The Washington Post

Chatological Humor: Monthly with Moron (October)

Oct 29, 2013

Gene Weingarten joined readers Tuesday, October 29 at noon for his monthly chat.

Results of the pre-chat polls:

Poll 1: This was an extremely controversial column by Emily Yoffe in Slate. What do you think of it?
- Male
- Female

Poll 2: Here is another piece about rape. How would you summarize your feelings about it?
- Male
- Female

NOTE: The monthly chat occurs the last Tuesday of every month. All the rest of the Tuesdays are "chat updates." If you have a question for Gene to answer during this monthly chat, please submit it on this page. He does not take questions during the chat updates.

Gene Weingarten's humor column, Below the Beltway, appears every Sunday in The Washington Post magazine. It is syndicated nationally by the Washington Post Writers Group.

About this chat:
At one time or another, Below the Beltway has managed to offend persons of both sexes as well as individuals belonging to every religious, ethnic, regional, political and socioeconomic group. If you know of a group we have missed, please write in and the situation will be promptly rectified. "Rectified" is a funny word.

On one Tuesday each month, Gene is online to take your questions and abuse. Although this chat is sometimes updated between live shows, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.

Important, secret note to readers: The management of The Washington Post apparently does not know this chat exists, or it would have been shut down long ago. Please do not tell them. Thank you.

Weingarten is also the author of "The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death," co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca and "Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs," with photographer Michael S. Williamson.

His most recent book, "The Fiddler In The Subway," is a collection of his full-length stories. He is working on a new book, called "One Day," about the events of December 28, 1986, a date chosen at random by drawing numbers from a hat.

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.

Ed's Note: If composing your questions in Microsoft Word please turn off the Smart Quotes functionality or use WordPad. I haven't the time to edit them out.

Good afternoon. 

Many of you have urged me to devote the entirety of the chat to Mr. Lou Reed and The Death of Cool.  I cannot.  I liked the few Velvet Underground songs I remember, and he seems to have been a worthy and interesting and influential man, but I cannot in good conscience add to the wave of adulation from Boomers.  That is  because of the violence done to rhyme, meter and syntax in Reed’s most well-known song, “Walk on the Wild Side.’  To enumerate the felonies:

He rhymes “A” with “A.”

He rhymes “head” with “head.” 

He rhymes “island” with “darlin’”

To make Apollo and “go-go-go” appear to scan, he woefully manhandles the pronunciation of “Apollo” as “AH-pol-OH.”  This was a pre-kindergarten move. 

To force a rhyme with “crash” he creates an entirely new meaning for “bash.”  In context, “bash” seems to indicate the effects of a post-euphoric depression, a meaning that has never attached to this word, before or since; a meaning does not even find traction 41 years later in the ridiculously accommodating Urban Dictionary.

This all in a song that is a scant 150 words long.  And it is all excused because he is cool, so he must be right.   Not here, baby.  Not in Chatological Humor, where even death offers no sanctuary from righteous scorn. 


Okay, now we are going to talk about rape, so if you haven’t yet taken the poll please do it now.  Good. 

Last week, confronting a recent public debate, I wrote a column with Gina about rape, a subject recently in the news in various depressing ways; my editor, Tom The Butcher, pronounced it unfit for publication for reasons that basically confirmed the thesis of the column, that it is impossible to discuss this subject except completely reverentially.   So you will get it here, now.  Ahem:


Today I am going to write about rape.   I have asked my fabulous feminist female friend Gina Barreca to join me … 

Gina: Begged.  

Gene: Cordially invited.

Gina:  Groveled.  You needed to cover your arse.   Let’s just get on with it. 

Gene:  Fine.  Last month, “Dear Prudence” advice-giver Emily Yoffe lamented in Slate that it is considered politically unacceptable to warn college women not to get droolingly drunk at parties, rendering themselves more vulnerable to rapists.  Her thesis was instantly proven true when she got savagely attacked across the Internet for being a rape-denying, rape-enabling, antifeminist rape facilitator and rape apologist and all-around Rapey McRapester person.    

Gina:  She deserved the heat.  This was NOT a good column. Every time a woman is told to act like a lady, it sets feminism back 100 years.  I assure you Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are rolling in their graves, which is no mean feat given the restrictive bustles and pinafores in which they were buried because that was what male-dominated society considered fitting and proper for ladies, just as it is now fitting and proper that ladies act demurely and responsibly at parties.   The fact is, college woman have the same right as college men to behave as jackasses without being charged with inviting attack.  They have every right to get vomit in their hair and on their shoes.  That is part of the college experience, for men and women alike, in large measure to assure that we purge that impulse from our systems before we have real jobs and real responsibilities and get thrown up on not by ourselves but by our babies.   Not getting drunk is not the best way to prevent rape. The best way to prevent rape is to get men to stop raping.  

Gene:  Agreed.  Agreed one hundred percent. But in the meantime, while we are at long last, belatedly, finally making the world unsafe for rapists, who we both agree are the only culprits here …  isn’t there room for a little commonsense advice?  Would it have been bad to write a column warning men not to walk through seedy neighborhoods at 2 a.m. wearing new Air Jordans and a Rolex? 

Gina:  That’s fine, sound advice, and easily heeded.   Men can wear sensible shoes  and a Timex.  But to paraphrase Elayne Boosler, a woman cannot choose, on a given day, at a given party, to leave her vagina in her other pants. 

Gene: But she can avoid the bad neighborhood !  

Gina:  It shouldn’t be a bad neighborhood.  It’s a party.  It’s a bad neighborhood because of rapists. 

Gene:  We are not talking about what should or should not be.  We are talking about what is.  And a frat party is a bad neighborhood for a drunk young woman. 

Gina: But she has every right to visit that neighborhood.   Black people in Birmingham Alabama had every right to visit Woolworth lunch counters in 1962.  Their leaders did not write articles counseling them that the most prudent action was to avoid such places. 

Gene:  Are you comparing the right to puke with the right to be treated as equal human beings in places of public accommodation?

Gina:  Actually, I am.  Same principle, if somewhat less monumental stakes. 

Gene:  Okay.  I’ll grant you that.  But no one is contesting that it is their right.  We are lamenting the unfairness of the world.  We are supporting punishment of rapists to the full extent of the law.  We hate rapists.  We do not allege that a woman who is unconscious is asking for rape.   But we are counseling a change in behavior, for safety’s sake.  Moreover, we contend a significant plurality of women agree with us, meaning me, here, as evidenced by the result of our poll. 

Gina: What?  There is no poll.  We are having this conversation last week, before your chat.  

Gene: Oh.  Well I just changed the end.  Unilaterally. 

Gina:  You’re not even talking to me anymore.  You’re writing this part on your own. 

Gene: You sound adorable when you’re mad.  


This chat often traffics in cynicism and negativity.    For a change, you will now be reading the opposite.   Has anyone else noticed the sudden, startling ubiquity of a foodstuff that wildly advances the form?   In the last year or so, at least in Washington D.C. and in Boston (I have confirmed this with a friend) has appeared a bright green olive from Sicily, called the castelvetrano.  It’s exquisite.  It is as though it is a different species of thing.   If you haven’t tried it, do. Here it is.


Okay, back to negativity.   Here’s a great Jew joke.  

And lastly, simply the greatest auditory illusion ever.

That's it. The chat begins at noon, Eastern time, sharp.

I applaud Emily Yoffe for going beyond the tired out "men shouldn't rape women" platitudes and brought our attention to the real problem: women's behavior. Although, I believe she did not go far enough in identifying the core issue: college. According to the Center for People who Need Statistics, 96.4% of rape in college would be prevented if there were no colleges. Let me be clear, only the perpetrators are responsible for rape, but if the college had not been founded and the admissions committee had not allowed these men in, there wouldn't be rape committed by those men at that college.The college should have assumed the applicants were potential rapists before granting admission. Not saying it's their fault, but they knew the dangers of allowing 18-22 year olds to live together in a community. Admissions committees out there - protect yourself. Do not admit students. It's just the responsible thing to do, given the facts.



I see no difference between warning women not to drink too much and warning people to be careful with their phones on Metro. I -want- to know what to do to protect myself! It's never the victim's fault, but that is cold comfort after your phone is stolen or you're assaulted. Same with pedestrians crossing a road. Watch out for cars! You might have the right-of-way, but you'll be dead if a driver hits you. I am a feminist and can't believe that real feminists would criticize Yoffe for this correct advice.

Believe it.   See below. 

Ugh who are you women voting for "valid points"? Really? I mean seriously think about what Emily Yoffe is suggesting: we can't predict the destructive behaviors of men (horrible gender-based stereotype #1); therefore, women should alter their own behavior (horrible gender-based stereotype #2).You do realize the extremes of the same arguments are used to oppress women round the world? In many countries and cultures women can't wander the streets, or wear certain clothes, or talk to certain people because it exposes them to the erratic dangers of men. Ridiculous.

I don't think either 1 or 2 is a "horrible gender-based stereotype."  They are gender-based sad facts.  By and large, rapists are men.   And by and large -- a sad fact -- women need to protect themselves.  

Gene, I thoroughly agree with you about the castelveltrano olive. I discovered it this year, as all of the grocery store olive bars in my Idaho town now carry it. It took me a while to warm up to olives back in the day, but if I had discovered these earlier, I would have been hooked from the start.

They almost ruined all other olives for me.  An incredibly complex taste AND texture.

I just had the castelvetrano out here in LA last month. It's quite good. A bit denser than other olives but the taste is great. Although I definitely prefer it in addition to other olives in a medley as opposed to a whole bowl of them.

I could consume a whole bowl, and have come close.

Interesting results so far in the poll.  My experience on gender questions has been that men usually out-feminist the women.  I attribute this partially to both sexes trying hard not to be predictable and stereotypical.  But in this case, men are far less likely to find fault with Yoffe's piece.   This is really a nerve-touching issue, isn't it?

I agree with those who argue that rape jokes are not appropriate. Yet, what about the "roo roo joke"? Isn't just about every version of that joke a rape and torture joke? Is the roo roo joke appropriate?

Yes, it is.  I have explained this in detail in the past.  The roo-roo joke is fine because the situation is sufficiently absurd and divorced from any real world we know.

At Belle's annual visit to the vet this week, the vet recommended a teeth evaluation and cleaning. I asked what the charge would be and got a very vague answer ("It depends") so I pressed for a better answer. The fee starts at $400 and was told that the highest she has seen it go is $1,000. Gene, I have never done this for any other dog I had. Belle is 8.5 years old and is in good health except for epilepsy. Should I go ahead with the dental work for her? I know I don't pay $1,000 to have my teeth cleaned! Thx.

Okay, just ran your question by Molly, who is now a big shot vet at a big shot clinic.   Here's what she said:

$400 as a base price sounds ballpark, because dental work on a dog requires general anesthesia, and that is costly.   She urges you to have this done at a place that has good anesthesia monitoring -- someone watching the dog's health throughout the procedure, because anesthesia is tricky and bad things can happen. 

The price should only go higher if there is some serious tooth problem.

So I think it's established that in song you can get away with rhymes that you can't while speaking, but where's the line? What's the most extreme-but-allowable rhyme you know of?

Dylan has a lot of them, and he pulls them off with inflection.  Can't think of one at the moment.  Do we have any nominees? 

is that the ONLY time she suggests that men also have a responsibility not to engage in binge drinking culture is when she tells her son to keep his wits about him so that he isn't falsely accused. Alcohol reduces inhibitions and the ability to read social cues. Granted. But this is just as true for men who might be more interested in consensual sex but are too drunk to realize or care that "sloppy drunk/passed out" is not consent from the other party. Or for men who do know about consent but aren't sober enough to warn off associates who don't care. When Yoffe starts telling dudes that is is THEIR responsibility not to binge drink (instead of sympathizing with them as she did in another column after a young man raped his [sober but sleeping] friend when he binge-drank over his parents' terminal illnesses), then I'll agree she was interested in harm reduction more than shaming. But she has a pattern of behavior when talking about gender, rape, and alcohol that disturbs me.

I agree with you.  Yoffe had one bad line in this column, and it was where she talks about warning her son not to behave badly lest he be ACCUSED of rape.   A very odd position.  It's the only tone-deaf portion of that piece, I think.

Gene, I'm well educated but am flummoxed by an apostrophe issue. The Post had its "Voters Guide" in the paper. Why no apostrophe? Isn't "voters" possessive? On a related note, the bathrooms are men's and women's rooms, right? I never know how to write "mothers day," "veterans day," etc. Do you or don't you use a possessive apostrophe in those cases? Thank you!

I have consulted with the final authority on these matters, Ms. Pat the Perfect.   It is a guide FOR voters, not a guide owned by voters, so "Voters" is right.   It's always Mother's Day, because Pat says so.  And it is a day owned by mothers. The syndicate that runs Barney and Clyde is The Washington Post Writers Group.   A group FOR writers.

So today the Post has a story (for which the pictures are online if one looks hard enough) about two Ohio University students who were photographed in public engaged in a sex act. Both were drunk. According to the prosecutor, the woman *cannot remember the incident*, but *nonetheless* said it was rape. The prosecutor would not bring charges. The man said she explicitly consented to the activity. Of possible relevance, the particular sex act involved is one usually associated with a men who are not "selfish in bed" and did not appear to be physically restraining her. And there was a crowd of witnesses who did not apparently perceive at the time that the woman was non-consenting. Assuming all these things are true, should we resolve the situation by saying that drunken women (like children) can never consent to sex and therefore this was still rape? (And should we change the law to say so?) The man's drunkenness, we will all surely agree, offers no diminishment of his criminal culpability, right? Or should we say, as the prosecutor did, that a woman still has a right to consent to sex after getting wasted, even if it's a terrible idea for her to do so (and for the man to agree)? Which of these outcomes better affords women their dignity as equals to men? And which, if either, will reduce the number of rapes?

I hate when these cases occur and are reported.  They should be reported -- they're part of the big story about how problematic rape cases sometimes are -- but they're misleading.  I have no doubt that the vast majority of reported rapes are in fact rapes.   And I have no doubt that there are way too many unreported rapes.   It's a crisis, and when cases like this happen they give ammunition to rape deniers or rape excusers. 

Seems to me the prosecutor did the right thing here.  I've seen the unblurred photos; you would be hard pressed to argue this woman was being victimized.   Everyone seems to be laughing and having a good time.

As far as making it rape to have sex with a severely inebriated person -- the equivalent of statutory rape?  In theory, I like that.   In practice, it might be really hard to apply.  

Gene, I would have rated that piece as "very good" regardless, but I wonder how many people read the article to the end to discover that it came from a collection of essays edited by the lovely Ms. Barreca. Does that count as a conflict of interest?

Why would it?  A poll asks you what you think of it.  It doesn't TELL you what to think of it, like I am about to do right now.  I think it is quite good.  A bit one-note, but quite good.  Perfect satire.  Making a point through inversion; waay too slick to be hamfisted.  It cannot be taken literally, obviously, but it certainly can and should be taken seriously.  It is saying DON'T BLAME THE VICTIM but doing it gently, through overstatement.  

Having said all that, the author is a former student of Gina's.  Gina showed it to me.  You got a problem wit dat?


Check the second verse of Home On The Range. Then check the rest of them.

I believe you are referring to the third verse of the 1910 version:

The red man was pressed from this part of the West
He's likely no more to return,
To the banks of Red River where seldom if ever
Their flickering camp-fires burn.

Interesting.   Seems to be making the argument that one good thing about being home on the range is that all of them Injuns have gone.

It's not like it's helping anyone actually get jobs right now, is it?

I have always felt college was overrated.   I like Molly's interpretation of  Cornell vet school:  "I feel like I'm not in college.  I'm in a trade school.  I'm learning a trade." 

But by and large, men are not rapists!!! There's a difference between random violent rapist, college predator, and drunken date-rape sex. We need to address prevention and punishment differently, since the perpetrators and circumstances are different.

You inverted my line and changed the meaning completely.  

You worry too much about rhyme. (Along with other word type stuff. I bet you correct people on the correct way to say "forte" at parties, don't you?)

You need a hyphen between word and type. 

It's quite simple: Most men aren't decrepit baby boomer liberals like you and Gina, and don't see everything through a "feminist prism." The story highlights the sad truth that there are very bad men out there, and it makes sense for women not to make themselves (more) vulnerable to those kinds of people.

I thought my position on this was clear.  

Also, as you have pointed out, the roo-roo joke ceases to be funny if you make the explorers/missionaries/victims women.

Yeah, but that's not the primary defense or explanation.  Men DO get raped.   Raping a man is as bad as raping a woman.  It is rape.

ONE BAD LINE? REALLY? Look, the whole piece is awful. And the worst part really is that she puts it all on women. No "young men, don't binge drink so that you don't rape someone while too drunk to remember to get mutual consent." No, "young men, don't binge drink so that you can stop your drunken male friends from raping someone." No, she puts it all on the women. I know that slippery slope arguments are dangerous, but really, this is the middle of the slope that leads to burquas.

Well, you are definitely not alone in feeling this. 

I am reading the poll results and I am shocked. According to the majority of these respondents, were I to have been raped in college during one of my many bacchanals, I would have been at least somewhat if not largely to blame as I should have spent my college years cowering in my dorm room or library rather than daring to have fun and act like the idiot college kid I was. Lovely.

Boy, there is a serious divide here.   I distinguish strongly between being "to blame" and being "unwisely drunk in a potentially bad situation."   

Newspapers prepare obituaries in advance for many people, both the famous and those who may be somewhat less prominent but who are older or have essentially finished their careers and who will surely merit an obit. They then update them periodically, and upon the person's death, the paper does a final edit/update and publishes them. Why aren't the current drafts available online? Yes, it would be rude to call them "draft obits," but they could be "Lives: An Overview." It would be a great service to readers, and the work has already been done. Yes, it would be work to deal with the feedback, but it would also allow errors to be fixed and holes to be filled. Why can't

There's actually a good answer to this.  Many advance obits are based in part on interviews with the subject, made with the promise and/or understanding that it won't be published until after death.  Sometimes people say stuff they wouldn't otherwise say.   That's the BEST reason.

Another reason, I think, is that it would seem creepy.  A little.

Gene, you have written often about the shanda for the goyim syndrome when a Jew does a heinous deed. How about the pride at the high percentage of Jews being awarded Nobel Prized this year?

Jews ALWAYS have an absurdly  high percentage of Nobels.  Richard Dawkins is currently in hot water for pointing this out.   It was not the observation itself, it was a comparison.  He noted that vastly more Jews than Muslims win the Nobel prize.  And asked why.   He concluded it was cultural emphasis on science as opposed to a cultural emphasis on the mysticism of "belief."

But back to your original question: The pride that Jews feel about this is tempered by worry.   Jews worry a LOT.  In this case, they are worried that it will lead to a second Holocaust, based on jealousy.   Jews believe in this following principle: "Yes, we are amazingly accomplished.  Shhhhh!"  I wrote a column about this not long ago.

I have a confession that I never told anyone. I technically lost my virginity (so I don't officially count this in my mind) when I was drunk in college and another student, who I did known slipped into my room and snuck into my bed. I awoke and found myself, with only a few seconds of conscious awareness, that I was having sex with another person. I fell back asleep seconds afterwards. The next morning, I realized I had had sex without my consent or advance knowledge. I technically had been raped. (No, this was not a dream. The person was still in my bed the next morning and readily admitted what had happened.) Does this admission mean anything different to anyone that I mention I am male and my rapist was female?

Well, this is certainly interesting.

First question: Did / do you feel violated?   I would argue that if the answer is no, it may technically be rape, but you are not allowed to place yourself in the category of those who were raped.    But I am guessing that you do consider this a violation, and are bothered.   I would actually like you to answer this. 

2.  Regardless of the answer to 1, yes, I do feel at least slightly differently about this, I think, than if you had been a female and your assailant was male.  The degree of coercion and degree of violation seems somehow different.  Am I wrong?  I'm willing to be told I am wrong.

3.  Didn't you have to be at least passively collaborative here? Absent the use of apparatuses, doesn't a male sort of have to be a willing participant to achieve penetration?  Or was there no penetration, in which case I am not sure what this qualifies as. 

Okay, this is officially interesting.   I'm really hoping that you didn't make this all up.  Can you respond please in a way I can publish?


What percent of men are likely to be rapists? Would a potential rapist even listen to advice not to rape? What percent of women could be victims? Would a potential victim listen to advice on how to avoid being raped? Articles that focus on the latter seem to be more likely to be effective than articles that focus on the former.

This is an interesting point !   It will make some people angry.  Share your anger, people.

From "The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar" "Put your hand on my head, baby, do I have a temperature ? I see people who are supposed to know better standing around like furniture." Best weird couplet ever, though, the Modern Lovers : "Pablo Picasso" "The girls would turn the color of an avocado When he drove down the street in his El Dorado" And "Pablo Picasso Was never called an a*****e"

HAHAHAHAHA.  Superior, all around.

Eminem rhymes "syringe" with "orange." I don't think I could do that in my voice, but it works for him.

I like that too.

Ok, lemme make sure I get this straight: Lou Reed failed because he rhymed some words that don't rhyme in what is by far his slightest song--and you're holding up Dylan's vocalizing as acceptable? Why not just say "I worship no god but Dylan" and be done with it?

Look what Lou did.  It's not just forced rhymes.  It's childishly bad rhymes.  I bet Dylan never rhymed a word with itself.  I bet Dylan never ludicrously mispronounced a word to force a rhyme.

Mostly, though, I'm just needling Lou.  I liked Lou.  And yes, his most famous song is among his most slender songs.


Gene - thanks a lot for pointing out that weatherman Doug Kammerer on Ch. 4 may be a vampire. For two weeks, that was all I could think of when I watched him, and I was almost convinced he was indeed a vampire. Then I realized that he couldn't be, because sharing a set with Wendy Rieger, the blinding white light of awesomeness that emanates from her would turn him to dust instantly.

I can't remember doing this.  Sure it was me?

I'd be delighted if my daughters could live in a world where, if they were to get totally wasted aat a party, no guy would think of anything other than making sure they were safe. However, they're going to live in this one, so Emily Yoffe's advice is perfectly appropriate. No amount of 'things should be different' wishful thinking is going to change that. But isn't 'don't get so blasted that you don't know what's going on around you' good advice in any case? Can someone tell me - and this is a serious question - what's so great about getting so drunk that you don't remember anything that happened?

That question can only be asked by someone who is not a potential alcoholic.  

Tom The Butcher and I had an interesting conversation about that.  I am a potential addict -- always been a temptation -- and Tom is not.  He discussed a time that he and HS friends discovered a sixpack of beer buried in the sand.   He took one taste and spat it out -- it was skunky -- and then dumped the rest of the can.  His friends were appalled he wasted it.    He couldn't understand that.  I can.

Emily Yoffe doesn't have a son. She has one daughter.

Right, she was imagining a son.

I've seen women putting on their makeup while driving, but until today, I've never seen one brushing her teeth while driving. She was in the car right behind mine, on Lee Highway in Arlington, about to turn onto the Key Bridge toward Georgetown in stop-and-go traffic. She was brushing thoroughly. She had a glass of water for rinsing, and she opened the door to spit.

Thank you.

I see from Twitter that you, too, follow Ricky Gervais. Can you give me a compelling reason to either continue to follow him (i.e. maybe he'll be funny again some day, but until then enjoy the train wreck), or stop following him (i.e. because, duh)? Every day I read his tweets, and every day I hate myself a little more. I wanted to watch his new show, until he started this tornado of self promotion. Now I don't want to watch just to not give in! What happened to this guy? Where did he fall down the rabbit hole of Hollywood Egos? I can't even touch the religion stuff. Your views on atheism and religion all around? Shared and appreciated. His? SHOVED DOWN MY THROAT. Boy, does he make me stabby. Perhaps I have just answered my own question. Thanks, Gene!

If you have been watching me on Twitter, you know I have been giving him hell.  I retweet each of his self promotions with some version of :  BIOYA.   He has become a tedious shill for himself and his show, Derek, which I will never watch because of his tedium.  He has gone from an interesting person on Twitter to the very worst form of Twoink.

I seriosuly can not believe you are so accepting of a male being raped. It is no different than a woman being raped.

I just said that.  I am not accepting of men being raped by men.   Or even by women, but that second scenario raises questions.  I am just saying that the circumstances he describes doesn't persuade me it was rape.  My key quesiton  to him is: Did you feel violated?  The answer is important.

Would the people who excoriating Emily Yoffe be similarly upset if she wrote a column advising women not to have any bleeding cuts when swimming in shark-infested waters, and to avoid swimming around sunrise and sunset?

Which immediately compels me to link to this great Russian commercial.

I can't see the poll! Where is the link? (I'm using Firefox on a Mac, if it matters.)

Jessica?  Can you tell her.

Hey, everyone.  Say hi to Jessica Stahl, producer.

Hey - Jess here. There are links down at the bottom of the page. Which I'll also copy/paste right here:

Poll 1: This was an extremely controversial column by Emily Yoffe in Slate. What do you think of it?

Poll 2: Here is another piece about rape. How would you summarize your feelings about it?

I think Lou Reed was Id, and Dylan was Ego. There was less thought in what Lou Reed did, but it wasn't any better or worse. Velvet Underground made some great albums and I've had Quinn the Eskimo stuck in my head for weeks at a time.

Man.  Quinn.  That was originally recorded on The Basement Tapes, which may be my favorite Dylan "album."  Close.   Also "Million-Dollar Bash."

Probably late to this, but... The Washington Post Writers Group's lack of apostrophe is explained better because it's a group OF writers. I would argue that its selectivity means it's not FOR writers. And I'm not sold on the Voters Guide. Seeking more examples.

Keep us informed!

We could resolve this whole mess by insisting drunken college students all carry guns.

Good.  Notify the NRA.

Not something I'd normally reveal to another human, but I think you'll be amused, so...I suffer from poop shame, and have found that the best way for me to deal with it at work (multiple-cubicle style restroom) is to plug my OWN ears while I go. You know, if I can't hear this, then nobody else can, right?? This is, of course, ridiculously silly, so I'm also usually stiffling a giggle by the time I flush. For the record, I'm female, over 40.

This is in reference to my column last week.   You are like the toddler playing hide and seek who "hides" by standing in the middle of the room and covering her eyes.

I have noticed that a recent few B & C's have focused on Cyn making fun of math teachers (specifically thinking of Oct. 6 and Oct. 25). I also still recall with some bristling your googlenope column from November 11, 2007 in which you draw attention to the (then) googlenope, "I love that mathematician." I guess my question is, what gives? Not that I didn't print out both of the recent comics and tape them to my door, but do you have something against math and math teachers? Or am I being hypersensitive?

Good observation!  It's because Daniel Weingarten is a math major, about to graduate from George Mason.

I grew up thin as a buggy whip, but then in my early twenties began to have problems. For about 6 years I struggled with my hormones and metabolism, and over those years gained 90 pounds, despite rigorous diet and exercise regimens. Thankfully, I finally was able to stabilize my hormonal and metabolic issues, and lost all of the weight last year. I am now 29 years old, back in my size 8 jeans, with a knock-out hourglass figure. Now that I know what works for me, I feel confident about maintaining my healthy, slimmed down physique for the long haul. I've started putting myself out in the dating world for the first time since I lost the weight, and this is where my question for you and the Chatters (esp. the men) comes in. I know that a lot of men are completely turned off by any woman who ever was overweight because he's afraid that she'll gain it all back at some point -- for some it is a deal breaker. On the other hand, the weight gain and loss was a huge deal for me, and something I'd like to be able to tell someone about if I'm going to be in a relationship with him. If I become involved with anyone now, should I tell him about the weight gain and loss at all, and if so, how long into the relationship should I wait?

What an interesting question. 

Answering for myself, a clueless old fud, it would not bother me in the least; it would tell me you have willpower and determination, and that you really didn't like being overweight.   It's sort of the way I feel about adoption; an adopted child is entitled to feel EXTRA loved, because he or she was chosen.  Well, you're not a hottie because you have the chemistry for it, and its no big deal; you're a hottie by choice and dint of effort.

I might get leapt on here by persons saying this was a bad answer and that the only good answer is to say men don't give a crap about such things and will love all women for their selves alone and blah blah.    But you asked a blunt question, leading with your chin, and you deserve more than pap.

Anyone with another answer?

I hope nobody was looking over my shoulder this morning on the metro when I pulled up my browser on my phone where my last Google search was visible, which was "inner labia cyst"

Is this Michele Bachmann?

Get sick, get well Hang around a ink well


I didn't like the choices in the poll for the second rape article. I didn't like the article at all, but not because of the implication that all men are rapists (though that was also distateful) but because I thought it was very poorly executed. It was hard to tell if it was trying to be funny, serious, satire, hateful? If it were satire, it could have been done better. I understand the problems with the Emily Yoffe article (exacerbated by the headline) but we should be able to tell people not to be stupid and not be accused of being a rape apologist.

To me, it was clearly satire, and quite effective.  It tracked one-for-one with the advice often given to college women.  Tom The Butcher contends it was a good idea, but too one-note and repetitive to be truly effective.  A valid criticism.  I liked it.

How long have you been waiting to fit "Scarlett Johansson's elbows" into a column? Sheesh...

This is in reference to a line from my column on Sunday, in which I declare my signature "as irrelevant as Scarlett Johansson's elbows.    Here's the best part.  It was a Googlenope until I wrote it.   If you google it now, you get one hit. 

This article in the NY Times--should the author have edited that last quote to say "We were meant to be together" instead of "We was meant to be together"?

This was a great little story about a man who buried his wife in their front yard, per her request, and is fighting neighbors to keep her there.  

They made the right decision; the man's plainness came through in an earlier quote, too:  "We went on that one date, and it was me and her the rest of the time."

He doesn't sound ignorant; he sounds colloquial, but most important, he sounds like himself.  Right call.

If you could ever imagine being date-raped by someone, who would be the rapist?

I can't imagine being date raped.

by someone who is not a potential alcoholic". I think that's a good description of me, for which I'm grateful. I appreciate your response. It's a question I've wondered about for a long time. Back in my Army days, I'd occasionally go out with some of the other officers from my unit. I'd be quite content with a few beers and a mild buzz. Their idea of a perfect weekend, on the other hand, was one they couldn't remember. I couldn't comprehend it then and I still can't.

It's a fundamental divide.   I, like many people, are on the wrong side.  In my case, it almost killed me.


Hello - this is an issue just a tad more serious than many of your inquiries, so I hope you'll give it appropriate consideration. I am sick of those awful medium blue neckties and would like to know how we can get them off the fashion grid as the standard "power tie." They remind me of GWB, and he left town years ago. Can't someone make a new fashion statement? Please?

This is what bothers you?  Remember the yellow power ties?  I think they were worse.

Sorry, man, but that's plagiarism.

It is not.  It is clearly homage, a clear reference to the book.  And an amusing re-definition of "shoots."  This was another Horace LaBadie, by the way.  He's pretty much a co-author now.

Most of the songs were great but my favorite was Apple Suckling Tree mostly for the piano and organ parts.

I think my favorite is "Clothes Line Saga" because it is so randomly funny.    There are some funny covers of it on Youtube.

For whatever reason, the makeup of my poop causes stains to the bottom of the bowl that don't go away until the toilet is cleaned with a brush next. Apparently the makeup of my wife's poop never causes this. Any idea what is going on? What makes some poop floaters vs sinkers that cause stains?

Neither you nor your wife should be eating makeup.

You have a daughter and a son. Did you ever talk to them about rape avoidance and how did those talks differ?

I am sure I discussed the drunk thing with Molly, but she is not a heavy drinker and it probably was moot.   Dan grew up extremely respectful of women (he had a VERY forceful and charismatic older sister who he was gaga over) and, honestly, no such conversation was ever needed.      He also doesn't drink much.  

Bring it up when it seems natural. Don't go out of your way to mention it in your personal ad or on the first date, but bring it up when it seems natural. (Which may indeed be the first date. "I have really been into biking and eating Serbo-Croatian food for the last year. It helped me lose a lot a weight.") Most men won't be bothered by your previous size. And, of course, any man who would reject you for having been overweight doesn't deserve your fabulous hourglass self and should be kicked to the curb immediately.


I changed my mind about the apostrophes; I don't care enough. Pat wins. Again.

Pat ALWAYS wins.

An online forum I visit tries to come up with captions for the cartoons. For the one you posted in the poll - "When Barbara said she was going to give him "the best head ever" Mike somehow got the wrong idea." You're welcome.

And thank YOU.  That was for this cartoon.

Gene, I'm a reasonably attractive 20-something female, and not long ago I was leered at by a guy at a coffee shop. "Where have you been all my life?" he asked, looking me up and down. When I didn't respond--he was kinda weird--he said "you don't even know who I am, do you? You probably read my comic in the paper every morning." I still didn't respond, although I was curious about who he was. He eventually wandered off, but I wondered if he was nuts or if he actually was a cartoonist, and if so, who? I mean, who would profess to be a cartoonist, if he wasn't? Can you help Gene? Do you know of any leering, 60+ years old cartoonists in the neighborhood?

Was it Toles?    Okay, I know it wasn't Toles. 

Dunno.   It would take a remarkable a-hole to use that as a line. 

The problem with this trope is that in large part the perpetrators here are criminal sociopaths. They cannot be taught not to rape any more than any other criminal sociopath can be taught not to do whatever it is they do. That, and this advice to teach men not to rape is offered up as mutually exclusive with the advice to women to be careful. They are complimentary.

I agree with this, and it is a fact that I think is not often enough stated.  I think almost all rapes are unambiguous, perpetrated by bad people.   An ordinary, decent guy does not become a rapist when drunk.  It is a fundamentally evil act that the vast majority of men could not even contemplate doing.

Does she take after you or The Rib more? Just curious.

Each of us in different ways.   I believe she is a veterinarian because  of The Rib.  I love animals, but Rib attracts them like a goddess.  When she walks into the backyard, an ecosystem develops around her.

Long as we're all teary-eyed about old Dylan Albums, allow me to interject that my roommate had to hear "Crash on the Levy" every night we ever got drunk together (a lot of nights) because it reminded me of a recent ex who I felt had pushed me away against my will by what Hax would probably call "emotional abuse" but what I called "being a psychopath:" "Oh mama, ain't you gonna miss your best friend now/ you're gonna have to find yourself another best friend somehow." Almost as bitter as "Positively 4th Street."

Dylan is GREAT at bitter.  He's even better at contempt.

Mr. Jones.

This is why it's so hard to get young women to identify as feminists. They think it means you have to stick to your RaceClassGender guns no matter what common sense says. Of COURSE a woman should be able to walk, naked and drunk, into a frat party and leave unmolested unless molestation is what she explicitly states she wants on an affidavit signed before she got drunk. However, that is not life. So how about we give our daughters good advice AND work to change What Is. It's obvious to those of us who escaped academia in time.


I know you've commented about newspapers carrying horoscopes. I agree with you that it's pretty silly for an enterprise that's supposed to care about facts and truth to be promoting such irrational superstition, but I guess I figured the standard box on the comic page mostly fell under the heading of entertainment, on a par with old Cathy cartoons. But I was just looking through the WaPo live chat list and discovered that your paper carries, and apparently has for some time, a monthly chat with an astrologist (astrologer? I'm not sure I care which is correct). Why is the Post using its resources to promote such dumb, anti-scientific nonsense? Does it devote a lot of resources to other things that are false? Should we really be trusting the editors' judgment? On a similar note, New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson has talked about how she reads her horoscope every day. She favors the one in the New York Post, which she says is very accurate. Hearing her say this saddened me to no end.

Here's the reference.   I'm not sure she's saying it's accurate.  She's using it to deliver an anecdote.  I still find it troubling, particularly because she's a woman, and women are seen as being particularly susceptible to woo-woo charlatans.   That's probably sexist, but there's an unfair stereotype to overcome here.  It wasn't good for women that Nancy Reagan was an astrology maniac. 

I was playing with that handy website you included in your update about boys named Anakin and discovered that between 2001 to 2010, 351 boys have been named Emma, and, off and on, has been used a handful of times during the past century as a boys name. I know it's common for a male name to eventually be co-opted by women, but has there ever been any instance of a female name being co-opted by men?

I have never heard of a female name being coopted by men, and suspect that Emma thing is a mistake.   According to a website: Emma as a boys name: In the 1880 decade it was 584th popular boys name and quickly dropped to 847th by 1890's. It does not seem to be used as a boys name since the early 1900's."

The ENORMOUS and VITAL difference between "good advice" and "victim blaming" is TIMING. Telling women when they get to campus that they shouldn't walk alone, should avoid poorly lit areas, should keep an eye on their drink and their purse and lock their doors and their cars and their windows - that's all good advice. Not just for avoiding rape, but for avoiding all kinds of bad people, accident, and outcomes. Teaching your daughter to be aware of her surroundings and not talk to strange men is good advice. Telling her not to drink too much is good advice - to avoid a hangover, to avoid making all kinds of bad decisions, and to avoid drawing all kinds of unwanted attention. All good advice. But if your daughter comes home and tells you that she drank too much and she blacked out and woke up and he was doing things she didn't want - and your response is, well, you shouldn't have had so much to drink - that's victim blaming. And she'll probably never tell you anything ever again. Likewise, when authors write these kinds of pieces after a well-publicized criminal trial where a girl was drunk to the point of being incapacitated, and she was raped, it comes off as victim blaming. In another context it may be good advice, and it may be good advice for the intended audience, but the gut reaction by many - that this is terrible victim blaming, and the reason many women don't come forward, and part of our rape culture - is due to the timing.

Interesting, but you kind of overstate the case: I would never tell my daughter it was her fault, though, nor would it BE her fault.  But I would have already counseled her on how I hoped she would not behave.  

Thanks for putting the image of Elayne Boosler's vagina in my mind.

Worse, her amputated vagina.  In her other pants.

"in large part the perpetrators here are criminal sociopaths." I disagree. Many of them are simply men who have been taught by society that while we say "no means no," no REALLY means "keep trying." I am amazed by how many men I have met who will readily admit to date rape, saying, "she wanted it, she just thought she had to say no." Some of them later see the light and repent. Some never do. The first kind can be considered human.

I find this hard to believe.   I think a guy knows when he is going too far.    I think the rules are pretty clear.  

I called the second piece so-so because I had seen other versions of this that I liked better, like this one.

Hm.   I like about half of these.   The other half have lost their sense of humor.

And yet at least 1 in 4 women have been raped, almost certainly more. Are your Super Villain Rapists also unusually prolific?

Actually, I think so.  I can't point to the stats, but I think rapists are remarkably recidivistic.    I think a relatively small number of guys commit a very large number of rapes. 

The problem is, many people, especially men, do not define date rape as rape.

I do. In fact, a reader recently urged me to eliminate "date rape" as a term, because it seems to diminutize it.  I agree.  It's just rape.

I reread your article about developing your comic strip with your son the other day. I never told you that it opened my eyes to my parents' love for us and how it differs but it doesn't mean any of us is "lesser" in their eyes. And also the difficulty of raising children that are different from us, which I experienced first hand. Thanks.

Thanks.  And you're welcome.

How is your new producer doing? Have you come up with a nickname for her yet? For some reason, I thought of "Mo", but now I forgot why I thought that was a good name. Oh, well, I am sure she has the momentum for the most productive producing ever.

Still working on it.  Okay, there is going to be about a one-minute pause whilst I prepare a sign off post.  I am going to be handing  you something difficult to watch, and I wanted it to come apart from the rest of the chat, separated in tone.  Hang on.   One minute.

Okay, we're done here.

The little girl in the video below, Gabriella Miller, died this weekend. She had been active in childhood cancer charities even before she herself was found to have a brain tumor, donating many feet of her hair for wigs for children undergoing chemo.Caitlin Gibson wrote her obituary here.

This is a video made not long before her death.  I suggest you watch it not just because of her preternatural articulateness and maturity, but because we have lost a ten-year-old with a world class sense of humor. This is innate and wonderful and it is okay to cry. Here. Sorry.

Next week in the updates.

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Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000 and has been distributed nationwide on The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2008 and 2010.

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