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Chatological Humor*

Insubordination Central

Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 21, 2004; 12:00 PM

*Formerly known as "Funny? You Should Ask."

Gene Weingarten's controversial humor column, Below the Beltway, appears every Sunday in the Washington Post Magazine. He aspires to someday become a National Treasure, but is currently more of a National Gag Novelty Item, like rubber dog poo.

Gene Weingarten (Richard Thompson - The Washington Post)

He is online, at any rate, each Tuesday, to take your questions and abuse.

He'll chat about anything.

This week's poll.

Weingarten is the author of "The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death" and co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca.

Colleagues on Weingarten:

"As for you, Weingarten, get a life. If you exercise every day, and get off the sauce, you will learn Deep Throat's identity, when we want you to know." -- Washington Post Vice President at Large Ben Bradlee

"Interestingly, he doesn't joke about poop in person (at least he never has with me)." -- Former Washington Post columnist Bob Levey

"W. attracts all of us loyal, devoted, strong yet vulnerable, affectionate women who lavish him with attention way beyond what he deserves." -- "I'm With Stupid" co-author Gina Barreca

"The truth is, Weingarten DOESN'T know who Lesley Stahl is. He's that out of it."
"Weingarten's hair is a national disgrace. Seriously his hair is a war crime." -- Washington Post staff writer Joel Achenbach

"The whole world is the butt of Gene's jokes...consider it a form of flattery." -- What's Cooking host Kim O'Donnel

"I do not even acknowledge the fellow columnist to whom you refer: He who shan't be named. I believe I once said he is filth, he is scum. He is... simply the worst thing in the world." -- Washington Post Reliable Source columnist Richard Leiby

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Gene Weingarten: Good afternoon.

Some very interesting business today.

The Washington Post has decided not to run this week's episode of Boondocks, instead substituting an old sequence. Moreover, when this chat requested permission to LINK to the censored material, which is available to any and all on the Boondocks website, permission was denied. The Washington Post has decided that it is inappropriate to disseminate this material in any way. Personally, this chat takes no position, pro or con, on this ruling, inasmuch as taking a position would amount to insubordination, a quality abhorrent to this chat.

Nonetheless, since this chat is famous for its trenchant reader polls (we hope you take today's, which is, as you will see below, not entirely unrelated), we thought it appropriate to begin this chat with a special, bonus poll.

Unlike the normal chat, we will not reveal correct answers later in the chat.


What possible content could these Boondocks strips have had to warrant such a reaction by The Washington Post?

A: McGruder must be advocating grinding up children and feeding them to people on death row, to reduce food costs in prison.

B: He is probably favorably comparing Adolf Hitler to Jesus of Nazareth.

C: Clearly, he must be suggesting that American women need to be beaten regularly, so they will stop being so uppity. In fact, he is probably advocating the use of Chadors.

D: It must be worse than all of these things, because the Washington Post is never in any way condescending to its readers. Knowing that its readers are adults -- indeed, particularly sophisticated adults who are able to understand satire and recognize when stereotypes are being mocked as opposed to when stereotypes being reinforced -- it is absolutely impossible that The Post would censor a well intentioned, if edgy strip for reasons less dire than those above. It cannot be that the strip, drawn by a black cartoonist -- WHICH CAN BE SEEN ON THE BOONDOCKS WEBSITE -- is simply making fun of black exploitation TV and reality shows by taking them to a ridiculous extreme in a laugh-out-loud sequence of strips which continues all week THAT CAN BE SEEN ON THE BOONDOCKS WEBSITE, AND PROBABLY IN OTHER NEWSPAPERS NATIONWIDE. So, no, it can't be that. It must be that the strip is making fun of old people with numbers tattooed on their forearms. Yeah, that must be it.

Okay then! Now, here is the truly amazing addendum to this poll. Because of deadline requirements, I wrote the regular poll that accompanies this chat yesterday. Question One was fairly prophetic, I think, based upon today's Get Fuzzy. Please note, in other words, that The Washington Post censored the week's Boondocks, presumably because they thought it was crude and insulting, but had no problem whatsoever with today's Get Fuzzy. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

I work for the best newspaper in The United States, and possibly the best newspaper on Earth. You probably have no idea, living in Washington, how lucky you are to have a newspaper this good. But man, we can sometimes be enormous, big-shoes-flapping-red-nose-honking bozos.

Okay, the Comic POW is Monday's Pearls Before Swine, the agate type of which, tragically, because of the limits of website technology, I shall have to translate, below. Runners Up are the Orange and Speed Bump linked to below. Oh, and for amazing political acumen, I also cite Sunday's Nonseq, which is really a triumph of thought. Elegant. I hope you can read it online. It's worth the struggle.

Wait. A really good week for comics. I also love Trudeau's whole Doonesbury sequence on Bush answering only softball questions. He's really nailed it. I actually saw this phenomenon a week ago, in Muskegon, Mich.

Okay, let's go.


washingtonpost.com: Comic Pick of the Week:
Pearls Before Swine, (Sept. 20)

Speed Bump, (Sept. 20)
Rhymes With Orange, (Sept. 20)

Get Fuzzy, (Sept. 21) Non Sequitur, (Sept. 19)

Vote in this week's poll.


Gene Weingarten: Agate type from Pearls:

Pearls Before Swine, copyright 2004 by Stephan Pastis. Distributed by United Features Syndicate. Laughter not guaranteed. Not suitable for some readers who prefer 75-year-old strips drawn by the son of the son of the son of the original creator. Product not available in some cities where "Snuffy Smith" still wins reader polls. Product may have limited availablity in cities where editors choose comic strips based solely upon potential racial or ethnic demographic appeal. Check local listings. No animals were harmed in the making of this strip, though we roughed up the dumb pig a little bit. Our apologies to the editors throughout North America who are staying up tonight perusing this text with a magnifying glass to ensure that this cartoonist did not bury offending words or concepts in this small text. Okay I'm tired now. To be perfectly frank when I came up with the idea for this "tiny word" joke i thought it would be really quick to do, but now I see that to make the joke work the writing has to be really small and apparently it takes a ton of tiny words to fill such a large space. If you like you can now move to "Cathy" or "BC" and check in on their crazy antics. I suppose that a lesser cartoonist would use this space to promote his latest book, but I don,t think that either of my two books, "BLTs Taste So Darn Good" and "This Little Piggy Stayed Home" need that sort of cheap publicity... etc.


Centreville, Va.: From Sunday's BTB -- no sex in heaven? Next thing you're going to tell me is that when my doggie dies he won't be joining me there.

washingtonpost.com: I respectfully submit that not all women are "fine with it."

Gene Weingarten: Yes, Liz and I had a semi-testy exchange about this on Friday. I invite all women who agree with Liz on this to, um, leave their names and phone numbers.

Gene Weingarten: Um, this is in reference to Sunday's column. Can you link to it?


Silver Spring, Md.: A question for you in your capacity as expert on journalists' ethics. Should Dan Rather resign?

Gene Weingarten: No. This was a boneheaded mistake, it was not dishonest.

From a humor standpoint, however, it was hilarious. When you saw the documents printed, it was obvious they were phonies. I half expected to see an email address in there.


washingtonpost.com: Below the Beltway: Gina Gets Cross, (Post Magazine, Sept. 19)


Arlington, Va.: In the process of searching online to find the text of the vatican's prononcement, I found an old Post article What Is the Vatican Saying About Women?, which claims "Read in full and in context, the document clearly suggests that the church's developing teaching on women is closer to mainstream feminist insights than some Catholic conservatives want to allow." I don't think that's quite how Gina saw it. What do you think about this?

Also, an optional question to keep this funny: What is the funniest thing the Pope has done, or in his papal capacity could do?

Gene Weingarten: Yes, I had a long, friendly email correspondence with the very intelligent woman who wrote this piece. I think she is waaaaay too forgiving of what is, essentially, in my view and Gina's, an outrageously sexist document.

The funniest thing the Pope could do is require Catholics to eat only octopus on Fridays.

Liz, can we link to Sunday's column, with Gina?


washingtonpost.com: Vote in this week's poll.


washingtonpost.com: One more time... Below the Beltway: Gina Gets Cross, (Post Magazine, Sept. 19)


Collinsville, Ill.: Gene,
Is it just me or has "Pearls before Swine" really gone downhill lately? It used to be one of my favorites but lately I can't stand it.

Gene Weingarten: You're absolutely right. It's had a very bad run for a few months. Today is the first time in months I have mentioned it for a comic pick. I'm a little worried.


Alexandria, Va.: Have you ever seen a comic less funny than Monday's Real Life Adventures?

Gene Weingarten: Yeah, the Pearls referred to above. Though this is definitely a stinkeroo.


Shanato, Va.: Submitting early, because I know I'll forget tomorrow. Monday's "Dilbert" -- a clunky setup, but the punchline nearly made me poop myself. Surely it's worth at least an honorable mention.

washingtonpost.com: Dilbert, (Post, Sept. 20)

Gene Weingarten: Great. I missed it. I hate hate hate that Dil is in Business. Another gross error by the Post.


State of Confusion: Gene,

I went out on a date last week with this nice guy and he said he was going to call me and he hasn't called. Do I call him, or accept that he doesn't like me? This is a matter of extreme importance. I cannot do any work until it is settled. My boss is not so happy. Send word.

Gene Weingarten: I am no good at questions like this. Is there any actual female who would like to answer?


Gramm, AR: Now that football season is in high swing, could you or Pat wander over to the sports desk and tell them that "Opportunistic" isn't realy a word?

Gene Weingarten: Neither Pat nor I would so inform them. Opportunistic is a word. Actually, it's a very good and descriptive word, especially when used in a medical capacity.


Rockville, Md.: I'd like to heartily agree with your discontinuation of personal conversations on elevators once people not involved in the conversation have boarded. In fact, I would like to take this time to make a related puzzled observation and plea.

What is it with people who must hold long involved conversations in public restrooms? I'm just not grasping something here. If I go into a ladies' room with a friend of mine, we'll bring our chat to a halt unless the place is empty. What is even more puzzling to me is that recently I've run into a number of women who hold loud conversations on their cell phones (usually with the little hands-free thingies) while in the restroom. And I don't just mean while they're washing their hands. I mean while they're actively and audibly, you know, resting.

My plea is, "Buh?" Is there something I'm missing here? Or is it just that the world is full of self-important charlatans?

Gene Weingarten: Well, you know, Gina and I visit this matter in a chapter of our book devoted to male and female behavior in public restrooms.

I have two observations:

1. The phenomenon you describe exists only in ladies rooms. Men do not talk in the bathroom -- seldom at the urinal, and NEVER stall to stall. There is some sort of primitive, feral "leave me alone because I am vulnerable in the squat position" thing going on.

2. Gina contends this is a GOOD thing with women, because it is their urge to be inclusionary and friendly at all times, which also exclaims why they go to bathroom in pairs. I have always felt she was full of it -- so to speak -- on this matter. Thank you.


Washingtoon: Who won the duel, you or the Laureate?

Gene Weingarten: There was some debate over this. Letter writers split evenly, but it is clear to me that the Laureate won. I may have written better doggerel, but he wrote poetry. In particular, his last stanza put my in my place beautifully. He won.

Liz can we link to this column, two Sundaze ago?


Washington, D.C.: Muskegon, hmm? Did you go see the sand dunes when you were there? Weird stuff. So were you there to see if you could get kicked out of a Bush rally?

Gene Weingarten: You mean the giant sand dunes downtown?


Butte ND: Re: Get Fuzzy. Maybe these are old strips that explicate the meaning of the title. In today's strip, the panel two drawing of Bucky is particularly suggestive.

Gene Weingarten: Hahahahaha.


washingtonpost.com: Below the Beltway: En Garde, Bard, (Post Magazine, Sept. 12)


Reston, Va.: Over the weekend, my wife asked me a simple question before going out for the day: "Does this (new) shirt look OK?" Normally, I can respond with the always safe "Yes, Honey, you look fine!"

BUT, I somehow got it into my head that I would share some valuable knowledge gained from this very forum. So, I made the suggestion that she may want to wear a beige bra instead of white.

Which led to a quizzical look from her and a double-check in the mirror...

Which led to a lengthy review of the majority of her wardrobe to see exactly which shirts showed what wearing which color bra...

Which led to great angst over the years and years of the fashion faux pas she has been committing because, indeed, beige does show less than white...

Which led to a trip to the mall...

Which led to a several hundred dollar bill for new bras (who knew bras cost so much?!?!...

Which leads me to the conclusion that, you sir, are a menace to society!

Gene Weingarten: I'm laughing here.


Yoma, Ma: Were you following me Saturday night? Same restaurant, same play. I thought "M. Butterfly" was very good but you ruined it for me because I had to keep looking over at you to see if I should be laughing. My question; in a play with such serious undertones as "M. Butterfly" is it possible to find deeper humor than the occasional one-liner that is tossed out? I found some situations in the play ironically funny but didn't have the guts to laugh outloud. I noticed you were pretty serious throughout the performance. Is my sense of humor beyond help? And quit following me.

Gene Weingarten: Wow. This is particularly amazing because the restaurant was in Capitol Hill and the play was not.

I laughed several times, actually. I think it is almost impossible to write a great drama unless it includes some humor. The audience must be whipsawed, for maximum effect. I can't actually think of a great drama that does not have some effective humor to offset it. Witness, say, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

M. Butterfly at Arena Stage: See it.


Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Gene! Even though I still think dark chocolate is better than plain old milk chocolate, I bow before your comic wisdom.

How important do you consider the drawing of the comic in relation to its writing? I ask this thinking in particular of "Get Fuzzy." The writing nearly always makes me smile, but sometimes when the joke itself isn't particularly funny, I find myself chuckling because Satchel Pooch is just so darn cute and silly-looking.

What's your take on this phenomenon?

Gene Weingarten: I have actually debated this at length with cartoonists. Cartoonists have a saying: "A good idea will save bad drawing, but good drawing will not save a bad idea." I agree.

I think good drawing really helps, but is of limited value if the ideas are not there. Mutts is beautifully drawn, as is 9 Chickweed Lane. They both stink. Likewise, Baldo. But there are plenty of strips that are really good, where the drawing is subpar. Dilbert and Pearls are obvious examples, and Fox Trot, too.

Having a really good strip with really good art is a godsend. Frazz. Get Fuzzy. Opus. Doonesbury. And yes, I think Satchel is one of the best drawn of all comic characters.


washingtonpost.com: Re: State of Confusion.

Don't call.

Gene Weingarten: This is directed to the woman who wasn't called.

I agree, for what it's worth. Which isn't much.


Rockville, Md.: Gene,
Given the current political divide within the country, as well as the world situation and the potential for terrorists to strike again, I think it is important to note that I successfully completed the entire Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle this week. And there you have it.

Gene Weingarten: It was a really weenie one. Do the Saturday crossword and I will have respect for you.


Re: the guy who hasn't called . . .: There's a new book out called "He's Just Not That Into You," by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. Explains it all from the guys perspective. Basically, if he's not falling all over himself to see you again, he's just not that into you and it's time to move on.

Gene Weingarten: Right, exactly.


Palookaville: The Rhymes With Orange chicken should be saying "Sometimes I feel like he's PLUCKING me with his eyes." To "unpluck" a chicken would mean to jam the feather quills back into the little holes in its skin. Thank you.

P.S. My wife commits a similar error when she talks about "dethawing" something.

Gene Weingarten: Ooooooooooooooooh. You're right.


Notfunnyanym, OR: Don't you think you are reading a bit much into the last few "Get Fuzzy" strips? Sometimes, a beaver is just a beaver.

Gene Weingarten: It was possible, before today. After today, it is not possible. Look at Satch's expression after that last line. It says, "I can't believe we're getting away with this."


New York, N.Y.: I recognized the rule of never talking in the men's room until, just last week, a man entered, and used the urinal, the whole time talking on his cell. His cell did not have a hands-free, by the way. Didn't he think the person on the other end would know?

So I did what I think anyone should do in that circumstance. Flushed repeatedly.

Gene Weingarten: The correct response. You did good.


washingtonpost.com: Vote in this week's poll.


Anacostia, Washington, D.C.: As a black man, and an older one at that, I thought Boondocks was hilarious this week. How can The Post not run that?


Gene Weingarten: We made a pathetically weak and wrong decision. McGruder's point was obvious. And watch: It gets funnier and funnier as the week goes on. By Friday IF YOU CAND FIND THE STRIP SOMEWHERE, you will be laughing out loud.


Word use: Why use "explicate" instead of "explain?"
Why use "orientate" instead of "orient?"

Gene Weingarten: Explicate is a word. A bad one, but a word. Orientate is not even a word.

I don't believe in banning real words. I would use explicate, and probably have, in a sense where I wanted to underscore the technical weenieosity of the sentence.

No, weeniosity is not a word. Yet.


Mazda, Minn.: We just replaced our trusty (but too rusty) old Mazda with a used base-model '97 Mazda Protege -- the spiritual descendant of your beloved 323.

Our daughters (ages 8 and 6) got in the back for a ride and asked how to open the windows. When my wife showed them the manual cranks, they said together in amazement "Coo-oo-ool."

I can't wait to show them a rotary dial phone. . .

Gene Weingarten: I kept the car. I couldn't do it. Just... couldn't... kill.... it.


Funny? Not this time!: Gene... how come every time I have something funny for your chats I forget it by Tuesday? Also, now that you have me checking "B.C." every once in a while if only to see what kind of madness Hart is writing about, was he advocating the dumping of Cheney a couple of weeks back? The premise basically, a sign that said "B.C. For Prez" and then the sign split in half right down the middle, with the C on the ground I think. Is Hart just a doddering ole fool now?

Gene Weingarten: Boy, I'm glad someone brought this cartoon up, because I didn't want to myself. Now that you have, I am going to twist it all around to get to the important stuff: Me.

I believe this comic (Liz, can you link to it?) was a direct and rather elegant "slam" at me. I believe Hart was making fun of an article I wrote many months ago questioning whether one of his cartoons was a coded, veiled (haha) attack on Islam. Central to that cartoon, which featured an outhouse with a crescent moon window, was the word SLAM stacked vertically, in the shape of an "I". An Arab-American group had charged he was saying that Islam is the s-word, and I wrote a lengthy article that said, basically, this was not at all unlikely.

I think the pun police joke, about "I-ran" is Hart's answer. I think I am the Keystone Kop with the mustache. Very, very nice.


washingtonpost.com: B.C., (Sept. 20)


Washington, D.C.: Which is funnier; People actually believing that a self-congratulatory award show like the Emmys is worth watching, or people with "Taxation Without Representation" on their license plates wondering aloud why D.C. can't get representation whilst voting for Marion Barry?

Oh wait. Neither. Sorry.

Gene Weingarten: Interesting question. But I don't think voting for Marion Barry has much to do with why D.C. can't get representation.


Bloom County, Berkely (Calif.): Gene,

I have a newly up-regulated respect for Berke Breathed after this week's "Opus." Now that this comic is settled in, I no longer eexpcet to see other names in your CPOW.

So, what are you going to do about it? Start acknowledging "Opus" and have a second pick from the also rans?

Gene Weingarten: It is a huge tragedy that Opus does not appear anywhere online, so it really makes no sense to cite it. This week's Opus was the best yet. Berkeley actually showed it to me a few weeks ago, wondering if newspaper editors would be freaked by it. I told him I thought it was so good no one would mind; real comic genius gets a pass.

(This was the one where Opus is at home, new to the Web, having purchased a lot of spam items, including Viagra and other stuff. In the final panel you see that his nose has become, um, very very very long and veiny.)

Anyway, now I know this strip was never in any jeopardy at the Washington Post because WE PRINTED TODAY'S GET FUZZY! No problem with that one, nosir, none at all.


Northern Virginia: I'm studying for conversion to Judaism, and I feel my education would be imcomplete if I didn't explore Jewish humor. (I swear I'm not like Whatley on Seinfeld, converting for the jokes) So I need your help, Gene -- what's the funniest Jewish joke you've ever heard?

Gene Weingarten: The funniest Jewish joke I've ever heard, unfortunately, has now been so smeared across the Web that everyone has heard it. The first time I heard it, it made me laugh aloud.

It's the one about the rabbi, minister, and priest, and the blind golfers. I particularly love it because it is possible to get into a very interesting, multi-tiered discussion over whether or not it is anti-Semitic.


Los Angeles, CA: Hi.

In the August issue of Rolling Stone there was a profile of Garry Trudeau. In the September issue of Rolling Stone there is a letter in the "Correspondence" section that reads:

"Garry Trudeau is the only artist ever to receive a Pulitzer Prize for a comic strip." You're probably right. I'm not much of an artist, as my mother has always said. But artist or not, they did in fact give me a Pulitzer following an apparently drunken judging episode in 1987. It's true, honestly. Google "Barely an artist/Pulitzer."

Berkeley Breathed
Santa Barbara, CA

My questions are:
1. Did you read the Garry Trudeau profile?
2. Who is this response from Breathed meant for? Is it meant for us or for Trudeau or for the writer of the profile or for the editors of Rolling Stone? He must have known it would be printed and nowhere in this issue is there a correction if in fact he did win a Pulitzer.
3. You used the term "misunderestimate" in the chat last week. Are you absolutely sure this is a word? I think you created a word that sounded right but is actually non-existent and therefore wrong.


Gene Weingarten: 1. Didn't read it.

2. Berkeley clearly intended it for the editors, to correct an error. He did win the Pulitzer in 1987, for Bloom County. It was a controversial Pulitzer, largely among the cartoonist industry, because they were hugely jealous.

3. Misunderestimate was a joke, a dig at W, who used exactly that non-word about two years ago.


Fairview Park, Ohio: I tried logging in to the discussion on September 14, but there did not appear anywhere to actually do that -- just somewhere to submit a question for next week. Is this a ploy meant to confuse me and to tell me I should really get back to work, or did you have the day off and The Washington Post people forgot to mention that little fact?

On a separate note, the younger Woodward and Bernstein in fact bore such a striking resemblance to Redford and Hoffman that I penned a note to the editor of a children's book on campaign politics questioning whether the picture caption was right. So, I'm wondering, do most of The Washington Post columnists resemble actors, and if so, who would you want to play you in the "Below the Beltway" movie?

washingtonpost.com: Ooh, finally I get to craft a poll.

Which of the following actors would best portray Gene in a feature film?
Option 1
Option 2
Option 3
Option 4 (just here to annoy Gene, really)

Gene Weingarten: I'm just going to let this one sail out there...


Charlottesville, Va.: Regarding the discussion on pedestrians, specifically your comment: "I think the signs mean 'Yield to pedestrians already in crosswalk.' However, most pedestrians seem to think it means they can step off the sidewalk directly in front of a car going 30 mph -- and expect it to stop."

I have a friend who spent quite a few years in California and when he came back to Virginia, he had developed the habit of stepping into a crosswalk without even looking. When I yanked him back from certain death once, I asked what he was thinking. He replied that that's the way it works in California -- drivers really do have to watch out for pedestrians just jumping out in front of them.

I agree with you that the laws really mean "pedestrians already in the crosswalk." Maybe in California, if you hang your big toe over the curb, you're in the crosswalk.

P.S. I love your chat -- it brightens up my lunch hour tremendously!

washingtonpost.com: Sorry, that's my comment quoted above and I stand by it. These crosswalks make sense in the super-urban parts of Arlington, like around Courthouse. But not on a highly-trafficked Washington Blvd. near Glebe Rd. where cars do regularly travel at 30 MPH and above, despite the posted 25 MPH speed limit.

I know Gene is incredibly happy to have me hijack his show to talk at length about urban planning. But, it could be worse. We could be talking about The Flash.

Gene Weingarten: Duuuh, obviously, this would not affect The Flash at all. He could go back and forth seventy times between speeding cars.


No sex in heaven: If true, this can only be because there will be something even better -- although we, with our small, self-centered worldviews, cannot yet imagine what that might be.

washingtonpost.com: Yes, I'm sure that's the case.

Gene Weingarten: Sushi?


Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Gene, you kept a non-functional car on Capitol Hill? I hope you have off-street parking for all your cars, then, because I live around the corner from you on 7th and I had to park on 4th last night.

Gene Weingarten: I got it fixed! I gave up!


Female POV: As a woman, I'd like to present my point of view on a few things that have come up so far.

Re: no sex in heaven -- I have a problem with that. In fact, if there's sex in hell, I'd rather be there.

Re: date with nice guy who hasn't called: he's not interested, give up on him and move on.

Re: chatting in the restroom: to any woman who may ever be in a public restroom with me: do not, under any circumstances, talk directly to me while either of us is in a stall. If there is an emergency situation, you may announce it to the room at large, however, even in an emergency, you are not to directly address me in the stall.

Gene Weingarten: Noted. Thank you.


Silver Spring, Md.: Liz, couldn't you find a better pic of Ron Jeremy? He is absolutely to be cast as Gene.

washingtonpost.com: Is there really a best picture of Ron Jeremy?

Gene Weingarten: There is also no "best" picture of me.


Knoxville, Tenn.: So why is the Washington Post refusing to carry this week's "Boondocks?" Even our small-town, conservative, never say anything controversial newspaper here in Knoxville is running the strip this week.

Gene Weingarten: Yes, I have received several such responses from around the country, including from a college paper. Sad, sad, sad.


Three things: 1. I thought the same as you with teh "I ran" pun. (bushy moustache guy is Gene)

2. I've only read the first two Boondocks on the Web. Now that we've established that the editors at WP are too... something... is it possible that it was simply the inclusion of the N word (with letters deleted) that got the strip axed In other words, did they look at the first panel of the first day and say, "That's it."

3. I was going to ask more about the CBS thing, but never mind.

Gene Weingarten: I strongly suspect that the N word is what decided it, but the rest of the week is also pretty frisky. Basically, it is simple: The Post editors did not get this strip. Either that, or they feared you would not get it.

It is not insulting to black people. It is insulting to people who stereotype black people, and those people won't even realize they are being insulted.


Manassas, Va.: Here's an objective humor question for you:

When I was in college, I spent a summer working in Costa Rica. In the small town I lived in, it was very prestigious to have a T-shirt in English. At a festival where everyone was wearing their best, a muscled young man was strutting around sporting his new English-only T-shirt. I've rarely seen someone look more pleased with himself. He was a real macho guy.

Unfortunately, the English on the shirt was: "PMS = Putting Up with Men's S--t." Of course, this was one of the funniest things I'd seen in a long time.

When I recounted it to another American there, though, he frowned and told me it was not objectively funny. I insisted that, indeed, it was, in that if the young macho man had known the full situation he would (or should) have found it funny, too. I was then condescendingly informed that I was "an anthropologist's worst nightmare." (he was from Harvard, you see).

What do you think? I still get annoyed thinking about that supercilious twit. But maybe he was right.

Gene Weingarten: He was a supercilious twit. One of the best lines in Dave Barry's great book "Dave Barry Does Japan" was when he was watching a solemn graduation ceremony, and one guy on stage had a t shirt that said....

Well, I forgot. It was great. Does anyone have immediate access to DBDJ, and can tell us? It was something like "F--- House."


Lansing, Mich.: What in God's name were you doing in Muskegon?

Gene Weingarten: Quite a place, eh? Researching a cover story.


Gene Weingarten: I would just like to note that the previous snarky question emanated from ... Lansing, Michigan. Sophistication Capital of the World.


Communication in the Lavatory: While it may be true that the informal rule for men is that no cnversation is permitted in the lavatory, men do indeed communicate, though on nonverbal levels.


Gene Weingarten: Our book made that point, too. Gina argued that no one would define this as "conversation" but I pointed out that if the Supreme Court would define campaign contributions as free speech, they probably wouldn't have a problem defining farting as conversation.


Pittsburgh, Pa.: I just read Boondocks and laughed out loud! Shame on The Washington Post for not running this comic! (I'm an African-American woman)

Gene Weingarten: Sigh. I know, I know.


Gene Weingarten: Today's poll:

Okay, now obviously the only serious question in the poll is the third one, and it turns out it is not a serious question but an inside joke! Haha! The joke's on you.

When Coverly was drawing that panel, he actually emailed me to ask if I thought it needed a cutline. I said I thought it did, and provided one to him. Being a lot smarter than I am, he came up with a better one.


Well, you are wrong. You HAVE to be wrong, because otherwise, I would have been wrong, meaning my advice to Coverly was wrong, meaning I actually had a hand in hurting a cartoon.

Which, perforce, is impossible.


Pardonem, Wash.: Now that you've mentioned the Flash, I feel it is appropriate to ask the question I thought about last week during the non-stop coverage of Hurricane Ivan --

Would it be possible for Superman to stop a hurricane by flying in a clockwise direction at super speed, thus disappating the winds? (Flash couldn't do it since he's stuck at ground level.)

Gene Weingarten: I doubt it. Why would it affect the storm at all if a tiny particle was flying in the opposite direction?


Catholic University Law Library: I am not a black woman, but I found the newest Boondocks the best in a long time. I think The Post editors are a bunch of beavers. Remember they did this before to MacGruder, when he did the series about Condi Rice needing a man. Has any other comics over the past few years been censored this much? Like did Ms. Buxley's dress ever get too short?

Gene Weingarten: A bunch of beavers!


Arlington, Va.: If we're going to consider the actor to play Gene, I think we're also obligated to consider Gene's speaking voice. (As previously noted, there is almost no other person on earth with the combination Gene presents: a face for radio, and a voice for print journalism). Alas, Mel Blanc is dead, so we must scour Hollywood/media celebs for the voice-over. After careful consideration,, I'll nominate Gene Shalit with a VERY bad head cold.

washingtonpost.com: I just thought of someone who might just fit the bill on both counts:
Gabe Kaplan.

Gene Weingarten: I also have a body for radio.


Re: Rather, Dan: Waitaminute ... if it is OBVIOUS that the documents were "phonies," then why would/should one assume that it was not a "dishonest" mistake? If, in fact, Dan Rather is one of the most wonderful investigative reporters of our trime (certainly not my view), shouldn't he be able to spot "obvious" phonies?

Gene Weingarten: Purely and simply because this is coming close to destroying his career. I would be more suspicious if it were NOT so obvious; that would mean he might have thought he could get away with it.

Not to mention the fact, frankly, that Dan Rather is an excellent journalist. The thought that he ginned this up for political reasons is silly.


Smalltown: Superman COULD SO stop a hurricane! In the first movie, he reversed the Earth's rotation simply by flying east-to-west in order to go back in time and save Lois. And off the top of my head, I believe that he stopped a hurricane in D.C. Comics issue #144, circa 1957.

Gene Weingarten: I am so embarrassed.


RE: Sex in heaven: Um, I always kind of thought our bodies got left behind (what are we burying otherwise?) so what would we be having sex WITH in heaven? Don't you need a body? Or is it all in the mind?

Gene Weingarten: The Brain is the Most Important Sexual Organ.

(this is the first thing that new paraplegics are told.)


'scuse ME: Superman would know that hurricanes are driven by, among other things, low pressure. So he would use his super breath to blow really, really hard into the eye and, perforce, dissipate the cyclone.
"Fly in circles?!" Honestly.

Gene Weingarten: This is just humiliating me. I don't know what I was thinking.


Suzanne in Brighton, England: Gene,

Some years ago, I saw Dave Barry on Letterman's show. Barry had a toaster experiment go wrong on him, and Letterman was consequently dismissive. That said, who's funnier?

Gene Weingarten: I don't know anyone funnier than Dave Barry, except possibly my son.


Bethesda, Md.: Actually, I think the Post's decision not to run this week's Boondocks strips is way more insulting than the strips themselves could possibly be.

Gene Weingarten: That was sort of my point.


Re: The guy working in Costa Rica: Actually, the statement "You are an antropologists worst nightmare," is perhaps the funniest line ever uttered.

Gene Weingarten: Agreed.


Washington, D.C.: Please pass along my thanks to The Post for protecting me from the evil grip of satire. Perhaps management would consider phasing out the plastic bags newspapers are delivered in lest I mistake it for a stylish hat and suffocate myself.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, I think this will be the last unfair gratuitous swipe at the Post that I am going to permit. Unless there is a REALLY GOOD ONE.


Suzanne in Brighton, England: Gene, this might not be the best time to mention it, but several years ago, after our passionate night in the grass near Blue Plains sewage company, we conceived a child. Your son's name is Martin Weingene. I just thought you should know...

Gene Weingarten: Thank you, Suzanne. I will never forget you, particularly your mellifluous surname.


Metropolis: "this is just humiliating me."
Then my work is done here.
Kal El

Gene Weingarten: Regards to Lara.


Gotham City: Can we believe someone's comments about Superman if they are posting from "Smalltown" instead of the correct "Smallville?"

washingtonpost.com: Oooh, good catch, Nerdlinger!

Gene Weingarten: This chat is simply losing its credibility! We have to get a grip! Nail these things down!


Boondoc, KS: So, Gene, how upset do you think McGruder will be by the fact that you're on his side?

Gene Weingarten: I'm not sure he'll give a crap. Very arrogant young fellow. The one time I tried to engage him in something, he dissed me bigtime.


Boondocks: I also love the fact that the Post thought the current strips were too controversial, and instead ran a comic on Monday where the punchline rests in comparing Kobe Bryant and a black man murdered for whistling at white women in the 1960s deep south. Good job avoiding hot-button topics, beavers.

Gene Weingarten: I meant to mention this, actually. When they first came out, I thought the Emmitt Till strips were borderline offensive.


Parapelegic: Why do you know the first thing doctors tell a parapelegic?

Gene Weingarten: Because I once spent a long time interviewing a paraplegic, and a doctor to paraplegics, for a play I was writing.

You didn't think I'd have an answer for this, did you?


Major Goof: Lara is dead. She was Jor-El's wife. Kal-El is Supie.

Gene Weingarten: I know, but because time and space are continuous, she still lives, somewhere.


Clothin, Ga.: The t-shirt thing can work in reverse -- I had a friend in college who was into all things Japanese, and had several t-shirts with Japanese characters on them (which he couldn't read). One day an actual Japanese person saw him, cracked up, and informed him that his prized shirt actually read, "I am a stupid American." Absolutely true story, I swear!

Gene Weingarten: That is terrific. I hope it is true.


Gene Weingarten: Okay, time to go. There was a huge outpouring of questions, and I apologize for those I could not get to. I would like to end on a sad note. Is anyone as disappointed as I am to see the whipping that Ralph is taking on Sally Forth? Ralph is a good man, being turned into a eunuch by pressures of the workplace. I weep for Ralph. I can't really go on.

Next week, same time.


Denver, Colo.: Sorry, Gene, but after today's chat I have decided that Liz is funnier than you.

washingtonpost.com: That makes my day, no matter how brain-damaged you are.

Gene Weingarten: I do not disagree.


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