Episode 60: Afraid of the Dark, Invention

Cooking tragedy
Foster cats
Night lights
Sleeping preferences
3rd grade inventions
Peeing on the toilet seat
Achewood (by Chris Onstad)

Episode 60: Afraid of the Dark, Invention Shel We Read a Poem?

Cooking tragedyFoster catsExistentialismNight lightsSleeping preferencesTinnitus3rd grade inventionsPeeing on the toilet seatAchewood (by Chris Onstad)Episode transcript here:  https://laurenhudgins.com/2022/04/20/episode-60-afraid-of-the-dark-invention/shelwereadapoem@gmail.com@ShelWeRead


Intro music

British Voice: Shel We Read a Poem.

Russ: Hello all and welcome to Shel We Read a Poem. I’m Russ.

Lauren: And I’m Lauren.

Russ: See you soon, Lauren.

Lauren: Yeah, see you in a couple days.

Russ: Two days now, isn’t it

Lauren: Although by the time people will be listening to this, you will be gone.

Russ: I’ll already be there and back again. Oh, dear. I ruined dinner.

Lauren: What do you mean?

Russ: Ruined it. I destroyed it. This was the most tragic… I don’t make a lot of cooking mistakes, but when I do they are tragic. Beyond tragic.

Lauren: Oh, yeah?

Russ: We were doing hand rolls, temaki. And I got this recipe from my mother in law. She emailed me the recipe. And the email lists the steps. And then at the bottom gives the measurements of things a lot like, you know, the recipes you see on cooking websites where it’s like, “This is the gruel my father once made when he worked in the mine before the big cave in. Anyway, here’s the recipe.” When did recipe sites start doing that?

Lauren: I’ve heard… So my theory on it was that it just creates more space for advertising. But also recipes are not copyrightable. But the expression of the recipe is copyrightable. So the way that you talk about the recipe is copyrightable. And so… I don’t know. They could still just copy the recipe. But anyhow…

Russ: So it’s okay if it’s copyrighted as Pappy’s Mine Cave In Gruel? Anyway…

Lauren: No, I don’t think the title… I think the title “Pappy’s blah, blah, blah”… unless everybody knew it as “Pappy’s blah, blah, blah” would probably be considered expression.

Russ: Well, anyway, as far as expression goes, I was making temaki, which the way that my mother in law does, it involves salmon and sushi rice all kind of mixed together, and then you scoop it into nori, right? I pulled up the recipe, and looked at the measurements just to remind myself and I was like, perfect, that sounds right. And measured everything out. And it’s a lot of vinegar and sugar and salt, mostly, that goes into the mix. And I mixed it all together. And it seems slightly more wet than normal. But I didn’t think too much of it. And it spooned nicely. Like it was the right amount of sticky and I was like okay, that’s all that’s fine, and started eating it. And at that point, I’d had a little bit of THC. And things often taste brighter when I’m in that mindset. So I was like, “Man, this tastes a little bit funny.” Maybe I’m just… it’s that different experience. It’s that, you know, things tastes a little bit more mouthfilling. Well, three quarters of the way through the bowl, I realized: That recipe is for three cups of rice. And I had made one cup of rice.

Lauren: So you had way too much vinegar and sugar and such.

Russ: And salt. I was it was vinegar rice.

Lauren: I might enjoy that.

Russ: It was very flavorful.

Lauren: I love vinegar.

Russ: It was pickled rice. Oh my god.

Lauren: I probably would have enjoyed it, but not so much all the sugar, but I love vinegar.

Russ: Yeah. It was far from inedible. It was fine. I was like “yeah, this this. This sure does have a unique flavor.”

Lauren: Way to go, Russ. What did your wife think?

Russ: Well, she’s such a kind hearted soul. She said, “It tastes fine to me.” She was quite clearly lying.

Lauren: Oh, that was nice.

Russ: That was nice of her to tell those sweet, sweet lies. How are things on that end?

Lauren: Not too bad. I just got back from feeding my friend’s cats–who were my first foster kittens ever—and they are British Shorthairs and they are very naughty.

Russ: Do they look silly?

Lauren: Yes, they look incredibly silly. They have kind of smooshy wide faces and bright orange eyes. They really like to get into all the food and so as I was feeding them, I was carrying their bowls of food, and I was putting them down and I noticed only had one with me. Where it was the other one? Oh, he had gotten up on the counter and started helping himself to the whole can. Little shit.

Russ: He is solving this problem. Well, what are we reading today?

Lauren: Alrighty. “Afraid of the Dark.”

Russ: Oh, I like this one.

Lauren: It is a good one.

I’m Reginald Clark, I’m afraid of the dark
So I always insist on the light on,
And my teddy to hug,
And my blanket to rub,
And my thumby to suck or to bite on.
And three bedtime stories,
Two trips to the toilet,
Two prayers, and five hugs from my mommy,
I’m Reginald Clark, I’m afraid from the dark
So please do not close this book on me.

And it has a baby looking critter—I mean a human baby looking critter—in a crib with a stuffed animal poking its head out to one side and a blanket on the other. And the crib says RC.

Russ: I remember this poem from when I was a child.

Lauren: I do too. But I kind of mix it up with The Monster at the End of this Book a little bit.

Russ: Yeah, we’ve talked about that, haven’t we?

Lauren: Yeah.

Russ: I can’t remember if I thought about it in this way at the time, or if my mind just conflated it since then, but the idea—when I was a child—that when you closed the book, the book characters experienced darkness or stopped existing, was an existential crisis for my elementary school mind.

Lauren: I mean, I definitely thought about it, but I didn’t consider it real. It wasn’t that… I didn’t think you think it was real either… but like, I didn’t go down that path of worrying about it too much. It was a little… maybe just a moment that we’ve been like, “Oh, what if he were scared?” But I was like, oh, you know, the books closed. He doesn’t exist.

Russ: I’m sure I thought about that for an entire day, walking around the house leaving books open.

Lauren: Yeah. Did you sleep with a nightlight?

Russ: Oh, yes. When I was small. And to this day, I prefer sound or light or both. I very prefer going to sleep with the television on.

Lauren: See, the reason I chose this poem is because I am quite the opposite. I am very… I don’t sleep super well, especially getting to sleep. And I am very particular about temperature, and sound, and humidity even, and light. And so, I am fussy like Reginald Clark before I go to bed, but our desires are very different.

Russ: So do you need pitch darkness?

Lauren: I want pitch darkness and complete silence.

Russ: Do you have like blackout curtains?

Lauren: I do you have blackout curtains in my room.

Russ: And how well do you find them to function?

Lauren: Pretty well. Yeah, they function pretty well. There’s a little bit of light that can come in through the top but unless it’s a… unless it’s a full moon, and we have clouds anyway, so I don’t usually have lights coming into my room from elsewhere Because my room is on the side of the house. So I don’t really have to look at the streetlights

Russ: What is the perfect sleeping temperature?

Lauren: So I prefer to be pretty cool and just use blankets to deal with the difference. I like it about 64, maybe 65 with blankets

Russ: Whoa! Wow. That’s that’s chilly.

Lauren: Well I also have a lot of blankets. A lot.

Russ: Do you emtomb yourself in blankets or is there like the one leg that pokes out?

Lauren: No, it’s quite a lot of blankets.

Russ: And I’m very much a one leg poking out kind of person.

Lauren: No. See, I actually do get cold when I sleep. You wouldn’t think that from liking the room to be cool, but I do get cold when I sleep. So I just like to bury in blankets. Just bury myself.

Russ: A hibernating bear such as it is.

Lauren: Yes. I like it dark and cool like a cave. My favorite sleep that I had in the past year was when I was in Florida because I could have the air conditioning on and the window open a little bit to let the humidity come in. So I could just perfectly control the temperature and humidity and I was like “This is… this is great. This is so good.”

Russ: Sometimes if I want to take a nap, one of my favorite things to do is put on a movie or TV show that I know really well and won’t be distracted by and could repeat, like could speak along with, because it’ll put me right to sleep. It’s like a metronome.

Lauren: I want it silent. It’s been harder now that I have a cat because I can’t shut my door or the cat will throw a fit so I have to line everything up really carefully so that I don’t get any stray light from elsewhere into my room.

Russ: So is the door cracked so it can come and go or does your door swing closed?

Lauren: No. My door is cracked so Minerva can come in and out, otherwise she will let me know.

Russ: What about a cat door?

Lauren: I guess I could do that.

Russ: I never conceived of this possibility.

Lauren: No I did but it just seems… One it seems real tacky. And two, then the cat door would go click click click in the middle of night as the cat went in and out.

Russ: How can we solve that? A cat orifice of some kind. Like one of those things that looks like one of the wind socks you see at the airport.

Lauren: I mean, I could put a curtain in front of my door and I do have a curtain in front of the space between my hallway the main room.

Russ: Cat orifice sounds like a Jinji Ito manga. I’m trying to remember about specific like memories of the dark and why it is… It’s probably for the same reason that I dislike silence at any time. I always find silence oppressive.

Lauren: See, I don’t ever experience silence. I always hear noises. Also, I have a type of tinnitus where you hear a whooshing in your ear with your heartbeat.

Russ: Oh, wow, that would drive me mad.

Lauren: I forget what it’s called. Oh, yeah and it just started pretty recently, but I’ve just had to live with it. Let me look up the type of tinnitus it is.

Russ: Yes, let’s.

Lauren: It’s called pulsatile tinnitus.

Russ: Oh, that makes sense.

Lauren: And it’s not as annoying as the ringing in one’s ears. It sounds kind of like having your head on somebody’s chest. But with more of a whooshing sound.

Russ: You’ve seen those videos of those completely soundproof rooms, the ones that absorb so much sound that you hear your blood going through your veins without tinnitus. Like it’s so oppressive that you can hear yourself thinking.

Lauren: I’ve never been in one.

Russ: I haven’t either. I would love to, that would drive me properly mad.

Lauren: I think I’d still hear things even if it was my body. And I’d also I think I get a lot of my ideas of where things are in the room by hearing.

Russ: You have Daredevil powers!

Lauren: So if you put me in a room where everything was supposed to be completely baffled, I would probably detect differences in air pressure.

Russ: Laughs. This is some Matt Murdock shit right here.

Lauren: I would probably enjoy it. But I also probably wouldn’t find it all that in my way silent. I would probably… and put quotes around the word silent, because I would probably notice kind of where the edges of the room were.

Russ: I’m going to talk about inventions.

Lauren: All right.

Russ: Because I’m reading “Invention.”

Lauren: Oh my.


I’ve done it, I’ve done it!
Guess what I’ve done!
Invented a light that plugs into the sun.
The sun is bright enough,
The bulb is strong enough,
But, oh, there’s only one thing wrong…

The cord ain’t long enough.

And you have your Shel child wearing overalls, reaching as hard as they can with a cord up towards the heavens. And the cord trails off and trails off and terminates in a light bulb.

Lauren: When you said “Shel child” at first… Both laugh.

Russ: You know. They way Shel draws children. They look vaguely orb shaped and, you know, the Shel child.

Lauren: Right. I thought you were talking about a shell of a human child.

Russ: I’ve also been playing a lot of Elden Ring and that sounds like an enemy that might be in their “Shell Child.”

Lauren: Everything in Elden Ring is so grimdark. So like, uncalled… like awkwardly grim dark.

Russ: The 80,000 Times Stabbed King. Old Headless McGee. The Sufferer.

Lauren: Yeah. Just, oh my god, it’s over the top.

Russ: Did you ever invent anything when you were a child?

Lauren: Not really. We had to do… I remember in, I think it was third grade, having to invent something for a project…

Russ: I also did in third grade.

Lauren: …and thinking it was just the silliest thing ever. They were like, “You need to invent something.” I was like “Invent what? What do you think me, the third grader, is going to come up with that hasn’t been done. Are you serious? You can’t just…”

Russ: What did you invent? Because I remember what I invented.

Lauren: I remember what I did too and it was “the cat mat for the brat cat.” It was just a litter box mat. I was like “Probably this exists, but whatever.”

Russ: Well, let’s hear the jingle one more time.

Lauren: No.

Russ: No. Laughs.

Lauren: But I had to come up with a jingle. And I remember… and this is how you know I had a problem with ADD, is because I got a terrible grade on this because somehow… because apparently you were supposed to make the invention and I didn’t bring a sample. And somehow I completely missed that this was something I was supposed to do.

Russ: So yours was purely conceptual, didn’t get past storyboarding?

Lauren: No. And I mean, it would have been easy just to like cut a rug or something…

Russ: …a piece of cardboard.

Lauren: …but I missed that I was supposed to do that.

Russ: My invention was the toilet seat warmer.

Lauren: Oh, see this did exist, but is actually a good idea and it was not something you would have been aware of in the United States.

Russ: Yes. I had not yet been to Japan as a third grader, and so I did not know that there are wonderful magical toilet seats out there that heat themselves like some gift of Prometheus. Well, I, as children do, had experienced a cold seat and wanted a solution to this problem. Well, lo and behold, what can Old Russy do? Old Russy can take a piece of cardboard, cut it into the vague shape of a toilet seat, and then pull too long socks around it, is what Old Russy can do.

Lauren: So it wasn’t even a thing that could warm the toilet seat. It was just sort of a scarf for the…

Russ: It was just a pad that you set on top of the toilet seat.

Did you ever sit on a padded toilet seat?

Russ: Yes. Yes, I have. It is the worst sensation.

Lauren: The worst. And often whatever material is made of, the foam, was cracked a little bit, too. So it just kind of like scratched your butt when you sat on it.

Russ: Yes. Oh, wow, what a core memory that is.

Lauren: See, I don’t like warm toilet seats.

Russ: I love warm toilet seats.

Lauren: Even in Japan, I was just like, I don’t like warm toilet seats. Because the thing is, when a toilet seat is warm, and you’re not used to it being warm, it just makes you think of the butt that was there just before you.

Russ: And I would be… Okay. I’m probably revealing way too much about my personality, and maybe a therapist needs to get a hold of this. But I love it when I find a toilet seat that’s not heated, but is still warm from the person before.

Lauren: Why?

Russ: I don’t… it’s like a small gift, like something that they left behind where it’s like, “Hello, fellow pooper. I knew that you were going to be here, too. I gift you with my body’s warm.” You know, like the Fremen from Dune, but it’s their warmth instead of their water.

Lauren: Alright. I mean, this probably happens more often to women since women sit on toilet seats more often.

Russ: It’s funny, you mentioned that I have transitioned to a full time sitzpinkler.

Lauren: See, I think it makes a lot of sense. Unless you’re doing it where you’re just whipping it out for convenience, sitting down is a lot… I… look… Ok, look, I am all for gender neutral bathrooms in general, but I do not like piss on the floor. I don’t like piss on the floor. Or the toilet seat

Russ: I was gonna say is this a feature? In the gender neutral bathroom, is just a drain in the corner, was the image that I got.

Lauren: When you have people with penises who are rude, meaning cis men, they will tend to piss on the floor.

Russ: I’m laughing not because you’re lying, but just because I too don’t understand why.

Lauren: Laughs. Yes. Like I’m like “cool gender neutral bathrooms.” But can we just have a no cis men bathroom, please.

Russ: I have a… it’s kind of informal system. Like, if I’m out at a restaurant or I don’t know, pick your location, a shopping mall. And there is a urinal. I’ll use that. Just if I’m in a hurry. But if I’m at like my home or my place of work 100% of the time, sit to pee.

Lauren: Yeah, yeah, I get that.

Russ: But peeing into a toilet while standing, I find irritating. Peeing into a urinal is fine because it’s just right there. But peeing into a toilet requires aiming and I guess I’m too lazy in my old age.

Lauren: This is why there’s piss on the floor. Even young men are lazy. I remember being in the college dorms and we all had gender neutral bathrooms and it was like “Stop peeing on the toilet. Stop peeing on the floor.”

Russ: But I couldn’t imagine… how foul of a human being would you have to be? Because of course I’ve peed on the seat. But you know what you do afterwards? You just wipe it off. There’s toilet paper right there.

Lauren: A lot of women, if they do pee on the seat, they don’t clean it up. But it’s less frequent than if you just have people with dicks coming in and spraying everywhere.

Russ: I have legit no idea. What kind of a monster would you have to be?

Lauren: Someone who is very grossed out by your own piss I guess? Well, Shel We Read a Poem: Lots of piss

Russ: Lots of piss today. I was gonna talk about inventions. Both laugh. We need the mind map of Shel… It’s like we talked about inventions all the way to piss. Stadium Buddy!

Lauren: I’m sure Shel talks about piss in his more adult books, but not a lot about piss in his children’s books.

Russ: Then my mind took invention and went in two directions. And one was something that plugs into the sun and so I was like, “Wow, cool. How would that work?” Having just, you know, watched some TED talk on Dyson spheres.

Lauren: Dyson sphere! That’s what I was going to say.

Russ: And for any listener who’s unfamiliar, that’s encircling part or all of a star in some sort of energy transference material. It’s purely a thought experiment, but it’s a way that a spacefaring species might generate enough energy. Lots of cool pictures online, be sure to Google Image Search pictures of Dyson spheres. And so that would be like the ultimate invention for humanity. But then the other direction it went, was the old comic Achewood drawn by Chris Onstad.

Lauren: You know, I just took a tweet from the account Out of Context Achewood and sent it to my friend today, because my friend really likes hot sauce and has been trying to emulate the Hot Ones. Which is, I think, a YouTube series where they…

Russ: I love and watch every episode.

Lauren: And so today I saw No Context Achewood on Twitter had an Achewood panel that’s said “Dude, let me hit that with a little of this new Doctor Lunatic Assisted Suicide habanero sauce I just got.” And then “Jesus Ray, why don’t you just throw my food away and mace my mouth.”

Russ: Laughs. I remember that one.

Lauren: Laughs. I believe the guy who writes Achewood either lived in Portland or still lives in Portland.

Russ: As of last note, he lives in Portland, Oregon. Cool.

Lauren: Cool. For a little bit, he was writing the food column for the Portland Mercury.

Russ: Oh, nice.

Lauren: It was like a long time ago though.

Russ: I met him one time in Austin, Texas, where he had come to do a book signing in and he drew one of my favorite characters in the book, which is Philippe. And Philippe’s mother sometimes sends him odd gifts, and one of them is a pair of shoes that when taking a step, say the words “I’m a special boy.” The only trouble is that they plug into the wall, so he can’t go far letting the world know that he’s a special boy. But then rounding out the entire circle of inventions in the Dyson sphere and solar power and all like that I would read about the Carrington Event, which was a massive solar flare that hit Earth in 1859. And the storm was so energetic that telegraph operators at the time could unplug their telegraph machines, and they would keep sending messages, just because the the the solar current and energy provided was so powerful.

I imagine the messages were gibberish though.

Russ: No, no, they came through perfectly clear and they found the operators… It lasted for several hours, but the operators found that the messages came through better because there wasn’t any varying of the power like that you would get from the old style batteries. Of course if that happened today, it would be a substantial problem.

Lauren: Very confusing.

Russ: Destroy a lot of satellites.

Lauren: Well, that’s a neat thing to learn about from Achewood.

Russ: Do you have any uplifting thoughts for our listeners?

Lauren: Oh, I got a really cute cat toy from Chips Toys and it is a felt knife with catnip. And so Minerva who has a very bad attitude now has a knife.

Russ: The cat has a knife.

Lauren: The cat has a knife.

Outro music.