A Man of Distinctions

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- If you are like me, you are haunted by uncertainty over whether there is a difference in meaning between "aargh!" and "aaugh!"

OK, you are not like me. Fine. But the fact is there are many things in life that are almost alike, but not quite, and we need someone to bravely parse the distinctions.

Aargh vs. Aaugh

"Aargh" is...Read more

Do You Want Flies With That?

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Do you know the maxim "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"? It is a lie.

I know that because distributed around my home right now are 14 receptacles: soup bowls, jelly jars, drinking glasses, and a urine-specimen collecting cup I once borrowed from a doctor's office to hold soy sauce for a planned sushi picnic ...Read more

Rhymes Against Humanity

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- It's jokes-retold-as-poems time again

For some this causes pleasure; others, pain.

Today, an added challenge for the skittish:

Pronunciation here is sometimes British.

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The Neighbor's Confession

In the style of a Shakespearean sonnet

"I've done a dreadful thing and must admit it,"

The email ...Read more

Could a Common Fallacy Have More, um, Phallic Roots?

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- This was not the column I was planning, but at the last minute, I received an urgent communique from a respected biblical historian asking me to help correct a religious misconception while simultaneously restoring the honor of the American media vis-a-vis their Russian counterparts. Thus, scholarship, patriotism and professional ...Read more

Social Studies 101

Humor / Below the Beltway /

Adapted from a 2010 online discussion.

WASHINGTON -- I do not consider myself an elitist -- elitists tend to belong to that large subclass of people who are of lesser quality than I. But when it comes to social media, I have distinct preferences based on my assessments of humanity. I am an enthusiastic participant in Twitter, yet I find ...Read more


Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Have you heard about the movement in several red states to limit what sorts of items people can buy with their tax-funded welfare and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) "food-stamp" cards? Here are some of the things that state legislatures are considering putting off-limits, or already have done so: strip clubs, ...Read more

The Mad @er: Gene Proposes Redefining the Keyboard

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Here's a simple quiz to determine your age:

Before the Internet, in the era of the typewriter, was there an @ key, and, if so, how was it used?

Wrong, you smug millennials. There was an @ key. It meant "at the per-piece price of," as in "24 thimbles @ $l.49."

Yes, typewriter manufacturers -- who were parsimonious in distributing...Read more

Coverage of the Beleaguered Customer Service Rep

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Today, another installment in my continuing Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the plight of the beleaguered customer service representative.

Stella Artois

Me: I've spent a lot of time on this, and I have determined that your product is an anagram for "stale rat's oil."

Tom: All right. And ... ?

Me: It sure would be a ...Read more

The Wizard of Ozy

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- My friend Joe Martin, who draws the comic strip "Mr. Boffo," uses a recurring theme about people who are "Unclear on the Concept." In one strip, for example, a woman is looking at a police lineup, and one of the guys in the lineup is pointing at her excitedly, saying, "That's her! That's her! I'd recognize that purse anywhere!"

...Read more

The Panic Button: Gene and Gmail's "Undo" Function.

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- As a user of Gmail, and a person who has been known to sometimes "shoot from the hip" or "go off half-cocked," I was delighted to learn that the popular email service has instituted an "undo" feature, a tool that permits you to recall a message within 30 seconds of hitting "Send."

To: Tom the Butcher Subj: Apology

I...Read more

Some Genital Persuasion

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Did you read about how European countries are trying to create a post-gender society by eliminating traditional male-female distinctions?

Some countries are substituting gender-neutral pronouns for "his" and "her." Others have outlawed public events with stereotypical heterosexual roles -- for example, a campy, age-old Bavaria ...Read more

Playing the Tuber

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- When the news media mentions a congressperson, we generally do so with a parenthetical that includes his or her state.

You are probably thinking: "But, wait! That's really misleading because unlike a U.S. senator, a congressperson represents only a portion of his or her state! Something must be done about this immediately!"...Read more

Art Failure: Gene Paints Himself Into a Corner

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I love art, but I don't always "get" it. I'm a bit of a linear thinker. I'm the kind of guy who spends an hour at the National Gallery and comes away wondering whether fig leaves have some sort of Velcro-like property.

So, I was a little wary when my neighbor Cissy asked me to judge a local art contest. I warned her that I don't ...Read more

The 'Why?' Chromosome

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Dear Caitlyn Jenner:

Congratulations on having transitioned from man to woman. Like most bleeding-heart liberals in the fawning mainstream media, I'm solidly in your corner. Finding and facing up to one's true self is admirable, and doing it as publicly as you did might well give solace and strength to others in similar straits. ...Read more

Read This You Stupid Idoits!

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I think I am a pretty witty guy. So it rankles me just a little that on Twitter -- which I see as the international competitive marketplace for wit -- I have only a modest following compared with, say, British biologist Richard Dawkins, who, like me, is also a liberal-leaning writer known for unapologetic atheism. Really, what does...Read more

Foul Language

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Every time I write a column kvetching about illiterate assaults on our language by the unwashed masses, as I did several weeks ago, I get disgruntled emails from many of you who feel I am elitist and nitpicking. English, you argue, is fluid and evolving, and we must make room for more liberal word usage ... except for this one ...Read more


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