Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms

Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms

"[An] affecting and hilarious meditation on fame and prestige as seen through the lens of an airline loyalty program." --The AV Club A hilarious and honest new book in which John Hodgman, New York Times bestselling author of Vacationland, leaves vacation behind and gets back to work as a still somewhat famous person . . . and then loses his jobAfter spending most of hi...

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Title:Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms
Author:John Hodgman
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms Reviews

  • Katherine

    I've been a fan of Mr. Hodgman since he was a regular Resident Expert on the Daily Show. I always felt he was one of my people (nerdy, weirdo GenXers,) and so I've followed his career since.

    It was a bit melancholic to read this book, to see that slow ebb of fame that rolled out like a tide in his life. It's expressed directly, and through his recounting of the rise and fall of his airline miles status.

    I'm sure he will be OK, even though he doesn't appear on my television

    I've been a fan of Mr. Hodgman since he was a regular Resident Expert on the Daily Show. I always felt he was one of my people (nerdy, weirdo GenXers,) and so I've followed his career since.

    It was a bit melancholic to read this book, to see that slow ebb of fame that rolled out like a tide in his life. It's expressed directly, and through his recounting of the rise and fall of his airline miles status.

    I'm sure he will be OK, even though he doesn't appear on my television anymore. He is such a good writer, I wish he would take a crack at fiction, some of the more Lovecraftian touches he drips into his nonfiction make me think he'd write a great horror book, and I'd like to see that.

    So yeah, there are a lot of chuckle worthy moments in this book, a bit of sadness, a lot of embarrassment. I felt a bit of Fremdscham in some parts, like I was seeing *too* much of the semi-famous person.

    Still, this is a great book and I was delighted. I'm kind of happy to discover I'm not the only one who grew stress bone spurs post election.

  • Jamie Berger

    I want to give this 4.5 because Vacationland (JH's previous book) is a 6 and only five stars are available. But reviews are important and this deserves more than four. But if you haven't read Vacationland (his last book) and think of Hodgman as that guy on TV who wrote the fake facts and history books, run don't walk to read (or listen to!) Vacationland and you'll start thinking of him as an incisive, insightful, moving, and yes funny essayist alongside names like Rakoff and Sedaris and Saunders

    I want to give this 4.5 because Vacationland (JH's previous book) is a 6 and only five stars are available. But reviews are important and this deserves more than four. But if you haven't read Vacationland (his last book) and think of Hodgman as that guy on TV who wrote the fake facts and history books, run don't walk to read (or listen to!) Vacationland and you'll start thinking of him as an incisive, insightful, moving, and yes funny essayist alongside names like Rakoff and Sedaris and Saunders. You can do this before Medallion Status is even available in stores! (9/10/19)

    UPDATE 9/30/19: I host a podcast. John H. was the first guest, three years ago, give or take. He will be the 73rd guest, this coming week, circa 10/6 or so, about a week before the book is to officially drop. We talk about Medallion Statuses (Statae?) of all sorts, and much much more. You can find the show wherever you get your pods or at 15minutesjamieberger dot com. Join us, won't you?

    10/13: that conversation with JKH is up at

  • Mike

    John Hodgman, who used to create very funny fake facts in his books, now takes very funny and very real stories from his real life and turns them into beautiful lessons that allow for the expression and experience of a full range of human emotions. The stories in this book, which my first sentence has thus far done a terribly shitty job of describing, center on human matters, familial and professional, that seem surface and/or jokingly narcissistic on the surface, but in fact link through the se

    John Hodgman, who used to create very funny fake facts in his books, now takes very funny and very real stories from his real life and turns them into beautiful lessons that allow for the expression and experience of a full range of human emotions. The stories in this book, which my first sentence has thus far done a terribly shitty job of describing, center on human matters, familial and professional, that seem surface and/or jokingly narcissistic on the surface, but in fact link through the secret architecture of Hodgman's literary genius to connect at the end in a powerful and very introspective payoff. You will, in these pages, enjoy the White Privilege comedy of John Hodgman, but you will also learn about his thoughts on parenting, his feelings on the 2016 election, the death of his 18 year old cat, and the nude scene contract rider he had to sign. I am not doing this book any more justice in this review than I did for Vacationland (Hodgman's last, and very excellent, book), but I recommend you read this book, especially if you are a man in your mid to late 40's or god help you, 50, like me. It is funny and wise and cutting and kind. That is all.

  • Chad

    If you're a fan of John Hodgman's humor, this is the book for you. John was a longtime correspondent for

    and the PC in those famous Mac vs. PC ads from around 10 years ago. He's a very wry writer. His "voice" definitely comes through in his writing as well. This book details his adventures after his first book

    was published. It describes his somewhat fall from fame as his popularity as an actor waned. It's a very funny book. I found myself snickering throughout as I rea

    If you're a fan of John Hodgman's humor, this is the book for you. John was a longtime correspondent for

    and the PC in those famous Mac vs. PC ads from around 10 years ago. He's a very wry writer. His "voice" definitely comes through in his writing as well. This book details his adventures after his first book

    was published. It describes his somewhat fall from fame as his popularity as an actor waned. It's a very funny book. I found myself snickering throughout as I read this over my lunch hour at work. All I can say, is that I'll be first in line for the next one!

  • Mark Wheaton

    It would probably be a fun Amazon review of John Hodgman’s well-observed and entertaining as all hell, “Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms” to list out only the many ways the author, here, a sort of Dominick Dunne of Hunted Unease, uses to describe himself as he presumes others see him. “A random person from television that we don’t recognize,” by the parents of a hospitalized child. “This weird bearded withered old man, a dark glimpse into the future of humanity,” by teenaged prom

    It would probably be a fun Amazon review of John Hodgman’s well-observed and entertaining as all hell, “Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms” to list out only the many ways the author, here, a sort of Dominick Dunne of Hunted Unease, uses to describe himself as he presumes others see him. “A random person from television that we don’t recognize,” by the parents of a hospitalized child. “This weird bearded withered old man, a dark glimpse into the future of humanity,” by teenaged prom attendees. Even a member of “just another rich family who have convinced themselves that wealth makes them virtuous and thus deserving of special treatment,” by those his Disney VIP tour guide just cut him in front of in a line at Disneyland.

    But if all those things were true, would we delight in reading his adventures? Or is this another hedge against the impostor syndrome the author speaks to later even as he recounts his delight at the mini-perks of Medallion Status level of an unnamed, yet easily Google-able airline?

    The book promises a look behind the curtain of celebrity and celebrity-adjacent life in cities, hotels, sets, and tony functions around the country, but time and again, rather than sink effortlessly into the world of glitzy artifice, the author seems to have one foot out the door in each instance, already logging the experience to be retold later. Experiences, the book suggests are on the wane.

    “It’s good to know when you’re no longer on the list,” Hodgman tells us, referring to a guest list at the Chateau Marmont, in a refrain that rings throughout the book. “That time in your life is over,” he says elsewhere, in response to being offered pot by a fellow named Captain Weed. What’s so compelling about the narrative is trying to figure out whether he is trying to convince us or himself of his acceptance of this creeping obsolescence.

    All to say, the book is as laugh out loud funny—the phrase “jazzbo carny music for lonely boys” instantly the best description for Tom Waits music this Waits fan has ever heard—as it can be utterly, nakedly, emotionally brutal—I had to put the book down for a minute or two after the Petey chapter. You should read it, if only to know why should you ever be in Palm Beach looking for cheap, barely worn suits in the exclusive brand Custer was wearing when he died at Little Bighorn, they’re available to you in rack after rack.

    Or, well, to get to the final chapter which I read twice and will probably read again as it’s a whole book in and of itself.

  • Didi Chanoch

    I think this may be Hodgman's best work to date. Funny, sad, wise, clever, and ultimately deeply moving. It is a collection of pieces that make up a greater whole, a tale of minor fame and what happens after.

  • Quinn

    Part travel-log, part memoir, John Hodgman's

    is sure to be a hit with fans of his previous work,

    . This work focuses primarily on his acting career, with particular attention paid to the people, places, and odd situations he found himself in as a result.

    Pros:

    - Hodgman's affable, if self-effacing style returns in, "Medallion Status." While I wouldn't call any of the jokes, "gut busters," this work does provi

    Part travel-log, part memoir, John Hodgman's

    is sure to be a hit with fans of his previous work,

    . This work focuses primarily on his acting career, with particular attention paid to the people, places, and odd situations he found himself in as a result.

    Pros:

    - Hodgman's affable, if self-effacing style returns in, "Medallion Status." While I wouldn't call any of the jokes, "gut busters," this work does provide a steady stream of laughs. His writing and presentation style reminded me a touch of Andy Rooney in the way that he reflected on his life, fame, and career trajectory.

    - I can't say any essay hit me as hard emotionally as some of the essays from "Vacationland," but it was still enjoyable to spend a few hours with John Hodgman.

    - No individual chapter is longer than 45 minutes, and each of the chapters are reasonably self-contained. This means that it is easy to digest the book in smaller bites if you so wish.

    Cons:

    - I don't consider it a con, but fans of the current presidential administration will likely not be a fan of a few of the later chapters.

    - I could see how some may tire of John's self-effacing attitude and the honesty with which he appears to present his neuroses. For me, I found they made him more relatable as an author, and my reaction to said neuroses never rose to the level of frustration that I felt with Marc Maron's

    .

    - (Nitpick) While I understand and respect Hodgman's withholding of the location of his home in Maine and the name's of the town's residents, this same withholding makes less sense to me with regards to the airline referenced in the title of, "Medallion Status." Hodgman himself points out it is just an internet search away and reveals the name at the tail end of the book (spoiler alert: it's Delta).

    Conclusion:

    This book is much more focused on Hodgman's career and fame than Vactationland. I appreciate that it can balance the serious, the absurd, and the funny parts of celebrity (and its waning). I applaud Hodgman for his approach to comedy, which includes both a conscience and an awareness of the privilege associated with being a straight, white, wealthy man. Finally, I am excited to see what Hodgman will come out with next.

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  • Kathleen Gray

    Think of this as a collection of anecdotes. Hodgman has a dry sense of humor which serves him well in some situations (his adventures such as they are in Hollywood) and less so in others. I read this as a short story collection rather than as a memoir - a collection with a unifying theme of wanting better flyer status. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. I suspect this is more rewarding as an audiobook with Hodgman's distinct voice narrating.

  • C. A.

    If you've read John Hodgman's work before, or if you've seen him at live events, or if you listen to his podcast with Jess Thorn "Judge John Hodgman" where he rules on just about everything, you already know you'll enjoy this latest book of stories.

    If you've only experienced Hodgman from his guest-starring roles on various TV shows, or his appearances on The Daily Show, or even his long-ago Apple commercials, you should definitely read this. These are the stories behind those stories

    If you've read John Hodgman's work before, or if you've seen him at live events, or if you listen to his podcast with Jess Thorn "Judge John Hodgman" where he rules on just about everything, you already know you'll enjoy this latest book of stories.

    If you've only experienced Hodgman from his guest-starring roles on various TV shows, or his appearances on The Daily Show, or even his long-ago Apple commercials, you should definitely read this. These are the stories behind those stories, the circumstances of how he got the job, how he lost the job, and what happened in between.

    But ultimately it's a book about chasing fame (and airline points) and what happens when both start to fade. It is funny, and touching, and insightful, and bizarre.

    And carrying it publicly might get you a seat upgrade*.

    *This will probably not happen.

  • Charlie Miller

    I’m a huge fan of John Hodgman’s podcast, and I was extremely eager to read this book. I love books of humor and books about travel, particularly dull, work-related travel since it’s so much more relatable and so much less enviable than the travel people tend to write about.

    I was surprised to see how closely Hodgman’s voice on the page mirrored his voice on the podcast and disappointed that it didn’t quite work for me. While there were plenty of laughs, a lot of the humor felt quite

    I’m a huge fan of John Hodgman’s podcast, and I was extremely eager to read this book. I love books of humor and books about travel, particularly dull, work-related travel since it’s so much more relatable and so much less enviable than the travel people tend to write about.

    I was surprised to see how closely Hodgman’s voice on the page mirrored his voice on the podcast and disappointed that it didn’t quite work for me. While there were plenty of laughs, a lot of the humor felt quite awkward. Watching improv comedy can be fun, but reading the transcript of an improv sketch? Less so. This was most pronounced in Hodgman’s use of fake dialogue, which was pretty jarring in parts and consistently undercut genuinely humorous situations. These asides work well in audio comedy, where they’re aided by Hodgman’s inflection and a giggling, kindly co-host, but including them here felt like a disservice to the reader. The world is funny enough as it is; why resort to injecting your reimagining of it?

    Overall, this book was a lot of fun to read and I really appreciated the moments of sincerity and vulnerability, which are plentiful. I already know which essays I’ll think back to, and they’re the ones that have nothing to do with points and everything to do with people. My favorites are: the one about pets, the one about jobs, and and the one about the election. I’m now really looking forward to reading

    , since my impression is that it’s an even more personal and humanistic work.

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