Gene Floats an Idea

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- This column is a treatise on the intersection of physiology, psychology and politics, with a valuable lesson for personally navigating these perilous times.

For most of my adult life, I have been bedeviled by “floaters,” those fuzzy, maddeningly out-of-focus shapes in the center of the eyeball that drift across your field of ...Read more

All Thumbs

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I’m on the phone with Julie Landis, an executive with Briotix Inc., an international company specializing in ergonomics. Julie also has a doctorate in physical therapy. I was thrilled to find her. She has the perfect skill set to solve a recent vexing dilemma of mine.

Me: So, I like oysters.

Julie: OK.

Me: To open an oyster, ...Read more

The Trump Card

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- As a public service, I am going to start the new year by making peace with a Donald Trump presidency, and by offering my fellow liberals an aggressive, three-pronged plan for how to do the same in the interests of national unity.


Step back. Accept the inevitable with grace. And most important, stop whining, particularly...Read more

Columbus and the Eggs Benedict

Humor / Below the Beltway /

This column originally appeared in the Miami Herald in 1988.

WASHINGTON -- Remember the apocryphal story of Columbus and the egg? Neither did anyone in my office, a cesspool of ignorance.

Everyone in Isabella’s court was telling Columbus that he was a hopeless dreamer, that what he wanted to do was impossible. Nonsense, Columbus...Read more

A Taxing Dilemma

Humor / Below the Beltway /

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

WASHINGTON -- I have a story to tell you. It is relevant to the times, but you won’t know why until the end.

My father, Philip Weingarten, died 10 years ago. He was an IRS agent. He was a scrupulously honest man. One weekday in 1961 he came home in the middle of the day, which was unheard...Read more

Presidential Pokesman

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- As you now know, my humor column is written three weeks before you read it, meaning I am writing this one on the Friday after the election. It’s been challenging. First I tried to imagine what a Trump administration would look like. Would there be a “Department of Taunting Hispanics”? Would the White House press corps ...Read more

Cultural Confucian

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- When I was 11 years old, I teamed up with my cousin Margaret to enter a school traffic-safety contest. The challenge was to create a poster for a citywide campaign. Margaret was a talented artist, so she did the illustration. I was a talented smart aleck, so I wrote the words.

What we came up with was a stereotypical image ...Read more

A Case of Boomer Bust

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Dear millennials:

I've been reading articles about how we baby boomers suck. And how your generation is going to fix everything mine screwed up.

If you Google "baby boomers are bad," you get hundreds of hits, including these: "Baby boomers ruined America." "'Disgusting, Selfish, Immature': 10 reasons baby boomers are the ...Read more


Humor / Below the Beltway /

EDITORS -- A photo is available to accompany this column and can be downloaded from If the photo cannot accompany the column, please change the penultimate graf to: "After Barnaby had just finished breakfast on this dreadful morning, full of himself and ...Read more

This Bland is Our Bland

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- So here we are, the Sunday before Election Day, a difficult time for most news editors because we are now forced to enter the Land of the Bland. There is no hard rule about it, but we generally conspire not to run partisan stories or explosive exposes during the 48 hours before the election. Our goal is to be scrupulously balanced ...Read more

Sitting Atop a Picket Fence. Ow.

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- With the election just over a week away, people are talking once again about the allegedly puzzling phenomenon of the ubiquitous Non-Voter. Even for a hotly contested presidential election like this one, barely more than half of eligible Americans will likely drag themselves to the polls.

Many years ago, I proposed that some ...Read more

Handling the Truth

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- You are not reading this sentence.

Nothing could be further from the truth than what I just wrote. I point this out because it is likely the only time you will ever encounter the phrase "nothing could be further from the truth" and have it actually be truthful. The phrase exists more than 2 million times online, and it is ...Read more

They Veg to Differ

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- When I read the news that an online petition is urging the West Coast fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger to offer a vegetarian burger option, I realized I had a vital question to ask on behalf of you, the public. I got a company spokeswoman on the phone.

Me: So your chain is really named In-N-Out Burger?

Company ...Read more

An Evil Spell

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I am lurking on a blog called Lost at E Minor, which describes itself as "a global culture site" for creative people. Specifically, I am reading an essay making fun of all those dopey baristas at Starbucks who misspell your name when they write it on the cup. Here's Allison spelled as "Allerson" and Mark as "Mog." Also, Penelope ...Read more

Not a Pretty Picture

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I am not a handsome man. The caricature of me that generally accompanies my online chat for The Washington Post, drawn by Eric Shansby, depicts a comically disheveled, mop-headed, pasty-faced, pudgy, bulb-nosed schnook, and it is actually quite flattering. In short, I am under no illusions about my appearance. Stretching mightily ...Read more

A Man of Distinctions

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Behold: A new installment of Small But Important Distinctions in Life.

[The n-word] vs. "the n-word"

The word suggested by the bracketed phrase is a racial slur, whereas the phrase in quotes is what people say when they want to reference the racial slur without causing offense. It doesn't work.

"The n-word" tries to ...Read more

Yucks for Bucks: Gene Revolutionizes Panhandling

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I'm sitting at my dining room table, counting out a tidy pile of cash generated under a bold new business model of my invention; I am feeling the way Henry Ford must have felt when he saw that first assembly line rumble into action.

I just made $71 in a little more than three hours of easy, skill-free work, which extrapolates to ...Read more

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