TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 675: Friends of Negin

Is it ever ok to take a photo of your friend’s butt? Negin Farsad joins the judge’s chambers to answer this dispute and help clear the docket!

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 675

Guests: Negin Farsad



Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

Jesse Thorn: Welcome to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. I’m Bailiff Jesse Thorn. We are in chambers this week clearing the docket.

John Hodgman: I’m Judge John Hodgman, and I’m also here. But guess what? There’s something very exciting. There’s a third person here, what we call a guest, to help clear this docket. Jesse, you want to introduce this wonderful guest?

Jesse Thorn: She is a writer, a director, an actor, a comic. She’s also the host of the long running podcast Fake the Nation and a fan favorite panelist on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me over there on National Public Radio. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I should know. I am a fan. My favorite, Negin Farsad. Welcome, Negin.

John Hodgman: Welcome, Negin Farsad!

Negin Farsad: Heeey! Oh my god. Hello, guys!

John Hodgman: So wonderful to have you here. I mean, you just ran the table. I’ve just been getting a report. You just ran the table over there and Jordan, Jesse, Go!.

Jesse Thorn: Yeah, it’s true. She was just on Jordan, Jesse, Go!. We had a long conversation after she got off the line about what an epic guest she was. That’s a true story.

Negin Farsad: You know what? Going into that show, I said to myself and the universe, “I’m gonna be the best guest I’ve ever had.” And like that’s—I committed myself to that, and I landed.

John Hodgman: You visualized.

Negin Farsad: Yeah, yeah, it was on my vision board. And I landed it. You know what I mean? I really did it.

John Hodgman: And on the very bottom of your vision board, the bottom right hand, with a very old push pin pushed into it is like a ratty cocktail napkin that says, “also do Judge John Hodgman. Don’t forget. Try to cancel, but if you can’t get out of it—”

(They laugh.)

Negin Farsad: Yeah, and it didn’t—that little note like didn’t originally have a stain on it, but then I went, and I got like some dirt, and I smeared it on there just to make sure I knew that it was like a side thought.

John Hodgman: Negin, you and I first met when you very kindly hired me to act in a movie that you had directed or co-directed. I can’t remember.

Negin Farsad: Yeah, co-directed. Yeah.

John Hodgman: Third Street Blackout. And that was so much fun. And we’ve hung out together ever since. We’ve been to secret retreats. We’ve performed together. I’ve been on Fake the Nation a number of times. What a delight. But this is your first time visiting us here on Judge John Hodgman. Is that not correct?

Negin Farsad: Yes, this is my first time! And the interesting thing is like this podcast is like one of the favorites of probably most of my friends. Most of my friends I know listen to this podcast. And in fact! Not my podcast! So, those are the kinds of friends I have, okay?

John Hodgman: I’d like to extend a very special hello to the friends of Negin.

(Negin laughs.)

Hi, FONs. Welcome to the show. Your friend is here, and you should listen to Fake the Nation because it’s terrific. And you can get Fake the Nation—you talk about current events. You make some fun about the things today that aren’t so funny. You do a wonderful job, and it’s a podcast available—what?—every week is my guess.

Negin Farsad: Yes, every week. Every week.

John Hodgman: And you’re also over there on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, and you have guest hosted for Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Have you not?

Negin Farsad: Yeah, several times.

John Hodgman: Yeah, well, I’m a friend of Peter’s, so I’m not going to say anything other than you did a wonderful job.

Negin Farsad: (Laughs.) Thank you, no one could ever replace him.

John Hodgman: Why did you even say that? How did that even come up?

(Negin laughs.)

Jesse Thorn: Yeah, no one has ever said that.

John Hodgman: What?

Jesse Thorn: No one is putting a little bit of arsenic in his tea every morning.

John Hodgman: No, Peter, we love you. We love Negin. We love Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. And we love all of our member listeners over at and all of the friends of Negin and the new friends of Negin are going to meet Negin this very first time as we clear this docket. We just got some fun disputes to settle. Negin, are you down? Are you down to help?

Negin Farsad: Yes! Absolutely. I’ve been living for this moment.

Jesse Thorn: Thank goodness. ‘Cause we couldn’t get Tom Bodett.

(They laugh.)

Here’s a case from Jasmine in Neihart, Montana. “When I hike with my friends, Amy and Gordon, I take a lot of wildflower pictures. Meanwhile, Amy and Gordon take pictures of me—usually when I’m bending over to get the right perspective. Then, they share photos of my butt on social media. Please order them to stop.”

John Hodgman: Negin, before we get into this very clear-cut judgement—you got any hobbies like taking pictures of wildflowers?

Negin Farsad: You know what I just discovered recently that I thought was really exciting? Which is if you take a photo of a flower or tree or something on your iPhone, you can scroll down to the metadata of that photo, and it’ll tell you the name of that species.

John Hodgman: That is… delightful and terrifying.

Negin Farsad: It is—yeah. I mean, before I had some kind of like app that I would do that on. And by the way, I’m like disclosing a lot to listeners right now, ‘cause I guess I’m the kind of person that likes to know the name of a flower.


John Hodgman: I would love to know!

Jesse Thorn: Then if you scroll down a little bit further, it actually fills out the writing room on a new Netflix show.

(They laugh.)

Negin Farsad: Correct.

John Hodgman: I’m here in my office studio in Brooklyn looking out the window. And there are all kinds of trees and plants and even some flowers out there that I can see, and I don’t know what they are. I would love to know. I think that’s terrific.

Negin Farsad: Yeah, well, it’s interesting, Because like I volunteer a lot in Tompkins Square Park. I live in the East Village of New York City, and that’s our main park over here. And remember this guy coming to me once while I was volunteering and digging dirt, you know what I mean? Doing—planting seeds.

John Hodgman: Getting gossip. Okay.

Negin Farsad: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And this guy comes up to me, and he says, “Oh, I love what you guys are doing. You know, Americans—” And he’s this Venezuelan; he was like a Venezuelan immigrant. And he was like, “You know, Americans don’t know the names of trees.” And then he proceeded to tell me every name of trees.

And I was like, “You know what? I didn’t know the name of a single tree in this park.” And then—and I started to be like, you know, it is weird! Why don’t I know the name of any tree?

Jesse Thorn: I know the name of trees! Christmas.

Negin Farsad: You can say like oak, elm, like whatever? Like, you can look at them and say?

Jesse Thorn: No, all I have is Christmas.

(They laugh.)

John Hodgman: Christmas tree, fake Christmas tree.

John Hodgman: I can say oak and elm all day long, but I don’t know what I’m looking at. And you know, I spend part of the year in the pine tree state, where people know their trees, because they use them to burn them up for fuel in the winter. I should know things, it’s true.

Jesse Thorn: When I’m in the parking lot of the YMCA on December 3rd, and I’m—like, I can’t identify the trees when they have a sign next to them that says “snowy spruce” or whatever. I’m like—there’s only five kinds of Christmas tree, and I truly don’t know the difference between them. If they’re tied up in twine, I’m out of luck.

John Hodgman: And the thing with snowy spruces, you can’t really be sure that that’s—you know—the technical name of the tree or just a nickname for that particular tree.

Jesse Thorn: Yeah. (Chuckling.) That George W. Bush gave it.

Negin Farsad: I feel like you’re breaking news here, because I don’t think I knew that there were five types of Christmas trees! I thought it was just like the one that was that shape, and then that’s it.

John Hodgman: Alright, so if you are hiking in Montana, Negin, with a couple of your friends—remember the friends of Negin who are listening to this? Picture two of them. And you’re taking pictures of wildflowers for whatever reason. And wildflowers—I mean, first of all, they’re wild. Second of all, they’re close to the ground. You are going to have to bend over to get the proper (fumbles the word “perspective” several times). You know what I’m saying. Perspective. You learn that your friends—let’s call them Amy and Gordon—are taking pictures of your butt and putting them on social media. Ha-ha-ha. How does that make you feel? Great?

Negin Farsad: The funny thing is, Jesse read the thing. I immediately pictured—and maybe this is just a fault of my own—a naked butt. Now that I’m recalibrating my imagery, it is a clothed butt. Okay, so—

John Hodgman: I mean, it could be a plumber’s butt or wildflower photographer’s butt—that is to say, partial exposed due to the position of the body. But clothed or non, what’s your opinion on this one?

Negin Farsad: Yeah, I mean, I think—okay, first of all, I think it’s kind of funny. So, like in terms of like in-friend group inside joke, I think that’s kind of fun. Is this friend known for having like a good butt? Like, maybe it’s a compliment. You know, a friend group compliment.

I know among me and my friends who are probably listening to this podcast, there are different body parts that we celebrate of each other’s. You know?

John Hodgman: Go on!

(They laugh.)

Please don’t stop talking. Specificity is the soul of narrative. You got someone in your friend group who’s got some hot elbows?

Negin Farsad: (Laughing.) No, but it’s like one of my friends just notoriously has like really great legs. You know what I mean?

John Hodgman: Oh, really?

Negin Farsad: So, if we’re taking a photo, we’ll just be like, “Let’s do a full length, show off them legs.” You know what I mean? On the on one of the friends. I won’t name her.

John Hodgman: Now, look. You know, we now post whole episodes on YouTube. So, your friend—who is probably listening right now—hop over to the YouTube and see how your legs compare to my epic calves.

Negin Farsad: Ohhh, wooow. Yeah. Yeah.

Jesse Thorn: We’ve also got kind of a judge’s robe upskirt situation going.

John Hodgman: It’s true. You want to see my wildflower butt? Here we go.

Negin Farsad: Now, again, if you’re like in a judge’s robe and you’re doing like a butt photo, it’s kind of just like—


John Hodgman: You’re saying that if Jasmine, Amy, and Gordon are in a friend group that celebrates Jasmine’s butt, then that’s fine and good. But the fact of the matter is Jasmine wants this to stop. She is not comfortable with her wildflower butt photos all over social media. So, I mean, how could we rule against her? Can you even imagine an argument?

Negin Farsad: No, I can’t. I just wanted to give the friends like a little bit of grace in terms of like they could have like fun intentions. That said, all butt photo posting should be, you know, enthusiastically consensual.

John Hodgman: Yeah. If it’s not fun for everyone, it’s no fun at all. That’s a very big piece of settled law here in the fake court of Judge John Hodgman. But also, generally speaking, don’t post pictures of people who have not—butts or otherwise—who are not cool with it. I mean—

Negin Farsad: I mean, people ask me if they could post a photo of my face! Like, they get permission of that. So. I think at the very least, you need like double permission for butts and then, you know, various levels of permission for each body part that we can assign.

John Hodgman: I think that’s fair. It’s like you ask permission once. “Can I and post a photo of your clothed butt?” And then they say yes. Then you’re like, “Great.” But then you have to sleep on it and ask the next day.

Negin Farsad: Right. Like, those states that require 24 hours for you to like buy a gun or something, which I wish they—

John Hodgman: Yeah. It needs a waiting period.

Negin Farsad: Yeah, a waiting period.

John Hodgman: States or state even.

Negin Farsad: (Laughs.) I was just very generous to the (inaudible) just now.

John Hodgman: I know. Look, we have to imagine the world we want. In any case, yeah. I mean, I would say that like let Jasmine enjoy her wildflower hobby in peace. And while it is, I think, totally real-real legal to take photos of people and publish them. Like, if you’re in a public place, I guess there’s no expectation of privacy, which is fine. But there is expectation of decency among friends. And if you need a podcast judge to tell your friends to stop posting photos of your own butt, maybe these aren’t your friends. Maybe you lose them. Next time you’re on a hike, make a run for it. Lose them.

What’s our next case, Jesse?

Jesse Thorn: Here’s something from Liz in Arlington, Massachusetts. “My boyfriend, Chris, thinks it’s totally fine for our dog, Benny, to eat the cat’s vomit. He says the dog loves it, so he gets a little treat. Plus, Benny is sparing us from having to confront the gross mess. I think it’s disgusting. I’m asking Judge John Hodgman to order that Chris not allow Benny to eat cat puke.”

John Hodgman: (Whistles.) Negin, you got any animal companions in your home?

Negin Farsad: I have a dog. That one hit me close to home.

John Hodgman: Oh! You don’t have a cat as well, do you?

Negin Farsad: I do not have a cat as well, but I grew up with cats. So, I have like feelings for both of these types of animals. I want to say I wouldn’t want my dog eating cat puke for like health reasons and for personal gross out reasons. So, that’s like a two-pronged reason that I would like personally not allow it. I’m no doctor the way you are a judge, but—(laughs) although I will say that I’m the daughter of a surgeon, so I feel like that gives me .03% knowledge.

Also, fun fact. In Iran, when doctors needed to figure stuff out, they would just go find sick dogs, and they would just like work it out. Iran in the ’60s, right guys? Am I right? If you were in medical school? Everybody? (Laughs.)

John Hodgman: Friends of Negin are saying, “I guess.”

What? So, was your dad a surgeon in Iran?

(Negin confirms.)

And he heard stories about dogs being used for medical experiments, right? He heard stories.

Jesse Thorn: So, you’re saying, Negin, that he heard stories about dogs.

John Hodgman: He heard stories.

Jesse Thorn: He had heard that that happened.

Negin Farsad: No, no, he saved some dogs’ lives is what I’m saying. He didn’t—there was like no—he was a really good guy in this situation. This is not a Kristi Noem situation just so we’re clear.

John Hodgman: Okay. He was saving the lives of dogs.

Negin Farsad: (Laughing.) Yeah, yeah, yeah! He was saving their lives. Anyway, so that makes me adjacent to a guy who saved some dogs in the ’70s.

John Hodgman: You know, I hear—and I think this is true—as the daughter of a surgeon, you are entitled to perform one freestyle appendectomy in your life.


(Negin laughs and agrees.)

Nepo baby rules. What are we talking about? Oh, right.

Negin Farsad: Vomit.

John Hodgman: We think that probably—I agree that there is a safety issue here, right? ‘Cause I’ve never had a dog in my life. And no offense, I never want one. So, I don’t know a lot about dogs, but I do know—or I’ve always heard—there’s certain things like dogs can’t eat because it’s horrible poison to them. Like chocolate? Is that one, Jesse?

Negin Farsad: Yeah, chocolate. Grapes.

Jesse Thorn: Raisins, yeah.

John Hodgman: So, I don’t know. Maybe the cat ate some chocolate or whatever, or ate some—probably what’s in that vomit is hairball. You know, that’s kind of the number one reason that cats puke. But that can’t be good for your dog either, you know? So.

Negin Farsad: But also, what’s wrong with the cat that they puke so frequently? So, there’s like two medical issues.

John Hodgman: I know the answer to that. It’s a cat. That’s the reason.

Negin Farsad: Cats puke frequently? I didn’t—my cat didn’t. (Skeptically.) Alright.

John Hodgman: All the time. I’m sorry. I’m sorry you had a healthy cat. Cats are vomiting for all kinds of reasons. Some of them have to do with hairballs, some of them have to do with genuine sickness. Sometimes they’re just not happy with you. And they’re gonna make you do a chore that you don’t want to do. Our cat, Lolo the dumb-dumb cat, vomited three times yesterday in three strategic areas. I almost stepped in it three times. And that was because a door was closed that she didn’t like. So, once we answered that, once we opened that door, no more puking. It’s not that dumb actually.

Negin Farsad: Wow! It’s a really particular form of personal expression that I—if that was one of my choices, like would I meow or vomit? I would pick meow 10 out of 10 times. So, I just think it’s interesting—

John Hodgman: It can’t be pleasant to vomit as much as this cat does, I know. Sometimes they go (singing the Meow Mix theme song).

Jesse Thorn: Now that’s a message I would understand! That message I would understand.

John Hodgman: (Singing.) I like tuna, I like liver, Meow Mix, Meow Mix, please deliver.

Those are the words to the song. Where did I get that from? Wow.

Jesse Thorn: Talking cat, presumably.

John Hodgman: Yeah. I was over on Meow Mix Genius. That’s where I learned the song.

(They laugh.)

Anyway! Getting back. One thing I noticed about Liz’s letter from Arlington, Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the name of the dog is Benny. They have a cat. What’s the name of the cat? Not mentioned. Clearly there is a favorite.

Negin Farsad: Second class citizen, yeah.

John Hodgman: Second class citizen in this family. I think that’s, frankly, offensive, Liz. And I judge you for that, for sure. But so far as Benny eating the cat’s vomit, I would say no. I would say don’t do it. Because at the very least, Benny’s also then gonna try to lick you with his cat vomit tongue and lips. And I think that’s gross.

Jesse Thorn: Here’s my question. And this is a question that I ask as a dog owner. Allow? Like, is he standing there and being like, “Go to town”? You can’t—dogs don’t speak English, or Farsi for that matter. You can’t just tell a dog, “Don’t eat vomits!” If the dog is into eating vomit, and he finds vomits, guess what he’s gonna do?

John Hodgman: He’s gonna eat that vomit.

Jesse Thorn: Yeah, the only—are you going to go around with bitter apple spray and spray all the vomits in the house?

John Hodgman: Well, why aren’t you picking up the vomit more quickly is my question.

(They agree.)

I mean, look. If Benny gets to the vomit before you know that the vomit is there, there’s nothing you can do. Benny’s gonna—mm, mm, mm—eat that right up. (To the tune of the Meow Mix song.) “I love vomit. I love bile. Cat puke, cat puke, no denying.” Alright, I did my best.

Point is, Benny’s going to eat that vomit if you can’t get to it, but that doesn’t mean that you should let Benny get to it. If you’re there in a position to interfere, I think—you know, either Chris is just being lazy, or he hasn’t thought it through. Because you should just be cleaning up your cat’s vomit, and you should be trying to figure out what have I done offend my cat today? Those are the two things you should be doing, right? Or maybe my cat’s sick, and I got to take care of it. But yeah, Benny should not be eating the vomit, because I don’t want the vomit tongue on me.

Negin Farsad: We don’t know the long-term effects of vomit in a dog’s digest-inal system.

John Hodgman: Right, I mean, you suck face with your dog, I bet. ‘Cause all dog owners do. Would you suck face with your cat’s vomit? Think about that.

Jesse Thorn: Jen is shaking her head no that she doesn’t suck face with her dog. You’re missing out, Jen. It’s great.

(Negin laughs.)

Go to town, Junior. That’s what I say.

John Hodgman: Benny, don’t eat the cat’s vomit. Liz and Chris, like respect your cat. Name that cat. Say that cat’s name when you’re writing to me. Let me know what the cat’s name is. This cat is important to you too. It’s not just a source of snacks for your dog.


Jesse Thorn: We’re going to take a quick break to hear from our partners this week. We’ll be back with more cases to clear from the docket on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

Jesse Thorn: Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. We are clearing the docket with our pal Negin Farsad. Here is a case from Matthew in Kerhonkson, New York.

John Hodgman: I think this is a made-up place. Kerhonkson. Have you ever heard of this, Negin? You live in New York, right?

Negin Farsad: I have never heard of this! This is—I find it stunning.

John Hodgman: I’m going to look it up right now.

Jesse Thorn: “My wife constantly falls asleep with her eyeglasses on. It’s always a sleepy struggle when I try to get her to take them off. Please order her to take her glasses off before bed.”

John Hodgman: “Kerhonkson is a hamlet and census designated place in Ulster County. Population, 1,722.” That’s a pretty big town, as far as I’m concerned. “Straddling the border of the town of Rochester and the town of Wawarsing?!” Which, alright, stop it. Stop it, upstate!

(They laugh.)

Jesse Thorn: We know you’re mad that everyone moved to you from Brooklyn, but…

John Hodgman: Negin, you wear glasses. You’re wearing them right now. Do you fall asleep with your glasses on?

Negin Farsad: So, the funny thing is I—honestly, like I don’t fall asleep with my glasses on. I always like ceremonially take them off, put them to the side.

John Hodgman: Yeah, I’ve heard about this ceremony. It takes about two hours.

Negin Farsad: (Laughs.) Yeah, there’s an original score and everything. A band comes in.

Jesse Thorn: There’s a lot of incense urns.

Negin Farsad: Exactly. But the funny thing is, this one time I put my glasses to the side. And then me and my husband, we just kept chatting for a while without my glasses on. And then I was like, “Okay, I gotta go to sleep now.” And then I went to go take my glasses off. And there was nothing there. And I sort of mimed it as a habit. And my husband thought that was the funniest thing he had ever seen in his life and has since never let me forget about the moment when I thought there were glasses on my face that I took off.

John Hodgman: When you reached up and you didn’t feel them, did you feel a need to complete the motion?

Negin Farsad: I did. I did. Yes. Uh-huh.

John Hodgman: Why?

Negin Farsad: I then blue-steeled to put them on the bed stand. It’s just like I—you know, my brain was like, “Maybe there’s something in there, and your finger pads are just momentarily not feeling it.”

John Hodgman: Right. No, I always take my glasses off. And when I do, before going to bed, my ceremony is I hide them in a place that I will never find them for about two hours the next morning.

(Negin laughs.)

That’s my routine.

Negin Farsad: Oh, you don’t have just like one, singular place that they always go? I highly recommend that.

John Hodgman: Sometimes I put them in the safe with our children’s birth certificates. That’s not true. Usually I put them on the bedside or my bureau or whatever, but I never fall asleep with them on. Mostly because the most important thing when I get into bed is to shove my phone in my face for five hours, so that I can read details about Wawarsing, New York, or whatever it is on Wikipedia—poisoning my eyes with terrible light until about three o’clock in the morning, when I then fall asleep for 17 minutes and then have to get up. I don’t know what Matthew’s unnamed wife is doing in bed. She may need glasses to read or watch her show—

Negin Farsad: Right. That’s what it sounds like. Yeah.

John Hodgman: —or whatever it is she’s doing to unwind, and then falls asleep.

Negin Farsad: Which is my situation. I need glasses to do the thing. Like, you know, read something or whatever. So, I can understand why it would happen. But I’m such a side sleeper that the idea of falling asleep in my glasses and then the glasses sort of like hitting the side of my face as I sleep on my side—that sounds uncomfortable, which is why I understand this this gentleman’s concern. Because it probably seems uncomfortable.

John Hodgman: Matthew from Kerhonkson, New York. We call him Kerhonkson Matt. I mean, what’s really the problem here? She falls asleep with her glasses on. And then he feels an obligation to help her take them off. And in her sort of, you know, twilight sleeping state, she’s annoyed with him. Which I would be too. If I were sleeping peacefully and someone started clawing at my face, I might be a little annoyed as well. Is it Matthew’s business, I wonder? I’m not sure about this. Is it any of Matthew’s business to take her glasses off her face while she’s sleeping? Would you want your husband—whose name I know—Jason, to take off your glasses, were you to fall asleep with them on?

Negin Farsad: You know, so there’s something here that strikes me as quite endearing, a little bit like a Folgers coffee commercial.


So, like—you know, you wake up in the—a couple wakes up in the morning. The husband wakes up in the morning. She’s still wearing her glasses from last night, crazy Sally! She does that, because she falls asleep reading. And he like geeently takes them off, tiptoes into the kitchen, makes her a cup of Folgers, and then brings it in. And then she sort of like, uh, gently wakes up and is so happy that her husband did that. And the whole thing’s really sweet.

John Hodgman: (Singing.) The best part of waking up is wrestling glasses off your face!

(Negin sings along at the last minute.)

We’ve got all the jingles in this episode. This docket is full of jingles. So, there’s a sort of wake-cute element to this. If she’s waking up, and he takes the glasses off, and makes her the coffee and everything else, like that’s sort of adorable.

(Negin agrees.)

I would say, Matthew, you should talk to your spouse. Sally, we’ll call her. And verify whether she wants you to take her glasses off at night, should she fall asleep by accident with them on. Like, is that something she appreciates? Or would she rather you leave her alone? And if she agrees that she would not like to sleep with her glasses on, then yes, I would suggest, Sally, that you should build a new habit in to take your glasses off before bed. But my guess is that she’s probably reading a book or something and just falls asleep.

Alright, we got another one. Don’t we, Jesse?

Jesse Thorn: Here’s something from Allie in Chicago, Illinois. “When my husband and I first started dating, we went on two dressed up, classy dinner dates at the White Castle. Now that we live closer to a White Castle again, I would like my husband to make dinner reservations at White Castle for every Valentine’s Day moving forward. The dress up option could either be fancy or costume, depending on how we feel. I just want to add some silly fun and joy to our lives.”

John Hodgman: Uhh, no silly fun or joy is allowed. Sorry, Allie. You and your unnamed husband—here we go again!—are not allowed to ever have any fun at all. Right, Negin? Do you agree or disagree?

(Negin laughs.)

No, let me ask you this question, Negin. Are you aware of the fancy White Castle on Valentine’s day thing?

Negin Farsad: No! This whole phenomenon is really alien to me. What is it?

John Hodgman: Well, first of all, you’re aware of White Castle.

(Negin confirms.)

Tiny, little burgers.

Negin Farsad: Yes, I’ve had a White Castle probably once, potentially as many as thrice.

John Hodgman: For the past few years, White Castle offers, on Valentine’s day, a sit-down experience where they put white tablecloths on the table. I don’t know if we’re getting money from White Castle for this, but I’ll go ahead and talk about it anyway. White tablecloths on the table, and you make a reservation on a reservation app. And you get seated, and it’s table service. And they bring you some White Castle swag of some kind. And it’s sort of hilariously formal for a White Castle, let’s say. And I gather that this is what happened between Allie and her husband, who she didn’t name. Right? So, again, name your spouses, everybody. Say their names. But in any case, what are we going to name Allie’s husband for the sake of this argument?

Jesse Thorn: Beyonce.

Negin Farsad: Gerald.

John Hodgman: Beyonce Gerald is the first thing I heard.

(Negin cackles.)

So, Beyonce Gerald, you know, maybe doesn’t want to celebrate Valentine’s day. This way, you should ask Beyonce Gerald why he is resisting doing this again, since it does seem to bring some silly fun and joy—at least to you. In any case, find out why Beyonce Gerald doesn’t want to do it. But otherwise, why wouldn’t you do it? I don’t know. Would you ever go to Valentine’s Day at White Castle, Negin? You and your husband, Jason?

Negin Farsad: Is the food the same on the Valentine’s Day experience?

(John confirms.)

Oh, so the food is the same, it’s just hilariously formal.

Jesse Thorn: I think they offer a couple of Valentine’s Day special items, but I think it’s still a White Castle.

Negin Farsad: Okay, got you. You know, I sort of got to a place with Valentine’s Day where I was like, “If we’re gonna do something, it might as well be actually nice and not joke nice.” And so, I feel—I mean, I get the joke, ha-ha.

(John laughs.)

But I also am like—but I also—

John Hodgman: I think I can see where this is going.

Negin Farsad: (Laughs.) I just feel like let’s have a nice meal somewhere that doesn’t emulsify when battered.

Jesse Thorn: Negin, love for you to roll out that react on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Just when Gondelman says something or Paula Poundstone, you just say, (flatly) “I get the joke. Ha-ha.”


John Hodgman: Allie, I think that first of all you should learn your husband’s name. It’s Beyonce Gerald. And then I think you should say to Beyonce Gerald, “Why is this not fun to you? We’ve done it twice before.” And I would encourage you then to listen to what he has to say!

Negin Farsad: Oooh! Yeah, listening.

John Hodgman: Because, you know, as we say on this podcast over and over again: people like what they like. And maybe he doesn’t like going to White Castle for Valentine’s anymore. Certainly, I’m not going to order that you as a couple do this as you request, Allie, for every Valentine’s Day moving forward.

Negin Farsad: Yeah, that’s a lot. That’s a lot.

John Hodgman: I don’t even know if White Castle is going to continue this promotion or whatever.

Negin Farsad: Maybe it gives them the cat pukes, you know what I mean? We don’t know.

John Hodgman: There we go. In which case, Benny, stay away. Don’t eat Beyonce Gerald’s cat puke. And also, communicate with your spouses. Eh, there might be something else that he wants to do for Valentine’s Day. And there could be a compromise where, as a joke—and I presume a fairly inexpensive joke, or who knows these days—the White Castle Valentine’s Day Special would be a fun thing to do. But then the next night or whatever, you do something that he wants to do or something like that. Yeah, you gotta learn this guy’s name, Allie. Say his name.

Jesse Thorn: Let’s take a quick break. We’ll be back with more in just a moment.

Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

Jesse Thorn: Judge Hodgman, we are taking a break from clearing the docket. And hoo-boy, is there a lot of excitement going on with, RE:—as regards the Pasadena Goth Club.

John Hodgman: Vis a vis the Pasadena Goth Club t-shirt competition. You’re absolutely right, Jesse. As you may remember, we had an episode disputing which is the most goth holiday, Christmas or Halloween. And our lovely litigants were from Pasadena. And so, we decided to form a Pasadena Goth Club. And we launched two t-shirts for members of the Goth Club. Now, if you want to join the Pasadena Goth Club, all you got to do is go over to the MaxFun shop. And when you choose the t-shirt, there’s a pink one. And then there’s a black one. And you choose which style, which flavor of Pasadena goth you are. And I’m getting word, here in my headphones, that the pink Pasadena goth club shirts are dominating more traditional black goth shirts. Can you verify this, Jesse?

Jesse Thorn: I do have—I am in receipt of evidence that they are currently in the lead, but this thing is far from over. Well, it’s close to over. Go to, and choose the t-shirt you want. And you know what, John? Soon, I will be announcing the first meeting of the Pasadena Goth Club. It will require you to be a member of Maximum Fun, at a certain level or above. There will be a date. We will be meeting at the Pine Burger in Pasadena, and I will be buying the burgers.

John Hodgman: WOW! Oh, wow. Well, if you’re not already a member at, do go over there. And also, go over to the Max Fun store, and vote for your favorite t-shirt by buying it. Because starting in July, we are gonna discontinue the less popular t-shirt. So, if you’re a fan of the traditional goth black in your Pasadena Goth Club t-shirt, the situation is fluid. You can get over there and buy them and encourage your friends to buy them and maybe catch up with that pink one. But by July, only one will remain. So, what’s the website for the MaxFun store?

Jesse Thorn:

John Hodgman: And hey, I just want to say that in a couple of days, we’re going to be at Solid Sound. Me and your guest bailiff, Jean Grae, will be cohosting the comedy stage along with Eugene Mirman, Brittany Carney, Sydnee Washington, Dave Hill, Todd Barry. And of course, Wilco will be there too. If we don’t see you there, there’s some good news. Which is that Jesse Thorn and I will be taking this show on the road soon. Now, we’ll be making an announcement about it. We’re not ready to do so yet. But we’ll be making an announcement about it by this very weekend. And if you’re a member of Maximum Fun, or if you are a subscriber to my Substack at, you’re going to find out. You’re going to get a pre-sale code. This weekend! You’ll be among the first to know. So, if you’re not a member, this is a good reason to become one. And if you want to subscribe, I check in with you, oh, every week or so with some musings and recommendations on the world, in the free area, in the public area.


And then there’s a secret area where I reveal a secret message, which is where you will get this pre-sale code. So, if you’re a member, you’re all set. If you wanna go over to, check it out. Keep an eye out for that presale code. It’ll be coming to you this weekend. So—and obviously we’ll be announcing the tour dates, etc., etc.—so, that’s how you keep in the loop that way.

Anything else you want to talk about, Jesse, before we get back to the docket?

Jesse Thorn: Let’s get right back to the ducket.

John Hodgman: Let’s get back to that docket!

Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

Jesse Thorn: Welcome back to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. We’re joined by our pal Negin Farsad.

Here’s something from Laura in Richmond, Virginia. “My family loves to host themed karaoke nights. For example, one recent theme was travel and transportation. We were all enjoying singing songs about planes, trains, and automobiles. But then my son Liam, age 13, chose surfin’ bird. He says surfin’ is a kind of transportation. My husband agrees with him. Obviously, they’re both wrong. Please order my husband to admit he’s just trolling me. And please order Liam to take a surfing lesson, so he can experience firsthand how unfeasible surfing is as a means of transport.”

John Hodgman: Mm. Well, obviously I’m going to order Liam to take a surfing lesson. That’s easy. Why not?

Jesse Thorn: That would be great.

John Hodgman: Any kind of lesson is good. Go take a lesson in whatever. Learn! Try new experiences. It’ll be fun. You’ll learn something from it.

Jesse Thorn: Just remember this, avoid those locals only breaks. If I learned anything being the news director of KZSE in Santa Cruz, California, it’s that the locals will pummel you and hold your head underwater if you hit those locals only breaks.

John Hodgman: (Chuckling.) Oh, really?

Jesse Thorn: Yeah, surfers are wild!

John Hodgman: Wow. Have you ever tried surfing?

Negin Farsad: I’ve never tried surfing. I’ve tried bodyboarding, like when I was little. We used to go to the beach in San Diego, and they would have boogie—boogie!—boogie boarding. And they had—we had little boogie boards, and I would do a little thing.

John Hodgman: I believe the term is Boogie-Boogie Boogie boarding. Three boogies.

Negin Farsad: (Laughing.) Yeah, that’s right, that’s right. I have to say that that particular judgment feels a little harsh to me, because I find surfing a little terrifying. Like, you could just get thrown around.

John Hodgman: When I say that Liam should take a surfing lesson, and all lessons are good, that does not mean I’m ever going to take a surfing lesson. No, never! Not going to do it. Not going to do it.

Negin Farsad: Yeah, like I don’t like being pummeled by the waves.

John Hodgman: No.

Negin Farsad: That said, I did make out with a surfer once when I was in high school.

John Hodgman: Here we go. Whoa. Let’s go. Tell me the whole story. What was his name? Beyonce something?

Negin Farsad: It was actually—I think his name was Jesse, Beyonce Jesse.

John Hodgman: Beyonce Jesse!

Negin Farsad: And we had just graduated from high school. And me and my friends went to the beach in San Diego. And there’s just a lot of like kind of dirt-baggy surfers that hang out. Shout out Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. These couple of guys invited us couple of girls to like a bonfire.

John Hodgman: Wooow!

Negin Farsad: It was so very much a scene from a teen—like, a YA book or whatever.

John Hodgman: I was going to say opening scene of Jaws.

Jesse Thorn: It sounds like, Negin, you had a blue crush.

John Hodgman: A blue crush! That’s a reference to a surfing themed movie. Now if you were—let’s go straight to the source. If you were to say—if you were to reconnect with your dirtbag surfer blue crush, Beyonce Jesse, and you were to ask him, “Is surfing a mode of transportation?” What do you think he would say?

Negin Farsad: He would say—I’m gonna say probably no. ‘Cause it just, you go—it’s more like a boomerang scenario. You know? And unless boomerangs are a form of transportation…

John Hodgman: I mean, there’s no question that you’re moving. You’re moving through space.

(Negin agrees.)

There’s movement, but you are expressly going out into the ocean simply to come back.

Jesse Thorn: Judge Hodgman, if it helps, I have Beyonce Jesse here in the studio in Southern California.

John Hodgman: That’s incredible!

Jesse Thorn: If you’d like to ask him whether surfing is a mode of transportation.

John Hodgman: I’d love to. Can we get him on?

Jesse Thorn: Yeah, I’ll get him on the mic here.

John Hodgman: Hey, dirtbag surfer Beyonce Jesse. welcome to the program. Real quick question. How are you doing? And is surfing a mode of transportation? I’ll take my answer off the air.

Jesse Thorn: (Using a classic surfer dude accent.) Bro, surfing is a way of life.

John Hodgman: Okay.

Negin Farsad: You can see what I was attracted to, by the way. Right?

John Hodgman: I know! I want to make out with him myself right now.

Negin Farsad: That’s what I’m saying, yeah.

John Hodgman: I want to suck face. I want to suck face with him like that dog, Benny. I would say—I mean, I would say my rule of thumb is:


If—transportation, if you can deliver a telegram with it, then it is transportation.

Negin Farsad: That’s good. That’s good. I like that.

John Hodgman: Could be a singing telegram. Could be a singing telegram surfer, I suppose.

Jesse Thorn: (As himself again.) Is electrical wire a mode of transportation?

John Hodgman: I mean a paper! Alright, a letter. A letter or an attaché case.

Negin Farsad: A carrier pigeon.

John Hodgman: Or a secret—well, I mean, they’re not a—you go with it, right? You’re not—okay. Maybe that was a bad example.

Jesse Thorn: I understand what you’re saying. I once, when we were shooting Put This On, my menswear video series, Ben Harrison—now of Greatest Generation and Greatest Trek of MaxFun podcasts—was directing. I was staying at his house in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We shot some videos in Brooklyn, and the next day we were headed to Milan, Italy, to shoot with Luciano Barbera, the menswear designer and textile designer. And I was sitting there in Ben’s house, and I said to him, “Ben, I didn’t bring my passport to New York.”

And we had a full scale flip out. We had no extra money to postpone anything. And what ended up happening was Ben flew to Italy, shot the segment with Luciano Barbera with him hosting, and my friend Amanda broke into my house—because my wife was also out of town. So, she broke into my house, and bought an air—

John Hodgman: Your wife, Beyonce Theresa.

Jesse Thorn: Yeah, Amanda bought an airplane ticket for my passport—which, she worked at a law office and knew this was a thing you could do. Put it in an envelope, bought an airplane ticket for it, and then I picked it up at the Newark airport in a weird, secret room full of dogs and exotic animals—

(John and Negin burst into laughter.)

—where things that are not people but do have an airplane ticket live. And then, I got on an airplane to Italy.

Negin Farsad: I did not know that was a possibility!

John Hodgman: I didn’t know you could buy an airplane ticket for a thing.

Jesse Thorn: Yeah, it was wild!

John Hodgman: There’s a whole sitcom that’s set in that room!

Jesse Thorn: I know.

Negin Farsad: Got it.

John Hodgman: I can’t believe I’ve never heard that story before. That’s one of the top stories. And I will say that it really illustrates what a mode of transportation is, right? Because if Amanda is going to be buying an airplane ticket for a passport, it needs to get to you, Jesse. It can’t like get near you or down the beach from you. For it to be transportation—forget my telegram thing, which was bad—I would say you have to have some reasonable control about where you land, essentially. Where the transportation ends, where—the thing you are transporting has to go from one place to another with purpose, and you have to have some modicum of control, reasonable control over the end of that destination. So.

Negin Farsad: Yeah, it can’t just be spiritually transporting like surfing might be.

Jesse Thorn: Ha!

John Hodgman: Good point. Sorry, Liam, age 13. You’re wrong, but take that surfing lesson, and you’ll learn the hard way. And by the way, unnamed husband of Laura, you don’t deserve a name, because you’re wrong too.

Jesse Thorn: Here’s something from Dana. “My boyfriend doesn’t think Harry Truman is famous. Same with Napoleon. He says historical figures aren’t celebrities, the way Al Pacino or Meg Ryan are. I say being a celebrity is more than just being a movie star. P.S.: Matt also thinks Santa Claus is not a celebrity.”

(They laugh.)

“I totally disagree. Santa is world famous. Who is right?”

John Hodgman: First of all, credit to Dana for naming Dana’s boyfriend, Matt.

Negin Farsad: Matt. Beyonce Matt.

John Hodgman: Good job, Dana, for acknowledging that your boyfriend, Matt, however wrong or right—we’re going to decide!—he may be, he has an identity. So, Negin, I don’t know why Dana and Matt are coming up with celebrity names. They might be playing the very fun parlor game named Celebrity. Have you ever played that game?

Negin Farsad: Yes.

John Hodgman: If we were playing Celebrity, Negin, and someone put in Harry S. Truman or Napoleon, would that count in the game of Celebrity? What do you think?

Negin Farsad: Now, in the few times that I played Celebrity, I believe that there were multitudinous political figures who were in the hat.


(John agrees.)

You know? And I’ll say one more thing about that, which is that I, uh, fired up the ol’ Netflix last night.

John Hodgman: Oh, really?

Negin Farsad: And, uh, to brag; I’m a subscriber. And the thing that came on the—whatever, the—when you—auto-filled the screen was Letterman’s show, whatever that show’s called. The one where he interviews people.

Jesse Thorn: My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.

Negin Farsad: Our Next Guest Needs No Introduction. And the guest was Barack Obama, Monsieur Barack Obama. But I was just thinking to myself, he’s one of those people that’s indisputably a celebrity, I feel. Right?

John Hodgman: Sure. Yeah, obviously—sorry, Matt. Obviously, Harry Truman and Napoleon celebrities. Our friend, Emily Brewster over at Merriam-Webster Dictionary—our friend Emily Brewster is a literal lexicographer and a dictionary employer and definer of words, and I’m presuming that Emily wrote this dictionary definition. It’s “the state of being celebrated or famous”. And that’s famous. Napoleon is famous. I know who Napoleon is. Jesse, you know who Napoleon is? He invented an ice cream.

Jesse Thorn: Oh yeah! The stripe ice cream guy!

John Hodgman: Yeah, exactly. He came up with that idea. (Beat.) That guy, whew.

Negin Farsad: Yeah. Multifaceted. A bird of many feathers.

John Hodgman: He wasn’t known for just one thing. But here’s my question now. No doubt Santa Claus is world famous, but is Santa Claus a celebrity? And I’m going to give you all ample time to get your children away from the YouTube or the podcast machine. If you don’t want the truth to be known, move them away now, earmuff them. Santa Claus is a very famous fictional character. Can you play Santa Claus in a game of Celebrity? Yes or no, what do you think?

Negin Farsad: Whew! This one is—this is like—this is making me schvitz right here.

John Hodgman: I know! I just brought out my hanky, because I got to dab my forehead. Also, my calves are sweating! I got to dab my calves. Whew!

Negin Farsad: (Laughs.) This one’s making me nervous, because I don’t know the right answer. I’m on the fence. I want to say I would—you know, if I’m playing in a game of Celebrity, and someone was just like, “Ho-ho-ho, Merry Christmas,” I’d immediately say Santa Claus. I feel like it works. At the same time, when former president What’s-His-Face goes on the campaign trail and talks about Hannibal like he’s a real person, I feel that that is weird. You know what I mean?

(John agrees.)

So, I want to say if you can—if you’re a former president who’s using a fictional character on the campaign trail like they’re a real person, that person can also not be used in Celebrity. There, I made a rule for myself.

John Hodgman: There are some famous people, arguably in politics, who can’t be used in celebrity, because I just refuse to say their name. I think we’re talking about the same person. If it’s a game of celebrity that we’re trying to decide here, fictional and folkloric famous characters are allowed if everyone agrees ahead of time. So, we’re all on the same page of the game.

Negin Farsad: You need some ground rules before you start playing. That makes sense.

John Hodgman: But I would say, in larger life? Yeah, Santa Claus is a celebrity. Everyone knows who Santa Claus is. World famous celebrity. Negin Farsad, thanks for being here.

Negin Farsad: Awww! Folks, come on.

Jesse Thorn: Judge John Hodgman, created by Jesse Thorn and John Hodgman. Negin, of course, the host of Fake the Nation, which you should listen to. Our video editor is Daniel Speer. The podcast, edited by AJ McKeon. Our producer and my friend of coming up on 25 years, Jennifer Marmor.

(John “wow”s.)

Photos from the show are posted on our Instagram account, @JudgeJohnHodgman there. We’re on TikTok and YouTube, @JudgeJohnHodgmanPod.

John Hodgman: Oh, that’s right! We have a TikTok. So, we’re celebrities, Jesse.

(Jesse agrees skeptically.)

Negin Farsad: Yeah, according to my rule.

John Hodgman: Put our name in the hat.

Jesse Thorn: We’re almost as popular as some magnet fishermen!

(John laughs.)

Follow and subscribe to see our episodes and our video only content.

John Hodgman: Aside from Fake the Nation, Negin, what’s going on? What should people pay attention to when they’re thinking of Negin Farsad?

Negin Farsad: Oh my gosh. I’m so glad you asked. Because yes—obviously, Fake the Nation. Please subscribe. We also do recap episodes of various TV and film products in the cultural landscape.


But also, I’m gonna be touring in July.

(John “ooh”s.)

The tour is called The Great American Punchline. It’s me and Chris Gethard and a couple other comedians that we would love to see you guys in the audience. We’re going to be in places like Memphis and Muncie and Fayetteville and Milwaukee. And oh my gosh! So, you could go to to get tickets!

John Hodgman: Yeah, I’m going there right now. And yeah, absolutely July 6th, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in Diercks Hall. Probably named after my old friend in Boston, Lisa Diercks. Munsie, Indiana. Hazard, Kentucky. Memphis, Tennessee. This is incredible. And look at all this incredible talent on there. Everyone’s going to have a great time. Go over there. Negin Farsad, thank you very much.

Hey, you know what we haven’t heard in a long time are cases about collections. We’ve had a number of really interesting cases about people’s odd collections and strange collections, including that guy who had that bolo tie—made his own bolo ties there down in the desert somewhere. Anyway.

Jesse Thorn: Judge Hodgman, do you remember the guy who came on our show years and years and years ago in a baseball related case? It was that he was wearing Phillies jerseys to non-Phillies games.

John Hodgman: Yes!

Jesse Thorn: Then later we found out that he was also one of the world’s foremost collectors of ice cream batting helmets.

John Hodgman: That’s correct.

Jesse Thorn: I went on that guy’s podcast the other day. He has a podcast about baseball uniforms. We talked about the minor league baseball uniforms of the San Francisco Giants, such as the Richmond Flying Squirrels and the San Jose Giants.

John Hodgman: He’s been a friend and a listener. And, I believe, a member for a long, long time. In fact, it was his miniature baseball helmet/banana split bowl collection for which I ruled a major piece of standing law, which is the difference between a hoard and a collection is a display case. And of course, we love him. And Jesse, we both remember his name. Say his name, Jesse!

Jesse Thorn: Paul from the podcast Baseball by Design.

John Hodgman: Beyonce Paul. Good job. Sorry, Paul. I didn’t remember at all. But anyway, Paul, thank you very much for being a member. Thanks to all members.

But we want to hear some more collection disputes. Do you have a friend or family member who has a collection that’s taken over your shared space? Is your partner trying to make you stop collecting all those coffee mugs, even though there’s a perfect vintage Far Side mug on Facebook marketplace right now? Are you tempted to get it against your partner’s wishes? Let us know. Send your collection cases at We want to be in collection.

Jesse Thorn: You know what? If people are watching on the YouTube—only people who are watching on the YouTube get to enjoy my sitcom themed mugs from which I drink on this program, one of which is news radio themed. The other, of course, themed after the greatest podcast sitcom of all time: Alex, Inc.

John Hodgman: Wow!

Jesse Thorn: Nobody thought radio was cool, Dad. And then you did it.

And of course, we’re eager to hear about all your disputes on any subject. No case is too small. You know, John, I actually got that mug by mail from my friend Roman Mars in Oakland, California. He went to a thrift store to buy a huge collection that someone had tweeted at me about, ‘cause they knew about my obsession with the promos for the podcast themed sitcom Alex, Inc., which I never actually watched. And I would like to take this opportunity to recommend that people check out Roman Mars’s 99% Invisible, wonderful podcast, with a wonderful recent episode about White Castle—including a side story about Fancy White Castle! But it’s mostly a history of White Castle that I found very fascinating. And 99PI, one of my favorite podcasts.

It doesn’t matter, though, what your disputes are about! We’ll take them on any subject. No dispute is too small. Submit those cases at We’ll talk to you next time on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

Sound Effect: Three gavel bangs.

Transition: Cheerful ukulele chord.

Speaker 1: Maximum Fun.

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Speaker 3: Of artist owned shows.

Speaker 4: Supported—

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Speaker 6: —by you!

About the show

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