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Bob Levey
Bob Levey
(Barbara Tyroler)
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Levey Live: Speaking Freely
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, May 23, 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, rain-swamped Washingtonians, and welcome to another edition of "Levey Live: Speaking Freely." Our weekly journey is dedicated to three propositions:
1) Anything goes.
2) Typing fast is better than typing slowly.
3) Whoever has the most toys at the end wins.
Other than those, there are no rules -- except a strong bias in this corner for the trenchant, the witty, the pithy. Let's gaze into the question bucket to see if there are any such.

Small Car Land: Given your take on SUVs I was somewhat surprised by today's column. My magic 8-ball said you wouldn't have liked the H2 at all, but you seemed a little more lukewarm to it. Do I need new reading glasses or a new magic 8-ball?

Bob Levey: It was a gas to drive -- pun intended. But I'd never buy one, for the reasons I enumerated: cost, incredibly poor gas mileage and the aggressiveness that some owners display behind the wheel.

Montgomery County, Md.: Mr. Levey, I heard that there are plans to build a HUGE development near the White Flint Metro, using the parking lot there. Where do they think the thousands of cars that park there will park so we can get on Metro?

Bob Levey: The county is recreating the current parking lot nearby. Not sure exactly where. Never fear, MoCo. The dirty rackafratz politicians are not going to make you walk.

Rockville, Md.: Bob, does Metro have an embargo on the use of the newer cars on the Red Line? I have never seen them on the red line.

Bob Levey: I've seen new cars on the Red Line exactly once.
I'm told it's not an embargo -- just a decision to deploy the newbies first (and almost solely) on the Green and Yellow lines.

Arlington, Va.: Seriously, how did it feel to have bystanders stop and stare when you where behind the wheel of the H2? Pretty good, I'll bet.

Whenever this discussion veers toward cars, you tend to hew the line of "the simpler and more efficient the better" line. I wonder if this experience gave you some insight into those who want to drive a vehicle that turns heads.

Bob Levey: I am way past the point where I care if heads turn.

Arlington, Va.: I don't know if you've gotten this from anyone yet and I'm sure it doesn't change your view but did you know "Best in Show" wasn't really a documentary? I can respect that the parodic view of dog showers isn't your cup of tea but it wasn't real.


Bob Levey: I know that and knew that. But as I said in the column, the producers obviously hoped to dupe as much of their audience as possible. I suspect they succeeded.

12th Floor Metro Center: Bob, kudos on Wednesday's column re: quiet cars on Amtrak. And it's just like you said it was. I repeatedly hear the same drivel -- I'm on the train ... I'm at Harpers Ferry ... Hi ... Okay, bye. Enough already. Do you know if the train between D.C. and Chicago has a quiet car? I ride that train quite a bit and would love sit there in a heartbeat.

Sorry you weren't crazy about "Life is Beautiful" It's one of my faves. But glad you liked "Billy Elliot!"

Bob Levey: I believe the D.C.-Chicago Capitol Limited does have a QC.
Thanks very much for the kind words.

Name I-270: When will the winner be announced?

Bob Levey: Monday.

Olney, Md.: Hey, Bob. Do you know if Criswell Hummer is taking any heat for refusing to sell to "a man of Middle Eastern descent?" Lots of recent immigrants are paid in cash, and do not open bank accounts. I might be concerned also about such a transaction, but I don't think businesses should act on those biases. If they really thought any of those five (!) purchasers were dangerous, they should have AGREED to sell to them, but called the FBI while the paperwork was being written up. (For us, it took about three hours from in-the-door to out-the-door.) They have to provide a valid license and proof of insurance, so it's not like you can buy a car anonymously just because you have cash. I know those things can be faked, but they can also be verified VERY easily. Fakes only work when you don't verify. (Except in Virginia.)

And I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone that the last person to carry out a terrorist attack on American soil using an automobile was as white as Wonder Bread. Racial profiling just makes it easier for terrorists to dupe or bribe people who look "all-American" into safely buying or transporting what they need. That grandmother who was forced to remove her shoes by an airport screener could have easily been befriended by a nice young man or woman who happens to be a terrorist to carry something that turns out to be an explosive device. Racial profiling doesn't just discriminate (although that's a significant issue), it's a security risk.

Bob Levey: I don't know if the dealership is taking any heat for this, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Washington, D.C.: Howdy Bob:
THOROUGHLY enjoyed your two "movie" columns. Hope you'll make it an annual. "Billy Eliot" was my bet for your fave. Second place ain't bad, though! Have a GREAT weekend!

Bob Levey: Much obliged for the kind words. Mucho dubious about making this an annual event. I'm very "movied out" right about now. Maybe in a few months, I'll reconsider.

Arlington, Va.: "rackafratz"?

Bob Levey: It's an old comic book term. Was it Yosemite Sam who used to say this? Help, clicksters!

Lexington Park, Md.: Bob, I was up in Gettysburg, Pa., a couple of weeks ago and saw the strangest thing. I was eating at a local outdoor restaurant when a Metro bus passed by. Then, a few minutes later, another passed by. The next time one passed, I walked over to check the license plate and sure enough, it was from D.C.

These weren't buses Metro is just getting rid of either, two were of the new Natural Gas variety. They seemed to be making regular stops up there. My question, does Metro loan out their buses to other states and towns? Or were they part of some tour to Gettysburg? They were not what I was expecting as I ate my lunch. Thanks!

Bob Levey: Metro rents buses to whoever, whenever. All it takes is long green. I suspect you saw an outing of the ladies' sewing circle, or a budget-minded softball team heading for a tournament.

Silver Spring, Md.: Bob, is there anyone here? Why are you doing this chat on the Friday afternoon before a long holiday weekend? We know you're not a "greedy Gus" (to use your own term), but do you need the cash that badly?

Bob Levey: No less than the AAA says that the Memorial Day abandon-ship cavalcade doesn't begin in earnest until 2 p.m. So we're still in the middle of an hour when cubicle creatures abound.
What do you mean by "need the cash that badly?" I need to make a living, bro (or sis). Anything wrong with that?

West Hollywood, Calif.: Mr. Levey: Your column critiquing some of our more popular movies reeked of sour grapes. You blast the scriptwriting, yet you yourself cannot get your own novel published. Though you seem to have a hard time doing so, imagine how your readers view your screed: as nothing more than the plaintive whining of someone who couldn't make it in the biz so is therefore using his platform to lambaste others. How sophomoric of you.

Bob Levey: First of all, movie scripts and novels are not the same.
Second of all, my novel may yet be published. Who knows? I'm hoping. Does every movie script sell right away?
Third of all, I've published three books, so your assumption that I'm a failure in the long-form world is way, way off.
Fourth of all, 36 years of pounding a keyboard for the greatest news organization in the world qualifies me to say that I've made it in the biz.
Have a nice Memorial Day weekend under that rock of yours.

Silver Spring, Md.: I enjoy your columns and the Thursday one on temporaries, their own behaviors and those of their supervisors and other permanent staff.

The column was a reminder to me as a temp: show up on time to work, do the best I can, and ask questions. Also, think carefully about internet use. I cannot afford a computer of my own.

My complaint towards the employer is: train us well, don't snub us and don't abuse us. You don't know how much better we can work for you if you give up poor directions, leave the office, and assume we can find our way around without a decent orientation. Offices that hire temps without a decent preparation for us are just asking for trouble and then will want to blame the temp.


Bob Levey: Very good take on this. It would work equally well for full-timers as for temps. Thanks much

Baltimore, Md.: You may find this amusing...

In the latest JD Power and Associates owner's survey the new H2 scored very poorly. The number one complaint? Poor gas mileage.

Um, didn't the owners choose the gas mileage? It's not as if H2 claims to get 30 mpg and then got 12. How stupid can people be?

Bob Levey: Actually, that JD Power survey found that most H2 buyers were concerned with reliability.
Apparently the H2 breaks down a lot.
More than the others, at least.

Glenmont, Md.: Bob, I have lived in Maryland for 16 years and I have never been more worried about the state than I am now. What is this governor thinking? Please, give me you read on him -- are we headed toward disaster?

Bob Levey: He seems to be the Mark Cuban of politics -- ranting, fulminating, operating by instinct, with little solid philosophy to guide him.
When he vetoed that bill this week that would have made walking the official state form of exercise, I thought he had taken leave of his senses.
Not only did that bill do no harm, but it was far more benign than most of the "silly bills" passed in Annapolis every day.
Or do you think declaring this Maryland Rutabaga Week is "serious legislation?"
I think Doug Duncan and Martin O'Malley must be chomping at the bit to run against this guy. Imagine--he vetoes a bill backed by the Girl Scouts! He's a dream opponent.
Perhaps most surprising is why he can't make routine political damage assessments, and stay out of trouble. This guy is not Mark Warner, who never held office before. He was in Annapolis for years, on Capitol Hill for years.
Very strange.

McLean, Va.: People who eat more than their share, take up more than their share of space on airplanes, flatulate on elevators, and throw lighted cigarettes and going to LOVE the H2. Bottom line: It's for swine. I ride a motorcycle and make sure to "thumbs down" every H2 I see.

Bob Levey: It's a free country. Thanks for weighing in.

Chantilly, Va: Bob,

So, what color is YOUR H2 gonna be?

Aside from the abysmal fuel economy, it's a pretty neat ride, isn't it?

Bob Levey: The one I test-drove was black. Jet black. Shiny jet black.
But the color that made my rotten old heart palpitate was tapioca yellow. Ver-r-r-r-r-r-ry cool.
It rode very nicely. But for the reasons I mentioned at the beginning of the show today, I'd never buy one, and I suspect many clicksters wouldn't, either.
I have another reason.
My salary.

Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C.: Gene Weingarten slammed your position as a movie person in his chat earlier this week. I think he said, "This guy doesn't have a clue what he's talking about it!"
Any response?

Bob Levey: If Gene actually said that, he missed the point.
I KNOW I don't know anything about movies. That was the whole idea behind the great watch-10 experiment.
I pledged to watch movies I'd never heard a thing about, and would never have watched otherwise, and bring that "virgin" perspective to the task. If Gene or anyone else thinks I'm trying to unseat Steve Hunter, he/they must be smoking a controlled substance.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Thanks so much for the "movies" columns. You are the only person I know (besides me) who dislikes that movie, which, for some reason, is very popular.

Bob Levey: From the other side of the ledger....
Thank you, MBFGW, for "getting it."

Castle Shannon, Pa.: Lighten up West Hollywood. Bob has a right not to like a lot of what comes out of Hollywood these days. I may not agree with him, but there's no need for so wrongly hitting below the belt. Have a good rainy weekend, Bob. And even if "The Clarry" doesn't get published, you still rock as a columnist and writer!

Bob Levey: Mercy buckets, as we wise guys used to say in the back row of French class.

College Park, Md.: Here's a question for you and your fans regarding the use of "capital" and "capitol."

What was the name of the basketball team that moved from Baltimore to Landover in 1973? Was it the Capitol Bullets or the Capital Bullets?

See, the NBA is confused on this issue. Its basketball cards from the 1970s said "Capitol." The "throwback" merchandise sold today says "Capital." Worse yet, on the NBA's own Web site, the names are used interchangeably:

The heading uses "Capitol," and the team referred to in the middle of the page (under the 1973-74 section) is "Capital." What's going on here?

(By the way, there is an even worse interchangeable series of words for your next lexicography lesson: ensure, insure, and assure.)

Bob Levey: The Bullets were the Capital Bullets.
God help us if we rely on the NBA to rescue us from linguistic imprecision.

My Big Fat Greek Thank You: Hello Bob ... just had to say I came away from that movie wondering what subliminal message I was missing. Happy to know you were as unimpressed as I.

Bob Levey: To clear up a misconception that some clicksters may have (and many e-mailers had), I have NOTHING against a good belly laugh. But this movie PANDERED and FLOUNDERED. Its script could never make the basic situation move out of the realm of cliches. Worse, MBFGW telegraphed all its gags. It hit me over the head when the producers thought it was time for me to laugh. That ain't my style.

Arlington, Va.: Yes, in lieu of actual cursing, Yosemite Sam would use "rassafrassa," "rackafracka," and the like.

Bob Levey: Who ever said that gray-headed columnists have no gray matter left?
Wasn't Yosemite Sam the absolute coolest?
For those short in the tooth, he was the 1950s version of the tapped-out cowboy. Filthy, unshaven, grouchy, ugly--and funny. Cursed all the time. But not really. After all, it's a lot more artful to call someone a "dirty rackafratz" than to call him what today's teenagers call each other.

Silver Spring, Md.: Bob, put on your read the future hat and give us your prediction for how LeBron James is going to handle all that money and fame.

Bob Levey: Poorly.
One telltale clue: He already has a Hummer!
So he has bought into the bright-lights culture already, obviously. I just hope he has a serious manager who puts him on a short leash. Otherwise, he will be only the most recent jock to slash through all his millions and be broke at 35.

H2 Handling: How was the H2 in cornering during your test drive? It doesn't sit as high as an Explorer, so I assume it is less prone to rolling over. I've long suspected that many of the SUV rollovers are due to driver inexperience with truck-like vehicles.

Bob Levey: It cornered surprisingly well. I drove it for one exit on I-270, and when we were getting off, the sales manager urged me to "push" it into the curving exit ramp, just to see whether it wanted to tip. Not even close.
I agree totally about inexperience and rollovers of SUVs. The real bankruptcy with this new breed of vehicle is dealers who don't even attempt to warn purchasers that these babies should not be driven like Toyota Corollas.

Somewhere, USA: Wasn't Yosemite Sam a miner?

Bob Levey: Yes!
He carried a cute little pickax, as I recall.

Vienna, Va.: Bob, Yosemite Sam was one of the Warner Brothers Bugs Bunny cartoon characters with the Mel Blanc voice.

Bob Levey: Yes, again.
Thank you

Washington, D.C.: How could the Hummer dealership defend their refusal to sell a vehicle to someone? I'm not saying that they were wrong; I'm just questioning the defensibility of this action.

Bob Levey: They argued that the day this occurred was a special day in American history -- the day we began bombing Iraq. Therefore, the sales staff was extra-alert to the possibility of terrorism (as we all were).
Criswell didn't claim that the dealership was (or ever could be) above the law. They just told me the truth about their judgment, under pressure, that day.

Washington, D.C.: I am completely thrilled that you enjoyed "Kissing Jessica Stein" as I thought it was one of the sweetest movies I’ve seen in quite a while (and one of the ones I suggested). While I agree with you that many recent movies are disappointing, there are still a few worth seeing. Discount admission tickets are available for many of the chains which also helps ease the pain. Anyway, since you are now willing to step foot in a theatre (or at least a movie rental store), you should add "Bend it Like Beckham" to your short list of worth-watching movies. If nothing else, its about soccer!

Bob Levey: The next time I watch a film (don't hold your breath), BILB is on the short list. Thanks

Re: Movies and Billy Elliot: The fabulous Julie Walters (Billy's dance teacher) is in the Harry Potter movies and every bit as good as in BE. She's a class act!

Bob Levey: In case you missed it, I was absolutely floored by Ms. Walters' performance in "Billy Elliot." As good a job as I've ever seen an actress do. I'm not surprised to hear she's in HP.

Gaithersburg, Md.: They're naming I-270? I missed my chance to contribute my two cents and enter the name "Loch Ness 270?" Because when it rears its ugly head, no one moves! As bad as rush hour traffic gets, I'm sure it will be named after a politician!

Bob Levey: It already IS named for a politician!
Full details in Monday's column.

Somewhere, USA: Don't know if Yosemite Sam said "rackafratz", but he use the term "exactatackly"

Bob Levey: Ross Perot is believed to have modeled his public speaking style after Yosemite Sam. Your post proves it.

Baltimore, Md.: Gene did not say that you didn't know what you were talking about. Gene said he disagreed with your analysis and would probably talk to you about it at some point. The earlier poster needs to get his/her facts straight.

Bob Levey: Yes, always a good idea to "represent" accurately. Thank you, Ball-dee-more.

Weingarten: Here's exactly what Gene said: Gene Weingarten: Wow. I hadn't read this until just now.

Whew. He trashes Life Is Beautiful, Best in Show, Amalie and Sixth Sense. All enormously excellent movies.

I should avoid this. I should not do this. I like Bob. I think he is a very smart guy. I love talking to him. I think The Post is lucky to have him. But, man. With movies, Bob does not know his rump from his dorkle.

Bob, I invite you to retaliate.

Bob Levey: If Bob needs to watch movies to know his rump from his dorkle, he'll just have to accept total ignorance.

Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.: When the Levey clan barbecues outside in the back yard, who cooks? It seems that 90 percent of the time, this is the man's job. Any reason behind this?

Bob Levey: Almost always, 16-year-old Alexander Levey. He is great at it!
Our deal at home is: Mama cooks all the indoor stuff, Allie cooks all the outdoor stuff, Papa cleans up. Works for all three of us.
Papa is also responsible for stocking the house with all sorts of exotic marinades. A few weeks ago, at the Takoma Park Farmers' Market, I bought a bottle of Bone-Sucking Sauce (or something like that). If you think you've tasted seriously hot barbecue sauce, you haven't. This stuff will grow hair on your hair. But it's great on chicken especially. Allie brushes a dab on each piece, and it's heaven.

Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: Bob, some guy drives and parks one of those H2 yuppie Hummers in Adams Morgan. People do turn their heads to look at it. Then they laugh.

Bob Levey: I'm not surprised. Thanks for the report from the front

Washington, D.C.: An 18-year-old boy, who chose basketball over college and has had, as a result, large buckets of money just thrown at him, might not handle it well?
Now what would make you say something like that?

Bob Levey: I'm too worldly wise for my own good sometimes. I know it. I try to control it. But I just can't.

Fairfax, Va.: Re: stupid-sounding phone calls. I always call my wife when I reach a certain station on the subway. It may sound stupid to those around me, but it's really just a way of letting her know when to leave the house so she won't have to wait long to pick me up. Makes one-car life a bit easier.

Bob Levey: What did you do before cell phones? I'll tell you what you did. You emerged from the subway, you waddled into the parking lot and you looked for the family car. That worked great, I'm guessing. So how is it an improvement in anyway to announce into a cell phone what your wife doesn't need to know? Do you really save any time?

Columbia Heights Metro Station: Hello Bob,
Here's something for the Metroids who often lurk on this discussion: the Columbia Heights station on the Green Line has a major problem with graffiti vandals. They strike on average of once a week, and usually spray paint the exterior portions of the station entrances, on the granite walls. Metro usually cleans it up quickly, but this time, they have not done so, so it sits there, attracting more graffiti. I've spoken to Metro police several times, yet they do not ever post anyone or set up cameras to try to catch these kids/gangsters/whoever. Metro, can you address this problem?!?!? Thanks, Bob have a great weekend!

Bob Levey: Metroids?

Laurel, Md.: Bob, I suspect Weingarten is trying to pull on you the old DJ ratings ploy:

Joe Nobody insults Don Imus, hoping Imus will insult Joe Nobody back, so he becomes "the guy Imus is feuding with."

Bob Levey: I would never feud with Weingarten. His dorkle is too imposing.
As he would say, size matters.

Arlington, Va.: LeBron James -- I thought it was his unemployed mother who bought the Hummer based on her hopes of selling her son to the NBA.

Bob Levey: Yes. But LeBron has had the good grace to say he plans to pay her back.

Ummm: What's a dorkle?

Bob Levey: Half the world has them, half doesn't. That give it away?

Riverdale, Md.: Just wondering, Bob, what current local plays have you seen?

Bob Levey: Recently caught "Underneath the Lintel" at the new Roundhouse Theater in Silver Spring. Terrific. No time for any others recently. Been too busy watching movies!

Re: Pet Peeve: Bob,

Ever notice how many radio and TV personalities murder the English language on a regular basis? Such things as 'twonty' and Sundee really grate me, for professional talent anyway.

Don't the producers notice this?

Bob Levey: The producers don't know the talent is getting it all wrong!

Not So Cynical, America: Please name two NBA players who were broke at 35.

Bob Levey: I'll name three:
Dick Barnett.
Micheal Ray Richardson.
Shawn Kemp is still short of 35 by a couple of years, I believe. But he surely will be.
And now I'll name one who isn't:
The one and only Adrian Dantley.
A wonderful man, a wonderful father and a very careful investor.
Adrian and I spent the better part of a summer together when our sons were starring in Little League baseball together. He read the Wall Street Journal from cover to cover every day.
He'd sit behind the outfield fence and chart stocks. He didn't buy Hummers, or put his name over the door of a restaurant that was doomed to fail. AD knew that the big loot would come his way only once. He was determined not to squander it. Too few NBA stars are smart enough to operate the same way.

Cell Phone Calls:: Wow, Bob, could your response to Fairfax re: calling his wife have been any more arrogant? Yes, his wife should have to leave the house early and waste time or he should have to stand around at the Metro and waste time rather than have to burden your sensitive little ears with a brief phone call.

And the "What would you have done in 1987?" question is irrelevant. There are lots of things that weren't available in 1987, but that does not make them worthless. For example, the little gizmo you're doing this chat with...

Bob Levey: The arrogance all belongs to a man who thinks his silly little phone call is so-o-o-o important that 30 fellow riders have to listen to it. That call will not make his life easier, faster or better. It is pure self-indulgence.

Sacramento, Calif.: Carolina-style B-B-Q or KC-style?

Bob Levey: Carolina.
If the colonel hadn't thought of it first, I'd call it finger-lickin' gooood

Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: Actually, most conversations and landline phonecalls are trite and inconsequential -- that's what life is about.

The problem is that cell phones have allowed us to hear other's mundane calls.

Give Fairfax a break -- if he wants to call his wife, MYOB.

Bob Levey: Why doesn't he mind HIS own business in a thoughtful, considerate way?
Agreed that most phone calls are trite and inconsequential. But I make enough of my own. Why do I have to listen to others make them--or receive them?

Washington, D.C.: Bob -- Do you know how Metro plans to evacuate stations in the event of a terrorist attack in the system? I worry about this daily as very long lines form at the escalators during rush hour -- caused mainly by escape routes (escalators) being unpassable due to interminable repairs. Thanks!

Bob Levey: Please see the story on Page One of The Post this morning. Metro General Manager Richard White says he's up at night over the very same issue.

Washington Grove, Md.: Hi Bob, How much did the car dealership
mentioned in your column today pay The
WP for the ad? I was shocked by your
gushing over this vehicle. In light of the
traffic and pollution problems in this area
it does not seem responsible for you to
promote a tank that gets nine miles per
gallon and is "clearly being bought by
people who plan to drive it aggressively."
What's next, F-16s instead of Metro?
--Barbara Raimondo

Bob Levey: It's hard to call today's column a gush when you consider that I pointed out the huge cost of this vehicle, its abysmal gas mileage, its tendency to attract aggressive owners, the difficulty you'll have parking it in Washington, D.C., and the shallowness of the motivation most owners have (they want to outdo the Joneses).
Besides, I said I'd never own one, and currently don't.
The point of the column was to report on a suburban cultural phenomenon. By writing about that, I was hardly giving that phenomenon a kiss.

Way Out, West: So dorkle is -- a sense of humor?

Bob Levey: You're cute.

For Fairfax: Um...how about this...call your wife before you leave your office! Then she knows you'll be at the metro in 30 minutes or so, and then you only have to call her if there's a problem! Wow! How 1987!

Bob Levey: Right on!
Another piece of culture perfected in 1987 and never improved--because it never needed to be.

Re: Lord of the Rings: Some moviegoers did not enjoy Lord of the Rings because they hadn't read the book. The story is so complex and new that a good understanding of Middle Earth might be necessary. Did you ever read Tolkien's masterpiece? I'm just trying to understand your dislike of the movie.

Bob Levey: No, I never read Tolkein's masterpiece. The film just struck me as an on-screen version of the kind of video game that would appeal to young boys. Adventure for adventure's sake.
I don't like video games, and I'm not a young boy. No accounting for taste, I guess.

Alexandria, Va.: I was on the quiet train, supposedly, from New York to D.C. a couple of weeks ago. Guess the guy behind me, "Craig something from RMS McGladry Pullen", as I heard him say at least 10 times into his cell phone, wasn't aware of this.

Two conductors walked by several times, and never once said anything to the guy.

Luckily, this VERY loud man got off the train in Philadelphia, and the rest of my journey was very pleasant.

Bob Levey: Why didn't you shoosh the guy?
Why didn't you get the conductors to shoosh the guy?

Bethesda, Md.: Bob, you wrote recently that there is no easy mnemonic to distinguish "capital" from "capitol." What they taught us in school 40 years ago was that the "o" in "capitOl" was shaped like the dome of the capitol.

Bob Levey: Many, many readers have weighed in with this one. Right! Thanks very much

Springfield, Va.: Does it bother you when people talk on the metro? What's the difference if they are side by side or on a phone -- there is still talking.

Bob Levey: People who talk aboard Metro generally (but not always) are aware that others are around them. They lower their voices--or never raise them in the first place.
Cell phoners seem to think they need to shout into that silly little machine of theirs. Sometimes they do, since the reception cuts in and out so often.
So when they take a deep breath and yell (yes, yell), "Honey, I'm at Grosvenor! I'll be in the parking lot at Shady Grove in 11 minutes!," it's so obviously disrespectful, so obviously a case where their little conversation is more important than the peace and quiet being enjoyed by 30 other passengers, that I can't see why there's any dispute about this.

Rockville, Md.: Bob, I enjoy your work and have the deepest respect for you but I see absolutely nothing wrong with making a phone call from a public place such as metro. You cannot convince me that it is disrespectful to others on the train. It's not like making a call from a church or a library.

Bob Levey: See previous answer. Thanks for writing

Bob Levey: Back to the grind, gang. Thanks very much for hopping aboard today. More of same next Friday.

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