Chatological Humor: Monthly with Moron

Feb 27, 2018

Gene Weingarten held his monthly chat with readers.

About this chat:
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Today's poll

Good afternoon.  I just want to say that had I been in Dallas on Nov. 22 1963, even though I was just 12, I would probably -- well, you never know for sure until it happens -- but I probaby would have caught that last, would-be fatal  bullet in my teeth and spat it back up to the sixth floor, taking Oswald out with a left-eye shot, lodged in his temporal lobe. 


Cat story: 

A couple of weeks ago, at exactly 3:30 in the afternoon, which is pet dinner time, I realized that Barnaby had escaped the house and was dead when he didn't show up for his full bowl.  This had never happened before; Barnaby is invariably the animal who reminds me it is dinner time every day at 2:15 (no, Barnaby) 2:39 (no, Barnaby), 3:10 (no, Barnaby) and finally at the right time, which is when he excitedly summons the two dogs.  This is the only selfless act of his misbegotten so-called life.   But on this day, he was nowhere.  

Barnaby is a total schmuck who constantly tries to dart for freedom when a door is open.   I am very vigilant about this, but on the very few occasions he has succeeded, he gets to the front porch, freezes in terror, and runs back into the house.  Whew, that was a close one.  It's BIG out there. 

But on this day, there was no Barnaby.  After checking the places in the house he could be shredded, such as the dryer, I left the house and walked around the house, pathetically crying, calling his name, not wanting to find his body but sure I would because, inasmuch as he is an idiot, I knew he would have instantly run under a moving car.   

No Barnaby.   So I came back into the house and called Molly.  She heard the heartbreak in my voice, and was quite solicitous, and agreed it was certain possible he was pancaked somewhere, but that escaped cats -- because they are idiots and cowards -- use their freedom to remain within eight feet of their front doors.    Yes, this was a moronic concept, especially coming from a seasoned veterinarian, but I diplomatically assured my daughter that I would look.  

And there he was.  Wedged behind a rain barrel, only his butt sticking out.  It was utterly pathetic.  He was like a three-year-old playing hide and go seek by covering his eyes with his hands and standing against a wall in full sight with his butt out.  

Anyway, I carried him back into the house.  He was so scared he was limp.   

And that would be where the story ends, except it isn't.   It isn't because of what would happen later in the day. 

The freakiest part of the incident had been that I genuinely had no idea how he had gotten out of the house; I am really vigilant when I come and go.   Each time he did get out, I saw it happen.  

Now it is nine p.m. that same night.   I am in the second-floor bedroom when I see something happen out of the corner of my eye.  It is Barnaby coming into the room through the window.  

Hi, Barnaby.  

Wait ... WHAT?

Yes, Barnaby was walking in to the room from the window ledge outside the bedroom (The window was open as a form of ventilation because of an earlier mishap in the room involving a dog.)

It was at this moment that I realized what must have happened.  Barnaby had not escaped through the front door.  He had fallen out the window.  It was about an eight-foot fall, right onto the rain barrel.  It must have scared the bejesus out of him.  He sought the nearest cowering place.

And now, of course, he was out on the window ledge again, because he is a cat.   And an idiot.

Postscript: He waited a full two days before he tried to dart for "freedom" again.   

Post-postscript.   This is Barnaby today, in his favorite box, which holds my tax documents. 


I think many of you know that Barney & Clyde has a very active collaborator, Horace LaBadie, this guy in Florida who I have literally never met or talked to on the phone, but who I consider one of my closest friends.  We engage online perhaps 15 times a day, over humor, which is a strangely intimate way of knowing someone.  He thinks I am a humorless imbecile, which is actually quite helpful in a creative collaboration. 

Anyway, Horace has just surprised me -- almost out of the blue (he is a very private and mysterious character) -- by writing a detective novel / murder mystery.  (His previous books, also available on Amazon, include "Build Your Own Postscript Laser Printer and Save a Bundle," and "Create Your Own Graphic Workstation for Windows.")

Anyway, his new book is titled "The Mirror at the End of the Alley: A Cliche Detective Agency Mystery,"  which is available on Kindle and in paperback for the ridiculous prices of $3 and $7, respectively.  And which contains more twists than a bread-packaging assembly line that uses twist ties and not those cheap little plastic slit wafer things.  Horace is also better than I am at analogies. 

I knew Horace could write well in 11-word balloons, but had no idea he could do this:  


"Pottsville is in anthracite country. Coal mining went back two hundred years there. Iron, slate, shale and clay were mined, too. As a consequence, Pottsville was a candidate for the butt of Pennsylvania. One of its streams famously coursed orange with rust from the iron runoff. Coal ash from forges and furnaces was heaped everywhere. Not far away, underground coal fires burned for years, inextinguishable, carbon monoxide seeping into homes. Abandoned pits and open quarries were common features of the landscape. Nobody visited out of a desire to see the scenery. If it were not for John Updike, it would have no upside at all."
Anyway, Horace willl be contributing all the royalties through March 31 to the March for Our Lives on March 24
So now you know. 
Finally, I must share this story, submitted by Ms. Pat the Perfect.  We both hope it is true.  
Chat begins at noon sharp.   I will be ending it a few minutes early on account of a luncheon I am having with the aforementioned Ms. Perfect, and the egregious Tom the Butcher. 
Let's go. 

Who are all these people choosing salted butter? Always unsalted, then add salt to your liking. Egad. Are these the people buying pancake mix instead of combining flour and, like, 3 other ingredients?

Very, very good analogy.  I do not get it.   I suppose the salt is more evenly distributed than if you salted it yourself.   But it seems very rare to me I would WANT salt on my butter.  

Another poster claims sweet butter is not even intended for bread or rolls.  That it is just for baking. This person is wrong. 

I read your column and chats faithfully every week and have for many years. I usually find them at least some level of amusing and often thought provoking as well. The poke columns are the only writing you do that I never, ever bother to read. I tried a few times but my reaction was just...nothing. Like reading the dictionary - a collection of words that I understand but do not illicit any reaction. Didn't strike me as funny or clever. One man's opinion but thought I would weigh in.

I appreciate constructive criticisms / Pertaining to my rhyming witticisms / But kindly take my butt and kiss it / Or might that be a bit "illicit" ?

Haha.   That was mean and totally uncalled-for, but I like the rhyme.   

Speaking of uncalled for. 

So Horace is "this guy in Florida who I have literally never met or talked to on the phone, but who I consider one of my closest friends." Should we take that to mean that Horace is analogous to the Czar of the Style Invitational? Someone you know very well, etc., etc.?

I would be delighted if you thought that, because he is very, very good.  

But believe me, I would never say I was close friends with myself.   Our relationship, me to I, is quite fraught and testy.  

I was three months old that day, but I firmly believe I would have done it. If Private Bone Spur knows in his heart of hearts that he's a daring hero, so do I. Seriously, is there anything more pathetic than Donald Trump's ego?

Nothing.  He is the neediest man on earth. 

My (now previous cat) did the same thing! And was no worse for wear for the fall, so of course she tried to push out every screen on every open window for the rest of her life.


The greatest feat of the cat is perpetuating the notion that it is a smart creature. It is not. If it was we wouldn't be able love it.

The absolute most endearing personality trait of Barnaby's is that he is a hero in his own mind.   

You don't have window screens??? One of my indoor cats got outside one time when my kids (high school age at the time) were going in and out. I got home and she was missing. I eventually found her cowering behind the steps outside the kitchen door.

That window, having once been dedicated to an AC, has no screen.   

Last March, my mom or dad went out to get the mail and neglected to fully close the front door. They have two cats, an older girl cat that I adopted and a younger, doofier boy that is my mom's third child. Night falls, everyone goes to bed and the next morning my mom comes downstairs to the door WIDE OPEN, freezing cold and leaves everywhere. The door had blown open at some point at night. The boy cat took advantage of his all-night freedom to go out and practically stick himself to the perimeter of the house. Which is where my panicked mom found him. My girl, of course, slept through the entire thing. Coda: boy cat spent the next few weeks pathetically meowing at the door every night.


For 10 years, my wife and I have had similar scares regarding our cat. Particularly in his younger days, our house cat would make a break for the great outdoors whenever given the opportunity, only to hide within 20 feet of the house (disturbingly, his shelter of choice was parked cars). Over the years, we've had a few scares where we were convinced some workman, or other visitor, had left the door open and he'd really escaped. Searching for hours every known, or merely possible, hiding spot in our home we were convinced (and emotionally wrecked contemplating) that we'd never see our cat again. Thankfully, he always turned up, having been accidentally locked in a closet, or more usually, he'd found a space to take a nap in some hidden corner in which we had never dreamed to look for him. Recently, however, I came across a device which seems to have solved our problems. It's a tracker, a little larger than a quarter, which resides on your cat's collar. The remote to find your cat emits lights and sounds like a metal detector --- giving warmer or colder readings. It's a little tricky because the signals go through walls and floors (a good thing) but it gives the impression your friend is right next to you when they are a floor above or below (or on the other side of the wall in the room in which you're standing). The batteries in both the tracker and the remote finder last about a year, so you're not having to constantly charge the devices or replace batteries. Since we've started using, we've save ourselves a lot of grief and searching (plus our 6 year-old loves to try and "find" the cat). The device is called Loc8tor Pet and is available online.

Thank you. 

Barnaby has also found a hole in the wall that leads to behind the bathtub.  It is impossible to retrieve him when he goes there.  

You've been doing these chats for how many years now? And you could schedule your luncheon better?

Higgledy piggledy / Kvetcher in chattyland / Asks why I dare to so  / Cheat him of time.   /  Counterintuitive / answer forthcoming now:  /  So I can answer in / This crappy rhyme. 

For the first time since the beginning of the Super Bowl (yes, I am old enough that I remember when there was none), every person I asked today said he/she/they had not watched the game. Dare one hope that the publicity of the link between CTE and football is changing our culture?

We'll know next year.   I think Pats - Eagles was an unexciting matchup, though the game was excellent OR SO I UNDERSTAND. 

I know almost nothong of sports. That Jeopardy episode where all three contestants looked like deer in the headlights through an entire NFL catagory, totally me! Yet every time I hear/read pundits mention Ty Cobb I think they are talking about the dead baseball player I heard mentioned on Field of Dreams.

There is, somewhere in America, a young man named Tyrus Raymond Flowers, son of an old colleague who was a Ty Cobb fan.   It always amazed me because Ty Cobb was one of the cussedest sunsabitches who ever lived.  Mean.  Racist.  Dirty player. 

Hi Gene-wanted you to know its possible Barnaby jumped out the window, instead of falling. I had a cat that did this several times when I was trying to convert her from and indoor/outdoor cat to indoor only. She would jump off the balcony (2nd floor) hit the ground and scurry away. To get back she would climb up the balcony posts. You need screens on the windows (likely you've already done this after seeing Barnaby walk in).

He MIGHT have jumped, but I am not sure he has the nerve.  And if he did jump, he instantly regretted it. 

In a recent column you noted how any offensive words in your columns are redacted by Post editors. But what standard is used to determine offensive words? You end up with [redacted offensive word for copulation] and [redacted offensive word for female or male anatomy], but not [redacted acronym for offensive pro-gun organization]. Since the editor's goals are to avoid offending reader's delicate eyes, shouldn't a word associated with horrible violent acts like "NRA" receive the same level of redaction as a crude word for a procreative act?

NRA is not a curse word.  You are being bizarrely judgmental.  The NRA is an organization that even tomorrow could do the right thing.  So, no.  

"Wayne LaPierre" is a curse word.   From now on it should be "W---- L- P-----."

Speaking of which, a reprise of my poem about W---- L- P-----.  (it's toward the bottom of the intro.)


Is it possible that you and I share a thing about Holly Hunter? If so, does the movie "The Firm" have anything to do with it?

We likely do.  But no, it's Broadcast News.   AND the fact she is five foot two. 

Most of us are at our office desks at noon on Tuesday

Okay, sorry.  But it didn't SEEM Nsfw to me?  I mean, it was about self-pleasuring, but didn't have narsty pictures or words, did it?  I try to be careful about this. 

I thought the last line was great. 

We recently adopted a dog. She is a wonderful thing. There's one issue that I'm never sure how to handle. She's a Treeing Walker Coonhound. I'm never really sure how to approach the "coonhound" part. (Our deceased dog, Dolly (such a Good Girl)) was some sort of coonhound mix). In the rapidly developing exurban area where I grew up, and where we are currently live, there are a lot of hunters around. They immediately know that's the official breed name and that it's about hunting raccoons. Not a big deal. When around my wife's family (New Yorkers), our friends in more metropolitan areas, or locals who aren't really familiar with hunting, "coonhound" elicits an uncomfortable look due to the racist term embedded therein. With our old dog I would usually default to calling her a "hound mix." Now that we've got what appears to be a purebreed, I'm not exactly sure how to answer the common question, "Pretty dog, what breed?" Am I just overthinking this? Also, I am so f'ing thrilled to be a dog owner again!!!

You know I am a dog expert, right?  Well, I authorize you to call her a Latvian Elkhound.    

Having said that, how old are you?  I bet you the term has not been used in a derogatory fashion in 30 years.  I suspect my daughter has never heard of it.    I just don't think people under 50 even make that poisonous connection.   

I think the biggest danger is not that he seriously thinks that people who don't applaud him are treasonous, it's that he's defining-down the term. This is exactly what he and his team did to the term "fake news," whih originally was quite powerful and meant, literally, articles written by agents who were not actually affiliated with any news organization that pretended to be news (we know now that a lot of these "articles" were written by Russian hackers with nefarious intentions to disrupt the American election). Trump has now redefined it to mean "any news story that he doesn't like or which criticizes him," and his followers have latched onto that definition. He and his team know that some of the people around him, including his son, have danced right up to the edge of treason, but if they can redefine it to mean "just another insult that politicians throw at the other side," they can ameliorate any consequences that may land on Trump and/or his family or team.

Mike Mechanic, the editor of Mother Jones, in a tweet yesterday used the expression "weaponization of lies" to describe how Trump uses falsehoods.  It may not have been original, but I think it is brilliant. 


I prefer to lick envelopes.   You know, this might be a cilantro type thing?  I find the taste just fine, and the threat of a paper cut nonexistent, if you are minimally careful.

Shroder HATES the taste. 

I just don't like having to deal with that stupid strip afterwards.

The (lovely) pic of Barnaby has broken the chat software.

Gene 2.0?  Are you alerted to this?

Currently the most one-sided poll is for metro over the bus, which is somewhat shocking to me. I am a huge public transit booster, but I HATE the DC metro. Stations are grungy, employees are a mixed bag, service is intermittent in the worst ways, and I will forever have an aversion for the word "momentarily". I only use it as a last resort. Buses all the way. That said, if I'm in NYC or Paris, I prefer the train for sure.

You know, Metro is broken but still does the job.  Zip-zip, place to place.  there ain't nothing zip-zip about a bus. 

By the way, the worst public transit in the civilized world is the tram on H Street NE in Washington.   It runs in the middle of the road.  If a car is parked a little far from the curb, it has to stop and can't proceed.  They are STILL not charging money to use it because no one would pay.  

You may have seen the twitter moment just a few days ago of a girl filming her bathroom floor vent as a cat climbed out of it and she said, "But I don't have a cat".


I was very sad to learn today that he was born in Schenectady and graduated from Siena College. Amy in Albany

I like your town.   It launched me professionally.  Erastus Corning hated me.  But you knew that. 

Wow! I always assumed that Horace LaBadie wasn't real, not least because that name sounds so perfect that it had to be made up! Speaking of: Do you have any idea how writers come up with the names of their characters? Why is Anna Karenina Anna Karenina? Or Holden Caulfield? On TV, why do they give normal sounding names strange spellings that you may only notice when they roll the credits? I've been sick a lot lately, with only energy enough to watch TV, and this is where my mind has been wandering. (Also, why are the credits on the Simpsons reruns in Spanish?)

Why on earth was the secondary villain in Breaking Bad "Gus Fring"?  What was that about?  A Chilean guy named Gus Fring?  

My cat decided to have a faceoff with a huge antlered buck that was having a snooze just on the other side of my patio window in my backyard. She wiggled her little behind, and flung herself straight at the animal. But she was not clear on the concept of glass. She bounced off, staggered a bit, and you could see those little birdies circling her head like in cartoons. She calmly walked away and has not tried the stunt since.

Cats are very comical. 

Why not just specify that it's a Treeing Walker Racoon Hound? It is much better than something totally incorrect, such as Latvian Elkhound.

LATVIAN ELKHOUND IS NOT INCORRECT.   They exist in "Old Dogs" as something to tell people when they ask your dog's breed and the true answer is mutt. 

What do you do about having a song playing over and over in your head? And why would it be a song you don't even like? This week I'm getting Harry Chapin's "Taxi", which, as far as I can recall, I have never liked, not even when I was a sappy, sentimental teenager. I haven't heard it played anywhere in years, and yet here it is, running through my head at 3 in the morning when I'm trying to sleep. What the hell? Anyway, I'm thinking that maybe by posing this question I will pass the curse on to you. Tag, you're it!

Uh.  Taxi is an excellent song.  A triumph of lyrics.  "Another man might have been angry / another man might have been hurt. / But another man never would have let her go / I stashed the bill in my shirt." 

You see, she was gonna be an actress
And I was gonna learn to fly
She took off to find the footlights
I took off for the sky


And here, she's acting happy
Inside her handsome home
And me, I'm flying in my taxi
Taking tips, and getting stoned
I go flying so high, when I'm stoned

A lifelong friend of my father died recently. The man was a real character. I found his obituary on the internet here: It's a very good read.

Really nice.   The best sort of obit.   A teasing, affectionate one.   

I have a standing disagreement with my wife that I hope you can weigh in on. It's of utmost importance, and I trust your opinion on this to be ex cathedra (so to speak). My wife never plugs up our toilet, and I do from time to time. Every time I do, she reprimands me for using too much toilet paper, contending that the paper is causing the blockage. I counter that since my wife is 5'6" and I'm 6'0", my deposits are just larger, and being larger they sometimes gum up the works. I'll also note that we don't have a plunger because my wife thinks it's too germy. So we just wait for the occasional traffic backup to resolve itself naturally. What say you? Thank you.

I contend that poop itself almost never clogs a toilet, unless it is the result of Magacolon, which I urge none of you to google.  So your wife is right.   However, she is arguably insane on the issue of not having a plumber's helper.  And just how is a clog supposed to "resove itself naturally"?


Wow. I finally discovered something more boring than having to listen to stories about people's children.

See the next post.

this chat is already the best ever because it has cats. The first time my old cat walked on snow for the first time, she pooped in it.

The world is exploding now because of colliding belief systems. 

Maybe it's time to use some of that Barney & Clyde coin for some needed home repairs, like screens for your windows and fixing holes behind your bathtub?

This is actually a normal, planned hole.  It is so plumbers can get in there if they need to. 

"The absolute most endearing personality trait of Barnaby's is that he is a hero in his own mind." So you consider Trump endearing?

No, but he is ugly.  Barnaby is beautiful.

After seven years of medical school and training, a good friend of mine has been fired for one minor indiscretion -- he slept with one of his patients. I know we live in an age of zero tolerance, but firing him is a waste of time, effort, training, and money. He's still paying on his school loans and his family is devastated. It's really sad -- the world has lost a brilliant veterinarian.

Thank you.  

Lunch with Tom the Butcher? In those conditions, what does he find to misspell?

Tom doesn't correct my misspellings.  I correct his.   He does sometimes pop me on word usage. 

Please say you’re coming for The Hunt this weekend!?!

I'm not.  The stress is too great when I have not been an active planner.   

I answered that I prefer envelopes with the pull-off strip because in truth I do prefer them; they're just so much easier! But lately I am making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of waste I generate so have been gravitating toward the envelopes you have to lick. I don't think the pull-off strips are recyclable. I have yet to find a replacement for Q-tips though. Is there anything re-usable to substitute for a Q-tip? People get grossed out when I ask this in person, so maybe this chat will be a good resource.

I prefer to lick for just this reason.  I don't want to have to dispose of those strips, and the taste of the glue doesn't bother me at all.    

One thing that Trump excels at (the only thing?) - manipulating the media and grabbing headlines. He has done it for decades. The media needs to stop headlining things Trump does that aren't newsworthy. Let's go back to the time that presidents made headlines for governing and policy decisions. Don't pay attention when he makes absolutely ludicrous statements that are blatantly false (like running into an AR-15 school shooting like w hero). STOP GIVING HIM WHAT HE WANTS.

We have a right to know what a fool we have elected.   Each of these idiocies hurts him more than it helps him.  He's already GOT his stupid base. 

I had very strong opinions on all of them but couldn't answer male vs female singers. Is be it berated to know how many people skipped that question; do you have stats? And for those whose chose male - hello, Adele! Ella Fitzgerald! And for those who chose male - hello, Frank Sinatra! Sting!

It was one of those answers I was sure of, at least for myself.  I prefer the male singing voice, in general.  I think of the ten best voices I know of, and they are all men.  

Yeah, this is probably wrong.   

A lot has happened over the last two weeks, but what has stayed most strongly in my mind was Dinesh D'Souza's profoundly contemptible tweets mocking the Florida high school students for the activism. I was not much of a Twitter user prior, but I followed a link that pointed to his tweets, and since then I've fallen down the Twitter rabbit hole and can't get out. Help?

Oh, he is one of the most abhorrent people on the planet. 

Gustavo. His name was Gustavo

SO WHAT?  Where does Fring come from? 

Find the actual song, listen to it all the way through - it helps purge the melody:

haven't looked at the link.  Will trust you. 

A few years ago I couldn't locate my cat when it was time to feed him breakfast. I looked everywhere for him, both inside and outside the house, and saw no sign of him anywhere. I spent all day at work just sick to my stomach with worry and went right back out after work to search for him in the neighborhood. Several hours later, distraught and exhausted, I came home and opened the refrigerator to get a drink. And out hopped my cat. I guess he had been extra hungry, pre-breakfast, and jumped in there when I had the door open to get my own food in the morning. I didn't see him go in, and he spent the whole day just sitting in the refrigerator. Thankfully he was no worse for the wear and was, indeed, unchastened about the foolishness of trying to hop into the fridge, which he did several other times.

This made me laugh out loud. 

What did you think of today's Post article of examples of how Trump has acted in other threatening situations? I, as a Trump loather, loved it, but I don't love that it was in the Fix. Shouldn't it have gone in the opinion section? It's got a distinctive point of view that's so derogatory that it's different than the usual analysis and viewpoint of Fix articles and is more suited to Eugene Robinson (or, frankly, Alexandra Petri). Were there really NO instances of him being brave? I mean, I doubt it, but the article didn't even mention the possibility.

Can you even imagine him being physically brave?  Did you ever hear his admission of what he did when he watched a man fall and hit his head badly?

over Pence b/c I believe Trump has no core values and can be influenced. Pence, on the other hand, is a true believer and probably thinks god talks to him. While Trump put out and EO banning transgenders from the military, he's never seemed to push that hard for it. Pence would ban them, gay people and would try and criminalize abortion and would push harder to do away with medicaid, welfare and other social programs. Trump, as long as your the last person to talk to him and convince him it's good for ratings, will flip on any issue.

Yes, this is how I feel except for the "crazy" concern, which is real. 

Higgledy-piggledy Senator Rubio Quotes from the Bible, a Self-righteous shill. Taking gun money so Enthusiastically Ignores that pesky verse "Thou shalt not kill."

Good sentiment, but off meter just a little.  Remember that a dactyl is  DUM-dum-dum-DUM dum dum.  You can cheat a little with an extra unstressed syllable at the start of the word -- enthusiastically is an okay stretch. But we have to fix the others.   


Higgledy-piggledy / Senator Rubio / Quotes from the Bible, a/ Hypocrite shill. / Raking in gun money / Enthusiastically / What of that pesky verse / "Thou shalt not kill"?

I think the chatter meant that Tom doesn't have much opportunity to misspell something if all you are doing is eating lunch. You've mentioned his misspellings before, a lot.

Ah.  WELL HE ALSO MISPRONOUNCES THINGS.  I have a column coming up on exactly this.  He is a syllable-swallower.

I was listening to the Brown album recently and it struck me: Did you name your daughter after the girl in Across the Great Divide ?

Molly girl?  No. That would be ridiculous. 

Molly was named after a labrador retriever. 

I picked Trump. It's one of those the enemy you know kind of things. While Trump will pander to the religious right, Pence actually believes in it. I have no doubt that he would try and drag equal rights, sexual freedom and pretty much everything progressive back into the 1830s. His blank stare, the O'Douls on a Friday and calling his wife "Mother" (if true) are truly frightening. At least with Trump, you kinda know that you're getting a bloviating Cheeto who can't keep his hands or anything else to himself. He can't stop tweeting so we know what he's up to. Pence has dead eyes and a dead heart.

That was the question I had the hardest time with.  I chose Trump because he can't seem to get anything done; Pence would have stronger support from his party and might actually do awful things.  But I'm not sure of that answer because Trump is stupid and reckless.   Pence is not going to blunder and bluster us into a nuclear war. 

Gene, While I know birthdays are fake holidays, you made mine the best ever. As long as we define 'best' as 'happy crying in shocked disbelief.' Thank you for conspiring with my husband.

The guy must like you, or something.  He planned ahead long enough to let me get that book to you. 

These school shootings are just too much. My son was 2 when New Town happened, and I was crying for days over that, and still cry every year and on the anniversary I keep my now 7 year old home from school ( no one knows why, I make up something every year) on the anniversary. These Parkland kids are amazing. I am hopeful that they might be the difference, though it makes me a little sad, b/c the reason they are being listened to is they are mostly white and affluent. But hey, whatever it takes at this point. We collectively can't take much more of this.

My fervent hope is that our collective outrage will quietly, suddenly, un-elect every Republican in November.   

On the way home from school, my son started saying "badger badger badger badger ... " and, startled, I said - "I know that! Have you seen the video?" He said no, but Zach(bff) says the minecraft version is THE BEST. Needless to say, this sent us on a youtube hunt. I was stymied at first because I tried "badger + 'Kuala Lumpur'," and when that didn't work, "badger + mushroom," which of course worked. But then I was really irritated because I had this memory of a similarly funny video with 'Kuala Lumpur,' and I couldn't find it on youtube. So, I searched google for your chat archives (since the WaPo archives are useless), found the badger chat, and luckily for me the kuala lumpur link was in the next one (because otherwise I would have been up all night googling the next Tuesday and the next Tuesday etc. until I found it). Can you guess what year that was? . . . . . . . . . Sept. 16 2003! I was guessing 2010, maybe 2008 - what did you guess?? For your pleasure, plus the rest of us old-timers (but I am still young because Liz is just slightly older!!), as well as the newbies who may have missed this: Original badger: Badger, 10 hours long, because 2018: Badger, minecraft (not better, no matter what the 10 year olds say): (But an incredible testament to the humor of the original that it has evolved and survived this long, right?) And, my favorite, Scampi: (p.s. curses on chat software if it turns this into one big paragraph especially if it removes line breaks after all those dots before Sept. 16!)

I immediately knew Kuala Lumpur. 

I don't know any Trump supporters in real life (or maybe they don't want me to know who they are) so I've started talking to them on internet forums in an attempt to understand the other side. Have you ever considered doing this? Or do you think it's a pointless waste of time, and there's nothing useful we can learn from them even after filtering out the trolls? Listening to what they have to say about gun control alone has informed me that they have at least half a dozen completely contradictory interpretations of the second amendment and the role of the NRA.

I have changed my opinion over the last year.  

I used to want to engage them.  But now, if you are STILL a Trump supporter, fully informed about what he is, I just back away. 

27% chose plays?? Zzzzz

I chose plays.   It's not even close. 

My real preference is for a man and woman to sing in harmony on a song. I don’t know why but it makes me melt.

I can see this. 

Is there any better male-female harmony than Clapton and Yvonne Elliman in Lay Down Sally?

You don't just keep a plunger by the side of your toilet for yourself - you keep it for your visitors, in case they need it to rescue themselves from that horrific moment when you're a guest in someone's home and with relief you deposit a great coiled snake in the bowl and push the handle to banish it forever and the water starts to... RISE.

Eschewing a plunger is a dangerously imbalanced act.  

As a resident of the general area of Florida in which he resides, I can confirm he appears to be a real person.

A WEIRD person, but a real person. 

If you're using it for what everyone uses it for but isn't supposed to: Bend the arm of a paper clip and then use the opposite rounded end to scrape.

I have done this!  It is quite effective and satisfying.

Either I've seen really crap plays or plays don't really work for me. I have extreme "second-hand embarrassement-itis." Something about an actor in a play emoting that close to me without the filter of the screen makes me want to curl up in a ball. I dunno but movies all the way.

The only way live theater is worse is if it is BAD live theater.  Then you feel embarrassed. 

Why do schools feel like prisons to young children?

Schools have ALWAYS felt like prisons to children.  This is different, though. 

For me, February is the worst month for syllable swallowers - not mispronouncing February, but the fast-talking car salesmen on the radio who talk about Presents Day. (Wouldn't that be Christmas?)

When I was covering the 2000 primaries, I was astonished to realize that Bill Bradley kept saying he was running for "Pres'n' of the United States"  

is all fun and games until you get a paper cut on your tongue.

This has never happened to me!  I mean, you just need to be careful.   But a flattened tongue is a happy tongue.

Another day in America, another school mass shooting. Too bad that congress, a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA, can't do anything. No assault weapon ban, no magazine limits, no ban on the insane asserting their God-given 2nd Amendment Rights! Guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns. Everything is better with guns!

See my poem on W---- L- P-----

In my case, it may be a matter of upbringing. The butter in my house growing up was always salted. When I got older, that's what I was supposed to get when I helped with the shopping. Perhaps I should try the unsalted but old habits die hard.

Your parents should have been visited by Child Protective Services.  I am not saying you should have been removed from the house, necessarily, but they needed reeducation.

Di'n't. Ugh!!!

There is actually an alternative error -- opposite, actually -- that i find equally annoying.  It is common to the wealthy Valley types.   "Did-din't."

Hi, Gene! I think Molly and I are the same age (I'll be 37 next month). The word coon is used in the movie Forrest Gump as a way to showcase Forrest's naivete, so it is possible that even those of us who are younger would recognize it as a racial slur. Beyond that, I've found when I discuss our new puppy's lineage I often have to explain "Karachakan" while if I say "Bulgarian sheep dog" they'll just nod. Sometimes it's easier just to say something people understand--so I'd go with hound mix.

Ah, good point.  


Okay, folks.  Here is where I steal 15 minutes from you.  You will have to deal with it. 

Next week, in the updates. 

Ain't No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell


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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 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

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.

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