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John Kelly's Washington

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John Kelly
Friday, March 12, 2010; 12:00 PM

Post Metro columnist John Kelly was online to chat about the people and stories that don't make the front pages, plus his latest columns.

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John Kelly: Sorry for the late start. A few technical gremlins visited us. I wrote this week about the favorite D.C. memories of the French exchange students who visited Rockville last month. We're fortunate in this area to have a lot of international interaction. Have you ever hosted an exchange student? Have you been one? It's an education experience, though perhaps not in the way that's intended. Take this memory from a Virginia reader named Jude: I was delighted when the month ended!There's just something about the 14-year-old Spanish exchange student trying to pick up the wife of the exchange student that reminds me of an "American Pie" movie. How about you? Anything as dramatic as that?And now that the weather's getting warm, are you thinking of grilling? To what lengths will you go to barbecue? Whatever they are, they won't beat Sgt. BBQ, the U.S. Army soldier who managed to grill while deployed to eastern Afghanistan--with help from Ben Eisendrath of Adams Morgan.And I was happy to report this week that D.C. DOT is reconsidering some of the more draconian aspects of its new parking meter rules. walls, on the shady side of the lawn......

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John kelly: John, were or are you related to the late Mike Kelly as well as, Marguerite Kelly Rizzoli?

John Kelly: No, no relation that I know of, except for the way we're all brothers and sisters under the skin.

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Photo captions- who writes them?: Apparently it's no longer possible to e-mail washingontpost.com about online content, so I'm posting this for all to see. It was a caption of one of the revolving photos on the home page.'Pro football Hall of Famer Olsen dies -Burley athlete moved on to become established actor with role on "Little House on the Prairie," then starring in own series, "Father Murphy."'How can someone who produces content for a newspaper not know that "burley" is a type of tobacco, and that someone who is large and solidly built is "burly"?

John Kelly: This is why we shouldn't have killed all the copy editors. You might also argue that "burly" is a bit redundant when it comes to writing about an NFL defensive player. Aren't they all burly? It'd be like saying "bi-pedal athlete..."

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Cleanest house in town-I'm so confused!: Ok, it was early when I read your blog and not thinking very clearly, but that wasn't your family in the ad, right? Or was it? The guy kinda looks like you without glasses, but then I don't recognize people very well. I'm so confused!

John Kelly: Not my family? Whatever do you mean? Are you saying that I don't have the cleanest house in America? Or the oddest family?

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Broken obelisk: I was going to send this to the Free For All page but thought I'd give you a chance to correct yourself in a future column. You referred to the sculpture as having a "shattered obelisk tip" -- which is patently incorrect. The obelisk is broken into two pieces, and the top is turned upside down. That piece may be broken but it is definitely not "shattered."

John Kelly: How do you know--patently--that it's broken into precisely two pieces? Where's the rest of it? I happen to like the word "shattered."Shoop shedooby, shattered, shattered....

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Picture about the host: Kelly, your picture looks different. Did you do something when you were on the other side of the pond?

John Kelly: You mean the one where I look like a dead, bloated Russian mafioso? The Web site dragged that out from somewhere. Not my favorite but we can't be vain about these things.

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Dogs: These people who claim they don't pick up their dog's waste because it's "natural" and will biodegrade are completely full of it. The dog poop kils your grass, and it's quite disgusting to continually step in it while cutting the lawn. These excuses are lame -- the real reason is that they're too lazy to pick up after their dog. The county should put a hefty fine on people who leave who can't be bothered to clean up after their dogs ($500 bucks would do for a first offense).

John Kelly: I agree--well, maybe not $500--but who's going to assess the fines? The police? Animal control? Citizen poop patrols? There are already laws on the books about failure to clean up dog waste, with fines ranging from $100 to $250. But I imagine it's a low priority for local law enforcement. What if citizens were deputized to do it, with incentives? Let's say you could keep half the fine if you could prove someone let his dog poop on your lawn and didn't clean it up.

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Study Abroad: Okay, so it may not be the same to go to an English speaking country, but I got the chance in college to spend a month in Northern Ireland (Peace and Conflict Studies). Some of my best memories are from that trip. We experienced everything. The group I was with stayed in the city of Derry/London-Derry, which is about as far north as you can get. The main thing about Northern Ireland is, it's a police state for the most part. You go there, and the police (The Royal Ulster Constabulary) carry around automatic guns and wear bullet proof vests. You don't really get the feeling you want to approach them if you lost your wallet. Whereas in the Republic of Ireland (where we also ventured), the police are much friendlier and helpful. I always encourage others to travel and see the world, because it really opens your eyes.

John Kelly: I've been to the Republic of Ireland but not Northern Ireland. I guess things are better there than they were at the height of the Troubles, 30 years ag0, but many neighborhoods are still nobody's idea of a holiday destination. trip with my father to East Berlin. The few hours I spent on the other side of the wall taught me almost everything I needed to know about Communism.

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John Kelly: Just in case this sort of thing appeals to anyone out there: I got an e-mail from a guy in Sam Raimi's office today hoping I'd let people know there's a special midnight screening of "Evil Dead" tonight at E Street Cinema downtown. I'd take my 16-year-old but she's taking the SAT tomorrow at 8 a.m.

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The Terrorists Have Won: or, There Will Always Be An Island Off The Coast of France

John Kelly: Ah yes. I read about this in the Daily Mail today. Have you ever seen a video of Gloucestershire cheese-rolling? It's extremely violent. But banning it strikes me like banning the running of the bulls.

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Megan's Flaw: This morning on my way to work I saw a couple of kids walking to school in the rain. I go right past the school, which is roughly a mile and change from where I spotted the kids. But I can't offer them a ride for fear I'll find myself featured on that We bsite for perverts. What a sick country...

John Kelly: You're joking, right? It's good for those kids to walk to school in the rain. It'll give them something to moan about when they're grown-ups--or, as I am increasingly becoming, groan ups.

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Raimi: I'm impressed you know a guy in Sam Raimi's office. I'd love to have a connection like that. My husband refused to bring me Ted Raimi home from a convention he went to last year. :-(

John Kelly: Actually, I don't know him. He e-mailed me out of the blue. I have no idea why. I hope he's not some underworld zombie here to steal my soul.

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The Sunday paper and a dog walker: When I still lived in a house, a man on Sunday would carry the big Sunday paper as he walked his dog. Why? When the dog 'went' on the lawn, the owner would be reading the paper so he could claim he never saw it. And they both walked on - until the next Sunday

John Kelly: I thought you were going to say he carried the paper so he could use the bag it came in to pick up the poop.Here's the bottom line (so to speak): I think most of the people who don't clean up after their dogs know it's wrong but don't care. They like the more pleasant aspects of owning a dog but are grossed out by the less pleasant ones. They actually have no coherant argument for doing what they do (or, rather, don't do). They just know they don't want to pick it up and they hope to get away with it.

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Fairfax, Va.: What do yo think about human breast milk cheese? There was an article about it this week.

John Kelly: I feel the same way about human breast milk cheese as I do about Scientology: There are plenty of great cheeses already on the market and they've been satisfying people for years. Why the need for human breast milk cheese. As for Scientology: Plenty of great religions. Why the need to invent another one?

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Grilling: I can't grill where I live, but my mom likes to fire up her grill all year round. One of her favorite things to grill is salmon, and it's pretty darned tastey!

John Kelly: And I suppose it's a poor craftsman who blames his tools.

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Odd wording: I find this wording in your description odd "He lives in Silver Spring, where he has one wife and two daughters"? There's something about tying family status to location that strikes me as logically incorrect, unless it's someone with a spouse in every port.

John Kelly: I have a running joke with my family that I do have another family: my blonde wife, my two sons--as opposed to my brunette wife and two daughters. The Bizarro Kelly family.

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Snow will be gone this afternoon: LOL. I shoveled snow off my deck during the past 2 snowstorms and still have a patch of snow 8 feet wide by 25 feet long by 3.5 feet deep. I threw a couple slush balls at my neighbor last night and he wondered where the snow came from. Can't wait for it all to melt.

John Kelly: My dog will be right over. He loved eating the snow and has been doing it right up to when I walked him yesterday. Even though it had gotten kind of gross--with dirt and stuff on top--he'd take big mouthfuls. I think he preferred it in its granular state to the softer powder of before. I guess it's like a doggy snowcone.

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"burly" is a bit redundant when it comes to writing about an NFL defensive player. Aren't they all burly?: Cornerbacks usually are not burly.

John Kelly: Ah. I couldn't remember what position he played. There was one thing missing from the obit: Unless I misremember, didn't Merlin Olsen used to pitch for FTD bouquets?

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Poop Patrol: Deputize them like meter readers. Give them a little ATV so they can ride thru the parks and sidewalks and ticket folks.

John Kelly: I think brown shirts would be in order.

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Sunday Relief: So, the guy only let his dog poop on Sunday's? That's pretty cruel.

John Kelly: I guess he'd need a pretty big bag at that point.

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Dog Poop Pickups: Whenever I read about this, I am reminded of the Seinfeld episode where he conjectures that aliens viewing Earth would come to the conclusion that dogs ruled the world and humans were merely their servants trailing along picking up droppings.

John Kelly: If only that were true. Imagine how great it would be if dogs did rule the world. Nothing but eating, sleeping, playing and butt-sniffing, all day long.

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Washington, D.C.: What kind of dog do you have?

John Kelly: A short-haired overlord.No, a black Lab.

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Who left this on my lawn?: I think we need a new CSI unit devoted to testing doggie DNA.

John Kelly: Yes, or microphones planted in parks that pick up the acoustic profile of dogs moving their bowels. Night vision goggles might help too.

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And I suppose it's a poor craftsman who blames his tools.: Not necessarily. A gass grill is never going to give you a transcendent experience. Get rid of that propane thing and go buy a Weber kettle or a Big Green Egg or some other big steel thing that lets you dump in lots of charcoal and some smoking chips, or hickory chunks. Also get one of those electric fire-starters so you don't have to mess around with newspaper or lighter fluid. And start with good meat, too. My husband cooks the world's greatest steaks on both the stove and the grill but he gets good filet mignon from the butcher. And any misspellings or other typos in this post are caused by that stupid match.com ad graphic that will not move away from my screen. The Post adsespecially the ones at the top of the screen, always block the news on the page and I"m really tired of it.

John Kelly: Perhaps my problem--and society's--is impatience. A gas grill, you just turn on: boom. Charcoal or wood you have to plan ahead. The greatest barbecue meal I ever had was in Oxford, believe it or not, from a rickety little grill heated by a hodge podge of charcoal and wood scavenged from the yard of the Edwardian house we were at. The reason: the meat was cooked very slowly (we didn't eat till 11:30!) and it was prepared by an Argentine. He had traveled that morning to a butchers in London to get some proper asado meat. Man was that stuff good.

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Even though it had gotten kind of gross--with dirt and stuff on top : That stuff is what dogs call "flavor crystals."

John Kelly: The world is one big flavor crystal to a dog, though we have discovered two things that ours won't eat: radishes and mushrooms. I've dropped both on the floor and he mouthed them then spit them out.

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Raimi: Maybe he e-mailed you because you're already a zombie and he keeps a list.

John Kelly: Brains...must have brains....

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But I can't offer them a ride: I'd rather have my daughter walk in the rain than accept a ride from a total stranger. Some kids even like the rain!

John Kelly: Yeah. I mean it's one thing if you know the kids and their family. If you don't, that's another thing. Don't accept a ride from a stranger is right up there with Don't run with scissors.

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Grilling all winter: Hiya John. We bought a Weber gas grill a few years ago and had the natural gas line extended outside to reach the grill. We leave it permanently hooked up. There is no off-season for grilling this way. Also, when we were without power during the Snowpocalypse, we were able to cook outside. Hope you get to cook outside soon.

John Kelly: Do you use flavor crystals, er, wood chips?

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Merlin: was most definitely burly. He was a defensive tackle. And yes, he did flower commercials. Very sweet for such a large man.

John Kelly: There were a few sweet football players back then. Remember Rosie Greer and his knitting?

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Olsen's FTD Life: Interestingly, the video obituary produced by the NFL Network mentioned his acting, game commentary AND pitchman for FTD after football careers.

John Kelly: I'm happy he had a career after football. So many guys have had their bells rung so often they're lucky if they can do more than sit in the corner and drool.

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John Kelly: Which is another thing my dog approves of.

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dog stuff: Hey John A friend of mine took her 6-yea- old dog to the vet this week to have a lump removed from the dog's leg. When the dog was under anesthesia, the vet also gave the dog a teeth cleaning. My friend says her 6-year-old dog now has puppy breath. Go figure.

John Kelly: Hmmm. Can I borrow the lump? I wanna stick it in my dog's leg so he can get his teeth cleaned. He has awful dog breath, probably a result of the fish oil pills we give him. They keep his coat nice and shiny but they don't do his breath any favors.

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I think we need a new CSI unit devoted to testing doggie DNA.: They could solve mysteries such as "what breeds went into making my mutt?"

John Kelly: Great idea. And hasn't the popularity of those "CSI" shows caused a glut of people majoring in forensic science? We can put unemployed CSIs to work tomorrow. Okay, they can start Monday.

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A good reason to walk in the rain is...: John, did you see "An Education"? Brillant movie, but good reason to not let your kid walk in the rain!

John Kelly: Oh my god you're right. That was quite a movie, wasn't it. And true!

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Wise advice : (From a friend, not me:)Handle every stressful situation like a dog....if you can't eat it or play with it, just pee on it and walk away.Sgt T. Smith, Baghdad Iraq.

John Kelly: Ha!

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A dog's world: "Imagine how great it would be if dogs did rule the world. Nothing but eating, sleeping, playing and butt-sniffing, all day long."One thing on that list is a lot less appealing than the others. But as long as our dog overlords let it be optional rather than mandatory, I could live with those rules.

John Kelly: Okay, we can replace butt-sniffing with face-licking.

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Dog Poop: I am not advocating for the people who do not pick up dog poop but....Dog poop does not kill lawns. Poop, from just about any animal, is a good fertilizer. A dog (or multiple dogs) peeing on the exact same spot on a lawn can kill the grass.Same way I wouldn't go around with a bag of fertilizer and fertilize other people's lawns is the same reason I pick up after my dog. :-)

John Kelly: Whatever gets you to pick it up, I'm fine with. I did hear from a few readers that dog poop has harmful stuff in it, if not harmful to lawns then harmful to people--worms and parasites and such.Aw what am I talking about? Of course it has harmful stuff in it. It's poop!

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Falls Church, Va.: I wanted to add from last week that you can buy biodegradable dog poo bags at your local pet store.

John Kelly: And 700 for $20 on Amazon.A reader wrote that she visited a dollar store where dog poop bags were like 500 for $20 and one aisle over diaper disposing bags were 300 for $20. They were literally the exact same bag, packaged differently.

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Remember Rosie Greer and his knitting?: He wrote a book about needlepoint.

John Kelly: Didn't he knit too? And who was the NFL tackle who did Belgian lacework?

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Doggie Breath: You can put a liquid in their water called Plaque Off, I think, and it helps with bad breath.

John Kelly: Thanks for the tip. His teeth are pretty white, though, like George Clooney's. Maybe he has invisible plaque.

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Doggie DNA: These services exist. We did it for my mutt, and were blown away by the results - not what I was expecting at all.

John Kelly: It wasn't his poop? The butler did it?

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Dog's life: "....if you can't eat it or play with it, just pee on it and walk away.""Play with" is not in the original. I think you can figure out what is.

John Kelly: "Tickle it, obviously."-- Rep. Massa (D-NY)

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Arlington, Va.: I use a Weber charcoal grill and use it all year long -- what does weather have to do with it? Get yourself a charcoal chimney and all you have to do is fill it up, light some paper under it, and bingo -- those babies are ready to cook on in 15 minutes.

John Kelly: I haven't eaten lunch yet and now I'm really hungry. Also: I want to add Plaque Off to my morning coffee.

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Radishes and mushrooms: I had a cat who would sniff at any food I held out except carrots, onions or bananas. She would back up, hiss, flail her paws around and then run if I showed her any of those. This is the same cat who loved to lick envelopes.

John Kelly: A cat that loved to lick envelopes? The perfect pet for the Unabomber. Save him the risk of being found out from leaving DNA on the flap.

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Ah. I couldn't remember what position he played.: Oh I don't think he played cornerback. I'm just giving that as an example of a defensive player you wouldn't refer to as burly. Maybe surly, though.

John Kelly: Except Merlin was gentle. Also: a wizard who helped ready young King Arthur for the throne.

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Dog Poop: If it were good for the yard, I don't think all that money would be spent on PSAs asking you to pick it up

John Kelly: Exactly. The thing is, I don't think my crusade is going to do any good. Evil people who don't pick up poop don't read my column.

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We did it for my mutt, and were blown away by the results - not what I was expecting at all.: Well you have to tell us the results! Don't leave us hanging like this.

John Kelly: Yes! Yes! Was John Edwards the father?

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A cat that loved to lick envelopes?: Yes, I had to hide them. Sometimes I would find her hunched over them like a junkie, licking envelopes and her lips would be puffy. It was really strange.

John Kelly: Okay, now that's just weird. Like, Tim Burton weird.

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Cornerback?: "Cornerbacks usually are not burly." Not even close. Merlin Olsen was a defensive lineman, usually the burliest of them all. He was part of the L.A. Rams "Fearsome Foursome" that also included Rosie Grier, Deacon Jones and Lamar Lundy.

John Kelly: Rosie Greer: needlepointDeacon Jones: rug-hookingLamar Lundy: collected glass unicorn minatures

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Pi Day: John, did you know that Sunday is Pi day, on which math geeks celebrate the number representing the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle? Fans celebrate with pi recitations, pie-eating contests and math-related activities -- are you doing anything to celebrate?

John Kelly: Boy, Pi Day seems to come earlier every year. I'll probably celebrate by taking a 3.14159265-hour nap.

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Poop is natural: The next time someone lets their dog poop in my yard I'm going to take my daughter's dirty diapers and empty them in THEIR yard.

John Kelly: Save yourself a step: Just hold your daughter by the armpits over the fence.

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Reply to "And I suppose it's a poor craftsman who blames his tools.": You have not watched enough King of the Hill...."Propoane, taste the meat, not the heat!

John Kelly: Mmm. I love the smell of propane in the morning.

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"Cornerbacks usually are not burly." Not even close. : Everyone is totally misunderstanding my post. John said there aren't any defensive players that you wouldn't refer to as burly. I wasn't saying Merlin was a cornerback or that he wasn't burly. I was only pointing out that there are defensive players that aren't burly and they are called cornerbacks.

John Kelly: You have to accept that, like Van Gogh, you will not be appreciated in your time.

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Play with" is not in the original. : My friend T is a chaplain's assistant. She would never use that other word.

John Kelly: Who new that chaplains needed assistants?

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John Kelly: Thanks for stopping by today. Enjoy this misty weekend. Answer Man will kick Richard Nixon around some more on Sunday and I'll be back in the paper Monday, with another chat this time next week.As always, if you have anything you think is worth me checking out, drop me a line: kellyj@washpot.com.

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New England: I have a longish story about being offered a ride every day as I walked to school by a man who was driving the other way. The story ends with my father having a Starsky and Hutch moment and chasing him through the Alexandria streets in our minivan. Moral - don't offer strange kids rides to school.

John Kelly: Exactly.


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