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Bob Levey
Bob Levey
(Barbara Tyroler)
Levey Live Archive
Column: Bob Levey
Metro Section
Talk: Metro message boards
Live Online Transcripts

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Levey Live: Speaking Freely
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, May 9,2003; 1 p.m. ET

"Levey Live: Speaking Freely," hosted by Washington Post columnist Bob Levey, appears every Friday. It is a live, open-agenda discussion offering washingtonpost.com users around the world the opportunity to ask questions and discuss topics of their choice with Bob.

Fearless Bob takes your questions about virtually everything, from sports and politics (there's a difference?) to world events, Metro area traffic and issues raised in Bob's columns.

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

Bob Levey: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen (others are welcome, too). Let's get cooking on our weekly rounds. As always, commentary of all kinds is welcome for the next hour. If you haven't had enough Jordan yet, he's fair game. So is Ramsey's new $170,000 contract. So are recent Levey columns. So is anything!

Her-r-r-r-r-re we go........

Your Chosen Nickname: I understand completely why you like Bob over Robert. My brother, also a Bob, is the same way. When he was a kid, he hated it when teachers called him Robert. Made him feel like he was being reprimanded.

What do you think of the nickname Rob?

Bob Levey: I was Rob until the age of 8, when I announced to my parents that it was a little boy's nickname, and I no longer was one of those.

Only one person on earth still calls me Rob -- my 87-year-old aunt. She has earned the right -- by living through more years of our family drama than even I have!

Washington, D.C.: Dear Bob --

In reference to Tuesday's discussion of baseball cliches: Have you seen the movie "Bull Durham?"

Why? Because the scene where the older player teaches the younger player how to be interviewed is hysterical. And later on, when you see the younger player getting interviewed, it's even better.

Bob Levey: I've seen "Bull," but it has been many moons. I'm afraid I don't recall those scenes.

Now, if you want to talk about a ballplayer making smoochie-smooch with Susan Sarandon in his locker....

Yup, I remember THAT!

Tampa, Fla.: As a Bob, I enjoyed your piece in your column this morning. Sorry this post is so early, but this "Bob" has to head out this morning.

The Steve/Eileen Eisenburg story (the Bethesda couple, who thought the baby in Michigan? was theirs after 6 plus years of being missing) caused me to wonder ...

It's been almost 10 years for one, 20 plus for another pair ... I was wondering ... Any news of the missing kids Jr. Burdinski, or the Lyons sisters? Is the case still open? Do the parents still hold out hope?

Bob Levey: I can't imagine that parents ever give up hope. But it's pretty obvious to everyone by now that these notorious case will never be solved in the way we'd like -- with long-missing human beings walking back through the door.

Crystal City, Va.: How 'bout those Illinois plates on MJ's car? Guess he never planned to really stay in the area. Now when will the mayor buy a house in the District?

Bob Levey: I hope the mayor will dispatch his worthies to boot Jordan's car!

The law is very plain: If you live here for 30 days, you need to have bought D.C. tags by the 31st day.

Then again, maybe Williams will cut Jordan some slack. That mold story out of the Ritz Carlton was a real smasheroo, wasn't it? If it's possible to feel sorry for Jordan in any way after the events of the last two days, I do, because of the grunge in his living quarters.

Baltimore, Md.: In a chat a couple of weeks ago, you mentioned the disgraceful behavior of anti-Vietnam protesters who you saw spitting on returning soldiers.

I recently read about a historian's fairly definitive report that such an action never actually happened. Kind of makes sense -- if some hippie spit on a Marine, do you think the Marine would just stand there and take it? So I'm wondering if you actually saw such a spitting or if you were just generalizing about how poorly soldiers were treated during that era.

Bob Levey: I saw it, in Oakland, Calif., at the big port there where soldiers returned from Vietnam. The reason the Marines (and members of other services) took it was because the spitters were behind a fence. The servicepeople couldn't have gotten to them if they'd wanted to -- and as you say, they wanted to. Many words flew, to be sure, but no fists.

Washington, D.C.: Hey Bob,

It's really interesting the views spoken from some of your colleagues their at The Post regarding Jordan and Pollin. I'm not going to debate over two rich guys, but here is my question. Does The Washington Post have a Suite at the MCI Center? Does the marketing department for the Wizards send invites to The Post?


Bob Levey: If the Washington Post has a suite at MCI, it's news to me. I know there are a couple of Postie seats at mid-court of Wizards games, in the expensive section. They are used by management creatures and their families and pals.

Washington, D.C.: You've gotta start advertising your monthly contest as an international contest. A winner from Moscow. Levey is read round the world!

Bob Levey: Amen, baby!

We've had a winner from Ireland, a winner from Africa and now a winner from Russia. There's no stopping that Bob fella......

Rockville, Md.: Loved the baseball cliches column. However, you being the true blue Cub fan that you are, how about one more from Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks, "Let's play two?"

Bob Levey: GREAT one!

How could I have forgotten?

I must have been momentarily blinded by the Cubbies' fast start.

Don't worry.

August lurks.

Virginia: Hey Bob,

When you started off your first couple of years in the Media business ... it took you a while to get where you are now, right?

Well the same can be said for Mr. Jordan, why are your colleagues there jumping on Mr. Jordan about being an exec? Geesh. The man only had one year of it, and then went and said, I'll play to help you with revenue Mr. Pollin. There lies the problem: disrespect for what Mr. Jordan sacrificed for Mr. Pollin. To play instead being an exec., and to make Mr. Pollin money -- which we all know is the bottom line.

Bob Levey: Michael Jordan turned everything so sour -- on the court, in the locker room, in the executive suite -- that dumping him was the only way to go.

Sure, it's easy to say that it's always about money, period. But I don't think that was the situation here. Pollin has always been a handshake kind of guy. He HATED that Jordan was badmouthing him behind his back. The guy may be 79, but he has feelings -- and razor-sharp antennae. As Sally Jenkins said so crisply, you don't diss the guy who brung you, even if you're Michael Jordan.

There's also the small matter of how poorly Jordan did as an executive. He killed everything he touched -- wrong coaches, wrong number one draft choice, ludicrous trade for Stackhouse, poor handling of youngbloods like Kwame. I'm all the way for Abe on the playout of this one.

Washington, D.C.: Hey Robare, you should pay closer attention to your own paper:

Scores of season ticket holders have already plunked down their money for next season, and many of the those who have leased one of MCI Center's 115 luxury suites, including The Washington Post, are locked into multi-year agreements, some as long as 10 years.

Bob Levey: Thanks for the enlightenment. I'll try to say this delicately: I don't play with the "upstairs" gang, so I have no idea about sky suites and such.

Spitting Hippies: How close were these hippies and marines? I'm assuming it was a chain-link fence. Was it one hippy or several? I'm not saying a few isolated incidents happened but I think this whole servicemen getting spat on is now Urban Legend material.

Bob Levey: Chain-link it was. Maybe they were three or four feet apart.

Silver Spring, Md.: Bob, any word on your search for a name for I-270?

Bob Levey: I'm compiling entries. Got lots of good ones. Best one so far: "The Road to Hell (It's Paved With Good Intentions)."

Southern Maryland:: Is anybody else as sick of hearing about Michael Jordan as I am? Come on, folks, he's just an overpaid athlete. There are a lot more important things in life. Get over it.

Bob Levey: You mean you thought that three columns, three news stories, a "break box" of highlights and notable dates and 1,465,856 photos was too much?

One quibble with what you say:

He was an overpaid executive, not (any more) an overpaid athlete.

Just ask John Thompson. He pointed out on the radio that Michael played the last two seasons "for the minimum," as if this was some kind of killer sacrifice.

The minimum is $1 million a year!

Wouldn't you love to make that much in a freakin' DECADE?

Washington, D.C.: Sorry Bob, but that wasn't the baseball player and Susan Sarandon in his locker. That was the baseball player and Jenny Robertson, who played Millie.

Bob Levey: Thanks for the straightening out.

Obviously, I was just a BIT fixated on the bodies, and less fixated on the faces!

Washington, D.C.: Bob, one of the Post's most useful features has disappeared from the District Weekly -- the list of health department restaurant closures! Where did it go? Please tell me it's still published ... I plan my meals around it!

Bob Levey: It's now in the Extras. The District Weekly no longer exists.

Springfield, Va.: The May 4 op-ed piece on teenage drinking laws has generated lots of discussion in my house. As the father of two teens, what do you think and how do you handle this?

Bob Levey: In our house, we abide by the law, and we squelch cries of "everyone does it" with cries about how much daddy and mommy would hate to bail someone out of the joint at 3 a.m. -- because we need our beauty sleep.

Chicago, Ill.: Usually from Laurel, Md., but writing from Chicago this weekend. I see that you are still dissing the Cubs chances late in the year. C'mon, with Dusty Baker as the manager and with pitching studs Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, you should at least be positive about our chances for contention.

Bob Levey: I'm positive as of May 9, for sure. But all that outfield Ivy tends to strangle sweet reason (and the odds) by mid-August.

I've never forgotten watching Keith Moreland drop a routine fly in the ninth inning of a big game about 20 years ago. Three runs scored. The air went right out of the season. It could only happen to the Cubs.

Alexandria, Va.: You mentioned a new play called "Sleepless in Shaw" in the column last week and I've been frantically searching The Post to see what playhouse I can see it at. No luck. Do you know what playhouse is staging the play? Is it in New York?

Bob Levey: That was a gag.

No such play.

Dupont Metro Rider, Washington, D.C.: Kudos to the WMATA for finally putting up signs indicating that metro escalator riders should stand to the right, walk to the left. This will make tourist season that much more bearable.

Bob Levey: Let's hope.

I've had some minor beefing about those "circles built into the floor." This correspondent LOVES THEM! Anything to make life (and people) flow more smoothly.

Arlington, Va.: Bob, in recent years, there have been quite a few reporters fired for either plagiarizing or making up their facts. Do you have any idea what is causing the trend other than an Internet that allows quick access to other people's work?

Bob Levey: I wish I knew. Stories like the Blair disaster chill us all.

It's amazing how long it takes to rebuild trust after something like that. The Janet Cooke fiasco hit this newspaper 23 years ago, and I'm still whapped in the face by it when I go to interview people (they ask how Janet is doing these days -- SUCH wise guys -- but it tells you that people care about honesty and accuracy).

I wouldn't blame the Internet. I'd blame the affection that this business has for hard-working, high-energy people -- and the lack of time we have to check up on young reporters when something starts to smell.

That said, it's amazing to me that Blair still had a job after the Times published 54 (!) corrections of his work. Obviously, someone on West 43rd Street was thinking with his hopes rather his head. This young man should have been washed out of the business after two weeks, with that kind of record.

Bowie, Md.: Bob, I know this is America's most sensitive issue, but it's something the should be discussed openly and fairly.

Remember a decade ago when Al Campanis said there weren't more front office black because they lacked "the necessities?" Well, his remark was widely interpreted to mean blacks aren't smart enough; but Campanix claimed he was trying to say the black athletes generally don't have good educations or business backgrounds, so most haven't developed the necessary skills to perform as an executive.

Does Michael Jordan's front office career demonstrate the danger of making the leap of faith that a guy who's a "smart player" still doesn't necessarily possess all the skills an executive needs?

Bob Levey: I'd agree with every syllable of your analysis. But I'd caution against injecting any color-sensitivity into this saga. Jordan's black skin has absolutely nothing to do with any of this. Neither does Pollin's white skin. Now, if you want to talk THICK skins.... I'd say Michael and Abe both possess exactly that.

Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Bob: How come you no longer post Class Reunion news?

Bob Levey: I'm back in the reunion business in a column next week. I've just neglected to do this lately, because of space. No big policy decision.

Washington, D.C.: So, Roberto: Safe to bet that your FAVORITE movie was "Billy Elliot"?

Bob Levey: Bad bet.

"Elliott" is one of the three I haven't seen yet.

I'm stocking up on celery.

I hope to knock off "Elliott," "Life Is Beautiful" and "Best in Show this weekend." Movie columns coming the week of May 19.

Springfield, Va.: On teenage drinking, thanks for speaking as a father -- I agree with you. I'm also troubled when we tell 18-20 year olds that they can vote, buy cars, sign for a mortgage, and join the Army -- but can't have a beer. Is this just an injustice they have to endure?

Bob Levey: In my day, we didn't have to endure it. I grew up in New York, and the drinking age was 18 then. You'd be amazed how much more boozing there was than there is now. How much more death on the highways, too.

So what kind of sense does it make to tell a young person: "You can vote, you can drive, you can join the military -- and you can smash yourself to pieces against a phone pole?" We as parents should be for POSITIVE outcomes, not indulgent ones.

Washington, D.C.: I love the circles on the Metro floor too. Now when are they going to show up at Metro Center? Any explanation for the fact that the biggest, most crowded station (where those things are most useful) wasn't FIRST?

Bob Levey: Metroids?

University Park, Pa.: Bob,

What do you think about the NCAA coaches (Eustachy/Price) situation? Does going to a strip club affect a coach's ability to perform his job? Does it erode his standing in the eyes of his charges? And more to the point, would you want him as Allie's coach?

Bob Levey: I always play a little parlor game.

Whenever a coach does or says something idiotic, imagine what would happen if an English professor at the same school did the same thing.

He'd be given a one-way ticket, right?

So why is there the slightest doubt that these two guys (and all the rest of the slime that infests college coaching) should go?

They are public representatives of a university, which exists to foster the highest ideals. They are, in a way, teachers themselves. If they can't maintain (or attain) the moral standards needed to do their jobs, boinggggg! Gone!

Washington, D.C.: Stocking up on celery?

Bob Levey: That's what I chomp now that I can no longer have snacks that pack any calories!

College Park, Md.: Hey Bob,

I'm a college student who aspires to be a columnist someday. I'm wondering -- as a columnist, do you ever run out of ideas and just "mail it in," so to speak?

For example, today's column on the name Bob seems like one you would just kick out to fill space waiting for the next "great idea" to come along.

Is that how it really works in newspapers?

Bob Levey: If I looked at this job as "filling space," I'd have felt a tap on the shoulder a long time ago.

Obviously, you thought today's was a little limp. Fine. Your privilege to think so.

But my notion in writing it was to trot something interesting before the great unwashed. That's what I look to do every single day.

We won't always agree on the definition of that word. But I want to assure you that I never sit here and hate or fear the space I have to fill for the next day.

This job is a blessing. It's a privilege to do it. I try to hit home runs five days a week -- not homers four days and bunts the fifth.

The only way to approach a job like mine is to keep it fresh and interesting, every single day. By one measure, I did that this morning. I've had 10 phone calls and more than 60 e-mails about today's so far -- all positive.

Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.: How can I learn how to play bridge? Just buy a book and ask some friends if they want to learn how to play? Or is there a place I can go and they'd teach me?

Bob Levey: The Washington Bridge League's Web site lists classes. I recommend that heartily.

Reston, Va.: Thankfully I can correct a misstatement you made in the chat two weeks ago -- the Vet in Philly is very much still standing and still being used by the Philthies! (I drove by it last weekend) The new Eagles stadium is supposed to be ready for the new season but they just began work on the new baseball stadium.

I personally have always been a fan of the stadium -- it just fits the Philly personality!

Bob Levey: Thank you very much for straightening this out. I deserve a Philly raspberry for accelerating the demise of the Vet!

Somewhere, USA: My name's "Jean." Only problem is, it's spelled "Jeanne." No big deal, right? Wrong. I get called "Gee-ann," "Janeen" and "Jeannie." Anything and everything except Jeanne. Oh for the female equivalent of "BOB." Love your chats, love you!

Bob Levey: Doesn't Mimi pass the never-misspelled test?

Or Dee?

Or Pat?

Love ya back!

Incredulous: Bob, are you endorsing a lower drinking age? That's just what we need, kids who can barely manage in traffic all liquored up to boot.

Bob Levey: I'm doing just the opposite! I'm trying to say that when we drank in New York at 18, we killed ourselves (and others) at a much greater rate.

Van Ness, Washington, D.C.: College coaches --

Unlike the professors, the coaches are VERY well paid. It is not exceptional that the coach from Iowa is the highest paid state government employee.

Bob Levey: That means he's all the more responsible for behaving in keeping with the highest standards of the university -- not just the standards that win games.

Washington, D.C.: Coaches need to be at a higher standard since they are in the public eye more than an English professor.

Bob Levey: I'd say the standard should be the same. If an English professor groped co-eds at a beer party, he'd be gone at the speed of light, too.

State College, Pa.: Happy John Ashcroft's Birthday!

Big Brother wants to know what books Mr. Levey has been reading lately.

Bob Levey: I'm halfway through Tony Hillerman's latest, "The Sinister Pig" (Tony was the guest -- and a very good one -- on Tuesday's "Levey Live").

I'm halfway through Rick Atkinson's astounding history of the French invasion, "An Army at Dawn."

Janet Cooke: You think those "wise guys" care about honesty or accuracy? They sound more like the partisans who scream "liberal media!" every time The Post is even faintly critical of Bush. I think they're just trying to get under your skin.

Bob Levey: If so, they succeeded.

Arlington, Va.: A friend of mine suggested that Metro should have ATMs in some of their stations. If you think about it, this makes sense, some of the stations are in the middle of no where and not near a bank. I know they are taking credit cards now, but a few years they were not. Since the food/candy/soda/other merchandise idea came across, what are you thoughts on ATMs being in Metro stations?

Bob Levey: I'd much rather see ATMs in stations than food machines. It's very hard to buy a Farecard with a Hershey bar.

Laurel, Md.: Bob, mentioning Philly reminds me you were there a few weeks ago, and I forgot to ask:

Don't they have great buses? Since most of the city is laid as a big grid, they mostly run straight line routes north/south or east/west. Plus they have electronic signs in them telling you what street your at and what the next stop is.

Philly transit is the mirror image of Washington -- great buses and commuter rail, but a pretty weak subway.

Bob Levey: Philly was really fun, and I can't wait to go back -- for buses, food, sights, the whole deal.

Huh?: I could have sworn that the Phillies had a new stadium. Are you and Reston sure about this?

Bob Levey: It's coming for next season. The Vet is still in use this season.

Washington, D.C.: Bob, I can't imagine anyone outside of his or her department caring whether a professor visited a strip club. It's legal, and they're adults.

Bob Levey: If you're going to fill a position of responsibility, you have to understand the "shadow" test. If you cast one, over yourself or your school, the fact that a strip club is legal is just hair-splitting.

We're talking about judgment here -- and if an English professor goes into a strip club, he has zero of that.

Rockville, Md.: Wouldn't that be the German invasion of France? Or is this the French invasion of Russia? Inquiring history buffs want to know.

Bob Levey: The Allied invasion of France. Yes, there was one. Read the book!

Washington, D.C. : Bob,

Along the lines of baseball cliches and your recent column, thought I'd mention that a local resident (by way of Garrett Park, Md.) has a great book out, "The New Baseball Dictionary." It's written by baseball fan and lexicographer extraordinaire, Paul Dickson.

Beyond cliches, it has just about anything (obscure and otherwise) that you's want to know about baseball lingo.

"Can of corn!"

Bob Levey: Paul Dickson is a great, great writer. Thanks for the steer!

Arlington, Va.: Bob -- I am a female Pat. I can attest that Pat is always spelled correctly. But, I get a lot of Dear Mr. Patrick ____ mail!!!


Bob Levey: There's always a thorn in every rose bush. Thanks for weighing in, Pat.

Re: ATMs in Metro stations: I think the possibility of being robbed would increase exponentially if such things were put in Metro stations!

Bob Levey: Possibly, but not if police patrols increased exponentially, too.

Local Yokel: I'm not entirely certain that a hard and fast rule on teenage drinking is a good thing. My parents allowed me to have a glass of wine or beer at the dinner table when they were having some, when I was a child. They never bought me alcohol "specifically," nor supplied it for my friends or a party or anything. I learned to drink moderately in a social situation. By the time I got to college, the pressure on getting a drink, getting drunk was easy for me to push away. I had the perspective that it wasn't "forbidden fruit" and therefore getting "wasted" wasn't a goal.

Bob Levey: You make a very important point. As long as parents treat alcohol as no big deal -- they can take it or leave it, it isn't the centerpiece of their meal, their day or their lives -- then good sense will operate in their offspring.

I wouldn't provide alcohol to my underage child, and never did. But my kids have never seen me drunk. Nor have they seen my wife drunk. We drink a glass of wine with dinner once a month, if that. We've demythologized booze. So our kids have, too.

Fairfax, Va.: Not being a regular metroid (anymore) due to my non-commute, what are "circles built into the floor?"

Bob Levey: The system has placed signs on the floor that urge you to stay right on escalators, not eat or drink, etc.

Bowie, Md.: Speaking of Philadelphia, you have in the past talked about the travel "needs" of persons over 50 years old. Philadelphia is actually somewhat notorious among local residents for not having open restrooms in its parks, which is pretty poor for a city with so much urban park land.

Did you find yourself out and about with "nowhere to go" on your visit?

Bob Levey: Once.

This is why God made Marriotts.

Washington, D.C.: Do you buy your books or visit the library? If you buy them, do you buy them from cheaper sources online, or from the regular priced bookstores? Do you got to Barnes and Noble, or support our local booksellers? Just curious. I have been fighting this lately. I am starting out, and really like to own the books I read, but it pains me to pay the high (but regular) prices at Politics and Prose or Olssens when I can go to overstock.com or half.com. What is your take on this?

Bob Levey: I buy them, usually at Politics and Prose, simply because I love the fact that there IS a Politics and Prose.

Shirlington, Va.: Bob,

I believe you meant to say that Rick Atkinson's Book "An Army At Dawn" is about the Allied (U.S./British) invasion of North Africa in November 1942.

Bob Levey: Did I say 1943? Shame on me. Thanks for the correction.

Washington, D.C.: Is there an e-mail address where one can send you a message too long for responding here?

Bob Levey: leveyb@washpost.com.

Operators are standing by.

Prices slightly higher in New Jersey.

Annandale, Va.: I loved your "Ode to Bob!"

Bob Levey: Thank you very much!

University Park, Pa.: OK, me again.

Since I'm a professor, albeit a young assistant professor, if I'm invited to a party given by students (of legal drinking age), I should decline because it isn't ethical to have a beer with them? Or I shouldn't grope students at the party? If I don't have any control over their future, why would it be wrong to have a drink with other "adults?"

It is a dilemma that I have faced (no, I didn't go to the parties to which I've been invited).

Bob Levey: It is ethical to have a beer with them.

But is it wise to have a beer with them?

Does it bring credit to you, your profession or your school to have a beer with them?

Somewhere, USA: The English professors at my college were never patronizing strip clubs. They had their hands full sleeping with impressionable coeds. Ah, the tortured poet.

Bob Levey: This is just the point! Once upon a time, sleeping with coeds went on. Hoo boy, did it ever!

I'm never going to tell you that student-faculty sex has gone the way of the buffalo. But any faculty member who sidles up to a young student in 2003 knows what the rules are, and what the consequences are.

We have truly made the American campus a safer and better place because we have insisted on high standards and accountability for lust-struck professors. So why is there any question that we should do the same for basketball coaches -- or for the University Park professor to whom I just replied?

Chantilly, Va.: Who do I contact regarding dangerous driving by a Metro bus? I was driving on a highway yesterday at 7 p.m. and a busdriver, deciding that traffic was a little too slow, decided to drive on the shoulder for a while, then quickly came back into the right lane, cutting off traffic. We were in total shock. Then the same bus continued on the Dulles Toll Road and cut off cars to get off at the Spring Hill Road exit. I have the bus number.

Bob Levey: File the route number, bus number, time of day and location with Metro (get the appropriate phone number from the WMATA Web site).

Local Yokel (again): It was implied in your answer, but I'd like to make it abundantly clear that never, ever in my entire life (as a child or as an adult) have I ever seen my parents overindulge with alcohol. And, that most certainly made a difference.

Bob Levey: Exactly what I was driving at. Thanks.

Politics and Prose: I love that place too. What a gem. So few places like that in this city -- a great date spot, relaxing spot, kids spot.

Bob Levey: And a superb selection of books. Not just airport trash, but books with real fiber.

Virginia: Not to be really mean but why would anyone read columns if you know beforehand what someone's opinions are going to be? I'm taking mostly about Wilbon but we can add a few more columnists in the Metro and other sections. It would be more of a shock to actually read some differing opinions rather than the one-note tone on subjects. Do the editors ever say to anyone, "Hey, give it a rest" or ask for some critical thinking outside of the box (to use a bad cliche)?

Bob Levey: Columnists do enjoy a great deal of freedom, so it's rare to hear, "Hey, give it a rest." But it certainly happens. And usually, when it does, an honest columnist will say thanks.

This NOTNOTNOTNOT an excuse. But as a columnist, it's very hard to be at the top of your game every single day. We rely on editors to tell us when we're not.

Alexandria, Va.: Bob, one of your fellow scribes at The Post used the word "synergistic" in an article, and it wasn't even part of a quote from some overpaid consultant!!

What's happening over there?

Bob Levey: Nothing that I want to be part of.

Synergistic might be contagious!

Arlington, Va.: How come METRO still hasn't fixed the announcements so they are audible? At the Courthouse Metro station, one of the "standard announcements" about keeping away from the edge of the platform is SO LOUD that I can hear it through my teeth. Yet other announcements are inaudible.

Also, what's with the "Special security announcement" that is repeated every 15 minutes all day, every day at National Airport and sometimes on METRO that reminds people not to leave suspicious packages around? How often would it have to be repeated in order for it not to be a "Special" security announcement and become just a regular "security announcement?"

Bob Levey: Metro could certainly stand to tinker with its sound system. Also with the meat of its announcements. All too many are voiced by people who can't pronounce the simplest words. I suggested years ago that all announcements be voiced by professional voice talent. Metro refuses. It shouldn't.

Washington, D.C.: Does it really matter if Jordan is here or not? The team stunk with him as president. The team stunk when he was playing. Basically, the team stunk! I never went to a game because the price is WAY too high. Give me $13 and I can get into an Orioles game.

Bob Levey: You might want to wait for next season.

The word "stunk" will take on new meaning.

Thanks for the chat, gang.


That wraps up today's show. Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion.

© Copyright 2003 The Washington Post Company