Chatological Humor (Sept. 4)

Sep 04, 2018

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.

Greetings, update readers.   This will probably be a truncated chat, simply because there are not a lot you out there.  Labor day slackers. 

Your column this Sunday reminded me of our own stager experience. In our old house, we had one room -- little larger than a college dorm bedroom -- with bookcases and most of our books. They were arranged logically, with fiction on one wall and non-fiction on the other, organized by author. We put the house on the market, and the realtor brought in a stager. Her first question, on seeing the books, was "Can you arrange these by color?" My wife still laughs at the memory of my reaction.

 haha, excellent though I need to comment on your anal retentiveness.   i am sorry about that.  

Yeah, this was the column.   

And I became the proud owner of my mother's first two scrap books that include my early life and that of my younger brother. We have Jewish names and were born in a hospital that still exists in Massachusetts. And yet, I feel the need to retain for myself and send to him the bits and pieces that might someday prove we are legitimate US citizens, without resorting to DNA testing that we are the children of our parents. This is no longer funny/absurd/whatever. It is terrifying. Unless you can make it seem funny? Please?

 Honestly, I m not  getting your underlying point.   You fear a putsch? 

What is the best argument for why he should be allowed on the Supreme Court: A) The stolen Garland nomination B) The missing timeline on his opinions C) the certainty that Roe v. Wade will be overturned D) Other?

His chiseled good looks. 

So now that your Capitol Hill home is sold, where will you be living? My real estate agent friend found the listing online for me. It looks quite nice, down to the bowl of lemons in the kitchen counter.

Lemons are always a good selling tool.   Also Flemish  painters. 

Hi Gene. My dog's arthritis has progressively gotten worse over the summer. Now he's just taking really short slow walks. I guess I was kinda in denial about the severity because it's hard to imagine him not being around. But last week the vet said I gotta mentally prepare for it. He's been on meds for about a year but needs stronger meds now. I think he still enjoys life. He's always happy to see us. He still loves sweet talk, sitting outside, seeing other dogs, getting treats, smelling the world. I'm thinking that as long as he clearly enjoys these things, and the vet says he's not in pain when he's not walking, he shouldn't be put to sleep yet? Does that sound right or am I missing something?

It's all about quality of life.   he still has a good one.

Fox News actually fired a retired Air Force general who called McCain "Songbird John" repeating a discredited smear from the 2008 Presidential campaign. Does this bode ill for the other lying liars on Fox?

Didn't know this.  Okay, so MCcain was incredibly brave.   He acted with heroism, and that is the only pertinent fact. He was offered his freedom and did not accept it.   "Songbird" probably comes from a true but misleading fact:  Under duress, he eventually issued a statement -- mealy-mouthed and not convincing, considering his circumstances -- suggesting that the North Vietnamese were winning the war, which they were.   It was no big deal.  McCain was an honorable and brave man. 

You sold your house! Please tell me you're staying in Eastern Market. I hope your health issues have resolved. That sounded scary.

It was scary, but also funny.  In an odd way  

Are you leaving Capitol Hill?

Moved about a mile away.   If I want to be a poseur, I would claim I am still in Cap Hill. 

I think your readers want to respectful of your private life. BUT we also want to know that you, the dog and the cat have happily resettled in a new home. Also did the buyers of your house understand some extra cats conveyed?

This is a litle awkward, but I moved out of my house three years ago.   Buster and Philip are my neighborhood cats now.  They are just fine. 

Your friends want to know

MORE OR Less, , YES.   At the moment I am suffering from upper back pain, which sucks and almost makes you grateful for lower back pain.  It's astonishingly persistent.

My SIL met you at the vet in July. Shortly thereafter, she had what seemed to be a heart attack but wasn't. You had what seemed to be a stroke but wasn't. I think meeting each other put a curse on the two of you!

I remember this meeting.   Your SIL is a charming lady.  I hope she's fine. 

Gene, you've been AWOL for the last week - no chat with no notice, no tweeting - I was starting to get worried about you. Is everything alright?

It's fine, except don't ever say "alright".   All right? 

I was just thinking that Woodward's book comes out next Tuesday and, within five minutes, a story about it appears on the Post's Web site. Call me psychic or maybe psychotic. Anyway, it sounds as scary as I was afraid it would be. Appropriate for a book titled "Fear." I haven't decided whether I want to buy it. I worked in the government for many years and it grieves me to see it run by a bunch of incompetent boobs. At least Jeff Sessions and Jim Mattis respect and understand the agencies they run. Everybody else seems to view the government as a play toy. I don't know whether I'll buy the book. It may just drive me deeper into despair.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

How can you seriously fear a putsch, in this country, in this era? Sorry, but your TDS is showing.

TDS?  Ah, Trump derangement syndrome.   I think it is massively well-founded, but our checks and balances prevent an outright dictatorship. 

Arranging books by color would be anal-retentive. Arranging them by topic and author is just plain common sense.

Not arranging them is common sense!

My office is ignoring the fact that nobody cares anymore, and having a massive fight about serial (or Oxford) commas. Our new style guide says 'don't use them ever,' which many people don't like. It also forbids two spaces between sentences, but approves of contractions, even in formal writing. What do you think?

I think there exist hilarious errors of syntax and meaning in which  lack of the Oxford comma is the sole culprit. 

Have you been to a chiropractor yet? That's the only thing that worked for me. I had a pinched nerve ("trapped nerve") in my shoulder blade-- the pain wasn't intense, but it was RELENTLESS and DISTRACTING! The chiropractor sessions gave relief immediately. Ok, back to poop jokes.

Hm.   I tend to think of chiropractors as charlatans, but i may need to rethink that. 

So, with Trump increasingly sounding like an unhinged dictator wannabe, and with his "base" likely owning a very large percentage of the guns in the U.S. how worried should we really be that the Yankees will panic and trade the whole farm system for Bryce Harper?

The Yankees will not be interest ined Bryce.  They have a more than solid outfield including Aaron Judge. 

When asked to name various fellow sailors, he reportedly gave the North Vietnamese the names of the Green Bay Packers' starting lineup. (Of course back then there was no Internet on which the NV could check).

I love this.  It reminds me of the Pueblo crewe who blinked messages in Morse code.  

Oh wow, that happened to my grandmother! She took it to help her sleep and that plus other things and she had the same kind of episode. Reason #431 I won't take OTC medications.

Yeah, I do believe that was the culprit. 

Any suggestions for dealing with a difficult family situation with humor? My son's godparents have been total ass-hats to me for the better part of the year. Name-calling, boundary crossing, fits of rage, etc. They aren't speaking to me, and I'm 100% fine with that. But they asked my ex if they could attend my son's baseball game this weekend. I want to be the bigger person, but I also kinda want to punch them in the face. Help me find a way to laugh about it.

Need more info.  Why?

Think of them as "physical therapists".

Understood.  Yeah.   

There's no need to fear a putsch, since those don't succeed. ONe would need to fear a coup d'etat.

I just think we are viscerally opposed to anything like that.   It is 250 years in the masking. 

Or, how long are you going to keep us in suspense about the identity of the woman you're now dating?

About another seven to nine weeks. 

I have often had mixed feelings about John McCain's oft-lauded sharp sense of humor. I thought he had a mean streak. Even after all these years I still can't get over how a grown man, a father of daugthers of his own, could possibly make the "joke" he made about Chelsea Clinton under any circumstances and for any reason without it being a reflection of something really wrong with the way he thinks about other people. But last weekend I happened to watch SNL in real time for the first time in years and the rerun shown that night was the 2002 episode hosted by McCain. I was struck by how funny he was. I watched it live the first time it was broadcast -- I was nursing back then so often up late -- and I remembered funny parts of it, especially his appearance as himself on "Meet The Press" as Darrell Hammond channeled Tim Russert trying to get him to say he'd run against Bush in 2004. But I'd forgotten his portrayal of John Ashcroft on "Hardball", not a great impersonation but pretty funny, and also his ad for "McCain sings Streisand". So I'm reconsidering -- I guess he was a funny guy. Still think that joke was unforgivable, though.

I've never heard this phrase although I admit, I've heard "monkey business" and "monkey around". A commenter on a WAPO story insisted that it's an old Florida phrase. As my go-to English expert and a former resident of Florida, can you clarify this?

I'm with you.  Also,  it is never a good policy to compare humans with monkeys.  Even if your heart is in the right place.    By most accounts, Howard Cosell was not a racist .


Is this a first? I'll edit here, but the word is spelled out in the story: .....Trump was sharply criticized for initially saying that “both sides” were to blame. At the urging of advisers, he then condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but almost immediately told aides, “That was the biggest f-ing mistake I’ve made” and the “worst speech I’ve ever given,” according to Woodward’s account.

Okay, but was the saying the ORIGINAL quote was the worst mistake, or the skinback?

I am an indexer, specifically of legal material. Yes, that is a profession. Yes, it's more interesting than it sounds, and yes, I'm aware that it would pretty much have to be. We have often joked that a standard job interview question for potential indexers should be: How are your books (or cds) arranged? Or, How are your spices arranged? If the answer to the first question is "on shelves/tossed into the back seat of my car," and the second question "why would I do that?", we would mercifully show them the door. If you are not a natural organizer, you will find indexing horrifically tedious. If you alphabetize your spice rack, you will love it! Another: If you were a grocery store manager, where would you place Jell-O?" There's more than one right answer!


A friend of mine recently could not fine peanut butter.  Where is it?

In the context of the article, it was the retraction that Trump's people forced him to make.

Just as I expected!

Portugal conducted their Carnation Revolution in one day, April 25, 1974. The military overthrew the long-time fascist dictatorship previously run for decades by António Salazar. The military was fed up with 13 years of colonial wars in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea Bissau, which depleted the national fisc as well as its population of young men (due to compulsory service). The "GO" signal was given when a certain song was played on the national radio station a few minutes past midnight. "Carnation" refers to the fact that hardly anyone died in the revolution.

I vaguely remember this!

I was hoping for a quiz on Serena Williams and Colin K. (and by extension Nike). I totally love the ridiculous tutus Serena is wearing and find it the perfect FU regarding the new 'regulations' about her cat suit. I am intrigued by Nike and Colin K. I mean - I love the message of course, and think it's great Nike is supporting him. But my impression of Nike is that as a big, long-time successful corporation -- a) they are incredibly savvy marketers, and b) they are not really risk takers. Is it too much to hope to take this as a sign that their marketing efforts (focus groups, surveys etc.) have reason to anticipate a change at the national level? And are trying to hop in ahead of others to be perceived as a change agent?

I think it is certain. 

No matter what a prisoner of war sang, the public never knew if the prisoner had just been through days and days of water torture. As a brother of a military pilot, we were always afraid of horrible countries doing this to our servicemen. Never did I imagine that our country would join the list of torturers. And that was with the so called respectable Republican, W, not Trump who doesn't just threaten torture, he also threatens nuclear war.

Yeah, ther are two solid arguments against torture, the moral one and the pragmatic one. 


Moral: It's immoral. 

Pragmatic:  If we do it, they'll do it to us. 

I have been to three in my life. Two would only need to see me every so often when I had a problem and fixed my lower back with one or two adjustments tops, plus they could pretty much tell just by looking at me what needed to be done. The other one had all kinds of xrays and sensors and special buzzy recliners to sit in and wanted to see me every two weeks. Guess which one was covered by my insurance?

The second one!

Peanut butter is almost always next to the bread. Jello belongs next to baking goods (sugar, flour, etc) in my opinion. My grocery store aggrieves me because they place all canned vegetables in one aisle, but not canned beans. Canned beans are by themselves in a different aisle.

Something must be done about this. 

Without it you get a book dedication like "I'd like to thank my parents, Ayn Rand and God." It is NOT OPTIONAL!

Yes, exactly!

Great story but.....why would McCain have the players for the Pack memorized?

1962 New York Yankees.  From Memory: 1- Bobby Rchardson  2- Frank Crosetti 6- Clete Boyer  7- Mantle  8- Berra  9-- Maris.   10-- Kubeck, 11- Lopez   16- Ford 24- Downing   etc. 

and i'm bored. I'm in a boring boring meeting and need you guys.

I am posting a lot of questions!

You have a few years on me, but yes, I can remember the lineups for the '69 Mets and the '77 Yankees by heart. I can't remember where I parked, but Guidry - Munson - Chambliss - Randolph - Dent - Nettles - White - Rivers - Jackson, one through nine.

Guidry was 49.  Chambliss, 10. 

Sorry about the recent delay.   Computer problems.  I am declaring this one over, and 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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