Tuesdays with Moron: Chatological Humor Update

Mar 18, 2014

Gene's next monthly chat is Tuesday, March 25 at noon. You may submit questions here.

Although the weekly edition provides an update between live chats, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.

Got some people a little riled this morning when I tweeted that I wasn't as appalled as some people by the events in the Crimea.   Considering how the whole Western world is pretty much in condemnation, I'm not at all sure I am right, and I am persuadable.  But I'm not seeing the agreed-upon dire parallel to the Anschluss, unless Putin moves to grab more of the Ukraine or starts firing on crowds.  

Putin's a thug, but he's no Hitler and the modern world will not let him become one.  In 1938, Austria hadn't ever belonged to the modern German republic -- Hitler just took it. 

Until 1991, Crimea was in the U.S.S.R, and up to 1954, it belonged to Russia proper.  The transfer to Ukraine by Khrushchev was essentially a symbolic one. 

The displacement of the Russia-leaning President of Ukraine  that triggered this thing was by most accounts extra-legal; this wasn't a vote, this was a coup, right?  The U.S. is supporting that because we like the new guy, no?   Not an entirely clean-hands position, is it?

And what happened in Crimea was a vote, not a coup -- I'm not hearing credible charges of election fraud or intimidation, at least yet.   And, yeah, a 95% vote is suspicious, but there doesn't seem to be much doubt that the vast majority of Crimeans wanted this. 

All I'm saying is that, to me, this isn't black and white.   Some of the United States actions in following the Monroe Doctrine could be parallel to what Putin is doing here, in his little sphere.

Persuade me I'm wrong, and I'll reconsider.   

I'm answering old questions below.   But first, a link to a strangely compelling thing called freethenipple.com, which is a website that appears to be publicizing an upcoming documentary on a group of women who go topless in order to protest anti-toplessness  laws as being part of a war on women.   They seem serious, though I suspect the seriousness is partly shtick.    If it isn't, um.     I feel like a Tool of the Man in dutifully warning you that there is toplessness here, AS THOUGH THAT WERE A BAD THING WHICH IT ISN'T.  

I'm Clytemnestra DeNunkyhaven of Alexandria, VA. Thanks a lot for unmasking me, you clown. Everyone at my office has been staring at me this morning.

I have used this wonderful name a few times, and should remind people that I did not invent it.   It belongs to (Jennifer Hart, Arlingon) who made it up for a Style Invitational contest many years ago.  The contest was to come up with Lines You Do Not Want to Hear from a New Spouse, and her contest-winning entry was:  "What a coincidence!  My birth mother's name was Clytemnestra DeNunkyhaven, too!"

The example we gave when that contest was announced was written by the great Bob Staake, and it was almost as good.   This was something you didn't want to hear from your child's second-grade teacher at Parents' Night:  "Whoa, Mrs. Jones, now I see where Patty gets those excellent gams!"

Slate looked into it-- it seems like it's actually a thing... 

Yep, my skepticism was misplaced.    And there is a Dr. Al-Salami, too !

This allows me to link to my second favorite column of mine, all time.


The funniest scene in this movie, by far, was when the hero's buddy gives him a trim. Worth the price of admission.

This is indeed a funny scene, entirely because of the facial expressions.    NOTE -- there's an f-bomb, but it's otherwise SFW. 

I heard someone use the term "lady burps" for when a female farts. I believe there is a cultural origin for this but I don't know who first said it. Maybe it was you?

No, but I endorse the term, in much the same way that when it became clear a rodent larger than a mouse had done damage to something inside our house, I agreed with my wife that we no doubt have "rabbits."

This is an ad for the Danish Lottery, and the last line reads: "Six out of 10 win. " 

And this is one of the finest episodes ever of Mythbusters.  If you're pressed for time, fast forward to the last minute and a half.    The lady's mortification seems really genuine.


Need your opinion. I just helped manage a leadership transition announcement for the school I work for. Included in the process was a news release. The local paper wrote a story, using material from the release, with a couple of follow-up questions. All was handled well on all sides. My staffer, who was the media contact, wanted to call to "thank" the reporter for writing the story. I asked the staffer not to; the reporter was simply doing the job right, not doing us a favor, or seeking our thanks or approval. My ruling did not go over well with my employee. My considerable past work with the media was always based on a good relationship, fostered through transparency, professionalism, and a certain distance. Offering thanks for a story was inappropriate. Thoughts?

Uh, you're overthinking this.  

There's a way of doing it that would satisfy both your employee and your own sense of right-wrong.  Don't "thank" the reporter, as though he or she was doing you a favor, but you could always say, hey, good job, all too often in our experience the story comes out incomplete, or whatever, and you got it right.  Or whatever.  Diplomacy.

The news that restaurants subscribe to a secret publication that has information and photographs of food critics has got me thinking, What if one were to write such a magazine, but include such things as "Gene Weingarten", secret food critics, along with your photograph, and a description of how you tend to write great reviews of restaurants that offer to pick up the check because "you've been such a wonderful customer"? Just joking. I know you are ethical and would never do this. Yet, it would be funny if you did, and you then went to the restaurants it was sent to, and then how they react...

Yeah, it's an interesting idea that I'd never do.  I know of a lawyer -- friend of a relative -- who does something horribly unethical when he travels: He calls good restaurants and makes reservations as the food writer for the local newspaper.  (He pays the bill, but gets fawned over and no doubt catered to, via the food.)   Maybe it's my training -- journalists are strongly discouraged, at peril of our jobs, from ever doing anything deceptive in pursuit of a story -- but I find this trick of his deeply dishonest.

Joshua Bell is performing in Charlotte NC on March 27. Since my husband is chair of the music department of the college that includes the venue, I get to be back stage and will meet Mr. Bell. Any suggestions for a question I can ask that won't be just more of the same? What if I say that read Gene Weingarten's chat regularly? WIll that impress or unnerve him? Thanks!

My best advice to you is to ask him about anything other than my story.   Josh is a great guy, sweet to fans, but I believe he is pret-ty tired of getting questioned about the events of early January, 2007.    I totally understand.  He is one of the greatest musicians on Earth, who has given some of the most heart-stopping performances ever delivered on a violin, and pretty much all he gets asked about are 43 minutes of unrehearsed, technically imperfect (to his ears) massively unappreciated playing he did once as a stunt.  I don't know if he regrets having done it -- I doubt he does -- but I do know that it's not his favorite topic of conversation.

Hi Gene, This man works at our local Toyota dealership. Either his name means he aggressively sells automobiles OR he has to help propel lemons out of the lot.

We'll end with this, as it is one of the finest aptonyms in recent memory.


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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.

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