Judge John Hodgman Episode 238: Pedantry of My Own


Judge Hodgman's coda to the "A Hot Dog is Not a Sandwich" debate, plus rulings on wedding photography, urinating in public showers, pillow borrowing, and how to credit others' work on the internet.

JUDGE JOHN HODGMAN IS AT SF SKETCHFEST next month! Get your tickets for our show in San Francisco on Friday January 8th. They're going fast! Plus, submit your Bay-Area based disputes to us at www.maximumfun.org/jjho.



The Judge was behind the curtain...

Greetings all,

I as presumably (the best way to arrange those three words at the start of a sentence. Follow with side commentary.) many of you have a fog of fond Hodgy moments in my memory. I also would really like to see my Dad laugh, and where those two paths of thought cross is where I am now, but i could use some directions.

My dad was a tech guy back when DOS was still 86-DOS, pardon my product placement, and i can recall an episode that ends with a segment in which Jesse and the Judge reminice about obsolete tech and the Judge goes on the say they are "broadcasting via:" and then lists a hillarious heap of great old tech which he says is all connected together to make the broadcast, and then makes a comment along the lines of 'I bet you dont know what I'm doing behind the curtain, but i bet it's not creepy' I believe in reference to eearlier banter about the wizzard of oz and the wizzard behind the curtain, but this is getting increasingly iffy.

Does anyone else remember this segment and which episode it was from? I think it would appeal to my Dad so I have played my memory through but cannot remember the exact episode it came from so be kind, please remind.

Thank you!

Wedding pictures

I'm late to the party here, but I wanted to chime in. I just listened to the podcast, and I'm really surprised. Your call to tradition is a little bit odd for this podcast, and it's not really that much of a tradition anyway. I've been to many weddings where pictures are taken before the ceremony. Often family members are included in these shoots. I've also been to a wedding where the shots were taken afterwards, and took so long, guests started leaving. I know the father of the groom, and he still complains about it to this day, and this took place over 15 years ago.

Shower Micturation

W.A.S.P. - Wait until After Shower before Pissing

Respectfully, but...

Your Honor, you are wrong on this one. Maybe on the coasts where you and Jessie live these old time traditions are still set in stone, but not everywhere. When we got married in Colorado in the early 1980s it was not out of the ordinary to have the pictures done before the ceremony. Living in the upper Midwest now, I would say that in about 90% of the weddings all the photos are before the wedding. It is rude to make guests wait and wait for the couple they want to celebrate with to even show up. (We also met our guests outside the church and welcomed them to our celebration before the ceremony, because we wanted to acknowledge that they were our guests and were important to us.)

But practicality aside, being a woman's studies major from the Univ. of Colorado in Boulder, of course there was NO WAY IN HELL that I was going to be a party to the patriarchal tradition of the groom not seeing the bride until after the vows were done (did you know the veil was traditionally not lifted until the end of the ceremony?). We had our "moment" of seeing each other dressed in our finery, and it was probably more meaningful when it was just the two of us instead of part of the show.

Where you were right was that because it was important to his wife to-be, her feelings and wishes should be the most important part of this decision--not the costs.

Pictures Before or After? Why not both?

In 1992 (oh so many years ago), we were married and the photographer understood my "see me as I walk the aisle" part but also our "but we don't want everyone to be kept waiting" part. He suggested doing some pics before and some after the ceremony.

Before - any pictures of just bride, bride and her family, bride and bridesmaids, groom, groom and family, groom and groomsmen (and all the various silly poses), et al...
After - the full wedding party, bride/groom with each set of parents and grandparents and then done.

It meant we were at the church about 2 hours before the wedding and then 1/2 hour after. Now, we didn't have a sit-down dinner but a heavy buffet (and, alas, only beer and wine and no distilled liquors*) that we had completely out and ready for the guests when they got to the reception. when we got to the reception, we did the walking around, meeting everyone, etc.

You can do both. Think about it and plan it out. It's not as much about tradition as it is about being comfortable and getting everything done timely and efficiently.

*Judge - two worst words ever created: Open. Bar.

Team Post-Ceremony

Despite the MANY angry comments below, I would like to voice my positive opinion of the judges ruling on the wedding photos. My husband and I took our photos after the ceremony.

I got to see my husband's face when he saw me walking down the aisle (preserving this moment was THE main reason we chose to be post-ceremony photo people). And as a result, right after the ceremony, we had about an hour just us and the photographer and then bridesmaids and groomsmen to celebrate what just happened and let our nerves calm. Also we then weren't immediately swarmed by all the guests right after the ceremony.

Also, looking at the pictures later, my guests appeared to have a blast at the cocktail party (there was a photo booth involved). It seems like a win-win to me. I would say worrying about your guests is not really a legit reason to be pre-wedding photo people. People tend to like congregating where there are adult (and non-adult) beverages and other people to talk to. That why bars exist.

If you both don't agree 100%, go with your future wife on this one. That moment of seeing each other on opposite ends of the aisle is worth it. If you both don't care about that, then do whatever.

I hate to say it...

But I agree with all of these other commentators about the wedding photos. Making guests wait through a million pictures is rude and tiresome. Weddings are annoying enough without that extra annoyance! This guy isn't being a know-it-all nerd. He's really being pretty practical.

Wedding photos

I realize that I am not the first to say this, but having the photos done before the wedding is totally normal and, frankly, the most civilized way to go. I know from my experience as a guest that, even if there is the normal cocktail hour, it is always more pleasant to have the bride and groom there (when they are off doing something else, it always feels like you are on call waiting). From my experience as the significant other of someone in the wedding party, I can tell you that it can be awful hanging out drinking substandard cocktails (or even worse, wine or beer) with a bunch of people you don't know, while the person you came to the wedding with is inaccessible.

Also, while we make a big deal about this being the "bride's day", that is simply sexist hogwash (I say as a married woman). There is no reason why the bride's opinion should automatically outweigh the groom's opinion, particularly if they are paying for the wedding together (all bets are off when parents foot the bill!). It is just as selfish for the bride to demand her preference as for the groom to demand his; a wedding is often the first time a couple has faced major joint decisions and we should encourage both people to practice discussing what they want and learning how to compromise.

Rare Miss by the Judge

As most here seem to agree, wedding photos before the wedding is advisable for one compelling reason: consideration of your guests (which both the Judge and Jesse argue should be the most important goal). With wedding photos getting more and more elaborate, they can take two, sometimes three, hours. Making your guests wait that long is definitely not putting your guests first, but making it all about the couple.

So, the groom was definitely NOT creating some new scheme, but simply proposing what has become the norm while the bride wants to hold on to a tradition (albeit a very nice one) at the expense of their guests.

"Fake" Field

I have to disagree with the judge's field ruling. A sports field made of astro turf could certainly be said to be a fake field of grass, or a field of fake grass, but it is not a fake sports field. I suppose it depends on what you consider "field" to be referring to. I'd say that if we were looking at a nature diorama and the field were astro turf, that would certainly be a "fake field," but in a sports context, "field" is short for "soccer field," or whatever sport it is, so in that way, it is not fake.

Wedding Photos

While I normally agree with the rulings issued by the Honorable Judge Hodgman, I join the chorus in respectfully disagreeing with the ruling issued regarding wedding photos. My wife and I were recently married and took the vast majority of the wedding party and family photos pre-ceremony at an off site park. The additional venue added some nice variety to the pictures, as well as allowing us to attend the cocktail hour before dinner. In addition, having an organized activity before the ceremony calmed quite a few nerves for the members of the wedding party enabling a smooth ceremony.

Wedding pics

In our marriage (20 years ago) my wife and I had the pictures taken before the ceremony and we thought it made the transition from wedding to fun very expedient and smooth, as opposed to making everyone wait for us. But then the Judge and Jessie might consider us tradition-hating nihilists, as we also didn’t shove cake into each other’s faces, and we voted to legalize same sex marriage.

Also, a historical/traditional note: the origin of the "don't see the bride before the wedding" superstition is a little darker than one might think:


Wedding Photography

As a wedding photographer and filmmaker, I've been to a wedding or two..... I've seen it all from the VERY traditional old school to the pretty far out there. Taking photos before the wedding has really become the new norm and makes everything go much smoother. By waiting until after the ceremony you keep your guests in limbo just hanging out waiting for dinner. Cocktail hours during which you're shooting photos rarely last only an hour. Either you're going to go over your time or you're going to wind up not getting all of your photos or just really quick really bad ones.

For brides looking to make a moment of their dress reveal, do a first look photo session. They're adorable, they're personal, they're the best of both worlds. I did it for my wedding in 2013 and still got that amazing feeling of my seeing my wife coming down to the ceremony.

Also cocktail hours ain't cheap!

Grease v. Sha-Na-Na

I must take issue with the idea that Grease led to the development of Sha-Na-Na, which in turn led to the 50's nostaliga craze.

I'm afraid a few minutes' research would have demonstrated the error of this analysis. Sha-Na-Na was a group formed by students at Columbia University in 1969 who became famous due to their performance at Woodstock that same year. (It may be safe to say that they were inspired by the popularity of Rock 'n' Roll Revival shows in the late 60's.)

Grease followed them by two years, appearing in Chicago in 1971 and on Broadway a year later, and American Graffiti a year after that.

I think the stronger argument is that American Graffiti, which led to Happy Days, was probably the real start of the 1950's nostalgia craze.

Pro Pre-Wedding Photos

Concurring with many commenters here, the Judge blew this ruling. We had our photos taken pre-wedding per our photographer's suggestion (back in 1997, so this is no new fangled nerd invention!), and it was great. It allowed us to travel to a different location (a local park) and have fun with our wedding party in various poses. We did follow the ceremony with a few more pictures with family, but most of the formal & fun photos were done beforehand, and we were quite relaxed and into it.

I hope the Judge issues an amended decision on this one.

Citation on the Wild Web of the World

I'm an academic librarian from Brooklyn (your neighbor to the south) and am writing to thank you for ruling correctly on the importance of citation on social media. I hope to find a way to work this segment into a Freshman Information Literacy session this spring. Do college kids know who you are? Oh, a minor correction: it's MLA (citation style) not MLS (library degree)!

Your eternal friend in research and citation,

Worst citation offenders are

Worst citation offenders are often in very professional publications which have very large commenting sections. Every now and then a great idea shows up (or covertly does not) in the comments and I have seen columnists take these ideas for their own pieces without ever mentioning the poor unemployed commenter, if that is what he or she may be. As a matter of fact it is built into the system that you relinquish all credit when volunteering your thoughts. Sometimes other professionals will take a comment and then turn it into a letter to the editor with a signed name and title for emphasis. A few times columnists who are under pressure of huge communication businessmen who think MLA, or wrongly MLS, must mean multiple listing association not service give a wink or nod to their writing audience.

Oh well, whoever really said a penny for your thoughts never lived in the social media of modern media where it evolved to a pining for your thoughts.

Merry o Tannenbaum to all.

Wedding photos

We took our photos before the ceremony and I loved it. We didn't make our guests wait for us (which I find very rude) but it was nice to have him see me first in private, and be able to talk a little without being in front of the "audience" as the pod-casters call it.

Don't inconvenience your wedding guests

Re: wedding photo timing: The biggest consideration is common decency to reception guests. Some of them don't want to hang around all day. Post-ceremony photo timing delays a large number of people against their wills, especially considering that the cake (the most important reason for the existence of wedding receptions) won't be served until the happy couple cuts it. If I'm at a wedding reception and the bride and groom do not arrive within 45 minutes after the end of the ceremony, I'm OUTTA THERE.

PS: The "discuss this in the forums" link doesn't seem to work, at least on the mobile version.

Great sorrow

Your honor,

Listening to this episode filled me first with great anger and then, alas, sorrow. Your tone-deaf dismissal of a groom's plea to take photos pre-ceremony was not wrong, only based on a completely trivial and depressing set of criteria. Have neither you nor Jesse ever been to a wedding that moved you? Not even your own? Yes. A wedding is for the guests and not solely for the wedding couple. Yes. Wedding traditions are not things to be tossed aside without reason. But no. No no no. The crux - which you missed completely - is what makes the wedding potent. What helps imbue the commitment with power and even a little magic so guests and couple all join in creating a bond of lasting beauty. At our wedding we took photos pre-ceremony so directly following my bride and myself could sequester ourselves to contemplate together what we had done instead of standing around like dumb apes while someone captured posed photos of every possible configuration of family members. This also allowed our guests to be joined by our family, to offer congratulations, and to drink spirits without such a long break that everyone forgot why they came. Then we danced the fuck out of some hora and let everyone be part of the love.

So. I respect the bride's wish to reveal herself at the ceremony but everything else you discussed was cruxless. Screw traditions based on royalty and wedding industry crud. Focus on what reveals the love because that is - or should be - the point of a wedding.

As a fan of the podcast it discomforts me to say this, but: OVERRULED.


A respectful disagreement

Pre wedding pictures are actually fairly common. Of course, my wife and I agreed on this issue. But I think taking pictures first is actually considerate for guests, especially considering how elaborate photos are these days, and that many of the guests, like attendants and family, are also part of the process. Plus, then you can join at the END of the cocktail hour. But I agree, bring too cheap for a cocktail hour should NOT be the reason.

Logic: Fail

You are saying that a sandwich is pieces of bread with a filing unless it's not>

Ny your weird definition, a Oreo is a sandwich. It's two pieces of bread with filling. Yes, it's a hard bread, but bread none the less.

In the 70's and 80's, I used to go to the the Orange County Fair grounds. At the Orange County Fair Grounds there was a place to get a 2 foot hot dog on a bun, and advertised cutting it up to 'share with the kids'.

My Wife cuts her hot dogs. Whether or not they are on a bun.

A hot dog is just a sausage in bread, and you can get half sausage sandwiches all over the place and it's not weird.

Good Day Sir.

PS: stop peeing in public showers. Pee is only sterile in healthy people. Also consider that not everyone is going to completely wash away all the pee, and run the shower long enough to be sure there is none left in the drain, so it will start to stink up the place.


Oreos are literally marketed as "Chocolate Sandwich Cookies." Oreos admit that they are sandwiches. You will NEVER see a hot dog stand advertising "Hot Dog Sandwiches." It's not a weird definition.

BOOM. :P #TeamHodge

Sandwich Cookies

Minor quibble here: calling an Oreo a "sandwich cookie" is calling it a cookie, not a sandwich. In these types of constructions the main noun is always last, and nouns preceding it function like adjectives modifying the main noun. A computer desk is a desk for computers, a tuna casserole is a casserole made with tuna, and a sandwich cookie is a cookie that resembles a sandwich.

Wedding Pix Before Ceremony? Normal

So.... You clearly didn't Google this one.

Lots and lots of people take pictures before the wedding ceremony. My photographer recommended it.

The idea that pictures after the ceremony is "normal" or "traditional" is silly at best.

Whether or not your ruling was correct for this particular couple (I think it was), your reasoning was based on substance about as substantial as that yellowish stuff disappearing down the drain at the Y.

Hot Dogs

Judge Hodgman. A hotdog is the meat product. If you take it out of the bun chop it up and put it in macaroni it is still a hotdog. The hotdog in a bun is not a sandwich because it is essentially just a preparation of the meat, which is still the focus, hence hotdog. This logic also conveniently explains why hamburgers aren't sandwiches. Oreos I am afraid are sandwiches as are ice cream sandwiches.

Take the pictures after the ceremony!!!

I am so glad Jesse weighed in on this one, and the subsequent decision. I was yelling at the podcast during the wedding picture question. This happened to us! I thought I was being clever and eliminating that gap between ceremony and reception. What happened instead is that in all the pictures, my husband looks positively terrified. Take the pictures after the ceremony, that way you will look relaxed, happy and glowing. Any anxiety you have about the ceremony will be gone and you will look much better!


Sorry to hear that your photos looked like that! I took photos after the ceremony, and since "the scary part" was over a lot of those nerves came out as hugs and laughter, which were great in the photos.

Wedding Pics: Before vs. After

OH man, did the legal team really blow this ruling. Did the Judge never stop to consider that there is much more stress bound up in maintaining the "first sight of each other at the altar" tradition than there is in just having a first look at each other before the ceremony, doing pictures, and then getting married?

This is the way my husband and I did our wedding pictures: after the rehearsal dinner, we parted ways with our wedding parties for the night and didn't see each other until we got to the church, and had our planned, private, "First Sight" moment. Our photographer actually captured this moment in photos for posterity, and then left us alone for about ten minutes. We then came back and did most of our formal wedding pictures before the ceremony. We did do some photos at the reception venue, but this only took thirty minutes or so, and was perfectly timed with the cocktail hour.

I'm so glad we did it this way. It really reduced the pressure of the day, taking the weight of the "first sight" thing off our shoulders and making it into an intimate moment, just for us, not witnessed by all our attendees. My husband and I were able to relax and regroup before the ceremony, and got some great pictures. I'm particularly glad to have taken pictures of myself before the ceremony, when my dress didn't have a lot of green stains on it from holding my bouquet against my chest/stomach.

This guy had a great, albeit not unique, idea and there's nothing wrong with it.