sophisticated in terms of their correspondence—even old fogey-ish! Probably a bunch of them haven't eaten a bunch of foods, 'cause, you know, kids...

jesse

What about an adult? Do you think there are adults who listen to our show who have never eaten a tomato?

john

[Thoughtful raspberry.] Of course. Course.

jesse

If you've never eaten a tomato, email hodgman@maximumfun.org.

john

Whoa! How dare you?

jesse

Tell us how old you are—

john

How dare you?!

jesse

—and why you've never eaten a tomato.

john

You—you're basically opening the floodgates. Alright—!

jesse

And look. You can tell us if you've—there's two categories here. One is, "I've never eaten a tomato product." So that includes pizza sauce, pasta sauce, and ketchup, I think, are gonna be your top categories where they're coming up for people. And then secondarily, "I've never eaten... a piece of tomato." A whole piece of tomato in some context like a—like a green salad.

john

Yeah. Let's be—look. If you're gonna open this door, I do wanna be perfectly clear. We are asking about, "Have you ever et... a slice of tomato?" Either on its own, or on a sandwich. I don't wanna be hearing about, as Jesse was saying—

jesse

Barbecue sauce?

john

—barbecue sauce, or ketchup, or whatever. You know what I mean! That's the point. You know what I mean. And I will open the flood—I would open these floodgates even further. Make it any food. If there's a common food that you have not— [Jesse laughs quietly.] —that you did not eat until... later in your life that is surprising to people, tell me about it! I'd like to know your story with it.

jesse

We're gonna take a quick break to hear from this week's partner. We'll be back with more cases to clear from the docket on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

john

I'm already—how am I already getting emails on this? [Jesse laughs quietly.] We haven't even posted this yet.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

It's Judge John Hodgman, and as always the Judge John Hodgman podcast, brought you... by you! The members of MaximumFun.org. The folks who go to MaximumFun.org/join. MaxFunDrive right around the corner; that'll be your chance to support this show directly. We're also grateful this week to have the support of Sunbasket. The only meal service... co-founded by my friend Tyler from college.

john

Jesse, did you happen to see on the Maximum Fun subreddit—[stifles laughter]—our listener, who is named Cheryl, doing her—her musical ode to Sunbasket?

jesse

[Singing to the tune of Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night"] I cook my Sunbasket at night, something something, Jesse's friend Tyler from college! [Chuckles.] [Singing stops.]

john

It was one of the greatest things I ever saw, and it reminded me why I enjoy— [Both laugh.] I mean, look. We have some of the greatest listeners in the world. Your friend from college has gotta be one of the greatest guys in the world, 'cause all your friends are.

jesse

I sent the little video to my friend Tyler from college. He said, "Brings tears to my eyes." I texted it to him. And he wrote, "I can't tell you how happy that makes me. Mainly because we are friends, and that warms my heart. Think of you all the time and will let you know next time I'm down south. Big hugs to the whole family."

john

Yeah!

jesse

"'Two hearts rotating around each other' emoji." In case you were wondering if my friend Tyler from college is a real sweetum. He is.

john

Yeah. I would say that, you know, I like good people. And I get a chance to meet a lot of good people through this. And one of the things about good people like Cheryl and Tyler? They like good food. And you know what Sunbasket is? Good food.

jesse

Yeah. You know, their fresh and ready meals are $8.99. Good for your body. Good for your budget. They got a lot of good choices! I'm excited about braised beef panang curry with jasmine rice and sweet peas, because I love a panang curry. I—that's probably my—I'm gonna say that's my number-one curry, John!

john

I like shrimp paella with fire-roasted tomatoes and bell pepper, and guess what? Sunbasket's got that, as well as pappardelle with wilted spinach, sweet peas, and fresh ricotta! (Rik-AHT-uh.) Which I like to pronounce RIK-it-uh, 'cause it's funny.

jesse

Yeah, it is fun to say RIK-it-uh. [Stifles laughter.] Uh, the fresh and ready meals come freshly prepared. They're ready to heat up in as little as six minutes. You get real nice food. This is head and shoulders above food. Uh, for $8.99, a really reasonable price, less than a restaurant meal. If you're, you know, looking for a lunch when you're working from home, or a—a nice dinner that you don't have to think about in advance, I really like these Sunbasket things. And right now they have a limited time offer. You can get $90 off, plus four free gifts across your first four deliveries, including free shipping on the first box!

john

Go right now to Sunbasket.com/hodgman, and enter promo code "Hodgman" at checkout.

jesse

That's Sunbasket.com/hodgman, and enter promo code "Hodgman" at checkout! The offer expires on April 13th. We're also supported by our friends at... Babbel! Uh, John?

john

Yes!

jesse

You've been practicing your Spanish. Do you have a—do you have a phrase of the day?

john

Sí! Claro que sí I do. Here is my Spanish phrase of the day: "Mi mamá me dio mi licencia de cuchillo." "Mi mamá me dio mi licencia de cuchillo." Do you know what that means?

jesse

No, I—I really don't.

john

"My mom has given me my knife license."

jesse

[Laughing] Knife license?

john

You'll understand what that means soon. Keep listening, everybody, but look— [Jesse laughs.] I loved learning Spanish in college. I—I had learned French all through high school. But then I wanted to read Latin American literature, so I learned Spanish in college, and it was terrific. Francisco, who was our young TA Spanish teacher, was totally cool. Great teacher. Had a lot of fun with him. Learned a lot of Spanish. And then he and Ashley Fox and I would go to the Yale Film Society movies together. I think we saw Night of the Hunter together. La Noche del Cazador.

jesse

[Laughing] You really have a reader's pronunciation, John.

john

I do. I do! Well, much like—much like Jorge Luis Borges. [Stifles laughter.] Whom I was learning Spanish in order to study. He learned written Spanish before he could speak it. But look. College... is fun. Learning language in a classroom can be wonderful. But I can't go back to those days; that time is over for me; I'm graduated; I'm in the world. I can't go to college again and learn Indonesian! Like the whole Yale football team is doing for some reason, I have it on good authority. But! Thanks to Babbel, the number one–selling language-learning app, there's a fun and easy way for me and you to learn a new language. Whether you're gonna be traveling abroad—'cause it's gonna happen again! Or connecting in a deeper way with your family. Or you just have some free time and wanna do some mind exercises... Babbel teaches bite-sized language lessons that you'll actually use in the real world.

jesse

Babbel designs their 15-minute lessons with practical, real-world conversations in mind. Things you'll use in everyday life.

john

So other language-learning apps use AI—[furtively] artificial intelligence—for their lesson plans. But Babbel lessons were created... by real people. Over a hundred language experts.

jesse

With Babbel, you can choose from 14 different languages. Including Spanish, French, Italian, and German, as well as the aforementioned Indonesian, the choice of the Yale football team. And right now when you purchase a three-month Babbel subscription, you'll get an additional three months free! Six months for the price of three! Go to Babbel.com and use the promo code "Hodgman"!

john

That's B-A-B-B-E-L.com, code "Hodgman" for an extra three months free. Babbel! Language for life.

jesse

Let's get back to the docket.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. We're clearing the docket this week. We have a case here from Theresa: "My partner will frequently flash his headlights at cars who are changing lanes ahead of him. Then he becomes angry when they cut him off. He believes he is communicating to other drivers, 'Don't go. I'm driving here.'" [John snorts.] That's so, like... 1978 New York movie. [John laughs quietly.] [Deep voice, New York accent] "Hey, I'm driving here! Less flash!"

john

"Don't go, I'm driving here!"

jesse

[Accent stops.] "He also flashes his headlights at people who are waiting to pull out of driveways or roads, and this causes great confusion! But I was raised by a trucker, who taught me the etiquette of flashing headlights means 'You go' or 'You're clear to change lanes.' We have discussed this with many people, and nearly everyone agrees with me. The one glaring exception is our friend who is originally from Argentina. I'm from the great commonwealth of Massachusetts." Which maybe is in Argent—I don't know where that is.

john

Right.

jesse

"And my partner is from Colorado. Is it possible that there are regional differences within the US as well?"

john

Jesse, do you—do you know one of the funnest things I ever found out from Wikipedia was?

jesse

I don't, no!

john

'Cause I've looked up the etiquette of flashing headlights before. 'Cause it is fairly mysterious. 'Cause it's hard to know what the person means. And I learned from Wikipedia that certain car manufacturers, in their manuals for the cars, refer—[stifles laughter]—refer to this as using the optical horn. [Beat.] [Both laughs.]

jesse

My optical horn is just a beam of light that emanates from the center of my forehead.

john

I know! What—the sad thing about it is when you come to Park Slope, your crown covers it up. But here! [Jesse laughs.] I—the—it is mysterious. Because it is not... fully agreed upon what flashing headlights indicates. And what—I was very interested in this letter, because... I was in Argentina when I was 20 years old. You can—you can read about how I scammed money from the Yale Spanish Department to go to Buenos Aires to walk around and have deep thoughts. [Stifles laughter.] Feel guilty about it for the rest of my life. In my book Medallion Status! And one thing I noticed there was that taxicabs would flash their high beams to tell you to get outta their way. And that's because the streets were very narrow, and they would come barreling down them. And I don't think that they had stop signs. So they were flashing those lights to create a visual cue that someone is coming. "Be careful." And I gathered from this Wikipedia page that this is true, also, in other countries like the Philippines and Bangladesh. But on the East Coast, it definitely means, "You go ahead." Unless you're flashing your lights behind someone in the left lane, in the passing lane, and... you're a jerk. And you're telling them, "You're going too slow. I wanna go faster. Get outta my way." But those are the two possible meanings. In the East Coast, at least as far as I know.

john

Now, I know that you're a West Coast driver. We have, we're glad to say, in the Judge John Hodge-man-iverse, an automobile expert, our friend the comedian and car expert Rhea Butcher, who we've had on the show to talk about... car talk before. And they are both a Los Angelino and an Ohio-an. So I asked them for their thoughts on this dispute, and here's what they said.

clip

RB Butcher: Hey, John and Jesse. Rhea Butcher here. Thank you so much for considering me for this ruling. I am honored to bring this ruling to Judge John Hodgman. Uh, for me, flashing high beams primarily serves to let a driver know their lights aren't on at night. That is what I was taught. That is my first meaning of flashing high beams. My secondary meanings—uh, meaning the ones I've learned after, and continue to use—are to "Go ahead!" at an intersection. And then also to let oncoming drivers on a freeway situation know that highway patrol or police are up ahead with radar guns in their direction, and you should slow down. This is the most stealthy definition, and as such, the most rewarding. This is the one I like to use the most. And, as always, ACAB. But! In regards to the complaint, I think this man honestly just has to realize that his use of his high beams where he currently lives is actually causing more damage and confusion than good. I have no idea if it's regional. But will say that I think most uses of high beams, horns, all these little intricacies—which I thoroughly enjoy!—tend to be incredibly regional. But he now doesn't live in the region that he used to live! And honestly, it doesn't really matter to me. He is using his high beams in situations where a horn honk is much more appropriate. I.e., someone backing out, something like that. We have blinkers to signal turns, and brakes to signal stops, but there are no signals to signal, "I'm going!" because the going itself is the signal.

clip

RB Butcher: So my ruling is this man's use of the high beams is causing confusion on the roadway, and he must adjust to his new surroundings and his use of high beams. If he must use anything, it needs to be the horn, and that should be used as sparingly as possible. Nobody likes a horn.

john

Yeah! Nobody likes a horn, you horn! Right, Jesse?

jesse

My experience, John, comports with Rhea's. As an Angelino originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, a lifelong Californian—

john

Right.

jesse

—I would say the place where this comes up the most is when someone's lights aren't on at dusk or at night.

john

Right.

jesse

Uh, which—[laughs]—which happens a lot in Los Angeles. I don't know why it happens so much more in Los Angeles than it did when I was driving in Northern California. But it is astonishing.

john

I know why. Do you wanna know why?

jesse

Given that almost all cars have automatic headlights at this point, I don't know how it's possible that so many people have their lights off at—at dusk and at night.

john

I know why. They forget to turn 'em on 'cause they're listening to podcasts.

jesse

There you go.

john

Yeah.

jesse

Uh, but I would say, besides that, the situations in my life where this has come up most frequently are: There is a jerk tailgating me, who's mad that I'm going ten miles over the speed limit, and not faster.

john

Right.

jesse

And occasionally, someone who is... trying to get my attention to indicate something unusual. So I don't think I would expect that if someone flashed their lights at me, I would immediately pull out in front of them.

john

[Stifling laughter] Right.

jesse

From my driveway, for example. But if they flash their lights at me, I saw that, and then they gave me a little wave, or slowed to a stop, or something like that, I would know they were gathering my attention so that—to suggest that I could do something.

john

It's an attention-getter. And the problem is no one knows what you're trying to draw attention to. There are so many different little customs that might vary from region to region, place to place! And as with all of driving, if you don't know, stop moving. Like, if you don't know what's happening, slow down. And you know, Theresa, I would say—I don't wanna say that your partner... is just a jerk. He's a dangerous jerk. Because his presumption is, "I am letting the world know I am keeping going no matter what, and my intentions are more important than theirs. And they should know better because they see my lights. And therefore I'm going to put myself and others into danger all the time, since my presumption is, 'I go, not you!'" Theresa's partner? [Stifles laughter.] I hope you take this in the same spirit with which I destroyed Will the Yalie earlier. I know you probably don't mean to be a jerk. But when you are putting other people in danger, because you are using and interpreting an ambiguous signal differently than most people are—but mostly just thinking you have priority to move over others? You need to rethink your driving. When you don't know what's happening, whether lights are flashing at you or not, slow down! And if you wanna be a jerk about it—like, say, you're in that left lane, and Jesse's driving too slow, and you wanna let him know you wanna pass him, because you're a jerk who's more important than him, don't flash—!

jesse

You don't even care that I have a license plate frame that says, "Super Dad."

john

I know! Like, you want Super Dad to get outta your way? Okay! Sometimes you gotta be a jerk in life. Just like my friend Jess Moss's mom told me when she kicked us outta the apartment that we were housesitting in 'cause she wanted to use it. "I know it's wrong, but I'm doing it anyway." Sometimes if you have to be a jerk, don't—don't be an ambiguous jerk, by flashing your lights! Own it! Honk your horn. That is... That is vehicular jerkism at its finest! Horn-honking! Honk your horn if you need to yell at someone. That's what it's there for. If you need to yell at someone, or warn someone that you're there. Flashing your lights is not only ambiguous in terms of all its regionalism. A lot of people just won't see it. So if you're a jerk... own it. If you're horn honker, honk it!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Release your horn. Like the mighty goose.

john

Rhea Butcher, by the way, is one of the great comics, and podcasters, and people, of all over the place. And—

jesse

Rhea rules.

john

And they have a new album out called Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootleg. That's available now on ASpecialThing. And you can follow Rhea at @RheaButcher on Twitter. That's "at" sign, R-H-E-A-B-U-T-C-H-E-R! Thank you, Rhea!

jesse

Yeah. They're one of the coolest and the funniest. Here's something from Shiloh: "I'd like to bring a case against my mother-in-law Julie. She claims making nachos cannot be considered cooking, because of the low level of skill and effort involved in preparing the dish. Yet she will attest that a dish like ceviche can be considered cooking, because it requires more skill to put together. My husband Steve and I think both are cooking, since they both require combining different ingredients together to form one dish. Despite our argument, she refuses to accept making nachos as cooking. If you find in my favor, I would ask you to demand she acknowledge that preparing nachos is cooking."

john

Hm. Hmm! Jesse, you make nachos?

jesse

Sure!

john

What's your nacho game?

jesse

I like a pretty simple nacho.

john

Tell me.

jesse

I'm talking about... refried beans, chips, cheese, and then, you know, sometimes I will top it with a little something extra. Uh, we're talking about maybe some green onions.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

AKA scallions.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

We're talking about maybe a little—

john

Human blood.

jesse

—salsa fresca, or whatever kind of salsa is around the house.

john

Human—human blood.

jesse

Usually a salsa verde is what I would keep around the house.

john

Green human blood.

jesse

Um, and then maybe some—[stifles laughter]—avocado, or some guacamole, if that's around.

john

That's, like, super nachos! Nachos supreme.

jesse

Mm, nachos supreme have meat, John.

john

Oh, excuse me, I apologize.

jesse

Yeah.

john

I am not from the Bay Area.

jesse

Yeah.

john

A region of the Western United States.

jesse

Super nachos have meat, John, and burritos do not have lettuce in them.

john

Let me ask you a question. When you're doing your basic nachos... Refries, chips, cheese. Right? What—what's your—I mean, genuinely! I'm asking. I'm not asking you to prove a point. Like, I wanna know. How do you do it?

jesse

I cook them in my, uh, countertop oven.

john

Right.

jesse

And, uh, you know. I set it to a medium baking temperature, 350 or something like that. And wait for the cheese to melt, at which time, if I have layered the beans correctly, the beans are warmed through.

john

That's the thing; you gotta layer!

jesse

And, you know, some of the chips brown a little.

john

You gotta lay—like, you put down a layer of chips, and a layer of beans. Then what?

jesse

Yeah.

john

Layer of chips?

jesse

I'm—mm. No, I'm mostly just working on spreading out the beans.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

That's because the beans will glop if you're not spreading them out.

john

I see Jennifer Marmor is nodding.

jesse

Yeah, she hates glops.

john

Yeah, she's very anti-glop!

jesse

Yeah.

john

But you said something very interesting. You say you cook them in your countertop oven.

jesse

That's true!

john

Is nachos cooking?

jesse

I mean, I think applying heat and transforming the food are two elements of cooking. I think ceviche...

john

Go on! I know where you're going!

jesse

...involves—involves a substitute for heat. [John gasps.] Which is the transformation that the acid produces in the fish.

john

Jesse, are you talking about... denaturation of proteins?

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah. Exactly.

john

Yesss!

jesse

[Chuckes.] Sure. Sure, J. Kenji López-Alt.

john

[Laughs.] Love you, Kenji! But I can read a thing, too! [Laughs.]

jesse

Yeah.

john

Yeah. Ceviche, there is a chemical change to the proteins in the fish. When you add all that lime juice and lemon juice, it is chemically cooking. It is doing the same things to the proteins—denaturation; you can look it up—that is—that—what heat is doing to protein in food—in protein food when you're cooking it, when you're heating it. When you're hotting it, as I like to say.

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

What else is cooking? What else isn't cooking?

jesse

I think it's a stretch to say that making a smoothie or making a green salad are cooking.

john

Assembling, right?

jesse

I—yeah. That's more of an assembling. I think the transformation element is key, and I think the heat is central to it. But I—but if somebody... That said, if somebody said to me they were cooking, and they made a salad, I wouldn't be mad about it.

john

Yeah. I don't know what's going on with your mother-in-law, Shiloh, that she needs to make this very, very small-bore distinction. What's going on here, Jesse?

jesse

I think that Shiloh's mother-in-law is... proud of her cooking.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

[Chuckling] ...And judgmental of Shiloh's.

john

It could be—I mean, here's the thing! So, I have to say... that even though this is a hair-split, and kind of an annoying one... I have to say that I kind of side with Julie, the mother-in-law!

jesse

Really?

john

Yeah, I kinda do!

jesse

You don't think nachos are cooking???

john

Well... Is hotting up something cooking?

jesse

Yes.

john

You're melting cheese. Is that enough of a transformation to call it cooking?

jesse

You're melting the cheese, you're browning the chips.

john

True, that's a—

jesse

You're heating the beans.

john

I know. If you heat the beans, I guess it's cooking.

jesse

Yeah.

john

I mean, I get the distinction that she's making. And I appreciate better, now that you've articulated it this way, Jesse, that it may be that she's proud of her cooking, and nachos seems like easy trash food. But I will say this: Maybe the problem is that Steve and Shiloh, when they make nachos, they're making trash nachos! 'Cause nachos—whether you call them cooking or not—they're an art form! They're easy to get wrong. They're difficult to get right! There's a balance—I mean, you know! You gotta be spreading the beans, or else you get the glop. You gotta be layering the chips and the cheese in a careful way, so that you get all of the stuff as—or as much of the flavor combination as you can in one chip, rather than just... 17 dry chips and one that has a whole bunch of cheese on it. Right?

jesse

That's true.

john

There's an art—there is art to it. And I would say that whether or not you technically call it cooking or not—and Jesse, by the way? Thank you, my bailiff. You have swayed me. It's cooking. I find in favor of Steve and Shiloh. But whether you call it cooking or not, there is an artistry to it. And I think, you know, as equal an artistry as there is to making ceviche. Which I have never done, but I'm gonna give it a try!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

I wanna give a shout-out to my favorite nachos, John.

john

Please.

jesse

I grew up eating relatively complicated super nachos at El Toro Taqueria on Valencia Street in San Francisco. But my current favorite nachos are garbage nachos. Uh, I live in a neighborhood adjacent to a neighborhood in Los Angeles called Lincoln Heights. And there in Lincoln Heights, there is a place called Carnitas Michoacan.

john

Right.

jesse

And at Carnitas Michoacan, they make nachos with... tortilla chips.

john

Yeah?

jesse

Pickled sliced jalapeños.

john

Uh-huh?

jesse

So far I'm describing ballpark nachos. [John laughs, Jesse stifles laughter.]

john

Uh-huh, okay!

jesse

Uh, your choice of meat.

john

Right.

jesse

Carne asada, al pastor, or whatever. And cheese sauce.

john

That cheese sauce—

jesse

And it is so good. [Cracks up.]

john

The cheese sauce really is—

jesse

[Laughing] It is SO good!

john

That really—yeah. 'Cause I mean, I see what you're saying.

jesse

And I wanna be clear! This isn't some Tex-Mex, queso... blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. This is cheese sauce.

john

Yeah. Right. Let me—let me also be clear that when I say that, you know, there is garbage nachos in the world... I'm not saying that you need fancy ingredients to make good nachos. I'm not that much of a Yalie snob. What I'm saying is that there's a skill level to combining the ingredients, whatever they are, such that they are satisfying and good, vs... junk. And I would agree with you, Jesse, that if—like, the nachos that you get... if we ever go back to the movie theater, like, movie theater nachos? Which are—you know, they're just a paper tray full of chips from a bag, doused in Cheez Whiz. They have their place. But that's not cooking. I would not call that cooking.

jesse

John, what about Danchos?

john

What are those?

jesse

Those are the nachos that my college friend Dan Grayson used to make in his dorm room, which were just chips with cheese on top of them, microwaved.

john

Uhhh... Cooking. [Pause.] [Stifling laughter] What about—

jesse

The cheese is transformed!

john

[Stifling laughter] The cheese is transformed.

jesse

That's the thing! I'm not sure—if you just heat it, and there's no transformation... I'm not sure! But—

john

I'm not sure what's happening there. Yeah, if there's no transformation.

jesse

But if there's browning or transformation, I think... to me. Let's take a break. When we come back, we hear again from Rooney, the eight-year-old with an email address, plus eleven-and-a-half–year-old Zola, in a new segment we call Juvenile Court!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Judge Hodgman, we're taking a quick break from clearing the docket. You, of course, as comes up on this program, are the creator of the television program Dicktown. The co-creator with David Rees. Which people can watch on Hulu, and which I insist people watch, 'cause it's really great. It's a really wonderful show.

john

Oh, thank you very much! And thanks to all of the listeners who have watched it already, and wrote in to let me know. I hope to have some news to you about the future of Dicktown soon. But if you wanna know about the past of Dicktown, got to Bit.ly/dicktown. I will also re-up what I said at the top of the show. Go check out Chanell Crichlow at @tubafresh—@T-U-B-A-F-R-E-S-H—an incredible musician dropping some incredible sousaphone, and flugelbone, and flugelhorn playing on Instagram. And I will pre-up something I'm gonna plug, uh, after this segment. Um, just to get it in your mind, or maybe write it down, @DaniKramer14. @ D-A-N-I-K-R-A-M-E-R-14. @DaniKramer14. That's a Twitter account belonging to a pet specialist who is gonna weigh in a little later on that I think you should check out. But otherwise, I don't got anything going on! I'm just getting ready for, uh, MaxFunDrive! I'm getting ready to, you know, limber up my Instagramming skills, as people who become new members of MaxFun during the MaxFunDrive at a certain level, I will be thanking them on Instagram, as always. Year after year. I really enjoy doing it. And really looking forward to MaxFunDrive coming up. 'Cause it's—it's not just a drive, and it's not just max, it's also a lot of fun. Jesse Thorn, what have you got going on?

jesse

Well, as many Judge John Hodgman listeners know, I created and host the NPR show Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, which is available on podcast. And this week, we have a really cool interview, one that I really loved doing, with the legendary actor Christopher Lloyd! Christopher Lloyd, who... I mean, he was on Taxi as a—he was, like, 39 when he got cast on Taxi

john

Whoa.

jesse

—which was his first big film role. He was an adult man who had had a long stage career by the time he got on television. He is now 82 years old.

john

Wow.

jesse

He has basically been playing a 60-year-old that entire time.

john

[Laughing] Yeah, I know.

jesse

That entire span, he's been playing 60. [Both laugh.] He was a 40-year-old playing 60, now he's an 82-year-old playing 60. And Christopher Lloyd is a very shy man who does not do a lot of press. And, uh, I had a really wonderful conversation with him. I mean, he is very Christopher Lloyd-y, John.

john

Yeah.

jesse

I'm not gonna—I'm not gonna tell you that he got cast as Reverend Jim on Taxi accidentally.

john

[Stifling laughter] Uh-huh? Uh-huh?

jesse

But he is also a really smart, interesting, lovely guy with a lot of really interesting things to say. So people should check out Bullseye with Jesse Thorn, and listen to that interview with Christopher Lloyd! I will also mention, John, because I know this is pursuant to your interests, that in my—

john

More than Christopher Lloyd is?! 'Cause I love Christopher Lloyd.

jesse

I know. I think even more pursuant to your interests. You know that I run the antique and vintage shop The Put This On Shop at PutThisOnShop.com.

john

I do, indeed!

jesse

And I just wanted to let you know that we finally—and this is something you've written so many letters to me about, so many angry text messages—we finally do have Rad Dudes trading cards.

john

[Gasps.] Rad Dudes trading cards?!

jesse

Yeah. PutThisOnShop.com. Get your Rad Dudes trading cards.

john

I, uh...

jesse

Very affordable.

john

Will you do me a favor out there in the world, Jesse, now that flea markets are becoming a thing again?

jesse

Yeah?

john

'Cause I know you've got Rad Dudes trading cards.

jesse

Sure.

john

And I believe you've got some Yo! MTV Raps trading cards?

jesse

There's Yo! MTV Raps trading cards coming. There's also—there are Dark Crystal trading cards in the shop right now.

john

[Thunk!] AH—! AHHH! WHA—! JE—WH!!! THAT BE—THAT LEAD WAS SO BURIED IT WAS BURNING IN THE CENTER OF THE EARTH! 'CAUSE I WAS JUST ABOUT TO ASK YOU TO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR DARK CRYSTAL TRADING CARDS— —[calming down] because I got—I found some at the Brooklyn Flea years ago. I went through the entire box of... garbage Baby: The Last Dinosaur trading cards. Until I found the six packs of Dark Crystal trading cards that the guy had. Bought them. Gave them away judiciously to friends, and then lost my last set. And I've never seen them again. I'm so excited. Dark Crystal trading cards.

jesse

Well. PutThisOnShop.com.

john

PutThisOnShop.com. They got the Dark Crystal trading cards! "Gelfling!!!"

jesse

We'll be back in just a second on Judge John Hodgman.

john

"THE SHAAAAARD!"

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

Music: Cheerful guitar. John Moe: Hey, it’s John Moe. And look, these are challenging times for our mental and emotional health. I get it! That’s why I’m so excited for my new podcast, Depresh Mode. We’re tackling depression, anxiety, trauma, stress, the kinds of things that are just super common but don’t get talked about nearly enough. Conversations that are illuminating, honest, and sometimes pretty funny, with folks like Kelsey Darragh, and Open Mike Eagle, and Patton Oswalt. Patton Oswalt: “Humphrey Bogart was never in therapy!” And then my dad said, “Yeah, but he smoked a carton of cigarettes a day! So he was in therapy.” John: Plus psychiatrists, psychologist, and all kinds of folks! On Depresh Mode, we’re working together. Learning, helping each other out. We’re a team! Join our team! Depresh Mode from Maximum Fun, wherever you get your podcasts. [Music fades out.]

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. We promised Juvenile Court, John.

john

Yeah, Jesse, and I'll explain Juvenile Court in a second, but just one quick warning to anybody who's about to go out there and make ceviche... or, you know, uh—do yourself a favor. Don't squeeze limes in the sunshine. Don't squeeze—don't get lime juice on your hands in the bright, glaring sun. Uh, because a chemical transformation will occur. And you will get a... perhaps terrible, inflamed sunburn.

jesse

Wow!

john

Just like Jonathan Coulton did. Denaturation, my friends!

jesse

Holy moly. Wow.

john

Yeah.

jesse

Insider info!

john

Now. Yes. Earlier we were talking about Rooney, who wrote in last week. On their own email address! Eight years old. To bring a case against their dad, who didn't want them to make their own avocado toast. And I was a little unnerved by an eight-year-old with an email address. Because eight-year-olds... shouldn't be writing to 50-year-old podcast hosts. [Both laugh.] Live and play in the sun! [Laughs.] That said, I do know that we have a lot of listeners, uh, who are young. And I'm really glad that they listen on their own, or with their families. There are kids who have disputes. Kids are humans with agency who deserve to have—have disputes in the world, and see them settled. I can't open the doors of our court to eight-year-old live litigants. That's just not where we're gonna go. That is a different kind of show. But if you're a kid who's got a dispute—

jesse

Specifically, that's our sister show Dr. Gameshow. [John bursts out laughing.] They would open any door to any eight-year-old and be thrilled.

john

I—absolutely. Absolutely

jesse

It's a great show. Yeah.

john

But if you're a kid, and you've got a dispute, you deserve to be heard. [Stifles laughter.] So go get your—go get your email. Or... your quill and your parchment. [Jesse laughs quietly.] You can write me a letter.

jesse

Yeah. Pull your parchment outta your briefcase, Judge John Hodgman-listening eight-year-olds.

john

[Stifles laughter.] Pull your parchment outta your briefcase, Judge John Hodgman who was an eight-year-old. [Laughs.]

jesse

If you can take a moment away from watching Taxi...

john

[Laughs.] Yes. Uh—

jesse

Yeah.

john

Go ahead, and from time to time, we will deliver you justice. So. What's the first one we got on the docket?

jesse

Here's a case from Zola, who is 11 and a half: "I, Zola—child of Fred and Ashley—am an animal lover, and would like to add a new creature to my collection. Currently I have two guinea pigs, two rats, and a tank full of fish. We also have two family dogs. I have done my research, and feel that a Madagascar hissing cockroach is the best option for my next critter friend. My parents disagree. I need help convincing them this is an easy-to-care-for, harmless creature with a short lifespan, and a good option for me. Thank you, Zola." [Pause.]

john

Jesse.

jesse

Yeah.

john

You have two dogs.

jesse

Yeah. And of course... Finny, as well. Don't forget Finny, the fish.

john

I did forget Finny the fish.

jesse

Yeah. Finny's a bit of an afterthought. [Both laugh.] I'm gonna be honest.

john

I feel like I never knew about Finny the fish.

jesse

Finny's a beauty. Swims around in that little tank of his. Shows off those fins.

john

Oh! Is that why he's named Finny?

jesse

No, he's named after Albert Finney. [John laughs, Jesse stifles laughter.] My son is just a really big Albert Finney fan. Loves Cassavetes movies. [Both laugh.]

john

Let the record show: As great an editor as Jennifer Marmor is... there was no editing in Jesse Thorn's response. He went right to Albert Finney. [Jesse bursts out laughing.] There was no—[laughs]—there was no, "Hang on, let me think of a good joke for this." There was no—even a pause. Was one of the greatest, fastest replies of all time. Thank you, Jesse, for being so funny and great. Um, alright. Madagascar hissing cockroach. This is something... that I would imagine could give some parents some pause. Because... [stifles laughter] you got—you got a couple of words in there that are red flags for most people who live in the United States, especially in cities. "Cockroach" and "hissing"!

jesse

Yeah.

john

Uh... It's—

jesse

I think most people have nothing but positive associations with Madagascar!

john

Sure! There's—absolutely!

jesse

Charming animated films.

john

Right.

jesse

Uh, unique flora and fauna. Of a beautiful island nation.

john

Yeah! And well known for their... hissing cockroaches.

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

You know? Like, it's—it—at least—at least it's... not trying to hide anything. The Madagascar hissing cockroach. Right? It's right there in the name.

jesse

Yeah, it's just doing its thing.

john

It's not like it's gonna surprise you with the hissing. "Me? I'm just a Madagascar cockroach. Of course, adopt me. I'm the best. SSSS! SSSS! SSSS!"

jesse

Yeah. "I'm one of those Madagascar silent cockroaches." [Both laugh.]

john

Yeah! [Laughs.]

jesse

"SSSS!" "Whoa, curveball."

john

Right, exactly! You know. At least it's not gonna take you by surprise, [laughs] when the hissing starts. That's good! It's good to know! But I can understand why there is some pause. I happen to know someone who has not one, not two, but a couple dozen of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, as you may know—as you well know, Jesse! Because you've been a guest on my... very occasional Instagram live show, Get Your Pets, where I interview people's cats and dogs and other pets. Uh, there—I have a guest, a frequent guest who comes on from time to time, named Dani. She lives in Pittsburgh, which she calls Hell with the lid off. Uh, she has a job which is incredible, which is she and a crew of other volunteers go out and clean up illegal dumping sites, where people have just dumped trash illegally. And then she gathers interesting stuff that she finds from—like, just weird, interesting antiques, and... junky things, and signs, and stuff, that she finds in these illegal dumping sites. And then she posts them on Twitter. And you can buy them, and the money goes to good social causes there in Pittsburgh. I'll give you the link for that in a little bit. But Dani does all of that, plus... has a turtle named Haydn, a rabbit named Ampersand, and all of these hissing cockroaches.

john

And I asked Dani whether this—you know, I was like, "A hissing cockroach. Is this a good pet for an eleven-and-a-half–year-old, based on your experience?" And here's what Dani wrote back: "Zola sounds like an awesome person with a great menagerie." I'll remind you: Two guinea pigs, two rats, tank full of fish.

jesse

Already sort of a William Randolph Hearst–ish situation.

john

Yeah. It's a zoo in there. Dani goes on to say, "I can confirm that Madagascar hissing cockroaches are... excellent low-maintenance pets! They're gentle. Easy to care for. Will not be a permanent part of your menagerie, [stifles laughter] if you get just one. If you get more than one, you will have cockroaches in your life forever and ever." [Laughs.] So... fair warning. "I feed my roaches fish flakes, compost scraps, and a product called Fluker's Orange Cube Complete Cricket Diet."

jesse

Okay, now we have to get one of these things.

john

Yeah, exactly. [Laughs.] Now we have an—I think we have an—

jesse

[Exhales sharply.] 'Cause otherwise this Fluker's... Orange Cube that I've already ordered is gonna go to waste! [Both stifle laughter.] That I ordered the moment I heard the phrase "Fluker's Orange Cube."

john

You ordered—! You ordered one?! You paid money for it?

jesse

My phone was out—

john

Oh.

jesse

—the second you got to "—ker's." And it was hitting checkout by the time you got to "cube."

john

I—[laughs]—I—I'm sorry that you spent the money on it, because I'm gonna make sure that they're our sponsors going forward. And we might get a free— [Jesse laughs.] Might get some free Fluker's Orange Cube Complete Cricket Diets in the mail.

jesse

[Sighs.] Only a fool plays—pays for their Fluker's! [Laughs.]

john

No, I think that—!

jesse

Nah.

john

I think a smart person pays for the Fluker's, 'cause it's obviously... the best complete cricket diet there is. The most complete and the best complete. And it comes... in the trademarked Fluker's Orange Cube. See? I'm already practicing! Get Kira on this immediately. New—new sponsor for the podcast. [Stifles laughter.] But I just wanna point out that Dani concludes by saying: "If Zola's parents are creeped out by hissing cockroaches, maybe they should consider getting a giant African millipede instead." [Both crack up.] Thank you, Dani. So much. Please check out Trash for—Dani's Trash for Treasures community at @DaniKramer14. That's @D-A-N-I-K-R-A-M-E-R-14. Jesse, you will love the stuff that Dani finds in the garbage in Pittsburgh.

jesse

Only the fact that I had two children in the car, and one of them was gonna be late for school, kept me from pulling over to the side of the road and pulling a piece of furniture out of one of those illegal dumping sites just this very morning, John.

john

And all the proceeds from Trash Treasures for Community, of course, go to a whole bunch of really good social programs in Pittsburgh. Hella pull it off. Uh, I love the suggestion of getting a giant African millipede. Because that is a great negotiation tactic, Zola. [Jesse laughs quietly, John stifles laughter.] You should take that right away. If your—if—Zola, if your parents are like, "I don't know that I can have a hissing cockroach in my life," say, "It's fine. Judge John Hodgman ordered me to get a giant millipede instead."

jesse

Yeah.

john

And all of a sudden you got yourself... free cockroach.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

You know what my therapist convinced me the other d—? My—my process in therapy over the past decade or so has primarily been, uh, my therapist convincing me that certain parts of my childhood that I thought were fun independence were actually maybe a little neglectful?

john

Mm-hm!

jesse

And, uh, something that had not come up in therapy in the entire—in the many years that I had—I had been therapized, uh, was the fact that for quite a long time, I lived in the basement of my father and stepmother's house when I was with them.

john

Mm.

jesse

My parents had split custody. And there was a—a crevice under the back door of the basement. And my door to my bedroom would get left open because it was the only way to get from the basement door to the upstairs, was to go through my room. So people would just go through my room whenever they needed to do that. And leave the door open.

john

Mm-hm.

jesse

And at night, I started noticing there were, like, weird, whiteish, translucent marks on my carpet.

john

Mm!

jesse

And it took me about six months or a year to figure out that every night, slugs would slug their way through my room—

john

No!

jesse

—then slug on out, like nothing happened. And you know how I figured that out, John?

john

Nooo.

jesse

Yeah, that's how I figured it out. I fi—it was dark in there, and that's how I figured it out. [John sighs/shudders.] Yeah.

john

Well... I'm sorry I stepped on your [hard G] gerbil.

jesse

[Cracks up.] It's a callback, folks. [John laughs quietly.] Uh, John, didn't you say we also had a letter from Rooney?

john

We do have a letter from Rooney. I had asked Rooney to write in to say—'cause I didn't know how Rooney wanted to... prepare—I—I had made a joke that Rooney wanted to fill the little hollow in the avocado left by the pit with human blood, and I made a joke that Rooney was a Dracula. So I wanted to verify: How does Rooney want to make their avocado? And Rooney writes: "I want to peel the skin off the avocados and make slices. But Dad thinks he should cut it into small pieces with a spoon and scoop it out. Dad doesn't like knives. But my mom gave me my knife license." [Jesse cracks up.] Rooney, you got your knife license! Here's the thing! If you can get your own email address... and Mom has given you a knife license? I think you should go ahead and cut that avocado into slices. But I wanna see—I wanna see a copy of that knife license, Rooney. Rooney and Rooney's parents? I need to see a—a paper knife license, signed by Mom.

jesse

And a real knife license.

john

Yeah!

jesse

Not one of the ones that you get at Legoland.

john

Yeah. Not a knife license you get, uh, in a basement in Times Square in 1981. [Beat.] Work up a real good knife license. I wanna see it laminated. Please send it in to hodgman@maximumfun.org so we can post it online.

jesse

Is Rooney really peeling avocados? With a knife? Because I support that. I think that's amazing. [Laughs.]

john

Look! I mean, it's not the way I would—for—for me, I would scoop out the whole half of the avocado with a spoon before slicing it. And you know what I'd probably do is throw it into my avocado—my special avocado/spam slicer that I got—

jesse

Ooh.

john

—at the last San Francisco Sketchfest, when we were staying in Japantown. It's this great, oversi—it's like, you know those, um, hardboiled egg slicers? They're like little harps, where you can go bwriiiiing-ing-ing!

jesse

Yeah. Sure.

john

It's a bigger one! And it's just for avocados and spam. If you're gonna make musubi.

jesse

Wow. And you got this at the Japanese hardware store?

john

Yeah. You know that place. You know what I'm talking about.

jesse

Oh, I love that Japanese hardware store. [John sighs wistfully.] I have loved that Japanese hardware store since I was a child.

john

Jesse... [Sighs.] We're gonna go to—we're gonna go to Sketchfest. We're gonna—we're gonna go stand in front of sousaphones on a live stage. We're gonna go to hardware stores. There's no end to what we're gonna be able to do!

jesse

It's amazing.

john

As a people. Once we are through this. And we're gonna get through it and make a new and better normal. But until then, Rooney's got their knife license. Go forth and do what you want to to avocados.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

The docket is clear. That's it for another episode of Judge John Hodgman. Our producer, the ever-capable Jennifer Marmor. Follow us on Twitter at @JesseThorn and @hodgman. We're on Instagram at @judgejohnhodgman. Make sure to hashtag your Judge John Hodgman Tweets #JJHo, and check out the Maximum Fun subreddit 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.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

john

[Singing] Dah, dah, dah-dah-dah dah, dah-dah-dah dah, dah-dah-dah! Dah— [Speaking] Please don't sue me, Marvel, for using that. This is the secret post-credits sequence, an idea that I came up with, um, and weirdly, Marvel... also came up with the idea of dropping in extra content after the credits. Um, just like Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz invented the calculus at the same time, it—it was just a coincidence. Simultaneous discovery, they call it. So don't sue me, Marvel. Just here dropping some more content, giving people a little extra stuff. Hey, everybody. Welcome to the post-credits sequence. Uh, some of you may know—not many, I would guess—that I do a Judge John Hodgman column in the New York Times magazine every week. For... the past five years! And—[laughs]—I do not think people who listen to the podcast know that this column exists. And I know that people who read the New York Times magazine in print do not know that podcasts exist at all! So there's not a lot of overlap. [Stifles laughter.] But I wanted to share something with you. Uh, by the time you hear this, it will have just come out or will be about to come out. I don't know when they have it scheduled for. A little short column in which—um, spoiler alert, perhaps—I rule against a woman named Krisa. Uh, who had texted her friend Ken that she could not join Ken for dinner. But Ken went to the restaurant anyway, because he claimed that Krisa's text was unclear.

john

And... it was. But when I let her know that I was ruling in the magazine, she was upset because she wouldn't get to share a piece of audio-visual evidence with you. [Stifles laughter.] Which was her video apology to Ken after the fact. And while my ruling stands, Krisa, this evidence is so compelling, I have to share it with you, the listeners. Because this evidence is not Krisa speaking. It's... Well, let's just say it comes from a little website called Cameo.

clip

James Cosmo: Hey, Ken. It's James Cosmo here. Lord Commander Mormont of the Night Watch. Your good friend Krisa got in touch with me, and asked me to send a message to you. Now, she tells me that, um, she had to cancel a meeting with you. And you didn't get her text, and went to the restaurant. That is awful. That is—I've done that. It's—it's the most embarrassing thing. Anyway, [chuckles] Krisa wants to send you absolutely abject apologies. And so she should! That's the thing with text. You don't know if people are gonna get them, you know? You should've phoned! Anyway, um, she has taken the time and the expense to send this message. So she is obviously very contrite. So please forgive her, and you guys go out and have dinner together. Anyway. That's my message from the Lord Commander. You take care, Ken. All the very best, and God bless you. Bye-bye.

john

Uhhh, so there you have it. Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Jorah Mormont... has forgiven Krisa. And who am I to speak against the Brothers of the Night's Watch? Sooo, even though I have found against you, Krisa, in none other than the magazine of the paper of record, the New York Times magazine, where Judge John Hodgman appears every week—but I will also absolve you. But why should I absolve you? When instead, I could get Nas from Love Island to do it! ...Here's Nas!

clip

Nas Majeed: —o to all the Judge John Hodgman listeners! It's Nas Majeed here from Love Island. I hope everyone is doing well! And I just wanted to give a special shout-out to one listener in particular who goes by the name of Krisa. Even though Judge John Hodgman ruled against you, getting James Cosmo off of Game of Thrones to apologize to Ken on Cameo was amazing. I'm a massive fan of Game of Thrones. And I've seen the Cameo. I've seen the apology on your behalf, and it is absolutely brilliant. I love it. Apologizing is an essential life skill. And by the looks of it, Krisa, you're absolutely killing it. However! Despite me saying all this, I've reviewed the case, and I am very much so Team Krisa. Sorry to go against you on this one, Judge. But I feel like Ken—why, if you felt like there was any form of vagueness, any lack of clarity, why would you turn up to that restaurant without double-checking or triple-checking before leaving? Hopefully, you can use this as a learning curve going forward. Krisa, I feel like on another day, in another courtroom, you might have gotten away with it. But I digress! Lastly, I just wanted to give a massive shout-out to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. All the listeners, gear yourself up, strap yourself in for MaxFunDrive in May. But yeah! Thank you so much, guys! Everyone take care, and enjoy the rest of the podcast.

john

Well, uh, thank you, Nas, my hero of Cameo, for coming through again. You've sent some wonderful messages to my family, now to the whole Judge John Hodgman listenership. Uh, thank you for undermining my ruling, I guess? Wow. That was—alright. I guess you got your own judge show now? You're gonna have your own judge show on Cameo? It's probably gonna go very, very far. Nas, I wish you the best. I wish you only well, Nas. And as I said to you over the text feature of, uh, Cameo, any time you wanna be on Judge John Hodgman as a guest bailiff or friend of the court or anything, the door is always open. And I look forward to your... replying... to my text... Nas. Alright, end of post-credits sequence! I—ugh. Why did I make myself do this extra homework every week? Bye-bye!

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speaker 2

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speaker 3

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