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
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
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
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
WASHINGTON -- I just stopped working on something important because my professor friend Gina Barreca said she had something to discuss "on an emergency basis." Here she is.
Gina: I have a new book coming out, and my publisher said that since I am 59, I need to have my jacket photo professionally done. ...
Gene: What a crude, sexist thing to ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- When I walked into the men's room of a restaurant the other day, a 30-ish man was there, looking furtive. The room had one stall and one urinal, and both seemed unoccupied. He was using neither. Legally, he appeared to be "loitering." We made eye contact, but he could not hold it. He looked down. I think he sensed my discomfort ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- A few weeks ago, The Huffington Post asked its readers to come up with brutally honest wedding vows for the modern couple. The results were amusing, if a little predictable. ("I promise to stop answering your question of 'Where should we go eat?' with the question of, 'I don't know, where do you want to go eat?'")
After consulting...Read more
WASHINGTON -- To: The General Assembly of the Student Government of Bowdoin College
Re: My confession, atonement and plea for punishment
Dear earnest young adults:
I am looking at what was, until recently, one of my favorite family snapshots. Now it is a source of shame only.
It is of my daughter, taken on Halloween 1984. Molly was 3 1/2. ...Read more
Gene Weingarten is taking the week off. This column originally ran in 2009.
WASHINGTON -- When I was in high school, there was a girl I really liked. But I was afraid to approach her because, in my cartoonish romantic imagination, she resembled Veronica from "Archie" and I resembled Poindexter, the little dweeb from "Felix the Cat" who ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- From time to time I rant ineffectually against what I feel is a growing tendency of Americans to give their newborns idiot names. It's probably getting tiresome, and I was fully prepared to swear off this addiction forever until, like a schoolyard dope peddler, the Social Security Administration dragged me back in by publishing ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I am holding in my hand two objects from my kitchen. The first is an 8-pound cast-iron frying pan that has been passed down intact through my family since the second Eisenhower administration. It now lies broken into three parts, the handle sheared off jaggedly, as if by a jigsaw. The second item is the neck of a champagne bottle, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- My computer went bust-aroonie. Most o' t' buttons on t' row startin' wit' A & S won't type, but I can use apostropees an' some creative writin' trix to be unnerstoot. I no it seems stupit, but I am very stubborn an' I'm-a not wanna vix it rite now.
OK, that was awful. Fortunately, I have just now obtained an external keyboard,...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I just got off the phone with a man named Andrew Valiente. Andrew had read a recent column in which I complained about waiting 85 minutes on hold to talk to the IRS. He said he is the CEO of a new startup that can be of help. Would I write about it?
I am ordinarily suspicious of such pitches, because they're generally desperately ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Today, another offering of old jokes retold as poems.
"The Man on the Highway" in the style of "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes
The moon was a ghostly galleon on this night of drama high.
At home, sweet Sydney heard the news from a radio nearby.
It warned of death a-looming, with a scary geographic:
Out there on the ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Have you managed to avoid the ubiquitous online trope in which people are asked to give advice to their 15-year-old selves? Me neither, so I have also been drowning in earnestness and platitude. ("All you need is love!")
My advice to a 15-year-old me would be different.
1. By my calculations, Gene, you are at this very moment ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- "Miss Ann" is a disparaging expression once used in the African-American community to make fun of white women who are condescending. The so-called "vole clock" is an astoundingly accurate method of dating archaeological discoveries by finding and analyzing nearby fossilized teeth of the vole, a burrowing rodent whose complex stages...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The war on terror is over. Terror won.
I'm not talking about the global battle against groups like the Islamic State. That's still up for grabs. What's been lost is my personal war on the idiotic use of the word "terror" to mean "terrorism," as in, well, "the war on terror."
Terror means fear. Using it to mean terrorism is ...Read more