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

Brow Beaten

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Baby Ruth, Anyone?

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

I Want to Buy a Vow

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Mea Culpa (No Offense to the Romans!)

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Unsound Advice

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

The Name Shame

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Out of the Bag

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

The Keys to Insanity

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Waiting for the IR$

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Rhymes Against Humanity

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Hello, Me. This Is Me.

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Pure Randomonium

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Past Perfect

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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


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