Chatological Humor update

Mar 21, 2017

You asked for it and you got it. Gene will now be holding weekly mini-chats, where he takes your questions about what's happening in the country -- and anything else you want to discuss.

Gene will still have regular monthly chats, for a fuller chat and poll experience. The next one is Tuesday March 28 at noon.

Hi!  This is the introduction I promised not to write.  Good.  Let's go.

Oh, wait.  I do need to point out that Neil Gorsuch is an anagram for Echoing Slur. 

Last week you took quite a number of comments about the "bathroom wars." I know I'm stepping in it deep here, but I intend this sincerely. The core of psychiatric illness is a rejection, or at least a distorted perception, of objective reality. Differences between male and female go beyond appearance and even genitalia. DNA is different. Hormones are different. Internal organs are different. Bone structures are different. Etc., etc. I have never seen a clear explanation of why, when someone who is plainly, indisputably male or female says "I feel like I should be the other sex, cut here," that isn't a manifestation of a severe psychiatric disorder? If somebody says "I feel like I'm Napoleon," we don't buy him a uniform and start saluting. If he says "I feel like I can fly," we keep him away from high windows. This is different from spurning traditional social roles or expressing a sexual preference or adopting an "alternative lifestyle." This isn't like a man wearing dresses just because he wants to. This could be a variant of body dysmorphic disorder or body integrity identity disorder, recognized illnesses in which patients irrationally loathe parts of their bodies, even to the point of self-mutilation. I honestly don't care if people who look like women use the women's room and people who look like men use the men's room without having to flash their birth certificates. But we don't get to choose our own physical world. When climate deniers reject scientific facts, we call them delusional. But when someone says "I think I'm in the wrong body," we're supposed to say "Great, just pick another one." What's really going on here?

This is well stated, and funny.   And I can't really argue that being transsexual is not a dysfunction; obviously, it creates a problem.  But here's where I think you go astray: This is fixable.   Because a child is born with a cleft palate, it doesn't mean he needs to go through life with a cleft palate.

Also, the degree of denial you postulate just isn't true of transsexual people.    No transsexual female says "I do not have a penis."    A transsexual female said "I have a penis but shouldn't."

It's a simple, important distinction, the difference between "I am Napoleon" and "I feel like Napoleon."

I'm very afraid Comey is going to conclude that there was no collusion with Russia, much like Hillary's emails all over again. Is this a possibility? My twitter is full of left-leaning analysts who keep declaring otherwise, that Trump has mere weeks to go before he's forced out. But I'm still afraid. I'm also still full of rage about Comey's last minute Hillary email review that I believe swung the election, but now am beginning to think he is the man who will save us all. It's a confusing time.

I think his investigation will take forever and uncover nothing.  

Gene, Is it wrong for me to be experiencing schadenfreude due to the current administration's pitfalls?

Well, see above.  I'm not sure why any of us should believe that this gets Trump.    Who is going to drop a dime?

Gene, you are now officially the voice of sanity for your devout followers. Can we--please!--be seeing in Comey's testimony actual consequences for Trump's gargantuan lies? Will they cease to function as disastrous and begin to undermine his credibility?

I have very low expectations for Comey.   Sorry.  I think he is a bureaucratic Survivor, which means he'll never do much. 

Gene, There is a certain percentage of voters who will support Trump, regardless of whatever happens. Trump recognized these voters as people who wold continue to support him even he he shot a person in the middle of Fifth Avenue in NYC. What's your guess as to the percentage of voters who fit into this category?

I think we know that answer, to a percentage point.   His latest approval rating was 37 percent, I believe. 

Who could watch what has been going on and approve?   That's his base.   37 percent.

Well, what do you think? Still seems to be embarrassingly easy to start the week, and harder than the Sunday puzzle on Friday.

i have failed you.  Will report back next week.

Robert Silvers, the editor of the New York Review of Books, died yesterday at age 87. This is my favorite paragraph from his obit: "Silvers was often at work at nights on holidays, surrounded by assistants at the Review’s book-mobbed offices. One writer, Timothy Garton Ash, told of being called at home on Christmas Day because the editor had spotted a dangling modifier in his story. Daniel Mendelsohn would remember being on a ship on the Aegean Sea when he was urgently summoned to the telephone. Convinced a close relative had died, Mendelsohn warily picked up the receiver and heard Silvers’ enthusiastic voice on the other end, suggesting that a semicolon be changed to a period." When you were an editor, Gene, did you do anything like that or would you just make the changes in the text and move on? (By the way, I was very sad to hear of Bill Walsh's death. I always enjoyed his chats and now I must read his books.)

Every time a great copy editor dies, an angle gets his wings.

Bill was a great copyeditor.

I was not a detail guy as an editor.   There were copy editors, like Pat the Perfect, far better than I was at that.  My big shtick was persuading the writers that every story is a collaboration between writer and editor.  "That doesn't sound like me" was never an argument that was going to fly.    If it's better than you wrote, it's better. 

I have a friend who voted for Trump. After a night of poker where I drunkenly shouted that he should have thought about his daughter when he voted, he told me he honestly doesn't know too much and that he could be convinced that his vote was wrong. There are so many things I could say, but I'm just overwhelmed. I need a succinct, structured reasoning as to why his terrible vote is so terrible. He is a nice guy who has struggled over the years, but has finally settled into a well-paying job.

I have come to believe that the 2016 election was the worst example of mass civic irresponsibility in American history.

The secessions leading to the Civil War was second.

What do you think of the new use of the word "woke" to mean aware of social injustice? As an amateur neologist myself, I'm all in favor of neologisms, but I prefer them to be made out of whole cloth, like "cromulent." I don't like it when existing words are extended into new, unrelated meanings. I heard the writer/director of that new movie "Get Out" interviewed on the radio, and he used "woke" numerous times. It seemed to me that he just wanted to sound hip.

Hm.   Okay, I don't like "woke" but I like Jordan Peele, and I loved "Get Out" so I reject your entire line of argument.  

By the way, if you want to see a genius performance, try Jordan here in "Continental Breakfast."

What could ever be impales by those tiny tines, or as Trump would have it, "hands".

I would urge you, once again, to consider Mr. Jordan Peele.   It is not a spork.  It is a fpoon.

You're all big league fans of Andrew Jackson. Generally supporting a racist, genocidal maniac is a bad idea. Sometimes it just takes awhile for it to become so obvious.

Well., let's see.   Thirty years before Lincoln, and unlike the presidents after him but before Lincoln, he had the wisdom to deny southern states the right of secession.

He was the first "common man" president, inveighing against an un-American aristocracy.    He founded, singlehandedly, the Democratic party.   He created "Jacksonian Democracy," which stands as a modern political model even to this day, recognizing the ultimate rule of the people. 

He was a giant.  He also was a racist and, arguably, a genocidal maniac.   You cannot judge him simply.   Here is a simple explanation of why.

From your 3/12 column: "My only point is that if Murphy telephoned the president of Australia, nothing bad would happen. Nothing good would happen either, but, altogether, that is a plus. " Didn't you need a comma between "happen" and "either"? Did you omit the comma because, then, there would have been too many commas and you'd have to confront the undeniable fact that your entire sentence needed an overhaul?

I see nothing wrong with that sentence.  As written.

At what point does Sean Spicer get equated to Baghdad Bob? Does Sean really believe what comes out of his mouth?

Sean has the hardest job in Washington.  WAY harder than being president. 

Hey, do we all remember Baghdad Bob?  He was a genius of misinformation.

more appropriate might be Echo Rulings

Thank you. 

Gene, I don't know how much experience you have with cats as pets. Based on your description of Barnaby's behavior, it seems that you either got a dumb ...errrr.....intellectually challenged one, or Murphy has trained Barnaby in the canine tradition of using the toilet as a drinking source.

Barnaby is a petty, mean-spirited idiot.  I love him. 

I would support him if the person he shot was Donald J Trump.

He is the president of the United States !   That guy!  Trump!   I'm still not fully there.

i actually told my oldest nephew, a Bernie fanatic, that he was dead to me, when he started bragging about voting for Trump as a protest against Hillary's corruption.

Yep.   A criminally irresponsible act.

I know this is totally not important given our current political climate, but I have to unload. WHAT IS WITH PEOPLE WITH ONE CRUTCH? Crutches are for people who cannot put weight on a foot. They are meant to be used in pairs. If you can put weight on both your feet, and you still need help with balancing or stepping, then you should be using a cane. Right? RIGHT?

How important is it that Trump claims to be 6'3", but is obviously shorter than Barack Obama who is 6'1"? And why have we never seen the long form of little Donny's birth certificate?

One of the funniest moments of my life involved making a woman friend realize that her husband -- who always claimed to be six foot tall -- is actually exactly as tall as I am.  I stood next to him, and stared at her until she laughed .    I am five ten. 

No, I cannot disclose who this woman is.

It seems like reporters are just as bad as people at regular conferences - they ask the most ridiculously long questions and include too much prefacing. Multiple convoluted questions in one, too. It's much harder to evade a question when it's clear and direct. Do you agree that people may need to rethink the way they're formulating their questions at press conferences?


How, just HOW, does he keep getting away with everything? It all appears to be lies, and he keeps overspending the country's money on Florida trips and security for a wife that doesn't live with him. And yet , he is still president. I might not be able to make it thru the entire 4 years

You might not have to, but I wouldn't bet on it. 

I have not yet come to terms with what is best for the country.   An impeachment battle is not a good thing.   But Trump is also not a good thing.

But replace "Trump" for "Barnaby" and the sentence is still factual but the conclusion is not?


"Gene's latest columns, chats and more" doesn't work. (Right rail on this chat) Why do you hide from us, Gene?

Thanks. I just fixed this. Don't say I never do anything for you. (Here's the correct link, for good measure.)

He came up in Alex Petri's chat a few weeks ago and we decided that nobody remembered him enough to call Spicer that. I mean, I had to google Baghdad Bob because I coudn't remember him, and I was working at NSA during both Gulf Wars.

Oh, I remember him real well.   His greatest moment was when he said the Iraqi army would roast the stomachs of American soldiers. 

I always half expected him to be shot in the head live, on camera, as he was denying the American army was anywhere near Baghdad.

My dad is really sick, I am waiting on an inspection to seal the deal on the sale of my house, I am retiring, and moving, and what makes me the biggest nervous wreck I have ever been is having this idiot in the White House. Help me cope!

Good thoughts for your daddy.   It's all that really matters.

Do you think he'll be the next major figure to leave (or be forced out of) the Trump administration? If not Spicey, then who?

Spicey.   He can't take much more o' this, Captin.

Is THAT what it means? I thought it was hipster for really cool or something, from hearing Larry Wilmore use it. But I'm still not sure of the nuances of "throwing shade."

Throwing shade just happened.   Like, one day it didn't exist, and the next day you were totally out of it if you didn't use it in every other sentence.

I, who use one crutch, thank you, and so does my husband, who also uses one. What kind of person fixates on something like that and gets mad about it? A horrible person.


To me he acts like a person who needs reading glasses but is too vain to wear them, even in private. Also, he is fidgety and easily bored, so if he can avoid reading he will. To be honest I am much more concerned about his inability to be curious than his alleged inability to read.


Gene, can I vent here just a bit about "pedestrian friendly" campaigns and how wrong-headed they are. They are creating walkers who believe that just because they step off of a curb, every car must immediately stop so they can mosey across the road while checking their Instagram feed. A better, more efficient solution is to teach the fine art of jaywalking. Done properly, it benefits both the pedestrian and the driver. Thanks.

Okay, here's a tough one for Jess The Producer.  Can you find a piece I edited maybe 15 years ago in Sunday Style on the fine art of jaywalking?    Writer was, um, named Larry.   I think .

Found it. It's called "To get to the other side," written by Lawrence G. Proulx. Here's the link.

A: Gene Weingarten Every time a great copy editor dies, an angle gets his wings. Editor: Gene, I think you mean "angel" here...

Oh.   I guess I scrood up.

Is Trump a latterday Captain Queeg, fulminating over the strawberries of the size of his coronation, I mean inaugural, crowd and Electoral College vote?


I love Herman Wouk.   Do we all realize he is still alive at 101??

Late night comics are now referring to Sean Spicer as "Melissa McCarthy impersonator Sean Spicer."

Hahaha.  You know, she is the modern-day Vaughn Meader.  This is an observation only people over 60 will get.

A lot of folks who just don't care about things far worse than anything Hillary did for which they wanted her locked up or tried as a traitor. I agree with you 100% on Comey, too. He will find nothing and the Rs will never do anything to hurt Trump. They are going to pass his budget and support him all the way.


If Sean Spiver's days as Press Secretary are numbered, who might replace him? I pity de fool.

I'd nominate Mr. T.


I WROTE that headline and was proud of it.

Does it mean having a terrific comeback to a bad thing, or does it mean being snarky?

It means criticizing, no?

Impeachment will never happen unless Trump really does shoot someone on 5th Avenue. Who steps up to challenge Trump in the presidential primary in 2020?

In 1856, for the first and last time in history (I believe) a party rejected the sitting president for reelection.   It was Pierce, and he was a drooling drunk.   I don't think that's gonna happen again.

Am I a bad person if my reaction to Chuck Berry's death was the realization that I thought he had already died?

I will forever pronounce it "Tschai-KOW-ski" in his honor.

The difference is that his career ended on 11/22/1963. Melissa McCarthy will still be doing fine no matter what happens to Spicey. (Yes, I'm over 60.)

Not if he dies!!!   

One of the cleverest lines I ever read in journalism was "Henri Cartier-Bresson is so famous that most people think he's dead."

Nice.    Billy Collins once told me in an interview that"  when Miles Davis dies, we all move up a step."

I tried to discuss this with a Trump supporter, but he thought it was the same thing as complying with the tax laws. I am in full-on self-protection mode financially and my libtard friends and I are considering a communal compound somewhere overseas. When facts are no longer facts...we're screwed. Those alt-righties are going to pillage this country.

I am actually a little hopeful.  This is a time for people of character to step forward and identify themselves.   I'm maybe naive, but I think it will happen.

I'm gonna tell Chatwoman on you!

Chatwoman would understand.

It's criticizing, but in a certain way. You aren't being mean, and yet totally are being mean. The original shade thrown would be "bless his heart".

I will accept this explanation.

What is the best sandwich in Washington?

I'm not a sandwich guy.  Nominations?

I've never heard two people pronounce "Proulx" the same. What's the definitive answer?

Proo.   Like Annie.

As one who shares that last name, and lived in DC at that time, I always was certain that he wrote the headline when "The Shipping News" won the Pulitzer Prize: "Coup for Proulx." Know why?


This story is worth reading just for the quotes from Berry's memoir. I have to buy and read this book now.

I read that this morning.   "As ugly as death eating a dirty donut" is a better line than I will ever write.   And writing prose wasn't even his day job.

I do think that Johnny B. Goode was the greatest rock song of all time.

I think Stephen King accurately predicted Trump's rise to power in the Dead Zone character Greg Stillson. However, Mr. King needs to change the ending, because apparently [SPOILER ALERT] if Trump used a baby as a human shield, his supporters would admire his resourcefulness and presence of mind.

Good point!

I got this and I'm only 54. (We had the album growing up .... I didn't get the humor at all, JFK being long dead)

For the clueless, Vaughn Meader was a very talented JFK impersonator in the early 1960s.  He looked and sounded exactly like the president.  His career ended on Nov. 22, 1963.

Several times lately I have seen someone commenting on WaPo articles using the screen name "Haywood Jablowme." I thought you would want to know.

If you have access to newspaper-searching websites like nexis, and you enter "Heywood Jablome" you will find a few dozen references.   Naive reporters accepting that as a name from a passerby.  Etc.

... it's not shooting a person. Imagine him standing on Fifth Avenue, or any avenue, and shooting a puppy. As someone who would shoot myself before hurting a single hair on a cat, dog or other animal, it pains me to even suggest such a thing. While it may sound like a joke, I honestly think it's the one thing Trump could do that would do him in.

Maybe we can frame him for the death of a puppy.  

Gene, There is a certain percentage of voters who will not support Trump, regardless of whatever happens. What's your guess as to the percentage of voters who fit into this category? Either side ignoring facts they don't like is wrong.

I think it's more than half. 

Look, we have a vain, petty, thin-skinned childish a-hole as president.    I think more than half the country understands that.

He published his latest book "Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year Old Author" in 2015.

I know.  

The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance are two of the best books i have read.   I will go to his funeral, if it ever happens.

Not me. Mr. Trump will not accept this, he will not apologize. If evidence of wrongdoing on his part is uncovered, he will deny, he will fire people, he will obfuscate. He will not surrender easily or ever. Already he has placed "loyalty monitors" in each federal agency. No, he has nearly eight more years to ruin the country, and he plans to take advantage of every minute of that time. And if he can find a way to get more time, he will.

I don't actually think he will be reelected.  But what if the economy keeps soaring?  Are we that sh--y as a people?


Most influential, perhaps, but the greatest? In my humble opinion, that discussion begins and ends with The Weight.

Oh.  You attack me at my most vulnerable.  I will never argue against The Band.

No, it still comes down to either being found in bed with a dead woman or a live boy.

Understood.  Not sure a dead woman would cut it.

Read American Lion by Jon Meacham. It's a wonderful read and offers a balanced view of this man.

Will do. 

You can't judge a cat's intelligence based on how they behave before they're at minimum two years old. Younger than that, and they're still kids, and really, they're just as stupid as human kids. That Barnaby is a little idiot today doesn't say much about how he'll be in a year or two. (Though I'd hate to get your hopes up in case he stays stupid. That's always a possibility. Not all cats are geniuses.)

Thank you.  

Sarah Palin praised her young Down Syndrome son's use of the family dog as a stepping stool, even posting a photo of the event online. When she received blowback from animal lovers, she naturally lashed out at them.

Sigh.  I missed this.   Not gonna look it up.

That does appear to be a Vaughn Meader impersonation of Vaughn Meader impersonating JFK.

Don't forget "Don't Stop the Carnival." I was delighted when I heard that Wouk & Jimmy Buffett collaborated on the musical. (Also, I quit reading Peter Mayle's novel about Provence when I realized it was transplanted "Don't Stop the Carnival." Totally ripoff.))

I loved that book.   It tanked, though, no? 

What is your opinion of the phrase "nothing burger," which now seems to be used excessively by television news/opinion panelists?

My opinion is that it is one word.  Nothingburger.

Perhaps we just use his LACK of a puppy as proof that he must have killed it.

A nice story by Cait.

Still couldn't figure out the joke in B&C. Please explain.

Can't find it online!  But it was a nerd's nightmare.   Ms. Foxx was forced to choose "between Ewen Nye and Ewen Mee."  She chose unwisely.

My heart still aches for Natalie Jastrow.

Yes.   She identified herself, to the Nazis, as "Mona Lisa."


okay, we're done here.  Thanks much.   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.

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