Chatological Humor (UPDATED 10.5.07)

Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; 12:00 PM

DAILY UPDATES: 10.3.07 | 10.4.07 | 10.5.07

Gene Weingarten's humor column, Below the Beltway, appears every Sunday in The Washington Post magazine. It is syndicated nationally by the Washington Post Writers Group.

At one time or another, Below the Beltway has managed to offend persons of both sexes as well as individuals belonging to every religious, ethnic, regional, political and socioeconomic group. If you know of a group we have missed, please write in and the situation will be promptly rectified. "Rectified" is a funny word.

On Tuesdays at noon, Gene is online to take your questions and abuse. He will chat about anything. Although this chat is updated regularly throughout the week, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.

This Week's Poll: Door 1 -- Women| Door 2 -- Men

Important, secret note to readers: The management of The Washington Post apparently does not know this chat exists, or it would have been shut down long ago. Please do not tell them. Thank you.

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

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.

P.S. If composing your questions in Microsoft Word please turn off the Smart Quotes functionality. I haven't the time to edit them out. -- Liz


Gene Weingarten: Good afternoon.

So, about two months ago I changed my home phone service provider to another provider that was offering a much cheaper rate. I do not wish to embarrass anyone here, so I will refer to the new provider as Tsacmoc Elbac Oc.

From the start, things weren't so great, in that everyone I was talking to reported that they heard their own voices echoing back at them as they spoke, as though we were communicating by yelling at each other from nearby mountaintops in the Swiss Alps. This problem was rectified after a few weeks. Then my phone connection began to disappear entirely for hours at a time. It was apparently modem problem. So I arranged for Tsacmoc to come and take a look, which required me to stay at home for the convenient four-hour "window" that cable companies tend to insist upon. This is one major panoramic picture window they allow themselves.

No one showed up. When I called to ask why, they informed me that it is their policy for the technician to phone ahead just before he comes, and if no one answers the phone, they cancel the appointment.

After I stopped screaming inarticulately, I calmly asked the customer service rep if he saw anything wrong with the logic of that policy. He did not. So I explained it, and then canceled my service for good. The Rib and I seem to be surviving fine on just cell phones.

Please take today's poll, which, predictably, men seem to be enjoying and women not so much. This, of course, is the point of the poll. Todd Gallagher, the author of "Andy Roddick Beat Me With a Frying Pan" may be around to take a question or two, and he has a few free books to give out. So I will be asking the following questions. Closest answers win:

What was Freddy's exact batting average against the Wiffle Ball pitchers?

What was Pete Weber's total score in five games of Skee-ball? (500 is top score for a game.)

How many pitches did it take for Dana Kiecker to get through his first inning with the midgets?


Okay, so, I thank Nora Roth, who wrote in to bemoan the mispronunciation of "asterisk" as "asteriks," though I have heard "asterik" more often. Here's another pronunciation felony I hate: When people rhyme "warrior" with "lawyer." Any more?


And I thank Tom Tildrum, who got THIS package from Jamaica.


It was a terrible comics week. Awful. Unsightly. I am going with Thursday's Baby Blues, Thursday's Non Sequitur, and Monday's Watch Your Head, in no particular order and with no particular enthusiasm.

Okay, let's go.


Warsaw, Poll-Land: How about a more interesting poll, such as:

The heads of customer service of Verizon and Comcast both jump off a 10 story building at the same time. Who hits the ground first?

Gene Weingarten: Ooh, this was posted BEFORE my intro was posted.


Dead tree vs online: How do you read your comics? I'm assuming that you browse through the daily broadsheet, because you frequently miss some funny examples, notably F-Minus and Dilbert. Dilbert appears in the dead tree version of the Post, of course, but way over in the business section. (Does anyone reading this chat also read the business section?)

You missed a great Dilbert from September 12 as a potential CPOW.

Gene Weingarten: I had a long dispute with several people about whether this was funny. I contended, and still contend, it was fatally flawed by an imprecision. What is a "front pocket"? I took it to mean a front shirt pocket, as did others. The word pants needed to be in there for this otherwise fine visual gag to work.


Columbia, Md.: Gene - I'm an almost-40 woman who is smart, accomplished and funny, but a big girl and no beauty. I have been dating this guy for a year and I have a feeling a proposal is coming down the pike fairly soon.

He's a good guy and treats me well, but has his own issues. I care for him deeply and love being with him and making him happy, but I don't know if I love him in the wild, passionate sense I always thought came with real love.

The chances of someone like me meeting another guy like him are very, very, very rare. Do I say yes and live calmly but melloweverafter? Or do I say no and hope that a miracle occurs?

Gene Weingarten: I'm hearing no reason to say no, lady.


Boomtown, NBC: OMG! OMG! Did you meet David Ignatius? He is soooo sexy! And don't you wish they had stuck with the original title, "Penetration?" Boom Town, ( Post Magazine, Sept. 30)

Gene Weingarten: No, David, to the best of my recollection, you weren't there at the scene.


Lexington, Ky.: My wife are starting the home study process to get the approval we need to adopt our first child. My wife is a Baptist, who still believes but does not attend services. I was raised Catholic, but am now a non-vocal atheist. The reason I'm non-vocal is that we now live in Kentucky and they're rabidly religious around here.

I'm a little worried about this home study. I know one of the line of questions is about my religion, my plans to impart or not impart them on the child, etc. I'm not sure atheism is going to play well with the adoption agencies. So, should I fall back to my weasely answer of "I'm Catholic and I will introduce my child to my church and my wife's and let him make up his own mind"? Should I feel bad lying just to get through this process? Any chatters who are more familiar with the process?

We're adopting from Korea, by the way, and even though this is after a lot of infertility ordeals, we are very happy with our decision and are really excited. Thanks for any advice.

Gene Weingarten: Oooh, this is a good question.

I believe I am an honest and honorable person. I also believe I would lie like a rug through this process, on thei theory that a religious litmus test is inappropriate and indefensible and that, under the rules of engagement of such persons as MLK and Gandhi and Mandela, bad laws may be flouted.

Let's hear other views.


i no you: pete scored 380

Gene Weingarten: A total of 380 for five games????


u no me: Freddy batted .123

Gene Weingarten: No. Not close.


Silver Spring, Md.: We'll say it point-blank: Comcast is a terrible company when it comes to, oh, customer service, customer satisfaction, customer relations, repairs, prices, costs, cost effectiveness, bills, advertising (terrible, terrible radio and television ads), marketing, public relations, corporate relations, employee relations, and common sense. It's just terrible. This is why most people hate monopolies. Comcast is too big, is out of touch with its customer base, and it needs to be broken up into 20 different companies. Really.

Gene Weingarten: You said it, not I.


Zombie Dylan on tour: I know what a big Elvis Costello fan you are , I wonder if you saw him on tour. He was just in Charlottesville and opened for Dylan. Elvis was really great with a clear strong voice, he just didn't sing enough of his songs.

Dylan on the other hand put on the worst concert I have seem in a long while. You couldn't understand nearly anything he sang, he ignored the crowd and his band covered his playing. What has shocked me is the postive reviews this performance has gotten in the press. This despite the fact the much of the audience had left by the encore.

Did I miss something?

Gene Weingarten: I agree about Elvis. I disagree about Dylan. He was Darth Vader with a bad cold, yes, and I suspect that is what's left of his voice, but he uses it oddly effectively.

"Ballad of a Thin Man" was chilling. He sounded... evil.


Tempe, Ariz.: Gene, I gotta say, this was the most boring poll EVER. I'm happy when the poll asks for my opinion, or requires me think creatively to figure something out. Or really asks me to do anything but randomly guess the answers to dumb sports questions. I literally could not care less about who beats who at skeeball.

P.S. I love you.

Gene Weingarten: I KNEW you were a girl.


Indianapolis, Ind.: Speaking of bad pronunciation, people here pronounce "height" with a "th" sound at the end. So it comes out as "high-th."

It's bizarre.

Gene Weingarten: Yes, very, very bad.


Sports Triv, IA?: Freddy's exact batting average = 0.38889

Pete Weber's total score = 835

How many pitches for Dana Kiecker = 16

Gene Weingarten: You guys, and I know you are guys, are SO off....


Career Advi, CE: Gene,

I am considering a major change in career and I'd love your advice. I work in the illustrious industry of Public Relations. I understand you are big fan of PR folks. The pay is terrible, the work is ok at best, and I find that I want to feel like I'm contributing a little more to society than just getting placement in media for clients, writing press releases and processing invoices.

I have considered going back to school to get my bachelor's in nursing. Of course, with my background and education in communications, I would basically stop what I'm doing to turn my life 180 degrees to do something else. It would certainly be a challenge but at the end of each day, I currently don't feel like I've done much of anything.

On the other hand, I'm pretty good at what I do. There are many opportunities for me to move up and make more money provided I put in the hours (which I don't necessarily do). And I've grown to like this Monday-Friday schedule that I would likely loose in nursing. Maybe I just need something other than a PR firm, or this particular one.

What say you?

If it makes a difference, I'm 24, female and totally hot.

Gene Weingarten: I'm not hearing any indication of what you really, really lust to do. Is there anything? That is what you should do. You should do the thing that you are passionate about.


Tsacmoc remotsuc: Apologies if this is a repeat.

What are you doing for internet service at home, now that you've ditched Tsacmoc? Have you fled into the arms of the other monster, Nozirev?

Gene Weingarten: Tsacmoc is fine with Internet service. I still have them for that. No complaints.


Another Ode on October 2: Higgledy piggledy

Ancient Gene Weingarten:


Covered in mold.

One more year passes, and

Hot chicks still heed him -- so

When will they learn that he's

Just too damn old?

Gene Weingarten: Very good. Thank you.

Yes, today is my birthday. Fifty-six. Old.


Minneapolis, Minn.: I am a hot young woman and this was my favorite poll ever! I had endless debates in my mind before finally picking an answer. I cannot wait to see the answers.

Gene Weingarten: Good for you!


The Empress of The Style Invitational : I gave the Cock Soup as a prize. It turns out to be widely available locally, and I picked up a package at Shoppers Food Warehouse. It's good!

Gene Weingarten: Thank you, ma'am.


Columbia, MD: I usually don't even pay attention to the names of the comics I read, I just know where they are on the page and read them, so maybe this has been changed for awhile now, but wasn't Single and Looking called Into the Gene Pool or something like that? When did it change? Is it still written by the same person, Matt Janz? If anyone will know the anwser you will. Thanks.

Gene Weingarten: Yes, it was Out of the Gene Pool. The change of name accompanied Matt Janz's decision to re-focus the strip on a few of the characters who have proved most popular: Jackie and Sam and Zoogie the horny bear, all of whom happen to be single ... and looking.


North McLean, Va.: Regarding your piece on movie-making in D.C. Your observation that so much time and money only resulted in 10 to 15 seconds of actual screentime was insightful, but missed a key point. The right 10 to 15 seconds can fundamentally define a movie, and create some truly memorable cinematic moments. Like Humphrey Bogart walking away from Ingrid Bergman. Or Phoebe Cates walking away from the pool. Boom Town, ( Post Magazine, Sept. 30)

Gene Weingarten: Of course. Not in this case, though. I calculated that the 12-second scene I watched the making of had to have cost more than $250,000 to arrange and film. And it is just going to be a big boom -- an early blip in a movie with dozens of more memorable moments.


Home Study: Lying to your home study social worker is definitely the way to go.

In theory, a home study is a good way to ascertain your worthiness to be parents, but in reality it's just a bureaucratic chore for everyone to get past. I lied about my religion (none) and probably a lot of other stuff when we were adopting our daughter from Thailand. In our experience, the social workers in Thailand were responsible, helpful and smart. The U.S. social workers were just filling out the forms.

Gene Weingarten: Does anyone disagree? Anyone feel it is unethical to lie in that instance?


Silver Spring, Md.: I, a guy, have been an avid sports fan since an uncle showed me how to read a box score and figure ERA's about 45 years ago.

But the contests described in your poll do not interest me at all.

Maybe if I were still a drinker...

Gene Weingarten: Hahahaha.


More guesses...: Okay, so I'm guessing Sanchez batted somewhere in the .800 to .900 range.

After struggling in the first inning, he probably had a decent second inning, and then once he got the speed and timing down is probably just ripping them.

I mean he is a pro. It is his job to do this, right?

Gene Weingarten: Sad, sad, sad.


Atlanta, Ga.: Hi Gene,

First time poster here, though I'm a huge fan of yours. I have somewhat of a serious question here, but I'm not sure how much of it you can answer...

My sister has been going through some rough times, health-wise. She's learned recently that she has bradycardia (her heart rate is 40 beats/min), and she has tested positive for Hepatitis C. She found all this out because she's undergoing routine screening for in-vitro. I'm trying to digest all this news, but it's been hard for me. I've been searching online for more information about the medical conditions, and imagine my surprise when I came across your name on Wikipedia's "List of people with hepatitis C" (is that an honor?). I searched for the chat where you mentioned this, and I believe you say that you "have had" hep C. What do you mean by this? Did it really disappear (happens to 0.5-0.74% of the infected population, I read)? Should I be worrying as much about my sister as I am? I don't think I'm a hypochrondriac, and neither is my sister. Thanks so much.

Gene Weingarten: Your sister needs to see a gastroenterologist about the Hep C. She needs to make an appointment now.

Hep C is potentially fatal. I was cured by drugs, not by magic or by waiting it out and hoping it went away. If you catch it before it has destroyed your liver, your chances of cure are pretty good. Otherwise, your prognosis, long-term, stinks. She needs to see a doctor. The longer she waits, the scarier it gets.


Pronunciation critic: Do you REALLY want to start talking about pronunciation? This from the man who thinks "what" rhymes with "squat"?

Gene Weingarten: I STILL think that.


Doghouse: Thank you for saying I was controlling and distasteful. I didn't know we ever met. I always liked your columns.

My boyfriend "Joe" showed me where he wrote to your chat. He left a lot of stuff out. My ex-husband cheated on me a lot. We rented and he always got something going with the women lived next door. He liked blondes. He always swore nothing was going on and I'd see him talking to them he'd always laugh and say no harm in looking! Just like "Joe" said when I saw him flirting with the blond girl next door. I found out later that my ex had been going out on me for years but I trusted him when he said he wasn't.

,'d run out of the room when "Joe" starts in talking about the neighbor girl, how I shouldn't be jealous over how pretty she is and stuff. He hates it when I start crying so I go try to get myself calmed down. And it takes the heart out of a complement when he says something like I think you're really sexy besides no young chick would look at me anyway, ha ha. I haven't wanted to spend much time around him lately, I don't like crying a lot. And "Joe" told you he was just looking, like he told me they were only saying hi. So why was her hair clip on his kitchen counter yesterday? It had a couple long blond hairs in it. And how come he's got wine coolers in his refrigerator now? He drinks beer and I don't like them. I don't want to see him any more. You gonna call me more names for that?

Gene Weingarten: Assuming this post is real, I am going to take this opportunity, respectfully, to formally disassociate myself from this little melodrama. Thank you and good day.


3 questions: Batting avg: .952

skee-ball: 1200

Pitches: 10

Gene Weingarten: Your skee-ball answer is close enough to win. Weber was 1170. Not very good at all. Give your name and address to Liz (we won't post it.)


Seattle: Dana Kiecker walked all 9 midgets he faced before they stopped... so that's at least 36 pitches. Maybe around 45 would be my guess.

Gene Weingarten: Close enough. Fifty-three. Submit your name.


Alexandria, Va.: NO, Gene, bad advice to 40-year old person. If you are writing to a columnist anonymously about marrying someone because you don't think there is anything better out there, you should NOT be marrying. Not saying she needs an overwhelming passion, but she is talking about this as if she is choosing between onion and sesame bagels.

Gene Weingarten: Sorry, but I heard a lot of love there.


RE: Service reps: Did Galileo live in vain? If the heads of customer service for Verizon and Comcast jump off the roof at the same time, they'll hit the ground at the same time, because the acceleration of gravity is constant (32 feet per second per second). If they both jump during the same four-hour window, it's anybody's guess.

Gene Weingarten: Yeah, but wind resistance plays a part. It would depend on their aerodynamics.


Hooray for, HOLLYWOOD: So Gene and Dave Barry have written a script which has been optioned by Lorne Michaels. A collaboration of these three minds should result in one of the funniest films ever made. However, knowing Hollywood, lets peer into the crystal ball and see how this play out...

The studio likes the script, but it definitely needs to be toned down to get to the desired PG-13 rating ("No, a woman can't do that with a forklift Mr. Barry..."). And since we want to be sure to appeal to the teen crowd, a quick rewrite is done to include a sexy girl-next-door type, as well as a subplot about the dorky-but-lovable friend with the heart of gold who finally gets the girl in the climactic frat party scene.

Another studio boss likes the direction, but doesn't think the script is cerebral enough, so he brings in a young Wes Anderson wannabe who turns the sexy girl next door into a paraplegic meth addict and adds a subplot wherein our protagonists go on a spiritual journey to the Gobe Desert. Twenty pages of the new script feature no dialogue, just descriptions of scenery. ("Red rocks yawn at our heroes from all directions, like the mouth of Satan laughing at their humanity...")

Unfortunately, as the script is being rewritten the production company goes belly-up and the script is bought up by 20th Century Fox. They like the script, and why not? It's got great writers -- Dave Barry and Dave Barry's friend -- and Will Ferrell is now attached to star along with Jennifer Garner as the paraplegic meth addict. Unfortunately, Ferrell thinks the script has gotten a little TOO cerebral, so Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mendel are brought in to bring it back to earth. The subplot about the Gobe Desert is now the main plot, only now it's a quest for a legendary buried treasure, and the paraplegic meth addict is now a brilliant-but-saucy archaeologist. The dorky-but-lovable friend (the studio had been in talks with Seth Rogan) is now a wealthy, middle-eastern gadabout with a shady past. Harold Ramis is set to direct.

As we're set to begin filming Ferrell drops out (citing "creative differences" with Ramis) to make a movie about an obnoxious but good-hearted badminton player ("Shuttlecock Suckers") so the film goes on hiatus. The studio decides that the script doesn't work ("Dave Barry wrote this?" they ask. "Really?") and instead begin shooting a sure thing -- a film starring The Rock and Ben Stiller as opposing short-track speed skaters. (It is unclear whether that film will be a comedy or a drama.)

Eventually the now-untitled Barry/Weingarten project is sold to a smaller studio as a tax write-off. After another rewrite to remove the last elements of comedy ("that poop joke just doesn't work there"), a straight-to-DVD film starring Michael Madsen and Tara Reid is made. The cover of the DVD says "From the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of 'BIG TROUBLE.'" Gene gets a royalty check for $4.87.

As Lionel Barrymore asked in "It's a Wonderful Life," -- do I paint an accurate picture or do I exaggerate?

Gene Weingarten: I am laughing. You write like you've been through this mill.


Miami, Fla.: Gene, I wrote you a long, disquieting email on Friday night, but I never sent it. Here's the extreme Cliff Notes version:

As a survivor of long-term (approximately nine years) childhood sexual abuse, I found your poll to be disturbing and thought-provoking. I did not advocate for death, but rather prison, follow by registration as a sex offender, etc. I made the sentence a bit harsher when the rape/torture came in. It did not matter AT ALL that he was a pillar of the community. It DID matter that there was no evidence that he had ever molested anyone, although I considered that fact to be suspect. I still do.

But, maybe death really IS the only option for pedophiles. We've been told time and again that they cannot be cured. So, why waste taxpayers' money for upkeep? I don't have the answers.

I do know that childhood sexual abuse follows you for your entire life. It colors almost every decision you make regarding relationships, either obviously (in hindsight) or insidiously. Therapy can only do so much. It cannot take away memories that are burned into your brain and soul and psyche.

I am a 47-year-old female. I have never been married, and I have no children. And if you met me, you would never know I was anything but "normal."

And, of course, it's pronounced MET-er-ee. Duh. Didn't you ever take geography?

Gene Weingarten: Actually, I have since been informed that to Metairians, the most common pronunciation is "MET-ry."

One can be a pedophile without molesting children; the term applies to anyone who is sexually aroused by children. Are you saying that you think such people should be put to death?


Only as old as you fe, EL: Gene Weingarten: Yes, today is my birthday. Fifty-six. Old.

You're the same age as Sting:

Do you feel older or cooler?

Gene Weingarten: Yes, Sting and I were born on the same day and year. I believe I have read that he practices 9-hour tantric sex.


hold, ON: Gene Weingarten: Assuming this post is real, I am going to take this opportunity, respectfully, to formally disassociate myself from this little melodrama. Thank you and good day.

NO! this is the first interesting thing you've had on the chat so far. Almost makes up for the poll!

Gene Weingarten: I cannot help this couple. Too many issues, too much baggage, too much hurt. Too much ick. Feel free to offer your own advice.


Gender Stereoty, PE: Okay, I KNOW there are stereotypes about men and women, and that those are indeed based in reality. And for the record, I read I'm With Stupid and loved it.

But. BUT. Come on, Gene. I am 25 and blonde and hot and definitely a girl. I have stuffed animals in my room and I enjoy bargain-hunting when I shop. But I was up until after midnight watching the amazing Padres/Rockies game last night, I spent half an hour cursing at my computer today so I could spend hundreds of dollars on MLB playoff tickets, and I LOVED your poll. I also Googled some info, like just how high the net and the backboard were, so I could try and calculate the answers.

Give us SOME credit, please?

Gene Weingarten: You are missing the point. It is not that girls don't like sports. It's that girls, by and large, are far less willing than boys are to waste countless hours debate absolute idiocies. Look at the poll results: It is the dumber ones (midgets, skee-ball) where the women are most likely to take a dive.


Ethic,AL: Oddly enough, it's unethical to lie if you're a Christian, but if you're an atheist lying that you ARE a Christian, who's to say it's unethical? God? You clearly don't care what he thinks.

Gene Weingarten: Good point!


Annoying pronouncements: Warr on Trrr, nucular, acrost, cawfee



Kreplach: Gene, I frequently scour the discount bins at my grocery store, and yesterday I bought some soup. It's some sort of Jewish-holiday soup (?) marked down because the holidays are over? You're Jewish, I thought you could tell me about it. It's called Kreplach. It was $.50, so as long as its mildly edible I'll have gotten my money's worth. So, is Kreplach gross, or a treat?

Gene Weingarten: It's chicken soup with dumplings, bubbelah. Eat. You'll be fine.


Bristow, Va.: Could we get chromosome test for all the (alleged) XYs out there who answered "I don't know and I don't care" on the poll? If there's one thing that defines guyness, it's wondering about questions like these. Sheesh.

I did have one question about the batting midgets. Did they stand straight up, go into a normal batting stance, or use a Rickey Henderson-style crouch? Eddie Gaedel did the latter in his infamous at bat for Bill Veeck's Browns, and I believe his strike zone was only 4 inches wide (he naturally walked on four pitches).

As an aside, my favorite part of that story, according to Veeck, is that the Browns had sent a copy of Gaedel's contract (which they showed to the incredulous umpire) to the league office the day before. Veeck then refused to take calls from the league president during the game, thus preventing him from intervening to stop the farce from occurring.

Gene Weingarten: Theoretically, I believe, a crouch should not affect the strike zone. It's allegedly measured as if the batter were standing straight. Obviously, it also varies ump to ump.

If Gallagher is here, can he answer whether the guys were erect or crouched? And whether it mattered?


Moon, Spoon, and June Buffoon: Could your use your influence as an nationally syndicated columnist to get Garrison Keillor to read some rhyming poems during his "Writer's Almanac" on NPR? Every morning he recites some short, short story that he claims to be a poem. Would it hurt him to throw in a Higgeldy-Piggeldy once in a while? When did he start taking himself so seriously?

On another note. Now that we have a new US Poet Laureate, when are you throwing down the glove?

Gene Weingarten: I did throw down the glove. The scurvy coward declined! I almost wrote a column (in rhyme) about that. I still reserve the right to do it.


Squirreldu, NG: First time posting here --

I work in a park. For a long time I had a little jar of squirrel poop on my desk to answer the what does squirrel poop look like question. I can't find it now or I'd take a picture, but it looks like small bunny poop only browner and harder. You could shoot it from one of those kids plastic air guns if you were so inclined.

Also, I don't know what the D.C. animal shelter does with wildlife, but hopefully the young squirrel went to a wildlife rehabilitator. Most orphaned wildlife in our area can be successfully rehabbed and released back into the wild. Rehabbers work as volunteers and give a great deal of their lives and income over to taking care of the little ones left behind after mom's been killed by cats or cars. We need more rehabbers!

So yes, two kittens, but indoor only please!

Gene Weingarten: I have yet to hear about the fate of Cholmondoley the baby squirrel! But they were going to put him in a rehabilitator.

My fear is that there were internal injuries. His hind legs weren't working too good.


Ouch:"Gene Weingarten: Yes, Sting and I were born on the same day and year. I believe I have read that he practices 9-hour tantric sex."

Um, just for the record, that doesn't sound like fun. It sounds like a UTI.

-Your hott women chatters

Gene Weingarten: Whew. Thank you. I've been living with this fact for YEARS and feeling inadequate.


Silver Spring, Md.:"To save you time here are a few that don't: London, Paris, Moscow, Madrid, Tokyo, Seoul, Mexico City."

But at least London's buses run 24 hours, giving you public transportation options at all times.

Gene Weingarten: This is about closing of the subways.

Me, I like a city that never sleeps.


Columbia, Md.: Dirty Sanchez is one of my favorite players! I'm guessing he batted .015. This would've been funnier if you'd somehow worked in "tube socks."

Gene Weingarten: Okay, I'll give it to you. .055. Give Liz your name.


Gene Weingarten: Okay, the poll.

Here are the correct answers:

1. Freddy was pathetic. He could not hit the Wiffle ball pitchers at all.

2. The pro swam laps around Joe, even in a dog paddle. (He'd practiced, by the way, with his kids on his back.)

3. Mo Greene misjudged that first race, and lost by a nose. For the second, he went all out and won handily.

4. Skee-ball was a total equalizer. The pro had no real advantage; the advantage of strength and spin were nullified. He won, but just barely.

5. The midget's size proved an insuperable problem. The pitcher missed the strike zone even when, in desperation, he began throwing UNDERHAND.

6. Mini-golf proved the same dynamic as ski-ball. The pro had no real advantage on those lumpy greens, with crappy balls. He won by a stroke.

7. Making change off the backboard? A myth. Total myth. The high jumper never got closer than two inches.

8. This was the big surprise to me: The pool player, deprived of his second hand, was extremely limited, particularly in shots he had to make near the middle of the table. He won three games to two.

There is one caveat to all this, and I think Todd Will admit it. Most of these pros had not practiced. Paez the billiards player and Freddy at the Bat, in particular, probably would have done much better had they taken to time to adapt themselves to the idiot circumstances of the challenge.


Wiffle Land: I once wrote a column about wiffle ball. My patented pitch "the night train" was a wicked swirler that breaks away, then back at right-handed hitters. Once, a friend took a swing at it as it broke inside and smacked him in the nuts. Good times.

Gene Weingarten: I am not sure how ANYONE can hit a really well thrown Wiffle. I am not a good pitcher, but I can throw a Wiffle sinker than even Achebach cannot lace into. And he's a good hitter. Throws right, bats left.


South Bronx: So, Gene, who worries you most: Indians, Angels, Red Sox, someone from the NL, or the Yankees themselves?

Gene Weingarten: The Yankees themselves. They should take it all, if they do not fall apart.


WHAT'S WRONG WITH CAWFEE?: Keep in mind that when Gene is yelling this, he is not only saying CAWFEE, he is pronouncing "WHAT" like "squat."

So, do you miss the Bronx, much?

Gene Weingarten: It's inside me, what can I say?


The Foggiest Bottom: So just what is wrong with men's pleated-front pants? I've always liked the way they looked -- they seem more sophisticated to me. I didn't really think about them having a "purpose" until now. My current BF cannot wear flat-front pants. He is too well-endowed, and no matter how large a size I get, and says that he feels ridiculous. I'll never forget the time my severely repressed (and repressive) parents "surprised" us with a visit on a Saturday morning and we had been laying around the house, he in sweatpants. He said my mom kept looking really uncomfortable. They never visited unannounced again. So whenever I go shopping for pants for him, he always reminds me - "no flat fronts -- remember the sweatpants and your mom!"

Gene Weingarten: I have the same problem as you boyfriend. Tell him I have found that a codpiece helps.

The problem with pants with pleated fronts is that they look ridiculous in precisely the same way that Seinfeld's puffy shirt looked ridiculous.


Dogtown, Ark.: Gene, who among your fellow Posties (Poster? Postians?) has the funniest name?

Gene Weingarten: Probably Matt Bonesteel.

There used to be a Snigda Prakash, but she left.


Shopping Glitch, WA: I was shopping for boots (thrift store, if it matters). I was

looking for leather. A lot of the black boots were not leather,

but tags in a few said "Leather Upper. Balance Man Made

Material". One pair, however, did not say such. It said

"Synthetic Upper. Balance Man Made Material".

In the words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

Gene Weingarten: Hahaha.


The Poll: Why?: Gene, this was the most useless poll I've seen you do (granted that it didn't upset me the way last week's did). I lack ANY of the requisite knowledge that would have allowed me to even GUESS at the answers. Boooorring!

Gene Weingarten: I presume you are a woman. But you are not MY KIND of woman. See next post.


York, Pa.: A female here. I'm not into sports at all and was going to click "I don't know and don't care" -- until I read the questions. Fascinating! I can't wait to see what the correct answers were.

If they had events like this on TV, I'd watch.

Gene Weingarten: M.K.O.W.


Wait, Wait... Don't Tell, ME: NPR's show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me actually QUOTED your chat on the air following a question regarding the whether Ahmadinejad is hot or not. I only WISH I could take credit for writing one of the entries that they read, especially the "I'm saving myself for Putin" line.

I think you and anyone who wrote what was read on the air should win Carl Kasell's voice on their home answering machine. It's the least they could do for providing their show with such great material!

Did you know they were going to do that?

Gene Weingarten: I did not. But I listen to the show and Peter Sagal reads the chat. so crossover is inevitable. Peter did not mention on air that the person who was saving himself for Putin was a gay man, which I thought added a little frisson to the comment.


Dilbert: Thrusting clearly implies pelvis and the front pants pocket. No one ever talks about thrusting your chest at anything. Puffing your chest, heaving your chest, but not thrusting and certainly not at something.

And clearly, he would think that what body part he was thrusting would be the cause of the door opening - again, clearly not the chest. Now, -maybe- if it had been a woman doing the thrusting, she would lead with her chest as the body part most endowed with door opening abilities. Then again, no one would be complaining.

-A woman who knows her thrusts

Gene Weingarten: This was the consensus of most, but not all, of the people I consulted. I still think it was a problem.

Actually, now that I remember, it was Peter Sagal who initially noted this comic, and told me I had missed a CPOW.


Little Pers, ON: Um, Gene, you do know that "midget" is a derogatory term, don't you?

Gene Weingarten: I know it is considered such. But it is the term all over this book, and the term the all-midget team used about itself, in the book.


Bethesda, Md.: Gene Weingarten: I cannot help this couple. Too many issues, too much baggage, too much hurt. Too much ick. Feel free to offer your own advice.

I think the request is that you address your own knee jerk statement that she must be controlling if she is offended by his behavior. It IS insulting to have your SO drool over other men/women. How can you say it's not? Especially given the demeaning terms that that buttkernel used when referring to his attractive neighbor. What a wad. And it certainly CAN be a warning signal that he's always looking for the next best thing. I do not accept that you are incapable of seeing this.

Gene Weingarten: The problem is, I don't know what's true here. We have two different versions of events. I like buttkernel, though.

I think jealousy, in general, is a bad thing in a relationship. I also think drooling over another is a bad thing in a relationship. This is a bad relationship.


Watch Your Head confession: I am white, 44, suburban. I loved The Boondocks and really looked forward to Watch Your Head when it debuted, and I particularly loved the live-action "Curtis" spoof in the strip several months ago. But I've stopped reading it for one simple reason, about which I would feely mildly guilty if this weren't a comic strip:

I can't tell the gender of about half the characters. And since much of the humor seems to center on the college dating scene, not being able to tell if the speaker is male or female makes the strip too much work.

Anyone else have this problem? Mind you, I know plenty of black women and none of them wears the unisex hairstyles these women do, which, conbined with the baggy figure-hiding clothes, makes them androgynous.

Gene Weingarten: Hahahahaha.


New Jersey: Gene, what's your favorite mob nickname? Our family's favorite is "gaspipe."

Gene Weingarten: Gaspipe is real good. I'm not sure I can beat that. There was a character named "Two Times" in Goodfellas, because he said everything two times.


Chat loving Facebookers Unite!: For those of you on Facebook who need yet another venue to laud Gene, adore Liz and carry on and on and on about the manifold virtues of the Chat, please feel free to join the Chatological Humor Junkies Eponymous group. After all, if Style Invitational can have its own group, and people who use their cell phones to see in the dark, then it only makes sense for us Chatlovers to have one, too!

It has two members as of now (9/26/07, 3:25 p.m. CST). I'm wondering how long it takes to reach, oh, 100 if the gorgeous and inarguably fashionable Chatwoman is gracious enough to post this....

Gene Weingarten: I was at a theater on Saturday where the USHER used his cellphone to see in the dark.


Fox's Bill O'Reilly Says His Stereotypes Taken Out of Context: Am I inherently evil or is this one of the funniest headlines to grace the Post in a LONG time?

Next question: How do you take stereotypes IN context?

Gene Weingarten: The only thing funnier than O'Reilly's statements about how black people are actually civilized and well behaved was his defense of his statements about how black people are actually civilized and well behaved.

Here is why this country is still so polaried: There are still millions of people who listen to O'Reilly and believe what he says. And there are millions of others who look at O'Reilly, scratch their heads, then look at his millions of fans, and think: Idiots.


Grammatical Lyrics: Do you really think the Doors knew the proper grammar should be "you and me"? That is a very common grammatical mistake. I can't imagine in the midst of all the sex and drugs and rock n' roll that Robbie Krieger and Jim Morrison said -- hey let's just make this song rhyme! Nothing about the grammatical scandal on Wikipedia, but there is this interesting nugget (true or not, I don't know):

At the end of the song, Morrison can be heard saying, "Stronger than dirt," which was the slogan of the Ajax household cleaning company, because the last four chords of "Touch Me" were the same as those in an Ajax commercial and as a mocking criticism of Krieger, Densmore, and Manzarek wanting to accept an offer from Buick to use "Light My Fire" in a commercial. The deal was aborted when Morrison opposed.

Gene Weingarten: Hahahahaha. I love that. Hope it's true.

I always considered the two most electric beginnings of rock songs to be the first fews seconds of "Touch Me" and the first few seconds of Buddy Holly's "Rave On." Great syllables, in both.


PLEASE POST: save the puppies!: Hi Gene, please post -- your chatters might be able to help...

Free Puppies!

Six black lab (mix) puppies were rescued out of the middle of the road on Saturday. PLEASE help me find them homes -- otherwise, it's Animal Control -- which means they only havefive days. We've bathed them, sprayed them for fleas and wormed them... but we can't keep them. They are currently in a kennel in my basement since I don't have a fence. I've lost count of the number of rescue groups that I've contacted, only to be turned down due to no room. Please check with every dog person you know to see if they need a puppy.

If anyone has any questions about the pups, they can email them to:

Gene Weingarten: Done.

How old do you estimate they are?


Sunday's Magazi, NE: I'm curious to get your take on the ethics behind Wells Tower's compelling piece on Tom Murphy, the chess king of Dupont Circle. The article was fascinating, but Tower's decision to pay Murphy for "lessons" -- although very clearly disclosed -- could tend to lessen (haha) his objectivity in the minds of readers. It sounds like a similar dilemma to your Great Zucchini piece. Where do you come down on this example?

And secondly, how many crank calls do you think you could milk out of the "Washington's Best Lawyers" advertorial insert? The Days and Nights of Tom Murphy, ( Post Magazine, Sept. 30)

Gene Weingarten: The clear disclosure eliminated any problems with ethics or objectivity.


Washington, D.C.: No way Sanchez batted above .100 against the pro whiffle-baller. If it's pro vs. pro - go with the pitcher that is in their element. Just ask Jennie Finch.

I say .075

Gene Weingarten: You're a little late, dude. I already said, 0.55.


Austin, Tex.: Have you seen these watches?

I love analog watches, and I also own a version of this one.

Now: I will grant you that no one over 50 will be able to read these watches. Also: that it seems not all people will/want/to wear such a one.

I would like to apply, however, for a grant of digital-watch-disdain immunity for these insanely impractical watches: they speed past tickytack at 900 MPH, overshoot gewgaw and land so far into the future that they wind up neighbors to the past.

Gene Weingarten: I am strongly ambivalent to these things. On one hand, I disdain them as gimmicks. On the other -- for the same reason I like shaving with a straight razor, because so few others can do it -- I like the idea of a watch that only you can read.


Whatta Falls: How 'bout dem Mets?

Gene Weingarten: I don't dislike the Mets -- I am ambivalent, and I love their manager -- but toward the end I was rooting for them to lose. Backing into the playoffs is ignoble; there is a certain historic nobility in being part of a historic choke.

I'm also upset with my colleagues for suggesting it was as bad a choke as the Phillies in '64. Sorry, but losing 7 games in the standings over the last 17 games is not as horrific as losing six and a half over 12 games.


Dramatic Tendencies, Va.: I'm with you, Gene. I get tired just reading about that couple. Some people don't feel things are right unless they are surrounded by constant, usually self-created, drama. Sad for them. Peace is seriously underrated. And one can have a peaceful, stable, happy relationship with lots of passion, just no ridiculous drama. Seriously, glad there's no one like that around here.

Gene Weingarten: Darn tootin'


Career change: What if there isn't anything you really, really love to do, or want to do? I've always seen work as something that I have to do. People always tell me to look for what I'd love to do more than anything, but there isn't anything. At least, not anything that I can think I would love to do as a job. The worst part is that I'm young (late 20s), so I've got another 30+ years of not loving my job.

Gene Weingarten: Jeez.

I find that a little sad. Sorry.


Adoption Question: The only moral/ethical concern I have is for the birth parents. If when giving up their child the birth parents only agree to it if the child is placed in a home with religious people then they have been betrayed by the lie. If there is no concern about the wishes of the birth parents, after all they are giving up the baby, then I cannot see any downside to the lie.

Gene Weingarten: Yeah, this is, to me, the only valid point.


University Park, Md.: Around my house we sing "Ahmadinejad" to the tune of the Beatles' "All Together Now." Pathetic, yet fun.

Gene Weingarten: Not that many weeks I wrote a poem about him to the tune of "Yesterday." Can you find it, Lizzie?


Post names: You're forgetting Pete Whoriskey.

Gene Weingarten: I am. You're right. Better than Bonesteel.


Ithaca, N.Y.: Gene,

I don't believe there is a guy sitting on a cloud looking over us, or any other sentient being for that matter, but I do believe there is some kind of energy that surrounds us and helps us out from time to time. Kind of like "the force, lite." Am I an atheist?

Also, although I've been happily married for 30 years, I'm in love with Chatwoman even though I've only seen her little picture at the top of her chat and read her comments. Am I crazy? Thanks -- that balances out the commenter from Wonkette who said I look like George Washington.

Gene Weingarten: That was such a ridiculous comment, on Wonkette. I know Liz Kelly. Liz Kelly is a friend of mine. Liz Kelly does not look at all like George Washington. She looks like Martin Van Buren. Liz| Martin Van Buren| Gene's doppelganger


Beginnings of songs:"Touch Me," no question. "Rave On," sure, but then these others must also be considered:

1. "I Saw Her Standing There, The Beatles

2. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

3. "Teddy Bear," Elvis Presley. The rest of the song is just average, but that piano intro is sensational.

Gene Weingarten: But these are not vocal beginnings. Nothing is better, maybe, than the instrumental beginning of the Blues Brothers' first album, as they are coming on stage.


Undisclosed location, Pennsylvania Avenue: There is an elected official who sends out the most unusual memos to all staff (about 700 people). I have been secretly forwarding these memos to friends who find them hilarious. I never saved any of them, though. Yet, the next time this guy writes another interesting memo, would you like a copy, and where should I send it to?

Gene Weingarten: weingarten(at)


Bowie, Md.: I have a co-worker whose pronunciation of asterisk rhymed with hysterics.

Gene Weingarten: Wow!


Antarcti, CA: If the penguin has trouble eating ice cream with a spoon, how is he able to drive the car?

Gene Weingarten: The same way you have driven with your elbows while texting and smoking a cigar.


Hayward, Calif.: Hi, Gene,

Your chats are the highlight of my week. I am a college student who can't seem to stop comparing myself to my sister who goes to a better school than I. Do you have any advice as to how I can stop doing this? Thanks.

Gene Weingarten: Thirty years from now, you won't even REMEMBER who went to what school. All that will be important to you is that she has a much better job, a much higher income, and a vastly more satisfying life.

I have come to believe, over time, that college is an enormous fraud, way overpriced for what it delivers. I have been in hiring positions, and I pay no attention at all to the name of the college. Or whether there was college.


Baltimore, Md.: The only question I answered with any authority was the Kieker/midgets question. There's no way he even threw a strike, did he? They'd never get anybody out. Am I the only one who remembers Eddie Gaedel?

Gene Weingarten: You are correct, sir! A three-foot-nine midget has a strike zone that is about 9 and a half inches high. Not many pitchers can hit that consistently from sixty feet away, even if they are putting nothing on the ball.


Re: Puppies!: It's true. and they're cute. Friend of mine sent me the picture. I just wish I had a bigger place....

Gene Weingarten: How old are they, person with the puppies?

_______________________ Gene's Ahmadinejad poem


Enslave the Mollu, SK: Big Nate and friends have formed a band: Enslave the Mollusk, which happens to be a Googlenope (as of Monday morning). However, is this a good name for a band?

Gene Weingarten: Interesting that the contents of a comic strip do not become part of the common googlable vernacular. Well, as of this moment, "enslave the mollusk" is no longer a googlenope. It has two hits.

"Enslave the mollusk" is a fine name for a rock band.

Three hits.


I still don't get the Mahmoud mystique: But this has helped me understand the attraction of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Gene Weingarten: Mahmoud not like.


Dela, Where?: A man in North Carolina was recently arrested for coughing on a state trooper.

Sure, that's amusing. But the man's name? Kent Kauffman.

Gene Weingarten: Nine people sent me this.


Washington, D.C.: Sputnik this, Sputnik that, Sputnik, Sputnik, Sputnik.

Is there any question that the media is run by old folk?

Gene Weingarten: It's okay, honey. I was once an ignorant, callow dillweed, too, with no understanding of the importance of political and cultural touchstones that might have predated my birth. Yeah, the Civil War really was a defining moment in human history. World War II really was about the survival of Western civilization in a state of freedom. Sputnik really heralded the birth of the modern era.

It's not like Halo 3 or nothin', I'll grant you....

Read Achenbach today. Fabulous final line, but you have to earn it. 50 Years Ago, Launch of a New World, ( Post, Oct. 2)


Bad Bo,YZ: We recently found three pairs of little-girl undies and bras in our 13-year-old son's dresser that looked like they belonged to our 10-year-old niece (we had gone on vacation with my brother's family this summer). My son's reaction was more of annoyance than embarrassment (he said that they were mixed in with his laundry). When my husband found the undergarments, we immediately jumped to all sorts of wild conclusions. Then I read this past week's chat and started jumping to even worse conclusions. What sort of horrible, vile deviant are we rearing (or just a normal 13-year-old boy).

Not a big deal -- everything matched.

Gene Weingarten: Normal 13-year-old boy.


Liz: Your WAPO pic does not look like your Perez Hilton pic. The Perez Hilton pic is MUCH better. Pretty in both though, and not like GW. Thank you.

Gene Weingarten: I have never alleged that I am prettier than Liz.


Puppies are a hoax:: Gene, that puppies e-mail is a hoax; it went around my work last week. Check it out on Snopes--I don't have the link, sorry.

Gene Weingarten: REALLY? We are checking.


Washington, D.C.: This is the first time I have ever written in. I could not take your poll last week, nor could I finish reading your chat (even though I read the transcripts every week), because I know the person on whom the poll is based. He is one of the most gentle, thoughtful, kind people you could ever meet. While I find his actions horrifying, I would be willing to bet the farm that he NEVER molested a child, and I am not alone in my belief (for what it's worth, I've come across quite a few child molesters in my line of work). The whole thing is just unbelievably sad, and putting him in jail will not solve anything. I am appalled that there are people who think he should be put to death. And yes, I have small children.

Gene Weingarten: Thanks for writing in. Please contact me at weingarten(at)


"Two Times"? That's a steal:...from the great Damon Runyon, whose Nicely-Nicely Johnson appears in Guys and Dolls.

Gene Weingarten: Aw, that's not a steal.


Burke, Va.: Happy birthday Gene!!!

Earlier this year I was hospitalized after a psychotic break. You wrote me that the chats wouldn't return until I was out of the hospital. Your simple email made my day and was a wonderful gift in my darkest time. I also got cards from a few people in the chat group. They, too, made my day. Thanks for bring us all together.

Gene Weingarten: Awwww. Hope you're good.


Re: Careers and Passion: Gene, I think this is an area where you have certain blinders. You are passionate about journalism and writing, and think that everyone is passionate about something. It just isn't true and that doesn't make us sad. I'm a generalist. I like lots of things, and dislike lots of things, but I'm not passionate about any of them enough to wrap my job around it. I am sometimes jealous of people like you who so clearly know what you want to do, but I just don't and I've come to accept in my 30s that I never will. I have more thoughts on this, but I'll stop now.

Gene Weingarten: Hm. You know, I was chastised for this before, but forgot about it. I do have blinders on this subject, but can't really adjust my thinking on it. Work is such an important part of who we are.


Re: Free Puppies: Don't give those puppies away indiscriminately -- call the Rescue Society for the breed. They will make some attempt to ensure that the puppies are going to a good home. Too many people get puppies on the spur of the moment, then find out later that they can't, won't or don't care to take care of them properly. That is why there are rescue societies.

Gene -- Thanks for the soapbox. You can have it back now.

Gene Weingarten: We're still trying to determine if that post was real. We're finding nothing on snopes.


Gene Weingarten: Okay, thank you all. I want those puppies to be real cause I MIGHT WANT ONE. So, I'll let you all know in the updates.


For the Mets: here

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Great vocal beginning: She Came in Through the Bathroom Window

Gene Weingarten: Agreed.


UPDATED 10.3.07

Gene Weingarten: Okay, first off, the puppy post was a fraud; it's all over the country and all over the Web, and the interesting thing is that during the chat, the original poster was all over Lizzie to get it posted. I have something to say to this original poster, so listen up: As a hoax, that is so lame and pointless that it makes me question why someone of your flabby intellect and nonexistent sense of humor is even reading this chat. If you are a woman, you are matronly and you dress poorly. If you are a man, you have a penis the general dimensions of a miniature golf pencil. Thank you.


Gene Weingarten: So the following double dactyl arrived during yesterday's chat, but I chose another similar-themed poem over it:

Higgledy Piggledy

Weingarten, Birthday Boy,

Fifty-six years ago

Left his ma's womb.


Now that he's old, he's got

babes by the hundreds! (well,

in a chat room.)

After the chat I learned that the author was my good friend, Caitlin Gibson. When Caitlin gently inquired why I had passed over it, I explained, gently, that it was not quite... good enough.

A few minutes later, Caitlin sent me this:

Higgledy Piggledy

Weingarten, Dactyl King,

states that my writing is

rather low class.


doggerel snobbery!

I say Gene's high 'horse' is

more of an ass.


Now, Caitlin ... THAT's good.


Washington, D.C.: If Columbia, Md. (40s smart, accomplished, funny, etc.) were in her 20s, would you give the same advice? I could be her... just not there yet.

Gene Weingarten: This was the woman who was trying to decide whether to marry a man whom she respected, loved being with, cared deeply about, but who wasn't sure she felt rip-your-clothes-off passion for. I said, go for it.

Does the age matter? Yes.

A lot? Enough.

I'm not sure I'd give you the same advice, with the identical conundrum.


Boston, Mass.: Ooooh, I hate "assumably." And"supposably."

Gene Weingarten: I've never heard "assumably," but I've heard "supposably" way too many times. Agreed.


Blonde on Blon, DE: What terrific synergy: over the weekend I was reminded for the first time in years of my all-time most annoying Grammatical Error in Music. Thought I'd write it in to you, but then figured, Why bother. Now here you are mentioning Dylan, so I figured it's fate.

"And time will tell / Just who has fell / And who's been left behind / When you go your way and I go mine."

Of course, Dylan is in a class by himself at murdering English and getting a free pass because we figure it must be "art." But still, this one bugs me every time.

Gene Weingarten: You know, Dylan is extremely literate, and I believe that all his grammatical errors are deliberate. I can't explain this one, though. It's always bothered me.

Gene Weingarten: Plus, here's an important clue that it was not deliberate, and remained an embarrassment: The official lyrics clean it up, turning it into "who fell."


Dylan: Did you see the Charlottesville show or the Merriweather show?

Because he didn't do "Thin Man" at Merriweather. He did however do a great and very bitter of "Masters of War."

Gene Weingarten: I saw Charlottesville. Long, pathetic stories: When I got tickets, I didn't realize he was going to be local the VERY NEXT DAY.


UPDATED 10.4.07

New York, N.Y.: Re: Circumision. The posts from Tuesday interest me. I'm due with a boy in eight weeks and have heard passoniate arguments about why it is a barbaric practice. I've left the decision to my husband due to the fact that my not having a penis doesn't make me qualified to judge what effect having/not having a foreskin has on a male. I guess it's clear that circumision is not 100 percent medically necessary but it is the cultural norm here in the U.S. Husband says son would be ridiculed, made to feel abnormal by peers, etc etc. I'm curious to hear others opinions on this topic. I don't have one and the dissenters make me feel like I'm about to brutalize my child if I have him circumised -- wow that parent guilt just gets lobbed at you right away doesn't it?

Gene Weingarten: "Made to feel abnormal by his 'peers.' Haha. I like that. But I am very immature.

I probably should steer clear of this one, on account of all the nutcake zealots out there with strong and strident opinions on the subject, persons who throw around terms like "genital mutilation" and whatnot. There are Web sites for men who want to get their foreskins "back," products you can wear to replicate a foreskin, etc.

I am not particularly opinionated on this subject; I just did a little online research, however, and urge you not to do the same. The photographs are not entirely pleasant. Allow me to take this hit for the team, and share my data.

So. Circumcision is as old as humanity, practically. Jesus was circumcised. Thirty percent of the male world is curently circumcised. This is hardly a "fad," and hundreds of years of medical evidence has been adduced as to its necessity (it's not), its benefits (there are some, most modernly the prevention of the spread of AIDS) and its risks (there are some, in those rare cases where the operation is botched.) Evidence is all over the place as to whether the circumcised penis is less sensitive (some say yes, but the evidence is mostly anecdotal and intuitive -- scientific studies have mostly found there is no difference in sexual enjoyment.)

So, let's deal with the intuitive, for the moment. Intuitively, the organ will be a least a little desensitized. The question becomes: Is this good, or bad? I bet most women, and some men, would say they'd RATHER it be a little desensitized. I would. Makes you a better lover, maybe.

UNCUT MEN, PLEASE DO NOT YELL AT ME. I am speculating only. Probably wrong, okay? But it's my damn chat.

Okay, let us now dispense with the notion that it is not our right to circumcise our innocent children, who have no say in the matter: That's nonsense. IF (hypothetically) a case can be made that it is beneficial, then it follows that we not only have the right, but possibly the obligation, to cut our sons. They can't make that decision for themselves, and by the time they could, the operation becomes hellishly awful and painful and complicated. So deciding to cut a child without his approval would be like deciding to immunize him against polio without his approval. There are things you just do.

However (see how carefully I am examining this?) that's not an entirely fair parallel, of course, since the benefits of circumcision, if they exist at all, are slight. I'm just using this argument to dismiss as weak the contention that we "have no right" to do it to our kids. We do many things for our kids because we think it in their best interests.

Absent any compelling evidence one way or another, I think a reasonable decision could be: Well, in that case, let's leave him be. Why cause even a little trauma, if there's no compelling evidence one way or another?

And that's where the cultural norm comes in. It's a factor, I think. Most American boys are circumcised. Do uncut guys feel "different" growing up, and is that a problem? I dunno. I would like to hear from some of them.

This was a very long answer, and it has no definitive end. I had my son circumcised, and never really considered not doing it, for reasons of cultural norms. I had never even SEEN an uncircumcised penis. It wasn't a religious ceremony, it was done by my wife's OBGYN.

So, ah, I dunno. Check back next week; perhaps we will have some testimonials, one way or another, from the Great Uncut.

Gene Weingarten: Regarding the issue of sensitivity, I have just been reliably informed that there is a product with the wonderful name of Mandelay. It REDUCES sensitivity. So.


Eugene, Ore.: I guessed 0.000 for the batting average because I had seen this video.

Gene Weingarten: Yeah, exactly. I have no doubt that Freddy would have eventually been able to tee up on the ball, but he would have had to unlearn a lifetime of muscle memory. I'm thinking the way to hit great Wiffle pitching would be to swat at the ball: Short, powerless strokes with very little backwsing. The ball is moving too crazily to take a conventional swing.

In retrospect, I think the key to anticipating the results of the book involves realizing which situations force the pro to use dissimilar skills to his actual sport. Mini golf is more like pool than it is like putting. Skee ball is simply utterly unlike bowling: It's all about varying the speed of the roll; accuracy is totally secondary.

The dog paddle, however, IS swimming. It's still about efficiency of motion. And sprinting is ... sprinting.


Indianapolis, Ind.: Have you seen this?

Someone involved in the making of this episode must be a fan of yours. It's got the Weingarten trifecta : poop, medicine, and rhyme.

Gene Weingarten: It's lovely.


Babies and airplane seats: Hi Gene,

Last week my husband and I flew across the country for the first time with our three-month-old daughter. I was very nervous that she would cry and scream the whole flight and we'd get nasty looks, but she did great, slept almost the whole time. However, our flight still sucked because of the guy in front of me.

About 10 minutes after takeoff the guy in front of me turned around and asked if he could put his seat back. At first I thought, how nice, someone actually asked. I told him I would prefer if it he didn't as I had the baby in my lap and didn't have a lot of space. Another 10 minutes go by and he turns around to talk with my husband. He starts to get argumentative: "You can just put your seats back as well." He wants to use his laptop but the guy in front of him has put his seat back. My husband explains that we're not putting our seats back because the people behind us are in the last row of the plane and can't put their seats back. He turns around and a few minutes later, you guessed it, he puts his seat back all the way.

I was so mad and said "A--hole" at a noise level somewhere between muttering under my breath and my normal inside voice. He kept his seat back the entire flight.

When we land and start to get our things together, the guy stands up and proceeds to tell me that I was out of line for calling him an a--hole. I tell him that I don't feel bad about it at all. He tries to engage us in an argument, kept asking us why we didn't just put our seats back, too. I asked him why he didn't just ask the guy in front of him to put his seat up. In the end I just stopped making eye contact and ended the confrontation.

This has been in my mind for over a week. What do you think, was I justified in calling the guy an a--hole? What else do you call someone who asks permission to do something and then goes ahead and does what he wants anyway? What would you have done? What snappy comeback could I have said at the end of the flight when he said I was out of line?

Gene Weingarten: You were justified, but, ultimately, I continue to blame the airlines. If they refuse to provide decent space between seats, then they should have a rule that you can recline only if no one is behind you. Rather than create a recipe for angry confrontations on every flight.


Today's themes: Loved playing whiffle ball when I was a kid in the early 70s. If I remember correctly, there were two kinds of balls: one with holes on the entire ball; and onther with holes on only half of the ball. You could really do amazing things with the half-holes ball, depending on the way you held the ball and then spun it while pitched.

I HATE Comcast.

Often, pronounced of ten.

Gene Weingarten: Yes! Pronouncing the T in "often." Moronic. It's not lis-ten, is it?

You know who does that? Achenbach! Slam him for it, please.

The only Wiffle ball I ever played with had the one-sided holes, and yes, you could make that sucker move.

I am now going to reveal, for the first time, the secret of my unwhackable sinker, the one the aforementioned Achenbach cannot hit:

Hold the holey side to the inside of your palm. Press your index finger as deep into one of the slots as possible, then throw the ball in a 90-degree overhand fashion, snapping the ball off so your finger spins if forward, north to south, the opposite of the way a normal fastball would come off your hand. (That would be spinning backwards, toward you.)

If you can get enough speed on it, the break happens about five feet in front of the batter. It's almost impossible to adjust.


Anonymous: Oh God, another "do what you love and the money will follow" pep talk from someone who has a great job -- the "if it worked for me, it should work for everyone else if they just try hard enough" (a corollary of the Reaganesque "lift yourself up by your own bootstraps" B.S.)

Well, Gene, I have great hobbies, contribute to a pop culture blog, volunteer at a small museum, all of which give me great pleasure. But my 8-5 M-F gig is torture, and despite my efforts to improve my work week situation, I have been to over a dozen interviews in the past two years, and come up empty each time. (and I'm much nicer in person than I am writing this). Turning the hobbies into cash ain't gonna happen for me in the forseeable future. Do what you love, yes, but there is no guarantee it'll ever pay the bills.

Gene Weingarten: I lose friends every time I give this answer. I have to stop giving it.

It just seems to me that we're awake about 112 hours a week, and 45 of those, counting our commutes, should not be spent doing something you are passionless about. It's settling for something you don't have to settle for

I know, I'm sorry. I don't think I'm going there again.


Todd; Los Angeles, Calif.: I was pleading with the midgets to go into a Rickey Henderson style crouch that made a further mockery of a game. However, these little bruisers had too much pride for that and simply took a traditional stance.

Gene Weingarten: Ah, finally. This is Todd Gallagher, author of "Andy Roddick Beat Me With a Frying Pan," answering whether the Little People tried to make it even harder for the pitcher.

I have been informed, incidentally, that the crouch matters, at least to some degree: That the rules of baseball establish a strike zone defined by the "ordinary" stance of the individual batter. Rickey Henderson, ergo, had a smaller strike zone than most men his height.


Gene Weingarten: Three people have asked me whether I would prefer that the Yankees play the Angels or the Red Sox in the second round of the playoffs. My answer is that I do not care, so long as the series between these two teams goes seven games, and game seven goes 22 innnings, and ends with both teams going through their entire pitching rosters, and having to pitch their third basemen.


UPDATED 10.5.07

Todd from Los Angeles, Calif.: Gene, do you think, after it was all said and done, that you could be the best FT shooter in the NBA with practice?

Gene Weingarten: Yes, I do, Todd.

I don't believe the free-throw competition you staged (won by the pro) was definitive.

My initial boast to Dave Barry was that I -- or any other person with reasonable dexterity, hand-eye coordination and the ability to perform well under pressure -- could become a champion free-throw shooter with enough practice. I defined enough practice as a year spent doing nothing else.

Your guy didn't spend that much time. Or anywhere near it. PLUS he started out with a great big hawking choke. Which I would not have done.

I could beat Gilbert Arenas. I am convinced of it.


Lying about religion: OK, this isn't about adopting but I want to put in my 2 cents worth. When I moved to D.C. several years ago I knew I wanted to live as close to work as possible. I'm a single parent and I wanted my young teenage son close by when he got home from school. Anyway, I didn't want to send him to the D.C. public school in my neighborhood and the only private school I could afford was a Christian school. I've been a non-believer for years and this was a tough decision but I opted to send my son to four years of Christian high school. I lied to the school about my religious beliefs and I walked a fine line with my son for four years. I didn't want to contradict what he was being taught, but he knew I didn't really believe. He's a college junior now and recently told me he's an agnostic.

Gene Weingarten: Molly spent second grade at a terrific little Christian parochial school in Miami. They had assured us that they were "nondenominational," which we took to mean only slightly religious, which we had no objection to. I learned otherwise when the Easter pageant featured a child on a cross. Too much for me. Molly didn't go back.


Wh, AT: Someone please explain how what and squat do not rhyme. Please.

I even went to (both wot with the funny smiley over the o) and played the pronunciations. Sounded like they rhymed to me. How else would you pronounce them?

Gene Weingarten: This is indeed interesting. I pronounce it, like all Nyawkers, to rhyme with "squat." I wrote a column about it, and how this is evidently wrong, since everyone else, and most dictionaries, pronounce it to rhyme with "butt."

(Liz, can you link to my column on this?) (Yes, I can: Say What?, Post Magazine, Sept. 17, 2006)

Now here comes the dic at, and take a listen. I agree with you: Sounds like squat to me!


Uxoria, IL: Gene, good but insufficient advice to the 40-year-old woman. I would add, That little voice of discontent is not your friend. We are all restless at heart, but those of us who succeed at marriage find a way to work through it. It's one thing if the guy is abusive or addicted to something -- in that case, run away. Otherwise, make up your mind that you are going to deal with that little voice. That little voice can make your life miserable if you let it.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Balto MO: et cetera pronucskiated as eck cetera

Gene Weingarten: Indeed.


Another Vocal start: From The Band:

Standing by your window in pain.

Gene Weingarten: A great start, because the line is sung (by Levon Helm, I believe) a capella, in pain. Plus, you got that window-pain thing going.


Nowhere D.C.: With regard to Sting, he was quoted once as saying, 8 hours of tantric sex, if you include the movie and dinner.

Gene Weingarten: Yes, a few people have told me that he has skinned back on that 9-hour boast. He once said, "Okay, maybe more like 90 minutes."

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