Chatological Humor: What's in a Name? (UPDATED 8.01.08)

Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 29, 2008; 12:00 PM

Daily Updates: WED | THURS | FRI

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: 37 and Younger | 38 and Older

Not chat day? Visit the Gene Pool.

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 or use WordPad. I haven't the time to edit them out. -- Liz


Gene Weingarten: Good afternoon.

Three readers wrote in to castigate me for my Sunday column, arguing that finding humor in anything about Hitler is deeply offensive and, perforce, not funny. This leads directly to today's...

Instapoll! (Take only the one that applies to you: Either the Great One, for people who can access YouTube, or the inferior, Poor Wretch One, for people who don't.)

On a related topic, Mike Berger sent in this important historical document.


Due to an unfortunate incident with debris in the roadway, The Rib and I totaled our 1997 Toyota Rav 4 and bought a new car, meaning that the average age of cars in my household is now eight years instead of 13 and a half. Following a long-standing family tradition, our new car is cheap, highly reliable, and boring. It is an otherwise unwanted 2008 Honda Civic XE purchased off a showroom floor at about dealer invoice price.

The Rib asked me what color it was, and I said, naturally, as any guy who clicked on the link would say, that it was "red." She found this absolutely hilarious. She declared that it was "Beaujolais." I immediately agreed. But this did not seem to satisfy her. Some minutes passed, and then she said she had important new information: It was "ripe cherry." I immediately agreed.

But something was nagging at her. Something wasn't quite... right. Hours passed. Finally, she got a delighted look on her face. "It is candy apple!" she decided. I immediately agreed. All was right with the world, and we could go on with our lives.


I discovered that Hitler video (see Instapoll above) by accident yesterday when I was searching for "The Jeffersons" in connection with my Gene Pool item this week in which I invited readers to help me revise our four-year-old GSCOAT list. I am taking this seriously and will be offering some changes (though not as many as people want) in this week's update. As always, the list is definitive and may not be challenged.


From Chatological Humor's Departing of Just Sayin' -- From a recent article about a guy who went on a rampage in a Tennessee church, killing and maiming people, we learn this:

...Among the items seized from Adkisson's house were three books: "The O'Reilly Factor," by television commentator Bill O'Reilly; "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder," by radio personality Michael Savage; and "Let Freedom Ring," by political pundit Sean Hannity.


The CLOD, or Clip of the Day, is this excellent one from the ordinarily not-so-great Jimmy Kimmel:


Rarely do I compliment a celeb -- any celeb -- within these pixels, but I raise a jug today to toast Ms. Keira Knightley for this.


Please take today's poll. It was occasioned by a news story, widely circulated last week, from New Zealand:

A local girl has been made a ward of court today, in order that her birth name be legally changed. Court officials feel that the parents of nine year old "Tallulah Did The Hula In Hawaii" did not fully consider the ramifications surrounding the unusual naming of their first born. The girl will be removed from the care of her parents whilst a suitable name is found.

Other local children also being considered for Official Name Pardoning, include:

Sex Fruit Keenan Got Lucky Fish & Chips Stallion and Twisty Poi

Although these children will escape a lifetime of literal name-calling, others haven't been so lucky.

Judges deemed Number 16 Bus Shelter, Midnight Chardonnay and Violence as acceptable first names.

(I personally like Keenan Got Lucky. In terms of straightforwardness, it is reminiscent of last week's mention of Mr. "Peter Poon.")


The Comic Pick of the Week is Sunday's Doonesbury. I happened to be talking to Trudeau on the phone the day after he shipped this one out. Trudeau never says anything remotely self-aggrandizing, and he didn't that day, either, but I could tell he thought he did well in his Carlin tribute. He did.

The first runner up is Monday's nonsequiturial Zippy, and no, I can't tell you why it's great, it just is. Honorables: Sunday's Get Fuzzy, Saturday's Pearls, Saturday's Pooch Cafe.


Bad Baby Name - ville: Loved the poll. I'm a pediatrician in my mid 30's and I've kept a list of names that made me want to smack the parents. Currently, it's at 600+. I won't bore you with many as it would make you scratch out your corneas: AunRe (pronounced like the French Henri', parents were NOT French or anywhere close), Airyen (Erin), Azrieyale (Azriel), and the twins Atavia & Ajavia. Notice that I haven't even left the A's? I've met Christ, Prophet, Messiah, Myricle, LaMyracal, JaHeaven, Neveah (Heaven backwards, VERY popular), and Felon. I've met royalty: LaPrincia, Marquise, and Queena. What about O'Shun, Brooklyn, Brittin, Seqoya (sequoya) and Canyn (canyon). Even saw a Ji'had. The names cross all ethnic and socioeconomic lines, despite racist urban legends about new moms naming their children Chlamydia or Vagina (never seen it). Chivas and Courvoisiera (yes, after the liquors) are children of wealthy white parents. And I assure you that each and every name I listed was someone I personally have seen, not one I "heard about". And I'm quite good at keeping a straight face when I properly pronounce these names. Even my favorite: Deantr'Tyree (Dante).

Names for my own kids? The rules are: spelled correctly, nowhere near the top 50 list, after relatives if possible, NOT ending in "ah" or "en" (Emma, Hannah, Olivia, Mikaylah, Jaden, Caden, Braden, etc). If it is trendy (and I would know), I will NOT use it.

And for last names? I kept mine (common, two syllables). My husband kept his (rare, one syllable). We will hyphenate the kids (his-mine: sounds like a "real" last name, similar to VanHouten).

Gene Weingarten: Wow. Great post. Thank you.


Novak: Did you say anything nasty about him lately?

Gene Weingarten: Whew, not that lately!

About 15 months ago, I called him a "conservative hammerhead." But was not writing about his underpants, which seemed to be the previous connection with Teddy Kennedy and Tim Russert. Below the Beltway, (April 15, 2007)


Old Lady In, Tex.: I was going to write in that your humor plan in this week's column has a flaw: I think Dave Barry is the booger king...

However, instead I am writing to say that I am amazed that as of 8 pm CDT Sunday that 100 percent of men in my age cohort are saying that, were they 20-somethings, they would hope that their wives would take their last names. Am I out of touch because I thought it would be significantly less(though I did think it would be a majority--just by a slim margin)?

Jeepers, but you carriers of the Y chromosome are a mystery. Below the Beltway, (Post Magazine, July 27)

Gene Weingarten: As of this morning, eleven people have solemnly informed me via email that "boogers" is already taken by Dave Barry. Imagine my embarrassment, since I had hired Dave and personally edited all of those booger columns, and had even read Dave's excellent book, "Boogers Are My Beat."

Fortunately, the "take my name" guys are no longer in a majority. Still, as I am answering this, about one in four guys, in both age groups, wants his lady to surrender her name for his.


Philadelphia, Pa.: I like how "Sally Forth" discovers that their 10-year-old daughter is really 36. This proves so many theories of alternate universes.

Gene Weingarten: I meant to add this to the comic picks. It's terrific. I am pretty sure I was the inspiration for this. Last week, in the Gene Pool, I noted Hilary's real age. Marciuliano mentioned this in his blog. I think he got that strip in in a hurry.

This also reminds me of an awful thing. Last Friday's Candorville contained some awful editing by The Post. In the version as drawn, and as appears online, the last panel contains comics-curse symbols to mean, obviously, "nuts." In The Post, they reworded it to say "ears."

Killed the joke entirely. Sally Forth, (July 28)


Poll - Girls' Names: I'm Jewish, therefore I'd never pick "Mary" as a name. Otherwise, it's a fine name. I love the name "Sarah," but not "Sara" without the "H." I dislike unconventional spellings of conventional names. Sara is borderline as it's been around for a while, but I much prefer Sarah.

My pet peeve is people who give their children family names as first names THAT AREN'T THEIR OWN FAMILY NAMES. Please stop it with the baby Tylers, Taylors, Quinns, Madisons, and McKenzies, unless it happens to be your own mother's maiden name.

Gene Weingarten: Well, I am Jewish and named my daughter Molly, which is a diminutive of Mary.


Name Game: Perhaps I don't match the demographic of most of your readers, but I found your list of name choices very 'white bread', for lack of a better term. Did you consider that some people may choose a name for their child that reflects their cultural background?

Gene Weingarten: You're right. I picked from the top 50, where there aren't many non whitebread names, but you're right.


Gene Weingarten: A woman just emailed me to inform me that the car is OBVIOUSLY "Red delicious." I immediately agreed.


Baby Names, DC: My husband and I are expecting our first kid soon. Because we are big believers in old-fashioned names--the kind that stand the test of time--we took a long walk through the Congressional Cemetary, looking at the older headstones for inspiration. We came up with a good list of names, including the one we intend to use. And no, we didn't urinate on any of the graves.

Gene Weingarten: I think that is a great way to find names, but be careful!

Liz, can you link to my column from several years ago on names in Congressional Cemetery? Search for, um, "Tuesnelda." Below the Beltway, (Post Magazine, April 7, 2002)


60 years from now, America: Grandma Hayley and Grandpa Dylan. That's all I have to say.

Gene Weingarten: How about Grandma Kaitlyn?

I will reveal here that this is the single worst name on the list. It is surpassed only by Madison, which I did not put on because my views are already known and I doubted it would get any votes.

The name is Caitlin, a fine name. "Kaitlyn" declares Kuteness and a severely misplaced attempt at Creativity. It stands ignominiously beside such abominations as "Ashlee" and "Tiffani." And here is the single most horrifying fact, and the reason I did this poll: According to the official baby naming list, it currently surpasses Caitlin in populrity.

Gene Weingarten: I have just put this question to my good friend Caitlin Gibson. Here is her take:

"Rather than Kaitlyn, I'd have preferred that my parents named me Goatsucking McDoof Gibson."


slippery jingles: Gene, normally your column is the funniest thing in the Sunday paper but this Sunday the funniest thing was The Four Clears and the Four Unclears. I was rotating around on my chair like a weeble wobble, laughing. You sometimes take higgledy piggledy challenges; how about incorporating underpants into shunkouliu? Rhymes Against the State, (Post, July 27)

Gene Weingarten: I shall do so in a modern manner.

Beneath the bottom of Her Royal Majesty Elizabeth II -- 38th in direct line of descent from Egbert, King of Wessex and England, protector of the realm of Commonwealth, Supreme Governor of the Church of England ¿ underpants!

Beneath the bottom of Hu Jintao ¿ benevolent paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China ¿ underpants!

Beneath the bottom of Adolf Hitler -- genocidal maniac ¿ underpants!

Beneath the bottom of Saddam Hussein, two-bit tyrant -- underpants!

Beneath the bottom of Mormons - underpants!

Beneath the bottom of some some silly looking dudes ¿ underpants!

Beneath the bottoms of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, the wonderfully named Shamita Shetty and Lily Allen ¿ not so very much, maybe.


"The Rib and I totaled our 1997 Toyota Rav 4": Either you are being gallant or you are in denial. Who was driving? Both of you?

Gene Weingarten: Being gallant, but not her fault. Debris-caused blowout, car veers, strikes parked car. Everyone safe and sound, so no biggie.


Listen Up, New Parents: You are not special.

You are not a celebrity with enough money that your child can live above the world.

Your child is not a toy.

He or she is not here to fulfill your self-absorbed sense of artistic entitlement.

No naming the child after a city, unless the city is Charlotte or Savannah or Elizabeth or Cleveland or Washington--but not Madison.

Before making a final selection of some stupidly spelled derivation of a normal name, like "Madisyn," Google it and make sure there's not a porno actress with that name.

He or she will hate you if his or her name isn't something that's easy to spell, simple to remember, and common enough to not have to explain.

And no alternating last names; it's challenging enough to keep people straight without worrying about siblings who seem unrelated. Plus, it's just moronic.

If you want your child to move out before the age of 30, name him or her after a respected relative. This, and only this, is the acceptable explanation for many unusual names. And if it's something really offbeat, why the hell can't you use it for the middle name?

Gene Weingarten: I'm with you totally until your last two points: I think alternating last names is kind of cool. And though I agree on the middle name thing, I simply cannot parse the first part of your last point.


Name Changing: I talked to my Brother-in-law about this when he and my sister got married. She kept her name, and it bothered him. I asked why, and after deploying all the usual arguments (unity, tradition, etc.), which I could tell were BS, he finally admitted that his only real objection was that his friends would think him a ... well, a cat, as it's known in England. He found it immasculating. An informal survey of guys about my age (31) shows similar results. The only women they know that keep their names are the kind that totally dominate their husbands, and this is what these men associate with keeping your name.

So, is this typical, or do I run with a strange crowd?

Gene Weingarten: I'm afraid it's typical, but it SO wrongheaded.

I am speaking more for my generation than any prior or subsequent ones here. But back in the late 60s and 70s and early 80s, when we were getting married, keeping one's name was a political declaration by a woman: I am not owned by anyone. I wanted and expected both my wives to keep their name, which they did. And I felt that in a small way this reflected positively on me: I have the confidence to marry a strong and independent woman.

I still feel this way, but admit (shockingly) an evolution of thinking on this matter. We are in a post-feminist world, I guess, where the disturbing notion that a woman might be owned or subjugated by her husband is no longer in play, and no longer needs to be denied. I think the fact that younger women are changing their names in greater percentages reflects this, to a degree.

In the poll, the reason I asked people to imagine themselves 20-somethings when making this decision is that I think the calculus changes dramatically for a woman marrying in her mid-30s or 40s. She has had her name a much longer time as an adult, it has stronger professional associations, etc.


Washington, D.C.: Gene, if there's one thing Jews have never had to be insecure about, it's humor. Kicked out of homeland, pogroms, centuries of discrimination, relegated to the jobs nobody else will take, fine whatever. At least we're funnier than everybody else. We've always had that. We always will.

Most of the great comedians are Jews. Case in point right here in this chat. You are the Pulitzer Prize winning Jewish humor columnist at the most prestigious newspaper in the United States, possibly the world.

In your most recent column, by far the funniest lines were written by... Hitler.

Please provide a response that will restore our faith Jewish humor.

Gene Weingarten: Can't. Laughing too hard.

You're right. It WAS a good joke. No denying it.


Hitler Hum, OR: Laughing at Hitler is not only not inappropriate, but extremely important. It's empowering. It belittles not his atrocities, but Hitler as a man. It allows us to take a man who thought he was omnipotent, and literally turn him into a joke. Mel Brooks has made this point quite eloquently, especially in interviews regarding The Producers.

Gene Weingarten: Wasn't that video great? There are a whole bunch of youtube videos out there in which Hitler is made to sing, but they all suck. And this one is ... genius. The lip-syching is great, the movements are great, the audience shots are great.


"I happened to be talking to Trudeau on the phone the day after he shipped this one out. ": You misspelled "shipped." Shoulda used "t"'s intead of "p"'s.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Maryland: Since Mary (i.e., mother of Jesus) was Jewish, why would that be a bad Jewish name?

Just curious.

Gene Weingarten: I guess because she is worshipped only by Christians. Uh, you don't see too many Jewish Jesuses, either.

I wonder if there EVER has been one. Um, since the beginning one.


Reston, Va.: Gene, I'm a woman and the car is red. Just plain red. It's not red. A fire engine is red.

Gene Weingarten: I bet there is not another woman out there who would agree with you.


Alexandria, VA: Howdy Gene -

The question I wish had been on your poll -

If you DID change your name and had it to do over again, would you?

I would not. It's been over 5 years and I'm still not feeling my new name - I'd change it back but feelings would be hurt, and old fashioned relatives would bug me about it endlessly. It's not worth it. But if I could go back and redo it, I'd keep my old name - 'cause it was a good one.

Gene Weingarten: Thanks.


Lincoln, NE: Can't there be a way for online versions of papers like The Post to allow the reader to turn off the hyperlinks within stories? I end up reading every underlined word with extra emphasis, and this is so very annoying.

Gene Weingarten: I don't think so.

And I have to say, I think this is something of a quasi-scandal that the newspapers -- most papers do it, sadly -- are, um, not covering for some reason.

They contend these hyperlinks are a convenience for readers, and one that is easily ignored by those who do not wish to avail themselves of it, but the fact is it is mostly an annoyance and these links rarely helpful and often comically misdirected. The scandal part is that this is being done to increase page hits: Virtually all (if not in fact, all) links are to Washington Post pages.

As I said, this is an industry-wide practice and while I understand the impulse, I think it is at its heart a little deceitful. It is true that these can be ignored, but it is truer that they contribute to the inconvenience of the reader.

Why deceitful? Because they serve an unacknowledged commercial purpose, cheesily inflating the perceived advertising value of the product.

Until newspapers figure out a better way to monetize the Web, I don't think you're going to see this practice changed.

I suspect that if I were working for a lesser newspaper, I'd be reprimanded for this post. I won't be.


Atlanta, Ga.: Hi Gene, I was wondering if you had seen what a different news Web site has been up to lately. On I had noticed that the headlines have gotten increasingly creative and not necessarily in a good way. Now they have revealed why this is the case. Next to some of the more creative headlines is a little t-shirt icon where you can order a t-shirt with the accompanying headline on it. So today if you wanted a shirt with "Shark lunges at Anderson Cooper" on it you're in luck (although this is one of the tamer examples).

To me this seems like a very odd thing for a news Web site to do. It sounds more like the Onion than CNN. I'm sure The Post never thought of capitalizing in this way?

Gene Weingarten: Wow.

Okay, I kind of like this. It's creative monetizing, unlike the previous post.


Washington, D.C.: Gene, does your Civic have the digital dash--where the speedometer, fuel gauge, thermometer, et cetera are all digital? I just zipcar'd a Civic last weekend and felt I was at the helm of the starship enterprise. While it's easy to read and look at, does it bother your analog tendencies?

Gene Weingarten: Once you are getting a new car, you have already surrendered your analog tendencies. This thing does EVERYTHING for you. It changes the volume of the radio automatically depending on the loudness of the engine.

So I just suck it up, vis a vis the dash.


Dork, US: George Carlin out it best:

And I'm getting really sick of guys named Todd. It's a good f-----g name OK.Hi whats your name? Todd.I'm Todd. And this is Blake, and Blaire and Blaine and Brent. Where all these goofy f-----g boys names comin' from. Taylor, Tyler, Jordan, Flynn. These are not real names. You wanna hear a real name? Eddie. Eddie is a real name, what happened to Eddie he was hear a minute ago. Jackie and Johnny and Tommy and Bill. Danny, Larry, Johnny, and Phil. What happened? Todd. And Cody, and Dillon, and Cameron, and Tucker. Hi Tucker, I'm Todd. Hi Todd, I'm Tucker. F--- Tucker, Tucker sucks. And f--- Tuckers friend Kyle. Thats another soft name for a boy. Kyle. Soft names make soft people. I'll bet you ten times out of ten, Nicky, Vinnie, and Tony would beat the s--- out of Todd, Kyle, and Tucker.

Gene Weingarten: He DID out it best.

This is great.


Washington, D.C.: What, do you not like hyphenation? I had a hard time with parts of the poll because I am already married, we both hyphenated, and our kids will have the hyphenated last name as well. Both of us wanted to keep our names, but it was also very important to my partner to have the same last name as each other and as our future children... so hyphenation was a good option.

Also I picked Kaitlyn, not because it's necessarily my favorite but because it is currently high on the list since my sister stole (I mean used) the name we were planning on using for a girl. Kaitlyn gets us the nickname Kate since Kathryn is now out.

Why did the last two questions assume that only women need to make a decision about whether to change their name? I know more and more men changing theirs as well - either to hyphenated or simply taking her name.

Gene Weingarten: This is a fine question, but I refuse to answer it because of that horribe thing you articulate in the middle of it. If you resubmit the question without that part, I will happily and respectfully answer it.


Washington, D.C.: My sister-in-law went to school with brothers named Lemonjello and Orangejello, pronounced La-mon-ja-lo and Or-an-ja-lo. Crazy.

Gene Weingarten: Haha.


Ballston Dude: Did I see Gene walking in Ballston today?

A khaki cap and a burgundy shirt?

Soup strainer looked like the one in his mugshot above.

Gene Weingarten: You should have known it was not me: A cap?


Takoma Park, MD: My wife and I discussed hyphenation, but it would have resulted in my son having the unfortunate surname "Shorter-Johnson". That just would have been cruel.

Gene Weingarten: Hahahahaha.


Headline T-shirts: This is an excellent idea. I think Gene should pick several phrases out of each chat that can be ordered on a T-shirt. He'd get fired, of course, but the T-shirts would be great.

Gene Weingarten: I am thinking from one a long time ago, during a week when Liz was on vacation. It involved tampons.


Dylan is God: If anyone is deserving of a child being named after him, it's Bob Dylan. I don't have children, but if and when I have a boy, Dylan it'll be. If the wife doth protest, I'll be forced to pull a Major Major behind her back, consequences be darned. Poet Laureate of a generation. A Musical Deity if there ever was one.

Dylan would be a great subject for a gender poll. In my experience, hero worship of Dylan falls on gender lines. It's bad enough that none of y'all are funny, but if you can't appreciate Dylan? Sheesh....

Gene Weingarten: I would not name a son Dylan, and there ain't no bigger Dylan fan than I am.

I REALLY had trendy, particularly after a major TV character has that name.

Gene Weingarten: Er, I mean I really "hate" trendy, not had.


Bethesda, MD: So, was it a coincidence that your Sunday column was about underpants and the XX Files column on the prior page was about wedgies?

Gene Weingarten: It was!

Rachel Manteuffel's excellent XX Files piece was written months ago.

Next week, we'll try to get Sietsema to reference undies.


Charlotte, N.C.: My 31-year-old husband says he would have a moustache if it was socially acceptable for a man under 40. He's even started a Facebook group to spread the word. I'll admit that the first time I saw him with a moustache that I couldn't look at him for a few hours, but the skeeviness of it does eventually wear off. I think the girlfriend of last week's chatter should not go the Lysistrata route but instead embrace the stache.

Actually, what these men need is a hot, young male celebrity to rock a stache -- preferably at the Oscars or someplace with a lot of media coverage. That will bring moustaches back into the mainstream for younger men.

Gene Weingarten: Agreed!

I think staches still happen to young black men, no? Or is that only geezer black men?

Hm. Maybe it is only geezer black men:

Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson, Jr. I think Jason Lee and his stache are pretty hot. Too bad he's a wacky Scientologist.


Jewish Jesuses: Isn't Jesus just the anglicized version of Yeshua, or Joshua? Plenty of Jewish Joshuas out there.

But I'm just a goy from Jersey, so I could be wrong.

Gene Weingarten: Couple of people have said this. True? I didn't know. M


Washington, D.C.: Lemonjello and his bro are from Freakonomics. I'm going to bet that's where the story's from, not from real life someone going to school with them.

Though the book is annoying, there's a whole fascinating chapter on names, the most interesting part being marginalized communities co-opting "upper class" names to make their children seem more white-bred, and the ghetto-ization of those names and how the upper class will no longer use them. very interesting.

Gene Weingarten: Ah. I should have sussed that.


New Car: So, if you came home tonight and discovered someone had dented your new car bumper parallel parking in the spot behind your car, would you still not care? Would your wife share your view?

Gene Weingarten: If it were the result of a tap, neither of us would care. We live in the city.



Petworth: For Alexandria:

I did change my name back. No, I didn't divorce him. I, like you, just never got used to it. And yes, I got a lot of crap from people who didn't understand but you know what? It's my name, not their name, so in the end, it only matters what I think.

I tried to just change it back, because I still had the marriage license and the birth certificate, and figured if that worked to go one way, it should work to go the other.

Nope. Had to go to court. They told me that I could have done it without going to court before 9/11/2001, but now the world is dangerous and I had to prove I wasn't a terrorist. Stupid people, all I wanted was to drop the name I had added on the end of my name 15 years before.

Gene Weingarten: Wow.


Yes, it's red: I'm a woman and that car looks red to me.

This reminds me of a dicussion several years ago while shopping for bridesmaids dresses. The bride told us she didn't care what color we picked, so we were making a group decision about what we wanted. We picked a sample and started talking about what the color was. One gal from the group said she thought it was "eggplant", but the shop owner disagreed, "I think it's more aubergine."

Gene Weingarten: Only 40 percent of the audience will get why that is funny, and only because this is a very smart and educated audience.


"the skeeviness of it does eventually wear off.": I believe this endorsement of mustaches is a perfect example of the expression "damning with faint praise."

Gene Weingarten: Agreed. I was not inundated with endomiums to the moustache, from ladies.


Sietsema's Underpan, TS:: "Next week, we'll try to get Sietsema to reference undies."

Maybe if you'll accompany him to an Indian restaurant!

Gene Weingarten: Hahahaha.


Scrabulo, US: Oh my -- I'd be interested in knowing if any other chat participants are Scrabulous players. Facebook has removed this application and I think it might cause an uprising.

Gene Weingarten: Scrabulous is excellent. Why'd they remove it? I wonder if there was a threatened lawsuit.


Washington, D.C.: I'm amazed at the decline of VPL discussion in this chat. I can't even remember the last time it had more than a one-time mention, though I can't even remember that one time mention. Has VPL jumped the shark?

Gene Weingarten: I should have counted VPL mentions in my Sunday column. That would have raised the ten-year total to over 200.


Names: You can predict what kids will be named in 10 years by examining DOG names now.

20 years ago, people thought Max, Sam, Connor, and Kate were really cute dog names (I knew THREE dogs named Max). Female dogs were being named Reilly. For the last 10 years, guess what people have been naming their kids.

I hereby predict that in 10 years, we will see boys named Chester and girls named Murphy.

Hideous side note: I know a whole pile of little girls named Reagan. In 20 years, will we have a bunch of Republican parents naming their little girls "Bush"? Just wondering.

Gene Weingarten: Haha.

Negatory on Bush, but a funny idea.


New York, N.Y.: A baby name shouldn't be written off just because it is on the top 50 list - Emily and Hannah are both real, traditional and beautiful names.

Gene Weingarten: Tom The Butcher's younger daughter is Emily. Achenbach's middle daughter is Isabella. One and two on the names list for 2007. Neither was particularly popular in the year they were named.


Rockville, MD: "Only 40 percent of the audience will get why that is funny, and only because this is a very smart and educated audience. "

Well, the other 60 percent can Google it and find out why it's very funny.

Gene Weingarten: Yes.


Jesus: The Greek language (in which the New Testament was originally written) doesn't have the SH sound, so Moshe became Moses and Yeshua became Jesus.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Richmond, Va.: I really feel sorry for kids who are festooned with cute names. I know of a couple with the last name of "Driscoll" who named their daughter "Krystal."

"Krystal Driscoll." Kinda rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Man. If that isn't actionable child abuse, I don't know what is. My dad wanted to name me "Belle." He was serious, too. Horrific.

My mom had to put her foot down.

Gene Weingarten: My first intimate relationship was with a Belle.


eggplant/aubergine: I like the color zucchini, but my friend likes courgette.

Also, I prefer raisin, while she likes sultana.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


The Internet: According to the third paragraph of your Sunday column, "In my weekly chats and blogs, the incidence of 'underpants' alone raises the total to well over 100."

This is a fantastic example of "burying the lede" like we discussed in last week's chat! According to you yourself, Gene, YOU BLOG. In spite of your professed hatred for blogs. What do you have to say for yourself?

Gene Weingarten: I used the term most people would understand. It is imprecise.


The Name Poll: I can't be here for the discussion but maybe you can help me settle an issue with my husband since your poll is about children's names. I like the name Peter and want to use that name for my first son, assuming I have a boy. Part of the reason for that name is that I want to honor my father who died almost 18 years whose name was Peter. My husband and his immediate family feel that a child named Peter would be teased horribly since Peter has been used has the name of a penis. I say no one uses Peter as slang like that anymore and Peter is just as good a name as any.

Gene Weingarten: I think it's okay unless your last name is Johnson, Wiener, or Dickstein.

However, Peter as penis remains a convention.

Liz, can you link to a picture of Peter Griffin from Family Guy? Please note his chin. Peter Griffin


It doesn't matter to me?: So as of this AM, most men in the younger camp are voting that it wouldn't matter to them if their wives changed their names...I don't believe it. Nearly all of my guy friends, liberal, open-minded, women-loving, reasonable men that they are, really wanted their wives to take their last names once they got engaged. Including mine! I'm in my late 20s, got married five years ago. And I did change my name, but my husband comes from a pretty broken family, and it was important to him that we build a cohesive, strong, family unit -- I felt that it was important enough to him for a reason other than "because that's how it's done" for me to make the change. My choice would have been to keep my name, but I didn't feel as strongly about it as he did about the family-solidarity thing. I have been lobbying for him to add my maiden name as a middle name, though...

Gene Weingarten: I think this is as good and loving a reason for changing your name as I can imagine.


Baby naming conventions: I named my son one of the names on the list, but wouldn't choose that name today -- while it is not an Old Testament name or terribly trendy (it's an old, respectable and well-used name) it has gotten much too popular.

Alternating Last Names: I have a family member who alternated his childrens' last names. While it has sowed some confusion, it permitted their younger child to develop a separate identity from the very gregarious and high-achieving older child.

Last name at marriage: I have three words for the youngsters who will change their last names at marriage: high divorce rate. Not to be too cynical about it, or anything. Every woman I know who got married in her twenties and took her husband's last name reverted to her birth name, whether through divorce or as a result of some other desire to establish a separate identity. I've never understood why they were so eager to give up their last names in the first place.

Gene Weingarten: All good points.


Rockville, Md.: We named our son after Bob Dylan, and he's one of only two "Bobs" in his Kindergarten Class.

Gene Weingarten: Noted.


Public Service Announcement: Folks,

We, your fellow readers, appreciate your wanting to participate in the fun of creating city/state monikers that use the last two letters of a word or phrase as the state. But please be advised that THIS IS ONLY FUNNY IF THE LAST TWO LETTERS ARE AN ACTUAL STATE. "Hitler Hum, OR"? Well done. "Sietsema's Underpan, TS"? Not so much. Get with the program, people.

Gene Weingarten: This is an old gripe, but people still do it.


Bethesda, MD: Gene,

This is from a Post article on the execution of some guy in Virginia. Is this at least a little funny? I laughed when I read it, my girlfriend was horrified when I laughed. The guy, however horrible, seemed to have some sense of humor.

Emmett, 36, was pronounced dead at 9:07 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, according to Larry Traylor, a Department of Corrections spokesman. The execution was the fourth in Virginia this year.

According to Traylor, Emmett's last words were: "Tell my family and friends I love them. Tell the governor he just lost my vote. Y'all hurry this along; I'm dying to get out of here."

Gene Weingarten: Of course it's funny! It's funny because he wanted it to be funny.

In the 1950s some about-to-be executed guy whose last name was Wood joked that the world was about to see an experiment to prove the effects of electricity on wood.


Hideous side note: I know a whole pile of little girls named Reagan. In 20 years, will we have a bunch of Republican parents naming their little girls "Bush"?: Yes, but in those folk's defense, there is NOT a Bush in Shakespear. Ha -- My niece is named "Regan." She's a sweetheart and, according to my brother, "Regan" is an old Irish name. Also, my brother is an ultra right-wing conservative. Hmmm.

Gene Weingarten: Also, the name in King Lear IS "Regan."


Baby Names: If I ever have a son, I'm going to give him a biblical name: Satan.

Gene Weingarten: As we have pointed out before, there is a pro hockey player whose last name is Satan.


Fred from New Orleans: Since you have not seen fit to publish any of my comments from the last five weeks, I am not sending one this week.

Gene Weingarten: Great!


Love my 93 Civic: Manual or Automatic? Mine is a manual and it's still fun to drive, even though it's just used to run into NYC since we can't get three car seats across the back - kids do not pimp my ride.

Gene Weingarten: To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall, clearly you know nothing of my work.

If you look at the link, I think you can see the shift knob.

_______________________ I think Jason Lee and his stache are pretty hot. Too bad he's a wacky Scientologist.: I love the fact that this comment from Liz is made to appear that it is a definitive pronunciation invested with all the authority of, an authority built upon Eugene Meyer, Philip and Katharine and Donald Graham, Ben Bradlee, Woodward and Bernstein, David Broder, Meg Greenfield, Courtland Milloy (who also rocks a stache, if memory serves), Leonard Downie, and countless other gods of journalism. Oh, calm down.

Gene Weingarten: I know enough about Scientology to second Liz's pronouncement.


Peter: Gene, you are wrong. My brother, who is 25, is named Peter. He never got the penis/Peter thing. Ever. No one uses Peter to refer to a penis anymore. Especially not kids who are of the age to be making fun of another kid's name. Peter is a perfectly fine name. You are just wrong on this one.

Gene Weingarten: Explain Peter Griffin.


20-something name changes: Gene! Another chatter brings up a good point! How many of these guys would take their new wife's name? Or is that a whole 'nother issue?

Gene Weingarten: I would have, but the grandparents would have freaked. Both sets.


Bologna, Italy: Here in Italy (where I teach English and have a lot of opportunity to talk to people of all ages), the married name question is entirely moot - the women keep their maiden names by law, and every doorbell has two names beside it. Fifty years ago they didn't, by law. They are astounded that American women still change their names more often than not, and also by the fact that it's a controversy one way or the other. However, most of them say that in some contexts they are often referred to as Signora (Husband's name) - for instance, at a function of her husband's work, or in anything regarding their children.

Actually, this is exactly what my mother did. My friend's mother, on the other hand, took her husband's name and added her own surname to her middle name. In her professional life, however, she was still Dr. -maiden name], because that's what was written on her PhD. Both good compromises, I think.

Gene Weingarten: By LAW? Wow.

I'm not for that. Too much state influence, there.


Alexandria, VA: When I got married in my 20s in 1979, I was a feminist, but I changed my last name to that of my husband with no hesitation for one reason only: to get rid of my maiden name, which in English is a synonym for dirt. I love my family, but hate their name.

Turns out that the spelling of my maiden name was changed in the 1700s after an ancestor immigrated from Europe to this continent. If my family had kept the spelling used by the immigrant ancestor, rather than that of his descendents, I would have escaped a lot of teasing in childhood and probably would have kept my maiden name. My husband said he did not care if I did so (we had no children, so that is not an issue for him).

Gene Weingarten: Schmutz?


Strange nam, ES: We have gone through these decision-making processes, except that we have only daughters. The principle that we chose was to include my work in our kids' names. The first kid's middle name is from the scientific instrument used in a satellite that my wife and I both worked with when we met. My mean wife rejected Zena Selena for the second kid. We went with honoring a mathematician (female) instead, plus something science-related for her middle name. Yes, we are geeks. For last names, we kept our individual last names and the kids have my last name plus two middle names, one of which is my wife's last name. This does not work well with most U.S. forms. Due to a burst of girls in two generations, neither of our last names will get handed-down unless our society changes its habits, so the stakes were not high in making a decision about the family name. We figure the kids can keep my wife's last name in reserve for a pseudonym, since it sounds better than mine but already sounds made-up -- which it was, at Ellis Island.

Gene Weingarten: I can't judge whether you are as nuts as you sound until you tell me the final names you selected.


Tum, OR: I know that tumors are Very Sad and Very Serious, but this paragraph from the post story about Novak made me burst out laughing. It had to be on purpose, right?

Novak was a CNN commentator and co-host of the program "Crossfire" for 25 years, but left the network three years ago after uttering a curse word and walking off the set. He is now an analyst for Fox News.

Gene Weingarten: It made me laugh, too.


Washington, DC: Gene - can you explain the Jews for Jesus group for me? I've seen them around my downtown office a lot recently, and maybe if I had more time, I'd engage one of them in conversation, but in lieu of that, I'm coming to you. Wouldn't anyone who believes that Jesus is the Savior be a "Christian?" Also, what exactly are they doing on the street corners, trying to convert people? If so, how do they know who isn't Christian - are they basing their muggings of unsuspecting pedestrians on whether they "look Jewish?" I just don't get this organization at all, and I'd be interested in your insights.

Gene Weingarten: I'm sure they have a well thought out explanation, but yes. "Jews for Jesus" are "Christians." I mean, if you are born Jewish, and are for Jesus, then you are presumably for what Jesus taught, and worship him. This is being Christian exactly the way, say, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were Christians.


Young Black Men...: Definitely rock the 'staches and they are freakin HOT. If they have it grow down their chin then we call it a "Chin Strap." When it's "edged up" nicely, as we say, it just does something for the guy. Gives the woman the impression that he cares about his appearance. My daughter's father has one...hence the reason I have a daughter now....

I'm 26 years old, and smokin hot if it matters.

Gene Weingarten: Good to know. Thanks.


Washington, D.C.: Hi, Gene - original "flex and plopper" here. It's very rewarding to know that I'm part of the chat lore.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you. I'm laughing.


Just to prove you wrong: I hereby reprimand you.

So there. Nyah.

Gene Weingarten: Len?



Vet humor: While at the vet with our pups an hour ago, he had to express the glands of each. My rib said, "This must be the worst part of your job." He replied it was but added, "It's not as bad as it is for my brethren in large animal medicine." I told him about the picture you posted of Molly "up to her elbows" in work. He said, "Yeah, it's a rite of passage." He paused and then noted, "And on a cold winter day in Blacksburg (Va), it's the only way to stay warm."

Gene Weingarten: Hahahaha.


Peter O'Toole: Mr O'Toole got a DOUBLE phallic name. And he seemed to do okay.

Gene Weingarten: Yes. Right!


Baby names: Just why is it you don't see any kids named "Pillar of Salt" anymore?

Gene Weingarten: Job. There's a name you NEVER see. Or Ham.


Ha! Ha!: Loved Liz's last name on the poll! Oh, you find it funny, do you?

Gene Weingarten: I complimented Liz on this, too.


Arlington: Is Dana Milbank funnier than you? For consideration, I submit a tidbit from one of his video sketches.

At a press conference, Milbank asks the Assistant Treasury Secretary: "Are things worse than you expected? I read my colleague Steve Pearlstein's column and I think it's time to hide the valuables under a mattress and buy a shotgun."

Gene Weingarten: Milbank is terrific. Yes, funnier than I am, though I think he is weak in the underpants genre.


Old Classic Names: You could do a whole column on Richard. I grew up with Alan Bone (mid 40s). His father was Richard and he used the popular nickname.

Gene Weingarten: Remember the column I did about Richard Head? Real guy.


Mens Wear Dept, Tysons Corner: People who say that the color of your new Civic is Red Delicious, Sour Cherry, or Candy Apple are the sort of people who are most likely to hyphenate their surnames, name their daughter Kaytlin, and get matching "Juicy" tattoos.

The car is RED. Period.

Now if you want a descriptive name for a car color, recall the old Volvo 200 series from the mid 70s. The proper name for that color should be Booger Green.

Gene Weingarten: You said "red period."


Gene Weingarten: Now THAT would be a great car color. "Period red." The inside upholstery would be white cloth.


Pentagon, Va.: I beg to differ. There is a General Ham at the Pentagon. I am not making this up.

Gene Weingarten: But not a first name, right?


Washington, D.C.: So, did you try any of the suggestions for how to find 30" inseam jeans, or did the new car shopping take up all the time?

Gene Weingarten: Thirty-one, not thirty. And I did go to the Levi's website, which informed me they had all the listed sizes except 31.

I might have to do a whole column on this.


Columbia, MD: What do you think of this. I was very close to my grandfather, my brother was not. When my grandfather died my father inherited his B&O Railroad pocket watch which was dear to my grandfather. My father gave it to my brother, I guess mostly because he had a d--k I guess. I tried to get my dad to give it to me because it meant something to me since it meant something to my grandfather, he wouldn't saying that he had to leave it to his boy. This is almost as stupid as a woman taking a man's name when married just because he is the man.

Gene Weingarten: I do not sympathize.

Daughters get the jewelry.


Wife's Na, ME: I have been married twice (once in my mid-twenties), and neither time did my wife change her name. In this day and age, when women are (one would hope) no longer considered as property, it just doesn't matter any more. Further, since so many women have careers established in their maiden names, I think it makes more sense for a woman to keep her last name, for professional reasons.

The only time this caused me any problems was when I got divorced. The clerk's office rejected the filing because my (soon-to-be-ex) wife's last name appeared as it always was, and did not match mine. When I explained to them that she had never changed her name, they said they would need an affidavit to that effect. So I had to create "An Affidavit of Retention of Maiden Name." When I showed it to a divorce lawyer, she said "Ooh, that's good. Can I get a copy?"

Gene Weingarten: Haha.


San Francisco, Calif.: Were you at the Giants-Nationals game last Wednesday?

Gene Weingarten: Was I wearing a cap?



Arlington, VA: I have a language issue that I hope you can help me solve. Why is the word "microphone" shortened to "mike" as printed over and over by your paper and not "mic"?

Gene Weingarten: Because mic sounds like mick.


Chicago, Illinois: Hey Gene, Is Dana Milbank the Post's answer to Mark Leibovich or is it the other way around? In other words, who stole whose style?

Gene Weingarten: I think they're very different. I like them both. Liebovich is a good friend.


The New Civic: Question: Was the now-defunct RAV-4 a stick shift? I was heartened to see that it appears the new Civic is. Way to come through in the clutch!

(Also glad no one was hurt as a result of the RAV-4's demise.)

Gene Weingarten: Always stick shifts. The last non stick I owned was 1971.


Who said anything about Hitler?: Gene, please edify us with the names of the famous "faces in the crowd" in the Hitler/Jeffersons video.

Gene Weingarten: Well here is who I saw: Rudolph Hess introduces him. And in the crowd, recognizable, are Mussolini, Bormann, Goering, and, very briefly, Himmler.

There is also a guy near the beginning who I think is a Nazi priest, but I can't remember his name.


Biblical Names: What about Nimrod? He was a good guy in the Bible.

Gene Weingarten: Right. The name is gone, for some reason.

You don't see many Dorcases anymore, either.


Whatsinana, ME: Dr. Richard Feely, at NOAA, uses that nickname. You got a problem with that?

Gene Weingarten: Nope.


Tempe, Ariz.: Egad, people 37 and over STILL want to use the name Michael? Seriously? I just fell asleep while typing the word "Michael." Like every third person in the world is named Michael. It's over. Let's move on, folks.

Gene Weingarten: I am not big on Michael, but disagree with you in theory. I don't think a name can be too common to use. John is fine. (By the way, will someone out there please name his or her dog John? It's a great dog name, and I have never seen it. I would have lobbied hard for John if Murphy'd had a penis.)


DC: The problem with giving kids hyphened surnames is not the first generation, but the following one. David Weingarten-Smith might not be too burdensome, but when he marries Emily Anderson-Jacobs, the resulting hodge-podge of last names will doom their progeny in kindergarten when the kids get confused spelling their own last names. I think hyphened last names are short-sighted, and a poor example of what some people might think is compromise (splitting the middle isn't always going to work).

If you really want both last names to be present, just make one the middle name.

Gene Weingarten: Agreed. Also, they are by their nature long and cumbersome and contain a confusing hyphen, a reason alone not to do it.


Arlington Gay: Gene, thanks for a poll without a video! But I still had some problems. The most popular boys name doesn't work with my surname. The two girls names I liked best are already in use in my family, but I decided I had to use one of those anyway. (I didn't pick Emily, though.) But your hyphenating names question assumes hetero marriage. My partner and I got married last month but my hyphenating answers, while much the norm for my friends, is very much in the minority in this poll.

Gene Weingarten: Guilty as charged.

I try to make most polls gay-friendly, but some just can't be without some odd and confusing constructions. Apologies.


Denton, TX: I just thought I'd let you know that my husband took my last name when we married (I'm female). That wasn't an option on the quiz. It was his choice---I didn't even suggest it to him.

Gene Weingarten: Yay!


New York, N.Y.: My four-month old is Hannah Jane. Too popular? Who cares. It's nice.

Gene Weingarten: Sounds nice.


Changing your name: Six years into our marriage, my husband cited me not changing my last name to his as one of the reasons he cheated on me. He felt that we weren't "one" with different last names and he felt like less of a man. So, I guess a 33 year old man having sex with a 19 year old he met on the Internet is the perfect way to achieve one-ness and be more manly. We're divorced now, and not because of the cheating, which I was willing to forgive, but for his second new habit to pick up --hitting me. Again, it was to establish his manliness. Un-enlightened men can be such a-holes.

Gene Weingarten: Uh.


His pretext for cheating was great! About as weak an excuse as I can imagine.


Herndon, Va.: Okay Hoping Chatwoman doesn'tcensor the last bit of this but I used to handle divorces, custody and name changes in PG County Court, and I saw some "unusual" names to say the least (strangest child name was "A Dream Come True")

However my all time favortie name change petition involved a perfectly normal name-for her native country, however, as she wrote in the petition "mispronunciation of her first name is causing her great humiliation and embarassment"

That name?

The common Vietnamese name of Phuc

Gene Weingarten: The naked napalmed little girl in the famous picture was Kim Phuc.


College Park, Md.: Just have to say thanks for that whole joke on the two Savages from last week. After a few of those posts I had to go look them up on wiki, now I've got over a year-long backlog of Dan Savage podcasts to catch up on and I'm loving it!

Gene Weingarten: He is among the best advice columnists ever. Just a delight to read.


Red is Red: 2008 Honda Civic EX comes in Tango Red Pearl, according to the official Honda website.

Gene Weingarten: I believe that is the color, but that really communicates nothing, now does it?


Gene Weingarten: Okay, we're out of here. Thank you all. Updates as usual, including the revised GSCOAT list.


UPDATED 7.30.08

Gene Weingarten: One observation from yesterday: I was initially amazed, in the instapoll, that fewer than half of the respondents could not identify even a single fascist other than Hitler in that clip. Not Mussolini or Goering, whose faces are as familiar to me as any current world leaders. But I got to thinking about this, and realized that for readers under 34 or so -- roughly half the chat audience -- these people are not history, but really distant history. It would be like someone my age being expected to recognize images of Clemenceau or Kaiser Wilhelm or Lloyd George.

So, okay. You're not stupid. You're young.


Too late for this chat, BUT: That lemon jello, orange jello urban myth has been going around for years. Nobody's sister-in-law went to school with kids with that name. If every version of that story was true, we'd have hundreds of thousands of lemonjello and orangejello people out there. You got took in.

Gene Weingarten: This certainly appears to be an urban myth. It is repeated all over the Web, often denounced as an urban myth. Seldom does somone claim DIRECT knowledge; it is always as-told-to. suggests it is phony, though does not say so directly. And yet, we have the next post to contend with. This is interesting.


Gene Weingarten: Okay, this just in from someone I know, so I have no reason to doubt it --

I don't know who "Washington, D.C." is, but his/her sister-in-law is full of crap. Or "Washington, D.C." misunderstood, or remembers the story wrong. Orangejello and Lemonjello are GIRLS, thank you very much; they grew up in Norfolk and are now doing very nicely in Georgia as deputy sheriffs somewhere.

I know this because I was working for the health care company that provided their coverage when they were children, and every year when I did Large Group Analysis, I'd see their names come by on the member list.

I know about the deputy sheriff bit because there was a big discussion about odd names on some site, and someone trumped everyone with a tale of two deputy sheriffs in Georgia who -- swear to God! -- were named . . . well, you know what they were named.

My very own personal favorite, if one may use the term for hideous names, was a little boy who I hope grows up and punches his mother right in the eye. First off, his name is pronounced, "Simone" -- which is, of course, a woman's name.

It is spelled, "C'mon."

The little boy has a middle name. It begins with the letter "N."

His name is, "C'mon N."

I hope he punches her RIGHT in the eye!


McLean, Va.: This was the result of a competition between friends on who could piss the most people off.

I think he wins.

Gene Weingarten: Very fine.

"Hitler Rules" would have been better.


Warran, TY: Help, Gene... how do we make them stop? Surely I am not the only person who is being hounded by the Factory Warranty On Your Car is About to Expire people. I don't even have a car! I have tried the "press 2 to be removed from the list", as well as telling any live person I don't have a car, don't call me. I've reminded them I am on the Do Not Call registry. And still the calls keep coming. It is always a different voice on the recording, so I think there are multiple people/computers/companies at work on this.

They call my home number, my work number, AND my cell number (which I never give out except to friends).

I am going to go completely mad if I continue getting these calls... what is the deal????

Gene Weingarten: I get these at least once a day. Pressing two is the sucker's move, I think. It tells them there is a live person at that number.


UPDATED 7.31.08

Gene Weingarten: We begin today with an entertaining compendium of misperceptions, false assumptions, careless conflations and simple misstatements by me in the Chat on Tuesday.

First, I apparently did not stumble upon that great Hitler video while searching for information on the Jeffersons; it was the other way around, inasmuch as my friend Horace LaBadie reminds me that he had directed me to Hitler. HITLER directed me to The Jeffersons.

Second, I was wrong in guessing that Francesco Marcuiliano's sudden, startling mention of Hilary Forth's true age (36) was in playful response to my having done just that six days before The Gene Pool. I contacted Francesco to check: It turns out this was an amazing coincidence.

Third, I misrepresented The Washington Post's degree of guilt in the egregious Candorville affair. It turns out it the blame was more evenly shared between newspaper and cartoonist. Yes, The Post DID object to the suggested profanity that, in the readers' minds, would have transformed into "nuts." They asked Darrin Bell for a replacement strip. Instead, HE capitulated and transformed $#*! to "ears," thereby killing his gag on his own. He was Abraham, the joke was Isaac, and God (The Post) never said "stop."


Gene Weingarten: Also, in breaking underpants news:

LONDON (AP) ¿ Her majesty would not be amused. A pair of Queen Victoria's bloomers, with a 50-inch waist, were snapped up for $9,000 by a Canadian buyer at a central England auction Wednesday.

Auctioneer Charles Hanson said Queen Victoria's underpants belonged to "a very big lady of quite small stature with a very wide girth." She was said to be 5 feet tall.

The handmade knickers -- which date back to the 1890s -- bear the monogram -- VR -- for Victoria Regina. They are open-crotch style, with separate legs joined by a drawstring at the waist, a popular style in the late Victorian era.

The royal drawers belonged to a family in western England whose ancestor was a lady-in-waiting for the queen.

"These pants, considering their provenance and pedigree, are very exciting," Hanson said. "They are monogrammed and crested and we know that they are hers."

Also up for auction was Queen Victoria's chemise, with a 66-inch bust, sold for $8,000. Her nightgown sold for $11,000.

Thus, we learn that royal measurements were, apparently, 66, 50, and dare we guess, 66?


Hitler jokes: I've always liked this clip, because it makes no sense.

Gene Weingarten: Yes, completely idiotic. I am still laughing.


Alexandria, Va.: What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?

Gene Weingarten: His tasty-looking buttocks. They would make a fine rump roast.


Washington, D.C.: Would Madison haters be so vitriolic if it weren't so popular? It's not a terrible name by nature, especially if it's a family name. I knew a girl named Madison growing up, and I was born during the Ford administration so it's not as if parents started pulling it out of thin air. The same cannot be said of re-purposed names with terrible spellings. I'm on board with that hatred.

It's the first name/surname combinations that get me. How do you not know that Kelly Green and Charlie Brown and Heather Gray will spend the rest of their lives responding to lame wisecracks? Let's not mention Celestial Hickey (yes, a real one).

On a related note, my mother used to read French tabloids about European royalty and collected some fantastically horrid and lengthy names from the inbred landed classes. Most were English, but my favorite was an Italian countess: Pimpinella von Hohenlohe

Gene Weingarten: I once did a column on the egregiousness of Madison. It did not become at all popular until 1984, when the movie "Splash" came out. Madison was the name of Darryl Hannah's mermaid character. She took it from a street sign in New York because her real name, under the sea, was an ear-shattering squeal. She should have kept her birth name.

Liz, can you link to this column? Below the Beltway, (Sept. 21, 2003)


Carlin & names: "I'll bet you ten times out of ten, Nicky, Vinnie, and Tony would beat the s--- out of Todd, Kyle, and Tucker."

I've submitted this question before, but isn't this a perennial thing? Don't you think that 80 years ago some old coot was sitting on a park bench saying "Nicky and Tony are girls' names. Boys should be named Wilbur, Honus, or Ephraim."

Gene Weingarten: Yep.


Names: In the Sunday Post wedding announcements, there was a very long announcement for two doctors. Very successful and the bride was beautiful. Her parents were King and Dorothy. Her name: Dorkina I don't know what people are thinking.

Gene Weingarten: There were several reported sightings of this. And she is googlable: Dorkina C. Myrick, M.D.


EE, OC: I just want to say that as someone in a supervisory position, I won't hire people with stupid names. I don't care how qualified they might be. If I have to work with them every single day and I can choose, I will not put up with it. And that includes incorrect spellings. Just today I rejected someone spelled Karyn. I know it is not her fault, but I can't punish her iodiot parents.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, I have to say that your position is extreme, even to me.

I have often thought, though, that if I were in a hiring position and encountered someone with an ignorant name -- not cutesy or trendy, but ignorant -- I'd have to fight a prejudice against this person on the DNA theory that the apple never falls far from the tree.


UPDATED 8.1.08

Gene Weingarten: Considering your voting, and the passage of time, and the creation of new shows, here is the updated and final GSCOAT, or "Greatest Sitcom Characters of All Time."

1. Ed Norton ("The Honeymooners"); 2. George Costanza/Larry David ("Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm"); 3. Archie Bunker ("All In The Family"); 4. The Entire Huxtable Family ("The Cosby Show"); 5. Eddie Haskell ("Leave It to Beaver"); 6. Maxwell Smart ("Get Smart"); 7. Alice Kramden ("The Honeymooners"); 8. Kingfish Stevens ("Amos n' Andy"); 9. Barney Fife ("The Andy Griffith Show") ; 10. Edith Bunker ("All In The Family"); 11. Jim Ignatowski, "Taxi"); 12. Maynard G. Krebs ("The Life and Loves of Dobie Gillis"); 13. Ralph Kramden ("The Honeymooners"); 14. Alex P. Keaton ("Family Ties"); 15. Liz Lemon, ("30 Rock"); 16. Cosmo Topper ("Topper"); 17. Sgt. Ernie Bilko ("The Phil Silvers Show"); 18. Cliff Claven/ Norm Peterson ("Cheers"); 19. Roseanne Connor, ("Roseanne"); 20. Bill Bittinger ("Buffalo Bill"); 21. Louis DiPalma ("Taxi"); 22. Frasier and Niles Crane ("Frasier"); 23. Lois Wilkerson ("Malcolm in the Middle"); 24. Sophia Spirelli Weinstock ("The Golden Girls"); 25. Jack Donaghy, ("30 Rock"); 26. Larry Sanders ("The Larry Sanders Show"); 27. Dr. Robert Hartley ("The Bob Newhart Show"); 28. Lucy Ricardo ("I Love Lucy"); 29. Ted Baxter ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show"); 30. Frank Burns ("M*A*S*H)

The biggest news items: Recognizing of the importance of mainstreaming the black family into American comedy, but without a single standout character to represent it, The Entire Huxtable Family arrives at number 4. Maxwell Smart, an oversight in the original list, comes in at number 6. Both Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy, deeply rich, funny and flawed characters from "30 Rock" arrive on the list.

Notable losses: Granny Clampett ("The Beverly Hillbillies), Det. Phil Fish ("Barney Miller); Thurston Howell ("Gilligan's Island"), Hawkeye Pierce ("M*A*S*H) -- replaced by the more worthy Frank Burns -- Latka Graves ("Taxi,") -- likewise, replaced by Jim Ignatowski.

Notables still not included: Fred Sanford. Sorry, but a poor show and a thin character.

Notable still not moved: Lucy Ricardo.

A decent regard for the opinions of mankind requires an explanation for this last. Lucy Ricardo was the first woman to star in a sitcom. The show was a spectacular success, in part because everyone loved Lucy and in part because it was a magic ensemble featuring Fred and Ethel Merz and Ricky Ricardo, who was in his own way more of an amazing character than Lucy: He was a foreigner with a hair trigger temper and one of the first foils who actually got lots of the laughs himself. The fact is that after Lucy debuted, the success of the show was followed almost instantaneously by other shows about wacky gals with strong personalities: My Little Margie, Our Miss Brooks, I Married Joan, and even a precursor to the Golden Girls, something called "December Bride," starring the spry by well seasoned Spring Byington, always on the make. The fact is, as basic talents, these women were all in Lucy's caliber. It's just that Lucy came first, with the best show, and the best cast.

Okay, no one agrees with me.


Maryville, Md.: How is the 5-letter name Molly a diminutive of 4-letter name Mary?

Gene Weingarten: With naming, "diminutive" does not necessary imply smaller. It implies familiarity, a more familiary and affectionate version. Lincoln, for example, called his wife Molly, not Mary.

I looked "diminutive" up, just to be sure. I was delighted to note that the Wiki entry pointed out that "undies" is a diminutive of underpants.


Reston, Va.: The Post editing a COMIC??? - Makes me sad: I was horrified to see this happen and went online to confirm my suspicions. Just an awful, awful choice by The Post. I read some of the stuff that actually gets PUBLISHED and yet this is what they choose to focus their attention on?

Just shameful.

Gene Weingarten: The Post sees comics as just another item in the paper, subject to editing. I have no problem with this, theoretically. The editors are no more ethnically obliged to publish comics exactly as they come in from the cartoonist than they are obliged to publish unedited stories from their writers.

The problem in this case is that they ruined the joke. It was a "nuts" joke based upon what Jesse had actually said.


Greenbelt: Named our oldest daughter Ashley in 2000, thinking it was a nice, old-fashioned name (albeit masculine, a century ago), and not terribly frequently used.

Horrified to learn a year later that it was the #2 name for girls in 2001.

My god, I've made a "Heather".

Gene Weingarten: And you'll notice that the Heathers are gone. A spasm of trendiness.


Washington, D.C.: There's actually a Family Guy where Peter is stroking his chin, removes it, wonders how it got there, and then places it in his pants.

Gene Weingarten: Precisely.


Jus' sayin': I don't know which I HATE more, soul patches, or their name! Ick, the phrase just creeps me out.

Gene Weingarten: Just as I can say that I have never seen a bared midriff make a woman look better than she would look without a bared midriff: I have never seen a soul patch work to a man's benefit. It is a terrible bit of facial hair because it is so affected. I lump it with the bull nose ring, hanging down.


Harrisburg, Pa.: From a NYT article on the demise of airport lounges: "Airlines are looking to take fixed costs out wherever they can," said William S. Swelbar, a research engineer at the International Center for Air Transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Play spot the aptonym.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


San Diego, Calif.: Re: eggplant: At work, we were planning a lunch run, and I asked a nice young trainee if he wanted a squid sandwich. He said "Yuck, I don't like squid." He was all over my offer of a calamari sandwich, though...

Gene Weingarten: French restaurants get far more orders for sweetbreads than they would for thymus glands.


14th and Independence SW: I would just like to add that I have intimate, won't go on the record, knowledge that the staff of the Holocaust Museum LOVE Hitler jokes. It's a way to deal with the difficult subject matter without going insane, and also because it's a snub. Hitler would have HATED Hitler jokes.

Gene Weingarten: Exactly.

Just a photo of him in liederhosen does the trick.


Arlington, Va.: I was never really sure how I felt about Hitler jokes, until I saw the Web site "Cats that Look like Hitler." I laughed very hard for a few minutes, and then realize where I stood on the issue.

Gene Weingarten: I think we have linked to the Kitlers before, but it is worth a second look. All-time best number three is my favorite.


Next Week's Chat.


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