EDITORS: This column previously ran on June 14, 2012.
WASHINGTON -- Some time ago, I played a thrilling game of Ping-Pong with my editor, Tom the Butcher. I lost 22-20 in overtime. Afterward, Tom said he was worried I might be a little out of shape.
"Why ... do ... you ... say ... that?" I wheezed.
This had not exactly been Ping-Pong ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I have just written a check. It is for $400, an amount that seems commensurate with the offense for which it atones. I have sent it to Tom the Butcher, my editor.
Some time ago, Tom warned me that he would dock me money if I ever again wrote about my horrible cat, Barnaby. He had my best interests -- and, frankly, yours -- in mind...Read more
WASHINGTON -- A few weeks ago, two things happened in Washington, D.C., on the same day. The first was an unexpected thunderstorm of such intensity that cellphones across the capital city detonated with flash-flood, storm-alert warnings: Run! Seek high ground! These alerts are loud and raucous and terrifying, by design. They triggered the second...Read more
WASHINGTON -- We members of the National Fake News Conspiracy had our jollies with President Trump a few weeks ago when, during his July 4 address to the nation, he declared not only that there were airports during the Revolutionary War, but that the Colonial armies had bravely wrested control of them from the Brits. This savage trumpling of ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- We bring you here some brand-new "pokes,"
Poems telling old stale jokes.
Today's, howe'er, are faves of mine ...
(Rude and cheeky, by design.)
To a savage land two men of God did travel.
They sought to give to heathens Christian voice.
Their mission soon most gravely did unravel
For seized they were, and given a ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I don't want to brag, but for a man of my age I am pretty technologically savvy. For example, I recently made a sophisticated observation about electronics. I called my editor, Tom the Butcher, to complain about how inefficiently designed the keyboard is on an iPhone.
"How so?" he asked.
"When you're sending a text," I explained,...Read more
NOTE: This column was adapted from a recent online chat.
WASHINGTON -- Did you know that Oldsmobile pioneered the automatic transmission in 1940, but then shortly afterwards discontinued it because they thought people preferred the authenticity of clutches, and were proud of having the skills to use them?
Did you know that in 1928, a bakery in...Read more
WASHINGTON -- My left eye is the eye on the left side of my head, above my left hand, which is not the hand I shake hands with, which is a good mnemonic way to remember the location of the left eye.
Sometimes people get confused if they are facing you because their left eye is on the other side of your left eye, so to make everything ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I was standing in line at the post office the other day, waiting to get a money order. At the counter, a customer was contesting the price of his postage. A cheerful discussion ensued about the cost of various options for shipping, with much tut-tutting and commiserating about how prices had gone up recently, and wasn't it a shame,...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I recently had to say goodbye to a friend. His name was Augustus Van Dusen.
Augustus had been in ill health, in the final stages of a progressive disease that left him increasingly unable to perform most functions. In the end he was just a brain, tethered to various peripheral life-support apparatuses that kept him able to ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- This has been a particularly invigorating baseball season for me because it has proved a gold mine for one of my favorite phenomena: P.U., which is Preposterous Understatement.
Baseball is played over a gruelingly long season, so it is particularly susceptible to fluctuations in Momentum, which is in turn affected by Morale. Like ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. I have put that line at the top of the column preemptively because if I didn't, an editor would jam it in randomly between two thoughts, because those are apparently The Rules.
So, a few months ago, I bought an Amazon Echo, that little black device that permits you to have ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I recently reported that my car had been towed, but the city parking enforcement guy couldn't find it in his records. He said it must have been stolen and told me to call the police.
"It can't have been stolen," I whined.
Why, he asked.
"Because it's a piece of crap," I said.
"Thieves steal crap," he said.
"And it's a ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Today, yet another installment of my Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the plight of beleaguered customer service representatives.
Me: You know how some Americans have trouble using your product? Well, I have an idea that might help your company sell here. Chopsticks are sold in pairs, two prongs next to each...Read more
WASHINGTON -- This just in: A new sociological study concludes that cat owners are, on the average, less happy than dog owners.
I read this with some amusement. I don't question the truth of it, but I do question its newsworthiness. It would be like a survey concluding that people with hemorrhoids are less happy than people without hemorrhoids....Read more
WASHINGTON -- Five years ago, in collaboration with cartoonist Eric Shansby, I wrote a children's book titled "Me & Dog." It sold reasonably well, which is perhaps surprising since its main message, only thinly prettified, is that there is likely no God, no heaven, and that life is a finite, terrifying plummet toward oblivion. The book is aimed ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The smallest place I've ever lived in was my college freshman dormitory room, which I shared with a guy named Murray. The first time Murray and I saw it, we paced it off in disbelief.
The negotiable area was 11 feet long by 1 ½ feet wide; that's because the room came with furniture that lined both long walls, allowing only a ...Read more