Elliptical humor

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

I have a really bad feline about this

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Learning to survive the rain of terror

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Trumpling all over American history

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Committing rhymes against humanity

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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.)

The Choice

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

Gene enters a new period of discovery

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Breaking Bad: Apple's rotten idea

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Presenting a little vitreous humor

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Impatience as art: Glass Bowl method

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

How to cope when the old drive is gone

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

First rule of baseball: Deny, deny, deny

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Big Sister is watching you

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Are you ready to humble?

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Gene's true calling is calling

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Today, yet another installment of my Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the plight of beleaguered customer service representatives.

Kari-Out chopsticks

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

Are you feline any better today?

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

A terrible, horrible, no good book deal

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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

Wee the People

Humor / Below the Beltway /

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


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