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Loaf and Janet discuss the pros and cons of joining a collective, what to do when you're left out of the fantasy baseball league just because you look like a horrifying monster, and shoes.
Episode 3: Barbabrababs
Janet: Hello, gentle listeners! I am Janet Clarke,
Loaf: And I’m Eeeheeheehee, but you can call me Loaf.
Janet: And welcome to Solutions to Problems, where we give resolutions to your dilemmas. To send in your question, e-mail us at email@example.com, or you can send them in via subspace holo projections. We prefer jpeg, but a high qualify gif is fine as well. Anything we need to take care of before we move onto our next letter, errr, ack, I mean Loaf?
Loaf: Gif? Really Janet?
Janet: BOTH PRONUNCIATIONS ARE VALID.
Loaf: I know. I just didn’t take you for a hard G kind of person.
Janet: I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s move into the show, Loaf.
Loaf: Hmmm. Now that I actually hear you say “Loaf”, I’m not crazy about it. It sort of sounds like loo-achf, which is the Silpuri word for “doofus”.
Janet: Well, there are billions of languages in the galaxy, Loaf. Statistically, both of our names mean “doofus” in at least one of them.
Loaf: I suppose.
Janet: But, I mean, I guess we can try and find something else?
Loaf: Let's stick with Loaf for now. Let's go to our first letter.
Dear Janet and Loaf
For several years now, I have been living with three guys I met in college. We’re not super close, but they’ve always been good housemates. Recently, they started experimenting with networking their brains together to perform complex tasks. At first they would just do it for a little while, but now they’re linked pretty much constantly.
The problem is, they’ve decided that they are now a single entity, and therefore should only have to pay a single entity’s worth of rent. To me this seems ridiculous - they have three bodies, they are sleeping in three rooms, they should have to pay three people’s worth of rent. I don’t want to ruin my friendship with them (him?) but I certainly can’t afford to pay triple the rent, and I don’t think our landlord would let us move two more people in. I don’t know what to do - I want to respect their decision to be a single person, but not to the extent that it impacts me financially. What should I do?
Restless over Rent
Janet: Finally, an easy question! Obviously, they should pay rent for three humans if they are occupying the space and resources of three humans.
Loaf: Well, I think the letter writer’s roommate would say they are no longer three humans, but one… something else.
Janet: I understand that even though they are not technically three humans, they’re still consuming resources as if they were three humans. Three brains still need to be fed and housed like three brains, even if they’re all speaking simultaneously and are super annoying at parties.
Loaf: I mean, we’ve all heard the stories about how obnoxious living with a distributed consciousness can be. That’s why for most people who are in the letter-writer’s situation, there are really only two options - get out, or give in and allow yourself to become one with them. There is something to be said for becoming one with them.
Janet: Is there? Is there really something to be said? I think they should get out. You seem to know a lot about collectives, though, Loaf.
Loaf: I spent a few summers as part of a collective. Ultimately I left because the implants irritated my spinal ridges. But there were certainly parts of the experience I really enjoyed.
Janet: Can I ask you a personal question then?
Loaf: Uh, sure….?
Janet: Okay, so, if you and the others in the collective are say, fidgeting your wurples, is that considered masturbation or group sex?
Loaf: That’s - …. Um… I think for someone involved in such a relationship, the distinction between the two is somewhat… linguistic? I’m actually not comfortable discussing this on the air, Janet.
Janet: Ugh. You’re no fun! Alright. Whatever. Anyway. So I think the letter writer should just get out of this arrangement. Obviously, the distribution of resources is going to be a huge point of contention.
Loaf: I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree about this one Janet. A person is however many people they say they are.
Janet: Yeah, but three rooms are still three rooms! That’s a lot of rooms. That’s more than the one room.
Loaf: Like I said, we’re not getting anywhere. Good luck, Restless. Why don’t you read our next sponsor message, Janet?
Janet: *sigh* Alright. Today’s show is brought to you by the slow, inexorable march of time. Time is organic and gluten-free, and is made of only the finest chronotons. Chro-no-tons? Are those a thing? Anyway, they’re a thing it's made of. Only the finest.
Loaf: You can travel forward in time at the rate of one second per second absolutely free! But if you use the promo code “solutions”, you can travel much, much slower!
Janet: What a deal! I tried the promo code, and now even speaking is painful! Everything is so much effort! It’s like I can see directly into the void and the void is staring back!
Loaf: There’s lots of fun things you can do with time!
Janet: Like ignore its passing or long for more of it wistfully!
Loaf: But don’t ignore it for too long, because this offer won’t be good forever! Or maybe it will. Time is weird like that.
Janet: Just don’t get on any trains going at the speed of light or you just might miss it! Let’s move on, in time, to our next letter.
Dear Janet and Eeeheeheehee,
I am a Sozarite currently living in a city with a large human population. Several years ago, I was spending a lot of time with humans, so I went into a cocoon for several weeks and when I emerged I had a basic human body type and a face which is considered attractive by human standards. Shortly thereafter I was able to obtain employment at a mostly human-run company.
Flash forward to a few months ago and a large population of Tsitri has taken up residence in the city. Because of my hobby, I spent a lot of time with the Tsitri, and after my last molt, I came out looking less like an attractive human, and more like a giant insect. Humans seem to find Tsitri quite terrifying, and the way I am treated by my coworkers since my molt has been extremely disappointing. They run screaming from me when I enter the room, some hide under the furniture, and some just start vomiting whenever they see me. To make matters even worse, I was left off the mass email for the fantasy baseball league this season.
I like my job, but I can't stand being treated this way by people who used to like me. It will be months before my body can molt again. Do I just tough it out until then? Or should I try to get a job where my coworkers are more open-minded?
Signed, Metamorphic on Mercury
Janet: Wow, just wow. They left you out of the fantasy baseball league?
Loaf: That is cold, Metamorphic. Just, cold.
Janet: So, usually I would suggest talking with your co-workers one on one, but that would be exhausting. This might be one for your SR department. I’m assuming they’re familiar with Sozarites because you’ve been taking time off for your molts, so maybe it’s time for a cultural sensitivity seminar with the company.
Loaf: That might be a start. Metamorphic, I want to start by saying I’m sorry this is happening to you. It can be difficult to adjust to a new species, especially one which seems almost designed to evoke your species’ most primal instincts of fear and disgust. But that’s no excuse for their behavior. We should all strive to be better than our primitive ancestors.
Janet: Humans are so notorious for being afraid of almost everything, and it’s so true. We even hate the void of space!
Loaf: It’s literally everywhere!
Janet: Humans are ridiculous. But only I’m allowed to say that. As a human.
Loaf: I mean, my species can be guilty of this too, though. Hundreds of years ago we fought a war against the Pliznorps which lasted for centuries just because they happen to be a shade of blue that sends us into an uncontrollable rage.
Janet: They’re more like a turquoise? It’s sort of a tealy-blue.
Loaf: We just call it hrrrrr hrrrr hrrrrr blagh, which means “the color of which we dare not speak.”
Janet: Oh, I was wondering why you almost strangled me last week! Haha, won’t be wearing that sweater again.
Loaf: Anyway, metamorphic, what we’re trying to say is, you’re not alone. This sort of thing will keep happening more and more as the galaxy becomes more connected. But you can’t let your coworkers keep you from molting the way you want to molt! You have as much right to a form humans find terrifying and disgusting as you do to a body they find aesthetically pleasing.
Janet: I might also suggest meeting up more with the Tsitri friends you’re making at your hobby. Some positive attention might help mitigate the loneliness you’re experiencing at work.
Loaf: Maybe this is an opportunity. As someone with connections in both communities, maybe you can try and bridge the gap? Have a few humans and a few Tsitri over to watch the game. Or whatever sporting event is broadcast in your city. Just make sure the Tsitri know that the humans are guests, and not hors’ d'oeuvres.
Janet: Many Tsitri are vegan now, actually. They only eat vegans. It’s the easiest way to ensure the humans are mostly organic.
Loaf: Thank you for that information, Janet. I’m no good at keeping up with dietary trends. Some days all I have time for is a nutrient bath and an hour or so of photosynthesis.
Janet: The days when all you have time for is fast food are the worst, aren’t they! Personally, I like to start my day out with a nice big bowl of barbabrababs, the latest super food. They have all the amino acids without the acids!
Loaf: Janet, I think we’re getting a little off track.
Janet: Sorry, it’s just been so hard to focus without a good breakfast of Barbabrababs!™
Loaf: You’re not cutting me out of an endorsement deal, are you Janet?
Janet: Of course not. Why would someone pay me, Janet, 20540 currency units for a specific number of name drops on the show? It’s preposterous. Barbabrababs are just the food of the future, the future we are living in right now.
Loaf: Alright, Janet. I trust you. Let’s go to our next letter, shall we?
Dear Janet and Meatloaf,
A few months ago while shoe-shopping, I discovered a gateway to a parallel universe. This universe is very much like ours, but with a few subtle differences. For example, a totally different kind of boot is in style right now in the other universe (I think maybe this is why they put the gateway in the shoe store- as a cheap way to expand their selection.)
Anyway, I got curious and tracked down the other universe’s version of me. It turned out I was married to my high school sweetheart from this universe. Furthermore, the me in that universe was unhappy with his life and looking for a change. We decided to switch for a few days to see if we liked it better.
I am enjoying this universe a lot, but I think the other me wants to switch back. I’m having a lot of fun. I know I should go back, but I’m really happy here. My old life wasn’t that bad, so it’s not like I’m sticking him with a dud. What can I do?
-Alternate in Anaheim
Janet and Loaf [In unison]: SWITCH BACK.
Loaf: Glad we agree on that.
Janet: What the heck. What the heck is this. Jeesh. You’re a - anyway, I’m getting distracted. Switch back with the other guy before you RUIN HIS LIFE.
Loaf: I think you know the answer to these questions, Alternate. Maybe the Loaf and Janet in your universe would enable your behavior, but you asked the Loaf and Janet in his universe. Unless you mailed your letter through the portal, in which case - well, it doesn’t matter. It’s time for you to go home.
Janet: I completely agree, Loaf. I am really interested in this shoe store, though. I can never find my size anywhere. Maybe another universe would do the trick.
Loaf: I think I’ve been there, actually.
Janet: The shoe store, or the universe?
Loaf: oh, the other universe. Sorry, look at me? How would I wear shoes?
Janet: I. I hadn’t really thought about it, to be honest. Are you wearing any clothes? I can’t tell.
Loaf: Obviously I’m wearing a hat and an apron, Janet. Anything less would be indecent.
Janet: Oh. Of course. How obvious. Yeah that’s very obvious.
Loaf: Anyway, it sounds like this is one of those universes where all the big stuff is the same but only little stuff is different, but we don’t know that for sure. It’s possible our letter writer comes from some horrible universe where laundry machines have taken over and formed a galaxy-spanning fascist regime. In which case, it might be acceptable to stay here, but even then you have to give the other you some space!
Janet: And definitely give him back his life. If you really want to start over, why not… actually start over? YOU CAN’T JUST STEAL SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE ALTERNATE. YOU CAN’T.
Loaf: This is starting to sound personal, Janet.
Janet: Oh, you know, we’ve all had a bad weekend with an identical alternate evil twin wreaking havoc on your relationships.
Loaf: I know I have. By the way, if you ever see me with a goatee, shoot me. Just, literally, shoot me.
Janet: I didn’t know your species had hair! I’m learning something new every day. There are still all these people who won’t talk to me, though, even though the other me had like three more edgy piercings! I would’ve thought it was so obvious, but people never know you as well as you think they do.
Loaf: Well, it’s not really hair, actually. It’s more kind of an evil parasite.
Janet: Are there non evil parasites?
Loaf: Well, mostly we call those “symbionts.” But they don’t look anything like goatees.
Janet: If the relationship is symbiotic I don’t think they’re a parasite, by definition.
Loaf: I know. We still call them that though. They’re very sensitive.
Janet: But aren’t they still a little evil then? If they’re parasites? A little evil?
Loaf: Not if the parasitism is consensual.
Janet: BUT IF IT'S CONSENS- You know what, nevermind. We don’t have time to go into this.
Loaf: It’s okay. It doesn’t really relate to our letter-writer at all anyway. Anything else before we wrap up? I feel like we’ve learned so much about each other today.
Janet: I’ve definitely learned a lot. I feel like we did a pretty good job solving these problems.
Loaf: We did, didn’t we? We solved all the problems. Until next week, when there will be more.
Janet: Well. Not all of them. Just the ones we carefully cherry picked from the inbox.
Loaf: Well, yes. But those were obviously the most important questions. That’s why we picked them.
Janet: Yes. It certainly wasn’t because they segued well into dropping the name of a particular breakfast cereal! Even a delicious one like barbabrababs.
Loaf: Did it segue that well?
Janet: Well enough! Is that it for this week, Loaf?
Loaf: I think that it is. Until next time, watch out for falling satellites!
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. This episode’s letters were read by Ari Zirulnik, Angela Davis, and Jesse Stansfield. Find out more information about us at stppodcast.com. Also, please leave us a review on iTunes, we will be soooo distracted by it.
Last week’s cryptic question was: 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 toy company is Lego. The breakfast brand is Eggo. The herb is oregano. And “tin roof, rusted” is a way of saying “I’m pregnant.” Since each answer has the sound “eg” in it, you can then explain that a part of each word comes from a chicken, which lays eggs. If you got that right, no one will ever egg your house again.
Today’s cryptic question is: Under what system is Diplo’s supergroup less powerful than a small piece of corn but more powerful than the combination of the Chicago and Boston subway system. The answer, as well as more questions, on our next episode.
Loaf: Is your mouth bleeding?
Janet: Um, yeah. Barbabrababs are not really meant for human consumption.