Post Magazine: An Inconceivable Year

Dave Barry
Humor Writer
Thursday, January 3, 2008; 12:00 PM

From the perspective of a certain one-of-a-kind humor writer, relive the zany antics of Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna and a cast of thousands in 12 months that we need to remember to forget.

Dave Barry was online Thursday, Jan. 3, at Noon ET to discuss his Washington Post Magazine article titled "An Inconvenient Year."

Barry retired his nationally syndicated column three years ago. He now spends a lot of time in pajamas. His New Year's resolution is to find a way back to about 1957.

A transcript follows.


Dave Barry: Welcome, chat readers. Thanks for choosing to be here instead of doing something productive.


Reading, PA: Dave :

What exactly is in it for you to be taking questions from the extreme right and left wing nuts that congregate on this site ? Couldn't you find a better use for your time or is the money really that good ?

Dave Barry: The money is unbelievable. Just for answering your question, the Post is giving me a helicopter.


Missouri: How did you keep track of what events happened in which month? Did you jot notes every month of events you thought you might want to mention, or did you use Lexis to look up stories month-by-month? Or did you not look anything up and rely on your impeccable memory?

Dave Barry: My what?

No, what I do is, along about October I ask my assistant, Miss Judi Smith, to print out the front-page Miami Herald headlines for each month up to that point. Because it's Miami, most of these headlines say either "More Heat, Humidity On Way" or "Castro Still Not Definitely Dead." But occasionally there is an actual news story in there, and I jot that down, and then I try for days to think of a joke about it. It is slow and difficult work, but I keep at it, because if I don't, Western civilization will collapse.


Washington, DC: I can honestly say Dave that more than any other year in recent memory, I spent 2007 reading about and concerned with absolutely useless things, from Britney to our inability to make headway in Iraq and Afghanistan. 2007 was a year where nothing got done but the laundry and I start 2008 with a feeling of dread over the economy. What's your take on the uselessness of 2007?

Dave Barry: It was a good year for laundry.


Washington, DC: Several pages were missing from my magazine on Sunday, and most of your article was missing as a result. However, I did receive several pages of a special advertising section on plastic surgery that indicated that "the big news in breasts is that silicone is back." (I am not making this up.)

Was there anything in your annual news roundup that can top this critical piece of medical knowledge as the biggest news story of 2007?

Dave Barry: Don't you wish you could have been in the room at the advertising agency when they thought that up? "OK, we need to get 'big' in there, and 'breasts' in there..." I bet there were many high-fives exchanged.


Lyme, Conn.: In addition to being a famous humor writer, I know you are also a specialist in Physics. I am new to Physics, so maybe you can explain something to me. If nothing can move faster than the speed of light, and if light consists of both particles and waves, aren't the waves, which travel in different directions while maintaining the same forward momentum of traveling at the speed of light, in fact traveling at a speed greater than the speed of light while moving in their nonlinear trajectory?

Dave Barry: I did take Physics, but that was at Pleasantville (NY) High School in the 1960s. I was in Mr. Heideman's class, and what I mainly remember was, during Physics Lab, dropping various objects out of the window with my friend Joe DiGiacinto, who is now an attorney. We determined that there was definitely gravity around Pleasantville High. There was also light, but I don't remember seeing any particles or waves, at least not until later in the Sixties. I hope this helps.


Bethesda, MD-- Does it matter?: Dave, what's your opinion regarding holiday letters, and specifically, having pets write the holiday letters? I swear our letter wouldn't go out until St. Patrick's day if we didn't have the cat working on it. He's the only one who's ever home.

Dave Barry: Do people actually do that? Have their pets "write" the holiday letter? Man.


Arlington, VA: If you could find your way back to 1957, what's the first thing you'd do?

Dave Barry: I would find Bill Gates and make friends with him.


Charleston, SC: How are your early poll numbers in Iowa?

Dave Barry: I am in the high fractions.


Your Writing Companion from Way Back: Dave,

I wrote you a letter a couple of years ago. You sent me a postcard in reply. I have lost that postcard, can you send me a replacement?


Dave Barry: I'm sorry, but I am not made of postcards. I am made of Cheez-Its.


Ocala, Fla: Dave, what with all the product recalls and the mortgage crisis, I'm confused. Is it or is it not safe to allow my kids to play with the family mortgage?

Dave Barry: If the mortgage came from China, they should not lick it.


Herndon, VA: Mr. Barry: I know you're enjoying spending more time with your wife and young daughter, but can you give us any hope that you will resume your column? please, Please, PLEASE!!!

Dave Barry: I'm going to be writing more columns this year. I'm going to New Hampshire tomorrow to write about the primary for The Miami Herald, and I'll probably write more about the presidential race after that, because if there's anything more entertaining than the way we choose the president of the United States, I don't know what it is. I'll also be going to China this summer for the Olympics, where I will be competing in the pole vault.


Lakeland Fla: Hi Dave. Thanks again for bringing some level of sense and order to a sureal and often ludicrous realm; namely the political world and the denizens who occupy it. My question is this: Do you ever get the feeling that with political satire, politicians' actual statements and behavior have already done half of your job?

Dave Barry: Absolutely. There is no way that anybody, even a trained professional humorist, could make up anything as funny as, for example, the actual statements made by Sen. Larry Craig.


Sioux City, Iowa: The most important story of 2007 was the disappearance of the honey bees, but you omitted it from your review of the year. Shouldn't you at least go to Aruba and demand an investigation?

Dave Barry: I, personally, suspect that the honeybees' husbands are behind it. I believe Greta Van Susteren is on this story.


Paris: Don't you think that you ovedid the French bashing? It was about the only foreign country mentioned. Very telling if you ask me.

Dave Barry: I also mentioned Miami.


1957?: Not such a great year, Dave. That October was when Sputnik went up, and then Americans were all terrified that it was just a matter of time till the Soviets dropped a hydrogen bomb on us from their next satellite. Maybe 1956 would be better.

Dave Barry: I know! I was there! The Russians sent up Sputnik, and all the grownups in America were like, "Whoa! Our kids need to learn math and science so we can catch up to the Russians!" And so we kids -- who had been MINDING OUR OWN BUSINESS and had NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH THE COLD WAR -- had to learn all this math and science. The cosine, for example. I still hate the Russians.


Angleton, Tex: Dave, I see you failed to note the accomplishments of the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots in your "year in review". Do you think this will negatively impact your presidential campaign?

Dave Barry: I feel they were overshadowed by the achievement of the Miami Dolphins, who came within a single game of perfection.


Alexandria, VA: You are going up to New Hampshire to write about the primary? Don't let Joel Achenbach see you. He'll think you are muscling in on his territory and you know how vindictive he can get.

Dave Barry: I will break him like a twig.


Des Moines, Iowa: We have one early return from the Whig Party Caucus:

Dave Barry 1

Keith Richards 0

Based on these early and only results, you are projected to win the Iowa Caucus. Do you have any statement?

Dave Barry: I want to thank the good person (or pig, as the case may be) of Iowa for this victory.


Annie Where-but-here: Do you think your beloved Miami Dolphins will make it to the World Series this year?

(Yes, I'm a bitter Yankee fan still stinging from your 'roid-rage induced slur against them in your "An Inconvenient Year.")

Dave Barry: I'd say the Dolphins have about the same chance as the Yankers.


Olympics 2008: You did realize that the Pole vault is also open to non-Slavs?

Dave Barry: (Rim shot.)


Indianapolis Ind: Will 2008 be the year you go for a new haircut? How about a "Trump" style?

Dave Barry: That is not my hair.


Arlington, VA: Speaking of Cheez Its, have you every put a few in your mouth, chewed them up to a moist, crumbly consistency, then spit them back out onto two fresh, whole Cheez Its to make a Chees It sandwich? Oddly enough, Amy Sedaris (another Washington Post nooner) does this too.

Dave Barry: We are just platonic friends.


Annandale, VA: How do we know you are really Dave Barry the Humor Columnist and Licensed Driver of the Weinermobile, and not the Dave Barry from my junior high that liked to eat chalk?

Dave Barry: Here, for DNA-testing purposes, is a sample of my sputum: ( ).


Bethesda, MD: I thought you were going to say something like Kintups is Sputnik spelled backwards. Do you have an anagram program on your computer to come up with all that stuff?

Dave Barry: Yes, although I used to do my anagrams manually. I worked hard at it. Back in 1992, during the New Hampshire primary campaign, I asked Sen. Paul E. Tsongas, then a strong presidential contender, if he was aware that the letters in his name could be rearranged to spell "Gaseous Plant." He frowned thoughtfully, then said, "I know of no evidence to support that allegation." He was my favorite candidate.


Siouxie from the frozen south ( Miami): What do you think about global warming now???

Dave Barry: I want it to come back to Miami.


Alexandria, VA: Are you actually friends with Weingarten? He is the epitome of the word "curmudgeon", which is derived from "cur" - an angry dog; "mud" - which he slings at Republicans, and "geon" which is the end of "dungeon" - which is where he should end up. Your thoughts?

Dave Barry: Gene would never last in a dungeon. He'd be whining and complaining constantly, and his cell would be a mess. Eventually they would throw him out.


Downtown, DC: You had gravity in high school???? Why, when I was a boy, we had to float to school uphill both ways through the snow. Now get off my lawn.

Dave Barry: Har.


Annie Where-but-here, California:"He now spends a lot of time in pajamas."

Whose pajamas?

Dave Barry: Everybody involved is a consenting adult.


Piscataway (Pa Saw Ya Tic): Is it true that in secret Senate testimony the Deputy Attorney General revealed that the letters in Alberto Gonzales's name can also be used to spell A Bologna Seltzer and Lee Lost Garbanzo?

Dave Barry: OK, now they are going to track you down and kill you.


Los Altos, Calif What are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint? Me? I bought smaller shoes.

Dave Barry: I am putting those weird twisty lightbulbs in the servant quarters of all my houses and both of my yachts.


Mens Wear Dept, Tysons Corner: Is Liz the Tat Celebritologist producing this discussion? No. Someone much meaner and pricklier.

Dave Barry: Which is hard to imagine.


Alexandria, VA: For years I've had this problem with food getting stuck between two molars. Do you think I could win the Nobel Prize with my new book, "An Inconvenient Tooth?"

Dave Barry: That was a lot of work, I bet.


Arlington, VA: Dave, as a guitarist for the classic-rock band Rock-Bottom Remainders (a.k.a. We Can Play `Gloria'), what's your take on that new-kid-in-town bass player Mike Huckabee?

Dave Barry: He could never be in the Remainders. He plays way too many whaddycallems. Notes.


Lincoln University, PA: Dave,

My hometown paper is the Daily Local News of Chester County, PA. Have any message you'd like to pass along to readers "where it all began"?

Dave Barry: I'm sorry.


Living in the moment: Although I liked your chronological approach to 2007 in the article, I'd be interested in your view of our "best" and "worst" moments of the year.

Dave Barry: I would say that the worst moment of 2007 was when I diagnosed myself with appendicitis, liver failure and several kinds of cancer. The best moment was when my wife went on the Internet and determined that I in fact had a very mild case of shingles. Of course others may see it differently.


Vernon, Tex: I seem to recall you mentioning the US $ dropped below the Canadian $. If you didn't, you should have.

Do you predict the peso will be the next?

Dave Barry: I for one am highly entertained by how much pride Canadians are taking in the fact that their currency is stronger than the dollar. They're like, "Yes! Loonie POWER!"


Rockville, MD: Right now I'm working at a school (I'm a nurse) and have had to do a million chead checks for lice. Do you have anything funny that I could say to the kids while I'm poking through their hair?

Dave Barry: You could say, "Hmmm. Have you been around scorpions lately?"


judi: how come you always spell whaddycallems without the a after the y? is that an armonk thing?

Dave Barry: Aren't you supposed to be working?


Farmla, ND: Dave -

No flying livestock this year? Seems like a gross oversight. I mean, not one flying cow or pig anywhere in the world this year. Must be that Alberto Gonzales keeping the livestock down.

Dave Barry: I blame global warming.


Alexandria, VA: Dave:

My lunchtime Scrabble rack says BIPVIGO. Any ideas?

Dave Barry: Go out for a drink.


Accokeek, MD:"I in fact had a very mild case of shingles. Of course others may see it differently" I have no interest in seeing your shingles. Does that make me a bad person?

Dave Barry: Not necessarily. You might simply be insane.


Somewhere under the rainbow: Those of us who follow your blog understand that, as a pet, Walter can be a real handful. However, do you think that there will ever be another Adventure Dog?

Dave Barry: I dunno. Right now I have fish, but they're really not the same as a dog. For one thing, they're smarter.


Connecticut: With no shortage of glamour in Miami, why does your hair continue to be problematic?

Dave Barry: Do you think about my hair a lot? Because I think about your hair ALL THE TIME.


Washington, DC: Is there a picture of you typing at a computer so we know this is you?

Dave Barry: Here's one. I always wear a HAPPY NEW YEAR crown when I work, as did the late Marcel Proust.


Lunching at My Desk: Man, these little dill pickles are good. How do you think they grow those?

Dave Barry: Under brutally harsh conditions. The pickle workers have to squeeze themselves into those jars.


Washington D.C: Don't you think the Dolphins will be saved now by Bill Parcels?

Dave Barry: Yes, if he can play quarterback.


Washington, DC: The dopes at the IT department at have messed up your widget, such that when I click on the main heading (not the individual column titles) for your column on iGoogle, I get a bunch of useless html code, instead of links to all of your past columns. Please flog them accordingly.

Dave Barry: That's not a mistake. I am now writing all of my columns in html code. It is the future of journalism.


Washington, DC: If you were in charge of finding Osama Bin Laden where would you look?

Dave Barry: I would start with Gene Weingarten's desk.


San Clemente, Calif: How do you prioritize things? I mean, as a humorist it would be marvelous for you if Mike Huckabee were elected President, but as an American citizen it would be catastrophic. Which side of the coin wins out, sir?

Dave Barry: I am no different from Iowa farmers. They want the president to be in favor of agriculture. I want the president to provide me with material. In fact, for me, the ideal president would actually write jokes and email them to me.


Oakland, PA: What is the funniest thing about the Iowa caucuses?

Dave Barry: My favorite thing is when a candidate, for photo-op purposes, has to admire a pig. They used to have the candidates actually pick up baby pigs, but I think they stopped doing this, because of the danger that the pig would catch a disease.


Reston VA: I know I'm getting this in just under the wire, but after seeing your working photo and glimpsing you at Borders in DC a couple of months ago, I wonder if you can tell us your secret for continuing to look like a 30-year-old.

Dave Barry: Beer.


New York (NY): Considering the average humidity in Miami, I think it's

remarkable that your hair doesn't look like Phil Spector's

pre-trial 'do. I don't mean that this is necessarily a good

thing, just remarkable. What's your secret for making it (your

hair) just lie there, flat and lifeless?

Dave Barry: All it takes is a dab of mousse, and a soldering iron.


Dave Barry: OK, my work here is done. I need to go purchase jerky and snowshoes in preparation for New Hampshire. Thanks for joining me here, and for your questions. Have a fine 2008.


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