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In this week's Solutions to Problems: our hosts contemplate nicknames, when your mate won't participate in the culling ritual, how to wrap your heads around wedding ettiquette, and holographic simulations gone wrong.
Episode 2: Ranking Your Friends
Eeeheeheehee: Greetings, gentle listeners. Thank you so much for joining us on this fine day, or night, or whatever arbitrary unit of time your location dictates as we bring you Solutions to Problems. I’m your host Eeeheeheehee,
Janet: And I’m your co-host, Janet Clarke.
Eeeheeheehee: As before, and always, we are here to offer our input on whatever conundrums you maybe be facing. Statistically, probably not you specifically, but you in a more general sense. To provide more fodder for our advertisi- I mean advising efforts, you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us telepathically by thinking really hard in the general direction of your broadcast tower.
Janet: You know, before we start, I think there’s something we need to talk about.
Eeeheeheehee: Is this whole program not us talking about things, Janet?
Janet: Uh, I mean, well, yes, it is, but.. so some of our listeners, some of our human listeners have expressed some difficulty in the remembering and pronouncing of your name, uh, because a lot of them aren’t as, like, cultured as me and aren’t familiar with like these different dialects.
Eeeheeheehee: I see. So perhaps this is the first conundrum we must present a solution to today.
Janet: Perhaps it is! So our producers agreed that a um, a nickname, might be good to use for our Earth-language based advertising, and of course, for this human edition of your program.
Eeeheeheehee: Hmmm. Well, Eeeheeheehee is the 358th most common given name on my planet. What is the 358th most common given name among humans?
Janet: Well, um, something like I dunno Tom? Or Kim? I… have no idea. Someone should look that up. Do we have like an intern?
Eeeheeheehee: I don’t believe we have an intern. We have a research assistant.
Janet: Oh good, good. Let’s get them on it. While we wait for that information, why don’t we start on our first problem?
Greetings Human and Other Creature!
Several years ago my mate was killed in ritual combat. After an appropriate mourning period, I took a new mate, one of the human creatures. The human creature has been an excellent companion, and a wonderful step-mother for my six broodlings. Here is the problem: The time is fast approaching when my brood will have to engage in their own ritual combat, with the weakest one being sacrificed that the others may devour its flesh. This should be a joyous time which all look forward to and will remember fondly for years to come. My human mate, however, finds the practice barbaric. She says she loves all my offspring and couldn’t stand to see even the weakest one slaughtered. She is threatening to leave unless I call off the ceremony. I feel so betrayed! She said she would respect my culture and my values. I feel she is being selfish and ruining the Culling Festival for everyone. What should I do?
Ravenous on Raknos VII
Janet: Oh Ravenous, I hope you didn’t put a ring on it! That’s a human expression referring to commitment to a mate. Many humans come from a culture of colonization, where they can’t help themselves from forcibly eradicating any cultures they just don’t understand. I’m sorry that your mate isn’t being understanding of this beautiful and important ritual in your culture.
Eeeheeheehee: Have you ever been to Raknos VII, Janet?
Janet: No, Eeeheeheehee, I never have.
Eeeheeheehee: Beautiful planet, just lovely people. The first time I went there I got to attend something called the Feast of the Slaughter. It wasn’t until halfway through that I realized I wasn’t an invited guest - I was the main course! Once we got that straightened out though, I had a lovely time.
Janet: What a humorous anecdote. I’m glad it all worked out!
Eeeheeheehee: The Raknosians have a phrase they call *coughing fit* sorry, had something stuck back there. Like I was saying, the Raknosians have a phrase they say - if she doesn’t respect your culture, she doesn’t respect you. You need to do some serious thinking about what you want out of this relationship!
Janet: What specifically relevant pronouns! Ravenous, maybe it’s this relationship that you need to cull.
Eeeheeheehee: Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far.
Janet: Really? I mean, I was just using wordplay to lighten up my suggested ultimatum. The producers want me to be more ‘bubbly’?
Eeeheeheehee: Janet, before we go any further, I should warn you Raknosians don’t have a concept of metaphor. They will take any advice we give them completely literally.
Janet: Ahh - okay .. Don’t murder your mate, Ravenous. But I would dump- wait, no. I would end the relationship in a peaceful and amicable manner without resorting to violence upon her person.
Eeeheeheehee: I’m not sure Raknosian even has a word for that!
Janet: Uh, you know, break up with her without any blood coming out of anyone?
Eeeheeheehee: No, they’ll just interpret that as “use blunt instruments”
Janet: Ohhh, no, no no no. Maybe banishment? Banish your mate back to her home planet? I mean, obviously this isn’t going to work out well on Raknos II, er VII.
Eeeheeheehee: I think what bothers me the most about this woman’s behavior isn’t that she doesn’t want to participate in your culture, but that she’s actively trying to change it. That isn’t someone you want to be with for the rest of your life, and it isn’t who you want by your side when you go to fight the Kerlaf in the great hereafter. I may have spent some time in a Raknosian monastery.
Janet: May have? I would hope you would have some certainty about that experience.
Eeeheeheehee: Well, Raknosian culture involves a lot of head trauma.
Janet: Yeah, if she’s a human, she’s way too delicate for all that nonsense. Send her on her way, Ravenous. Why don’t we move on to our next problem?
Unison: Dear Janet and Janet’s friend,
Head 1: We are getting married to our dearly beloved at the end of the dark season. Our fiances are amazing, and we’re so excited about the wedding. The problem is our good friend Debbie. Her left head is so wonderful and funny, and was there for me at a really tough time in my life.
Head 2: Unfortunately, her right head head is an absolute terror.
Head 1: She really fidgits my wurples!
Head 2: She’s critical of everything I do, and she talks about her other head when it’s turned around.
Head 1: I also think she may have had a relationship with my fiance’s left head while I was only dating his right head.
Head 2: We really want Debbie’s left head to be in the wedding party, but we don’t feel comfortable having her right head at the wedding at all! What should we do?
Head 1: I feel like there is no good solution to this problem!
Unison: Sincerely, Are Two Heads Better than One?
Eeeheeheehee: Janet, and Janet’s friend? Someone’s developing quite the fanbase out there.
Janet: All praise is meaningless to me, but thanks a lot guys. Anyway, ah, did they send in like a diagram of these relationships? I think I might need one. There’s a lot of heads involved.
Eeeheeheehee: I do feel the characters could be more clearly defined. Especially since they didn’t specify their species, so we have no idea how many individuals are in their marriages.
Janet: This is a good point, but I think we can come up with something for them. Maybe they can throw a bag over the bad head’s .. head. Like a thick bag. But something decorative that matches the dress.
Eeeheeheehee: But how do you tell her that? I mean, I assume from the letter that the letter-writer’s relationship to Debbie’s right head is somewhat passive-aggressive? Would asking it to wear a bag to the wedding sort of… bring that animosity out in the open?
Janet: You mean bring it… to a head? *laughing*
Eeeheeheehee: I think I understand now. A pun. Very.. funny.
Janet: I thought so. You know, why not just bring the animosity out? Aren’t weddings the best time to explore the resentments in our friend groups?
Eeeheeheehee: This is a human tradition I was not aware of, please elaborate.
Janet: Well, the whole thing with picking out the bridesmaids and the groomsmen is actually this low-key form of ranking your friends! Everyone else can feel weird and left out while the bridal party all have fun at the front of the room during the ceremony.
Eeeheeheehee: I am sure glad my species ranks our friends monthly, as a matter of course. That reminds me - I haven’’t sent one out for July yet! You may have moved up a ranking or two Janet!
Janet: I would like to break into those double digits! Humans used to use social media for ranking friends, but now that it’s uploaded into our brains everyone was made too uncomfortable by the stark honesty.
Eeeheeheehee: So now it’s back to good-old passive aggression and simmering resentment, eh?
Janet: It’s an oldie but a goodie. Why mess with a system that works? Anyway, I’d tell Debbie’s right head what’s what. Or you know, just like drug her and throw the bag on. Invest in a nice bag, Two Heads.
Eeeheeheehee: Well, we’d have to know more about their anatomy to know if she could drug just one head… I’m not sure I like where this is going. Let’s hear a quick message from our sponsors then move on to our final letter. Would you like to read this one, Janet?
Janet: I don’t know that I should after last time, it was kind of embarrassing.
Eeeheeheehee: How fitting! Our sponsor this week is Blank Slate Memory Wipes! I don’t even remember our embarrassing interaction. Or anything that happened on Tuesday!
Janet: Ah - well, okay! Blank Slate memory wipes are gluten-free and organic. They are made only from grass-fed Raknosian Slurms. Best of all, you can use a Blank Slate Memory Wipe any time the past becomes more painful than the present. New, portable containers can fit easily into your…things that you use to hold things? Pouches? Whatever. Whatever you use to hold things. So you’ll never be without a way to erase painful reminders. It’s easy to use a Blank Slate Memory Wipe - you simply focus on the memories in question, and shove it directly in your ear. After only a few moments of excruciating pain as the wipe dissolves, wake up in a new world where you’ve never made mistakes!
Eeeheeheehee: Blank Slate Memory Wipes - because reality is an illusion we create for ourselves!
Janet: Let’s move on to our next letter.
Dear Solutions Crew,
I am a somewhat well-known person in my field- I'm not famous, you probably wouldn't have heard of me unless you work with 5th dimensional space-warping ion drives. But if you do, I'm kind of a big deal.
My firm recently hired a young engineer who was, shall we say, enamored with me. I don't know if he had a poster of me on his wall growing up, but he might as well have. At first his hero worship was sort of distracting, but cute. Unfortunately, lately it's veered into creepy territory.
I found out he made a holographic simulation of me. Although he created it to tutor him in 5th dimensional physics, he kept modifying the program to make it friendlier and more personable, and ultimately ended up dating it for several months. I feel so violated! I don't know what to do. I'm afraid if I confront him about it our working relationship will become impossible.
Emulated on Epsilon Gamma
Janet: Wow, what a doozy!
Eeeheeheehee: It’s good to know that even Dr. Alexis Mozart sometimes has relationship problems! I mean, we take the anonymity of our letter writers very seriously. They can edit out that first bit, right?
Janet: We broadcast live to most planets. How do you know who she is anyway? These are supposed to be anonymous.
Eeeheeheehee: I studied fifth dimensional physics after my time at the Raknosian monastery. I actually coauthored a few papers on the subjectivity of subspace field dynamics as theorized by Flemulous Gorch, and it's relationship to transpacial shunts and their usefulness in-
Janet: HOW INTERESTING. You know I just remembered! We still haven’t picked a name to call you by!
Eeeheeheehee: You’re right. We should do that before this episode is over. We have our research assistant in the studio right now. Frankie, did you find anything out yet?
Frankie: Just pick something. I don’t care. This isn’t my job.
Eeeheeheehee: What’s the 358th most popular human surname?
Frankie: Emileee, but it’s spelled with three Es. I mean 4. There’s one at the beginning too.
Eeeheeheehee: No, I’m not sure that’s really ‘me’.
Janet: Um, I guess you should just pick one. What’s a name you like? Maybe there’s a famous human you particularly enjoy?
Eeeheeheehee: I do enjoy the works of classical human composer Meatloaf. Meatloaf is a fairly common human name, is it not?
Janet: Oh. Umm, Meatloaf. Uh- It is not.. The most of common of names, but, you know, I’ll take it for the sake of my vocal chords.
Frankie: It’s 108,209.
Janet: Really? It’s that- it’s that high. You know, sure. Let’s go with that. Meatloaf. I like it.
Loaf: Or Loaf, for short. Let’s get back to our letter, which may or may not have been written by someone also with a human composer related name! What a coincidence that would be!
Janet: No, we’re not going down this path. They’re anonymous letters. So, Emulated, the good thing is that you are in a position of authority in this situation! In your letter, you don’t specify how you found out about the simulation, but I would argue this is a form of sexual harassment. I don’t think it would be out of line if you wanted to reprimand him, or even fire him, or have him transferred, if that’s something you have control over.
Loaf: This might also be a job for your firm’s Sentient Resources department.
Janet: Yeah, I think so. I would have a formal talk with the young engineer with an SR representative present. This behavior is clearly inappropriate and affecting your relationship with him, so it does need to be addressed in order to keep your work environment from becoming toxic.
Frankie: Do you guys need me for anything else or....?
Loaf: Oh, you’re still here! Sorry, my species’ peripheral vision is practically nonexistent.
Janet: I guess we don’t need anything? You can go. Thanks for not helping!
Frankie: Okay. I have actual work to do in our 307 other, more important programs.
Janet: Do people really want to listen to the news and know what’s happening and be informed? No one does. No one wants that.
Loaf: Do we really need another episode of “The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance Droids”?
Janet: Because Quantum Entanglement of Love is so popular and people want to experience joy and know that the universe can have meaning if only we choose to inscribe it with it.
Loaf: ...Anyway. Another thing to consider is whether he violated intellectual property laws by using your likeness without your consent. The 5th dimensional ion drive development lab on Epsilon Gamma probably operates under Frisonian laws, and the Frisonians can be pretty strict about this kind of thing. It might even be possible that it's punishable by poetic justice.
Janet: Poetic justice?
Loaf: They implant a device in your brain so you’re only capable of speaking in verse. Very painful.
Janet: Like including proper meter and everything?
Loaf: That depends on the severity of the crime.
Janet: What, like the more severe the crime is the worse your poetry is?
Loaf: Yes, justice is frequently about encouraging social groups to expel the offender.
Janet: I mean, that happens to poets anyway.
Janet: Huh. Well, I mean, I think the takeaway from this episode is that men are the worst.
Loaf: My species has 14 clearly defined genders, but the one most analogous to the one you refer to as ‘men’ is definitely ‘the worst’
Janet: I’m glad that’s consistent everywhere! Well, actually, no I’m not. But I’m glad you sympathize. I think it’s time to wrap up this week’s episode. Until next time, may your week be free of useless people asking for your emotional labor!
Loaf: Or your hair samples!
Solutions to Problems is written by and features the voices of Austin Hendricks and Nathan Comstock. It is produced and musically scored by Michael F. Gill. Our theme is by Thomas Dwyer. The voice of Frankie is Valerie Loveland. This episode’s letters were read by Colin Killick, Evelyn and Eleanor Hornbeck, and Melissa Galvez. Find out more information about us at stppodcast.com. Also, please leave us a review on iTunes as it helps us practice ethical narcissism.
Last episode’s cryptic question was “If the US Post Office added half of Pennsylvania, all of Oregon, half of Texas, all of Louisiana, and then North Dakota, why would they equal the largest place in me?” This has to do with US State abbreviations. Half of Pennsylvania, PA, is P, Oregon is OR, half of Texas, TX is T, Louisiana is LA and North Dakota is ND. Why would they equal the largest place in me? Because if you put these letters in order it spell Portland, which is the largest city in Maine, which is abbreviated ME. Have a ghost pat you on the back if you got that one right.
Today’s Cryptic Question is: A toy company that produces the most tires in the world, a frozen breakfast brand, an herb commonly found in Italian-American cuisine, and the meaning of the lyric “tin roof, rusted” from the B-52’s Love Shack. Can you soundly explain why a part of each comes from a chicken? The answer, as well as more questions on our next episode.
Loaf: Yeah, and who needs another episode of “1% visible” anyway?
Janet: Or “Stuff you absolutely shouldn’t know”
Loaf: “Fresh Vacuum”
Janet: “My Favorite Murder Sphere”
Loaf: “My Broodmate, My Broodmate and Me”
Janet: “Wait, Wait Don’t Teleport Me”
Loaf: “How Did This Universe Get Made?”
Janet: ….How did it get made?
Loaf: I don’t know. We should explore that later.
Janet: But not by listening to them.
Loaf: No, definitely not.