Chatological Humor update

Nov 14, 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 Nov. 28 at noon.

Good morning. 

Today I am going to be talking about Louis C.K., busted by multiple female standup comics for inviting them into his room, then taking his clothes off and masturbating.  For the moment, at least, his career is over, as it should be.  

We will now perform an Instapoll...  

Here was Louis's mea culpa, issued in writing: 

I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.

These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.

I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.

I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it.

There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.

I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work.

The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them. I’d be remiss to exclude the hurt that I’ve brought on people who I work with and have worked with who’s professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this, including projects currently in production: the cast and crew of Better Things, Baskets, The Cops, One Mississippi, and I Love You Daddy. I deeply regret that this has brought negative attention to my manager Dave Becky who only tried to mediate a situation that I caused. I’ve brought anguish and hardship to the people at FX who have given me so much The Orchard who took a chance on my movie. and every other entity that has bet on me through the years.

I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother.

I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.

Thank you for reading. 

Instapoll question:  What do you think of this mea culpa? (Choose the best answer.) We'll do a male/female split.



We're going to get back to his statement in a bit, but first I want to look at this from a different angle -- the interior monologue behind those hotel-room meetings.  (FWIW, I have shown it to two female standup comics I know; they agreed with the central thesis.)  

Here it is: 

If you look at Louis C.K.'s actions, and if you understand and care about standup comedy, you might well be even more aghast than you already are. What he said and did was particularly manipulative, and particularly insidious.  

Imagine yourself a female comic, talented but not yet successful, invited to the hotel room of Louis C.K., who is rightfully considered one of the best comics of all time.  He is cutting-edge -- a man who, for example, managed to successfully deliver, on Saturday Night Live, a shtick that was at least ostensibly sympathetic to pedophiles. He did it because he knew how.  He's that good.  

So there you are, in his hotel room. You are flattered to be there.  Selfishly, perhaps, you think a friendship with Louis might provide a boost to your career.   And he looks you up and down and he says, deadpan, something like:  "Do you mind if I take my clothes off and masturbate while looking at you?" 

You laugh.  Of course you laugh.  It is funny.  He is doing something sophisticated, from the standpoint of comedy, and is inviting you into a pretty rarefied club.   He is making fun of romance by reducing the entire absurd mating dance to its most absurd, un-hypocritical center.   Not, "Hey, can I buy you a drink?"   Not, "Come here often?" The hell with all that.  Let's get down to the nakedly disgusting basics. 

That's satire.  That's comedy. 

So, yes, you laugh.  This guy is edgy.  Edge is good. Edge is the essence of the best comedy.  And he seems to be honoring you by assuming you'll get it. 

Then he takes off his clothes. 

"Holy cow, this guy is really edgy."  See, you may well be extremely uncomfortable -- who wouldn't be? -- but you also understand on some level that it's the identical joke, but taken to a greater, edgier extreme.  Edgy humor is supposed to make you uncomfortable.   You think: This must be the way  really great comics deal with each other:  We are above niceties. We don't have to pretend, among ourselves.  We can tell it raw.  And he is doing that, and he is doing that with you.  He is respecting your talent.  You are kind of grateful, maybe.  

Then he .... does it.  

Now where are you?  

This is why I really, really hate what Louis C.K. did to these women.    He is taking advantage of their professional adulation of him, and of their ambition, and -- more than anything else, of the professional comic's endemic insecurity about their art -- and manipulating them through the inherent ambiguity of humor.  These women are comedians.  He takes the thing they love and turns it against them. 

So yeah, screw you, Louis. 

And finally: 

Some time, many many years ago, a monk invented a graphic element called the Space Cap, or Big Initial Letter. It was an ornate, large usually curlicued letter that started a paragraph that started a section of a manuscript.   These date to medieval times. 

But sometime much, much later -- probably in the early 20th century -- a designer of magazines decided that the Big Initial Letter was a good idea to import and incorporate into his product.   This person is probably long dead.  Good.  

The Modern Big Initial Letter began okay.  It was Big, but not Too big or Too Ornate.   It was, however, the beginning of a dreadful trend in design that continues to this day: Design at war with comprehension.   The big letter definitely made the page more visually attractive, but at a cost.  It often made comprehension harder.  Let us say, for example, that the BIL was the T of the word "the."    

So you would read a giant T, and then, on a whole other line, seemingly disconnected, in one-eighth the size, a little "he."   If you missed the BIL, which some people do, the story started inanely, and confusingly with "he."  Or you read "teehee," or something.  Mostly, though, people got used to it.  But it was to some degree subjugating comprehension to design.   Brains lost out to beauty. 

Then things got waay worse.  Over time, page designers fell in love with the BIL, and entered a competition to outdo each other with flamboyance.  This was a competition among themselves.  The reader's needs were out of the picture. 

Over the years, BILs and variations thereof have become increasing intrusive, increasingly inimical to comprehension.  This trend hit its logical insane conclusion this past weekend in the Sunday New York Times magazine.  

The magazine had an excellent series of feature stories about the inevitability -- and consequences -- of a future with only driverless cars.  

Taking a page from the Big Initial Caps comprehension-obliterating handbook, and then peeing all over it for effect, this is the first page of the feature.   If you can read the headline, it is likely because you are seeing it shrunk on your screen.  At the size of a magazine page, it was largely indecipherable.  

Next, we have the first page of the first story.  This carries the incomprehensibility of the BIL to new heights, completely divorcing the first word from the remainder of the paragraph.  

This is not an aberration.   Here is the first opening spread of the second story.  Note the clever use of Christmas colors to make the headline disappear almost entirely.   

And here is the second abominable BIL, to show you the first was not a sort of mistake.   This was on purpose, people -- not that you count.  

And finally, the Q & A section.  Yes, folks, that is supposed to read "Q&A"

A special message to the authors of these fine pieces -- Bill Wasik, Kevin Roose, Jill Wortham and the others:  Consider the designer who did this to you, okay?  Consider your options. Believe me, no jury would convict you. 

Okay, we start at noon sharp.  

Stop it. Just stop it. Most people read the NYT online and the BIL isn't all that distracting. Surely you have more important things to carp about, like your toilet tank lid and torturing company representatives on the phone. Leave the graphic designers alone. They do their best, but are often overruled by others, such as editors.

Wow!  We seem to be taking this personally. 

Here's what I remember thinking in both of these situations. How would I behave if gorgeous women started throwing themselves at me 24/7? I'm a happily married man, but this is something I can't even imagine. How would I really react? How would I change?

Ask Paul Newman.   Or Barack Obama. 

I think his "apology" is a giant, steaming pile of bs. Nowhere in it does he actually say "I'm sorry." He says he "feels remorseful". I think the whole thing is condescending and he's even trying to be a little bit cute. It's so disgusting and he got away with this for so long. I've been hearing about this for years and nobody wanted to hear it. People are saying "at least he admitted it." Yeah, he admitted it as soon as it appeared in the NYT. To claim RIGHT NOW that he suddenly learned what his position of power meant is totally ridiculous. He knew. This guy is a liar and a sociopath. Also, if you haven't watched this story line in season two of Tig Notaro's Amazon show "One Mississippi" you should check it out.

I understand this viewpoint but mostly disagree with it. 

Yeah, I know.  Hear me out. 

He made one key mistake in here, which was not directly owning up to having deceitfully denied it for a long time.  Working actively to squash the "rumors."  He says in his statement that he "ran from it," and I think that was his effort to confront his duplicity, but it fell short. 

Beyond that, I think this is a wretched, groveling apology.  You don't have to use the words "I apologize" or "I'm sorry" to express either sentiment.  The paragraph beginning with "The hardest regret..." says "I'm sorry" better than saying "I'm sorry."

I should also say that I think his sin was really bad.  This was harassment at a very high level, and using his power in a disgusting, deceitful manipulative way. 


I think when it comes to where we are there are two different questions. One is what do we think of the apology, and does he get forgiveness. Two different issues. On the apology, I think it's a bit clueless mixed with some self-loathing, some ego and a genuine apology. Fine. It's up to the women he hurt to decide if they accept the apology or not. On the issue of forgiveness, he can largely forget it. I loved his humor. I will miss him. But you could never watch him again. It would be too distrurbing. His whole schtick (we know now that it was just schtick) was about being gross and enlightened and being in on the joke. None of that works any more. He can never get that persona back. He betrayed everything that he purported to be. He'll never get that back. He's done.

You are right -- he may be done.  And he may deserve being done.  But I'd say that's a loss for all of us.   He's among the best there ever was.  I will acknowledge that some of his routines look darker, in retrospect.   

If you have the stomach, queue this up to 20 seconds and watch through the end of the librarian bit.   It's both disgusting in retrospect, and a plea for help.  Definitely not safe for work, audi0-wise. 

As a woman, there is no way, if I was alone in some man's hotel room, and he strips down to his bare arse, I would think he was doing this for his art. The perceived joke would be over before he touched himself. I may not be one of your stand up comic friends you spoke with, but I was a huge Louis fan and think I have a decent sense of humor. The bigger question I have is do you think that with all these stories of famous people behaving egregiously that most people have a latent pervert hidden within, waiting to get out when they think they're at a point of being powerful enough?


To answer your question ... no.  I don't think most men get drunk and abusive with power. 

Scene: Moscow, 1989. Hundreds of Russians are waiting in a long line for vodka. One guy says to another, "Enough with these stupid lines! I'm going to kill Gorbachev." Off he goes. An hour later, he returns. His friend says, "What happened?" "Eh, the line there was twice as long."


Apologies seem mostly lacking, so this is something. He perpetually attributes their staying to admiration, and seems to ignore that he's a gate keeper to professional success.

Well, that's another point.   He does overdo it on the admiration, but it is a central fact of his situation.  I would have preferred it if he took a couple of those "admires" and replaced them with an acknowledgement of the power imbalance. 

The slope is clearly downhill. How is Alabama going to find someone even worse than him?

I think Moore is done.   If he runs and wins, the Senate will reject him.   Maybe to be followed by someone worse. 

I'm a woman, not a comedian, and have never been sexually harassed. But I think his apology, while admirable that he comes right out and says he did it and that he was wrong, still reeks of "I'm sorry I got caught." I guess I don't know what else someone could say--it's better than the "I didn't do it." At least he admitted to it. But while he is saying "I know it was wrong, I'm sorry I did it, I'm taking a good hard long look at myself," I'm thinking "if you knew it was wrong, why did you do it in the first place?"

Perhaps my opinion is influenced by how much more honest it seems than most of these supposed mea culpas.  It's a whole world above them.  If he is not genuinely contrite, he's doing an amazing impression of it. 

And he's not an impressionist.   

In light of the reports that in 2003, a then-79 yr old Bush groped a 16 yr old during a photo op, are you revisiting your impression that this is all just a factor of dementia? I tend to think the dementia actually just unmasking a long-standing habit of his.

Yeah, seems to be.  

"I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves" cannot possibly be true. I knew for more than a year about multiple women who had been subjected to this (and did not feel good about it, obviously), and I'm a nobody. He lied in his statement. He also mentioned his dick multiple times and mentioned how these women admired him multiple times but never really apologized. I voted "I think it is dishonest, manipulative, and totally inadequate."


Really? It's not "CUE this up"? As in, a musical or theatrical cue?

It is.  I am a moron.  See next post. 

Dizzy Dean said it when he was an announcer. Not Ty Cobb


This is about "slud into third."  I am not sure why any of you even listens to me.  I'm no good.  As Dorothy Parker once famously said, "I would never want to belong to a club that would want me as a member."


Say, does anyone know the derivation of the suffix "-amundo," as in correctamundo? 

I shouldn't have to tell you not to put your hand on my body, buddy. It's not yours. That really seems to be a fundamental missing piece here. Adult men should have figured out that other people's bodies actually belong to other people.

Agreed, but I think many people would argue there are continuums.   When I am posing for a photo with a reader, for example, I usually put my arm around his or her shoulder.  Is this wrong to do with a woman?  I don't feel creepy and no one has ever complained or pulled away, or, to my knowledge, winced.  Is this going over a boundary? 

Some men of my age or older will sometimes put a hand on a lady's lower back to sort of steer her through a doorway or something.  It is to be seen as courtly.  I don't do that -- feels wrong and patronizing, almost old-worldish -- but I have seen it done as recently as recently.  Is this wrong?  

I don't mean to beg your question: Obviously some touching -- most touching -- is bad.  Can't imagine a circumstance where it is okay to touch a woman's knee, for example. 

Gene, For years I've been mulling over what was the happiest day ever. Theoretically you can objectively measure happiness (amount of dopamine or serotonin released or something like that) and at some point in the past, we hit that high point. My best guess is VE day in 1945. It was a hugely positive event affecting millions of people. On the other hand, my guess for worst day ever is 9/11.

You are limiting this to the United States, yes?  

I'm thinking V-J day might have been bigger, because that was the absolute end to the war.  With V-E day, there was still the Pacific battle ahead of us, and a potential loss of a million men in an invasion. 

I was going to nominate the Appomattox surrender, but the lack of good communications probably meant it was celebrated everywhere at the same time. Probably trickled out. Same thing with Cornwallis surrendering his troops at Yorktown. 

Any other nominees? 


It is AN answer.  It is the psychological answer.   It is not the mechanical answer.   The mechanical answer -- to the "almost home" phenomenon -- was disclosed by me and Dr. Satish Rao in 2012 in a chat intro that should have won the 2012 Nobel Prize in medicine.  Here it is. 

This dichotomy between the psychological and physical explanations for a phenomenon  is also apparent in the analysis of humor.  Joel Achenbach accurately contends that all humor is about conflicting frames of reference, which somehow tickles our brains, neurologically.   I accurately contend that humor is all about a defense against existential fear, as explained over 180 inches in The Peekaboo Paradox. Of course, Dave Barry explained it much more succinctly this way: "A sense of humor is a measurement of the degree you understand that we are trapped in a world almost totally devoid of reason.  Laughter is how we express our anxiety over this."

Gene— I argue that looks matter in a job in which one stands at a podium and speaks to the press in front of cameras and issues press releases with a headshot showing up on cable news. Dana Perino was slightly older than Sanders is now when she was Pres. Bush’s press secretary. She was very pretty then and still is now at 45.

I am not sure I understand your point.  Are you suggesting Sarah Sanders is derided, at least in part, because of her looks?  I don't think that's true, in general.  I think where she is derided, it is because of her preposterous and disingenuous defenses of an indefensible president.

Also, I think she looks just fine. Dresses nicely. Carries herself well.  Speaks articulately.  I don't think this is a looks thing.

Do people disagree?  

The pope is visiting DC and President Trump invites him for a cruise on the Potomac. While on the cruise, the pope's zucchetto is blown by the wind to the shore. President Trump hops out of the boat, walks across the water, retrieves the hat, returns to the boat and gives the pope his hat. A Washington Post reporter was also on the boat and wrote a story for the next day's paper. The headline was of course, Trump Can't Swim.

The Post would not write that headline because it is untrue.  Based on available information, we would not KNOW he cannot swim.  Perhaps he could, if he wanted.  We may be liberal-leaning and Trump-skeptical, but we are nothing if not accurate. 

Yes, I had to look up zucchetto.  For the benefit of others like me, it is the pope's yarmulke. 

You've addressed this before- is there a name for people who are attracted to illegally young, post-pubescent children? Everyone keeps calling Kevin Spacey a pedophile, but that isn't quite right. Or does the point that being gay doesn't have a dang thing to do with preying on tweens overwhelm the issue?

Yes, the term is ephebophile.   Your attraction is to teenagers, basically -- people old enough to have pubic hair but young enough to be underage.   I have argued ephebophiles are ain a way worse than pedophiles. 

Pedophiles are sick.  They have an overwhelming attraction to non-sexual people.   They can't help it -- but they can control it to the point they hurt no one.   Ephebophiles -- and we know of them because often they act on their impulses -- simply choose to indulge their appetites.  

There is nothing "sick" about finding a 15 year old attractive, really, if you are 35.   Fifteen year olds are sexually mature.  But if acted on, it is deeply inappropriate and wrong and potentially injurious. 

No one in history has ever used the word "ducking" as an adjective. No one.

It's not that Mueller has unlimited authority to dig into anything at all; it's that, if he uncovers unrelated criminality in the course of his investigation, he has an *obligation* to act on it. To paraphrase something I read earlier today: If the police come to your house because your neighbors are complaining about your loud music and they find you standing over a body holding a bloody knife, they'll probably want to have a conversation about that.

Certainly.  But what if they find your stash of pot?  There is a continuum. 

Yes, this is wonderful.   Imagine how embarrassing it COULD have been.  

I habitually use voice to text, and often send texts when out walking with my dog.  I have on more than one occasion left messages like  "I'll get back to you when I hear from Valerie, but when stop it Murphy leave that alone."

I'm pretty vulgar (generally, not just for a female) and not too easily offended, but I thought Louis CK's use of the word "dick" in the apology - twice -- was itself almost an assault.

It was a standup word.  He was apologizing to standups.  I think it was a good call.  Most people seem to disagree. 

I thought it was Groucho Marx.

You missed my joke. 

(Yes it was Groucho, often misattributed to Woody Allen.)

Does it have to be end-of-war related? Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon gets a vote.

Agreed.  But even at 17, I didn't feel elated until they were back home. 

Man, I was such a huge fan of his, and I've been assaulted in that manner among many others, so I can imagine how the women he did that to felt. But he admitted it (eventually) in a way that nobody ever has, to my recollection. Marc Maron talked about it in his podcast yesterday and he's been a friend of his for years. He said he asked him about the rumors and CK lied and said they were just rumors, like every person who does something they're ashamed of does. But the thing that gets me is how he said he thought it was okay because he asked first, and I wondered if he could really be that stupid and thinking back on all the men I've known in my life...yep. He could really be just that stupid. I've had men kiss me smack on the lips, reach down the front of my shirt, grab my breasts and my butt, all in public with people around, and ALL of them thought it was funny. Not only that, all their friends who were there did, too. I think the underlying problem is that so, so many men just can't see women as human beings. We're sexual objects to them first and foremost. I think that's why women have a much harder time in comedy, as that is an underlying reason why women can't be funny to many men. It takes intelligence to appreciate comedy, and many men can't use their big head when the little one is engaged. But geez, he is still one of the most talented comedians ever. Just...DAMMIT!

I agree.  Dammit.  

It's too good, like it was carefully put together by PR people, albeit not ones who were instructed to try and gloss over things by a surface taking of responsibility through a non-apology apology. Also, what are the chances that Louis CK to some extent gets off sexually on the self-humiliation aspect of this?

That's an interesting last question.  It brings me back to a point I've made a few times: What he did with those women has to be hugely humiliating to him, a compulsion that made him look like a pathetic creature, no?  Is there a woman alive who could watch that and think, wow, he's kinda ... hot?  No, right?



Would it kill him to say he was sorry? Yes, he acknowledges abuse of power / situation, that it was wrong, regrets doing so, acknowledges this hurt people, including those not directly involved, says he will listen going forward, this is all good I think, however, he cannot conclude by saying, "I am sorry" ?!? Maybe I missed it?

I think you missed it. 

Remind me again, what's a magazine? Like a blog, but printed on paper and mailed to people's homes?

It is, indeed.  

I would argue that a magazine is the last part of a newspaper that really does not work online, and remains a viable product on its own.   Packaging, design, juxtaposition of elements: All unique to a paper product. 

If I was famous and good looking and had women throwing themselves at me 24/7, I would have sex with them, not masturbate in front of them. I can't understand what Louis CK did even a little. And the mistake Tiger Woods made was getting married young. The model to follow is Derek Jeter who waited until he was in his 40s to settle down.

I think Louis is sick.   I don't think it's an excuse, but what kind of man does this?  He could have lotsa hot, smart, funny women.  There's something really dark in that brain. 

My dad used to do that; he was a very courtly gentleman. However, I hated it -- I felt like a lawn mower or something.

I know.  I think it's a d--k move.  But I do think in another era it was considered suave.   Astaire probably did it. 

So Groucho stole the line from her?

Sigh.  Read my answer, in context.  

Hi Gene How would you advise a friend who is in this predicament who relayed this to me? He started dating a girl two years ago and things moved *very* quickly. They moved in together in a matter of weeks (the fact that he's a comedian and perpetually utterly broke probably had something to do with it, but he also seems to fall in love really really fast too). She has a very well paying stable career and a nice home. Apparently within a matter of weeks of moving in he decided this wasn't what he wanted after all and told her he was moving out. She broke down, he relented and stayed a while longer. Apparently within a month after this she became pregnant and a month later she found out and announced it to friends and family even before she told him. He wanted no part of any of this, didn't want to remain with her even before the announcement and didn't want a baby. For a variety of reasons he stayed thinking he would try to make it work even though it wasn't what he wanted. I suspect the two years was no picnic, I've seen him up close and personal and he is an amazing person who is thoughtful but has a lot of emotional baggage and is part of a situation not entirely of his choosing (he is convinced she went off birth control after he told her he wanted to leave). The baby is almost a year old and he loves the baby but he wants out. He doesn't want to be with her, the verbal fights haven't gotten better, they have escalated and she sounds controlling. But he has a baby. Who is going to grow up without a daddy at home if he leaves. He wants to be involved with the baby but not with her and I believe him. In fact the entire time he's been the caretaker because she has a job and he's on stage at night. He respects my advice and his brother and dad have told him to stay and make it work and he really doesn't want to stay. I suspect I will be influencing his decision if I tell him it's OK if he leaves because he already really wants to, he just wants validation from someone he respects. Thank you

He needs to leave and get joint custody.  

Sorry, you can't "make it work."  You can't, and it is no favor to the baby to grow up in a loveless, bickering household. 

Lawyer here. Not sure if I read that the right way, but if the police are in your house for any reason at all, they can use what they see against you. Example: it's summer time so you have your front and back doors open. A robber on the run from the police runs through your front door and out your back door. The police, running closely behind, run after the robber through your front door. But wait! On the way to running through your back door, they see your stash of pot. Yes, they can use that.

Well, it sucks.   

Now if they found a dead body in your bathtub, or dismembered in your toilet, I'd feel differently. 

Ok - I have less of a problem with it to the extent that the apology is read as only directed at standups. Probably chosen to sound more like himself than something written for him - much harder (heh) to believe he would write something like "I showed a woman my genitals." Good point, you convinced me, the End.

Right.  That's what I mean.

You’re right about continuums. Lots of people put an arm around the next person in a picture, and no, it wouldn’t feel creepy for me, as a woman, if it were a man. What’s creepy is having someone touch me for no discernible reason. I was taking a class in photography recently and the instructor touched me constantly. The touches were always on my shoulder or arm and his intent may not have been to make me feel uncomfortable, but it did make me feel uncomfortable. There probably wasn’t anything sexual about it – but he didn’t do that to the guy in the class. I once heard someone talking about this issue who said, “If it feels icky, it is icky.” That’s exactly right.

Agreed.  The only caveat is that it IS possible that someone's threshold for icky is ridiculously low.  But I tend to think that doesn't happen much.   Women know icky. 

Have you seen the good hardworking Christian Americans falling all over themselves to excuse Moore's predilection for minors? Are these the same fine folks we're supposed to find common ground with?

I think you are talking, specifically, about evangelicals, and honestly, I don't know what to say. 

As a woman in a small office I was in the office by myself one evening waiting for the printer repair man. I was working on my computer and not really paying attention to what he was doing until I saw him next to me and I turned my head and, yes, his member was about 9 inches from my face then. A lot of women have been through this kind of thing. I am glad that now women feel they can finally come out about it. I really liked Louie CK but I will certainly see him in a much different light if he ever does make a comeback.

You know, I think I'm talking for a lot of men here.  We hear a story like this and are just flabbergasted.   I believe I have never known a man -- friend, relative, casual colleague -- capable of something that revolting. 

Gene, you have brought up the impact that increased, instant accessibility to porn via social media, the interwebs, etc. has had on expectations of and trends in women's grooming. I wanted to add to this thread. In talking with a recently-single, straight, female friend, who hasn't dated since before cell phones & online dating, that it is now very common practice for men to text unsolicited pics of their junk and continuing to do so after clear "no thanks" feedback. It seems to be something they do because they think it's the next step after saying you're interested in someone. When did this become the norm? I mean, these are respectable people in their 40s, with jobs, ex-wives, kids, etc. I don't have a deep question - just wondering when this became common practice? And also: yuck. Men, please don't send a woman a d*ck pic if they don't ask for it. If they want one, I'm sure they'll ask.

Another thing I simply cannot understand on any level. Do men think women WANT this?  I know a woman who was texting in a friendly and maybe even flirtatious manner with a guy she had briefly met, and whom she seemed to like... and then he texted THAT.   It was formidable and everything.  Nothing to be ASHAMED of on its face, but it was also the last moment they ever communicated.  Total freaked-out shutdown. 

Wouldn't this always happen?

The first I heard it was years ago, Carson doing the used car salesman bit...either that or the Great Carsini

It's got to be older than that.  I just have no idea what it means.  

The statement seems sincere, but that doesn’t mean Louis deserves anything less than severe consequences. Inmates are usually sorry too.

Right.  I believe that.  He has shown himself to be a scuzz. Of the worst order.   I hate it. 

I cannot emphasize this enough: He was among the all-time greats.  

Gene, I am female, 60 years old and I couldn't be happier that the stories of harassment/groping/assault are coming out as though a floodgate has been opened. Society in general has been "accepting" this behavior for far too long and now the sheer volume is forcing everyone to see just how bad this problem has been. What still pisses me off, though, is that as a society, we still don't want to teach our boys at a young age how bad this behavior is. Where are the other men in the office, who stand around watching someone get harassed or groped and not done a single thing to help? Why do we have to teach our girls "don't do this, don't do that, don't put yourself in this situation," etc., but don't teach the boys sh!t? We still have a very long way to go.

No expert on this, but aren't boys being taught, now? I know that kids of my son's generation -- he is 33 -- simply didn't have the same patronizing attitude to girls that my generation of boys had.  Hasn't it progressed more, to "respect their integrity"?

I'm a guy and I voted "dishonest and manipulative." I understand that he clearly acknowledged what he did, which is an improvement over most so-called apologies. What I find infuriating is his suggestion that it's only now that he has begun to understand that his behavior was abusive and insulting. It must have taken an unbelievable amount of cluelessness or wilful blindness for him not to have understood that all along.

He also has to have been completely blind to their actual reactions.  Because I am sure that these women -- all good actors -- could still not have hidden their horror. 

Maybe they think in some bizarre twisted way they're doing it to demonstrate sexual equality? Women are societally encouraged to show lots of flesh. Or they are just doing it in order to get nudes back, and have no intention of actually having a relationship.

I think they are doing it because they are a-holes, personally.

In 2022 or thereabouts are we going to see Louis CK on the tonight show for his apology tour? Are we that forgiving? Should we be?

I think we are, and I think we will.  He has a lot to deliver.  Especially informed by this.  He is probably writing the monologues now.  He can recover from this with blistering honesty. 

I've never been sexually harassed, but I'm regarded as extremely smart and not at all pretty. I also work predominantly with women in healthcare; the men (mostly doctors in my era) knew it was very important not to make any of the nurses angry if they wanted to get any sleep on their on-call nights. I've always loved that power dynamic.

Ha.  I love that. 

I answered that his mea culpa was good and heartfelt, better than others. Way better than others, actually, most of whom are still denying charges or have decided to check into sexual addiction rehab. But it does not mean that all is forgiven, we should all move on, either. What a jerk (off).


I can't read her now without thinking of Twain ... when Obama was POTUS, she was so ignorant I could hardly stand to read her column. With Trump as POTUS, I am astonished at how much she's learned.

Indeed.  She's picked up a LOT of IQ points.  As Bob Lemon said when asked why, after a career as a mediocre manager, he was leading the 1978 Yankees to the World Series, he deadpanned: "I've started taking smart pills."

Republicans have been courting the idiot/racist/fundie vote for years, and Trump is the natural result. The Democrats have always given voters waaaaay too much credit and try (still!) to move hearts and minds with all that kumbaya stuff. They really need to take a page from the Republicans playbook and play dirty. When they go low, we need to go lower.

Okay, but not "go lower."  It's sort of impossible to go lower. 

By choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain gave voice and power to blind, smug ignorance which was at least one of the factors behind the rise of the Tea Party. If McCain had run with a responsible conservative legislator, there's a good chance he would have won, and otherwise he would at least have lost with honor, and Sarah P. would never have been a national inspiration to her kind.

I don't think McCain had a chance, with the economy tanking.  Didn't matter who he chose.   He chose someone so controversial and off-the-wall that MAYBE she would have shaken stuff up.  It was a highly irresponsible -- almost treasonous -- gamble. 

I was a bouncer, I checked IDs only when the person was clearly under 30. But, by state law, if I asked for an ID and the person failed to present proof of age, we could be fined (both my bar and me personally), even if the person was clearly over drinking age, hell, clearly over Medicare age. It never failed that about 1-2 times a year, a mom or a grandma or aunt (it was always a woman) would make a joke about me not asking for her ID when I carded the younger members of their party. When I would play along and ask to see their ID, they would tell me that they didn't have it with them. Which meant, by law, I had to refuse them entry or risk getting in trouble.

Did you actually bounce moms and aunts and grannies?

I, too, am working on getting to 21 the fourth time around. I think it's ridiculous to be carded when one is that old and looks it. I know it's not the fault of the checker, though, and usually make a crack to the effect of "If I looked like this but were actually under 21, I think people should give me alcohol for free." Sometimes it's state law (NC and Tennessee, for instance), sometimes it's stupid CYA corporate policy, but it's always stupid when applied in extreme and obvious cases.

I like your alcohol line.  It might need an "out of pity" added to it. 

I worked at a convenience store a few years ago and the tobacco cops would routinely send in underage teens to try to buy cigarettes. They would use their real drivers' licenses. After the first one, I would take the license, stick it in my pocket, and ask for their parents' telephone number to call them and tell them their teen was trying to buy tobacco. When I was a kid, though, I routinely was sent to buy cigarettes for my father when I was 8 or 9 years old.

My mother would have sent me to buy her cigarettes, except to the day she quit around 65, she never admitted she smoked.  We all knew. 

Hi Gene - Several weeks ago, you stated something crazy along the lines of not wanting to live past a certain age (was it 75?) due to a plethora of health conditions. Well, may I suggest that when you get to that age, you may feel differently? I say this because I know many people who are now in their 80s and 90s who also said when they were younger they didn't want to live if their health was failing them. BUT they now all want to live as long as possible, even though they have various health issues such as pancreatic cancer, COPD, congestive heart failure, etc. Just saying, it has given me pause to those times when I say/think "I don't want to live like that". You never know until you are there, as the will to live is very, very strong.

Well, I think you're right, up to a point.  I have very little doubt that I would end my own life if facing an intractable, incurable, incapacitating illness.  Y'all may read about it someday.  Remember this post! 

I have noticed here and there a re-litigation of Bill Clinton's reputation as a sexual predator, especially the most serious when he was the Ark AG. Would Demos view those accusations differently today? Another point: I think the list of accusations against Bill kept Hillary from taking full advantage of the Trump tapes, admissions and accusations.

Yes, it definitely tied Hillary's hands.  I doubt that it would have changed matters appreciably if she'd been able to go after him on sexual assault -- everyone else was doing it, you know?

I remember, as a kid, I used to dip semi-sweet chocolate bits into peanut butter because they went so well together. Now that I am an adult, I think that dark chocolate would be even better. Tuna packed in oil tastes like oil, not tuna. Crispy rockfish with black bean sauce just would not be the same without a generous garnish of fresh cilantro. I love the freshness that green peppers bring to a pizza. A steamed hot dog with ketchup brings me right back the the Fenway Park of my youth, cheering on the great Boston Red Sox. Still, I think hockey is a much better game than basball or football. Anyone who likes their steaks cooked to an internal temperature greater than 130 degrees is a Philistine.

I excuse all of your gargantuanly incorrect opinions because of the correctness of your last one. 

Trump tries to steer Melania with that hand in the lower back thing. You can tell she doesn't like it. It makes me cringe as well, but then most everything Trump does makes me cringe.

I haven't notice that, but it  

1) doesn't surprise me

2) doesn't hugely bother me.  He's of anothe era. 


My first conscious move would be to call 911, because he's definitely going to need medical attention to get that 8-inch letter opener removed from that member of his.


I've come home from trips and literally lost 2 pounds on the toilet within a day of being home. I wrote this whole thing using voice to text and it came out OK but there have been times where I've been in the car and the radio will be included in some of the stuff on voice to text.

Yeah, voice to text is great but should be killed. 

This reference ( ) implies it was the "invention" of a writer on Happy Days, possibly deriving from the Spanish word "mundo" or world.

I will accept this.  I am shocked it is that recent. 

Do you agree with the premise that great comedy starts from a place of pain? If so, it's not terribly surprising that a great comedian is extremely messed up.

I believed this totally until I became a close friend of Dave Barry.  The man is sane.  Centered.  Logical.  And funny as hell.  I don't get it. 

The whole Moore/Spacey/Weinstein/Louis thing flabbergasts (and disgusts) me. How were these people raised that they think this is OK? Men need to realize - WE DON'T WANT TO SEE YOUR STUFF. WE DON'T WANT TO SEE PICTURES OF YOUR STUFF. And we most certainly DON'T WANT TO TOUCH YOUR STUFF.

I know!  I know!  I am so sorry! 

So, I always read the Post comics left page first (starting with Pickles) and down. Then over to the right page. I start at the bottom with Speed Bump et al, and go up, ending with that one about the billionaire and the bum. Today, some malevolent being switched the layout. Daylight Saving Time was bad enough, but now this? It will take me the rest of the day to recover.

I hadn't noticed this.  Heads will roll.  Uphill, probably. 

Why does the MSM continue to use bogus words crafted by the right? Tax Reform. This bill doesn't reform anything. Its a standard Republican tax bill that's doing what Republican tax bills always do, cut taxes for mostly the wealthy. Moderate Republican. What Moderate Republicans? Susan Collins probably. Calling McConnell or even Corker or Flake "moderate" is ludicrous. I guess technically they might be moderate compared to the crazy wing of the party, but they are not, nor have they ever been, moderate.

I think I agree with you!   We pointedly do not use "pro-life," because that involves accepting political spin on something.  

Hm.  This is an interesting point.  Thank you. 

Gene, in this incredible period of "me, too" Weinstein, C.K., etc. -- I have a serious question: When do you separate art from artist? Hank Steuver wrote the other day that he would not watch anything created by Louis C.K. ever again. And I get his reasoning. But what does that mean? Can nobody ever look at a Picasso again because he abused his many lovers? Or read Norman Mailer since he stabbed his wife? Or never listen to "Great Balls of Fire," because Jerry Lee Lewis married his 14-year-old cousin? Heck, William S. Burroughs murdered his wife. Should no one ever read "Naked Lunch" again? I honestly don't know the answer here, but am interested in your thoughts.

I seldom disagree with Hank on anything, but I think I disagree with him here.   I don't separate the art from the artist, but I do separate the artist from the person.  

I can enjoy Polanski films -- "The Tenant" is an almost-unknown masterpiece -- even if I despise the man.  Happy to watch Play It Again Sam.   I also feel that about sports figures. 

I can't defend it morally; I can defend it artistically.   It almost involves the application of the Intentional Fallacy: you judge art by itself, not by what the artist intended.  There is a disconnect. 

I am so scared.

See how silly this looks in retrospect?

Gene . . . I'm not the OP on that question, but sweetie, we've HAD this conversation already! They are responsible because they enabled (or in some cases actively participated) in the "conservative" dog whistling, starting with Nixon's Southern strategy and continued all the way through GW Bush's insinuation that John McCain's adopted daughter was actually the product of a trans-racial extramarital affair, that people who Don't Look Like Me (where Me is White and mostly Male) don't deserve to live as well as I do and are to blame for whatever I don't like about my life. Trump just says out loud, and all the time, what they said in code during election off years. Absolutely they are to blame. They are appalled that the people whom they exhorted to vote against their own economic interests for decades are now getting to choose the candidate and proving to have terrible taste. If Mike Pence were President and making all of the exact same policy decisions, they'd be thrilled.

Okay, I'll accept this.  Again, apparently.  And you can call me sweetie anytime. 

But Trump IS petty, vindictive, and juvenile. The people who want him to stop tweeting are missing out on something pretty important: that is the most accurate representation of the kind of person he is. Think of if he didn't tweet. We'd probably still dislike him, but we may actually instead see him just as a not-so-smart, bumbling guy, rather than the viral bag of sewage that he is.

This is a really good point.  I agree. 

Gene (and fellow chat participants) - I need to see a doctor to get something checked out, but don't know what kind of specialist I need to see. I have some kind of lump (about the size of a jellybean) on my face right where the bottom of my ear meets my jaw. It's under the skin (nothing visible except the shape) but can be moved around a bit, so I know it's not on the bone. I have no idea whether this is something to be concerned about, but would like to know one way or the other (and to the extent it's relevant, I'm a middle-aged male, and I do not have a regular GP to consult with). What kind of doctor should I go to for something like this?

GP first.  He or she will refer you either to a dermatologist or an ENT or, possibly, a cancer person.   Could be a swollen lymph gland.  Probably nothing. 

I'm really afraid he will. The GOP Congresscritters have not been too vocal on telling him not to -or put any actual impediment in his way.

Trump is at 38 percent approval.  He can't fire Mueller.  He'd be impeached and convicted unless he can convincingly demonstrate a plausible reason other than obstruction of justice -- and there is none.

It's number 85 on the candy rankings.

Nik-L-Nips are those tiny wax soda bottles filled with colored sugar water.  I liked the drink but chewing the wax afterward was way better.   I ate Nik-L-Nips this way: Take the whole thing in my mouth at the same time and bite down on it.  Rush of flavor.  Swallow.  Then chew slightly flavored cud for ten minutes. 

I will be very disappointed if the Trump boys (esp. Don, Jr. and Jared) are not cited in some way for malfeasance. It doesn't have to be a criminal indictment, but some serious discomfort would be very welcome.

Did you all see this great Luckovich cartoon in the Wapo on Sunday?

And I understand that so much of his act was based on the scuzzy male who gets it because he is one. I think pretty much all men have a degree of scuzziness (what one refers to as their "lizard brain"), but the difference is they don't all act on it. He has a sick compulsion that I believe is a form of addiction, as he continued the activity in spite of possible consequences. But so much of comedy is pointing out uncomfortable truths, and I would put him up there with Carlin on that. Also, him repeatedly saying "admiration" sounds like he knows exactly how good he was and he has well and truly blown one of the greatest comedy gigs of all time.

I agree with all of this. 

Evangelical here, and I'm disheartened by it; it's an unfortunate acknowledgement that now tribalism matters most. But, really, this was what was argued all the time through the 80s and 90s, that the character of the individual didn't matter, as long as they voted the way you want. A mass of Christian evangelicals in this country seem to have decided to take that to heart; it saddens me personally, but it's not like the precedents haven't been out there, and those people are now just catching up to what the rest of the country has been doing.

Thank  you.    I can see how hard this is. 

Rubrication and historiation is fine, but that pixelated typeface is horrible.

It is, isn't it?

Your reasoning is why I will still listen to my Bill Cosby tapes. They are funny, no matter who the artist is. Especially the Noah series.

I am SURE Shakespeare was an a-hole. 

So in the Age of Weinstein, how much do we have to reevaluate Clinton's accusers? I'm admittedly liberal and the women never struck me as especially believable but it's made me reconsider.

I believe them absolutely. 

In college, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye and it was some dude, leaning against my sliding glass door (of my university housing) pulling a Louis. I am surprised that that is surprising to people that guys do this.

It is surprising to me. 

Boy, I should write an essay on this. 

Guys pleasuring themselves seems about as pathetic and unsexy as anything could be. 

I'm a woman. I've always suspected that men who do things like send pics of their bits do so because they're "doing unto others" combined with an utter lack of empathy: they'd be THRILLED if a woman sent an unsolicited picture of her breasts (or other bits). Ergo, women must be thrilled to receive pics of their bits.

Okay, but that would be an utterly ridiculous understanding of women.  My friend, a normal, sane,  intelligent woman, might well have pursued a relationship with this guy until he did that. 

I'm a guy about your age, healthy and vigorous, without any disability or any appearance of one. In the past couple years, I have had young women -- not teenage girls, but adult 20- and 30-somethings -- offer me their seats on buses and in other circumstances. Last week a woman who was probably in her 40s offered me her seat at an event where half the crowd -- of all ages and genders -- was standing. I always decline politely, but WTH? Should I be offended, or take a close look in the mirror, or what? I would have to be literally collapsing into a coma before I would take a woman's seat. Have you experienced this? How do you feel about it?

It has not happened to me yet, and when it does I might commit seppuku right there if a knife was available.  I am 66 and i will now start carrying a knife. 

Okay we are done.  thank you all.  We are done.  See you next week. 


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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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