Nov 20th, 2019, 04:20 PM

Review of Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms

By Drew Barnes
cover of medallion status
Cover of Medallion Status, Image Credit: Drew Barnes
A review of John Hodgman's second collection of personal stories

John Hodgman’s Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms is a poignant and highly personal look into the world of the little luxuries given in the secret rooms of public life and what happens when that life becomes more and more private of no choice of your own. 

Content warning: casual mention of self-harm. 

In his previous book, Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches, actor, author and internet judge, John Hodgman describes his experience in joining a small coastal town in Maine as well as his relationship with the culture of New England. His latest book Medallion Status explores his journey through the world of “soft, protective minor fame.”

“Thank you, Mr. Hodgman,” she said. “Thank you for being Gold.”

Most people know John Hodgman as the actor who played the PC in a line of extremely successful Apple commercials in which a Mac computer and a PC are personified. Others know him from his time as a contributor for The Daily Show with John Stewart. Still, others may know him from his string of roles as “a variety of mustache creeps” on police procedurals and network dramas. These sudden and occasional appearances on television have all but ended. 

Medallion Status explores the privileges given to those with money and notoriety and what happens when fame recedes. A primary focus and inspiration for the title of the book is the Delta frequent flier rewards program in which your status is denoted by a title consisting of a precious metal succeeded by “medallion status.” John’s obsession with such status is spurred when he is thanked at his terminal. Hodgman describes the moment in which the attendant recognizes his status saying “‘Thank you, Mr. Hodgman,’ she said. ‘Thank you for being Gold.’”

Similar to his gold medallion status, the author describes the call of a private and expensive hotel that houses many a celebrity when they are traveling to Los Angles. Hodgman uses the hotel to explore the use of the friendly and caring affect that is highly present in the secret rooms and the change in that affect as his fame lessened. 

John Hodgman with his book, Image credit: Wikimedia user: Rhododendrites

One of the most revealing moments was when the author describes sitting at breakfast at the hotel as a few doctors describe waltzing into a Golden Globes party that Hodgman himself was not invited to. He describes a hyperbolic conversation between the doctors and at that moment, the jealousy and longing for what was once quite common in his life was striking. He states in resolution to the story, “I was glad for them. They really did seem to have had a good time. I was also glad they were doctors because I felt about ready to slit my wrists with the shards of that abusive-jazz-drums-movie DVD I had broken in half the night before.”

The book is structured as a series of personal stories; each tied together by the theme of exclusivity. Occasionally, the stories seem unrelated to each other but as the continue, they align and stick the landing with an intelligent and concise message about needs and personal priorities. 

Pick up the book today to hear the story of a party with a mythbuster and some moderately famous Instagram corgis or the story of how not to kick your parents out. You can get the book at