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Chatological Humor

Gene Weingarten
Tuesday, August 24, 2010; 12:00 PM

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Good afternoon. : UPDATED 8.31The Introduction!-- (I never specified whose.)--- Chewing gum, corn cobs, raw bread dough, Gorilla Glue, grapes, onions, macadamia nuts, and Aleve?Okay? -- And lastly, a special salute to those who contend that this is a low brow chat, we have this week's Clip of the Day.

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Rachel Manteuffel: Please take the polls! n-word Mosque (I lean conservative)Civics poll 2b: Mosque (I lean liberal)Civics poll 3: Holocaust--The Musical

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Too close, too soon...who decides?: So, building on your O-Reilly rant...how disgusted have you become with this whole WTC mosque controversy? To me, it's the clearest example of how it has become WAY too easy to incite the passions of people in the country. I say incite, but in reality it's really more of a frightening combination of exploit/manipulate/pervert. Everyone is scared of offending someone so logic loses out. Facts are twisted and common sense is ignored. Obama made a wonderful speech at the Ramadan dinner last Friday...then BACKTRACKED!What the hell is happening to us?

Gene Weingarten: -- That there's nothing he wants less than an effort at reconciliation and understand over 9/11 between Muslims and others.

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Question, BC: So, was the punchline to the August 6 B&C an intentional tribute to the first ever Doonesbury cartoon?

Gene Weingarten:

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MUrray Hill 5 9975: So, for the sake of relations between the sexes, you are proposing that we return to the alphanumeric telephone numbers, which leveled the playing field for mathephobic women?

Rachel Manteuffel: column

Gene Weingarten:

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Doppelganger Gene!: Gene, there's a Jean Winegardner who wrote on the use of perjoratives (mostly "retard", since her son is autistic) as "humor". Come on, tell the truth: is this the Bizzarro Gene?

Rachel Manteuffel:

Gene Weingarten:

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Posthumous Warmth and Wisdom: What is the life expectancy of Pancho the parrot?I think that it'd be cool for your kids and grandkids to hear the warmth and wisdom of your voice after you pass away. But you should start training Pancho with memorable phrases like, "How often have I told you to clean up your room!", or, "You can remember the lyrics to your favorite songs, but why can't you ever remember to take the garbage out!".

Rachel Manteuffel: Too soon?

Gene Weingarten:

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Uh Oh: Last week you wrote -- "I am biased against rapists, serial killers, people who squirt semen from atomizers onto strangers, people who ride their bicycles on the sidewalks, and conservative republicans. "I am, in fact, a serial killer/rapist who has been known to ride my bike on the sidewalk while atomizing people with my special 'perfume' but at least I'm not a republican. Can I stay? How about if I promise to stop riding on the sidewalk?

Gene Weingarten: Higgledy piggledyBikes on the sidewalk areFine if you're teaching aYoungster the ropes.

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Since it seems nothing here is "off-topic": Gene, hoping to get your advice. My husband and I recently learned that he has some genetic issues that will make it very difficult, but not impossible, for us to have a baby, though we're pretty set on wanting and being ready to have one. However, we could bypass a lot of medical intervention and possible heartache if we choose to use donor sperm instead. Intellectually, we are on board with this idea, but emotionally it feels like a big step. What do you think - Is there any reason we shouldn't do it?

Gene Weingarten:

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If you died today, who would take care of your family?: And more importantly, who was the last star to rise up from the Yankees' farm system? That's why I like the Nats. It feels like looking forward, not backwards. Looking up, not down. And our stadium is in a nicer b*dw*rd neighborhood.

Gene Weingarten:

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Capitol Hill: Just bought a rowhouse on the Hill, near Eastern Market. As one of the area's most ardent supporters, what should a new Hill resident coming from Arlington know about the neighborhood? So far, rumors abound that you can be ticketed for parking in your own driveway (if you have one) due to DC public use laws... oh, what else should we be warned about? Suggestions please!

Gene Weingarten:

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I Will Surive Auschwitz: This video made me cry with joy for that man. If you undergo all the horrors and dehumanization of the Holocaust and then not only live but then thrive long enough to go dance on the ruins of Hitler's Final Solution machine to a Gloria Gaynor song surrounded by your grandchildren...then bravo, sir. You have won. And I think the bad dancing only contributed to it. Had it been a polished, well choreographed production, it would have been a little creepier.

Gene Weingarten:

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Surviv, AL: First of all, thanks, Gene, for making me have to suck back tears during my 10am tea break. The video is beautiful because of who is in it. It's beautiful to think that someone who experienced that horror can return with his family and create something joyous. Yes, the music and the dancing are a bit silly and maybe a little trivial, but it's fun and fun isn't a crime, it's part of being human.I've been to Dachau as a child and the nightmares afterwards were intense. It's still incredibly real in my mind and having that feeling while watching the video at the same time as seeing a loving family support their grandfather and having so much fun doing it was overwhelming. I loved it.In a related note to the above and the rest of your polls, my mother's cousin married a European Jew who's parents had survived the Holocaust. He said that every time you laughed or kept silent at a racist comment or joke, you were allowing that racism to pervade further into people's consciousness. It's your human duty to speak out against racism. It's very much a "first they came..." line of thought.

Gene Weingarten: It's actually been repeatedly pulled from Facebook -- the link is disabled.

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Morning Miracle: Inside the Washington Post: I read Dave Kindred's book for which you provided significant insights. While I appreciated learning more about the workings of The Washington Post, it was sad to realize how fragile its existence is at this point. How did you feel about how Kindred handled the story?

Rachel Manteuffel: review of Morning Miracle

Gene Weingarten:

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RE: Great Male Achievement??: I'm female. I also once parked my car in a spot so tight that it was touching the cars next to me afterwards. (I was living on Capitol Hill and it was the only spot left on my street). I didn't take a picture of it afterwards. I also once witnessed my mother easily parallel park a Suburban with a U-Haul attached to it on Capitol Hill. She didn't gloat about it afterwards, she just parked and that was that. I'm trying to figure out if the "Great Male Achievement" is the parking or the bragging?

Rachel Manteuffel: Gene's GMA columnn

Gene Weingarten: Can you find that, Rachel?From Rachel, who can't figure out how to answer Gene while she's bragging so hard.

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The Mosque: Gene, I lean liberal, but I'm also an athiest. This makes me uncomfortable with either side, or any of the three answers you provided in your poll. I don't think it's right for the government to be involved at all in this issue. I also don't think it's right to build the mosque there, after all the Koran does instruct it's adherenets to kill non-believers. The 9/11 hijackers did precisely this, and I'm uncomfortable with liberal tolerance on this issue.But I'm also uncomfortable being associated with the raving right wing nuts who oppose this mosque simply because it is designed to glorify the wrong magical sky fairy. Where do people like me fit into this debate?

Rachel Manteuffel: I love the "magical sky fairy."

Gene Weingarten:

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Breeding: I think you may be the best person to address this squirmishness I have. I feel very uncomfortable with the concept of "trying" to get pregnant. When a friend or acquantaince talks about someone I know or even don't know "trying" to get pregnant it seems very weird to me. It's not just that I am now given information about someone's intimate life, it makes me feel like humans are cows where we intentionally breed them. I do have a child, and while she was unplanned, she was not unintentional. It seems to me that nature has a way of knowing when the stars are aligned so to speak for a good "product". "Trying", while maybe it is just my sense of the creepiness of the visual, seems counteractive to that process.Do I need to get over myself? Am I just a weenie, or does this have merit.

Gene Weingarten:

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Dr. Laura: From time to time, the media has been known to take an inflammatory quote out of context and blow it way out of proportion. When I first heard about the Dr. Laura thing, I thought it was a case of, "Why can black people say the N-word and white people can't?" Which is idiotic in its own right, but not unusual if you're arguing for racism. Certainly something we've all heard before, right?However, after listening to your youtube link of the actual conversation. Oh. My. God. It is SO MUCH worse than what I thought it was. SO. MUCH. WORSE. Gene, this has really rocked my world today.

Gene Weingarten:

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Your three polls: I think the mosque should not go where they plan. I think Dr. Laura was stupid to use the N-word. But I think the Holocaust Musical was awesome. What's the difference? The first two are the "winners" telling the "victims" how to feel, whereas the first is the victim proclaiming how he feels. Subtle but important difference. The first two are taunting of the people who have suffered a loss; the third is a wonderful example of the attitude of the people who have celebrated a loss. I'm a bit disappointed that you included the three together and -- in doing so -- seem to imply that they're more alike than they are. There's really a huge difference in the third.

Gene Weingarten: You get no argument here; why do you think I was creating a moral equivalency?

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Bad Journalism: Is it common for reporters to call people and pretend to be someone else, just to get in an interview? Or is this just the latest trend in journalism? Also, when quoting Steele, the blogger writes, "Michael Steele: Well, I don't know. Howard Dean went through a lot. People thought he said some {bad word} and done [sic] some embarassing things." Why wouldn't a reporter clean up that quote, get rid of the [sic]? Is it because Steele is black?

Rachel Manteuffel:

Gene Weingarten: But still.)

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Re: The guy that thinks you're too self-absorbed: You should do a poll. Something along the lines of:Gene is:A) Not at all self-absorbed and obnoxious.B) A little self-absorbed and obnoxious.C) Pretty self-absorbed and obnoxious, but I don't mind.D) Pretty self-absorbed and obnoxious, and it's starting to annoy me.E) Really self-absorbed and obnoxious, but I don't mind.E) Really self-absorbed and obnoxious, and it's starting to annoy me.F) Really self-absorbed and obnoxious, and it is so obnoxious that I've quit reading his columns.G) Really self-absorbed and obnoxious, and it is so obnoxious that I've quit reading his columns or chats.H) So self-absorbed and obnoxious that I hate him now. Really hate that guy.Or something. "G" would catch the liars.

Gene Weingarten:

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Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britian: I find this strangely relaxing: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Theme

Gene Weingarten:

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teabaggers and Glenn Beck: Apparently, the teabaggers who will be attending Glenn Beck's teabagger rally have been warned to stay off the green and yellow lines...because, you know...that where all the unwanted people live. "If you are on the subway stay on the Red line between Union Station and Shady Grove, Maryland. If you are on the Blue or Orange line do not go past Eastern Market (Capitol Hill) toward the Potomac Avenue stop and beyond; stay in NW DC and points in Virginia. Do not use the Green line or the Yellow line. These rules are even more important at night. There is of course nothing wrong with many other areas; but you don't know where you are, so you should not explore them." I guess they don't want to go to the National Archives to see the Constitution...not that they really care much about it.

Gene Weingarten:

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Dents and Garages: At the end of last month's chat, a poster commented that expressed frustration with, and a desire to ding the doors of, cars parked too close to the line such that her driver's side door was inaccessible. Your reply was "You are evil. Inflicting damage on another's car, deliberately, out of pique, isn't right."How do you reconcile that response with this very similar question back in October 2006?"Help, ME: In the parking garage at my office building, many of the "good" spots -- those nearest the elevators -- are clearly marked for "compact" cars. They're not teeny -- I drive a standard four-door, and it fits in fine. However, many people park their SO not compact cars in those spots--we're talking full-sized pickup trucks, SUVs, etc. And, while most of them manage to technically be in the lines, it makes it nearly impossible to park next to them without dinging their door or climbing out the window or something. What can I do to these people? They make me SO MAD because they obviously have no concern for anyone but themselves. I need something to either exact revenge or calm myself before I have a heart attack. By the way, the garage does NOT fill up--it's not like these are the only spots left.Gene Weingarten: Uh, you have stated your solution right in your question. See if you can find it. "Don't tell me you weren't encouraging this guy to dent other's vehicles out of pique.

Gene Weingarten:

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A question about your editing challenge: At first I read this and thought "Gene's really smart to offer this challenge to this group of people who would probably buy his book to try to win.Then I thought "Well, who the hell else would buy his book except the people who read this chat?"Then I thought "Wait, the prize is another copy of the book? What's second prize--2 copies?"

Gene Weingarten:

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Brooklyn, NY: Gene/Rachel -- something is wrong with the Dr. Laura poll results. When I submitted my answers, it showed me the results to 2 questions, at least one of which was not a question asked in the poll. Glitch?

Rachel Manteuffel: Anyone else having this problem?

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Yankees Farm System: While they have been with the team for some time, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera both came up the Yankees farm system. They are only the pilars of the Yankee championships.

Gene Weingarten:

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Really?: I heard you yesterday on Kojo Nnamdi's show (aside to those who missed it: it was pleasant but you didn't miss anything you don't already know). He repeated the full subtitle of your book several times, like a good talk show host, but each time it brought me up short. "America's foremost feature writer"? Really? I would have thought that you would have nominated, say, von Drehle for that position. Or did people think, hey, you're the incumbent Pulitzer winner, you must be the foremost feature writer, QED.

Rachel Manteuffel: Eligible for free super saver shipping

Gene Weingarten:

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Fiddling: Congrats on the new book. I have a question. The book is a collection of your previously-published works, and you mentioned they'd been edited.... Cynics among us would say, "What gives, I could put that together myself! Search the WaPo archives, print, staple, voila!" So I'm not a cynic (on this point), I'm ignorant. What goes into editing a collection of essays, columns, whatever, so they can be published in a "collection"? Do you fix errors, provide updates, shorten, lengthen, what?

Gene Weingarten: The only other think you'd be missing is the intro, but.... That's readable, in its entirety, on Amazon!

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Vanity Plates: Gene, I saw a BMW 328i a few weeks ago with a license plate from a nearby state that read "BMW328i." Personalized license plates have always been a mystery to me in the first place, but why in the world would someone get one when he doesn't have anything interesting to share? Just showing off that he has money to burn? Wants everyone to know he lacks creativity?

Gene Weingarten: What he wrote was, "I'm going out the window."

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Dogs and onions: Not sure about that. I mean, how MUCH onion would a dog have to eat? When I was fostering and training a guide dog pup, I used to toss him pieces of raw onion when I was cooking, hoping to deter his relentless begging with the message "there's nothing tasty up here". (I did not know about the toxicity of onions.) He ate them happily, and asked for more. He never displayed any lethargy or peakedness or any other sign of anemia. He went on to live a long, worthy (obese-- he never got over the begging, and his blind man was happy to oblige) life.

Gene Weingarten:

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Bikes on the sidewalk: Higgledy piggledyBikes on the sidewalk areFine if you're open toUsing your head.Drivers are recklessAnd not very careful;They take a phone callAnd I wind up dead.

Gene Weingarten:

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Bicycle double dactyl: Contains neither a single-word line, nor the name of an individual. Otherwise clever.

Gene Weingarten:

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"the Koran does instruct it's adherenets to kill non-believers.": And in the state of Florida, it's illegal for unmarried women to go skydiving on Sundays. I'm just saying, there are dumb rules everywhere.

Gene Weingarten:

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It is not rocket science: Although I clearly understand why I (a white boy) am not allowed to use "the Dr. Laura word," I still think it's a topic worth discussing in fashionable salons such as college classrooms and this pixel-based communications location.

Gene Weingarten:

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To Change the video: I loved the video, I thought it was powerful and beautiful. The ONLY thing I MIGHT change would be the shot of the grand kids in what looked to be a cattle car. That felt a little icky to me for some reason.

Gene Weingarten:

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Dogs and Cats and Chocolate and Onions (Oh my!): My dog when I was a kid ate anything. My favorite was a live toad, but she also ate a whole bag of Hershey's Kisses, foil and all. No ill effects and she lived to eat many other things. My cat now used to eat onions, because he loves tomato sauce in all forms - spaghetti sauce, etc. He just doesn't like salsa, because of the spicy. So I guess I'm lucky!

Gene Weingarten:

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re: Dr Laura: The thing that hit me about the entire conversation was how she absolutely refused to even try to answer the caller's question, instead deciding to dwell on the "N" word for too long. Any time the caller tried to explain herself/her situation, Dr. L would cut her off with some other racially incensitive remark. That's what got me.

Gene Weingarten:

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Using a donor: We have a son via a sperm donor and my husband loves him just as much (if not more) than his biological children. They are very close. I recommend a lot of open, frank discussions and check out some online resources/books. There are a lot of them out there. It's very important, though, for you both to be completely okay with this or else it will likely cause problems later.Gene, if this person contacts you offline, I can send you some resources for her.

Gene Weingarten:

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Laws: You: The Old Testaments says you shall be banished forever for having sex with a menstruating woman. Typical of most religions. They lay down a strict set of laws, instead of just letting you go with the flow.

Gene Weingarten:

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Book Error: I don't know if it made it to the book; however, Lyn Balfour did not "win" the bronze star. One does not "win" a medal. A medal can be earned. It can be awarded. It can be received. It's never "won".It's not like she took third place.

Gene Weingarten:

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Grow a vajayjay: A few months ago, you had the discussion about how "grow a pair" was an inappropriate phrase for toughening up since testicles are fragile and vulnerable, and how growing a vagina - the muscular organ that propels children - is better. I just wanted you to know I took that to heart and told it to my husband. We both laughed at the time, but the other day, I heard him tell someone "Don't be a scrotum" in place of the p-word. Have I made progress?

Gene Weingarten:

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Dr. Laura: WHAT? Really? I had the exact opposite reaction. When I first heard Dr. Laura about the controversy I assumed it was another right wing type going off the deep end.But in hearing the actual dialogue it seemed perfectly in context and within reasonable discussion of race issues in this country. She probably repeated it gratuitously, in a provocative, inflammatory manner, but that's just rhetoric and you can't say it would have been OK to say once or twice but not a dozen times.

Gene Weingarten:

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Column about former lover: Gene-A few weeks ago you posted a column written in the Atlantic (maybe) about a former lover who was getting married. I am unable to watch the video chats, so could you give us your opinion on this column?I don't mind the new formats, but I hate, hate, hate the video chats. Your voice sounds tinny and effeminate, and the video makes you look fat.

Rachel Manteuffel:

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Aptonym Dead Ahead: "Emily C. Malarkey, the Baltimore attorney representing Silver Spring resident Yesenia Rivera..."

Rachel Manteuffel: She seems to have won the case!

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Rachel Manteuffel: Gene, I'm dying to know your thoughts on the poll in the update! Up until maybe last week or so I wouldn't have seen anything wrong with what he did. I would have found it incredibly romantic! Due to my own circumstances though, I suddenly see it as a bit childish. There is something to be said for grace and quiet, unrequited love. Also, you were reading a script in that video, weren't you?

Gene Weingarten: --

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Why the Aushwisz Dance video doesn't "work"?: It's the juxtaposition of the insipid Gloria Gaynor disco tune, with the moving, joyous reaction. I get that the guy has survived, even thrived, despise having been subjected to the ultimate horror that man can impose on man. But the song is just downright cheesy, and, in my mind, not on any level, fun or joyous or something to be celebrated. I'm sorry, but my opposition is as simple, and aesthiticlly shallow, as that.

Gene Weingarten:

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Politicians and Plane Crashes: The news lately, quite understandably, has been filled with the disproportionate number of politicians killed in plane crashes versus the general public. Having worked in politics my entire professional life, and seeing the entitlement this brings firsthand, I understand why, and I have an illustrative story. In 2000, in the height of the Gore/Bush campaign, I was sitting on the tarmac on a plane bound from Detroit to D.C. The weather was terrible -- a thunderstorm was raging, and lightning flashing. We had been delayed for some time, and it was not looking likely that we were going to take off anytime soon. Much to my surprise, the captain (maybe a flight attendant?) came on the PA, and said that thanks to a high profile passenger who was needed back in D.C., we were approved for takeoff. I was thankful, but appalled at the same time. We really shouldn't have taken off.The high-profile passenger? Hadassah Lieberman. Seeing firsthand in my job the coddling and yes-man attitude towards politicians, I get why so many people try to make things happen for them. This adds up to tragedy far too often.

Gene Weingarten:

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Pakistan or Pakistahn: Since Christiane Amanpour starting reporting from Afganistan while pronouncing it Afganistahn, other news people have begun imitating that and also saying Pakistahn. This has increased since she began hosting THis Week. Is it Pakistan rhyming with plan or Pakistahn?

Gene Weingarten:

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great headlines: The best headline the Post ever published was about a massage parlor in VA with licensing problems -- "Gay Masseuse Divides Manassas." So good they pulled it from the later editions.

Gene Weingarten:

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Freakishness: So: they make her lashes really, really long. Like almost too long. Where's the line of freakyness here? I assume at some point long eyelashes stop making you think "hot!" and start making you think "hormonal imbalance!" The problem might also be that the hairs get much longer but not a lot thicker, making it look like Ms. Danes sewed a bunch of thread to her eyelids. How weird is it that we grow hairs around our eyeballs? In case you were thinking of not answering this question, Claire has your ideal bosom.

Gene Weingarten:

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washington, dc: Sorry, this is a little lengthy.So, a friend and I were discussing the movie The American President and Michael Douglas's speech at the end of it. Here is the text of a lot of that speech:For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character, and although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I've been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character. For the record: yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU. But the more important question is why aren't you, Bob? Now, this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question: Why would a senator, his party's most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution? If you can answer that question, folks, then you're smarter than I am, because I didn't understand it until a few hours ago. America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free". I've known Bob Rumson for years, and I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character."The most amazing this to me is that the fictional republican ploy from 1995 is the same as the real one now, 15 years later, with all of this Mosque crap. I don't have any deep insight other than that it's sad and the whole thing makes me angry. And that if I were running a party, I wouldn't run it to act like a fictional villain from 15 years ago.

Rachel Manteuffel: big speech

Gene Weingarten:

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Journalism and Ethics: if he is not missing a limb or suffering from open sores, you just never know." The reporter and singer have a long history and mutual axes to grind. Asking to see medication and claiming it's all in the name of honest journalism seems a bit thin. Honestly, the reporter's behavior infuriated me, but I'm not an expert on journalistic ethics and maybe his question was legit. So I turn to you. I know you get a hundred million questions, but I would really, really appreciate your thoughts on this one. Thanks.

Rachel Manteuffel:

Gene Weingarten:

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Callahan: Both comics rely on the same stereotype "Asians eat dogs" stereotype, and if I'd only seen the first I wouldn't think it was offensive at all. It takes the stereotype and turns it into a great wordplay joke. But I've seen the second. And the second is nothing but an "Asians eat dogs" joke and it colors how I read the first. It doesn't make him a racist, necessarily, but it is definitely tone deaf.

Gene Weingarten:

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B&C: C'mon. A "crackpot" wearing an actual cracked pot? Who's lame idea was that?

Rachel Manteuffel: Barney and Clyde August 23

Gene Weingarten:

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Better Explain the video?: Better explain it? I think it's pretty dang self-explanatory. I was thinking the only better thing would be dancing on Hitler's literal grave, but no, this was perfect. Talk about living well is the best revenge.How is this offensive or trivializing. HE is a survivor. HE can celebrate his life and his survival as he see fits. How does this trivialize any suffering that anyone else went through? The fact that he is stamping a big "FAIL!" on Hitler's forehead doesn't negate or undermine or say anything about someone else's suffering.What's wrong with some triumph?

Rachel Manteuffel:

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Every time I try to quit you...: ...you help me get in touch with something like the Holocaust Musical. So moving -- who can deny that man his thumb in the eye of evil? Thank you! I know I'm not the only one who is ambivalent about you -- you're kind of like a reasonably intellectual Andy Kauffman -- maddening, provocative, funny.

Gene Weingarten:

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How far away does hallowed ground extend?: I keep seeing politicians, and even reporters, refer to the "Ground Zero Mosque" and have heard some say a mosque (or cultural center) should not be built "on hallowed ground." Do you think these people are aware that the facility would not actually be at Ground Zero, and that there is, in fact,, already a mosque a few blocks away? How far would it have to be to be acceptable, or would anything in the same city be unacceptable? Some politicians did, of course, demonize Catholicism years ago ("No to Rome!").

Gene Weingarten:

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Speak Carefully...: I was at the Alaska Thunder air show in Anchorage a couple weeks ago, and thought you urgently needed to see this picture.

Gene Weingarten:

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Juggling raw eggs: Gene, what you didn't mention is your skill at juggling raw eggs without a disrobing woman in your field of vision...

Rachel Manteuffel: Gene's journalism skills

Gene Weingarten:

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Double letters in spelling: How do you remember when, where, which words gets doubling of a letter? Are there any rules? The older i get, the more dependent I am on a spell-check.

Gene Weingarten:

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comics: As I read the comics to my wife this morning on our drive to work, we got a rare chuckle out of Blondie. My wife said it's one of the few times that the characters there seemed to be living in the here and now.

Rachel Manteuffel: Blondie

Gene Weingarten:

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Curse you, Red Baron, I mean, Strasburg: This is the column to make silly claims, so I will make mine. I have on occasion had the opportunity to attempt to get Stephen Strasburg's autograph. He has come over to sign autographs and has signed autographs for the person on either side of me, but has skipped signing for me. I, of course, have taken this as a personal insult. So, since I have a gypsy background, I announced, as a joke, that I have put a gypsy curse on him. Well, even since I did that, he hasn't won a game. I know there are some fans around me who blame me for the curse. I don't believe in curses, yet I am ready to take credit for this curse. So, Strasburg, until I get that autograph, consider yourself cursed. Or, at least, some highly superstitious fans believe so.

Rachel Manteuffel:

Gene Weingarten:

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Arlington, VA: When I took the "Holocaust: The Musical" poll, I noticed that at the bottom of the results page it said "711 stemmer." It's pretty clear to me that means "711 votes," probably in some Scandinavian language, but what's up with that?

Rachel Manteuffel:

Gene Weingarten:

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Face Blindness: I have not seen the article yet, but the promo email I got for this week's New Yorker indicated that there is an Oliver Sacks piece on face blindness.

Rachel Manteuffel: teaser

Gene Weingarten:

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the misuse of "begs the question," which kills it for me. It is dead to me. : I feel that way, too, but we've lost that one. Just like "decimate." Sorry.Clarification: I don't use the expression wrongly, but I've had to stop rolling my eyes when others do, I was getting repetitive motion eyeball strain.

Gene Weingarten:

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the question!: "this is really begging the real question"WHO ARE YOU, AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH GENE WEINGARTEN?

Gene Weingarten:

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Gene Weingarten:

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Gene Weingarten:

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Rachel Manteuffel: You guys are great.

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Sorry Rachel: I think your fix is Porblematic

Rachel Manteuffel: Thanks!

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Gene Weingarten: SOLUTION TO THE GREAT COPYEDITING CHALLENGE The answer will be at the end of the update. There aren't many trees in these parts, so Battle Mountain High makes do with a giant mound of forklift pallets donated by local businesses. Chipper, fresh-faced teenage girls in cheerleader costumes, girls no bigger than labrador retrievers, are high-stepping and kicking and chanting in voices that squeak, "We are the mighty, mighty Longhorns," and even little girls on the side are imitating their varsity big sisters, and the high school band is playing a spiritedly terrible "Born to be Wild," and parents are whooping and cheering and passing cameras back and forth to remember this forever. It stings your eyes and reddens your face. Again, here is the passage, verbatim: Savoonga gives no quarter; it is merciless even to the dead.

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Gene Weingarten:

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"No major league sports team has ever gone down in a plane crash": February 6, 1958--a plane carrying most of the Manchester United squad crashed in Munich. The biggest stars of the team died. Eight players, eight travelling journalists, and six others. 52 years later, there's always a minute of silence at Manchester United games around that date.

Gene Weingarten:

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Corn: Mark Twain was a corn boiler.

Gene Weingarten:

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Lower Manhattan Moslem Culture Center: Okay, I get that some of the "objectors" are clueless, racist bigots who just want "all them Muslims t'go back where they came from", but honestly, can you note concede that it's a bit insensitive? It's been barely five years since the attack. How would you have reacted if some Japanese folks wanted to build a cultural center in Hawaii? 2 blocks from Pearl Harbor? in 1946? I get that there are 2 sides to this argument, and both have the right to their position, but I get that there's a rational argument for "too soon. and not there".

Gene Weingarten: In fact, it's at the very heart of why your argument is bankrupt.Japanese society and culture was at war with American society and culture.Kay?

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begging the question again: It does not mean "avoiding." Begging the question is the English translation of petitio principii, which means to ask for the principle that one is trying to establish. You are part of the problem, sir, not part of the solution.

Gene Weingarten:

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Veterinarian Question: Gene, What is Molly Weingarten, DVM doing back at the family domicile? Last I heard, she was in a referral practice in Connecticut. Did she transfer to a practice around the DC area?

Gene Weingarten:

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Gene Weingarten: THE ANSWER TO THE COPY EDITING CHALLENGE

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Rachel Manteuffel: Thanks.

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Gene Weingarten: CHAT UPDATE - 09.07Welcome to the chat update.

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Dr. Laura: I agreed with the majority on your poll. But while I'm outraged by what she said, I am not surprised at all. This woman is a charalatan. She has a doctorate, and uses the title "doctor" on her show, and purports to be someone who's professional background qualifies her to help people in distress. I used to listen to her way back when. She turned me off when she had a sad teenage caller, who after hearing Dr. Laura's beratement for doing the wrong thing and being a horrible person, got even sadder, inconsolable almost, and Dr. Laura got off the call as soon as she could. I felt sh didn't care a whit about helping this sad girl, she just wanted to make her same points on every caller. Later I learned her doctorate had nothing to do with any helping profession, meaning she's a fake, She never let this woman explain the situation, why she felt the way she did, she used the topic as an excuse for a rant-debate, then got hoist on her own petard. Sort of like those TV pundit shows you wrote an article about a few years back.I'm so glad she was exposed for who she really is, like the clotheless emperor in the old fairy tale.

Gene Weingarten:

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Re: Book Error: Debatable? Really? If Lyn Balfour won her bronze star, who did she beat out? Saying a soldier won the bronze star is like saying a graduate won a law degree.

Gene Weingarten:

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Ride the bike on the sidewalk.: Only if you are a child or have training wheels.

Gene Weingarten:

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Higgledy piggledy - bikes on the sidewalk: Higgledy piggledyBikes on the sidewalk areSomething I'd do So Iwon't disappearThat's because everyoneThinks that they're number oneThey honk their hornsBut I'm deaf and don't hear.

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Topiaries: Is it weird that when my husband sent me a link to this commercial, all I could say was "Gene is going to LOVE this."? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAk77Kr_OwQ&feature=search

Gene Weingarten:

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A Dirty Mind: So did Sunday's Get Fuzzy have a surreptitious dirty phrase used in a innocent context? (Next to last frame) Do cartoonists do a touchdown dance when they're able to get away with something like that?

Gene Weingarten:

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Geography: Why do the English call it Paris and not Paree? Because for many centuries the English didn't know how the Parisians pronounced it because they never met a Parisian. Et cetera. Today we have a reasonable chance of knowing how to pronounce Mumbai and Puerto Rico as the Mumbayans and puertorriquenos do. It's a "problem" of improved communications and travel technology. To me the real problem is when newsreaders pronounce names with a "local" accent in the middle of their perfectly fine American-accented sentences. ("President Obama traveled to neek-ah-RAH-wah today to discuss corn subsidies.") It just sounds like showing off.

Gene Weingarten:

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hehehe: I lost at trivia last night, but I beg to disagree, the question was:Where do all women have curly hair?The correct answer:Africa. But there are tones of white people in Africa...so I stand by my answer.

Gene Weingarten: That is a s

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false nativizing is worse: The danes pronounce it "Kobenhavn". If you pronounce it "Copenhahgen" they'll think you're German, and dislike you. So go ahead and pronounce it Copenhaygen.

Gene Weingarten:

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Gene Weingarten:

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Gene Weingarten: UPDATE: Sept. 14

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Gene Weingarten: Is it possible that 100 percent of these things are dirty tricks by their opponents?Moreover, has anyone ever listened to those calls for more than five seconds?

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Gene Weingarten: On a related, if regrettable, topic, Horace LaBadie was unkind enough to remind me of this posting from a chat update a few months ago, when the baseball season was still young:Gene Weingarten: Okay, time for me to make a fool of myself, even more than usual. I've been alive 58 years. Been here for 1961 and 1998. I've never seen a Yankees team as good as this one. Prediction: 119 wins, the most ever. Three 20-game winners. Mariano Rivera sets the season record for saves. Brett Gardner steals 70 bases. Robinson Cano hits .340.--

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Phone numbers: Based on my own anecdotal evidence (none of which I can remember right now), both men and women commit the phone sin you addressed in your column. I haven't noticed that one gender does it more than the other. Sorry.What I *did* notice, however, was that (also with both sexes) you get the following exchange with exasperating frequency:Me: Let me give you my phone number.Them: OK, what is it?Me: 555...Them: Wait, I have to get a pencil.Them: OK, got it.Me: 555...Them: Wait, I have to get paper....What, may I ask, is wrong with saying, "Hold on a minute while I get pencil and paper" when someone says "Let me give you my number"? I mean, really.

Gene Weingarten:

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Despicable Coworker: I completely and utterly despise a co-worker of mine. He is unfortunately unavoidable to me, as we sit out in the open, about 15 yards away from each other. Not only is extremely unaware of his status (he works for the boss and therefore thinks he is the boss although he is in a very low position). He is just an awful self-entitled, socially unaware person. He really thinks he runs in the same business/social circles as his boss and is just unbearable. He also does not respond to subtle ignoring on my part. If I happen to glance in his direction or say something in a somewhat-nice tone, he leaps on it and starts trying to have discussions, joke around, etc. He tries to have it both ways - he thinks he's above us all but when it's convenient he tries to be one of the hoi polloi. I love my job otherwise, but this one pompous awful man is making me want to quit. Can I get over this or is it time to move on??

Gene Weingarten: And the shrink says: "Why don't you kill them?" And the speaker is point toward the back of the room, saying "I believe the big fat slob in the back has a question."

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Panhandlers: Gene,I'm curious as to how you handle interactions with panhandlers. I live in Boston and work in a fairly touristy area where lots of people are begging for money every day. I am a female and sometimes I feel really uncomfortable giving folks money or I don't have cash/change or I'm in a hurry. Some people are quiet and obviously in need and other people swear at me or are jerks, but usually you don't know this until you either give them money or pass by without giving them money. I realize that many panhandlers may have a mental illness, but mainly this has to do with my safety. I've had men yell and threaten me before if I ignored them. Oddly enough, I feel safe giving people money when I'm in my car as I can drive away if I feel threatened. The other issue is, I see the same panhandlers every day, so it becomes harder to ignore them when I see them every morning. I guess I just wonder if you acknowledge panhandlers, give them money or some combination of the two. I feel like a jerk if I obviously look away but also can't/don't want to give them money.

Gene Weingarten: I seldom give money to someone young and fit looking; mine is a neighborhood where an enterprising person with a strong back and a broom can find odd jobs.

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Misleading headlines: Take a look at this newspaper article (I saw it on CIDU): (1) When you read the headline, who appears to be the bad guy? (2) Once you read the actual article, who really is the bad guy? (3) What in the world was the headline writer thinking?

Gene Weingarten:

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Just How Liberal Are We?: Would we have minor misgivings about a Pearl Harbor memorial for Japanese kamikaze pilots? A Robert E Lee Memorial next to a slave ship? A Catholic Church in a Protestant Belfast neighborhood? I defend this Right vigorously, but I acknowledge people's unease.

Rachel Manteuffel:

Gene Weingarten:

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Gene Weingarten:

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Gene Weingarten: Sept. 21 People HATE this.predominatelyshould have wentrestauranteur7. "loose," as the opposite of "win."13. if I would have known...14. your welcomeanyways...16. reigned in, free reign

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Gene Weingarten: And yes, Jessica specifically authorized me to publish hers, and swears it's true.The Giants really need these to be worn on Game Day, ---Leslie Fine:Higgledy Piggledly Quarterback Eli's a Big Easy native, and I'm from there too.ber-defiantly I'll don allegiance to Eli, not Drew.---s worth it if it keeps me from swerving my car into a bridge abutment next time I see a Giants bumper sticker.--There is no one to cover the register or phone when I need to relieve myself.Since I don't have time to shop for more underwear, I have resorted to asking complete strangers to send me some.

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Gene Weingarten: Next chat -- Sept. 28

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