Chatological Humor: Monthly with Moron

May 29, 2018

Gene Weingarten held his monthly chat with readers.

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.

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.

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.

Good afternoon. 

As most of you know, I am owned by two stray cats, Buster and Philip,  Now there is a third, Hans, who is a bit grumpy, and who just showed up one day and informed the three of us that he would henceforth be joining us for meals. 
I have always bought their food by the big bag at Harris Teeter,  It is Purina One, a mid-cost, nutritious food approved by Molly.    I generally shop at Harris T. for things like paper towels, and Rau's marinara sauce, and items like that.  When I want, say, fresh salmon, I go to Whole Foods, which is for rich elites, which I am not.  But their perishables -- meats and seafoods and vegetables and so forth -- are of better quality.  Whole Foods obnoxiously seems to pride itself on carrying only nutritionally sanctioned body-glorifying health nut stuff, which can be annoying. 
As it happens, I found myself in Whole Foods a few days ago (raw oysters) when I realized I had run out of Purina One.  So I decided, just this once, to splurge on the WF brand cat food, which, presumably, is made from plump, free-range llamas raised in the Argentine pampas on a diet of foie gras and baboon meat. 
Buster, Philip and Hans flatly refused to eat it for breakfast -- not a single morsel.   Then, they refused to eat it for dinner.    Then they refused to eat if for breakfast the next day, and I had even refilled the bowls so it was fresh.   I do not believe they were eating elsewhere.  I believe I am their only source of food, outside of the occasional neighborhood rat or mouse, which are in short supply this time of the year. 
By dinnertime, Something Had to Be Done.   So I sat down with them and read them the riot act.  (Seriously, I was lecturing them. If anyone had been passing by, underpants would likely have been dampened.)   I explained to them how things work around here, and that as little scruffy dirtbag beggars, they canot be choosers, and how humans set the agenda, and how this food was very expensive and no doubt nutritious, and I am not about to put up with this sort of insolence, gentlemen. 
They didn't eat dinner. 
They didn't eat breakfast.  
I went to Harris Teeter. 
Here are Philip and Buster at dinner yesterday.  Purina One.   They were quite ravenous, and victorious.   They own me.  
That's it. Please take the poll. We start at noon sharp.

Howdy.   I feel I should begin with a clarification:  I don't know the right answers to the questions in the poll.  These are questions I've had for years.  I tried to find answers and couldn't. 

Do we have any lawyers or ad people out there who can supply definitive answers?  If so, you will have my rapt attention.  

This is a pretty lame pet name, right up there with Buddy. (I anticipate your response will be along the lines of "noted.")


I didn't give him that name.  He already had it when I moved into the nabe.  I did name Philip and Hans, though. 

Well, if you offer your kid McDonald's or a Vegetable stir-fry with tofu, odds are your kid is going to pick McDonald's unless they were raised on WF type of food from the start. So, it makes sense that your kitties like the cheaper food. And they are your kitties. Do you have a limit to the number of cats you'll provide food to? I love Hans, by the way. Black cats are my favorite.

Then you would really love my Barnaby.  I'll send another pic of him next week.   Barnaby has three really cool features for a black cat:  1) A soul patch.   2) long white whiskers, and 3) TWO and only two white feet.  The hind feet.  Very unusual. 

Their butcher shop makes a jalapeno and Monterrey jack burger that's seriously one of the best burgers I've ever had. I highly recommend it.

I have a thing about heat in food.  I don't like it.  Spare me jalapeno in anything.  

I don't know much about cats, but have always had at least two dogs. I've never had an issue with any dog food I've purchased. One dynamic I have noticed with all of the dogs I've had is that virtually any food item that hits the floor or their food bowl gets devoured immediately lest the other dog get it. Eat first, ask questions later.

Here is a PSA: 

Don't feed your dog Beneful, though dogs love it.   A veterinarian of my acquaintance informs me it is the equivalent of feeding a child only potato chips. 

Hi Gene, I am not going to tell you about my ethnicity, my age, my gender identification, or any other aspect of my identity, but I will to tell you about my idea. I think people who are, say, 75% heavier than normal body weight for their age/height should have to pay a 10% higher health insurance premium. Now, that particular idea is not really my point. In fact, I have not given that issue any real thought at all. What I am concerned with is how you, or any of the chat readers, might characterize my belief if they knew what my actual weight was. If I was above that 75% threshold, would the idea have more or less merit? Am I more entitled to an opinion on something, particularly on policy, because of my lived experience? To what extent does it really matter?

I'm not sure your personal data affects the merit of your idea in any way. 

I kinda LIKE your idea, though.  If you smoke, your premiums go up -- why not if you are obese?  Clearly, your life is in more jeopardy.   Am I gonna get killed for this? 

What's worse than what you described is when you get a small bag of new food and the cats seem to love it. Then you shell out for the BIG bag (or as my crazy-cat-lady wife does, buy multiple BIG bags because they are allegedly on sale at PetSmart), after which the cats suddenly decide they don't like it after all.

That once happened to me. Er to the cats, via me.  I tend to eat all cat foods with equal relish. 

You really are a Dog Person, Gene. Any cat owner could have told you two things. First, cats will eat what they like and will absolutely refuse to eat what they don't like. There is no possibility for negotiation. Threats do not work. If a cat snubs his/her food, try another variety or another brand. Second, frou-frou cat food is marketed to the owners, not to the cats. You fell for the frou-frou. I agree with your description of Whole Foods. It's for good reason they're nicknamed Whole Paycheck. From a marketing perspective, they should be nicknamed Whole Frou-Frou.

Well, all true.  But they have some darn good merch.  

I have never found salmon as good as what they call "salmon portions."  Marbled with salmon fat.  And I have the greatest recipe in the world for what to do with that.  It takes 15 minutes.  

Is slugging really a thing? Or is it something that no one really does but people like to talk about because it sounds outlandish? This is important.

Any sluggers out there?  

I know it USED to be true because as an editor (Maybe 20 years ago) I assigned a writer to slug for a week, and report on it.  

I read your comments on anonymous postings of male harassers with some interest. I used to work at a large, well-known organization that has (internally) gone through a lot of female complaints about men in positions of power harassing mostly younger women. These men have been 'reeducated' but allowed to stay, while most of the women have left in frustration. They just got their first female leader, whom I admire greatly. I am 100% sure she doesn't know about any of this, including some of the men she works closely with. Should I let her know?

I am guessing she knows.  I am gussing she was told.  She has a right to know, because it would alert her what to watch out for.   

I'm not sure what to tell you.  I don't think it would be morally or ethically wrong to tell her -- these are simple, verifiable facts, right? -- but you might be risking something; will she think you a busybody?  A tattletale?   She shouldn't, but I dunno.   

Again, for the slow-minded: that's not what cultural appropriation is. Cultural appropriation is taking something from another culture and claiming that you or your own culture invented it. It does not mean something absorbed from another culture, but everyone knows or understands the origin. You right-wing dunce. One example that Gene cited was perfect: Elvis Presley and Hound dog. The prom girl wearing the dress doesn't cross the line for me unless she said she invented it herself or used it to mock the culture. I'm asian and intolerant of fragile right wing culture scum like yourself.

Wow.  That's kinda harsh!  

To be fair, a chatter last week pointed out that although Hound Dog was originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton, a black woman, it WAS written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, two very white men.  Elvis did ruin the lyrics by whiteifying them.  I do consider it cultural appropriation, but the claim is a bit muddied. 

The doodle seems to be saying that water (or selter?) is basic, pH-wise. I just read an article that found that many bottled waters are actual as acidic as soda and therefore bad for your teeth. It was in a dental journal, not something on Yahoo or Facebook.


Absent any disclaimers: you have to be able to verify claims. The Prep H lady must be that name and the product must have done what she says it does. That's why you see so many small-print, white-font disclaimers on TV. Same thing goes for car spots, whether on radio or TV -- they have to have that car, at that price, identified by VIN.

But how do you prove it?  You have to show a letter claiming that?  You have to produce Ms. Blumenfeld on demand?  

I do like how cynical all the responders are.  

If in fact, there are real requirements for veracity, I, too, will be gobsmacked.  It reminds me of the field I know a lot about, and how readers assume virtually everything is made up for, like, a humor column. 

Virtually NOTHING is made up. 

Yes, you are. Insurance operates on spreading the risk.

But don't you pay more if you, say, smoke?  

Not literally, I had parents. But the pets had the run of the house and were always fed table food. They were insufferable. So when I got my own place, and my own stray cat rescued from a wood pile, she only got official cat food, for health reasons (don't know if it's really true, just what I understand). My parents came over for dinner one evening, and my mother proceeded to cut tiny pieces of shrimp and pass them to the cat, under the table. The next morning, I found a pile of shredded shrimp under the table. The cat wouldn't touch it. It was good shrimp. She just didn't recognize it as food. I think they like what they become accustomed to.

Murphy eats 97 percent dog food, high quality, and 3 percent people food sneaked off the table.  There is always drool on the floor around the table after a meal.  It is the only way that I think I have failed, in raising her.  She is otherwise the most splendid of dogs. 

Have you always not liked "heat in food," or is it something that happens with age? I'm pushing 70, and I've noticed that my tolerance for spicy food has declined since my 30s or 40s.

I have always been an aficionado of bland food.  I love mashed taters, and can distinguish subtle difference in taste.  I can love one scoop of mashed, and hate another, depending how much butter/cream is in there. 

The post about the science teacher and astrology reminded me of my own 2nd grade science teacher. He was teaching a class about combustion and took a candle and lit it. While we were all bored, he blew out the flame and ate the candle leading to general shock. He then explained how many high energy substances like Food are also flammable and that the candle was actually a potato he peeled and kept underwater to keep it from browning with a peanut stuck in the top that he lit on fire. Double lesson of metabolism being sort of like fire consuming fuel plus not relying on assumptions.


Not sure if you've discussed this pronunciation triple before. I (midwesterner) pronounce them all the same. Last week, I heard an old interview of Philip Roth, and he pronounce 'poor' with almost 2 syllables: "poo-er". Almost an Irish or Scottish effect. How do you pronounce them?

Does anyone pronounce the last two DIFFERENTLY?  Pour and pore?  What would the difference be?

I think that Ron Charles is an excellent book reviewer and in Saturday's Post he made some solid points about the problems with the Nobel Prize for literature. But I think he went over the top by citing Bob Dylan as an example of the problem. I think it took some chutzpah that he tried to make his case by citing an apparently silly verse from "I Shall Be Free No. 10" while ignoring the body of Dylan's work.

One day, if I have the nerve, I am going to write about the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. 

Gene, I'd like to recommend the following website: In addition to the three steps, I'd like to add a fourth: warning the harasser that if their harassment doesn't stop, that the writer will take further actions (and may list them in the letter). Hope this helps someone!

I'd like to hear women's analysis of this.   

I am right handed and my wife is left handed. There is great joy in sitting in a movie theater with a bucket of popcorn between us, since it is equally convenient for us both. This blissful symmetry extends to many other romantic situations that involve use of one's dominant hand. I would hate to have it any other way.

It is not romantic, really, except in my fevered imagination, but this is exactly how Pat the Perfect (lefty) and I (righty) do a crossword puzzle together. 

A number of your chats have talked about Louis CK - reading through, I can't help but wonder: are you keen on his redemption because he was talented? I ask because talent and sexual predation ought to be separate and unrelated, specifically whether a public figure ought to be redeemed should have nothing to do with their talent at their job. What if he were a less talented comedian? Would you think he was less deserving of redemption? (though the method by which you ask him to redeem himself would be much harder if he weren't talented).

Well, I think the talent matters, but only in his ABILITY to redeem himself.  

Best example I can think of is Michael Richards.  I would prescribe the same sort of redemption for him -- a witheringly self-critical routine in which he confronts, to humorous end, what a dirtbag he is, delivering not just a mea culpa but a series of startling, universal truths -- but Richards couldn't do it.  He is a physical schtick comic.  Skin deep (haha) as it were, I think.  

Last week you were surprised to hear that file cabinets have a locking mechanism to keep you from opening more than one drawer at a time. I discovered this many years ago with my first job in an office. I tried to open a drawer when one was already open and it wouldn't work. Someone explained the locking thing to me then. Dressers can also fall over on you when more than one drawer is open- children have been killed this way. I saved my daughter when she was just big enough to open a drawer because I was in the room at the time. Luckily she was also old enough and smart enough not to try it again after I explained to her why she shouldn't do that.

This is the best story ever written about tipovers, by my friend Tricia Nadolny at the Philly Inquirer.   Beware, it is hard to read.

Which reminds me: The Web has created a whole new category of "friend."  It's real and profound, but didn't really exist before.   I consider Tricia a good friend.  I also consider Horace LaBadie -- my collaborator on Barney & Clyde -- a close friend.   What distinguishes both of these friendships from more conventional ones is that I have never actually physically met either Tricia or Horace.  I don't even know what Horace looks like.  AND HE IS ONE OF MY CLOSEST FRIENDS.  I am guessing Horace looks like this, but it is only a guess.  

Yes, it's a thing! I've taken it from Herndon back when 66 was HOV-only. Has been 5 years since I've done it but seems like it's still going strong.

I really like the whole concept. 

Does Barnaby notice or acknowledge his outside brethren? Or vice-versa?

Yeah, he worships them.  Manteuffel suggests that, to him, they are famous.  TV star cats.  He sees them only through the window, and they are COOL.   

Of course it's a stupid idea, and discriminatory. Smoking surcharges are relavant because they apply to everyone who smokes, whether or not they ever get, or are candidates to get, lung cancer or heart disease. But the charge does apply to an unlucky nonsmoker who gets lung cancer. The behavior, not the disease, is taxed. The equivalent of the proposed obesity charge would be to tax specific diets or amounts of food consumption, regardless of the size, shape, or health of the individual.

Well, wouldn't an obesity surcharge apply to anyone who is obese, regardless of whether it actually affects their longevity, based on statistics?

I am sorry, I sense I have really waded into something bad here, and that I am to be castigated or worse, but I am not sure why. 

I am a Muslim woman who thinks that the forced veiling of women is, in essence, an oppressive force. How would this come across if I was a white, American male?

I think the forced veiling of women is an oppressive force.  Am I not allowed to say that? 

The key is "forced." 

Gene, do any of your cats throw up their food? My cat must puke 2-3 times a week and we can't figure out why. He's only an indoor cat. Vet says there's nothing wrong with him...some cats just puke more than others. Should we try a new food or get a new cat?

Barnaby pukes up hairballs about once a week.  I gather this is normal.  

In your May 1st chat, someone described bullies with this: "Usually: someone who already has power (a physically large kid) beats up on someone who has less power (a physically small kid)." This is surely a factor in how individual victims are selected, but I believe the root is an imbalance in social or economic power—something that bullies probably sense more than they understand. Bullies terrorize kids with advantages (good grades, better clothes, etc.) because later in life, those people will be their employers or otherwise have the opportunity to look down on them. The only effective tool they have is physical abuse, since they are less skilled in the subtle types of abuse wielded by those with more advantages. The elite seldom feel the need to physically abase others to get power, because they already have, and understand, the kind of power they will need in life. This doesn't address bullying among adults, which I imagine is even more complicated. But I will add one comment about the comic at the White House Correspondents' dinner: her jokes didn't work for me mainly because she didn't sell them—she didn't seem to think they were all that funny herself. Her smile was more like the embarrassed smirk of a delinquent caught writing on the bathroom wall…until the last remark about the water in Flint, as you acknowledged. The whole thing should have been constructed backwards from that ending.

I agree with you about her delivery.  

As to the picked upon having agency later in life?  I love the scene at the opening of Broadcast News when Albert Brooks informs his bully about how he (the bully) will be making (as I remember)  40 grand a year, "tops," and the kid walks away feeling smug.   40 grand is not bad, he is thinking.  Can anyone find that scene?


I assume you saw this article: "One space between each sentence, they said. Science just proved them wrong." So us old farts who learned to type on typewriters and double-space after periods are right after all.

I wrote a column about this two weeks ago.  You'll see it soon. 

Seen in the WaPo: "Analysis: The failed farm bill capped an awful weak for Paul Ryan"

I prefer to think of it as sabotage.   But no, I'm sure a mistake.  Gad, what a weakling this man is.  His signature achievement, about which he is so proud -- the tax-bill rich guy giveaway national-debt-multiplier --  is a disaster for this country.  Outside of that great triumph, he has done nothing.  

Gene, can you call a newspaper-wide meeting on the proper use of this word? It's being used incorrectly so often that the paper's getting hard to read. Just as an example, Svrluga and Kharshadyan, both fine writers, each used it incorrectly in Caps stories on Wednesday and Thursday. Maybe bring a big poster with alternatives like "significance," "importance," "gravity," etc. I'd appreciate it.

It is a fight that is already lost.  The dics themselves have caved.  Several give as a synonym "enormousness."

For those who are clueless here, "enormity" does not mean "bigness."  It means heinousness.  Really.  

OP here. You remind me of a guy I worked with years ago. His idea of living life on the edge, food-wise, was a Western omelet. One time an office group went out to a Chinese restaurant, and he said (only partially in jest, I think) we were trying to kill him.

That's not me.  I am ridiculously adventurous in eating.  I will try anything so long as it didn't involve cruelty.  (Live monkey brains is a thing.)   But I just don't get why some people like food that gives them tears and runny noses, and compete to endure the most.  Just totally left flabbergasted. 

It wasn't Elvis who ruined the lyrics to Hound Dog. It was Freddy Bell and the Bellboys, a white group who were commissioned to create a crossover version of the very popular Big Mama Thornton record. (There were at least a dozen cover versions, answer records, etc.) Elvis heard the Freddy Bell version and used those lyrics. Leiber and Stoller kept the songwriting credit for reasons unknown to me, although their original coauthor, bandleader Johnny Otis, had his name removed because he was under contract to another label and that label claimed that his contract gave that other label a right to royalties. The NPR show 1A presented a long piece yesterday about cover records that's worth checking out, though it only scratched the surface.

Okay, thanks! 

"Writing a letter about the harassment helps the victim handle it herself -- by taking an active role, she gains a sense of being in charge of what is "happening" to her -- she is in control of her own destiny." Flip side to this is that if you don't do this, you are complicit in your own sexual harassment. Why is the onus on the victim to help educate someone who thinks it's appropriate to sexually harass someone and who is surprised that it's harassment? What if I can't communicate the exact repercussions in Part II? Why is the word "please" even included in any of the sample quotes?

Yeah, I had exactly these thoughts. 

Well, you "have to" be able to prove any claims because the lawyers on the 14th floor require it ... there are rules, FTC/FDA-wise, and it's actually easier to use verifiable info or claims than it is to lose a lawsuit.

And who would sue?  Your competitors, I guess, right?

When I was young most kids were thin. I was and I kept that great shape with basically zero effort until my late thirties. I work out and eat right now that I am a few years from 50. I don’t have quite the same shape I did at 29–but I am determined to look great as long as I can. It is all about sacrifice, vanity and hard work. If others don’t want to put in the effort—I don’t care. Let the insurance company figure it out and charge everyone the same rate.

That is mighty noble of you! 

My mother always said that I looked like Prince Charles. I didn't hold that against her.

Is this Horace?  What DO you look like? 

Taste is subjective. I hated spicy food until I was in my mid-30s. Now I love the stuff. Different strokes and such and such.

Can anyone explain WHY they like really, really hot food?

Gene - We feed our dog Beneful, 80 lb black lab mix. What do you recommend to replace it? He really did not like IAMS very much.

Ha.  I was gonna say IAMS. 

I feed Murphy Purina One chicken and rice.  (Or salmon, or any other Purina One.)  It's good quality, and she loves it. 

My father.

Did he look like Rock Hudson?

Sometimes obesity is the result of genetic factors, unusual medical conditions, etc., and sometimes obesity is the result of someone eating too much bad food and getting too little exercise. Until science can sort this out for sure, it's discriminatory to assume that all obesity flows from a single cause. Moreover, the causal links between smoking and cancer are much stronger than the ones between obesity and other diseases, notwithstanding all the people who you know who smoked every day until they were 92, or the 300-pound pal who lived to 86.

Okay, what if I had a congenital disease that gave me heart problems?   Not my fault, obviously, as obesity would not be the fault if it is caused by genetics.  Is it wrong to charge me more for insurance?  (Maybe it is!  I am just asking.)

I'm the Hispanic/Latina that passes for white who wrote in last week. You wondered how any hispanic can support Trump. Here are the answers on my family: My mother - immigrant who came over in 1966 with her immigrant husband - hates Hilary. Apparently because she put up with Bill and didn't get a divorce. Although, when my own marriage hit the skids and I talked to her about divorce she told me to be nicer to my husband, give it up more and make it work. My sister married a guy who grew up wealthy in Grosse Pointe and now lives in the deep south. A path to citizenship for people who "snuck in illegally" is totally wrong to her and she voted against Hilary mainly because of that. The funny thing is, my dad immigrated as a single man who was engaged to be married. My mom wanted to visit first and then decide if she wanted to marry him and live in the U.S. - but - when she told the Embassy this as she was applying for a visa they rejected her - she ended up marrying him by proxy and coming over as a married person. So really - she didn't actually do it "legally" either. I find hispanics to be incredibly classist among countries. South Americans look down on Central Americans, etc. I guess the fact that Trump seems to hate central americans most is how they don't think it applies to them. I'm really dreading the holidays.


I had to let my dog go the other day. It was time but I am so sad that she’s not with me anymore. I cry every day when I get home and often at work. I loved her more than anything and I simply don’t know how I can continue.

She was old.  It was time.  This is something from which you can recover.   I don't mean to sound glib, but if your beloved granny dies at 95, I understand how you can be sad and grieve deeply.  But not how you can wonder if you can go on.  You know? 

Are there any editors left working at The Post? From the May 25 article on the collapse of the North Korea summit: "But it is clear that Pyongyang is trying to position Kim as good cop to Trump’s bad cop." No, no, no, NO! The Good Cop/ Bad Cop trope is two parties working in concert to convince a third party to do something. The Bad Cop is the unyielding hard man, while the Good Cop is kind and sympathetic, offering a path out of the jam. Pyongyang and Trump are not running a Good Cop/ Bad Cop routine.

Right.  I mean, in that scenario, who would be the perp? 

The Yankees announce the names of fans who are celebrating their birthdays at their home games. Many people were named. Then it was announced that it was Rudi Gulianni's birthday. He was 74. The crowd booed him. The Yankees lost 5 - 1. Coincidence?

Nope.  Direct causation.  You know, there was a time when Giuliani seemed to walk on water in NYC. (After 9/11) Boy, he really squandered all that goodwill. 

Cats are obligate carnivores and cannot utilize nutrients from grains, vegetables, and other fillers. They need meat, bone, organs, skin and are much better off eating canned (if you read labels) or fresh-frozen foods. You can even order fresh-ground whole mice! But as you discovered, they are creatures of habit. Foods have to be changed gradually, by mixing a little of the new into the old and then increasing the proportion.

I have decided to just give the Whole Foods stuff to a kennel.  They'd suss it out and then spit it out.  

Expensive pet food is an extension of Michael Pollan's Supermarket Pastoral. People do it solely to feel good about themselves -- not only do the animals not care, but in many cases they prefer the less-expensive food (though dirt-cheap pet food should always be avoided). We adopt retired racing greyhounds (we have three, and usually have a foster too), and they too thrive on a mid-priced Purina dry food. Plus, I like the fact that it's readily available: I couldn't stand to have to buy food that was only available at a vet's office; what do you do if you're on vacation, and you run out of grub?

Alas, Barnaby must have prescription "urinary formula" cat food -- both wet and dry -- or the little beast bleeds when he pees.  I pay something like $120 a month to feed him. 

I don't know another way to say this...I don't care about your cats. I don't care about your dog. Children, I'll allow. Enough already!

Please contact Tom Shroder.   He will sympathize. 

You fail to understand the universality involved. 

Did you see Candide at Washington National Opera? Your Facebook post for this chat mentions "the best of all possible worlds." Likely not a coincidence? I saw the piece with entirely new perspective, in this Trumpiest of all possible worlds.

Well, I was making the Candide reference, but only because I know the book, not the opera.  Pangloss is of course a hero of mine. 

You didn't list the agency that does regulate claims about medications, namely the FDA. You cannot make claims about the efficacy of any medicine without FDA approval. This is why all those so-called natural products don't actually claim to cure or treat anything. Thanks to Orin Hatch they aren't regulated by the FDA but they still can't say they cure something. That makes them a drug and subject to regulation.

Thank you. 

Do not mess with Hans. He has a big stick, and based on the look he was giving you, is not afraid to use it.

Yes.  I am slightly worried that I have mis-named Hans.  Molly has met Buster and Philip and has confirmed they are both male.   She has not yet met Hans.  I am worried he might be Marjorie.  

just proves my point.

Clearly, you are right.   

My dog seemed to have allergies when she was a pup, so the vet recommended Iams ocean fish. She likes to lay her head on my chest and look into my face and breathe heavily while doing so, so after a few years I just couldn't stand anymore that she always smelled like a dodgy fish counter. So I switched her to the chicken and rice. She wolfed it up. (She'll eat anything. Her trainer used to call her "uniquely food-motivated.") But her poop turned white and soft, and as her pooper picker upper, I determined that that was worse. So we went back to the ocean fish and I accept now that her breath is her only imperfection, and that's not even her fault. Dogs are the best.

Parrots might be better, but I am not prepared to make that claim.  Dogs are DEFINITELY better than people. 

It's too complicated to go into in a post, but I would be happy to discuss if you really want to know. LMK how to contact you.

Gene (dot) Weingarten (at) 

I grew up hating peppery-hot food. No tolerance at all. I learned to tolerate it and then to like it thanks to my cheapness -- I was living overseas, in a place where hot local food was cheaper than Western food. To this day, I don't really know whether I like it for itself, or because of a feeling that being able to handle it shows that I'm tough and adventurous and manly.

Yeah, Molly spent many months in Ghana as a young adult. (She was working in a sickle-cell clinic.)  She was a vegetarian.  She starved for a number of days because you simply couldn't get mild veggies in Ghana. 

Then she started to really like heat. 


The Latina is spot on about the informal caste system among Latinos. For example, people I know who are either Cuban expatriates or first generation Americans of Cuban ancestry look down their noses at people from other Central American countries.

YEAH, it turns out every country has a Poland, or the equivalent,  to feel superior to.  

Since someone has already asked about editors, let me toss this one out there from the Post yesterday: Orioles’ owner, Peter Angelos, won’t trade his stars south... What are the commas doing before and after Peter Angelos' name? Without a definite or indefinite article before 'Orioles' owner,' don't those two words serve the same function that a formal title would serve? You wouldn't put commas there any more than you would put one in "Vice President, Mike Pence, says..." I see this more and more, not just in the Post but everywhere. Am I wrong about this?


I think you are right, but something is stopping me from declaring it outright. 


I remember the Post writing about this a long time ago when I lived up your way. Did a search and this seems like the story I remember - though I thought it was from even earlier, maybe 1998. But it's the oldest one via the site's search function.

The one I edited was earlier. Late 1990s

They both seem to have suffered some sort of TBI to be so solicitous of trump.

It's really bad.  

I have a soft spot for Roseanne because she helped out Louis CK, really early.  But this revolts me. 

The answer for you is to click away from the chat, or scroll past the posts you don't care about, not for the chat to be tailored to your tastes. I hate dogs, myself, and I like cats, but I read this chat religiously.

How can you "hate dogs"?

Did you know that he was based on Leibniz?

Well, no, I did not. 

I have two cats, 12-year-old males who are brothers. I've fed them Science Diet forever. A month or so ago, one cat started throwing up his food every single day. Usually on my bedspread. I bought a different brand of food, and he has only barfed once in the last six weeks. I don't know what suddenly changed, and I haven't taken him to the vet.

He has decided, belatedly, that he loves you. 

Gene, For years I have disliked seeing women with veiled faces in public. I believe(d) that if one is to do business in public, then one should be willing to do so face-to-face. But...... The Chinese government now uses facial recognition along with it's video monitoring system to be able to track anyone in public in real time. At least one police department in the US is considering deployment of a similar system. Wearing a veil would be one way of maintaining one's anonymity in a public setting. As much as I don't like dealing with people wearing veils, I am dead set against Big Brother knowing where you are and what you are doing at any and all times.

I have no problem with ladies wearing veils!   My problem is when ladies are COMPELLED to wear veils.   


Okay, we are done here!  Thank you all.  Next week, same place, same time.  

In This Chat
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.

Gene's latest columns, chats and more.
Recent Chats
  • Next: