Chatological Humor: Monthly with Moron

Apr 24, 2018

Gene Weingarten held his monthly chat with readers. br />
Two polls today.
Poll 1: For males.For females

Poll 2: For males.For females

About this chat:
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Good afternoon. 

Negligible intro today.  Just wanted to make sure you all saw this story , which is basically science's gift to the humor industry.   Yes, Uranus is surrounded by fart clouds. 

Secondly, this being baseball season, I want to make a wonky observation.  If you are not a serious baseball fan, feel free to skip over this, take the poll, and the chat starts at noon sharp. 

Okay, so we all know that there is an advantage to batting lefty.  (More righthanded pitchers, shorter distance to run to first base, etc.)  And because of that, many right-handed players learn to bat lefty, or become switch hitters.   It's sort of inconceivable that any left-handed player would learn to bat right handed.   Why would he?  

Except there have been several over the years.  My theory is that these are natural lefties who tried to become switch hitters, and realized that they were substantially better from the right side.   

I have seen a list of these players.  You likely have heard of almost none of them.   Benchwarmers, role players, etc.   But -- here's the interesting case -- one of them is one of baseball's greatest superstars.   Hall of Fame.  Household name.  Probably among the 50 best players who ever lived. Without looking it up, do you know who it is?

I will give you another few seconds. 

Okay, the name is coming up, right below. 

Here it is: 

Rickey Henderson. 

Okay, take the poll.  We start at noon.  

I wish you had a fourth poll option, because I've never found him funny and I don't care if he has a successful comeback. Whether he does or doesn't I will continue to think of him as I have always thought of him, even before his downfall: as an unfunny gross dude.

Who do you think IS funny, as a standup?  Serious question.  I think it is possible -- even reasonable -- to not like Louis's choice of subject matter, but I think you're the first person I've ever heard contend he isn't funny. 

As to his redemption, I feel he should be forgiven in one circumstance only.  But I also think that circumstance will happen.  I don't want to hear any mealy-mouthed mea culpa press conference from him, or read a tell-all confessional book by him or a magazine article or whatnot.  I want him to get out of this the way he got into it.  I want to hear it from the stage, as a comedy routine in which he flays himself, genuinely, in a way that is hilarious.  Very few people are capable of pulling this off -- it's Houdini like -- but I think he might be one of them.   He's a comedic genius. 

Until then, I don't forgive him.  What he did was dreadful.  

I don't see the problem with the anonymous spreadsheet, particularly there wasn't any disciplinary action based solely on an anonymous complaint. If the anonymous complaint resulted in an investigation that substantiates there was misconduct, well then that's a good thing, isn't it? And, even the complaint doesn't go any further, it could serve as a wake up call to some people that their behavior is crossing a line. I remember reading about a study that found that the majority of people who violated ethics rules honestly believed themselves to be ethical people and just had a blind spot when it came to their own conduct. I think a lot of sexual harassers are the same way-- they are either too arrogant ("it's flattering when I come on to her") or in clueless/in denial ("she thinks it's funny when I joke around") that they don't realize their behavior is unwanted. And waking them up to that is a good thing, too, isn't it? I'm sure some people will argue that anonymous complaints are a smear job and can hurt innocent people, but I think the idea women would make up sexual harassment accusations is highly exaggerated. It's true that there may be differences in perception about what happened, but in most cases women will only make a complaint (even an anonymous one) if they were really upset by what happened. Especially in a case like this, when it's professionals trying to warn other professionals.  

Okay, gonna weigh in on this, and based on the poll results, many of you are going to disagree with me. 

I don't like the spreadsheet.  I recognize that it got things done, and that it alerted the world to some harassers, and had a largely positive effect.  I am pretty persuaded the lady who started it never intented it to go public, though that was naive.  I think her intentions were good.  I can understand how a fair-minded person might look at this and conclude it was, by and large, a good thing because of its efficacy. 

But I can't get past the fact that it is accusation by rumor and innuendo, with no opportunity for defense or even to confront your accuser.   I would argue that if there are 50 names on the list, and 47 of them are guilty as charged, the harm done to the three is so great -- and so irreparable to their reputation in their industry -- that it destroys all the good.   This is just not how this country works.  

I don't think it matters that no guy was punished based on the the spreadsheet alone.  That's irrelevant.  Any innocent guy on that spreadsheet is being punished immensely by being on the spreadsheet, which is being read by an untold number of women with whom he has worked, or who know him, or know of him, or will meet him someday, and he has no idea who THEY are either.  

Look, some totalitarian countries have virtually no crime. That's terrific, but the U.S. doesn't follow their lead because we have certain standards of due process and fairness and basically our attitude is that it's better that ten guilty people walk than one innocent person gets incarcerated for life.  In theory.  (There is a story in today's paper that China is combating jaywalking by spraying violators with water and instantly displaying their photo on a screen. Probably will work.  Should we do that here?)

I don't like the spreadsheet.  There HAD to be a better way.  Okay, have at me.  

Since you haven't won a Pulitzer Prize lately, surely you are close to finishing your book manuscript.... Or did you weasel your way out of that contract?

I have writ 78,000 words out of what will be a 90,000 word book. 

However, the reason I have not lately won a Pulitzer is that I no longer have a fully functioning brain. 

You can't make that sh*t up!


Lefty bats righty because it’s easier to hit against a left-handed pitcher. You surely knew this already.

And what did I write that makes you think I didn't understand this?

Not surprising, given that "handedness" is a point on a spectrum rather than an either/or. Many people are more ambidextrous than they realize, and some people use one hand more for gross motor skills and the other hand more for fine motor skills.

See the next post. 

I'm left handed only when it comes to writing. Everything else I do right handed - play golf, bat, guitar (when I tried to learn), wear my watch on my left wrist, etc. Whenever I try and do anything left handed, it feels weird. When I try and write with my right hand, it feels weird. No question, just commenting.

You are C.C. Sabathia.   Note which hand the Hefty Leftyuses to sign autographs.  

Isn't worrying about whether Cohen will "flip" or about the contents of his records basically an admission of guilt? I mean, if there wasn't any criminality there, who cares who talks to the investigators?

Not really.   If you believe the investigators are out to get you fairly or unfairly, anything your lawyer has could be "twisted."  That's what Trump would say. 

Here in Australia we pronounce it "AHnt", as I believe the English do, though of course we hear "ant" in American TV shows and movies and understand that perfectly well in context. But I was surprised when a chatter last time said it should be "AWnt" - I've never heard that before, and the American dictionary I checked doesn't mention it. Is there some particular region in the USA that says it that way? That previous chatter tried to justify their pronunciation from the spelling, but clearly that doesn't work for English words.

It does work, actually.   Australia.   Aubergine.  Auto. 

After reading your column on Sunday, I'm not sure if I'm a better fan than you or a worse one. Baseball was always my favorite sport. As a kid, I played all the time -- not Little League or at school; just a me and a bunch of friends going down to the park, finding a free diamond, and playing until we all got too hot and tired to go on. We'd play a couple times a week during the summer. I was terrible but also the only lefty, which made up for it a little. But I didn't watch it at all. As a kid, I could have named one player from my home town's (always terrible) team and one or maybe two all-time greats from before I was born. I didn't watch baseball, I played it. When I left for college, I stopped playing. That year, my city's team also made it to the playoffs for the first time since I was old enough to understand it and then won the World Series. I watched every game and talked my parents home to flying me home to see Games 6 and 7 live. After that, I became the "good" baseball fan you describe -- I watched the playoffs whether "we" were in them our not, followed my team in the paper when their games weren't televised where I lived, learned all the players and their histories. I cheered for "our" World Series wins ... but also the Kirk Gibson homer, the Curt Schilling/Randy Johnson Game 7, the Sawx finally breaking Buckner's curse. And then, in the late 2000s, computer technology caught up with me. Nowadays, computer games let you build and/or manage a team to whatever level of detail you want from strictly building rosters to calling individual pitches, play-by-plays match what you'd hear on the radio, computer opponents are pretty good about not making stupid trades. I started managing my computer team and stopped watching the real game -- why curse over stupid managerial decisions, when I can make my OWN stupid managerial decisions? I understand the intricacies of the game much more than I ever did (I know how the Rule 5 draft works and have an actual philosophy on which relievers to warm up when) but I haven't watched a real game in years and am back to only being able to name one player on my hometown team. I'm not sure what kind of fan that makes me -- I love the game, but if I have some way of being a participant at some level, then I'm not all that interested in being a spectator. (If my hometown team ever gets back to the World Series, though, I'll watch that. Not something I'll have to worry about this year.)

Short answer: You are a MUCH better fan than I am. 

What did you think of that hubbub around the college tennis player in Oregon who got kicked off the team after making a poorly-received speech at an awards dinner? (The Post had a story about it several days ago.) I don't think there's any doubt his speech was bad, and his jokes were not funny and in poor taste, given the occasion. (This is based only on what I've read about the speech; I haven't heard it myself.) But the reaction and his punishment seemed a bit much to me. Isn't it enough to criticize the speech as bad, unfunny and inappropriate, without calling it violent and misogynistic, and kicking him off the team?

This is a story about his speech.  

It sounds crappy.  A terrible effort at humor.   But I generally feel college is the place where you get all your poor decisions behind you.  

In this headline, does unusual modify transplant or penis? 

Well this is a serious story about a terrible injury suffered by brave men.   I don't want to make jokes about it.   I do wonder whether he traded up or down, though.  Up, I hope.  He deserves it. 

If you'll allow a slight exemption for the fact that he delivers his monologues seated, I humbly propose Seth Meyers.

Seth Meyers is fine.  He is not remotely in Louis's league. 

Clinton's loyalty to Abedin was not an ethical mistake, but it was definitely a political mistake.

Hard to say.  If she had jettisoned Abedin, she would have been pilloried as a cold witch, abandoning a friend in trouble through no fault of her own.

I was just reminded last night of a bit Garry Shandling did in his stand-up where he told that his mother had wanted to have him aborted, but the doctor explained to her it was illegal to abort a 15-year-old. God I miss Garry.


My sole point of reference for La Jolla, CA was from some teen romance novels (maybe Sweet Valley High?). I never connected the written word to the correct pronunciation and read it phonetically as I would have as a pre-teen to my boss when I was 40.

I once won a lunch from Kornheiser because he refused to believe that Newfoundland was pronounced the way I said it was.  He believed it was NEWfinland.  

To resolve it (this was before the internet) we telephoned a business office in Newfoundland (I think it was the chamber of commerce) and listened for how they answered the phone. 

You know the right answer?

It is coming up.  

Here it comes. 


Last week you asked about someone who could still like a Trump supporter and who hated Obama in retrospect. That would be me. My husband voted for Trump, still thinks he's doing a good job. He voted for Obama the first time but now hates him. It is not easy, and I have lost a lot of respect for him. I mostly deal with it by willful ignorance, because otherwise... (shrug) I just don't know. Arguing, debating with facts, and utter disbelief didn't work. I just hope this national nightmare ends soon so that I can respect and love my husband again.

I am sorry for your loss.  Seriously. 

But I am also perplexed and need to ask a troubling question.  Why will the end of the Trump presidency help you respect your husband again?  He still will be the guy who felt this way. .

I am a woman -- a black woman -- and I loved Louis C.K.'s comedy. Maybe because so many brown men are in prison I am able to think more broadly about "punishment" and "redemption" as it were, but I sincerely hope he does find a way back to the stage. I believe few people are all bad or all good so writing him off completely and forever for his actions seems harsh and over the top to me.

Yeah, I am with you.  I DO disagree with people who contend his crime was more of an icky thing than a harmful thing.  I think he hurt women in a tangible way. 

I find the idea of public forgiveness of a celebrity pretty interesting. Normally I land on the side that we're too harsh - it seems like in many cases we want the person banished for all time and don't care what steps if any they've taken to truly rehabilitate themselves and try to make right whatever they've done wrong. I find this concerning because I think for every day people, if they don't see a path toward forgiveness, then they don't have motivation to truly change. At the same time, it seems like sexual harassers/abusers/rapists get off scot-free (see Woody Allen and Roman Polanski) and so many of them have gotten to continue their careers for a looooong time past the point when word started getting out about their terrible behavior that I'm quite frankly totally OK with saying these people should never get to come back to any kind of a successful public life. They've harmed way too many women and contributed to a culture that has kept lots of women out of these industries for me to ever see a way in which it would be fine for them to start getting back in the limelight. So, long way of saying I agree with the author and hope Louis CK stays gone.

Understood.  I disagree but respect your opinion. 

Nicer fast-food restaurants are called fast-casual, right? But, when talking, people often shorten the casual part of the word into... well, I'm not sure how to type it out. It's not cas, and it's definitely not cash. How do you type that word out in print?

cazh.    It's like transliterating Russian. 

His comedy was about how we all have bad impulses, but we don’t actually act on them because we are good people. And when we found out that he did act in fact on them, it fell apart. It’s as if my friends and I went out for drinks and talked about how we want to kill our husbands sometimes, and then I found out that one of the women in the group actually murdered her husband. She probably doesn’t get invited to the next party.

I get this.  And I feel it.  His routine about the librarian loses all its humor in retrospect.  (Alert, this REALLY gets dark, in retrospect.  And it has some bad language.)

CK can still exceed the bar to be President of the United States

Good point!  

I had already started teaching my daughter how to swing a bat before I realized she was a lefty. To this day, she still swings a bat as a righty (that is when she swings a bat; she is 25).

One of the best days of my life was when I realized Molly could hit my glove at a distance of 60 feet with a taut rope of a throw. 

It extends all the way across the page and is covering the ads making it illegible. Chrome browser.

Gene 2.0?

Is it just me, or does it seem that you would have to subtract "times caught stealing" from "stolen bases" to get an adequate understanding of who is the real "stolen base leader"? Would it still be Rickey Henderson?

Yes, it would.  He is vastly ahead of #2, who is Lou Brock.    The numbers:  1,406 to 938.   No way do caught stealins make up that difference. 

Also, number three is NOT Ty Cobb.  It is Sliding Billy Hamilton. 

Your options for responding to Poll 1 lacked nuance. Generally speaking, I think we can separate the art from the artist, particularly historical artists (Caravaggio killed a guy, but I think that is generally not held against him these days). In the case of Louis CK, though, it's difficult to separate his "comedy of the sexes" from the allegations. As Bernhardt says, it's like he was hiding in plain sight, trying to use his act to allude enough to his conduct to insulate himself from the consequences of his action. I don't see him coming back from that. It's not like he only now realizes that masturbating in front of an unwilling audience was bad (though his apology sort of suggests that).

I generally agree with this, but I need to see how he tries.  

Do you need tickets for their series at Nats Park?

I do.  That I'll go see, with Molly, and we will be rooting for different teams. 

Though I LIKE the Nats.   I root for them in all circumstances but this. 

It would be so much better if the links to the polls said "for men" and "for women" instead of "for males" and "for females." Thank you.


A recent profile of the Date Lab writers included the following quote: "I say to them [the daters], 'Talk to me like I’m your friend. I’m not going to make you look like a d---.' But then in my head I’m thinking: 'unless you are a d---.'” To me, that seems terribly unfair, sort of like a bait-and-switch. Does it violate any journalistic standards (are Date Lab writers even held to those standards)?

I don't know what standards Date Lab writers are held to, but this line actually doesn't bother me, because I am reading it a little differently than you are.  I think what the writer is saying is, "I am not going to go out of my way, and bend things, to unfairly make you look like a d-ck."  (I hyphenated it that way because it took me too long to figure out what d--- was.)  If a person's own statements make him look like a di-k, that's not the writer being unfair.  

I do think that article made the Date Lab writers look a teensy bit like -icks though.   I think they knew that, too.

This is quite a quote:  I don’t know. To me, to not have sex with somebody on the first date is kind of inconceivable. This is another world that I’m looking into. For me, if by the second date we haven’t had some sort of intimacy, I’m like, “What is going on here?” 

Gene, you mook, it's "OH-ber-gine", not "AW-ber-gine"

I admit to mookitude. 

...but you seem to be slow on questions today, so here goes. A few weeks ago, I suggested a Post Hunt based on the Renwick's Burning Man statues. You replied that you couldn't do a hunt based on a single statue. To clarify: there are SIX statues AND a MAP. And they will be around the Renwick's neighborhood through the summer. Yes, it will be a measly substitute for a real hunt, but measly is better than nothing.

I disagree that measly is better than nothing.  It is a central precept of the Hunt that it has to keep getting better. 

Thought you'd like this line from your colleague's review of Jake Tapper's new fiction book: "Tapper’s 33-year-old protagonist, Charlie, is a World War II hero as attractive and flavor-free as a genetically engineered tomato."

Very nice!  

What did you think of the Post's article on the arrival of the royal baby? It was written absolutely straight, but I, at least, being an American anti-royalist, sensed a wink-and-a-nod throughout -- as in, why do we even care about such a thing, and why are the Brits as interested as they are about the event? It was perfect (except, possibly, for the last substantive paragraph, which I might have cut). I laughed all the way through, although I'm not quite sure I was supposed to.

I'm not seeing what you are seeing.  Strikes me as a well-written, well-reported, interesting straightforward story written with the slight whimsy the subject deserves. 

I'm asking you because you seem willing to speak truth to the power of stupid decision-making at the Post: whose idea was "The Post Recommends:" and what algorithm does it use to make recommendations? Whatever it is, it's stupid! It's bad enough that I've had to endure months of the Post recommending I read an article about Melania Trump's AFLAC commercial at the bottom of practically everything I DO want to read -- none of which is remotely related to Melania Trump's professional activities -- but today I read an article about using the IRS's 2018 Withholding Calculator and when I got to the bottom I found this: The Post Recommends Endangered baby dolphin dies after swimmers pass it around for selfies The incident in Argentina has drawn widespread condemnation. Feb 18, 2016

I can't get worked up over this.    It's easy to ignore those things, and I think the idea is that these are brain candy, and as brain candy, the dolphin story is kinda timeless.  You know?  Just ignore em, the way I ignore EVERY SINGLE sponsored story, even one that sounds kinda interesting. I don't want to see advertising packaged as news, so I don't see it. 

I particularly despise news shows and magazine programs using present tense to describe past events. I assumed you would feel the same, so I asked you about it in a chat some years ago. Your response was "meh", not that big a deal. Yet last week you made these remarks: A: Gene Weingarten I try to never do present tense. I am doing my book in entirely past tense. — Mar 27, 2018 12:34 EDT A: Gene Weingarten It seems mannered to me. I always advise young writers not to do it. What has changed your mind?

Greater maturity.  Seriously.  I used to DO it, too.  And then one day I re-read a story I wrote and thought, you fecking idiot.  Why not just write the whole story in French to show how sophisticated you are?

When the press was making much of the fact that all three candidates for president in 1992 (Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and H. Ross Perot) were all left-handed, it was pointed out that Reagan was very likely a lefty who had been switched in school, because he did everything with his left hand except write.

I was a lefty who was switched at birth, so to speak.   As a baby I reached for things with my left hand.  My ma kept transfering to my right, until I was "cured."

Also, gives advantages for playing either side of the infield if you are ambidextrous. Fun fact: my boyfriend is a magician and is naturally right handed but can do magic with both. And that's not a euphemism.

Yeah, you can educate your non-dominant hand.  Everyone who plays a guitar well has done that. 

This example drives me bananas - it's an advance, not an advancement. I see it everywhere these days. We are doomed.

You have totally lost me.  Advancement is definitely a word.  It is not the same as advance.   "Opportunities for career advance' makes no sense. 

A major point of contention surrounding the story of Trayon White's visit to the Holocaust Museum--in which both the council member and his staff are portrayed as shallow thinkers, deeply ignorant, and possessing at least a touch of a denier-mindset--is that this was intended as a private visit for White and his staff, that the "uninvited" reporter cherry-picked what he heard to produce a "gotcha" story. (See e.g. the Jews United for Justice press release: ) Is this a fair objection? On the one hand, I can understand how White and the Jewish groups and the museum would want a private tour, etc. But on the other hand, White is a public figure, a politician entrusted with civic responsibilities, and if he's not aware that newspapers publish all sorts of things that politicians would prefer not to be published, then that's another thing he's not aware of.

Trayon White is an elected politician.  With some exceptions, he has virtually no right to privacy, especially on an issue that's directly in the news, and reflects directly on his fitness to serve.  He was already under fire for apparent antisemitism.  There was no journalistic foul here at all.  Not even one percent. 

Gene, thanks so much for the outstanding chats, columns, and feature stories over the years. I'm a business writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Here are some Trump and NRA jokes I wrote. What do Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels have in common? They both suck at their jobs. What do Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels have in common? Their associates often enter through the back door. How are Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels different? Stormy has two big boobs and Donald is one big boob. Start of a tell-all book: “It was a Donald and Stormy night.” Why does Wayne LaPiere commute to NRA headquarters? Because they don’t have a Work From Hell policy. How do NRA leaders react when they drop a box of light bulbs? They silently curse the broken ones and openly mock the survivors. What's the different between Ted Nugent and a pile of poop? I don't know.

Not bad.  Joke writing is hard.  I shall rate them start to finish. 

1. Excellent. 

2. Inscrutable.  Back door for Trump?  Stretchy. 

3. Weak to fair. 

4. Weak

5. Excellent. 

6. Inscrutable to weak.

7. Okay. 


I'm the one that complained about the Onion's story about child abuse. I've seen too much about it in the medical literature that I read for my job to ever find anything humorous about it. After watching my mother slowly turn from an intelligent, competent woman into a vegetable and now seeing the same thing happen to my sister I also just can't find dementia jokes funny either. You say that we can find humor in everything and it has fear as the basis for much of it. Personally I don't joke or find jokes about either of those topics funny. They hit too close to my heart. I'm wondering if there is any subject that you are too emotional about to joke about?

  I know what you are talking about and do not think you are wrong. My father had a terrible last two years, from dementia.  But I can joke about dementia because I view humor in a certain way.  It's an exaggeration of the truth, done to make fun of our fears so as to help cope with them. 

So, when I hear an ethnic joke, so long as it is not being told by a closet white supremacist, I see it as a parody of racism, not as racism.  It's dealing not in truth but in absurd stereotyping. 

Same with dementia.  A relative of mine is suffering from early late-onset Alzheimers.  He's still quite lucid and mentally together, but he knows that likely won't last.  He's scared. And he told me an Alzheimer's joke: 

Guy goes to the doctor, gets tested for all sorts of things.  The doctor sat down with him afterward and said, "I'm afraid I have bad news.  You have cancer and you have Alzheimer's.  And the guy said, "Well, it could be worse, doc.  At least I don't have cancer."



In the Post's recent coverage of the Syria chemical attack the main headline online for awhile was an "alleged" chemical attack. I get why the paper has to use alleged when discussing something/someone that has yet to be proven guilty in court, but this doesn't seem equivalent to me. Due process doesn't really apply here. So, as arbitrator of word usage, what say you?

Hm.  I am not sure about this.   It would depend, I think, on our degree of knowledge about the event.  As I recall, the regime has (duh) denied it, and what we have to go on is mostly photos and vids of people who SEEM to be suffering from chemical poisoning. If that is the case, I think we are following reasonable rules of fairness.  

I see James Comey as an equivalent to the arsonist/firefighter. He set the place on fire with his press conference about the Hillary emails potentially on Weiner's computer. Now he wants us to treat him like the hero saving us from the inferno he helped set. I want us to be saved but I don't believe he deserves any special credit for cleaning up what is, in large part, his mess.

It's an excellent analogy.  Yours?

Hey since I’ve been following this chat, In the hundreds of flights that I’ve taken for work or for pleasure over the last 10 years, I have stoically refused to lay back my seat in an airplane. You know why. Last week, on an Airbus 330 from Dulles To Munich, I decided to lay my seat back because, you know, overnight flight. As I laid the seat back an amazing thing happened. The back of my seat did not intrude into the space in front of the person sitting behind me Instead, the bottom of my seat slid forward, decreasing the space I had, but allowing me to lean back, without affecting the person behind. In fact, he probably had MORE legroom as a result of my decision. It was amazing! Guiltless seat tilting! I felt as though I was eating manufactured meat or something.

Wow.  That's a brilliant solution.  Which airline?

I seriously cannot wrap my head around this. It sounds like the ultimate in cognitive dissonance.

A total head-scratcher. 

My friend’s husband needed women for his softball team, so he dragged my righ-handed friend, who is fit but not athletic, along. She was a very bad hitter until he patiently coached her to bat lefty, which made her into, if not a great hitter, at least someone who could connect with the ball and get on base sometimes. My theory is that she didn’t have any bad habits to to unlearn on that side.

Good theory. 

I agree with the author of the article that once you know about his actions, you can't separate his work from the person, as his comedy emanates from his personality. But I disagree with the premise that anyone who cared to know could have (and should) have know what he had done. Many of us do not follow celebrity lives closely enough to know much about their lives. Even my favorites, I enjoy them on the stage or film, but do not know much of their lives otherwise.

Preaching to the choir there. 

Assuming we survive him, what does the GOP become in Trump's aftermath? Can they really clear their throat and act like nobody saw what craven and opportunistic tools they are? Do they have Glenn Beck warming up to be their next candidate?

It's a very good question.  I think they have destroyed themselves for a generation. 

What do you mean "nobody ever gave us anything"? Kansas City, anyone?? They were a Yankees farm team for YEARS, giving them their best talent for pennies on the dollar.

You are referring to 1960.  That was some time ago.


You know what really got me?  The pictures. 

I work for someone who uses both parentheses and quotation marks to designate abbreviations, acronyms, and nicknames, and it drives me nuts. For example Consumer Value Stores becomes ("CVS"). Are both parentheses and quotation marks necessary? Wouldn't either one do? Thanks for settling a bet.

As far as your bet, yes, it is overkill.  Should just be the parens.

But mostly I find myself stunned to learn, at this late date, that CVS means Consumer Value Stores. 

The intrusion of the writers into the stories is self-indulgent and annoying and seriously detracts from the feature.

I was going to address this. 

I think I agree with you, thought there is a tradeoff.  They ARE more professionally written.  But the writer's presence can be jarring.  It remains a really popular feature. 

So Uranus is an aptonym.

"Uranus" is such a great name that no one ever points out that it's not exactly pronounced that way.  I certainly don't, and I'm usually a stickler for that. 

Gene, women have warned each other about slimeballs for years. This time they just used technology to do it. (You really think Matt Lauer should be given the benefit of the doubt until he has the opportunity to confront his accusers?)

Matt Lauer KNOWS who his accusers are.  He didn't confront them because he has no defense. 

I don't really understand your first point.   If Mary tells Suzy to beware of Randy, that's one thing.  If Mary tells the world to beware of Randy, anonymously, that's something completely different. 

OTOH, Jack Benny played an über-stingy character named Jack Benny on radio and TV, while in real life he was a generous-hearted person (I recall him coming to my hometown to play a benefit concert with our part-time, perpetually cash-strapped symphony orchestra).

Also, everyone loved Don Rickles.  He was warm and generous and sweet. 

what would you name the new British Prince? Apparently odds makers say it will be either Arthur or Albert...


I wonder -- when they named Uranus, was it an accident, or did they planet that way?

Thank you. 

Very similar to a joke I heard once about the Cowboys (but pick your favorite target). What's the difference between the Cowboys and a sack of manure? The sack.

That's excellent. 

I disagree with Granny from last week - doesn't greasy essentially mean "covered in grease", so the pronunciation would follow as gree-see; however, easy is "with ease", so the pronunciation would be ee-ze

Good point. 

"Having said that" isn't filler. I use it all the time, usually to delineate between a general truth and a specific instance that deviates from that truth. E.g.: "I agree that Gene Weingarten is a brilliant writer, and his insights have enriched my life. Having said that, his latest column was drivel." It's more useful than, say "but" as a pivot because it validates the general point before going to the specific.

A fair point, but how is that any better or more effective than "But"?   

"Having said that" joltingly inserts YOU into a place you don't want to be.   It's a bit of a hiccup that many columnists are prone to.   You don't have to say "I think" in a column.  The column is about what you think.  

I can't really explain why, but the level of detail that goes into explaining the food served at State Dinners really bugs me. I realize it's important that there's have a nice dinner and I'm sure a lot of effort goes into the preparation, but reporting on "buttermilk biscuit crumbles adding punctuation to a salad featuring a goat cheese gateau and a burnt-onion soubise, or sauce, enhancing the main course" just seems like such overkill. Maybe it feels to personal to read that level of detail about what other people are eating, or maybe it's knowing that people don't go to a State Dinner for the food, or maybe it's that the intricate description of each and every ingredient seems pretentious and fussy. I don't know. You're a foodie, does it bother you?

Nope.  It's good detail.   I also loved reading Nero Wolfe novels, in part for the food. 

I know you commented once before on Slylock Fox (there were seven errors in the "find six"). But the 4/15 mystery was massively flawed ~ the solution hinged on a file cabinet with all three drawers completely full of files and ALL OPEN. I think the cabinet would be lying on it's front and... oops. 

That is not my experience.  I think most file cabinets are built sturdily enough to withstand all the drawers being out. 

Actually, this was one of the most interesting / challenging puzzles in a while!  Took me five seconds. 

Thanks Gene 2.0

Just doin' my job!

My 11-year old kid throws left and bats right, despite continuing efforts to get him to try switching it up. He may have kept up the stubborn streak (that he got entirely from his mother, and you can't say anything to convince me otherwise) for the last 6 years, but I'm still holding out hope that he can learn to bat lefty at some point. But that background means that I did know about Rickey Henderson. And also about Joey Rickard, since we are Orioles fans, though he seems to be more along the journeyman role.

If he has any promise to be a pro, you MUST teach him to bat lefty.  There's only one Rickey Henderson. 

I am sick. My primary symptoms are a fever and entirely liquid stools. Its been 48 hours. At what point should I go to the doctor? Thanks.

The fever isn't great.   I would say make an appointment now. 

Thanks a lot! Like I need to be crying at my desk! Give a girl a trigger warning, will ya?


Why? They control a majority of governorships and state houses, where their voter suppression efforts aimed at likely non-Repub voters are expanding. Every federal judge Trump appoints is for life. And some smart observers think Trump will win if he runs for re-election in 2020, especially with the Dems still in disarray. Support your claim.

I think their fecklessness and cowardice will be a potent took in all elections from here on out. 

And you feel bad for the three? Sure, they didn't deserve to get smeared, but neither did the millions--say it with me, "millions"--of women whose careers were held back or entirely derailed because they reported harassment or objected to it. Burn it down.


But, um, don't you feel the terrain has shifted, rather dramatically?   

Count me as another person who never found him funny. I'm not sure how to explain why I think someone is *unfunny* except that I've always gotten an icky feeling listening to him.

Boy, I never got that icky feeling until, um, recently.  He always seemed to be above his topic.  When he did that pedophilia routine on SNL, it was so adept I never for a moment thought, "oh, he might be a pedophile."   Sort of the Nabokov phenomenon. 

I knew the answer to your Newfoundland question only because I used to frequently watch the CBC national newscast (with the great Peter Mansbridge). Did you also know that Labrador (as in Newfoundland and Labrador) has the stress on the last syllable?

I had no idea, about Labrador.    It's Labra-DOOR?

Being a lefty is an advantage (e.g., Rod Laver, Martina Navratilova, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors). Rafael Nadal, a lefty on the court, does everything else right-handed; his uncle/coach trained him to play tennis left-handed.

Okay, I am no tennis expert.  Why is being a lefty an advantage?   Unusual spin? 

Recliner chairs have had this feature for decades, probably because of all the complaints about the scraped paint on the living room or TV room wall. It's great.

Right. Good point. 

Well, I thought that after Sandy Hook, and I was wrong.

Wait, weren't we talking about sexual harassment?

“If Mary tells Suzy to beware of Randy, that's one thing. If Mary tells the world to beware of Randy, anonymously, that's something completely different.” Even when Randy is Dr. Nasser? Ted Bundy? Jerry Sandusky? Jeffrey Daumier?

Yes.  If it is a part of some mechanism where innocent people get slimed, with no recourse. 

And his BFF was Bob Newhart! I recall them showing snippets of home movies on the "Tonight Show" (in the Carson era), of a vacation trip that Mr. & Mrs. Rickles and Mr. & Mrs. Newhart took together. In an RV, as I recall.

There is no question that public personas are often very different from reality, but it is usually in the opposite direction.   Walt Disney, for example.  Joan Crawford. 

Do you think that when a sick dog is "put to sleep," even as lovingly as the story describes, he knows what's happening?

No.  Absolutely not.  

Actually, you're completely wrong about the file cabinet. There's basically nothing in there but the drawers, so with all the drawers full and open it would fall right over. Most file cabinets have an interlock so you can't open more than one drawer at a time for that very reason.

Is this true?  

Gene, I one of those lefties who learned to bat right-handed. Simple explanation: even though I was favoring my left hand (for throwing, e.g.) by age three, adults all stood behind me and showed me how to swing a bat right-handed. My dad -- a lefty -- encouraged me to bat left-handed. But one of my first vivid childhood memories was when I walked back across the plate, saying "it feels better this way." So I became a right-handed-batting lefty. Since I never quite had Ricky Henderson's speed, it was the end of a Hall of Fame career.

I could have been a pro ballplayer.   Second baseman, because I lacked a rocket arm.  I was thisclose except for no ability to hit, run or throw. 

Gene - you have had a lot of pets over the years, and your daughter is a vet, so I'm writing to you looking for some insight. How do you know when it is time to euthanize your elderly pet? I have a very old cat. She does not have any specific ailment, like cancer, but she has lost weight, doesn't seem to groom as much as she used to do, seems to struggle going up stairs, and has started peeing outside of her litter box sometimes (meaning directly outside of it - not all over the house). On the other hand, she still eats and drinks, still purrs when she sits on my lap, and still craves my attention. I'm honestly torn on what to do here. I really don't like the peeing outside of the litter box, and I hate to see her so tentative on the stairs, but then I think that those things are too petty as reasons to end her life. Thanks - a faithful reader.

This goes back to a previous question.  

Animals have no fear of death.   You should euthanize your pal when you feel it is time.   And one factor is if she is in pain when walking, and another is, yes, if she is stinking up your house.  This is not like euthanizing grandma.   

I would say it's time, but that's just me.  I euthanized Harry after giving him his breakfast, which he enjoyed.  His problem was he could no longer stand up. 

Hey, that reminds me.   

Isn't "stand up" a redundancy?  Like "go down to the basement."

I live in a high-rise condo with balconies on each unit. The neighbor one floor above and one unit to the west is waging a war with pigeons even though none of us have any serious pigeon issues. She leaves the door and windows open for days at a time, and complains that the pigeons poop inside her condo (no screens in her windows or doors). She has installed some complicated array of technology involving sound and lights to scare the pigeons when they get close. She also has some kind of plastic spiky stuff attached to the edge of her balcony. The other day I watched two pigeons, seemingly deliberately, scoping out her place. They were delicately walking around the plastic spiky stuff, and they were strutting up and down the rail of the balcony. They'd fly to a nearby balcony, and face her unit. Watching. I don't know why they are so attracted to her place. For this and various other reason she is crazy and a bad neighbor, and even though pigeons are vile, filthy creatures, I am rooting for them.

I am, too. 

Your thoughts on two fairly recent trends in paid death-notices: Running a photo of the deceased (and the choice for same), and writing witty or mushy or excessively religious texts. Not to mention that some people run them for weeks, even months, instead of just a day or three. Hint: I'm a great believer in the just-the-facts-ma'am school of death-notice writing -- although I realize that longer paid notices that run for longer periods of time are good for newspapers' bottom lines.

Yeah, my big bugaboo are the paid ads that begin "Joe Smith was welcomed into the loving arms of The Lord ..." I just don't think that should be in the newspaper, paid ad or not. 

Do you think we'll ever see women playing alongside men in professional leagues? If so, which league do you think will be the first? I think MLB or NFL is most likely. NBA is probably the least likely. NHL had a woman goalie, but I think that was more a stunt than a honest attempt to allow a woman play in the NHL.

It will definitely be MLB, and it will be a crafty lefty relief pitcher.  Second choice: NFL placekicker. 

I’m righty. Injured my right arm. It’s healed and I can do almost anything with it except wipe. It’s not funny!


As a kid in the 1950s (e.g., when his TV shows debuted), I couldn't get my parents to tell me why they disliked him. Now I know.

Yeah, he was a monster. 

A new colleague who has Parkinson's made an announcement at a staff meeting recently. "In case you didn't know, today is Parkinson's Awareness Day. I'm shaky on the details, but I think that means you're supposed to buy anyone with Parkinson's a drink." Yes, he meant to say it that way. Yes, he's now the most popular guy at the office.

Shaky is great. 

Okay, we're done.  Thank you.  The difference between "full" chats and "updates" has kind of disintegrated, but I'll see you next week for a "full" chat. 

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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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