Gene's True Calling

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- This week, more of my Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the plight of the beleaguered customer-service representative.

Kellogg's Raisin Bran

Me: You can buy boxes of your product in lots of different sizes. Some are the size of a bar of soap, others the size of an attache case. Yet both say they have "two scoops" of ...Read more

Oaf of Office

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Jan. 20, 2017, the inaugural address of Donald John Trump Sr.:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, Comrade Putin and my fellow white Americans:

We have many challenges ahead of us, beginning with the stock market, which as you know cratered the day after the election because, finally, the country woke up to...Read more

Getting to the Bottom of Things

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I am going to use my journalistic skills to clear up some questions based on puzzling facts I have recently encountered:

Is it true that millennials are incredibly lazy people who should be horsewhipped to within an inch of their lives?

This question was based on a report that millennials are not buying breakfast cereal ...Read more

Stray Thoughts

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I'm going to tell this exactly as it happened.

My neighbor Tom is an amiable man who is often out on his front porch when the weather is nice, and that is where he was the other day as I was walking by. He said something to me, but I didn't hear it over the screaming.

A half-dozen mockingbirds were standing just out of arm's ...Read more

Funny? Of corpse it is!

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- A few weeks ago, I wrote about getting a solicitation from the AARP, a fine organization that makes you feel ancient and decrepit every time you hear from them. As always, it took me a few days to recover, but eventually I deluded myself back into thinking I am a rare specimen of middle-aged health, vitality and vigor, which is ...Read more

Do You Want Flies With That?

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I was at the market, shopping for lamb chops. All of them had crew cuts -- they were trimmed super close. Also, there was no marbling. These were round and plump and uniformly red, like Julia Roberts' lips.

"Wow, they're really lean," I said to the butcher.

"Yeah, I know!" he said, smiling.

"But fat is what makes meat ...Read more

Paws in the Game

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- One of the more difficult-to-answer questions is said to be: "What is your most embarrassing moment?" That's because the brain tries to forget particularly humiliating things and, over time, it often succeeds. Unfortunately I have no problem answering the question, because my most humiliating thing happened just a few days ago.

My...Read more


Humor / Below the Beltway /

Editor's note: A version of this column originally ran in 2001. Note the nature of quoted language in 12th and 13th grafs.

WASHINGTON -- I once attended a 10-hour personal empowerment extravaganza by famed self-help guru Anthony Robbins. It changed my life.

I have learned the value of perseverance -- namely, that no matter how bored one...Read more

Tooth or Consequences

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Like most of you, I have health insurance. Like most of you, my health insurance says it covers dental work. As with most of you, this is basically a fiction. Insurance companies are famously stingy at the dentist.

Whenever I leave my dentist's office, he and I follow a ritual. He solemnly informs me he will first bill my insurer,...Read more

Her Special Day

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- As this is June, I have decided to write a respectful column about the hallowed institution of matrimony -- specifically, the glorious event that occasions it, The Great American Wedding.

I know that in the past I have been less than charitable about this topic. For example, I once described big weddings as "anxiety-laced, ...Read more

Gene Rulz

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- The United States is fighting to deny a trademark to the Washington Redskins, and to an all-Asian dance-rock band called the Slants. The government contends both names are offensive and should be changed.

The Justice Department claims this is not censorship, and does not violate the First Amendment, because the band and the ...Read more

Rhymes Against Humanity

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Behold the birth of what I call a "poke,"

Which is poetry that tells a corny joke.

(Yes, you're right, I've done this quite a bit

But now's the first time I am naming it.)

Today's, perhaps, are risky, just a smidgen.

They're on the tetchy topic of religion.

The Two Beggars,

retold as a Shakespearean sonnet

In ...Read more

On Being and Nothingness

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I have a confession to make. By all rights, it should get me fired.

For the last 25 years, in my writing, I have been using the adjectives "epistemological" and "ontological" interchangeably and without actually knowing what either means. Sure, I have looked them up, but their definitions are so gauzy and academic that they are ...Read more

Why Is This Column So ...

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- The other day I watched my dog steal second base. Murphy was romping on a high-school baseball diamond, and she sprinted the 90 feet between bases. True, she stole second base from third base, but we are not discussing her baseball acumen. We are discussing speed. At a dead run she seemed faster than a baseball player, which then ...Read more

My Shtruggle

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I have a major apology to deliver here. It is particularly galling to me, and it's going to get messy.

There's an oddity of spoken language that I first noticed around the beginning of the George W. Bush adminishtration, pronounced like that. It was as though the new president had issued some secret directive to pronounce str- ...Read more


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