TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 514: This Illustrated Man

It’s time to clear the docket! Tattoos, chalkboards, dinner time, bad neighbors, jungle cats, and more! Plus a letter about Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches! 

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 514

Transcript

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse thorn

Welcome to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. I'm Bailiff Jesse Thorn. We're in chambers this week, clearing the docket. And with me as always is the man whose—who almost never fails to wear a hat indoors—

john hodgman

Ah—!

jesse

—when recording this podcast.

john

That's true.

jesse

Judge John Hodgman.

john

I, Jesse Thorn, am wearing a brand new extinct hockey hat. I wasn't gonna mention it. [Laughs.] Because after all, this is a non-visual medium.

jesse

Right.

john

But you can see me, and I can see you, and I can see Jennifer Marmor, all the way across the country there in Los Angeles, California, due to the magic and curse of teleconferencing.

jesse

Yes.

john

I am wearing a brand new extinct hockey hat. Can you guess the team? I'll lean in. I'm leaning into my camera.

jesse

The—the Nighthawks?

john

Nighthawks! From where, Jesse Thorn? [Jesse exhales thoughtfully.] Did you ever follow—this is minor league hockey. Early nineties minor league hockey.

jesse

Wow. Yeah, well, my—my minor league hockey isn't as deep as it could be. I remember that for a while, there was a team called the Seals that played in the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

john

Never heard of it. No! This is the New Haven Nighthawks of New Haven, Connecticut. [Stifles laughter.]

jesse

Oh, that's fun.

john

Look, uh, we get no money from this, but I got this hat from a company called VintageHockey.com. They've got a lot of extinct hockey teams. I—it's hard for me not to believe that this company was founded because of my love for the Hartford Whalers. [Jesse laughs.] This feels like it's got my DNA. I mean, I'm not gonna—I'm not gonna begrudge 'em.

jesse

Right.

john

I'm not gonna begrudge 'em.

jesse

But you'd like to hear any other plausible explanation.

john

It just seems like after I've been podcasting and writing about the great sport of extinct hockey for the past five years, that all of a sudden this company just sprouts up with a New Haven Nighthawks hat? I'm also wearing a sweatshirt from them. This is from the Jaros... Beauce or something. It's some really obscure Quebec team. And just so that you know that the JJHo boys can't be bought... This sweatshirt is really, really comfy, but their printing technology on the heather gray sweatshirt is not very good. Stick to the hats, Vintage Hockey.

jesse

Yeah. Well, let's get into the docket!

john

Sure.

jesse

Here's a case from Joe from St. Louis: "I have a dispute with my wife. I would very much like to get the words 'Party Animal' tattooed on my stomach." [John snorts.] "My wife is against this. I would understand if this were my first tattoo, but I'm fairly tattooed already, including a Christmas tattoo and a Fozzie Bear tattoo." [Jesse stifles laughter.]

john

[Laughing] Mm-hm. Mm-hm.

jesse

So this is really a brand extension.

john

Yeah.

jesse

"She says that I am not a party animal. I am a rather quiet homebody, 36 years old, with five children." [Stifles laughter.] "That is why I feel this tattoo would be so fun!"

john

Mm! You know what I like, Jesse? I like this guy—I like Joe's phrasing.

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah.

john

"I would—I would very much like to get the words 'Party Animal.'" [Jesse laughs.] Like, I—if I didn't know that Joe was 36 years old with five children in St. Louis, I would think that he was a, uh—a British school child. [Jesse laughs.] [English accent] "Pardon me! I would very much like—" [Laughs, drops accent.] I can't do my British—

jesse

[English accent] "Might I please have a 'Party Animal' tattoo along with my [rolling the 'r'] gruel?"

john

[Laughs.] [English accent] "I would very much like to get the words 'Party Animal' tattooed on my—on my stomach, Headmistress."

jesse

[English accent] "Have you any 'Party Animal' tattoos, or any Turkish delight?" [One or both laugh.] [Accents stop.]

john

Once again, our English accents are impeccable.

jesse

Thank you.

john

Jesse, I forget. Have you any... tattoos?

jesse

Yeah, I do have a tattoo!

john

Tell me about it. I forget.

jesse

I have a tattoo on my, uh, inner forearm.

john

Yeah? Oh, sensitive.

jesse

Uh, that says, "Who shall say".

john

Yeah.

jesse

And it is the opening line of a wonderful William Carlos Williams poem called "Danse Russe."

john

Mm.

jesse

That is basically—it's a—people should look it up on Poetry.org. But it is essentially William Carlos Williams describing himself getting up before everyone else in his house is up, and going to his office, and standing naked in front of the mirror, uh, and doing a funny dance. And, uh, [stifles laughter] then he says, uh—

john

A danse russe!

jesse

A dance russe, exactly.

john

Yeah.

jesse

And in the end he says, "Who shall say I am not the happy genius of my household?"

john

Oh! WCW comes in again with another banger.

jesse

Yeah. I—I got it maybe, uh, five years ago, seven years ago, when I was really trying to affirm in myself the feeling that it was... okay and in fact good to be myself, and to enjoy myself within myself, essentially.

john

You know what I hear?

jesse

What's that?

john

It feels good to be yourself.

jesse

Yeah. [Laughs quietly.]

john

That's what I hear.

jesse

As in the—the hit picture book by Theresa Thorn.

john

Oh right, yeah! That's probably where that comes from.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Jesse, everyone knows that I have a small tattoo of a shining diamond on my right, uh, shoulder, that I got at the age 19 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, when it was illegal to get tattooed anywhere in New England but New Hampshire, of course. It is a reference to a figure from a story by Jorge Luis Borges called "Death and the Compass," because I was and am very pretentious. But! I asked Joe for a catalogue of all of his tattoos, 'cause he said he was fairly tattooed.

jesse

Yeah.

john

And I wanted to get a sense of what—what this illustrated man had going on already, before we contemplate, uh, ruling him a "Party Animal" tattoo. So, you ready for this, Jesse? You ready for the catalogue?

jesse

Yeah.

john

Alright.

jesse

Run it down.

john

Joe's got a Fozzie Bear on top of his right foot. A Chi Rho Greek symbol on the back of his right calf. "Merry Christmas–themed tattoo on my left front thigh." That's—that's, uh, worryingly vague. "My wife's—"

jesse

Yeah, I feel like it's probably— [Both laugh.] It's probably, like, a scene from Jingle All the Way.

john

Yeah. Right. Maybe it's the poster from Silent Night, Deadly Night. [Both laugh.] Terrifying—[laughs]—Christmas-themed slasher.

jesse

My daughter really—[laughs]—my daughter really loves the movie Santa Jaws.

john

[Laughs.] Oh, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the chimney.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Okay! "My wife's name in the center of my chest. There are two birds on either side of my wife's name on my chest. My upper back has a crest design that one of my brothers created. My three brothers and I have the same tattoo. I have a Bible verse text tattooed around my left wrist. It's a portion of 2 Corinthians, 'My grace is sufficient for you.' I have Hebrew lettering on the inside of both of my inner biceps. My right arm has the Hebrew word—uh—uh, the unpronounceable YHWH. My left arm has the Hebrew word for Jesus, Yeshua. My left shoulder has the head of a lion. Beneath the lion head is a grouping of snakes... with their heads cut off!" Not sure if that means the heads are somewhere else on his body, or just not there at all. "Course, I have the outline of Missouri with the St. Louis Cardinals logo inside it on the back of my left arm. My right shoulder has a cross in a sort of stained glass style. Beneath the cross is a family of deer in a landscape scene." That's 13 tattoos. [Jesse laughs.] Should he go for lucky 14, "Party Animal" on his stomach? [Stifles laughter.]

jesse

I—[laughs]—I find myself wondering how Jesus feels about hanging out with Fozzie Bear. [Jesse laughs quietly, John stifles laughter.]

john

Are you kidding me?

jesse

It's—it's such a beautiful Bible verse. [Laughs.] Like, what a moving—the idea that the grace of God should be enough is such a beautiful sentiment to me. [Laughing] And then there's—I mean, like, I also love Fozzie Bear, but—

john

And then there's "Wocka wocka"? [Laughs.]

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah.

john

Can't—can't be putting down Fozzie Bear under any circumstances. And why has there not been a—a Muppet movie based on the Bible? [Jesse laughs.] We got Muppets: A Christmas Carol, Muppets Treasure Island, why not The Muppetest Story Ever Told?

jesse

Yeah.

john

That would be pretty good. I'll leave you guys to cast that one in the reddit. r/MaximumFun. I'll look for it there. I don't know, Jesse. [Laughs.] It seems to me like this canvas is pretty full, and variegated, and silly, and profound. It's not as though there is a—there is either—this is an untouched, clean slate of body that is going to be, uh, sullied with a "Party Animal" tattoo. But nor is it a tattoo array that has a certain, um, aesthetic theme that "Party Animal" is going to violate.

jesse

Right.

john

I mean, once—as you pointed out. Once you have Jesus and Fozzie hanging together... I mean, "Wocka wocka" indeed. Yeah.

jesse

Cats and dogs living together. And so on.

john

I mean, I feel like it's just nice that Joe has even brought it up, never mind to us, but to his wife. He could probably get "Party Animal" tattooed on his stomach and she would be hard-pressed to notice. There's so much... wackadoo camouflage all over his body anyway. [Both laugh.] I guess I feel like you should go for it, Joe. I mean, here is the thing. Have a good conversation with your wife. I—it's clear to me that at least as far as your epidermis goes, you are absolutely a party animal. But I don't know how many of these 13 you got, let's say, before you got married. Or how many of these your wife has already said, uh, okay with when she really wasn't okay with it. It's your body, ultimately. And I'm gonna say you can go ahead and do it. I don't think that your wife should have veto power over your belly tattoo. But, um, since it's clear that you are something of a tattoo party animal, I'm encouraging you as an officer of the court to sit down, and now that you've listed out all your tattoos, just, like... Before you go and commit to this, talk through all 13 with your wife. And get her feedback on all of them. Just talk through them with her. [Jesse laughs.] Get a little ranking. Maybe not a ranking.

jesse

Have a sort of annual review. [Laughs.]

john

Yeah! Just be like, [stifles laughter] "You know, I never talked to you about the lion head, uh, that is hovering over a group of snakes with no heads." [Jesse laughs.] "What do you think of that? What's your—[laughs]—what's your capsule review of that tattoo?" And if you're Joe's wife, you may absolutely email me your review—your one-sentence review of each of these tattoos. I'd be very curious to know your take on them. But ultimately, so long as there is that reckoning and that communication, it's your body. If you can find a place to fit it in—perhaps the belly is the only place—go for it, party animal. You should feel free to do a hashtag #Dicktown anywhere you like. [Jesse laughs quietly.] Just throwing that out there as a possibility. But, uh, yes. I rule in favor of Joe in this case.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

John, I had a friend in college named Dan Grayson, who spent a lot of time thinking about what the perfect worst tattoo would be. And you know, Dan wasn't a humorist, but I really admired what he came up with. Which was a full-body back tattoo of Garfield eating lasagna. You know the way he kind of dislocates his mouth like a snake to eat—?

john

Yeah! Unhinges his jaw.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Right.

jesse

And then in—in, uh, Old English, you know, classic, sort of car club–style lettering over the top, it would say, "Garfield the tat." [John snorts.] Here's something from Allen: "My wife and I want to mount a writing surface on the wall of our kitchen for groceries, reminders, and the like. She'd like a chalkboard. I want a dry erase board. Touching chalk makes my skin crawl, and I get goosebumps if I think about it too hard. She told me that my chalk-phobia—her word—is irrational, and that I should get over it. She also said that nothing says 'I give up' like a dry erase board where a chalkboard should be."

john

[Laughs.] Yeah. Not a lot of charm to a dry erase board.

jesse

No.

john

Not a lot of charm.

jesse

But I—[stifles laughter]—but I wonder if the charm of a chalkboard was not exhausted in 2008.

john

[Laughs.] What about chalkboard paint? You ever experiment with some chalkboard paint in your house?

jesse

Chalkboard paint... was a very fun idea on Pinterest. Some time ago.

john

Yeah. But no—so the answer is no?

jesse

I have not ever chalkboard painted anything.

john

Chalkboard—chalkboard refrigerator surface was a thing that was a thing for a while.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Do you have anything that you write anything down on in your kitchen?

jesse

We do have a big whiteboard.

john

Yeah.

jesse

I have to say—um, you know, I agree that the aesthetics of a chalkboard are much more appealing. And I actually think it's fun to write on the wall. And for that reason, I like the idea of chalkboard paint. Uh, as much as it might have been, you know, an interior design trend of, you know, some time ago.

john

Right. Right.

jesse

But I have the same issue. I also hate writing with chalk, and hate chalkboards, because it grosses me out.

john

Yes. Yeah. And—

jesse

I also don't like popsicle sticks.

john

Oh! Tell—

jesse

I mean, it's not gonna keep me away from a popsicle, [laughing] but—

john

What part of the popsicle stick do you dislike? What's the aspect of popsicle stick-ness that gives you the bad feeling?

jesse

Uh, the texture. The surface texture.

john

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I can feel that now on my tongue.

jesse

Yeah.

john

You're really flirting with a lot of tongue splinters there. No matter how smooth they get 'em. You know that they're there.

jesse

Yeah.

john

They were waiting for you in there.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Yeah. I would say—I mean, espe—ugh. Eugh. Now that I'm thinking about it, chalk—I like chalkboards, too! I have no problem with them. But I'm—I'm getting that feeling, just thinking about it, that I get whenever I think about a clarinet. I played clarinet for many years. And now just thinking about a clarinet makes my teeth, like—like, hurt, and vibrate-y, and gives my nerves a tingle. 'Cause one bad honk on a clarinet embouchure, and you'll never forget. That'll go straight to your skull, just wmngggg. It's just like getting an electric shock in your two front teeth. And I would say this. I mean, yeah. A dry erase board—that's kind of... a sad, dorm room door, you know, style. But I don't like Allen's wife talking down his chalk aversion as an irrational phobia. I mean, even if it were a phobia as opposed to just a reasonable aversion, which I think it is—even if it were as serious as a phobia, you know, phobias are not strictly rational! I know that I'm... probably not going to fall into the lagoon at 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Disney World, because... that attraction doesn't exist anymore. But does that mean that I am not legitimately submechanophobic? That's a real thing, Jesse! Submechanophobia. Fear of submerged man-made objects! I was gonna make up a word! Which was aquarobophobia. Which is a little bit more fun. 'Cause I don't like robots underwater.

jesse

Yeah.

john

That's what I'm afraid of. But the—I was researching some phobias, and came across a word that finally describes me! Submechanophobia. It's a real thing. Just like there's halitophobia, which I'm sure you know, Jesse, is fear of bad breath. Didn't know about that one.

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

Globophobia, fear of balloons. Oikophobia, fear of household appliances. Can you imagine, Jesse, being afraid of your Breville Smart Oven? That would be very sad!

jesse

No. But I can imagine being afraid of balloons, because someone in my household has that issue.

john

Really? Yeah. For sure.

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

I'm not—I mean, these are—these are—I'm not making fun of these phobias. I'm saying there are things, specific things, that people truly... just can't hack! Pogonophobia, fear of beards. Hedonophobia, fear of obtaining pleasure. I mean, all those phobias, those are—those are the ones that are just tattooed on my left thigh. [Jesse laughs.] There are lots of them.

jesse

I know for me, uh, having kids who are neurodivergent in various ways has helped me understand. You know, living in a house with them has helped me understand particularly the broad array of sensory differences between people.

john

Yeah.

jesse

And you know, I can't say that it's easy to deal with, that other people's sensory experiences can be so different from yours. And I can't say that it is, like, fun and chill. Like, sometimes you wish that you could have a chalkboard. [Stifles laughter.]

john

Right.

jesse

But it grosses out someone who lives in your house, and like, really upsets them, and that upset is real. And you know, it—these things—these are often things that can be addressed, you know, that you can help someone through these things. You know? I mean, that's what occupational therapy is for sometimes. But they're also—they also have to be accommodated! And, you know...

john

Yeah! Sometimes you don't need to go through a course of occupational therapy and immersion treatment so that you can have a chalkboard to write "eggs" on.

jesse

Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

john

Yeah. Well, I was thinking about this, Jesse, and Allen? This is a judgment podcast. This is not a problem-solving podcast. But once in a while, every now and then... the Doctor dances and everyone lives. I've got an answer for you that I want you to explore, and I think you're gonna be excited about it, 'cause I know I am. I got to thinking about Ron Moore and David Eike's re-imagination of Battlestar Galactica. At the C&C in the middle of that big ship Galactica, [stifles laughter] they had a big piece of glass that they wrote on! And that's how they knew where they were in space. Because space is a glass... 2D surface. Everyone knows this. And I did some poking around. I found my way to—and again, I don't know—we don't get any money from Quartet. Quartet, the premier makers of whiteboards, right there in Skokie, Illinois. From, uh—[stifles laughter]—from The Usual Suspects. It's a real company; they make real whiteboards, but they also make glass boards. And are—are you sitting down, Allen? Pull over to the side of the road, if you're driving. And Allen's wife. They make glass boards that are black glass! That you write on with white markers!

jesse

Whoa, cool!

john

I know! It looks incredible. I—how it works in practice, I don't know. This is not an endorsement, unless... Quartet wants to send us some money. [Both stifle laughter.] I'm just saying—in which case I'm gonna say it works great. But the—but check out—and there are other manufacturers, as well. Check out, uh, black glass writing surface, or black glass dry erase board. It looks really nice. It looks beautiful. It's got that chalkboard look, that white-on-black look, but none of that, uh, chalkboard [shudders] feeling.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Yeah, and it's the perfect way to plan your assault on Jakku!

john

[Laughs.] That really is nowhere.

jesse

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

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

It's the Judge John Hodgman podcast, and as always, our show is brought to you by you! The members of MaximumFun.org. MaxFunDrive, just over the horizon, coming down the pike. We're looking forward to it. Gonna be fun, gonna do a lot of cool stuff. Thank you to everybody who's already a member of Maximum Fun, who's gone to MaximumFun.org/join. 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

Paleo! Uh, vegetarianio. Lean and cleanio! Mediterraneanio! These are all different styles of eating well, and—and healthy. And guess what? SunBasket has them all covered for you! They got 'em all!

jesse

Yeah. And they also have fresh and ready meals, which are only $8.99. Good for your body and your budget. There are a lot of choices for these fresh and ready meals. Braised beef panang curry with Jasmine rice and sweet peas. Very good, very good, very good.

john

Yeah!

jesse

I'm excited about jumbo-lump crab cakes. I'm tired of these little lumps.

john

[Stifling laughter] Yeah, right?

jesse

[Stifling laughter] You know what I mean?

john

You gotta get the big lumps!

jesse

Yeah, give me those big lumps!

john

Yeah, for that—for that crab-conscious lifestyle! And you know, they also have—aside from the fresh and ready meals, which you just heat up as they come. They have meal kits, which are fantastic, in case you're running out of inspiration or ideas. You can go check out their meal kits and enjoy some fennel-spiced pork over snap pea and radish salad. Or spicy Greek shrimp with tomatoes, feta, and orzo. Or, top-rated—top-rated, Jesse!—walnut mushroom flatbreads with apricots and lemon tahini dressing. That's dairy-free, vegan, and soy-free. Serves two. Got a little red pepper on it. That means it's spicy. Anything you could possibly want, you can get it right there at SunBasket. It's all very delicious, but I love their pantry section! 'Cause they have stuff that is very hard to get, including... Impossible Burger! Impossible Burger, plant-based protein, uh—frankly, I have difficulty finding it around here! In the biggest city in the United States, New York! It's all a different brand! Impossible is the one that the vegetarians in my life love, the one I prefer. You can get it right there at SunBasket.

john

SunBasket is offering $90 off for your first four deliveries, including free shipping on the first box, when you go right now to SunBasket.com/hodgman, and enter promo code "Hodgman" at checkout.

jesse

That's SunBasket.com/hodgman, and enter the promo code "Hodgman." We're also supported this week by Porter Road. Can I—can I tell you something, John?

john

You may tell me!

jesse

Yesterday as we record this, I received an email forward from my mother.

john

Yeah.

jesse

Of an article. She said, "I bet your family would love this." Literally what she said.

john

Right. Right.

jesse

The article was about—

john

Free money?

jesse

—Porter Road. [Laughs.] I—

john

Oh. [Laughs.] I thought it was an article about free money.

jesse

Yeah. No. [Stifles laughter.] I replied to her and said, "They're sponsoring Judge John Hodgman this week, and I just got some meat in the mail." I am really excited about this. This—I got some beautiful cuts of meat in the mail that I am really looking forward to. A nice pork chop. Uh, some—

john

Yeah.

jesse

Just gorgeous stuff.

john

Yeah, look. I love a plant-based diet. It's part of my life, to eat more plant-based things. But I'm an omnivore. And omnivorism is complicated. And if you're like me, and you eat meat, you wanna be sparing. You wanna make sure that you're sourcing your ingredients smartly, you're supporting sustainable farms, responsible farmers. And that's why I was very curious about Porter Road. They—apparently they were started in Nashville in 2010 by two chef/butchers, who ensure nothing goes to waste. This is Jaime, the founder, and Chris, quote, "The Wildcard" provide humanely— [Jesse laughs, John stifles laughter.] They seem like nice people!

jesse

Yeah.

john

They provide humanely and sustainably raised meat, first to their local community and now via mail order—and podcasts!—to you.

jesse

Yeah. They work with trusted local farmers to ensure animals are raised humanely on the pasture, with no added hormones or antibiotics. And from there, Porter Road dry-ages all of their beef. That concentrates the flavor, John. And hand-cuts each steak and chop using old-world butchery techniques to produce cuts you won't find at the grocery store. You can either shop like you would at the local butcher, like choose stuff out, or you can get subscription bundles that ship free. They arrive fresh. Never frozen.

john

Yeah.

jesse

It's really cool stuff. And right now, Porter Road is offering our listeners $20 off your first order of $100 or more if you go to PorterRoad.com/jjho.

john

Go to PorterRoad.com/jjho for $20 off your first order of $100 or more.

jesse

That's PorterRoad—P-O-R-T-E-R-R-O-A-D.com/jjho!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast! We are clearing the docket. I'm Bailiff Jesse Thorn. With me, Judge John Hodgman. Here's a case from Izzy from Glendale! "Your Honor, my partner and I love to cook for each other. It's a real act of love. However, we vehemently disagree on what is—"

john

Wait—wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. These two people. They're partners.

jesse

Yeah.

john

And they cook for each other? As kind of an expression of care and affection?

jesse

Yeah.

john

These are the two who do that? [Chuckles.]

jesse

Yeah.

john

They made it up, huh? Wow. Amazing.

jesse

It's—it's a new thing. I read about it in the New York Times style section.

john

Oh, wow! Okay, cool!

jesse

Yeah.

john

'Cause I know in my—

jesse

It's the new food trucks, John.

john

Yeah. I know in my family we just, um, shove food pellets into our mouths to sustain ourselves. I get it.

jesse

I take pills.

john

I'm just teasing you, Izzy! Go on.

jesse

Yeah. "However, we vehemently disagree on what constitutes dinnertime."

john

Hm.

jesse

"He thinks six or 6:30 is the correct dinnertime. I think dinner should be served at eight. We talk about this a lot. My most recent argument is that usually in romantic comedies, when one is courting their perspective lover specifically for a dinner date, they say, 'See you at eight!' I also believe it's a more accurate end-of-day time. Six o'clock? The afternoon is still ripe! Full of non-food possibility!" [John laughs, Jesse stifles laughter.]

john

That's the weirdest euphemism for evening hugging and kissing I've ever heard.

jesse

Yeah. [Laughs.]

john

I feel you on this, Izzy! You know, I had a formative experience in my understanding about dinnertime. Uh, when I was 20 years old, and a pretentious, uh, fanboy of the famous Argentine short story writer, poet, and fabulist, Jorge Luis Borges, and consequently I traveled with a—some travel funds from the college Spanish department to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, one of the greatest cities I've ever visited. It's such an incredible experience. I don't know if we have any listeners there in BA, but... hit me up if you're down there, 'cause I wanna come back. Maybe we could do a show in Buenos Aires after we go to Mexico City, Jesse!

jesse

Yeah. Sold.

john

Good. So Buenos Aires, it turns out—I didn't realize at the time—is very famous as a late-night town. It's very famous for its churrascarias, and its—you know, its spit-roasted meats, and its steak, particularly. That might be more of a Brazilian term, churrascaria, but... leave me alone, letter writers. Point is, I was there. And I went out to dinner my first night, 'cause I was really excited to have dinner. And it was 7:30 PM! Which felt like a normal dinnertime to me. And the restaurant was empty. And the waiter came by. And I asked in—in surprisingly okay Castellano at the time, "Where is everybody?" And he said, "Well, it's only 7:30 PM. This is a night town. Most people in Buenos Aires don't eat until, like, ten o'clock at night. Like, the only people who eat before eight o'clock are old people and children." [Laughs.] And he literally waved across this whole restaurant, all these empty tables, I didn't even notice—he waved to this one party of three little children and a very old man eating dinner together. [Both laugh.]

john

He says, "As you see!" And he was right! I mean, as I got to know it, BA is a night town! And I learned it that night, when those kids and that old man and I went clubbing. We were out until dawn.

jesse

Yeah.

john

But in any case, different cultures eat at different times. And I was wondering if this might be a—a regional thing in the United States. Jesse, when you were growing up there in San Francisco, what was dinnertime to you? Six PM? If you had to choose. Closer to six, or closer to eight? [Long pause.]

jesse

When I was younger, closer to six. When I was older, closer to eight.

john

Yeah.

jesse

But only closer to. I don't think we ever ate dinner that late on a consistent basis. It just went from, you know, six or 6:30 to seven or 7:30.

john

But of course, we live in cities, right? And you know, we're—this—we're in urban areas with late-night romantic comedy culture. We don't eat until it's dark, and we're on top of the Empire State Building! Meeting there for the first time. Right?

jesse

Exactly. And then we only eat from food trucks.

john

We know Iz—right. We know Izzy is writing from Glendale. And since we know exactly zero about Izzy's partner, uh, [stifles laughter] their point of view, place of birth, inner life, or even name, I did a very quick little Twitter poll. And what I discovered kind of surprised me! Which was that most respondents by far said six PM is dinnertime! Whether you're in Boston; Pittsburgh; Casper, Wyoming; Raleigh; Maryland; Richmond; Iowa; South Carolina; Illinois; Florida; Denver. San Francisco got one of the one eight PMs. California got more than one eight PMs. Uh, but mostly—even Philadelphia! Six PM dinner. And then of course Tyler wrote in from Mexico City, saying—uh, blowing my mind with this answer: 20. [Both laugh.] Which of course is eight, in—in world time. "20, or eight PM, is called dinner. But it's a very light dinner, since here we're used to having the large meal of the day around 13 or 15." Which... one and three. And—and guess what Tyler said, Jesse? "At 20, dinner would really just be a snack, honestly." Wanna hear what the snack is?

jesse

Yeah.

john

Tyler's snack? Which I will forever know as Tyler's snack. "Sometimes just 500 grams of oatmeal, or a piece of bread with almond milk." [Both laugh.]

jesse

Cool.

john

That's a dinner!

jesse

Yep.

john

Five hundred grams of oatmeal!

jesse

You got it.

john

But a lot of people also said, "Eight before kids, solid six now." Like you, when you were growing up.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Kids gotta eat early! Even in Buenos Aires! Grandpa's gonna take 'em out for dinner as early as 7:30, which is, like, morning in Buenos Aires. And I certainly—my dinnertime morphed to six. So I think that it has less to do with region, and more to do either with the number of people on Twitter who have kids now, or their unconscious bias towards what they grew up doing! Right? They were kids! So they probably ate earlier. And until you have that short sharp shock of a Porteño waiter telling you you're eating like a child, you don't realize that there are places in the world where people eat dinner a lot later! And yeah! Izzy's right! It's more romantic to eat at eight PM, like a grown-up, than it is to eat at six PM, and—you know, uh, like a child! And you know, I think that Izzy's partner—I don't know, because you didn't represent—Izzy, you didn't represent your partner very well here. He didn't even get a counter-argument. When you're sending stuff in, please offer the counter-argument, at least. But Izzy's partner just kind of naturally gravitates to six. 'Cause Izzy's partner still thinks of dinner as "Mommy and Daddy feed me time." But that's not everyone's kink, Izzy's partner! Especially if you are child-free, which as far as I can tell, you are, and you're cooking to express love for each other... yeah! I would say even push it to 8:15! Like... Go crazy!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

john

Have some afternoon non-food time. Like a cocktail.

jesse

Here's something from Austin from Buffalo: "Living in Buffalo, New York, our winters are harsh, and we splurged last winter on two new shovels! One to keep in the car, to dig out after plows or getting stuck. And another to keep in the hallway outside our apartment, for shoveling the walkway and sidewalk."

john

Now, Jesse, I'll ask you to pause right there.

jesse

Yeah.

john

This is a big topic coming up here, and a fairly long letter, and I thought seriously about cutting that whole first... paragraph? But I left it in for two reasons. A reminder to me, and to the world, that living in Buffalo is hard. And two, I had to respect Austin's shovel bragging there. That's pretty cool. Two shovels. You solved a problem for yourself. One for the car. Alright. Please proceed, Jesse.

jesse

"Days after this purchase, the hallway shovel... was stolen. After two days, I noticed one of our neighbors putting our shovel in the back of her car."

john

Whoa.

jesse

"Thanks to our street-facing second-story window, and me currently being unemployed. My partner and I disputed the next step to take. She wanted to leave assertive notes on the stairwell door saying something to the effect of, 'We're happy to lend our shovel, but please return it here.' I wanted to knock on our neighbor's door and confront them, noting how I often shovel the walkway for everyone in the building, and how things were beginning to get dangerously icy. But I begrudgingly agreed to write a note, which promptly was ripped down."

john

Whoa!

jesse

"We wrote another, and it, too, was taken."

john

Jeez.

jesse

"After a total of 12 days, the shovel reappeared, and my partner claimed victory. I resent this, and feel my approach would have solved the issue quicker and been a good way to assert our place in a new apartment building's social hierarchy."

john

Jesse, I—this is a—this is a, uh—a family-welcoming podcast, and I don't like to swear on the podcast.

jesse

Yeah.

john

But Fozzie H. Bear. That is one aggro apartment complex! You can't be—[laughs quietly]

jesse

Yeah. You know that when you move into a new apartment building in—[stifles laughter]—in Buffalo, New York, the first thing you gotta do is stab somebody.

john

[Laughing] Right! Just, like—

jesse

'Cause otherwise you'll never get respect.

john

Yeah! Just go up to the biggest person, and steal their shovel.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Phew! I'm not sure that wings are enough compensation for the snow and bad vibes of Buffalo, New York. I'm sure—hey. I'm sure it's a wonderful town. I look forward to us visiting there during... the spring or summer months, for a show one of these days.

jesse

And thanks to Buffalo, New York, for giving us the immense good vibes of the great Joe Pera! Creator of Joe Pera Talks With You, my—one of my favorite television shows!

john

Yeah! Buffalo's got a lot to offer. But we're dealing with... some hard Buffalo right now. You know, Jesse... I don't like conflict. Uhhh, don't have a lot of practice with it. Have no brothers or sisters. Have no siblings. Scared of talking to people. Um, good for when I'm on a stage, talking down to people. [Both laugh quietly.] Talking with people? Still scary to me, a little bit. [Chuckles.]

jesse

Yeah.

john

I'm an only child! I'm—I'm a—you know—you know the phrase. I'm not even gonna repeat it, and I'm afraid that I won't be able to. Look at the tote bag you got from us. But the point is, I'm so conflict-averse that my instinct in considering Austin's problem was to overcompensate. And say, "Yeah! You should go and confront your neighbor!" But then I thought about it. Like, what—Austin, think it through. What would have happened if you had gone to your neighbor's door, and knocked on the door, and demanded your shovel back? I mean, you know now that this person is terrible. This person took your property, put it in her car. You put up a note, she tore it down. You put up a second note. She tore it down. This neighbor is a wild card! You don't know what's gonna happen when your neighbor first opens your door, and your first interaction with them is, "You stole my stuff." What if she just said, "No I didn't"? Classic. Classic thing to do if you steal something. "No I didn't." "I saw you put it in your car!" "No you didn't. You must have made a mistake."

jesse

Yeah.

john

What are you gonna do? Just stand there? Are you gonna try to get into—you can't go into her apartment! To look for your shovel, or whatever.

jesse

She's evaded you with the stealer's two-step.

john

[Exhales sharply.] And then you just get angrier and angrier, and nothing gets resolved. And you know what she probably does in that case? Is she probably burns it out of spite.

jesse

Yeah.

john

People don't like to think of themselves as bad people. People who do a bad thing will come up with any kind of rationalization to explain why they didn't do a bad thing. Especially if they're confronted with it face to face. You know what I mean? You're gonna be defensive! Sometimes it takes a person who did a bad thing some time to realize, "Yeah, that was bad." And that work happens inside. People don't change right in front of you, because you told them that they're wrong. They change because they see by example, and learn slowly, "Oh, I'm wrong. It was wrong of me to steal my neighbor's shovel." And that happens inside. So you put up signs. You put up—in different ways, you put up signs. You show, with your behavior, how you would like other people to act. Sometimes you—you say how you would prefer to be treated, but you don't expect a response. A kind of verbal sign. You know? Not one that is designed to provoke an apology, but one to simply say, "Here's my value." And sometimes you literally put up a sign that just says, "Please don't steal the shovel." And it might take that person two or three rip-downs before, obviously, they finally understood, "Yeah, I shouldn't have taken that shovel." And they get to give it back in secret. And they get to do that because they avoid shame.

john

Which is maybe not fair. They should be ashamed of themselves! But in this case, Austin, your partner's instinct was absolutely right. A note helps bad people slowly confront their own awfulness, and sidestep shame. It's the neighborly thing to do. You have to live with these people.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Let's take a quick break! When we come back, a cautionary tale about hissing cockroaches.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

Music: Faint, suspenseful violin music in background. Justin McElroy: We are the hosts of My Brother, My Brother and Me, and now—nearly ten years into our podcast—the secret can be revealed. All the clues are in place. And the world’s greatest treasure hunt can now begin. Griffin McElroy: Embedded in each episode of My Brother, My Brother and Me is a micro-clue that will lead you to 14 precious gemstones, all around this big, beautiful blue world of ours. Travis McElroy: So start combing through the episodes—uh, let’s say starting at episode 101 on. Griffin: Yeah, the early episodes are pretty problematic, so there’s no clues in those episodes. Travis: No. No, not at all. Griffin: The better ones—the good ones? Clues ahoy. Justin McElroy: Listen to every episode repeatedly in sequence. Laugh if you must, but mainly, get all the great clues. My Brother, My Brother and Me: it’s an advice show, kind of, but a treasure hunt, mainly. Anywhere you find podcasts or treasure maps, My Brother, My Brother and Me—the hunt is on! [Music stops.]

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[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

Music: Mid-tempo electronic music with heavy beat plays in background. Speaker 1: MaxFun Drive 2021 is coming! It’ll be May 3rd to May 14th. To get in the spirit, we asked folks like you to let us know what Maximum Fun and our shows mean to them. [Answering machine beeps.] Caller 1: Y’know, the Maximum Fun network is really important to me because it is not just a collection of podcasts. But it is a lifestyle and a value system. [Answering machine beeps.] Caller 2: The podcasts frequently and deftly float between meaningful and irreverent, in one moment drawing attention to social issues and in another making dick jokes about Klingons. It shouldn’t work, but it does! And I have to believe it’s because MaxFun’s podcasts are, at their core, thoughtful and kind and human during a time that has often felt cold and isolated. [Answering machine beeps.] Caller 3: So keep being great and doing what you do! Speaker 1: MaxFun Drive will be May 3rd to May 14th, 2021. And you won’t wanna miss it. Brilliant eps, Drive-exclusive gifts, and maybe some surprises! Wanna directly support the hosts of the show we just jumped into? Come back May 3rd for MaxFun Drive. [Music fades out.]

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Judge Hodgman, we're taking a break from clearing the docket. Have you got anything interesting going on outside the world of this podcast?

john

I've got something interesting going on outside the world of this country!

jesse

Mm?

john

Virtually speaking.

jesse

Yes?

john

You know we have a lot of listeners in Canada. And Jesse and I cannot wait to get back to Toronto, Vancouver... [Laughs.] Those are two different places. Not Toronto, Vancouver; I'm not stupid. [Chuckles.] Toronto, comma, Vancouver, comma, other points in Canada, comma, Halifax hit us up, comma, Charlottetown where you at, comma—

jesse

Medicine Hat. Let's do it.

john

Regina, Saskatchewan. But we can't go right now, for obvious reasons. We can't wait to get back. But! I have learned recently—and I'm going to say that it's true—that the animated show that I made with our friend David Rees—which is called Dicktown—available here in the United States on Hulu. Not available in Canada. Until now! Yes. Dicktown is now available in Canada for your viewing... pleasure? Pain? That's up to you.

jesse

Pleasure. It's a wonderful show.

john

You can look at it. Or just listen to it! If you—if—if you care not to look, or can't. It is on, of all things, Disney+. Canadian Disney+. Uh, because of course Hulu and FX, our networks down here, are a part of the Disney... family. Thank you for absorbing us, my beloved entertainment Borg. Thank you for giving me work as Rockerduck. Please—please give me jobs. But listen. Disney+ in Canada. You have—I believe that you have to adjust your age settings, or age-appropriateness settings within the app, for mature. Because there are some swear words in the show Dicktown. Which you would know if you had ever checked it out at Bit.ly/dicktown here in the United States. Will there be more episodes of Dicktown? I cannot tell you yet! But I can tell you this. Uh, the other day, we were making some recommendations of some great children's programming, animated children's programming in particular. And some people pointed out that I forgot to mention Kipo! Age of the Wonderbeasts. Which is an incredible cartoon. And I love it. The only problem with it is... I am in it. That's why I didn't think of it. I am in it in a rap duo with The GZA. Uh, we play, uh, wolves that dress like Carl Sagan. Rapping about the universe. I was not in the same room as The GZA. And he did a better job than I did. The point is— [Jesse laugh quietly, John stifles laughter.]

john

—even though I'm in it, you should still watch it. It's a wonderful show. And also, just a shout-out to the creators of the new DuckTales. That was such a special experience. You may know that they're not coming back for another season. And the season finale was such... a heartbreaking, wonderful piece of incredible work. What a fun, fun, fun show, with an incredible cast. Thank you, everyone, for—on the team, for thinking of me for that, and that's a lot of fun to check out, too. Finally, I have a plug for... the Put This On Shop, Jesse Thorn! Where Dark Crystal cards are back in stock!

jesse

Yeah. [Laughs.]

john

So I hear.

jesse

We—we sold out pretty fast. [Both chuckle.] Dark Crystal cards and also, uh, ProSet Super—Music Super Star MusiCards. [John sighs.] So if you're looking for Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul, uh, [stifling laughter] those are also available in the Put This On Shop. I don't know how I became a non-sports trading card dealer.

john

[Inaudible.]

jesse

I also have a lot of antiques and jewelry and stuff at the Put This On Shop. [Stifles laughter.] But, uh, apparently the main thing we sell is non-sports's Rad Dudes cards. [Laughs.]

john

Yes! Rad Dudes always sell! And let me tell you this. I only got—I think it was five packs of Dark Crystal cards? 'Cause I wanted to, you know, leave some behind for other people to enjoy. But the moment that I posted, when I got them in the mail—by the way. Jesse Thorn. I got them in the mail very promptly, with a lovely note.

jesse

Shout-out to Spencer, the Put This On Shop man.

john

Yeah! Thank you, Spencer! I got 'em in the mail, and I merely mentioned that I'd gotten them, and within—within minutes, I was told, "Sold out." But now you have resupplied, restocked. Get 'em while they're hot. While you're at that Put This On Shop, go check out all the other doodads, and antiques, and... fobs. Got a lot of fobs! More fobs than most shops.

jesse

Yeah. Yeah.

john

And if you're worried about it, don't worry about it. Dark Crystal cards do not have any gum in them, so you will not be tempted to try.

jesse

We're also adding to the shop, John—

john

Yeah.

jesse

—uh, Wacko-Saurs cards.

john

[Chuckling] Uh-huh?

jesse

Those are wacky dinosaurs.

john

They—yeah.

jesse

Uh, speaking of wacky dinosaurs, we're adding Dinosaurs cards. From the television show Dinosaurs.

john

Oh, boy. That's—mm.

jesse

And I know what—I know what you're wondering. Are those the mama? No, they're not.

john

No. No, no, no.

jesse

They're trading cards.

john

They're trading cards.

jesse

Uh, and Bill & Ted cards. Those are all on the way in the Put This On Shop at PutThisOnShop.com.

john

Vintage Bill & Ted cards?

jesse

Yeah, vintage Bill & Ted cards! Not from the most recent Bill & Ted movie, which came out just last year.

john

[Sighs.] Put This On Shop is such a delight. What other delightful things you have going on, Jesse Thorn? Do you have any other podcasts that you appear on regularly?

jesse

I am the host of NPR's Bullseye with Jesse Thorn and Jordan, Jesse, Go!, so I hope folks will check those out. Jordan, Jesse, Go! has been a lot of fun lately. It is a, uh—it's just a comedy chat show. We've been doing it for a long time, and we've won awards, and people like it, but, uh, it—there's really no other reason to listen to it than that. So go check out Jordan, Jesse, Go! It's very—very good-tempered, and not appropriate for children.

john

Yeah. Some swear words. Be advised.

jesse

Lot of swear words.

john

Yeah.

jesse

And vulgarities of—of various kinds.

john

Set your, uh—your age-appropriateness settings to mature.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Shall we get back to the docket?

jesse

Let's get back to the docket!

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. I'm Bailiff Jesse Thorn with Judge John Hodgman. We have a case here from Josh from Pittsburgh. Speaking of stealers (Steelers), John!

john

[Stifling laughter] Yeah?

jesse

Pittsburgh Steelers.

john

Ohhh!

jesse

"My wife gets angry when I call a large kitty a jungle cat." [John laughs quietly.] "She doesn't think that's a real term. She also won't accept it if you rule this is a rule phrase, so I'll be dipped if I know why I'm bothering here." [John laughs, Jesse stifles laughter.] Oh, I'll be dipped!

john

I had never heard that phrase before! I thought it was a Pittsburgh thing. But I guess it's a—I guess it's an American Southern thing, is what I discovered. "I'll be dipped."

jesse

Yeah, I guess it's just a great thing.

john

It's—it's short for, "I'll be dipped in poop if I know why I'm bothering here." That's—that's what I discovered from the Internet.

jesse

Wow. I'm gonna say, "I'll be dipped." I'm gonna say, "I'll be dipped" not just about things that would lead me to be dipped, but just in general! I'm—I'm using it in all circumstances from here on out.

john

You know what I did learn, though, about Pittsburgh? A lot—a number of kind listeners wrote in to talk about the Pittsburgh accent, and dialect, and different words they have for things. Thank you, Pittsburghians. I love that town. But one thing I learned is—you know what they call baloney in Pittsburgh?

jesse

What's that?

john

Jumbo. [Jesse laughs.] I don't know—

jesse

[Laughing] Cool! That's great!

john

I don't know why. [Stifles laughter.] You go to the deli, it's like... "I'll have a half a pound of jumbo, sliced thin." Don't know what's going on.

jesse

Fantastic.

john

Um—yeah. Jo—[laughs]—Josh. A—a large kitty is not a jungle cat.

jesse

Yeah.

john

'Cause—you know why? Largest cat available is your Maine Coon cat. Can—male Maine Coon cat can be 30 pounds. [Both stifle laughter.] That's the largest domestic cat you can get. I could be wrong, but I'm gonna say that I'm not. And even the second largest, which is the Norwegian Forest cat— [Jesse laughs.] —which is a heck of a name. Clearly neither Maine nor the Norwegian Forest are jungles. They're forests. A jungle cat means a large cat! A leopard. A panther. A jaguar. A tiger. A... an ocelot? Sure. Uh, missing any good jungle cats? A cheetah is a—is not a jungle cat.

jesse

No, that—that's on the plains of the Serengeti.

john

It's a plains of the Serengeti cat. So I don't blame, Josh, your wife for getting angry when you call a large kitty a jungle cat. That's a—literally a pet name. But not a taxonomically legitimate thing to say.

jesse

Yeah.

john

So I'll be dipped if you know why you were bothering here with this one.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Pittsburgh has its own taxonomy, and in Pittsburgh a large pet cat is known as a jumbo.

john

A jumbo. Of course.

jesse

Judge Hodgman, uh, we had some conversation recently on the program about cockroaches as pets, [stifles laughter] that led to some people sending me pictures of their pet cockroaches—

john

Whoooa.

jesse

—which really upset me, I'm gonna be frank with you.

john

Heyyy, everybody. [Both laugh.]

jesse

Really—[laughs]—really uncomfortable.

john

As we learned a couple of episodes agooo... A young listener named Zola, uh, 11 and a half, I presumed—uh, I believe that her pronouns are she/her, and I believe that, um, she was probably named after Arnim Zola, the Marvel Comics villain played by Toby Jones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hey, Jesse, you ever interview Toby Jones on Bullseye? The actor Toby Jones?

jesse

No. I would love to interview Toby Jones sometime. He's a wonderful actor.

john

Tell you what. If we move into a place where it's okay to travel around and fly, for any old dumb reason?

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

And if—would—if you book Toby Jones in person. Let me know so—in advance, so I can fly out there and just watch his face move. I just love—I wanna meet him, but mostly I just love watching his face move! Such a good actor!

jesse

[Sighs.] I mean, John, you don't need to sell me Toby Jones. As a Detectorists enthusiast and a fan of the films of Mike Leigh, uh, Toby Jones is an easy sell for me. Love that guy.

john

Alright! Well, Zola... is named after one of Toby Jones's most famous characters, the villain Arnim Zola, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And she also had petitioned to get a pet Madagascar hissing cockroach. Not just any cockroach! A huge cockroach. And not—and I believe she just wanted one. And her parents didn't want this. But I found in her favor, because I checked in with our friend in Pittsburgh, Dani Kramer. And they have a big tank of Madagascar hissing cockroaches in their place there in Pittsburgh that I have seen many a time on "Get Your Pets," my occasional Instagram show. And Dani said a single Madagascar hissing cockroach is a good idea. More than one, and you will soon have one thousand. Well, I got a letter from a veterinarian in Oakland, California. Jesse Thorn, I think you're familiar with that area.

jesse

Shouts to the town. Nickel dime.

john

And this vet is named Dr. Sip. And Dr. Sip wrote this letter: "Some years ago, a client came to see me with her Chinese water dragon." First of all, great way to open a story. I love that.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Good opening line, Dr. Sip. Feel like I'm—I feel like I'm reading a Borges short story right now.

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

"Some years ago, a client came to see me with her Chinese water dragon. And she shared a tale of purchasing her first and last pet MHC." Madagascar hissing cockroach.

jesse

Mm-hm.

john

That's veterinarian slang.

jesse

Sure.

john

"All was going well. She had a lovely new pet. They bonded. They stared at each other. And then one day—" [Both laugh.] There's not much else to do, I think, with an MHC.

jesse

Yeah. I can't imagine the cockroach sees all that well, either.

john

I don't—I don't know about their visual acuity! "Then one day, she discovered that her purchase had come... with 50 or 60 hangers-on. Turned out the MHC was gravid on the day of acquisition." That is to say, loaded up with babies. Pregnant!

jesse

Wow.

john

"The little ones could fit through the wire mesh over the tank. And the—"

jesse

Oh no!

john

Yeah! [Chuckles.] "And the owner spent the next six months seeking out tiny mini-hissers all over the apartment. So—"

jesse

Oh my gracious.

john

"—get an MHC, but check under the hood." So, Jesse... [Jesse laughs quietly.] This naturally led me to wonder, what are you looking for when you check under the hood of a Madagascar hissing cockroach to find out if they're—

jesse

[Laughing] Sure.

john

—gravid or not?

jesse

[Laughing] Yeah.

john

So I wrote to Dani in Pittsburgh. And they got right back to me and said, um... And I'm gonna go ahead and throw a content warning on this. Because—[laughs]—people should know! Like, this is a pretty specialized pet. You know what I mean?

jesse

Yeah.

john

It's a cockroach. And if you have them, you love them. But you don't necessarily need to send them—you don't need to send pictures of them to Jesse. They're not for everyone.

jesse

Yeah. Pick a more conventional pet, like a tarantula. [John snorts, Jesse stifles laughter.]

john

So this is—this is gonna be a little cockroach-y. This is the cockroach realm of gross. But Dani said: "The way you know that a cockroach is pregnant is that they look kind of inflated, and like their sides are going to split." Okay. Thank you, Dani. [Both laugh quietly.] Thank you, Dani, for going out to Pittsburgh, and organizing people to clean up Pittsburgh. Dani has a great Twitter account, @DaniKramer14. D-A-N-I-K-R-A-M-E-R 14. I mentioned it before. It's "Trash treasures for community." They sell stuff that they find dumped around Pittsburgh, clean it up, sell it, donate the money to all kinds of really good social causes in Pittsburgh. Most recent posting is an eagle license plate frame. Dani has posted it at $12, "unless you are also the owner of the car that I see around town with the vanity plate that says PMS666. If that's your car—" [Both laugh.] "If that's your car, the price is zero dollars." [More laughter.]

john

Good one. Anyway! Uh, yeah. So that's how you find out if your Madagascar hissing cockroach is pregnant. And apparently if you've—if it's true, you gotta—you put—I guess—what I looked—what I discovered from RoachForum.com, real website, they recommend just putting vaseline on the—the screen, to keep the babies from getting out? I don't—I think... Check with your Madagascar hissing cockroach source and make sure that this isn't a problem before you go home.

jesse

Mm-hm. [Laughs quietly.] Wow...

john

And don't send Jesse any more pictures of cockroaches. Send that to me. I can take that heat. [Both laugh.] I'm the hero Gotham deserves, not what it needs.

jesse

I wanna see scruffy dogs.

john

Yeah, more—send Jesse more scruffy dogs. Oh, Jesse, one last thing before we go. Remember how—you also told a story about you were sleeping in a basement full of slugs at one point in your childhood?

jesse

For a significant time in my childhood, yes. [Laughs.]

john

Yeah.

jesse

[Laughing] From between the ages of 9 and 18.

john

I—a listener sent in a letter about sleeping in a basement as a child. With... similar, but not the same, creepy-crawly-ness. Would you like to hear this letter?

jesse

No.

john

Good. Because I'm not gonna read it. It's not gonna happen. Will it happen after the credits, in a secret post-credits scene? Who's to say?

jesse

The docket is clear. That's it for another episode of Judge John Hodgman. Our producer is 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 at MaximumFun.Reddit.com to chat about this episode. Submit your cases at MaximumFun.org/jjho, or email hodgman@maximumfun.org. We will talk to you next time on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

sound effect

[Eerie, whistling wind that continues throughout the post-credits sequence.]

john

[John speaks with a dramatic voice until further notice.] This is... a surprise post-credits sequence! [Cackles.]

sound effect

[Booming thunder.]

john

Once again it is, I, John Hodgman, sitting at the bottom of a... haunted ghost pool! In Bridgton, Maine, near Shawnee Peak, to bring you another tale of creepy-crawly terror. If you're wondering, the voice that I'm using is my... personal adaptation of the wonderful and truly inimitable speaking voice of Edgar Oliver, the legend of downtown New York performance, poetry, and playwright, and public speaking, and theatre. He's known for his distinctive accent and diction. True inspiration to meee. Today's creepy-crawly scary letter comes from... Pamela. "My parents divorced when I was very young, and my father remarried relatively quickly to my horrid stepmother. When my sister and I visited, we were relegated to being basement dwellers. When they lived in—"

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[Thunder!]

john

"—Eerie, Pennsylvania!" [Cackles.] "The basement was particularly dark and dank. An older home. When we stayed there, we would complain to the parents that it smelled bad, and we were scared to sleep there at night because of the rustling noises—"

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[Echoey chattering.]

john

"—we could hear in the dark. The parents told us we were being ridiculous. One day, after a bad rainstorm, there was standing water in our room!" I'm doing—now I'm moving into a little Brian Blessed. I apologize. "Standing water in our room!"

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[Dripping and rippling water.]

john

"And my father decided he'd better check in the walls, behind the paneling, on what water damage might be hiding back there."

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[Creaking.]

john

"And he pulled back on one of the panels near the head of my bed, in the corner."

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[High-pitched screeching sound.]

john

"Dozens of centipedes came spilling out of the opening, and onto the floor."

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[Eerie skittering sounds.]

john

"Clicking and skittering in the light, and running in all directions. Naturally, everyone screamed. When he called the exterminator, they found thousands of centipedes behind the rest of the panels. All living in the dark, clicking and crawling and making noises—"

sound effect

[Creaking sound.]

john

"—to scare little girls in the dark. Signed, Pamela." This has been Judge John Hodgman... Creepy-Crawly Theatre from the Bottom of a Ghost Pool in Maine for April 2021. Parents... Should you be the parent of a blended family, please don't make anyone sleep in the basement. [Stifles laughter. Dramatic voice slips briefly, and then comes back.] Those children are going through enough! Get them real rooms! Goodbye. _[_Eerie wind fades out.]

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.

How to listen

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