Chatological Humor update

Oct 24, 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 Oct. 31 at noon.

Good afternoon. 

Two things in order of importance.  Regarding the realm of idiot spellings of names, The New York Times today writes about a man whose first name is "Joshuwa." 

And secondly, an addendum to last week's chat, where I noted that long-time MGM boss Louis B. Mayer was a sex criminal -- and then was urged to apologize by a poster who said he was just fine.   I apologized.  I needn't have.  He was a scumbag, as this story establishes.   Among his depredations:  Drugging a 16-year-old Garland to keep her thin, and having her sit on his lap during meetings, while he groped her breasts.  In front of others. 

Okay, let's go.  We start at noon sharp.

You recently tweeted about your disdain for the odious combination of peanuts and chocolate, and it tragically faced backlash. As a fellow rational person who, like you, only pairs foods that make sense, I'd like to give you an opportunity to proselytize for a broader audience.

Yes, thank you.  This actually happened yesterday.  I tweeted (knowing this would cause a ruckus):  "Peanut M&Ms are horrifying, as are Reese's cups and Snickers. Peanuts and chocolate do not go together."

The thing is, I truly believe this. I think plain eminems are exponentially better than peanut. I think Milky Ways, one of the greatest candies, is completely ruined by the addition of peanuts, creating a Snickers bar. And, yes, it's peanut butter, too: Reese's Cups are a dreadful hard-palate-suffocating mouthful of goo. (Reese's pieces are actually commendable, mostly because the ratio of peanut butter to chocolate is so much lower.)

Now, I am aware this is a heretical viewpoint, and I do admit that part of my purpose was to raise ire and win followers (I did), but please understand that my complaint is genuine and heartfelt. It is so obvious to me that I secretly suspect people who LIKE Reese's cups are in the thrall of Big Chocolate, who have included some addictive stuff in their peanuts to which only a few of us are immune.

Anyway, Twitter erupted, as you can imagine, with roughly 90 percent of the reactions denunciatory. Several people instructed me to "delete" my "account." Others worried about my soul.  One wrote "This is what a war crime looks like in the form of a tweet."  The vast majority pointed out that I am wrong about everything, so why should this surprise anyone?

But ... there was this ten percent. Ten percent of the respondents seem to exhale. As though something had been said that they never would have had the ... courage to say, and now that it was out, they felt liberated.

I think it's like not liking Tom Hanks. It just isn't done in polite society.

Gene, Is David Von Drehle spoken for? If not, will you please fix me up with him? Swoooooon.

He's terrific, isn't he?

One great wife, four great kids.  Sorreeee.

Did you see his brilliant analogy in his last column, about the moribund state of party politics?  Check this out:

For generations, the major parties have served as rival department stores anchoring opposite ends of America’s political shopping mall. They chose which products to offer and favored certain ones with their most prominent displays. They marshaled big budgets for advertising and thus loomed over the boutiques and specialty stores — the greens, the libertarians and so on — serving smaller clienteles.

Smartphones and the Internet are killing big retail by connecting buyers directly to products. The same is in store for the major parties. Donald Trump went directly to the voters through Facebook and Twitter; they, in turn, swept him past Republican gatekeepers to commandeer the mannequins and display cases of the GOP. Likewise, Sanders has found plenty of volunteers and cash to support his attempted hostile takeover of the Democratic Party.

Voters no longer need — nor, in many cases, want — a political party to screen their candidates and vet their ideas. They prefer to build their own movements, often with stunning speed. The change is not limited to the United States. Britain’s major parties didn’t want Brexit, but it’s happening. Major parties in France didn’t want Emmanuel Macron; now he’s president.


It's from this column, with the great headline "The Party is Over." 

Last week you talked about the use of the term "survivor" as it relates to assault and harassment. You seemed to decide that the applicability of the term depends on the level of trauma experienced by the sufferer. But there are some who believe that "survivor" is an empowering word that reflects the agency of the sufferer, which is an argument that didn't appear among your chatters. And many national organizations now use both terms alternately and/or inclusively. I think that there is no single answer that could be, e.g., codified in a stylebook, and we should defer to the preferences of the people involved. (Which means, with sympathy to the cancer survivor who wrote in last week, that cancer survivors don't get to "own" the word.)

You know what?  I think I disagree.  Words have meaning, and word nuances can be important.

I am exaggerating here for effect, but there is a continuum of abuse. If a person chose to describe herself as a "survivor" of having heard a dirty joke told in the workplace, I would consider her an idiot, and I would think any real survivor would consider her use of the term deeply offensive. 

Hello Gene. I have an ethical question for you and/or your female readers. The #MeToo social media posts have made me realize/remember, in a way that I've previously dismissed or stifled, that when I was a 19 or 20 year old college student, I assaulted a classmate. At the time, it seemed like just drunken shenanigans but now I am forced to confront that to her, it likely was not. Alcohol and ~15 years have blurred my memory, but the way I remember it is that at someone's apartment, someone brought a snowball from outside and threw it inside. It hit a girl and went down the front of her shirt. She laughed, then someone "joked" about getting it for her and reached in after it. She continued to laugh, then one or two others did the same, and I was one of those one or two others. We fondled her, and I think exposed her as well. I may have put my mouth on her (I assume I did, or else that hint of a memory wouldn't be lodged in my conscience). I realize now that she may have felt she had little choice to do anything other than play along and wait for it to end. I suppose there's the slimmest of chances that her laughter was genuine, and I hope for her sake that's the case, but the more I read/hear #MeToo stories, the more I realize that I did a terrible thing. I apologized the next time I saw her, within the next few days, and she basically said, "Oh, don't worry about it." "Boys will be boys," more or less. Again, in retrospect, this is exactly how many victims react. I knew at the time that it was inappropriate because she wasn't my girlfriend. It didn't occur to me until relatively recently that I had assaulted her. My dilemma now is this: do I seek her out and offer a more informed apology? She obviously deserves one, but I don't know if she would want one. I'm torn about whether contacting her after all this time would only rekindle memories she would just as soon not have to confront. We were never terribly close - friendly acquaintances before and after, but we have not spoken since college. If I do apologize, am I selfishly doing so to ease my own guilt, at the expense of forcing her to remember a trauma? Or if I don't, and I continue to let sleeping dogs lie, am I only reinforcing the fact that so many of us get away with these kinds of attacks and carry on leading normal lives while having damaged someone else's? I don't know if I'll be able to follow the chat live, but will read the transcript, so thank you in advance if you and/or your readers have any insight.

Well, this is interesting, on more than one level. 

First off, to your case in particular: I think you are done with it.  You apologized in real time; she seems to have accepted that apology with grace.  It may be that she DIDN'T feel assaulted, and it may be that she was being diplomatic due to peer pressure, but I feel you acted honorably (not at the time, of course, but afterward.)   If any women reading this disagrees, please pipe up. 

This raises a secondary issue.  I believe, oddly enough, that if you contacted her NOW, fifteen years later, THAT might be unwanted contact.  You might NOW become a #MeToo.    Why? Because she doesn't know why you are contacting her now -- is this some unwanted, ham handed effort to come on to her?   Better to let it lie.  You did what you had to do at the time, and that's enough.   (Again, if women disagree, please weigh in.)

This last issue reminded me that I, too, might have become someone's #MeToo for something I did years later.  Never occurred to me, really, before now. 

Remember the story I did on Valentine's Day 2001, in which I reconnected with Shari, a girl I'd had an infantile crush on at age seven?  (No, Shari was not the possible #MeToo victim.  Bear with me.)

When I was planning to do that story, I wasn't sure which of two women I would seek out.  One was my 7-year-old crush.  The other was the first girl I had ever romantically kissed.  (I was 15, I think.  She was my classmate in high school.)

I contacted this second woman first.  (Odd syntax, okay?)  I did it by email.  She is a well-known fertility doctor in New York.  I laid out what I wanted to do -- a funny, romantic story about early love -- and told her why.  (I am sure she hadn't known she was my first kiss; for all I knew I was hers -- she was 14, I think.) 

She never answered me, and I moved on.  (No, this wasn't the #MeToo yet.  I don't think there was anything awful in my contacting her; my letter, I am sure, was respectful and funny.)

Time passed, I found Shari, and did the story linked to above.  Here's where I may have erred: I sent a copy of it to The Kiss Lady, with a short note explaining it.   I think that may have been where I segued into creepy.   Clearly, by not answering me initially, she was saying "I want none of this."   I think I should have let her be.  And again, I never heard from her. So, ma'am, if you are reading this, and I am right about your reaction, apologies."

What kind of name is "Short Pump" for a school anyhow? I don't know whether to laugh or feel icky about this because of what the kids did.

This is from Wiki: 

The original village of Short Pump is located at the intersection of Three Chopt Road (formerly known as Three Notched Trail), Richmond Turnpike and Pouncey Tract Road. It was named for the short handled pump that was located beneath the porch of a tavern located there. 


This of course led to further inquiry.   Which let to this, from the Henrico Co. historical assn:

Three Chopt Road began as an Old Indian Trail that was marked by making three notches on the trees. As the English colonists moved into the area, the road was called the King's Highway. Because there were so few roads at this time, it was not uncommon for a road to be referred to by local residents as the King's Highway. More often than not, however, the road was called the Three Notched Road. A map of Henrico County dated 1819, shows theroad marked as Three Chopped Road. Years later the spelling of the road changed from Three Chopped to Three Chopt, as the latter spelling is used on Smith's map of 1853. Such notables as Lafayette, Cornwallis, Washington, Jefferson and Robert E. Lee have traveled down this ancient roadway that began at Powhatan's Village, a few miles east of Richmond, and ran westward into the mountains.

As to the original story, it is instructive to learn that Short Pump is a highly affluent community, largely white.  So this video seems particularly ugly.  But I still question the involvement of police.  This is a middle school. 

There are women out there named Jenepher. I am not making this up.


My cousin actually named her daughter "Madysyn". I crynge when I wryte yt.

More Omigod.

Do you also condemn Hershey bars with almonds? If so, this could be early stage dementia.

Almonds do not quarrel with chocolate the way peanuts do.  Almond Joy is a good bar.  Way better than Mounds, which is the worst named candy ever.

I don't find your assertion offensive. I just wonder why you would bother to weigh into this question. If one likes them together, fine; if one does not care for them, fine. It doesn't rise to the level of something truly important, like whether cookie or pudding is the funnier dessert.

By name?  Pudding, by far.   Besides, cookie is not  a dessert.  It is a snack.

And the reason I would bother to weigh in is that I am a columnist, and thus an eyeball whore.

Did you see Bizarro for October 20th? AMAZING! BEST COMIC EVER!!

Eh, no. 

First, the cherry tree story was made up by the sycophantic Parson Weems.   But for the purposes of humor, we can ignore that. 

We cannot ignore the silly anachronism of George, as a 12-year-old boy, dressed like a colonial man, clearly in colonial times, Tweeting on a cellphone.  

The tweet itself is nicely worded to mimic Trump's stupidities.  And I like the placement of  the secret Eyeball of Observation.

I'm appalled: President Trump, with his Twitter denials of the description of his telephone comments to gold-star widow Myeshia Johnson and his name-calling, seems to assume that Americans (at least white ones) will think that he (as one politically conservative white male) is more credible than three Black women (Sgt. Johnson's wife and mother, and Rep. Frederica Wilson) in their description of his phone call to the widow. At least at the beginning of the Constitution, a black slave counted as 3/5 of a white person. Now in Trumpland it's less than 1/3.

I think Ms. Johnson should politely and respectfully ask for the tape of the call, just to make matters clear.  ("I do not think we are all misremembering it, but if we are, we'll apologize.")  If Trump says there is no such tape, he will be lying, and history will prove it. 

Okay, this leads to an Instapoll.  A simple one.  Should the adults around Trump -- Mattis, Tillerson, McMaster, etc. -- be credited or held in contempt? 

Probably credited: They are sacrificing themselves to protect us from chaos. 

Probably held in contempt: They are aiding and abetting and being apologists for something indefensible. 


Plain m&m's are also gross. A candy shell ruins good chocolate, although some flavors are chocolatey instead of chocolate nowadays. The nutted flavors redeem the chocolate that is screwed up by the shell.

Delete your account.

Actually, Reese's pieces lack chocolate entirely. I know this because they are the go to candy of my Chocolate allergic wife.

Wait, what???  What is on the outside?

So what's the actual problem? Do you like peanuts? Do you like chocolate? If you like one but not the other, fine. But if you like them both, why not together? Did you serve your daughter peanut butter-and-jelly? Not much different.

Do you like ice cream?  Do you like pickles?  Well, what's the problem?

I thought they were just firmed up peanut butter in a candy shell.

Apparently, this is correct.  I guess that is why I like them!

Saying "I survived" something doesn't indicate that I had any agency. Better terms would be "I overcame" or "I conquered" or "I defeated". But those don't have trip-of-the-tongue noun forms, do they. And "cancer conqueror" sounds like I'm a researcher who invented a cure for cancer.

Yes, indeed.

Sorry, I'm not on Twitter, so I missed your thoughts on peanuts and chocolate. But I am curious about your thoughts on Pay Day (i.e., peanuts and caramel). I like them and prefer them over peanuts and chocolate, since my digestive tract doesn't handle chocolate well.

I like Payday, and at least two other iterations thereof. 

Knowing you take an interest in the ethics/hypocrisies around abortion, I'm curious for your reaction to this. For the record, I am a VERY pro-choice woman who isn't convinced this guy's slam-dunk question (gimmick?) holds up to scrutiny.

This is interesting.  I think he hurts his argument a little bit by how specific he makes the question: Burning building, vial labeled "1000 viable human embryos."  It allows for haughty dismissal, since the situation is so absurd and / or improbable.   I have no doubt that antiabortion folk don't answer it -- they could not answer it forthrightly, and feel they had not ducked a question designed to be taken seriously.

I like the question better in the abstract.  You can save 1,000 embryos or one five year old child.  Which do you save?


In this story from this morning about rock-throwing teens, we might have the stupidest of these modern-white-people names I've ever seen. Mikadyn. I submit that the abuse this young man has taken for that impossibly stupid name drove him into a rock throwing rage.

This story was horrifying.   I am hoping it doesn't signal a return to a truly sickening "prank."  Back in the 1970s and early 80s, as I recall, flinging boulders from overpasses was a thing.  I remember one person killed in that way by a ... bowling ball.

Mikadyn is very odd.  Usually with these names you kind of sense what the idiot parent was going for (consider "Anfernee" Hardaway.)  Here, I don't see it.

By the way, one of the other sullen young perps was named "Carl Anger."

Last week, you gestured toward OPS and WAR, so I went and looked it up for the candidates you mentioned. Top five by WAR: Trout 10.8, Judge 8.1, Ichiro 7.7, Lynn 7.4, Oliva 6.8. Top five by OPS: Judge 1.049, Williams 1.045, Pujols 1.013, Lynn .967, Trout .963. Top five by OPS+, which adjusts to league average (average = 100): Judge 171, Trout 168, Lynn 162, Williams 160, Pujols 157. I hate the Yankees as much as anyone, and Judge's case isn't perfect (he's old for a rookie, he had 95 PA the year before), but Judge clearly had one of the great rookie seasons in 2017.

Thanks for doing this.   I do realize, in retrospect, that I had probably been goaded by a troll.   The poster had written:  "I trust you know enough about baseball to realize that he's not having a particularly good season, yes?" and everything went red in my brain.  (Also, "goaded by a troll" is cool sounding.)

Uh, Reese's Pieces have NO chocolate. Your argument is invalid. And your opinion on peanuts/chocolate, regardless, is flat wrong.

We have established this fact, but it VALIDATES my argument.   There is no chocolate-peanut butter quarrel in Reese's pieces.   Ergo, it is fine.

Snickers is the best candy bar of all time !

I hear you saying that.  It sounds like what the Commie-brainwashed soldiers said in The Manchurian Candidate.

While we're talking about things that should or should not exist, on a recent trip to the grocery store to buy (original) Oreos, I discovered there are now 22(!!!) varieties of Oreo for sale. Which is way too many. Original and double stuff are fine. But they should have stopped there.

I notice you do not even address Hydrox.  The abomination of copycat cookies.

Why should we listen to the opinion of someone who only likes milk chocolate, which is the lite beer of chocolate?

Chocolate and bitter are incompatible concepts.

I don't care one way or the other about peanuts and chocolate. I can take it or leave it. But peanut butter and pickle sandwiches are a real thing, and are delicious. Dill pickles only.

Hm.  Never had it.  Will try it.

I got locked out this weekend by violating their rules pertaining to abuse. My crime? I tweeted that if Anthony Bourdain and W. Kamau Bell do a show together and get BBQ down in Shelby, NC, maybe they could go see Trae Crowder and his liberal redneck comedy tour (it's a real thing and he wrote a book) nearby, maybe in Charlotte. I even lost my appeal. Was it because I put the terms liberal and redneck together?

It might have simply been "redneck," which is now widely regarded as a slur term for bucktoothed hicks wearin' bib overalls.

Kidding, kidding.  Do not kill me, Internet police people.

Hydrox were first and Oreos copied them.

Noted.  I have also heard from some gustatory defenders of Hydrox.  Hydrox probably doomed themselves with the name.  Sounds like a cleaning agent.

(FIRST) I choose C on the insta-poll. I am a life-long public servant, and I have many friends who are higher up the ladder than I am who have grudgingly stayed in government because someone has to keep the ship afloat. Their loyalty to country far outweighs their loathing of President. In that sense, I hope Mattis and Tillerson stay in office, if only because in many ways, they are moderating (and sometimes ignoring) the bluster of the office, whether through negotiations with North Korea and Iran or by pushing back on the transgender ban. So I hope they keep on keepin' on. Kelly, on the other hand, disgraced himself with that atrocious presser on the phone call with the war widow. (Second) I don't want any of the four men who have assaulted me to contact me ever again. I don't care if they're born again or had a revelation or been wearing a hair shirt since they violated me. I don't want to know a damn thing about them, much less that they still exist and possibly have a wife and daughters. I got over this my own damn self and don't need you to disrupt my life just so you can make yourself feel better. Leave me alone.

Understood.  Do you think (from the writer's description only) that the woman in question felt assaulted? 

I think you mean "Hideous-drox". UGH. Even as a kid and a not-very-discriminating eater I knew a generic knockoff when I bit it.

See the previous answer, though.  Might it be right?  That Oreo was the knockoff?

Ok, keep in mind that I am writing this at 5:30 on Oct. 18th while I am drinking a strong Manhattan (I seem to be drinking more over the past 11 months). I have a brilliant idea on the 2nd Amendment: Let’s all reaffirm the sanctity of the right to bear arms as protected in the Constitution and amend it to be limited to the firearms that existed when the Constitution was written.

Muzzle loaders!  I like it.  

Is there a word, or does one need to be created, to describe the feeling of revulsion, anger, etc when you see the face of someone on TV? Personally I have such a reaction whenever Ted Cruz appears on any program on TV. There's just something about him. Probably add Kellyanne Conway as well

Don't foreget Trump.  Forrest Trump, the man for no seasons.  The opposite of Lincoln: Trump is a relatively good looking man who has come to look unspeakably ugly. 

Peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich. Very good.

This demonstrates the raw-oyster paradox, I think.   You have to give credit to the first person who ever tried it. 

... probably started out trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. For that they should be credited. But after a while, it becomes obvious that in order to do that, they must also allow something indefensible to occur and, even worse, defend it, and for that they should get vilified. I mean, it gets to the point where I wonder if we are even using the same dictionary, because WORDS don't seem to mean what they actually mean when they come from the White House and Cabinet. How can we have a national conversation when we don't use the same language?

You know, playing devil's advocate, and using the reasoning of freshman ethics courses everywhere:  I'd argue that if, say Mattis felt:

1. Trump is a dangerous ignoramus threatening world peace; and,

2. Mattis is the one man who might prevent him from doing something irreparably harmful.....

Then Mattis might feel that whatever crap he has to take / dish in order to stay in the job is both noble and defensible, logically.   Even at a cost to his reputation.

I am not saying I believe that is the case, but the argument can be made.

I, too, am pro choice. I wanted to like this hypothetical, but it doesn't seem to actually make its intended point. Pointing out that most people instinctively value a five-year-old more than 1000 embryos doesn't address whether the embryos are life, or what protection we should afford them. Imagine if the question were a five-year-old versus a golden retriever. Or your five-year-old versus a random child you don't know.

I think the point is pretty clear: The other side argues that an embryo is a person.  Period.

But they don't really believe that, or the choice would be obvious.

Are there any Weinsteins you know of in newsrooms who are still in the industry in positions of power?

I know of none.

I knew of some.  They are either dead or out of the newsroom.

I voted that the "adults" should be credited. It's not just that they are restricting Trump's realm of flailing, although they probably are. It's that the cabinet and people around him must be stocked with folks who are at least kind of in touch with Constitutional norms in case it is necessary to trigger the 25th Amendment. The 25A requires the opinions of the cabinet as to whether the President is capable of fulfilling his oath of office. Imagine who Trump would find to replace them. He is already exercising the method of not even having a full cabinet, in order to keep the numbers small and manageable.

Good point.

Someone wrote: "I kind of wish (joking-ish) that we could have folks designate their sexual assault issues by degrees-- e.g., my boss once pulled a 3rd degree sexual assault on me (groped knee); my college professor did a 2nd degree (boob grab); my domestic partner perpetrated a 1st degree sexual assault (rape). Does it make me a bad person that I don't see them all as equally awful?" I posted a similar sentiment on Facebook on Monday night. It's 48 hours later and I'm still being beaten like a pinata on my own page.

This is interesting.  The topic is fraught, and I acknowledge that no man really has the standing to weigh in with much of an opinion here, so I'll just ask:

What is the objection to this sentiment?  It seems logical to me that there are degrees of offensiveness, and that to lump a leer together with a rape in a way does a disservice to both. All sexual harassment is bad; some are worth than others. No? 

WAPO writers continually use "decimated" in their articles to indicate total destruction. Although it's now in common usage as total destruction it really means to reduce by a tenth. Can we turn back the tide?

Nope.  The tide has drowned us.

Most dics currently give some version of this as the main definition of decimate:  "to kill, destroy, or remove a large percentage or part of."  The one-tenth meaning, which described how a conquering army would cow its new subjects, is now the SECOND definition.

I'll agree to limiting the 2nd Amendment in that manner, but only if we agree that surely the founders couldn't have imagined the breadth of modern media. So the protections of the 1st amendment will only apply to forms of media which existed at the time they did. Surely untrammeled speech on tv and online is harmful, right? So the government can't restrict print media, but it can do it anything it wants with tv and the internet. Wouldn't progressives love to take Fox News off the air? Turnabout is fair play, right?

It is.  Touche.   And remember, the Amendment didn't say "media," it said "press."  That would exempt TV, radio AND online media.

Don't contact me. Do you really think that I've been mired in misery for 15 years, and that once you call to apologize I'll suddenly be free to heal and go on with my life? Get over yourself. If you want to do something to assuage your ego, go work at a home for abused women. Learn more about the epidemic that no one seemed to be aware existed until Harvey Weinstein got caught up in it. Raise your kids so that they know right from wrong. Heck, I'd be happy if you just resolved to speak up whenever you're around men who "innocently" or "for laughs" harass or denigrate a woman in your presence. Just don't lay your guilt on me. I'm fine.

Well said.

Now, did I harass my First Kiss with that last bit of mail?  I think maybe, a little!


Have you ever made beer? The "wort" (the term for the boiling mix of malted grains, water, and hops) looks disgusting, though it smells a little like bread. I haven't a clue as to why whomever first decided that dumping all that into a pot and boiling it for an hour was a good idea...but I am eternally grateful.

I guarantee it was someone who accidentally drank some fermented barley soup, and liked how he felt afterwards.  And yes, I have made beer.

Hydrox was always far preferable to Oreo. Cookie was more chocolately I think and creme wasn't quite as sweet. Agree that peanuts are great and so is chocolate, but never together. Real question: Given the story with David von Drehle, do you think America is shifting to more of a Parliamentary-style government? If voters are bypassing the traditional style of candidates, what does that portend for the nation down the road?

I think it's more like David speculated: Candidates will go straight to the people without party vetting.  Not good.  Trump.

People like Mattis may in fact be doing some actual good, in that they truly are preventing some actual horrors. But I think they would do much more good if they just came out and disavowed Trump, called him unfit, urged his removal or resignation, etc. They'd have some credibility if they did so, and would be taken seriously (unlike an ordinary career civil servant). By not doing that when they have the power to do so, and allowing this to continue, they are aiding and abetting it.

The only way that would work, I think, is if there was collusion.  That they discussed it with Ryan, McConnel, etc., and all agreed to act once the 4 men had spake.

A number of years ago, I think in 2007, David von Drehle wrote an article in the magazine about his mother-in-law’s death and keeping the promise he had made to scatter her ashes from a mountain top in Colorado. I saved it, knowing that I would need it one day, when my mother died, which she did last year. It is one of the best things I have ever read – filled with both sorrow and the joy of life. For anyone in need of the same, it’s probably available on line. And anyone who isn’t in need, read it anyway, because someday you will be.

Agreed.   Jess the Producer: Can you find this and link to it?

Hydrox debuted in 1908, Oreos in 1912. Who's the copycat?


What do you make of the escalating feud between Trump and McCain and especially Trump and Corker? I remember both of them supporting Trump at election time and Corker especially boosting him early on. Even now, when pressed, Corker says he "doesn't regret" helping Trump. Talk about the frog and the scorpion.

Good analogy.

David Von Drehle link. The story is called: "From Here to Eternity."

The objection, I believe, is that it would suggest that there are "better" and "worse" forms of assault, which would tend to normalize and minimize assault. ("Yeah, he groped you, but at least he didn't rape you!") Your desire to classify it would make sense if we were talking about how to revise the criminal statute. But people are apparently reading it more broadly than that.

I would not say "better."  I would say "lesser."   That is just recognizing facts, no?   Being subjected to a dirty joke is still, arguably harassment.  But it's reprimand-in-your-file harassment, not lose-your-job harassment , IMO.  Touching?  Begone.

I agree that on an objective level it is obvious that there are degrees of "bad". But this sort of thing is anything but objective. Emotional pain is relative, the degree to which one can handle psychological trauma is going to vary by the person, based on that person's history, personality, maturity. There's also a difference when the assaulter is someone you trust or has power over you, vs rando on the subway or in a club. So, one person's groping hand on knee is another person's forced kiss is another person's boob grab. So, arguing over who has it worst is just awful one-up-manship. Unless you're getting the law involved, where specifics do denote different crimes, it's just plain bad.

Okay.  Fair enough.

I'm seeing Joshua Bell tomorrow at the NY Philharmonic. It should be good, but I wish there were a way to have a Weingarten running commentary the entire time. (I won't expect anything funny, but at least I'll recognize him.) Anything great for which I should watch?

Watch how he is dressed, vis a vis all the other performers onstage.

My wife loves to dip pickles in ketchup. I enjoy the reaction of waiters or bar tenders when they realize what she's doing.

Now, see, that's not so weird!  Pickles and ketchup combine nicely on a burger.

was obnoxious as in "hey, this fantastic story could have been about you." but I don't think it was creepy in a recalling a bad sexual experience way. Unless you were really creepy in the encounter. My first kiss was creepy, but a 14 year old and 15 year old both kissing for the first time should be fine. It might not be anything too memorable for her, but as long as you didn't get overly handsy or lick her face or drool on her, it probably is just a good to mediocre first kiss.

It completely paralyzed my brain.  It instantly set a near-lifelong preference for women of her body type.

I didn't mean it as "hey, this could have been you," though I see how it could be interpreted that way.  I meant it kind of defensively, as in "See, it wasn't abusive or disrespectful or creepy."

Would a Real Yankees Fan ever root for the Dodgers?

Against the Red Sox?  Are you kidding me?

I bear no ill will against the Dodgers.  I was 7 when they left New York, and not yet a fan.

I don't know if the victim of the previous poster's assault felt that it was an assault, but it doesn't matter. I don't want to minimize her opinion, but it WAS an assault, whether it bothered her or not. Would he now do that to anyone else? No. Because no matter how she took it, It Wasn't OK. As for you, Gene, yes, you definitely stepped over the line with your second message to the First Kiss. Considering that you still don't see the problem with approaching that woman on the Metro, I'd ask that you kindly re-assess your judgment on this issue.

The Metro lady!

In the Feb. 1 chat, you told your story about autographing the woman's book on the Metro. Last week, somebody mentioned it here again. Uh, I'm a guy, FWIW, and I concur with whoever brought it up last week that, indeed, it *was* creepy. You probably disagree. I contend that honest answers to 2 questions will clarify the matter, though not necessarily mean it wasn't still creepy. 1. Would you have done the same thing had it been a guy sitting across the aisle? 2. If you had, would you have written: "To Andy, the handsome gentleman on the Metro?"

Sigh. Okay, I don't mind talking more about this.  

I understand peoples' reactions.  But there is one piece of information that only two people on earth know: Just how uncomfortable was she?  I was really attuned to that, and if I felt that things were out of hand -- that I was REALLY disturbing her -- I would have stopped and explained immediately.   It was a gamble, based on my desire to give her a moment she would remember fondly; part of that memory was going to be feeling a little creeped out, until she discovered what was happening.  Only I (and Patty) know how much discomfort I was giving her, and I don't believe it was enough to have ruined the joke. 

Here is my initial description of what happened.  (It's at the bottom of the intro.) 

In the end, I suppose it is possible I erred here.  I am not claiming certainty that I didn't.  But I think it is also clear that my intentions were clear, and not creepy. 

And what I wrote in the book was "the pretty lady...." not "the prettiest lady."      And no, had it been a man, I would have just said "To Andy."   But his name would not have been Andy.  It would have been Robert. 

I'm in your camp, Gene, and thanks for your response to the moron who says, "you like peanuts, you like chocolate...." I get so sick of hearing that line of reasoning and your answer was perfect. I'm not a big Mac & Cheese person either (except for the way my husband makes it) and I hear the same thing, you like macaroni, you like cheese....ridiculous.

There must have been something wrong with my ma.  Mac and cheese is everyone's comfort food, except for me.  I like macaroni and beef.

It sounds like all parties involved were friends in someone's home, not strangers on the street, and it particularly sounds like the woman never felt she was in any danger, at the time or thereafter. She could have seen it as just horseplay. Calling her a decade+ after the fact is what would be really creepy.

Yeah.  But several posters have said of COURSE she felt assaulted.  These posters are all women, and I believe them.

Pity all the Jewish kids who grew up only being allowed to eat Hydrox cause Oreos had the forbidden lard. (Anyone who was allowed to eat Oreos in the old lard days, were they better then?)

We got at least four posts from former Jewish kids making this same point.  I had no idea!  First, you can't eat shellfish and NOW you have to settle for Hydrox?

"Hydrox probably doomed themselves with the name. Sounds like a cleaning agent." Hydrox named themselves at a time when "Chemical" names were popular, signifying a futuristic foodstuff. No doubt a stubbornness and commitment to brand killed them, but the original name was ok, and they outsold Oreos for a long while.

They don't still exist?

When a co-worker's mother passed away, her detailed obit described her as "a Holocaust survivor." At her funeral service, I learned that she had been rescued from Germany in 1938 through the Kindertansport program that was able to relocate Jewish children to England. I was really bothered by the "survivor" label. It's not like she lived through the horrors of two years at a labor camp. Thoughts?

She's a Holocaust survivor, pure and simple.  Luckier than many, but her family was broken up, at a bad age for her, because of the impending disaster. She survived something significant.

I'm torn ... I don't like the Dodgers, and I like the story of Houston providing some joy for their fans after Harvey. But ... they have Brian McCann, one of the worst "unwritten rules of the game" d-bags who famously once stood in front of home plate to block a guy who had HIT A HOMER because McCann thought he was disrespectful. Can I still root for Houston even though it means him getting a ring?

McCann is not a bad guy.  He felt he was standing up for his pitcher.  The batter was a hotdog.

And it is actually a legume. In any event, I wholeheartedly agree that peanuts and chocolate are disgusting. The first time I went to France I disco ered their common nut is the hazelnut. There is a candy bar made by Nestle there called Nuts and is essentially a Milkyway with hazelnuts. Now that's a candy bar. I'll eat a Snickers if I can find the one with almonds or M&Ms if they are the almond kind. I wish there was a hazelnut candybar here. BTW, friends in England always ask for Reeces' pieces, because they don't have anything like that there. They're crazy for them.

Boy I was with you until the hazelnut thing.  I am appalled by hazelnuts.  They destroy everything for me.  Frangelico is not potable.

Due to your expertise in all things scatological, I come to you with a question that has become embarrassingly lodged in my brain: How big is a fart? I mean, how much space does it take up? What's the range between a little toot and big ol' foghorn? My doctor recently prescribed me a--blessedly temporary--medication that has made me constantly full of... hot air. Passing it is such a relief that I have to assume it's been taking up a fair bit of real estate. But is it?

Fortunately, this has been scientifically addressed and answered: Somewhere between a bottle of nail polish and a can of soda.

Did you ever read about/discuss the *most recent* Penn State frat hazing death? I just got around to reading this horrific account (the actual sequence of events is toward the end of the piece) and simply cannot find words to sufficiently express my feelings. I want to vomit and cry. I cannot get this out of my mind. I am both astounded and so disturbed by all that befell the victim during those TWELVE hours. And the actions/lack of by the brothers are f-----g despicable. 

This is a beautifully told story -- real storytelling skills -- and the facts of it are beyond awful.  Young men acting like sociopathic children. 

Sometimes after my morning deuce at the office toilet, I will discover a zit on my butt cheek. I can never decide whether to pop these upon discovery or wait till later at home. So far I'm about 50/50, but I feel like there must be a right choice in the matter instead of this waffling approach. What would you do?

I love this chat. 

is just plain human. All cultures do it. In the area of Italy where I used to live, a "pippa" is a hand job. You can imagine the hilarity that ensued when the royal wedding happened. In Thailand, where my sister lives, there was a name in English that she quite liked but pronounced with a certain tone in Thai meant something obscene (I can't remember what it was), so she avoided it. It's just a thing. But, in terms of print journalism, I think you have to keep in mind the position of power. Kind of like an article I read a while ago, about how when bosses tell an employee curtly, "See me in my office" when they only mean to have a minor, innocuous, conversation, they're putting their employee through needless fear and turmoil, because they have all the power and the employee doesn't really. So too should a news journal realize that even a tiny snicker behind the hand communicated in print might humiliate someone, especially if they come from a culture where shame is a Really Big Deal.

Interesting.  Noted.  I like the "pippa" detail.

Actually, according to this, pippa means not a HJ but a BJ.

Who do you think most likely supplied the "alternative fact" to Chief of Staff John Kelly falsely asserting that Rep. Frederica Wilson had claimed credit for that FBI building? Conway, Steve Miller, Huckabee Sanders, or some other Bannonista still in the White House? I doubt that Kelly made it up by himself, but wonder if he was "set up" to take a fall for Trump. Also, was Kelly's "empty barrel" slur his own, or also from the White House media staff?

I suspect it was off the cuff from some Republican who was at the event and dimly remembered feeling that she was taking too much credit. And, of course, no research was done because this is the Trump White House.

The "but is she really a survivor?" thing sounds exactly like a Curb Your Enthusiasm plotline, doesn't it?

Yeah, good point.  It is something of a distraction!

Yes, but sweet gherkins all the way.




Jess, can we find out who this person is and leave a bag of flaming dog poo on his or her front steps?  Thanks!

Okay, we're closing this down!   Next week is a full chat, with pollz and everything.   One poll was suggested by a reader last week.  See if you can guess what it is gonna be.


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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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