Two Cents Plus Tax
Episode Six: “Lasagna Casserole + Green Card Marriages”
Transcript has been lightly edited for readability.
(theme song plays)
K: I’m Krystal.
C: I’m Caitlin.
K: And this is …
K & C: Two Cents Plus Tax!
C: Well, welcome back to Two Cents Plus Tax!
K: Man, and I never sound (laughs) … energetic enough. I gotta get my energy up. I’m gonna work on it.
C: It’s our Easter episode.
K: Oh yeah, it totally is Easter! (laughs)
C: It is! We have risen.
K: Yeah. (laughs) The podcast has risen. Rolled away that rock. Man, yeah, I totally forgot it was Easter. I guess because of the like just not being around my family or being able to go places, the holidays kinda sneak up on me. Because normally there would be like a big to-do and I’d be like, oh I’m going home to my family. Also we don’t get Easter off at my job, like we don’t get the day after Easter off—
C: Who does?
K: I feel like that’s a thing you’d get in school, like when—
K: —or at least we did in California. What would always happen is either it would be like, spring break would start the week before, and so you’d have that whole spring break, and then the day after that Sunday we would also get off, or it would either be like, oh, spring break starts the Sunday of Easter and then you’d get that week off, that entire week off.
K: Yeah I don’t know I guess maybe that is not the case everywhere, which I’m just learning.
C: I have a neighbor who every year, they put up a huge cross with some kind of … (laughs) it’s not a sheet. I guess some kinda fabric—
C: I don’t know. There’s probably a meaning to it, but they put that huge cross up and a sign that says “He is Risen.”
K: Oh, good.
C: And they don’t really put up anything else throughout the year. It’s only on Easter. Just this, and it’s like, He Is Risen. Okay. Got it.
K: Not even Christmas? So they care that he rose. They don’t care that he was born? Like they don’t—
C: Maybe they—they probably do put up something for Christmas, but I feel like Easter is their thing. They love Easter, and they are here to give you that yearly reminder that he’s up.
What are we discussing today?
K: Uh, so today, we’re talking about popularity, which, I mean—
C: Interesting, interesting.
K: Interesting topic, for sure with social media and celebrity culture being what it is, popularity is I think much different now than it has been in recent decades, centuries, (laughs) what have you.
C: For sure.
K: So what sort of spurred your choosing of this topic?
C: Well, I should say I did not choose this topic. That was our producer Toshio.
K: That was my way of giving him some credit!
C: Yes, hi Toshio! Sorry you could not be with us today.
K: I miss you!
C: He’s off with Bowen Yang.
C: Bowen heard our last episode; reached out; and they’re off together, so congratulations.
K: Fingers crossed. Fingers crossed. Anything could happen.
C: This podcast makes dreams come true.
K: It brings people together. For sure.
C: It does. And, you know, someone actually referred to our podcast as popular the other day on Twitter.
K: (laughs) Did they? Oh yeah, that’s right!
C: Which made my day. (laughs)
K: Yeah. I mean, like I said, you gotta speak it into existence.
C: I agree. I totally agree. So were you popular growing up?
K: It’s funny; I think other people may have said that, but I don’t think I necessarily viewed myself as popular. I think I had a lot of different kinds of friends, but I don’t know that I viewed myself as like, oh she’s a popular girl. But probably in hindsight, I maybe was, a little bit. (laughs)
C: Mm-hmm. You’re popular now.
K: (laughing) Again, I don’t think that that’s true either.
C: Well, you know I texted you that you’re the most popular person I know.
K; I mean, I don’t wanna say that’s sad, but (laughs) I’m not popular.
C: It’s the opposite of sad. No, I—
K: Yeah, I think of popularity kind of differently than I definitely did as a kid, and as an adult I don’t know that I necessarily have it. But as a kid or younger person, I had I think a lot of friends, and a lot of different kinds of friends, and a lot of friendships that lasted a long time. What about you? Were you like, the popular girl?
C: I was so popular.
K: Were you? I—
C: No. Not at all. No.
K: I could buy it.
C: I would not say … and this is kinda what I was kinda curious what—how you even define popularity. I would say that growing up, I always tried to be nice to people, so I think I had friends, but I certainly wasn’t popular. And then once I started junior high school and then high school, I was never there. I skipped school constantly. So no, I was not popular. No, I’m sure if you asked people, they would not even know I exist, kind of. Which sounds sad, but I don’t feel sad about it.
K: That’s interesting. Can I ask you a question about—
C: You can. Sure.
K: —so, you know, we both have disabilities. Physical disabilities—
K: (laughs) I mean, I know. If this is news to you, please go back and listen to the other episodes again. But we both have physical disabilities, and I always think about the ways in which that affects how people related to you as a person, you know—
C: Uh-huh. Oh, yeah. Totally.
K: Whether that’s, you know, getting to know you initially, or ongoing friendships and whatnot. And do you think that played any kind of part in your “popularity” or what have you when you were in school, or do you think it was like …
C: Oh, yeah. I mean, without getting really deep into my story, which is very kind of convoluted—my disability story, rather—
K: You don’t have to (laughs)—
C: No, no no. But what I’ll say is just my body has changed so much throughout my life. It’s not like it has been this sort of static disability status, you know? One reason I was not at school was because I was getting bullied so bad, so I would just stay home or hide in the bathroom if I had to go to school. So then I got to high school and more stuff happened, and so I just … I was at home and so no, I’m not gonna be popular, like I’m not there. How can you be popular if no one’s there, you know?
K: (laughs) Right. I think that’s kinda the reason I asked, you know? Because even within disability, there are distinctions for people who have acquired disabilities, people who have congenital disabilities, like that were born with them, and you know, their age has changed but their disability really is like, static, basically. But then also people who have disabilities that are like … what’s the word for like over time they reveal themselves? I’m trying to think of what it’s—
C: That’s me. So I’m whatever that word is.
K: Yeah. The three camps of disability, right? So I think those things affect how … not only how people relate to you, but how you relate to the world, right? For me, my disability is congenital. I was born with it; I’ve had it since forever, like I’ve never known the world or life without this disability—
K: —and so I think I have a level of comfort with myself that maybe other people might not have if they have an acquired disability, or if they have a disability that has changed their bodies over time, and so that’s sort of why I was curious about that. Because I definitely think that affects how people relate to you, how they feel about you, how you feel about yourself, how you feel about other people, and how you feel about the world in general, and it’s all very complicated. I didn’t mean to (laughs) make you bare your soul or anything that wasn’t—
C: No, that’s an excellent question, and I a hundred percent agree with you. I mean, we could spend so much time talking about this topic—
K: I mean, for sure.
C: —and how disability intersects with that.
K: Do you think that popularity … I don’t know. I feel like so often when we talk about it—we being society; culture; however we wanna define that—when we talk about it, it’s almost always starting with like your young adult, you know, teen or tween selves, and I just wonder why that period of our lives is so concerned with popularity as a concept. Because I mean, obviously it’s always a thing that’s present in our lives, but it definitely doesn’t ever have the intensity or effect that it does at that particular age—
K: —and I always just wonder why we’re so focused on it in our adolescence.
C: My mind goes the same place, and also, just I think back to growing up. So, you know, we’re born [in the] early 80’s, how prevalent that theme is in popular culture. In TV, in movies. And growing up consuming that kind of culture that has this message that popularity is so important … and also what I wanted to ask you about, because to me, within this culture we’re consuming—so I would say 80’s, 90’s—(laughing) it’s a weird time in pop culture, and I was thinking to myself of TV and movies that I’d watch with these themes. Like I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Teen Witch—
K: Yes, I have. (laughs)
C: Okay. There’s a song in there, I’m Gonna Be the Most Popular Girl.
K: (laughing) Yeah.
C: It is such a cheesy movie.
K: It’s not a good movie—
K: —but I definitely have fondness for it, for sure.
K: (laughs) Yeah. My relationship to that song is I never liked it, so I was outta the loop in terms of being part of the zeitgeist in finding it catchy like everyone else did, so in that way, I felt unpopular. But yeah, that was a huge song and the video was huge, and the lyrics are probably more important than the actual sound of the song. The song doesn’t, in my opinion, sound very good, but yeah, it was—
C: Agree. Agree. I agree with you.
K: (laughs) Thank you. I think we might have related to that band and the song the same way, which is to say we thought the lead singer was cute.
C: Yeah I had a crush on the singer. I liked him.
K: Yeah I was like, that I can get with. I can get with that. But yeah, the song for sure. I mean, again, I don’t know why. It’s just this super focused … yeah, it’s just very strange how adolescence is the time in which that is the most important thing in your life. I mean, I think partially, maybe it’s because you don’t really have anything else. Like you’re a teen. You don’t necessarily have fully adult responsibilities; you’re not necessarily always plugged into politics or what’s going on socially, so your whole world is literally what you do every day, which is go to school, right?
K: (laughs) So that’s pretty much how your world is shaped, and so like you were saying, it’s this vicious cycle of people create content or media about popularity, and then people consume it and they get these ideas about popularity and they sort of play those out in their own lives, and then they use those experiences as basis for more content or media about popularity, and it just keeps going on and on and we just keep recycling these ideas about why it matters, how it works, all this stuff. And it’s just so interesting to me why we haven’t yet gotten to a point where people are sort of … maybe we have, and I just don’t consume that media that’s doing this, but why we don’t have more interesting portrayals of popularity and tearing it down. I mean, I guess the show Popular kind of was that a little bit, kind of, digging into it.
C: Kind of going off of what you were just talking about, how it emerges in adolescence—so I sent you an article that I read today, and I’ll say I skimmed it, so don’t quote me on anything that I say. But this is science, y’all. They distinguish two different types of popularity. And let’s see if I get this kind of correct. One is a popularity that occurs during childhood, which is linked to likeability, being kind to others, being helpful; vs. in adolescence—
K: Right, yeah.
C: —a different form of popularity arises which is having to do with status, dominance, visibility. And I’m just thinking about, in psychology and developmental psychology, what is happening in your brain as you’re going through adolescence; the changes in your brain; how much of your development is linked to peer relationships and social relationships.
K: Mm-hmm. Right.
C: So, to me it does make sense that the definition of popularity evolves. It is fascinating to me that it is just this ubiquitous theme that is maybe … I mean, I don’t know if it’s universally important. I was wondering what you thought about … specifically, to me, I feel like there is an American form of popularity, and to me it goes back to American individualism—
C: —and then if you’re talking about status, that’s gonna go with capitalism. And sorry to get all like …
C: Ugh. Also with social media now, how, people taking photos—not that I would never do this, or would even have the opportunity—taking photos of yourself with cash or next to a car and that kind of thing.
K: It’s interesting because I think with social media, it’s not even those incredibly obvious markers of status. There are more, I would say more minor markers that I have—these are just things that I notice within social media, on Twitter I’ve seen, with younger people, people getting shamed for basically how their kitchens look, like oh my gosh, your kitchen has white appliances, (laughing), like that’s so low-status. You know? There’s so many things that people can point to as markers of status which are just … they’re everywhere—
K: —and so we totally get why there’s this other kind of popularity that is related to how do you present to the world. Not like your personality, but how do people perceive where you are in the sort of hierarchy, if you want to call it that.
C: What are some examples of culture that you think of like have you ever seen the movie Can’t Buy Me Love? Patrick Dempsey?
K: Yeah, I was gonna say, the whole entire genre of the teen comedy is basically the entire … like at the center of almost all of them is the idea of popularity, right?
C: Mean Girls.
K: Mean Girls. What’s the other one that people like? Can’t Hardly Wait. All of these teen comedies ;they have that at the center—
K: —even if they’re like, you know, Clueless is a Shakespearean retelling and Mean Girls is whatever, they always have this idea of like, this is popularity. This is what it looks like in this particular social circle, you know, this particular place, this particular time, and the conflicts from the movies, they arise from that, right? Like with Clueless, someone else comes in, they get taken under the wing by the popular people, and then they—
C: Wait that was—who—wait it wasn’t Shakespeare; it was whoever wrote that—
K: Oh no, it was—yeah, sorry, not Shakespeare. It was Jane Austen.
C: I’ve never read the book.
K: (laughing) I never have either.
C: I don’t really plan to.
K: I mean, I might. I don’t have anything against Jane Austen. I probably have all of her books on the canon. I mean on my Kindle.
C: I don’t have anything against her, I just … yeah, I don’t know. It’s not high on my priorities to read.
K: Yeah. I mean, I think also too it kinda goes back to the thing we talked about a couple episodes ago about pop culture that kind of passed us by, and that is one of those things that has kinda passed me by. Not necessarily because I am not interested in it; obviously we both like reading. But I think she’s also one of those people who has created so many stories that are ubiquitous in our culture that you don’t necessarily need to read the books to know what has happened in them. (laughs) But yeah, so I think teen comedies, a hundred percent at least have been—I don’t even know if they make them anymore—but the ones that were coming out when we were in our teens and early 20s, they definitely have popularity at the center, and I don’t know that if we were to watch shows like Euphoria, which is I think what teens watch—I haven’t seen it—
C: We need Toshio here, cuz he’s seen all of Euphoria, and he said it was really good. I don’t know much about it, though.
K: We need a teen correspondent who can tell us what’s happening with the teens, cuz I don’t know.
C: (sighs) I’m really sorry he’s not on this episode, cuz he would have some really hot takes for us.
K: (laughs) Dangit, Toshio.
C: But he’s off with Bowen.
K: Yeah, I mean, that’s more important right now in this particular moment.
C: It is. Love.
K: But yeah, with Clueless, that’s probably the one that I would point to. I mean, maybe also Bring It On, kind of.
C: Ooh, yeah.
K: Those are both for me top ten movies. (laughs) I love those movies so much.
K: But they really truly are about popularity, right? Clueless, the Brittany Murphy character comes in; the Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash characters take her under their wing; and the whole thing that they’re trying to do is teach her how to be popular, right? (laughs)
K: Teach her how to be like them and have the status that they have, because it’s truly what it is in that movie. It is all about the markers, it’s not necessarily about their likeability because you do see that they have good qualities, but they’re not interested in sharing them with everyone, right?
K: Like there’s a subset of people that they deem worthy of their attention. It’s definitely all about markers, and Mean Girls as well, right?
K: Like there are many cliques that have their status markers, but that’s still basically at the core of it, and yeah, I don’t know if that has changed, and if it has, it would be interesting to know, what are the media properties that have shown … cuz I still feel like it’s like that. Like that show that Mindy Kaling made … Never Have I Ever? Is that what it’s called, on Netflix?
C: Oh, I’ve not seen it.
K: It’s about a teen girl wh does something, and then something happens. (laughs) I don’t know.
C: (laughs) Cool!
K: Again, we need our teen correspondents!
C: Girl who does something and then something happens. You sound like me now!
K: Well … (laughs) I think the idea is to sort of get the attention of a certain person, and then—
K: —who’s like popular and attractive and whatever. You know, but it’s just … I mean, maybe you could even boil it down to like … all romcoms are about like trying to be liked in a—trying to get someone to see that you’re popular, or trying to get someone to see past your status markers, or see you for your status markers. I don’t know. I think there’s probably some kind of germ of that in there. But yeah, I think teen comedies are for sure a place where popularity reigns, and it’s like the most important thing. It’s the most important thing about anyone and everyone.
C: I feel so relieved not to be a teen not to be a teen, not to be in my twenties anymore.
K: I know, that’s a thing I was thinking about too. When we were teens, popularity really was just confined to people that you know, like actually know in real life that are around you. Whereas now, teens have to deal with that and also trying to be popular on the internet, which is just … I can’t imagine … (laughs) I can’t imagine that being part of your adolescence, of growing up and being like, well I have to get more followers on Instagram, or I gotta get my TikTok views up, and it’s just like, no you don’t!
K: (laughs) Like there’s so much other stuff that’s important!
C: Oh god, yeah.
K: But I can imagine that it’s just … yeah, it’s totally a different thing than when we were teens. Not to be all like, in my day … but in my day, we didn’t have this!
K: Like we barely even had messenger, you know? (laughs)
K: There was no … we had three-way calling and kinda had messenger and that was basically it.
C: Oh! You know what show is so … what I think is one of the most realistic depictions of not only being a teenager back in the time … back in the old days, when we were growing up, but also about friendships between girls? Is Pen15.
K: Oh yeah! Mm-hmm.
C: And again, I have to say that I’m so sad Toshio is not here, because he watched it first and then he told me to watch it and I did. It is so good. It’s so funny. It’s so smart. So cringey. So real. I love it. Bikini Kill does the theme song. They used a Bikini Kill—
C: —which I was like, wow! That to me is a pretty accurate portal of the awkwardness of adolescence. Unbearably awkward.
K: I don’t know, cuz I find a lot of times—like I said, I haven’t seen the show, but it seems like they’re younger teens, you know what I mean? Like they’re fourteen, fifteen, like that age, which I think is an entirely different way of looking at both adolescence, but also popularity, because I think most of the times when we see the teen comedies and stuff, they’re usually focused on people who are older, right? Like the older teens, so people who are, you know, sixteen seventeen eighteen, maybe young college students, what have you. So that is interesting to me to see. I would love to … I should definitely watch it and get a sense of what the show is, because I feel like there’s not enough content that’s focused on people that age, which I think is kind of … I guess I kinda get it, but I also don’t really see why that’s any different or less valuable to poke around in than teens who can drive or whatever.
K:(laughs) Cuz I always feel like we focus on that age because you’re almost an adult—
K: —like you’re almost there so adults are like, this is relatable. I remember this. But the younger teen years, people seem to want to unilaterally forget them. Speaking of Pen15, another kind of culture thing that happened or that came out a couple years ago was Eighth Grade, which I think was an incredible sort of exploration of that similar age, right? You’re not an older teen who’s like driving or whatever, but you’re just on the cusp of high school, you’re just getting used to kind of what it is to be a teenager. That movie was like … it’s such a sweet movie. (laughs) I really really liked it.
C: I haven’t seen it. So isn’t it a documentary by Bo Burnham? Is that right?
K: It’s not a documentary.
C: It’s not?
K: It’s a scripted dramedy.
C: Oh okay. I thought it was a documentary, and I was like, nope not watching, cuz eighth grade was so traumatic for me. I was like, I cannot. I can’t.
K: (laughs) You would be forgiven for thinking it’s a documentary, cuz it does feel … like the actress they hired, she’s actually that age, right?
K: Like a lot of these movies and shows, they’re hiring adults to play teens, and she’s literally like fourteen in the movie or whatever. So that, I think, really helped with the authenticity. But the movie was just so … I think the reason it felt like a documentary is cuz it’s so tender, and they do have those cringey moments, like you were saying with Pen15, like they don’t shy away from that. And also, they really do get into the sort of difficulty that arises when you become a teen of relating to your parents—parent in that movie, the dad. He’s incredibly sweet, just so sensitive, and he’s really trying, like making an effort, but he’s just like, I can’t get into her brain. She’s a thirteen- or fourteen-year-old girl, and I’m not that. I was never that, you know? So it’s always gonna be … we’re just gonna have to work with each other to get to where we need to be so that our relationship is healthy.
C: Honestly, I don’t know if I can watch it, even hearing you talk about it.
K: I think it’s worth it. I think if you could make it through Pen15, you can get through Eighth Grade. For sure.
C: Mkay. Okay.
K: That was a very, I thought, real look at popularity and how it affects kids, because the girl in the movie, she desperately wants to be popular. I mean, she has a Youtube account—or, is it account? Profile? What do kids call it? She has a Youtube channel. There we go. She has a Youtube channel that she does kind of secretly without people really knowing because she does have this desire to connect with people, but she’s so painfully shy and self-conscious, and she’s really sort of trying to figure out like, how can I be in the world in a way that makes me feel comfortable and lets me express myself without bringing down the kind of fury of mean teens, you know what I mean? It’s … ugh, it’s a really good movie. I highly recommend [it] if you haven’t seen it.
K: Bo Burnham did make it! Which was surprising to me.
K: Cuz, I mean, what? But I guess he’s a movie person now.
C: Well, any last thoughts on popularity?
K: I was kind of thinking … when you were a teen, you didn’t have any desire … was there any desire to be popular, or were you like, this is not something that I am interested in?
C: Not really. And I’m grateful for that, number one because I wasn’t. (laughs) But two, I was okay. I was okay with … I wish I had had more of a support system and I wish I had had friends, just because it was a really, really rocky time for me—
C: —but it wasn’t that I wanted to be popular.
K: So did you … you weren’t interested in being popular in a likeability sense, or in the status sense? Neither of those were intriguing to you?
C: Oh. I mean, I would say that I felt like people liked me enough, but I didn’t have a close support network, and I was really going through quite a lot at that age.
C: So I could have benefited a lot from just having a closer-knit circle of friends. But I never had the wish that, you know, I run this school.
K: (laughs) Yeah, no, I did not either, because like I said, I did not have the status things.
C: Right, nor did I.
K: But I think I had the likeability, but I think, like you were saying, as you become a teenager, that’s not enough. Popularity and social media, that’s a whole other new can of worms, and I would love to read more about not only how other people handle it but I … you know, people our age and whatnot are really going through it about … you know, their Twitter followers and how many views their IG stories get or whatever, and I don’t know how people have worked on themselves to have healthy relationships to it. To popularity; to social media; online popularity as we age, because I definitely would love to hear how people are dealing with it and whether or not people want it. Because I feel like it’s kind of a nightmare to be popular online.
C: Mm-hmm. Twitter, I also—if I’m looking at it too much, I notice an effect on my mental health, where I’m like, okay, I need to just shut it down, because it’s too much stimuli coming at me in too quick of a time. So many opinions; a lot of arbitrary stuff—
C: —that is not important to my life. And it is easy to get caught up in it, and I’m like, I need to kinda step away from this.
C: And it has nothing to do with popularity; it’s more just like the ingesting of all of these opinions and feelings in such a rapid amount of time … it’s too much. My brain overloads.
K: Yeah, so it’s the volume and the frequency that are intense, yeah.
C: Yes. It’s too much, yeah. It’s too much for me.
K: (laughs) This is gonna sound weird, but I think of all the social media platforms, Twitter’s definitely my favorite, even though people are like, why? It’s horrible! And I’m like, yeah, it definitely is. I have no comeback for that. I have no retort for that response. It’s just an interesting space, and I’m positive there’s so much research being done on how it’s affecting all of our brains, and I’m sure it’s not—
C: Oh, yeah. No, they’ve shown it’s basically toxic and makes you feel bad about yourself.
K: Yeah, it’s basically like a gerbil getting the little, like—
C: (electricity sound effect)
K: —pellet or whatever.
C: Oh, I thought you meant like an electric shock. (laughs)
K: I mean, that too! It’s both, right? You get the reward, and you get the punishment. So yeah, social media and popularity. I just … I can’t do it. And then like … we didn’t even get into like influencer culture.
C: Oh, no no.
K: I mean, even the word, it just makes me wanna (laughs) …
C: I know. It gives me the creeps.
K: Yeah. It makes me wanna take like a million showers. Yeah, it’s just a very interesting time to be alive. (laughs)
C: What a time to be alive, guys.
K: What a time to be alive. Thank you.
C: Well, I think we covered a lot of territory on popularity. I think we gave a brilliant analysis.
K: (laughs) It definitely was not rambling. It was well thought-out; straightforward; well-outlined. Yeah.
C: This week, it is your turn for Two Cents, No Tax.
C: And I’m excited about it, cuz I made a new list for Two Cents, No Tax. And for our new listeners, Two Cents No Tax is when we give one another a list of subjects, and the other one is gonna give us a little TLDR version of what they think about it. Are you ready for a little Two Cents, No Tax?
K: I think so. Yeah.
C: Some of my list is outrageous, I’m just gonna tell you—
K: (laughs) Oh my gosh.
C: —cuz it is so random too. But I’m gonna go with one topic that I would love to get your opinion on.
C: The first one … okay. Tell me what you think about weddings.
K: (laughs) You set me up for this.
C: No I didn’t! I’m genuinely curious. I have a lot of opinions, and I feel like we probably feel the same—
C: —but I would love to have you say it.
K: Okay. (laughs) You want me to take the bullet on this one. Okay. Well … so, listen. I’ve said this to my friends who are married, like I love them; I think they’re great. I love their partners; their partners are also great. But I think weddings are pointless, and I think they’re a waste of money and resources. I am probably going to at least one this year, maybe two in late 2021, and I went to one—the last one I went to was probably the last big thing I did before the pandemic, was I went to a wedding in December 2019. That was cool, and that was for queer friends of mine, and I’m like, okay. In that instance I’m like, you know what I’m on board. I’m all in for this wedding. It was my friends Dani and Grace—shoutout to Dani and Grace—yeah, I just don’t see the point, and more broadly speaking, I also don’t see the point of marriage in general.
K: I get it. The way I view marriage is the way you’re not supposed to view it in 2021, like in 2021, like in terms of what—
C: Tax cuts?
K: —yeah, in 2021, everyone’s like, oh you should get married for love, and I’m like, you should get married for money; for insurance coverage; for—
C: Oh. Right.
K: —for citizenship. If you are part of a religion where that is something where that is necessary; where that’s part of it, then those are the reasons you should get married. (laughs)
C:Right. Can I just interrupt you for just a minute and say that I am happy to marry someone to get a green card where I will be moving out of the country? I would love to go to Scotland. I’ve got friends there already. I feel like I would do well there. I’ve lived in Portland, so I know the climate. I wanna get out of the US, so somebody hook me up with a green card marriage. I will do it. I will pay you money.
K: (laughing) Twocentsplustaxpodcast@gmail if you’re willing to make this dream come true for Caitlin.
C: Marry me!
K: Yeah, so the two things I think about for that is like one, Scotland is very old, and I’m just always wary of very old places. As a wheelchair user, I’m like—
C: But we have a mutual Twitter and Instagram friend, Kat, who’s a wheelchair user in Glasgow.
K: Oh yeah, she did! She does—I mean but in the city, yeah that’s probably easier. So I guess if you’re moving to Glasgow, yes, you could probably make it. The other thing I was thinking of is that … you know, lots of places don’t want to take disabled citizens. (laughs)
C: Yeah. They do not want me.
K: Yeah, they don’t want us. Like we can’t immigrate to … anywhere. Because they’re like, no. (laughing) You can’t use our socialist medicine.
C: Right. That’s why I feel like I have to do it by a green card marriage. Because they aren’t gonna let me in on my own.
K: I wonder what it would be like even if you were trying to marry someone. Like how they would … like what that would go through.
C: They still wouldn’t let me.
K: I mean, and people, if you think this is a thing that we’re making up, like it’s actually true. Lots of countries, particularly lots of westernized countries, like Australia, Canada, the UK—
K: —they don’t allow disabled people to emigrate there, because they think they will be a drain on the healthcare system. You know, broadly speaking, that’s what the decisions are based on. So if you’re like, you’re making this up, totally google it. I think Canada barely changed their laws maybe—
K: —like last year or something? Two years ago?
K: That’s why when people are like, I’m leaving the country if this happens! I’m like, well good luck to you. I don’t have that option.
C: I know. I know.
K: So but yeah, I definitely think weddings—
C: (laughs) Right. Weddings.
K: I know, what were you talking about? We got back to—
C: We were talking about weddings, and I need somebody to marry me so I can leave.
K: (laughs) Yeah, it’s funny how conversation just goes where it goes. But no, so yeah, I’m not super … I like going to weddings, like if you wanna invite me, I’m like, I’m gonna go, but I personally don’t see the point. I’m not interested in having one if that ever became a thing. And people are always like, well, you’re just saying that cuz you’re single and you’ve never been married, and I’m like … yeah. I am. (laughs)
K: I don’t see why that invalidates my opinion in any way. I think they’re kind of pointless. In fact, I just heard about that there’s like a reality home HGTV-type show where people go and look at these houses, and then they also look at really fancy wedding receptions, and then they decide where they’re gonna take the money that the show is giving them or maybe that they have on their own, and then they decide like, oh are we gonna put this money towards a really fancy specific wedding, or are we gonna put this money towards a down payment on a house? And I cannot—
C: I cannot!
K: That is less in my wheelhouse. (laughs) First of all, I don’t wanna own a house, like I’m just not interested; and secondly, I don’t wanna get married. I think both those things are pointless. I mean, granted, don’t @ me about the homeownership. I know there’s a lefty reasoning for wanting to do that, but I’m just like, I don’t … I personally am not interested in it. But yeah, weddings, meh.
C: Well, you love landlords.
K: Oh, yeah.
C: You’ve told me that a lot. You love landlords, and you wanna give them as much money as you possibly can, and that’s why you refuse to buy a house.
K: Mmm. I really enjoy that markup, knowing that my apartment is worth a certain amount, but I’m paying maybe twice that. Yeah, I love that. It’s really really super fun for me.
C: The next one … let’s see. Which one shall I do? Oh, okay! I’m really curious to see what you’re gonna say about this person. This next person is a comedian.
K: (laughs) Okay.
C: And I guess you would call him an actor. You probably know more about him than I do just cuz you’re more aware of … I think I said in the first episode, you’re a pop culture connoisseur. Okay, so I would like to know your opinion of Eric Andre.
K: Okay. So I would say that I enjoy him in small doses. I personally am not the target audience for what he does—
C: Who is his target audience?
K: Well, so I think of him in sort of the same vein as like a Tim and Eric, like someone who is very absurdist … and absurdist kind of comic—
K: —and it’s very valid, and I get why other people enjoy it, but I personally cannot handle it. My nerves can’t handle it—
C: Yeah. Okay. Me too.
K: But I think he’s … he’s actually a very thoughtful, funny person, like if you hear him … I mean obviously he’s funny. But if you hear him on podcasts and stuff talking about his … it sounds pretentious, but his sort of ideas about comedy and why he does the kind of comedy he does, and how he makes it work, I think it’s really interesting. I also think it’s really interesting that for the most part, that kind of absurdist comedy is not usually … I don’t wanna say it’s not available, because like anyone can do it. But people who do that kinda comedy usually aren’t people of color—
K: —and definitely people of color do not become like, very well-known in that style, so I think it’s kind of interesting that he’s like carved out that little niche for himself as you know, a Black Jewish person—
K: —doing kind of like grossout slash absurdist slash—
K: —shocking comedy. I can’t handle it for my own—
C: Right. Yeah. I can’t handle him either, but I do …
K: I appreciate him.
C: Yeah, like I can appreciate what he’s doing. I just … it makes me so anxious that I can’t—I literally cannot handle watching it.
K: Can’t do it. (laughs) I respect everyone who’s watched Bad Trip, and I’m like, I respect everyone who’s in it, but I’m just like, this is not for me. I can’t do it. (laughs)
C: Right. (laughs) Okay. Ooh, I’ve got one, and I am setting you up on this one, cuz this is something that we’ve had discussions [about] and I thought you had … this is why I liked it, cuz I feel like you always have really interesting, thoughtful responses. So the next one we have is casserole.
K: (laughing) Okay. So I had a thing a couple of years ago on Twitter where I was like, what even is casserole? (laughs) Like I truly was like, I don’t know what it is. I know it’s a kind of food, and you put stuff together and then you … you bake it? (laughs)
K: But I was like okay, but what do you … I was trying to figure out what exactly it is, if it’s like … so, you know, there are different recipes where the whole thing is the kind of way you cook it. Like roasting something, or sometimes, like, oh it’s about the ingredients you use, and okay, if you use these ingredients, then it’s real gumbo vs. not real gumbo? You know what I mean?
K: I was like, how do people define casserole? Because I personally don’t know what it is, (laughing) and so I had all these people being like, well, you have to use this and you use these ingredients, and you cook it in this kind of pot or pan or what have you, or dish, and I have to say, I came away being like, I still don’t get it. (laughing) I still don’t know what it is. I also kind of jokingly, not really jokingly, was like, oh it must be like a white people thing that I just don’t understand, (laughs) because I think it’s like a food that you see a lot in sitcoms or whatever, you know, white sitcoms, about like, oh we’re having casserole, and I’m like, what is it though?
K: What’s in it? Like how do you … is like lasagna casserole?
C: I would think so.
K: Are enchiladas casserole? I don’t know. I’ve kind of been like …
C: I don’t consider enchiladas casserole. “Is lasagna casserole” is honestly a really good question. Is lasagna casserole? I don’t know.
K: We will do research. We’ll get back to you. People, if you have opinions about whether lasagna is casserole—
C: Yeah. I think maybe that should be the title of the episode.
K: (laughing) Is lasagna casserole?
C: Question mark.
K: Yeah, let’s do it.
C: I wonder what Garfield would say.
K: Yeah, I mean we know what he feels about lasagna.
C: He loves lasagna.
K: Does he end it if we classed it as something else? I don’t know.
C: I don’t know.
Okay, I’ll pick one more. Okay. How do you feel about personalized license plates?
K: Okay. I do have a take on this that’s probably kinda scoldy. I do think they’re fine. I think some of them are really funny, in my dad joke way, where they just activate your most base… where I’m like, that’s cute.
K: So I’m for them on that regard. What I don’t like—and again this is like the scoldy thing—I don’t really like when people post other people’s license plates on social media and stuff.
C: Mm. Mm-hmm.
K: It’s very weird to me that we have this idea of like … I mean generally this goes kinda toward my most scoldy take, which—I don’t think that anyone should post anyone else’s photos on social media without permission.
K: So I think that kinda goes along with that, where I’m like, why would you post this person’s … cuz you can find out so much information about people from the stuff that you post, and like a license plate is a very easily identifiable … it’s identifiable information, and so I’m just like, that seems iffy to me.
C: You know, I’m guilty of that.
K: I mean, a lot of people are.
K: And I hadn’t thought of that. I mean I do have a private Instagram account, and I think I posted on that, but the … maybe I shouldn’t say then, what the license plate said—
K: No, I mean—
C: Can I though? I thought it was so funny!
K: You didn’t say it, you know? You’re not saying what state it is, and what the car looks like, you know what I mean? That is the thing that like, when people post pictures of that kinda stuff, it’s like, here’s a bunch of information about a stranger that you’re just putting out there, so …
C: True. Although I feel like if you get a specific kind of personalized license plate, don’t you kinda want the attention for it?
K: You do, but you want the attention of like, the people where you live and are gonna be driving. Right? Like you don’t necessarily want it … I don’t know (laughs), like blasted out to thousands of other people that—
K: I don’t know. I just think it’s weird. Again it’s part of my, like I said, very … what’s the word? Philistine kind of idea, like, don’t post people’s information on social media.
C: No, I think you’re right. So I’ll just go ahead and say it though, since I’ve already posted it to my private account. It was “SO SICK.”
K: (laughs) That’s amazing!
C: That’s the license plate. The license plate was so sick, and I just thought it was so funny.
K: Ugh, no that’s not good. I can’t ask you about what kind of car, but like—
C: Oh, I have no idea. Don’t ask me about cars. I can’t tell you anything!
K: No, but I mean was it like a sporty type of car, or was it like a minivan? Cuz depending on the kind of car, it would be hilarious, I think.
C: (laughs) I mean it wasn’t a fancy car. I’ll tell you that.
K: That’s fun. (laughs)
C: Yeah. And it was this guy who would have really, really loud sex with my neighbor above me at the time.
K: (laughs) Okay.
C: So that was another reason why I was like, you know what, dude? Fuck you. Like you are keeping me awake—
K: (laughs) I’m forming an opinion—I’m forming an essence of this person. That is the perfect license plate for somebody like that, I think. (laughs)
C: Yeah. How do you feel about—and this was actually almost … this was almost on my list, was people saying the word “sick” to mean good. Like “that’s so sick!”
K: Oh, I like it. I say it.
C: Do you?
K: Is that not good?
C: No, I was just curious. I think it’s actually really interesting from a disability way, perspective.
K: Yeah, cuz you’re taking it from a negative to a positive. So that, to me, seems good.
C: Right. I just feel too old to say, like, “That’s so sick!”
K: Oh, I don’t! But I’m from California. (laughs)
C: You’re from California. I’m from the South. I don’t know. I don’t say it, but I was just curious what your thoughts were. Okay. Well, you’ve given me a lot to think about, Krystal.
K: I guess so. (laughs)
C: So I appreciate that. Thank you. This will conclude Two Cents, No Tax. Ding!
C: Okay. So now why don’t we talk about—what are you listening to, reading, watching this week?
K: I have two things. I … I’ll just start with the first thing. So I watched the Tina Turner documentary—
C: (gasps) Oh, I need to see that!
K: Oh my gosh. It’s so good. It’s so good.
K: Okay. So basically the documentary is … I think the reason it’s gotten so much attention is because Tina is actually interviewed in it, and her husband, and a bunch of people she has worked with for her entire career. I really loved it. They really do start at the beginning, like you learn she grew up very poor, and basically both of her parents abandoned her, like one and then the other, and when she was a teen, when her mother came back into the picture, that’s when she met Ike and went from that sort of neglectful, low-key abusive situation to another—not low-key, high-key—abusive situation that also happened to coincide with humongous musical success and stardom. So basically, the movie is sort of shaped around the fact that in the 80’s, she did an interview with People Magazine where she talked for the first time about her leaving Ike, and the reason that she left him is because he was incredibly abusive. So she goes into all this detail and that story kind of became her story for the rest of her career, like post-her divorce from Ike and becoming a solo artist, her entire career has been in the shadow of their partnership and that abusive relationship. And she talks in the movie about how disappointing this was for her—
K: —because the whole reason she did it, and she says it in the interview, and she also says it in the interview in the 80’s, and also in the interview for this movie, that the reason she talked about it was because she wanted to clear the air and let people know and be like, like this is a thing that happened, but she also wanted to state it and then move on, right? Move on in her own life with her own career, and her own choices and experiences, and she didn’t want that coloring everything. But it had the opposite effect. Because she was such a huge star, and so prominent, that her talking about her abuse so openly was not common at the time—
K: —and so people were very interested in having her have those conversations over and over and over again. And so then she was like, okay, well this interview didn’t work, so I’ll just write a book about it. So she wrote a book with Kurt Loder in the 80’s to basically tell her story, and then she was like, okay now I’m done. Now I’m out. And again, it did—
K: —opposite effect. People just wanted to talk about Ike and the abuse over and over and over, and it became really frustrating for her. And then again, the book was so popular, and it was at the same time she was doing the Private Dancer album and that was humongous, so she was everywhere and that’s all people wanted to talk about. And so she was like, you know what, they wanna make a movie about it, like fine go ahead. Maybe that means I don’t have to talk about it anymore. People can just watch the movie. But then that again didn’t help so basically her whole sort of take on that part of her life was that it happened, and it was bad. And “I didn’t want it to color the rest of my career, but people would not let me have that.” And people were like, oh I’m so sad that she’s sad about that part of her life. I’m like, why? It’s her life. She experienced it, so if she wants to say like, yeah, that part of my life was unequivocally bad, like who are we to be like, but you were so successful? And also to recont[extualize it], I think people … so in the wake of the documentary, people were like, “It’s sad that she is still so sad about that point in her life.” It goes along with that cult of toxic positivity, where everyone wants other people to recontextualize the bad things in their life as somehow as lessons learned—
K: —and here’s how i’m gonna move forward with positivity because of this horrible thing that happened, and sometimes you just can’t do that. I think overall it was a really … I don’t know,
if this is gonna be like the last public statement kind of thing that she does, I think it was a really nice sendoff, and I think the movie did a good job of foregrounding the part of her career that was like separate from Ike, you know?
K: And that was like, this is what she did because she wanted to do it, and it shows how hard she worked to get to that point, and I really enjoyed that part of it. So yeah, it’s on HBOMax.I think it’s just called Tina. All the trigger warnings, like there’s a lot of stuff that is in it but I think it’s totally worth it just to get a glimpse of her as a person now, especially because she doesn’t talk that much about her life anymore, so I really, really enjoyed that. What about you?
C: Well, I’m really glad you brought that up, because I have been meaning to watch it, and I forgot. So now I will watch it. I mean, it sounds amazing, and also when you were talking, I was just literally just shaking my head the whole time, cuz how dare people—
K: I know.
C: —think they have the right to have any kinda reaction or feelings about this woman who’s been through hell? I’m just like shaking.
K: It’s her life! Like if she thought it was bad, regardless of whatever you thought about what success she had, that doesn’t make the other things that she experienced not terrible. So yeah.
C: Right. Ugh. Anyway, I should move on. But I guess we’re talking about fairly intense things this week on what we’re ingesting.
K: (laughs) I mean we don’t have to, but that was—
C: No, but whatever. I mean, I enjoy it. So I read … I’ll talk about a book I read, which we’ve texted about, so I told you. It’s called The Push by Ashley Audrain. I don’t know if I’m pronouncing that right, but it is a psychological thriller. Very intense book. I would also say trigger warnings on this one. It addresses motherhood and generational trauma; abuse; discounting women’s opinions; and just straight up scary kids. So I won’t talk about too much cuz I don’t wanna spoil anything. But essentially it’s a woman who is in a marriage with this guy who I was hating reading the book, and it kinda goes back and forth between the protagonist, who’s this woman who is also a mother, and flashes back to her mom and her mom’s mom, and essentially sort of the cycles of abuse that happen.
C: And then she becomes a mother, the main character, and gives birth to a daughter, and she’s like, this child does not like me. And her husband is, you know, discounting that and telling her it’s all in her head and gaslighting her and all these things. And then very intense things happen within the book. It was so compelling and interesting. I really enjoyed it. If you like psychological thrillers, I highly recommend it. It’s not a light read; it’s not an easy read. So I finished that one, and I really need, I think, a light-hearted book after that one, because I immediately started on The Leavers by Lisa Ko. Have you read that one?
C: This is another one that is right up your alley. It is so devastating and so good. It won a bunch of awards. I’m late to it, as usual, a few years. I think it was like 2017, maybe, [that] it got published. But it is this child who’s Chinese American, and then one day his mom just disappears.
C: And there’s lots of stuff so far about identity. I’m very early in the book, but then he gets adopted by these white parents in this suburban town in upstate New York, and he’s the only Asian kid surrounded by white people; he’s traumatized. It’s really, really good so far, but I really also need to chill out with the material (laughs) that I’m taking in.
C: I think I need a little light-hearted book after this one.
C: Something funny, maybe, after the creepy kids and you know, racism and trauma.
K: Have you read … every time I think of a fun, kind of light-hearted book … have you read The Dud Avocado?
C: Dud avocado?
C: No, I haven’t heard of it.
K: Oh, it’s from like the 50’s. It’s about a woman, like a young college graduate, who is kind of a late bloomer, and she’s just kinda like, okay everyone’s having a good time and meeting people and I’m not doing any of that. And so she decides to just move to Paris, and it’s basically about her adventures in Paris when she moves there, because she can reinvent herself into someone who’s cool (laughs) and knows how to talk to men and whatever. It’s really short. Well not really, it’s like 250 pages or whatever. But I really like it as a coming-of-ageish … it’s a little bit sexy too—
K: —like it has some kind of interesting scenes. (laughs)
C: Okay! Sold. The Dud Avocado. I will read it and report back.
C: Okay, well what was your other thing?
K: I mean, (laughs) so my other thing … I guess this is what it’s gonna be. You’re gonna talk about books, and I’m gonna talk about stuff I watched, (laughing) cuz I don’t have any books on here.
C: No, I do have another thing—that is not a book—that I put.
K: No, I mean, it’s good. One of us should be the literate person.
K: Yeah, so the other thing I watched that I loved and have been thinking about ever since was another HBO documentary, The Lady and the Dale. Oh my gosh, this documentary, you guys. It’s so much. It’s a movie about … it’s a documentary about the justice system, the legal system, and how that works. It’s a documentary about gender performance, and, you know—
C: And scams!
K: Scams! I mean, obviously. Why didn’t I start with the scams?
K: It’s a documentary about scams, guys! Come on. You should be in from the—
K: But yeah, it’s about scams; there’s murder; there’s libertarianism (laughs); eventually there’s Fox News in a roundabout way … there is so much in this documentary. I honestly was shocked that I had never heard of her; that I’d never heard of the dale; that I’ve never heard of this court case. You know, as a person from California, I was like, how come I’ve never heard of this? I don’t know if like … maybe it just got buried in history or what have you, but man. It’s such an interesting story. It’s so good. It’s incredible. So I highly recommend The Lady and the Dale on HBOMax.
C: I will cosign that.
K: It’s really good.
C: Yeah. I will just say that the other thing I was gonna mention, and this is very brief, is that I wanna wish Pedro Pascal a belated birthday.
C: It was a few days ago, and I started watching—again, I’m gonna say this every episode—I was late to the party, but I started watching Narcos on Netflix—
K: Oh, okay.
C: —literally only because he is in that show. I don’t care about the Drug Enforcement Agency at all.
K: I don’t know if … did they think that they were gonna be the most interesting part of the show? Cuz every time I watch, I’m like what did they think they were doing—
K: —in the show? Maybe the creators of that show had blinkered intentions, but I’m like, they’re not the most interesting people. Anyway.
C: No. I don’t care about the American guy who’s the … like I don’t care about you at all. I just wanna see Agent Peña—
C: —and … ugh he looks so good. Anyway. There’s a book … but I do need to chill with the culture I’m ingesting, cuz it’s like Narcos and psychological thrillers and now this book about, you know, a mother leaving her child and abandonment issues.
K: Oh, man.
C: So yeah, kinda need to chill.
K: The Dud Avocado is definitely not—
C: The Dud Avocado. Okay, yeah, I will put that on my list. Well, I feel like we once again covered so much territory.
K: We did. Like I said, our conversation definitely wasn’t rambling—
K: —we knew all the names of the people we were mentioning (laughs)—
C: (laughs) Always.
K: —did not have to google anything; it came right to us … yeah, no. I thought this was a really good one. I like the idea of having episodes where we’re just kind of just like talking through a thing—
K: —rather than, here are my—boom, my three topics. Here are my three … it kinda feels interesting. Cuz you don’t know where it’s gonna go, so …
C: You never know where you’re going on this ride.
K: It’s true. (laughs)
K: Hit us up.
C: Alright. Well, until next week, guys!
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