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John Kelly's Washington

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John Kelly
Friday, April 2, 2010; 12:00 PM

Post Metro columnist John Kelly chats about the people and stories that don't make the front pages, plus his latest columns.<br<<br>Today: The day after April Fool's, chat with John about great pranks of the past. What's the best one you've ever pulled off? And have you ever been taken in?<br><br>

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John Kelly: s Washington. And of course we can talk about whatever you like. During my chat the inmates run the asylum.t seem to get it. Commenters such as "jonblackman57," who wrote: This is absolutely asinine! Try using your energy on something meaninful and something that is needed. the man spearheading the effort to move the monument, was an out-of-work lawyer.This prompted "Noshi1" to comment: Jesus...and I thought it couldn't get worse. Whats worse than a lawyer? A lawyer thats been laid off and has a lot of time on his hands to wastes peoples time with crap like this.t take long for people to bring Obama into the fray. "Thatsright2" commented: I heard they were actually removing the Washington monument to make way for the new, super-sized Barack Obama monument. Hmm...wonder what that monument will look like...In fact, a loony right wing Web site posted the entire column, which prompted its own comments from people who didn't get the joke. As pranksters--and con men--know, sometimes people want to be fooled. s travel story about the island of San Seriffe, a story full of references to typography. My favorite remains the classic done by the BBC in the 1950s, about the annual Swiss spaghetti harvest. Yes, people were taken in (Swiss spaghetti? harvest?). Some even wrote in to ask how to grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC answered: Put a length of spaghetti in a can of tomato sauce and hope for the best.s hoping for the best during this afternoon's chat...

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Yesterday's April Fool : We circulated an e-mail that the employees were starting a Fight Club. One manager bit. One response was that he was already in too many fight clubs, and his wife wouldn't let him join another.

John Kelly: The first rule of John Kelly's chat is you do talk about John Kelly's chat.Never seen the movie, but I know the line. I bet that's the case with most movies and most famous snippets of dialogue. How many among you have said a variation on "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" (ie, "I love the smell of waffles in the morning") but haven't seen "Apocalypse Now"?

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Woodbridge: We got this notice yesterday at work - Board of Trade Members: A very large and very high level Global Summit on Nuclear Security will take place in Washington D.C. during the workweek on April 12 -13. Because this event will convene almost 50 presidents, premiers and prime ministers, security arrangements will have implications for your business operations in and around Greater Washington. We anticipate significant disruption due to congestion caused by rolling road closures, select Metro station closures near the Convention Center, security issues, protests and more. Travel routes to and from the major embassies and luxury hotels will also see increased activity and security measures. In that the event comes on the tail end of the Cherry Blossom Festival and just before World Bank Week, we expect a sustained stretch of resources. Business leaders need to assess their operations that could be altered due to this national security event. Because of the sensitivity surrounding this Summit, the law enforcement community is constrained on what they can and cannot publicly share with us. As we understand it, this will be the largest gathering of heads of states in history. Please think through what that would/could mean. At this time, it is important that you are aware of this Summit and that you begin to assess possible implications for your operation. We will get you updates as they become available and will alert you to the special briefing once it is confirmed. James C. Dinegar, CAE President and CEO Greater Washington Board of Trade 1725 I Street, NW Suite 200 Washington, DC 20006 P: (202) 857-5910 F: (202) 223-2648

John Kelly: Think it's an April Fool's joke? No, I guess not. I think that's gonna be a good week to telecommute.

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Wow, this is cool! I'm on the Metro looking at John Kelly!: Is that really you? Wearing the black hat and the pink multiple-colored socks, listening to your iPod? On the Red Line from Silver Spring heading downtown? If so, I feel like today is going to be a great day! Just awesome :-)

John Kelly: Yup, that was me. The socks came from Duckers on the Turl, an Oxford shoe store. It's a wonderful hole in the wall place stacked floor to ceiling with shoes--most of which are far too expensive to a poor ink-stained, dollar-exchanging wretch such as myself. But the guy also does socks in a rainbow of colors and patterns.And yes, today is going to be a great day.

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April Fool's Day-After: Sadly, I haven't really gotten anyone good, or got taken in, primarily because I don't really believe anything anyone says anyway. There have certainly been times I didn't realize what the day was, and I heard some strange things only to remember the date and have a laugh. However, this year a friend of mine was trying to get me in on a joke. He was going to send a letter to his brother, telling the brother he had won something from his bank. I was going to act as a bank operator to confirm the letter was true. But, a few days ago, my friend's brother totaled his car at an airport, so my friend decided it would be even better to send his brother a letter from the airport authority saying they were suing him for the damages to their property. I'm not sure how it turned out, but if I find out before or during this chat, I'll update everyone.

John Kelly: It certainly is prudent to be skeptical, but then you can miss out on the "fun." I like that letter your friend is doing. It will cause righteous indignation in his brother. The best jokes are ones that seem like they could be true, and doesn't that sound just like an airport to charge you for something extra?

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Washington, DC: Hey John. Can the Answer Man do a column on the baggage handlers at Reagan National? I fly in and out of that airport fairly often, and I believe it takes an inordinately long time for the bags to start rolling at baggage claim. I've talked with other folks, and they share my frustration. I know that, because of the layout of the airport, it doesn't take as long to walk from the plane to baggage claim. But, one would think that it also shouldn't take as long for bags to arrive at baggage claim too. What happens back there? Are they understaffed?

John Kelly: Funny you should mention that. I picked up Daughter #1 at National a few weeks ago when she returned for spring break and we had to wait like 20 minutes for her bag. It did seem like people from flights that arrived after her were getting theirs first--and a baggage guy came out, asked a few questions, then went in the bag to speed things up--so maybe there is an issue. I wonder if they keep statistics on average bag wait (as opposed to bag weight), the way they do on on-time performance.

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Prank: I once bought the Sunday Post thinking it was still a Sunday paper worth reading.

John Kelly: Ho ho! You're a regular Jay Leno.

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John Kelly: Free iPad. Limited time only. But only for non-Post subscribers.

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Churches: Do any local churches provide job training, placement or have set up call centers or other ways to help the unemployed?

John Kelly: I don't know. Anyone out there work with the unemployed? And don't say, "Yeah, my coworkers!"

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April Fool's: John -- My birthday is April 1. Therefore, I was never very fond of pranks on a personal level. In fact, in pre-school, the teacher's aid didn't believe me when I told her that it *was* my birthday. Regardless, I loved your column, and find is sad that half of the idiots-who-comment thought it was serious. To me, this is further evidence that the comments are a waste of bytes.

John Kelly: I'm with you. (Also: Happy Birthday.) I'm not against the concept of comments, but the anonymity allows people to say whatever stupid @$#! they like, without giving it any thought. No value is created. My suggestion is that we just require registration and a real name. I think that would vastly improve their quality.

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Spring time and dogs!: Hopefully, we can put the poop discussion behind us (no pun intended!).Now that the weather has finally turned, could you remind your readers that unless a park is specifically a dog park, there are leash laws! and those leash laws apply to ALL dogs -- particularly in national parks like Rock Creek. YOUR dog is not exempt.Don't tell me your dog is "ok" or "friendly" or "won't hurt anyone". I don't care. I don't want your dog running up to me uncontrolled. It's dangerous and wrong.That's why there's a big sign when you enter the park that says "All dogs must be leashed."ALL dogs. including yours (and you know who you are.) I've seen Charlie in Sligo Creek Park. He's on a leash.

John Kelly: You heard the man/woman. Yes, Charlie is leashed. Or I am. It's hard to say who's in control.I think the rule when we lived in England was that dogs had to be "under voice control." Ha!

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Great April Fool: WMDs in Iraq -- that was a classic! Took me in. A good April Fool for a 5-year-old to play is to have the 5- year -old call mommy or daddy at work, the parent answers on a cell phone, and have the 5-year-old tell the parent that he/she left the cell phone at home. Always cracks 'em up.

John Kelly: Except cell phones have caller ID, so the joke can't last that long, beyond an initial sort of perplexity. What would be some good 5-year-old jokes? "Mommy, I spilled my milk." "That's okay, Jimmy. Accidents happen." "On your Macbook."

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In fact, a loony right wing Web site posted the entire column, which prompted its own comments from people who didn't get the joke: WE can laugh, but I think the militia news this week proves that stupidity is very dangerous. I heard quotes of Tea Partiers who repeated rediculous impossible myths about the heatlh bill and it stunned me that they CHOOSE to be so willingly stupid. They could grab a paper, go to the internet and inform themselves, but they'd rather spead immflamatory propaganda that is so stupid you'd THINK if was April fools day all year!

John Kelly: I think Doonesbury has been great on this. He's really skewering the fringy elements, though it may be too subtle for them to notice.

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John Kelly: Was that the wrong link? Doonesbury.

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What's covering yours?: My desk is covered with matza crumbs. What's covering yours?

John Kelly: Unanswered mail and old Washington Post photo files.

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John Kelly: Speaking of photo files, Answer Man wrote Sunday about Baileys Crossroads. There was so much reader response that he's revisiting the subject this Sunday. Is there a place in the Washington area that has undergone as much change in the last 50 years as Baileys Crossroads?

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The Unemployed: Can I say, "Yeah, my husband"?

John Kelly: I think you just did.

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"Voice Control"?: Is that like remote control? Do they have robot dogs over there or something?

John Kelly: No, I think it means that when you say, "Muffin, release that child immediately," the dog does it.

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John Hopkins University: Pretty sweet, but they backed off way too soon.

John Kelly: Should I know what this means?

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Slow bags: If it's any consolation, I live in Chicago and O'Hare baggage claim is glacially slow. Count on half an hour from when you walk off the plane to when you're walking away from baggage claim (usually but not always) with your luggage.

John Kelly: We once spent a lovely hour at Rome's airport waiting in a line to report that our luggage had never arrived. We chatted with the couple in front of us, then ran into them a few days later on the street. This was when Heathrow's Terminal 5 had just opened and British Airways apparently hadn't bothered to check whether the whole luggage operation would work. I think at one point they were looking at a four-week backlog to return people's bags, sending them by truck to some sorting facility in Poland or something. Luckily, they had it straightened out by the time they lost our bags. Only took a day to get them.

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Should I know what this means?: Depends on whether you read the Washington Post.

John Kelly: That's great! I missed it. We should take that "S" and add it to "Silver Spring," since everyone gets that wrong.

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Sense of Humor: "Those who think they have a sense of humor are especially annoying to those of us who do." to paraphrase a saying about know-it-alls. I have found that in tough times, most people tend to lose what little sense of humor they have while comedians and true wits seem to thrive. Thus, gullibility seems to increase- your thoughts?

John Kelly: I dunno. I don't think I have enough life experience to judge. My hunch is that humor runs at a constant level, no matter the times. And don't bad times sometimes increase humor, since there isn't much else to entertain us?

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Just sad.: Your April Fool's story could not have been more obviously a joke (the premise, the list of things once located on the Mall, "Peter Child") -- so I was just astonished at how many of the commenters missed it. And to learn that it was picked up by anyone else as a serious story?! Wow. Just wow. The rampant stupidity may be the most depressing thing I've seen this week.

John Kelly: I was trying to figure it out too. Part of it, I think, is that there were a lot of people commenting who don't really read my column. Also, The Post is a pretty straight newspaper, so they may not have expected something like that at all. Finally, as I mentioned in the intro, some people want to believe the worst things and won't let an obviously ridiculous piece of "information" stand in the way of their preconceived notion.

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Give me an "S!": Ooh, a transfer from John Hopkins to Silver Spring would have been a classic if they could have coordinated the announcements.

John Kelly: Sadly, there was an accident on the way. The "S" ended up on the Maryland side of the Potomac, near MacArthur Boulevard and the Beltway, in a neighborhood henceforth known as Cabin Johns.

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April Fool's in English papers : John: The London Telegraph had a great one this year, claiming that Virgin Wireless was using ferrets to run wiring underground so that rural homes could get broadband Internet services. It's easy today to create a compelling image -- they had a ferret in a safety vest and a back story about how ferrets had been used to run special wiring before the marriage of Charles and Diana. I do believe, though, that nothing beats the decades-old "spaghetti harvest" story, which was remarkable because it ran on the BBC, then really and truly the official voice of Britain, and was narrated by Richard Dimbleby, who was the U.K.'s Walter Cronkite. Why do the English love this more than any other nationality?

John Kelly: You mean the ferret one isn't true? "Ferrets key to bridging the digital divide." (Check out the cute reflective vest.)The best jokes have that whiff of possibility about them. I mean, the English used messenger pigeons during World War I and II. Why not use ferrets to string wires?Why do the English go in for this? I think it must have been the Plague. You just had to laugh....

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Southwest Waterfront: John,I'm sorry, but I can't chat today. Supposedly, we are being let go at 3:00, and I've got a huge document that just has to be proofed and disseminated before leaving. Hope that is okay. Can you chat next week?

John Kelly: OF course. Enjoy the afternoon! I'll chat next week. (But not the week after. Have to run up to New York for the day.)

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Monumentally useful: harder to do it one's self.

John Kelly: Do you think we've lost the notion of sacrifice? I wonder if reinstituting the draft would bring it back.

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Is this thing on? "Testing... testing... one... two.... sibilance... sibilance.... sibilance....: Descartes walks into a bar. Bartender asks him if he'd like a drink. He says, "I think not." and disappears...... Thaz my best joke.....

John Kelly: A philosophy major, were you?

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I think it means that when you say, "Muffin, release that child immediately," the dog does it.: That's comforting. Except that there are probably dogs that suddenly decide they no longer wish to be voice controlled.

John Kelly: Exactly. I need to befriend someone with "property," so I can take my dog for a walk off-leash: a few nicely wooded acres, perhaps with a clean stream running through the middle of it. Oh, also: all ticks removed before I walk there.

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As much change as Bailey's Crossroads : A friend I went to A.U. with grew up in Vienna in the early '60s. He told me you could drive out 123 from Chain Bridge to the Vienna Inn without stopping for a light. Yes, that's well past Tyson's Corner -- which back then was just the intersection of 123 and 7.

John Kelly: What was at Tyson's Corner back in the day? A farm, I think. Was there anything else before it became the office/shopping place it is today? Baileys Crossroads had lots of odd little attractions, I'm finding.

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Pranks at work: We used to get a printed office newsletter through inter-office mail. It contained new info about the firm and one column for funny stuff employees submitted. One time the newsletter went out on April 1. The mailroom played a prank on one of the secretaries. They made a single copy of a fake newsletter in which she was credited for submitting a funny list of all the different types of gas a person could have, including descriptions of various smells and noises. They left the fake copy in her inbox without saying anything. She discovered it eventually and was just mortified. This poor secretary was kind of shy and reserved, a very sweet person. After awhile they let her in on the secret that her copy was the only one that contained that story. She did think it was funny after they told her.

John Kelly: When I was deputy editor of the Weekend section I once substituted Weekend in the newspaper delivered to my boss's house early on a Friday morning. He was vacationing at home and I took it off his lawn and left a doctored copy in which I had turned every other page upside down. When he called in a panic I said, "It's okay Don. That only happened to the first 100,000 copies or so."

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Hotheaded Naked Mole-Rat: Swell April Fool's article from 15 years ago, Discover Magazine:. And please don't say that naked mole-rats themselves are practical jokes. They are dear, wonderful, and charming creatures.

John Kelly: No, not practical jokes. But you do have to agree that Mother Nature has a sense of humor. Just go into the changing room at the Y some time.

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uninformed Tea Partyiers: One woman said the health bill "controls when and if you can have children." When asked where in the bill that was she said "NO ONE"S read it!--NO ONE knows what's in it!" And was she, a conservative, crossing over to the reproduction choice side? I am scared that people who won't even try to get the facts are going to affect my life, much less these bigots who are trying to kill me and the police officers who protect us.

John Kelly: A good practical joke would be to go to her house with a fake copy of the bill and a "euthenasia van." Excuse me, is Grandma home?

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April Fool?:

John Kelly: People in the comments section of that story can't seem to agree whether it is real or not. Of course, the London Olympics have the worst logo.

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re: Baggage at National: Ooh, ooh, I know this answer. It seems certain airlines will "hold" the baggage from one plane so that the baggage from another of its planes that is arriving shortly thereafter can be loaded onto the "luggage train" so that the train is full when it comes into the terminal, thereby minimizing the number of trips the train needs to make to the terminal. Efficient, yes, customer-friendly, no.

John Kelly: Ah, is that it? That makes sense. I mean, it's ridiculous, but it explains the delay.

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Jokes: A Greek writer walks into a tailor's with a pair of torn pants. The tailor looks at the writer and says "Euripides?" and the writer responds "Eumenides?"

John Kelly: Please, no one ask me what a Grecian earns.

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April Fool: I remember one popular radio station in this area reported that it was the first day of the new commuter tax, and that toll booths had been set up at all the major arteries leading into the city. At least three people called from their cells to say "I just drove in on Wisconsin Ave, and there wasn't one there."

John Kelly: Ha! Exact change only, please.

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Thank you: That's the first time I've ever been rick-rolled.

John Kelly: Happy to oblige. You can see the real logo here, in the upper left. It's supposed to be "2012," but it looks like a dog ate a box of crayons and threw up.

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Spirit of sacrifice: When we got into twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we didn't ask people to buy war bonds. we told them they would get a tax break.

John Kelly: We want our tax breaks. We want our large automobile and beautiful wife. We want our MTV. And when we don't get what we want, we go wa wa wa all the way home--to our heavily mortgaged house.

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Netflix Map: John, I just saw this article from a couple of months ago about the interactive map on Netflix showing what's popular where. Other than Benjamin Button (popular everywhere), the top film the west half of the city is Milk, the eastern border is Tyler Perry, and in 20017 (home of Catholic University) is Doubt.

John Kelly: Really? I'll have to play around with that. Looks like my neighborhood is in the "Benjamin Button" camp.

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London Logo: Do they submit logos along with the bid? Because that is one bad logo.

John Kelly: Isn't it? No, I don't think they submit logos. I think they win the bid, then they pay someone a million pounds to come up with a logo. I'm surprised they stuck with it, actually. It's horrid.

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Why they missed your joke: It's the whole knee-jerk reaction that anything in the WaPo is evil and wrong and 'they' are wise to you. It's like all the commentators to Milbank's articles, which are ALWAYS (supposed to be) humorous, and yet are always met with vehement diatribes on how he is not a serious columnist. Weird. And scary.

John Kelly: Right. We at The Post are not organized enough to perpetrate some liberal/neo-conservative/socialist agenda. Only one man is.

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To me, this is further evidence that the comments are a waste of bytes.: We really should be conserving our bytes. Who knows when we will run out.

John Kelly: About now, as it turns out. That's all for today. Thanks for stopping by on this glorious Friday afternoon. Does the weekend promise to be just as nice where you are? Enjoy it.


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