Chatological Humor with Gene Weingarten

Apr 07, 2020

You asked for it and you got it. Gene holds weekly mini-chats every Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET, where he takes your questions about what's happening in the country — and anything else you want to discuss.

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Good afternoon.  

Like many of you I have hunkered in place; like only some of you, I have gone through a brief personal corona scare based on certain symptoms that could be significant: I went through a week of almost paralyzing exhaustion, followed by  waking up one day with a pretty icky gooey bit of conjunctivitis, which didn't concern me, really, until I learned it CAN be (rarely) a presenting symptom of coronavirus.  This led to a hypochondriacal certitude on my part, which resulted in an advanced form of sheltering in place; namely, I have not only been quarantined in my home, I have been quarantined six feet from my sweeetie.

 

It is a maddening thing, as you can imagine, though it has its funny moments, which I will not elaborate on here because I wish to retain this particular relationship. 

 (I seem to be fine, virus-wise, by the way.)

 

Rachel and I found ourselves in a position that might be familiar to many of you: Trying to figure out how many days we can hold out before having to buy food.  This means marshaling and stretching existing provisions, and being creative.  

We got to Day Four pretty easily, and Day Seven after making certain concessions to taste and nutritional balance, and then things started to get a little hinky.   We stopped at Day Nine, with this observation by Rachel, which actually happened: 

"Okay, we'll still have some onions and tomato sauce, so we could kind of have Sloppy Joes if we mixed it with the cans of Little Friskies..."

--

I hope none of you missed this astonishing story, unfortunately presented in as boring a way possible here, about the new toilet that monitors your health by examining your poo.   The story utterly buries the lede, which is how the toilet confirms that you are you, and not one of the others who live in your home: It has butthole recognition software.  Yes, apparently buttholes are as unique as fingerprints or snowflakes.  You are welcome. 

--

Okay, we're good to go.  At noon.  Right here.  Take the polls.  Oh, and if you answered the polls yesterday, there is now a third question.  You might go in and pick that off, too. 

Hi Gene. Sorry to add to the "all coronavirus, all the time" nature of anything remotely newsworthy, and I know there's no humor to this message, but I think you are widely respected and therefore a good person to send this to. I am reading a lot about online happy hours, people having something to take the edge off their ever-present fears, adorable stories of dogs delivering booze, etc., and I'm concerned that before this is all over, a disturbingly large percentage of people in lockdown will have developed a dependency on alcohol. Right now, people have one heck of an excuse for day drinking, drinking every night, etc.: "With everything going on, I'm just so stressed out! I need this drink!" This might not stop, even after that excuse is gone. Gene, would you please help me suggest that maybe--just maybe--people look for another coping mechanism before they find themselves with a whole new problem? Thank you, if you would.

I almost succumbed.  This is a big deal and yes, I am publishing this for that reason.  

Are you and your significantly younger significant other going for daily strolls, Gene? My husband and I are. We need to get some exercise each day, or we'd want to strangle each other! We wear masks, and try to give others a wide berth. Most people honor the six-foot rule, but many bicyclists do not. What's the best way to encourage them to stay away, without upsetting them? I'm female, 46, and asthmatic. By the way, I don't take all of your weird preferences personally. To me, your statements about what's moronic are very entertaining, rather than upsetting! I'm grateful for the diversion. Oh, and I love your cat stories. How's your feline holy terror doing? I hope your dog's holding up okay!

I like "significantly younger significant other."  It is practically poetry.    

I think the bicyclist thing is irresolvable, but I also think it is probably not a problem -- they are whizzing past you; the virus kinda needs to linger.  Any epidemiologists out there want to say I am wrong?

For the “how often did you leave the house” question, I said every day because I’ve been taking socially distant walks daily. So does that count as travel? Should I just be walking around the block? Please advise.

Well, I said "in the vicinity of people."  If you are social distancing, you're not really in the vicinity of people. 

We all have a lot of time on our hands these days, so I entered the Style Invitational for the first time in years. I used to enter a lot (and never win) when I was in high school. Nostalgically I was reading over the old contests from the late 90s/early 00s and the entries were just as funny as I remembered. As a kid I thought the winners must have been professional joke writers, but as an adult I realized they were probably just your average DC worker bee, coming up with jokes in the margins of their meeting notes. And then I realized that *I* am now your average DC worker bee, coming up with SI entries for fun while listening to some guy say “let’s circle back to that” in a zoom meeting. Which is kind of omg and also kind of cozy in these uncertain times. So thanks for inventing the SI and to passing the torch to the Empress.

Here's an interesting, odd fact.  When I was assisting the Czar, back in the Pleistocene Era, middle-schooler Rachel Manteuffel entered and inked.  Honorable Mention.  NO I DIDN'T KNOW HER.  

Forget masks, I’m going straight for the coronavirus burka. Link to Diy pattern here

I am embarrassed but this made me laugh. 

I didn't get the "trying for patriotism points" in question 2. It says "adding the final two words, ..." but what follows is 5 words. Also, all of the choices in question 1 are equally annoying.

"... of America." 

It's moronic.  We're the United States, period.  "Of America" is of use only as back engineering to "USA".   And for a cheap rhetorical flourish. 

There are a lot of united states of America:  Canada, Mexico, etc. 

I found this story about two bicyclists randomly meeting in Kazakhstan while riding across the continent in opposite directions quite interesting. But, the author choosing to close the story with their meeting rather than highlighting it earlier is an odd choice to me. It felt awkward to read about both men's lives after the meeting before they even met in the story. Structurally, is there a reason why they chose to do this?

Yes, because it was the best structural solution.   It's practically cinematography.   You have them meet, then back off, and say, how did these two people get here, and who are they? It is reminiscent of Thornton Wilder's "Bridge of San Luis Rey."   As a journalist,  I am confused only by where the author is in the story; who she was with, if either of them.   She writes very well. 

 

Inflection point

Agreed!  That one arose seemingly overnight and then infected everyone.   Not to belabor a metaphor.  

Now those technologists want to spoil the office Christmas party too? How can we play with the copier when there's a chance of being ID'd?

Good question!  Interesting angle.  You think like an editor. 

I hard a really hard time choosing—all of the expressions are things I would delete if I was an all-powerful editor.

As an editor, my personal loathing is for "in the wake of."  I would delete it 100 percent of the time unless it was about boats. 

Who is the Max that you dedicated your book to?

My grandson, Max Kreuze, age 2 and a half.  

Might there be a way to do it virtually?

Honestly, it wouldn't be fun.  

If any of these really annoy you than you need to find something important to do with your life. All are harmless interjections - none particularly annoying.

Nonsense.  Thoughts from others?

Need some non-COVID help here. Trying to find the artist and title of a song my dad used to play back in the mid-60's. I believe that the lyrics I remember went like this: The only heart I ever had you took so recklessly/A dozen times you've broken it/What good is it to me?/So I guess I'm better off/When all's said and done/'Cause if I had a dozen hearts/You would break them one by one. Now, I may be off a bit on these lyrics, because when I search them, they're all Googlenopes. But this is close, I think. Can anyone in this brilliant chat tell me the artist and title? By the way, there is a song called "If I Had A Dozen Hearts" that was featured in the movie The Stork Club, but that isn't the same song. Important for reasons not worth explaining that I get the right answer!

Okay, I am putting this out there.  I had my own weird experience on Twitter trying to find a song, and getting the strangest (though earnest) lack of help imaginable.  I believe I had sleep-hallucinated a song in which the lyrics were, entirely,  a nearly endless repetition of the lyric "Gotta be the one."  An uninterrupted string of maybe 50 of them, maybe a lot more, against a heavy drumbeat.   Could find nothing online like that, so I put it out there on Twitter.  (I was going to write about it, for complicated reasons.)  There was a hemorrhage of response, people were really trying to help, and I appreciated it.  I got maybe 25 nominees of specific songs.  And none of them had any lyrics even SIMILAR to the one I asked about.   Some might have had "gotta" and "one," but almost none in that order.  "The" was in most of them.  None featured a repetition of anything even remotely as long as 50 times.  Some had no repetition at all.  Few had heavy beats.  Some were, like, sweet Motown.   I have no idea what happened but I am thinking that my initial tweet probably was flawed. 

I had to answer every day because I still have to go to work. I work in a lab in a hospital. We don't mask unless we have respiratory symptoms because the masks are needed by the nurses and doctors caring for patients. I did wrap a scarf around my face when I went to the grocery store.

To me, you are heroes. 

I have a neighbor who is convinced that Trump is correct that hydroxychloroquine is a cure for COVID-19. He says that if you look back at all of his comments, Trump has never been wrong. He then said something astonishing. His pastor, in an on-line sermon last week, said it is very likely that Trump is the Messiah. In November, Democrats have to somehow figure out how to beat a cult.

Good.  God. 

Let me start with, I'm incredibly lucky. My employer has been permitting and encouraging telework since the beginning of this mess. My husband and I are healthy, we have supplies, and we still have my income (our only income) coming in. I have nothing to complain about, and yet - I just want to be able to mess around! I want to be able to cook, zone out on movies, read, do my hobbies, and all the other stuff I see people posting on Facebook and Twitter. Tell me to pull up my big girl panties and be a grown-up.

Your big-girl panties are at your ankles??? 

OK, this is going to sound much like your "as the father of daughters..." - Sorry for that. THAT SAID - I'm the parent of an active-duty sailor. And I'm red-faced/shaking/spit-flying angry at that lickspittle dog-crap-stuck-to-the-bottom-of-my-shoe "acting" as secretary of the navy. And his coward/suck-up boss. And of course, HIS boss. F them. F them with a hot poker. In front of their mothers.

Thank you. 

Speaking of the poll, yes, "I have two daughters and..." is the worst, but I am almost equally appalled by "nothing could be further...." because it is always a lie.  

After the Nevada caucus, I resigned myself to Bernie as the nominee. I knew he would lose to Trump in November. I began to focus on Senate races and hoped Democrats would still be able to win seats in Colorado, Arizona, and North Carolina. Not enough for a majority, but maybe enough to set Democrats up in 2022 to win back the majority when seats in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri and Ohio would be up. And I figured if they did that, then I could breathe a little easier about the Supreme Court with Ginsburg and Breyer getting older. Then Biden won South Carolina. And then Super Tuesday turned out better than anyone's wildest expectations. I started to believe Biden would be the nominee. I began to hope Dems could win a Senate majority -- they'd need the three seats (CO, AZ, NC) + any of Iowa, Maine, Georgia, or Montana. I figured the Left would come around -- it was too important not to get behind Biden. But my optimism finally dimmed yesterday when the Supreme Court refused to step in and move the Wisconsin primary (and state Supreme Court election), putting potentially millions of voters at risk during the pandemic. And I realized the GOP, with the blessing of John Roberts, would go to any lengths to win this November. It also convinced me that whenever the Democrats next have control of the presidency and Congress that court-packing has to be seriously looked at.

Agreed, the Wisconsin decision was both appalling and ominous.  I had hoped that Roberts would care more about his place in history than his partisan concerns and party loyalty. Apparently not.  

Gene, I discovered a problem with this directive: those of us who live in small apartments in the city, and don't have a car, can't really obey this dictum. I have a small refrigerator and little cabinet space. Where am I supposed to put all this stuff? Going to Costco and stocking up isn't possible. There are two supermarkets and a couple of smaller specialty stores within a short walk, so I grab a mask and go as few times as I can manage. Delivery services are so stretched that it isn't a solution, either. On another note, I have noticed that the young folk are pretty diligent about wearing masks, keep their distance, and doing stuff like pushing the elevator buttons with their elbows. Gives this old codger hope for the future.

MY answer would be to stack non perishables in my living room.  Modern-era decoration.  We are REALLY trying to not go out much.  And good for the yoots. 

Let me explain the context of the Style Invitational cartoon: The illustration was for a contest (wapo.st/invite1378 -- please enter!) for song parodies about Life in the Age of Corona. Within the instructions for the contest was a paragraph warning entrants that sick humor -- making light of sickness and death -- was not the way to go this week. Also: Shortly before I saw Bob Staake's artfully crafted (he's brilliant) sketch, I'd read an L.A. Times article about a church choir in Washington state. The 60 members had one last rehearsal in early March. 40 of them became infected. Two are dead. And I was not going to run a cartoon of a diseased tuba player blowing the virus into a crowd of alarmed musicians. So call me a snowflake. I've been called icier things.

Understood.  I think I would have gone with it, but it's not an easy call and I am not saying you were wrong.  Edge is an integral part of humor, but there's sometimes a thin line between edge and offensiveness. 

I didn’t see the cartoon as insensitive, just not very funny. Hey, what do you think the odds are that DJMarmalade will get the virus?

Oh, I think it is very funny!   I don't want to speculate on people's health.   I do think -- and I don't mean this critically or unkindly -- if Boris Johnson doesn't make it, that will do a service to the world.  It will slap deniers into taking this seriously, at last.  Even Marmalade.  Johnson is a man who will get the best possible, unstinting, budget-shrugging care, and if HE can succumb, anyone on earth can. 

I'm a longtime fan of yours. As soon as your book was announced, I asked the two libraries I use to order it. That put me on their lists to be one of the first to read it electronically when their copies arrived. I enjoyed it a lot and, when I was reading about the helicopter and the fishing, I was pretty sure my dad would enjoy it because he loves a good fishing story. I confess, I was also feeling a little guilty at that point about having read a library copy instead of buying one of my own. My wife and I bought my dad an old fashioned, paper copy of your book a couple of months ago, before the Corona virus stopped anyone from being able to visit him. Since Thanksgiving, my 83 year old dad has had a series of really unpleasant health issues. He's been moving from the hospital, to skilled nursing, to assisted living, back to the hospital and, as of this morning, back to skilled nursing. He read several other books we and others had given him before starting yours, but yours is the winner. He loves it. "That man can write," he said. "I felt like I was there," he said. I'm getting detailed expositions of the way each chapter (including the introduction) moves him. He is amazed that you could pull this off with respect to one of the most difficult news days in any year. You are giving him much joy and satisfaction at a very difficult time in his life. Thank you very much for that.

I cannot express how much this moves me. Please email me at gene.weingarten@washpost.com.

What are you doing to stay sane in this difficult time?

Fighting against a return of my hypochondria. 

Not a question but just a note to say how much I appreciate you including the story of Nancy Gardner in One Day. It was completely unexpected -- and a bit of a shock to come across it when I was reading the chapter on Prentice Rasheed -- as the Gardners and I thought that you’d decided it didn’t quite fit for your book. For me, knowing that what happened to her is memorialized between hard covers is very meaningful (if difficult to read). As the years pass and we grow older, I worry that she is fading away, living only in the increasingly hazy memories of those of us who knew her. You describe this slice of her story well, and I’m relieved that its telling will outlive us. Best, John Hutchins PS: I really enjoyed the whole book; it proved your thesis that there are a million worthwhile stories out there – if you find the right storyteller to tell them.

Thanks, John.  Forgive me for having to ask -- I dealt with many hundreds of people for this book, and my memory is disgracefully bad -- were you Nancy's boyfriend, whom I talked to those many years ago? 

This isn't a question. "Sam Stone" is not about a Vietnam vet, but a Korean War veteran. Second, Prine was right. All the sadder songs are ancient. Furthermore, Mr. Prine's saddest song is actually "Hello In There". All the best. Respectfully, ;-) Stu Hayes

 

You are referring to this column about this song. 

Wal, in the song, Prine was coy about that, saying only that Sam came home from "the conflict overseas."

But John and I talked at length about Vietnam, not Korea.  Pretty sure that was his reference.  

Yes, the tuba player is blowing 'Rona around...but that damn flautist is just sitting there, blowing just as much 'Rona into the air and looking away like a dog who knows you know he farted. He's just flauting the rules, as it were.

Nah.  We know the tuba player is sick.   Not so the flautist.  

I play a brass instrument and sit in the back of a couple local orchestras, and that comic was absolutely not insensitive at all! Inaccurate, maybe. Anything blown through eighteen feet of tubing probably won't spew viruses everywhere. But a solid comic sketch.

Noted. 

I finished reading One Day whole quarantined and keep going back to the last couple of pages. I tear up every time. It puts into perspective how we cannot always feel the “soul-searing blast of the inexpressible wonder of being” truly because it is too much to bear. But at a time like this, we are thinking and fearing death and trying to control it and it is impossibly difficult for my brain to process. Your words and insights are powerful and I miss them now that I’m done with the book.

Thank you.   

Sigh.  

Tom Shroder wrote most of those words.  Eight of the nine.  I hate him so much.  

I know you were going through personal “stuff” when you were writing One Day, and I’m curious about the process. I’m a terrible procrastinator and I always have something nagging me that I “should” be doing. It’s painful! Was this a reason for why the book took as long as it did or was the research that daunting? How did you pace yourself throughout the process? We’re there things that other people did or didn’t do to help you make progress? I think a lot of people feel like they should be extra productive right now, but it’s not easy!

It took as long as it did for many reasons, but the main one wads that I had seriously underestimated how hard the job would be; how complex and bottomless the reporting would be. And yes, I was also going through life-altering problems, including a divorce and health issues.   They were the hardest six years of my life. 

Gad.  Washington Post headline, as a regional update:  "Maryland Explores Using Ice Rinks as Temporary Morgues."  OMFG. 

I've noticed that you respond to questions at a MUCH faster clip than any other chats that I've participated in. What's your trick?

I answer many before the chat, and ease them in as I answer new ones.  I spend a ridiculous amount of time on this chat.  I hope it shows. 

What does Rachel think of you mentioning her so frequently? Does she worry that you might, ahem, have a different opinion about what needs to remain private?

I get Rachel's permission nearly every time.   I ain't no cad or idiot.  

You've mentioned "drinking too much" more than once as a coping method. Inquiring minds want to know -- what's your poison of choice?

Canadian whiskey.  And beer.  But I am being good.  

Take it to the next level. I always hope someone might ask "what level would that be ?

Yes, awful.  That is mostly sports, right?  

The flute player is holding his instrument incorrectly. It goes to the right, not the left. -sister and mother of flute players and long time symphony orchestra attender not to mention band member

I shall have Mr. Staake flogged for your enjoyment. 

It's a valid term from mathematics. Just because the pundits are trying to appropriate it doesn't mean it's still a very useful concept.

Well, obviously, we are talking about its appropriation. 

Going to the Giant during their 6-7 am restricted to old farts and immunocompromised people was great. I think the number of shoppers was fewer than the number of employees stocking shelves.

Not bad.    I hope you are an old fart.   Like me.  Though I also have an immunosuppression issue, only a minor one.  

I went out Saturday to pick up a drug I had run out of that is a necessary drug- also picked up a couple more for me and one for my husband. Got some groceries too. I did wear a mask but it was my first time. So far in the last 3 weeks it's been two grocery runs and one carryout. I'm 67 and my husband is 81 and we both have risk factors like hypertension and a history of pneumonia. I saw the teenage boy who mows our lawn a couple of weeks ago and he offered to do grocery runs for us but he can't pick up our meds!

I saw an interesting and depressing item yesterday from a young black man who pointed out he can't walk into a store with a bandanna around his face and be sure he will walk out alive. 

Something awful I had not previously thought about. 

I take a walk every day. In the vicinity of my neighbors. That’s gotta be OK, right? Never closer than 6 feet.

Right. 

So now Trump's unpaid personal attorney is promoting sketchy possible treatments for Covid-19. Is anyone checking to see whether Giuliani or any of his clients would profit from such ventures being adopted? LINK 

Or Trump?  

(Actually, I wrote that yesterday.  Today there's a story in the NYT saying, almost in passing, that Trump himself has a small investment in the company that makes that drug.)

when i saw the staake cartoon in the SI online, i was scrolling down and only saw half the cartoon and thought, 'wow, a coffin, that's grim.' I like the tuba more, but the casket piano is more subversive sinister

Didn't think of it that way!  I might like it better now.  

The Post email server blocked this when I tried to send it to you. It seems right up your alley, and this would be the best forum to discuss this. Also, very timely. 

Thank you.  This is a delight to read.   "Avoid farting naked around other people" is excellent advice.  It would have been good advice even before the plague. 

I wonder why the researcher had to get a colleague to do the farting.   Why couldn't he have done it himself?

The Editor is silly. When you are feeling helpless, it's a tiny bit empowering to laugh at the whole damn absurd thing.

Nah.  Both toons were funny.  She didn't replace something good with something lame.  She made a judgment call, and that's an editor's job. 

Gene, I know you went to Stuyvesant as a smarty pants, but did you pay attention in math class (Calculus) ? inflection points have important meanings/tells you something about a graph. That's probably where it got picked up into the reporting/vernacular about covid.

I will not stand by when you slander and libel me.  I did not go to Stuyvesant, that school for nitwits.  I went to Bronx Science. 

Hi Gene, checking in from New York to say that things are pretty bad here. My wife and I have been working from home and avoiding trips outside as much as possible, but quite frankly this city is not set up for social distancing. Every store is designed to cram as much stuff into as little space as possible, with little room for passing by. Even the sidewalks get pretty narrow where there's construction or scaffolding (which there often is). We can take a (pricy) cab ride to Westchester or somewhere more roomy to do our shopping, but that presents its own set of problems. Meanwhile, the city is planning to construct temporary mass graves in the parks. I'm seriously worried not just about our health but about what NYC is going to look like when this is over.

I know.  It causes me pain.  I love New York.  Lived my first 21 years there.  I feel the city, and I love the people and I think I viscerally understand the agony you are going through. 

Are you watching Dear Leader's daily "news" conferences? Do you think they're evidence of his increasing deterioration, or has he always been like this and we're just getting bigger doses?

I think he is going nuts under the pressure.  I don't think he's losing his mind, I think he is losing his s--t.  He is a weakling and a poseur and an incompetent, and I think somewhere within him he understands he is being exposed as all of those things. 

about the idea Major League Baseball has floated about restarting the season with all teams playing in Arizona? I can see a tournament or some short term thing, but not a real season working that way. Better to cancel the 2020 season IMO.

Agreed.  And I am guessing they will do that.  Cancel the season, I mean. 

Do you have an opinion about the numerous reports, including in todays NYT, that Trump was getting explicit pandemic warnings in January and refused to believe them? Where would we be today if we had gotten started two months earlier?

In a much better place than we are.  Max Boot makes a pretty persuasive argument that Trump has already assured his place as the worst president in American history.  Presidents are judged by how they deal with a single crisis or two.  He has already failed miserably, and for venal reasons.  

You had reduced the chat to once a month, but you resumed weekly chats at our request. So thank you! You're still really dumb when it comes to the "electability" issue, though. Still, I'd rather have you been wrong once a week than once a month.

Does this mean you are a Bro?

Great! It's like whiskey, only without flavor!

Correct.  Bourbon is too flowery and fruity for me.

Hey, that was the WISCONSIN Supreme Court that ruled on the WI election. Not the SCOTUS.

Oh, crap.  Sorry. 

Before I forget, I hope you all saw this.   I do not know if it is real.   It's pretty entertaining, regardless

I walk for exercise every day. I don't wear a mask but do practice social distancing. When I go to the grocery store, I do wear a mask. I'm not sure whether I'm taking it all seriously enough.

I think it depends on whether you are really limiting that grocery store thing. 

Gene, I know you've won two Pulitzer Prizes for your feature writing. I wondered how common it was for someone to win more than one. And Wikipedia lists 37 people with multiple awards. Eighteen of whom won multiple awards for editorial cartooning. Ten of whom won multiple awards for various types of reporting (investigative, international, national, specialized, explanatory, etc.). Three have won for various types of photography or photojournalism. That leaves six people -- you (feature writing), Steve Coll (explanatory reporting and general non-fiction), Jon Franklin (feature writing and explanatory reporting), Nick Kristof (international reporting and commentary), Andrew Schneider (specialized reporting and public service), and Russell Baker (commentary and biography). Do you ever think about the apparent fact that you're the only journalist who has won multiple Pulitzer prizes for their actual writing?

Honestly, I don't understand the question.   Good writing is an important component of most  of those categories (even cartooning, really.  Only exception is photography. )  I think all of these people have won for their writing.  Feature writing is just one type of writing.  David Finkel of the Post won for explanatory journalism, as I recall, and he is one of the best writers on the planet.  Same with Eli Saslow.  But thank you for the shout-out.  

Enjoyed your column about your encounter with her. Saw a betting pool where she is in second place in the VP sweepstakes (behind Sen. Harris). As a DC resident, I assume you see these notables all the time, but you seem to have be especially taken by your meetup with Sen. Klobuchar?

The line on her is that she has a sense of humor, but is something of a b----.   No way.  I was delighted to see that. 

This was the column. 

I get a half dozen emails A DAY from Joe Biden and his adjacent PACs, DNC, whatever. My husband has donated a few bucks, but that doesn't (obviously) stop them from contacting me (different email account). I'M GONNA VOTE FOR HIM. How to make it stop? That said, he WIOCAHA gets to rally every effing day at prime time news time under the guise of delivering *important* covid-19 news. Joe gets no such coverage, and/or it would be prohibitively expensive. I fear for the results. What to do?

Honestly, I think Biden might be benefitting by NOT being out front and center on this.  Trump is not looking good, you know?

It seems to me that Modly's atrocious rant after firing Capt. Crozier is only the latest indication of the gigantic rebuilding job that will confront the next president and his/her administration. And I'm not even talking about the coronavirus damage to the economy -- I'm talking about re-staffing high government positions with people who are actually competent rather than ideologically acceptable. The rebuild could well occupy the entire four years of the next president's first term, or even more. (My assessment is based on the assumption that a Democrat wins in November; if Trump wins a second term, the damage may well be irreparable.) What say you?

I agree. 

What do you think it will be like when this thing is mostly over? Will every restaurant and other place that closed reopen? Will everybody get their jobs back? Will we all go out and buy all the stuff we haven't been able to buy? Personally, I suspect there will be long-term bad effects.

I don't expect anything will be the same for a long, long time. 

Aw, you don't have to have him flogged. Just have him try to play the flute the way he showed it. My total flute playing time was trying my sister's and then my daughter's a couple of times and it feels really wrong when I try to play an imaginary one the wrong way.

Secret cartoonist fact:  We constantly have our characters switch from being right-handed to being left-handed based on what is necessary for composition.  Another way to look at it is that all cartoon characters are ambidextrous. 

Here's another secret:  We are not allowed to use the words "flick" or the name "Clint."  Because comics generally use all caps.  And, uh, if condensed, both words look problematical.  So of course someone online created a comic strip about (I think) a detective titled "The Adventures of Clint Flick."

Definitely about Viet Nam: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/john-prine-secrets-behind-classic-songs-976587/

Haven't read this, but I trust you.  Yeah, John woulda told me if I had the whole concept wrong.  HE TOLD ME ABOUT ALL THE OTHER STUFF I GOT WRONG. 

Pundit launches into long spiel about something, then says "but that being said," and launches into another long spiel saying the opposite of what was said in the first spiel.

Agreed. 

They ruled that the date for returning absentee mail-in ballots could not be extended, which will invalidate many ballots. (This same question was posed in the Alex Petri chat, and she shot it down with this Wa Po story.) 

Good.  I will actually bother to learn facts after the chat. 

how long do you think we can all keep up the self-quarantining? how long do you think you can do it, personally? I'm just assuming we're going to be doing this for 1 year, maybe 2, and will be pleasantly surprised when it's less time.

It's a good way to prepare. 

SCOTUS also weighed in on the appeal (amazingly quickly for them). It was a 5-4 partisan split.

Good.  I mean, bad, but good.   I wonder if that original poster was a Russian botfarm dweeb.  

Just annoyed that we haven't spent enough time talking policy because people are too lazy to think and prefer the touchy feely nature of electability.

I don't see that as touchy-feely in the least.  I think that is cold and hard. 

With all of us working from home, there's no such thing as NSFW.

Shit, you are right! 

After a MONTH of not being able to buy any toilet paper in the stores, at all, like not even a square Elaine, I finally received an online shipment yesterday. I am now in TP Paradise. Seriously though people, stop hoarding the damn TP! I was nearly ready to use paper towels and tissues.

DON'T USE PAPER TOWELS.  I did once, and it resulted in a plumber.  Better to use nothing, then wash really carefully. 

This week John Oliver did a story on the execrable One America News Network. One of its moron anchors has the ridiculous signoff phrase, "Remember: Even when I'm wrong, I'm right." And that's how I feel about your insights: always right, even when they are wrong.

yes, an excellent segment.   I am always not right!  Ha. 

Hi Gene - not sure if this has been suggested to you yet on twitter, but a recent episode of a podcast Reply All went viral for attempting to do the same thing: identify a song based on memory that for some reason can't be found on Google. The episode is beyond entertaining and satisfying! The episode is Case of the Missing Hit - Reply All podcast

I will listen.  

Trump has substantial investment directly and through a fund with the brand maker of hydroxychloroquine. Easy to google source information. What can I do with all this anger?

The times said "minor."  It is substantial??

I've heard the latter, but haven't heard the former. Is that what Rachel actually said?

Yes, and I do believe that is the correct term. 

Breaking: President Trump has removed the chairman of the federal panel Congress created to oversee his administration’s management of the $2 trillion stimulus package. Will it never end?

With luck and the sanity of the American people, it will end in November 2020. 

Thank you all.  The number of questions were overwhelming.  I am going to try to do this every week with no exceptions and no hiatus.  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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