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Lost in Translation

   [From Sunday's Rough Draft column]


    I'm terrified I will offend the Japanese, that I'll do something considered unspeakably gross in Japan even though it's normal in America, like adjusting one's underwear to solve a pinching problem. You know what I'm talking about: Too tight in the hindquarters, need to take direct action. Usually you can adjust from outside the pants, but sometimes you have to send in a commando hand. But what if doing this in public in Japan is a faux pas?

   I'm here to do research, but my reporting is hampered by a lack of language skills (the only Japanese word I know is "aloha") and by the indirect manner of Japanese discourse. They see Westerners as too loud and overbearing. Folks here like to circle a topic for a few days. I keep wanting to say things like, "Let's cut to the chase. Pearl Harbor. Explain."

  [Click here to read the entire column.] 

  [Obviously I had to come up with a Japan column after having such a spiffy time there. I have a partially written piece in my laptop about going to a hot spring in the mountains, but it would be stale in the blog or the column at this point and I may have to resign myself to the fact that it's going to be nothing more than a wonderful memory. I hate it when that happens. You go to all the trouble of doing something and you don't quite get around to publishing a full account. A professional writer should always be writing 5 pieces simultaneously: The main article; the blog about the reporting of the main article; the travel piece for a glossy magazine about some nifty hotel or hot spring visited during the reporting of the main article; the screenplay about a character who is a writer who multi-tasks too much and has various adventures and then gets his comeuppance; and The Memoir.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 26, 2005; 6:13 PM ET
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Next: Making Waves on the Hill


And don't forget, you also have to write comments on the blog about the article.

Posted by: Working Late Too | September 26, 2005 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I delegate that. That's the best thing about a blog. You post a paragraph or even some retread thing like this column and then everyone else does all the work.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 26, 2005 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Ha! What do you call that (pointing to comment above)!?

Posted by: WLT | September 26, 2005 6:24 PM | Report abuse

OK, sorry--see ya tomorrow, JA.

"...send in a commando hand"--Ha!

Posted by: WLT | September 26, 2005 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Moi Moi has noticed that people trapped on tiny little islands over a long period of time either develop a highly refined sense of humor or they go completely bonkers. Moi Moi has a full treatment of this topic in his never to be published autobiography, "From Hirohito to Hiroshima, Stuff Moi Moi Wishes Moi Moi Could Forget". To test this theory Moi Moi once marched around Yokohama dressed as a Samuri while whacking people on the head with a folding paper fan and yelling, "You tie my shoe! I tie your shoe!" The results were pretty much inconclusive; but I did discover that a majority of Japanese women think Moi Moi has nice gams.

Posted by: Moi Moi | September 26, 2005 6:56 PM | Report abuse

That commando hand part was so special. It reminds me of a commando hand thing, a 4 year old offspring of mine, and a new brother-in-law. They had a really great disscussion about just such a thing. At the dinner table. Christmas dinner. It was how we knew this brother-in-law was a keeper and is the standard by which all future brother-in-laws would be measured. Too bad really that my sisters are all married now. My brother is single though. Could this same standard apply to females?

Posted by: dr | September 26, 2005 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Great article, crappy movie. Seriously didn't like the movie. How much is Japan like that, anyway?

Oh, and I have NO idea what happened when I posted the link to my blog, but someone else got it right -

That should work! :-)

Posted by: pls | September 26, 2005 7:20 PM | Report abuse

pls, what movie are you referring to?

Posted by: suecris | September 26, 2005 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Um...I think I'm missing something. What's a 'commando hand'?

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | September 26, 2005 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Lost in Translation

Posted by: pls | September 26, 2005 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Achenbach, great piece. If I had my druthers, I would spend all day writing about how we, as a species, rewrite our history to match our present. (I studied American history quite a bit as an undergrad) The idea of the Japanese representing Americans as the agressors in WWII raises many questions; what was our role in that war, and why is this so relevant in our times? Why is it so easy, in 2005, to think of America as an agressive nation, whereas from its inception until about 50 years ago this was a country that favored an isolationist policy? (I think the Yalta accords had something to do with it...)

Thanks for the insight, man. Great article.

Posted by: LP | September 26, 2005 9:29 PM | Report abuse

"Lost in Translation" is a movie by Sofia Coppola starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. It also features a memorable cameo by Johansson's frilly underwear. The movie is about the cultural isolation a Westerner can feel in Japan and the unlikely connections between people that this environment fosters. How it plays seems to be driven heavily by where you see it and your mood at the time. Watch it at home with your spouse and a hyperactive dog and you will doubtless find it maddeningly slow. Watch it alone and far from home in a theater with good sound and you may find it brilliant. That it is set in Japan seems almost secondary. Never having set foot in the country, I have no idea if it is an accurate portrayal of Japanese city culture, but I can't believe that even a Coppola could fake such a place.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 26, 2005 9:50 PM | Report abuse

I have a good friend who is Japanese, and when we converse, she makes these little sounds the whole time I'm speaking, like, "mmm. mmm. mmm." It's slightly distracting and slightly irritating. But mostly, it makes me think that when she is speaking and I am listening silently, she thinks I am rude. (Hm.)

Posted by: Ugly American | September 26, 2005 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Hot springs in the you're talking...

Posted by: FF | September 26, 2005 10:21 PM | Report abuse

I love you, Moi Moi. Your anecdotes make reading blog worthwhile.

Posted by: suecris | September 26, 2005 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Ugly American, yes, she's acknowledging that she's listening (probably saying nnn, nnn,nnn). I studied the Japanese language for a couple of years - used to watch the news from Japan, where the woman anchor would say Hai (yes) as the male anchor talked. (I don't think it was a gender thing, she was probably his junior.)

I felt like a bull in a china shop around my lovely native Japanese instructors. They had us practice taking our shoes off before entering a Japanese home, and getting up from a kneeling position "gracefully", in one flowing motion. Ai-yi-yi...

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 27, 2005 2:26 AM | Report abuse

Being around Japanese culture can definitely lead to inferiority complex. I haven't been there but the impression I get is that the whole country is like a giant Montessori school: there is a correct way to do each thing, like how to take off your shoes and how to fold the kimono, how to dry off your umbrella and how to serve food. There are so many ways to do it wrong, and only "one" way to do it right! And they know, and you don't.

Posted by: UA | September 27, 2005 7:27 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe I spelled "mmm. mmm. mmm." wrong. This supports my point (above).

Posted by: UA | September 27, 2005 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Moi Moi exposed! Moi Moi is the manipulated manifestation of the entity behind the inter-netting. However, Moi Moi did do time on an Isle of the Rising Sun where Moi Moi is suspected of having matriculated at: The Secret Art of Typhoon Powered Hyper-Bicycling Academy, with a specialization in fat rubber tired flight which inspired Moi Moi to pen the now legendary verse; Fat tires in flight! Afternoon delight!

Posted by: Moi Moi | September 27, 2005 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Hang on a sec... If you were 'going commando', you wouldn't need to send that hand in!

I'd love to read the Japanese hot spring experience as told by Joel. My own experience was slightly surreal.

I went to a resort up near Aomori called Komaki Hot Springs. I had no idea what to expect, never having been to a public bath, Japanese or otherwise.

One thing to note about the Japanese, at least outside of the big city is, that their idea of a bath towel differs significantly from the western world. What the Japanese would call a "bath towel", I would call a "tea towel"

Komaki spa is cavernous, with natural stone walls and many different pools to relax in. The two sides are gender specific, with a two-foot high fence(!) separating them. Since I was there with my boyfriend, I was pretty much on my own to figure out the protocol. Fortunately, the Japanese are extremely curious people and don't seem to have any inhibitions when it comes to staring at the naked bodies of foreigners. This gave me license to watch them back and follow their lead.

After completely disrobing, the tea towel is modestly draped in front. On the petite Japanese women, this covers them adequately from chest to thigh. On me, not so much!

The first stop is the scrubbing station, where you sit on a tiny plastic stool and wash thoroughly with soap, using your precious tea towel as a washcloth. After you're sufficiently clean and rinsed, you may proceed to the mineral baths. So many to choose from! So many people staring at your naked American body! Such a tiny, tiny tea towel!

Finally, though, you find your perfect spot and slide into the mineral-salty water and relax in the dim warmth, forgetting about the awkwardness of the previous 15 minutes.

Two things about this experience: I was 21 years young and I was without female companionship. Now older and hopefully wiser, I wouldn't be as embarrassed in my nakedness, but I would still prefer to at least bring one girlfriend along so that only half of the eyes were on me.

I think it's up to Joel to report on the goings-on of the other side of the fence.

Posted by: Pixel | September 27, 2005 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Oh, maybe that's what Joel was doing, fishing for groveling! We don't mind, do we campers?

Joel, please post the hot springs account!! Your readers will be grateful! Don't worry about proofreading; we can handle that part.

Right, kids?

Posted by: Reader | September 27, 2005 8:52 AM | Report abuse

"Commando hand" is going into my personal lexicon. Imitiation is the sincerest form of flattery, isn't it?.

LP, while the armed conflict of WWII is over, there are written and unwritten hostilites that still play out. To your point, it's human nature to reconcile history to what we (or the Ministry of Truth) want the present to be. I would add that may not necessarily what the present actually is to the majority of Observers.

Look no further than the Confederate flags, cross burnings, and swastikas we still see in this country for more evidence that wars aren't ever really over, as long as people continue to think and talk about them.

Lands are much easier to conquer than minds.

Sadly, this is a lesson that those wielding physical power throughout history continue to ignore.


Posted by: bc | September 27, 2005 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Not posting hot springs account. Sorry. I actually might pitch it to Travel. And I wasn't fishing, either, though have been known to fish up a storm. I fish pathologically. If a colleague seems me coming, he thinks: Here comes the dip, looking for a compliment.
I may post a kit later but must do some writing this morning and some reporting. To follow up yesterday's kit: Note the Milbank sketch and the Post editorial (calling the Louisiana delegation a bunch of looters). Loved the obit on Don Adams -- best piece in the paper. Thrilled to have the new Sourcettes in business, check out their Reliable debut. (But Ben Affleck for Senator? I may have to kit that. Wasn't there a time when U.S. Senator wasn't an entry-level political job?)

Posted by: Achenbach | September 27, 2005 9:32 AM | Report abuse

SCC: delete "." from second sentence.



Posted by: bc | September 27, 2005 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Don Adams article | September 27, 2005 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps "commando hand" refers to a naked, ungloved hand, not the hand of someone who has taken that more daring step of "going commando," i.e., traipsing around Japan sans underpants. (Now THAT would be a faux pas.)

Posted by: Tom fan | September 27, 2005 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I assumed (ahem) that a commando was a person trained to operate surreptitiously behind enemy lines.

A hand so trained would be ideal for any delicate yet urgently needed and nearly unnoticeable Adjustments that might be necessary.


Posted by: bc | September 27, 2005 10:09 AM | Report abuse

bc -

I know a lot of Southernors who would take great offense at having the confederate flag compared to the swastika (my family included, though I tend to agree with you).

Posted by: pls | September 27, 2005 10:16 AM | Report abuse

i have gladly not been privy to the commando hand but being a girl in a mostly male industry (and usually the only girl on the team) i have had men adjust themselves right in front of me - i usually take it to mean that they think of me as one of the guys so it's ok... sometimes i'll thank them for adjusting themselves so "vigorously" hahahaha... one of the perks? uh, not so much...

i once went to a hot springs in colorado. i ended up hyperventilating and scaring the poop outta my best friend... now i'm scared to go back to one - i'll settle for massages!

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I still like to pick up a shoe at a fancy store, hold it to my ear, and exclaim, "Chief, I think I've found them!" into the heel. Embarrasses the heck out of my kids; my wife rolls her eyes, strangers chuckle, and sales clerks - all born after Disco - look at me in utter confusion.

Rest easy, Don Adams.

Posted by: CowTown | September 27, 2005 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday, San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger and Bexar County Judge (and former mayor) Nelson Wolf were staging a public event to thank the Mexican Army for their help in supplying aid after the hurricanes. The Army was stationed at Kelly USA. But the truth of the matter was exposed by E-N columnist Carlos Guerra about a week ago (below). Lost in Translation doesn't necessarily mean that the language is Japanese.

(Of course, when the going gets tough for hurricane relief, Hardberger can count on his former son-in-law, actor Tommy Lee Jones, who was at a local fundraising musicfest Saturday night. The private and publicity-shy Jones was formerly Al Gore's roommate.)

"The convoy, however, was first ordered to Dallas and then to Houston before it was parked in San Antonio, while the Papaloapan was diverted to Biloxi, Miss., whose needs were more pressing than San Antonio's, but certainly weren't as urgent as New Orleans'.

"Once it was in San Antonio, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forbade the Mexicans' kitchen from serving beef, fearing mad-cow disease -- which Mexico has never had -- and the doctors were banned from treating patients because of licensing issues.

"In Biloxi, federal officials also prohibited the doctors from practicing and let fewer than half the disaster workers land. Those who did ended up doing little more than handing out bottled water, clearing debris and posing with President Bush before their ship returned to Mexico on Wednesday."

(In another op-ed, Guerra talks about the importance of priorities in the state budget.)

"San Antonio shone for its preparedness. Of the 13,000 Katrina victims it had taken in, only 2,000 remained in shelters, so there was room and the infrastructure for the 11,000 Rita evacuees who came. But clearly, Texas -- with the nation's second-largest population -- needs more detailed, functional plans to move large numbers of people in and out of its cities. Only Florida is more hurricane-prone than the Lone Star State, and if our state government can afford to spend $10 million to map the genomes of cows, it can find the resources to keep our citizens safe and alive."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2005 10:51 AM | Report abuse

So, Cowtown, what do you think of the cost of mapping the cow genome?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2005 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Ha Ha, CowTown! I'd love to go shoe shopping with you.

It's funny how kids don't appreciate their fathers' jokes and get embarrassed by their every move -- I know I used to. Recently during my morning Starbucks routine I've noticed a certain father-daughter pair, and the (teenaged) daughter always seems to be incredibly embarrassed by her father's actions, however innocuous they may be. He gets up to get a napkin: "Dad! What are you DO-ing! Oh my GOD!"

As for men who send in commando hands in public, I'm happy to say I've never witnessed that. I do see a lot of men picking their noses on the Metro, though.

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 11:08 AM | Report abuse

If it's in the interest of Our Nation's Security, I say, "Damn the cost."

Posted by: CowTown | September 27, 2005 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Cracking the Code Code (or Eat More, Weigh Less or Waist, Not/Want, Not)

It's official. By the end of 2004, science -- already holding genomic blueprints for man, mouse and rat -- intends to have a cow. Or, more accurately, a bovine genome, approximately 3 billion base pairs worth of genetic information that might lead to quantum improvements in dairy and meat products, including potentially the meat staring back at you in the mirror.

Nobody received the recent news of this imminent sequencing from the National Human Genome Research Institute more eagerly than Dr. David Adelson, associate professor of genomics at Texas A&M, who hopes soon to be able to boost the results of the centuries-old, inexact science of crossbreeding with a strong infusion of applied genomics.

"My research interest is primarily cattle, trying to understand the genes that are significantly responsible for production traits," says Adelson. "Because we work in Texas and we work in animal science, a production trait is what makes better, tastier, tenderer beef."

Waist, Not
A fully-sequenced cow genome will guide Texas A&M researchers and others to targeted genes responsible for leverageable traits such as marbling and disease-resistance. "We won't be doing the sequencing ourselves, but we will certainly be at the top of the list for users of that data when it comes out," he says.

Also on that list will be comparative genomics researchers looking for clues to human gene expression in similar and divergent bovine sequences. That analysis might help scientists understand finally how the human body regulates fat, suggesting a deliciously illogical future of impossibly tasty meals and impeccably narrow waistlines.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2005 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Sep 27, 2005 11:17:42 AM:

Thanks for the article. I'm reminded of the scene in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in which a cow approaches a table of diners and describes what parts of his body would be the best for the night's supper. In the novel, genetic engineering had taken the fear of death out of beef cattle and had replaced it with a desire to be sacrificed for the culinary benefit of restaurant patrons.

The scene is quite funny. Really.

Posted by: CowTown | September 27, 2005 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, cowtown...
The article's title should have been "Cracking the Cow Code" (much like the DaVinci Code) rather than "Cracking the Code Code."

And I'll have to check out the movie scene you suggest...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2005 11:28 AM | Report abuse

jw has posted a new kit on mojoblog -- and "Bleep" is mentioned! I'm one happy dreamer.

Posted by: Dreamer | September 27, 2005 11:28 AM | Report abuse


I loved your description of the father-daughter coffee shop episode. It's so true. What's weird about it is that just a few years before, my kids thought everything I did was brilliant!

Posted by: CowTown | September 27, 2005 11:33 AM | Report abuse

cowtown - they will again in a few years! when i was 16 i thought being seen in public with my mother would doom me to social hell! now she's my best friend - we even went to cancun together and had a great time! man, that woman can PARTY!

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Earlier this year I spent a few weeks in Guam for work. 20 hours of flying to get there (not travel time, just flying). Then working 12-24 hours days, mostly nights there to keep out from underfoot of the local shift guys. Guam is a big Japanese tourist draw. Walking around the downtown area, my body having no clue what time it was, where there are pretty much nonstop bars, strip clubs, and gun ranges (caterning to the Japanese tourists), all with Kanji signs, I understood the movie much better....

Posted by: Les | September 27, 2005 12:48 PM | Report abuse

one of my future travel destinations (besides Japan) is Bangkok - i've heard so many things about it - that it's like NYC to the nth degree...


Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 1:02 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 1:04 PM | Report abuse

[Except I'm going to be out of town for a few days as of Tuesday next week, so unless the BPH is on the Monday, I won't be able to make it until the following week. Plus I can't make Thursdays, because that's my Bingo night . . . sheesh -- here I was thinking I was low maintenance.]

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Do you guys notice there's very little boodling done on Tuesdays between noon and 1:00? Hmmm... wonder what everyone is doing then?

Perhaps the Flash could answer that question.

Posted by: TBG | September 27, 2005 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I've given up Gene's chats -- and pretty much every other chat as well -- in favor of the 'boodle.

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 1:17 PM | Report abuse

It sure is slow today, though, isn't it TBG?

Here's a little joke to help get things going (and if I'd posted this yesterday, I would have actually been sort of on topic):

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing.
He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."
"OH NO!" the president exclaims. "That's terrible!"
His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the president sits, head in hands. Finally, president looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Achenfan, someone told me that joke at a 8:30 this AM.

Don't forget to tip whoever's been serving your drinks.

Porching Hour = good.



Posted by: bc | September 27, 2005 1:33 PM | Report abuse

since we've established a precident for tues (and like robert's i believe in keeping with the precident) how's about Tues October 11?

achenfan - i giggled! hadn't heard that one yet!

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Tuesday October 11 would be perfect for me, mo.


Glad you liked the joke -- even though it's *SO* 8:30 . . .

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 1:44 PM | Report abuse

10/11 works for me. I suggest we try someplace in DC. Lots of places have wings or burger specials on Tuesdays. I have heard that Smith and Wollensky has $2 burgers in the bar Tuesday nights with purchase of two drinks, can anyone confirm that?

Posted by: TA | September 27, 2005 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Smith and Wollensky is a great suggestion, TA. I can't confirm the $2 burger thing, but that would be the icing on the cake.

Wait -- we each have to consume TWO DRINKS? That doesn't sound like us, at all!

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse

McCormack and Schmick's has a good happy-hour menu too.

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Smith and Wollensky is better for outdoor (think "Porch") dining/drinking.

But really, either one is fine by me.

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh wait, maybe I meant McCormick and Schmidt's for the $2 burgers. I get them confused.

Posted by: TA | September 27, 2005 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Smith and Wollensky? McCormick and Schmidt's? Are these restaurants or law firms? Boy, they do stuff different in D.C.!

Posted by: CowTown | September 27, 2005 2:11 PM | Report abuse

jw, thanks for the correction. I checked it out, and it's McCormick and Schmidt's that does the $1.95 happy hour.

Does this work for people or are there other suggestions out there?

Posted by: TA | September 27, 2005 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I think they're restaurants for lawyers, CowTown. And they serve a lot of beef.

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I am very pleased to hear this, Achenfan. I approve heartily.

Posted by: CowTown | September 27, 2005 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Works for me, TA.

OK: So far we have Tuesday, October 11, McCormick and Schmick's (the one on K Street, right? Or did you mean M&S Grill near Metro Center?)

What time? 5-ish?

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Note to Joel re: big bucks
Tap, tap, tap, are you in there Joel?
Technically, I believe the correct unit of all measurement in the South is a football field. As in, how many LSU Stadiums will it take to hold $250 billion dollars.

Posted by: newkidontheblog | September 27, 2005 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, newkidontheblog, for getting us back on message.

Achenfan, TA, mo, bc, jw, and others: If you're going to make porch plans right in front of us geographically challanged folk, you have to at least promise to post MORE PHOTOS on someone's (mo's? jw's?) website. Clear? I think that's fair.

Posted by: CowTown | September 27, 2005 2:26 PM | Report abuse

You really want more photos, CowTown? Of *us*? But we're so funny lookin'.

[I know, I know -- speak for yourself, Achenfan.]

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Beef....goood. We'll think of ya, Cow Town. The $1.95 specials are available 3:30-6:30 pm, FYI.

By the way, where is Cubedweller? We haven't heard from her in a while.

Posted by: TA | September 27, 2005 2:39 PM | Report abuse

are we being rude? we could move the bph discussion over to my blog if we are! more photos? like achenfan said, of *us*?

and newkidontheblog (hope you don't sing and dance!) i believe you are correct - most things south of the mason dixon line are measured in football fields... so... how many stadiums WOULD it take to hold $250,000,000,000? (man that's a lot of zeros - is that the right amount of 0's TA?)

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I figured it would be ruder to talk about the Porching Hour behind the 'boodle's back -- which we could do, since some of us have each others' e-mail addresses. Better to discuss it out here in the open, no? That way we might even get some new porchers on the 11th (I sure hope so -- part of the fun is seeing the looks on people's faces when they walk into the bar and don't know exactly who they're looking for).

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

TA - remember she said she'd be scare when congress came back into session? *sigh* me thinks she's too busy to boodle w/us lowlifes (i know, i know, speak for yourself mo!)

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I believe that's "whom" they're looking for, Achenfan. (Or should that be "for whom they're looking"?)

[Castigates self for breaking the the-three-personas-never-actually-address-each-other rule.]

Posted by: Tom fan | September 27, 2005 2:47 PM | Report abuse

No, no. Stay in the open. Share your plans with the rest of us. But salve our disappointment at having to stay in the Western 4/5 of the country on Oct. 11, by sending lots of photos. And you're not funny looking. Even if you were, I'd want pictures anyway.

Have a burger and a mojito and think of me...

Posted by: CowTown | September 27, 2005 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Correct-0, mo.

Oh, yes, Achenfan, I hope we get some new people to the porching hour so I can do just that since I had my back to approaching people last time.

Posted by: TA | September 27, 2005 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Football fields... just like all tumors seem to be measured in fruit sizes.

Achenfan said: "Tuesday, October 11, McCormick and Schmick's (the one on K Street, right? Or did you mean M&S Grill near Metro Center?)"

OK, which one? What time?

Posted by: TBG | September 27, 2005 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Oct 11, 5:00 PM. McCormack & Schmick's on K st. I'm in.

Don't mind if I get a little head start on you folks...


Posted by: bc | September 27, 2005 2:57 PM | Report abuse this just for boodlers, or can the old lady come? I haven't figured out if that would be weird or not, but she keeps telling me that she wants to meet everyone.

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 2:57 PM | Report abuse

And another thing - distance in the south used to be measured by 12 oz beers.

As in, "Washington to Richmond, that's - what? About 7 beers?"

Not anymore though, thank the FSM.


Posted by: bc | September 27, 2005 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Bring her along, jw!
(But really, you must stop calling her "the old lady" -- if *she's* old, I'm Grandma Moses.)

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I leave for a few hours and the boodlers once again get out of control, start planning boozy get-togethers...dancing in the streets...all kinds of Bacchanalia. Or as we call it on the porch, Achenbacchanalia.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 27, 2005 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Of course, you're welcome to join us, Achenbach -- if you dare.

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 3:05 PM | Report abuse

jw, bring the GF, it will be fun to meet her.

JA, you should join us!

Posted by: TA | September 27, 2005 3:05 PM | Report abuse

jw - you might need to provide her with a copy of the achendictionary before hand so she know what we are talking about! she wants to meet *us*? again, i'm floored!

yah! new achenbloghoggers at the BPH!!! and joel - do you dare????

achenbacchanalia - remind me to add that to the achendictionary - hey, joel - what does your wife think about us having an achendictionary? she prolly thinks we are koookoooo!!

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Boss. That's what happens when we're left alone. Utter chaos (or KAOS, in honor of Don). The Silent Millions watch and shake their heads in confusion and disapproval. We're back to being nymphs and satyrs.

I'm so ashamed.

Posted by: CowTown | September 27, 2005 3:11 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Achenbach's wife says something similar to what I tell my husband in similar situations:
"Poor misguided fools!"


Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I amm neverr surprized that the intelligent commentarry devolves into drinking plans, when this group of people is so self-involved and intelligence.

Haha...just kidding!

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 3:15 PM | Report abuse


Suggest to your girlfriend that she stop by here first and introduce herself. That way she doesn't have to be an honorary Achenbacher.

Posted by: pj | September 27, 2005 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I love it when the 'boodle devolves. You must continue to plan any BPH gathering in the open. Those of us that lurk, vacation in D.C. and might just show up some time. (Or even plan the vacation around a BPH)

It would be facinating...

Posted by: RA | September 27, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I think she may have been here before. She does read it from time to time. I don't know if I'm comfortable with it.

Worlds are colliding! jw's getting very upset!

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 3:27 PM | Report abuse

They're killing independent jw!

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

A jw divided against itself cannot stand!

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 3:30 PM | Report abuse

[I wish this were the beginning of summer instead of the end of summer, because then I could have said, "This was supposed to be the summer of jw!"]

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I really need to get the DVDs.

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 3:36 PM | Report abuse

So whose site is going to host the BPH pictures for us poor not-in-DC-currently-but-adopted-metro-area-dwellers-who-plan-to-return-one-day folks? The peanut gallery must know these things.

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | September 27, 2005 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps she's the troll.....

Speaking of DVDs (and making a bad segue) it appears that the first season of "The Rockford Files" is coming out in December. I loved that show!

Posted by: pj | September 27, 2005 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Who, pj -- jw's "old lady"? Now THAT would be a twist.

Posted by: Tom fan | September 27, 2005 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Yep, that's who I was thinking of. But mostly just making a joke. At least he doesn't refer to her as an 'old broad'.

Posted by: pj | September 27, 2005 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh jeez. I am in so much trouble now.

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 3:52 PM | Report abuse

hmm......i second the motion of pictures for the geographically challenged, so that we may live vicariously through the net.

Posted by: LP | September 27, 2005 3:53 PM | Report abuse

By the way, pj, I liked your "Agent 86 has been 86ed . . . Actually, he was 82" joke yesterday. (I wasn't sure whether it was OK to laugh at it, but then I decided it was.)

Posted by: Tom fan | September 27, 2005 3:55 PM | Report abuse

HAH! jw - is she reading this? (you know bc thought i was flirting with you at the last bph? hahaha)
pgm - i have them on my yahoo site currently... (along w/pics of my illfated trip to nyc)
i could also put them on my blog at

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Even though my boyfriend just referred to me as an 'old lady' I swear, I'm not the troll. I don't even know any trolls. I'm troll free.

Posted by: the old lady | September 27, 2005 3:57 PM | Report abuse

The old lady is here!
I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!

[And I didn't for one moment think you were the troll, "old lady." If you're the troll, why, I'll eat my hat.]

Posted by: Tom fan | September 27, 2005 4:00 PM | Report abuse

uh oh... i SWEAR i wasn't flirting with him!!!!
not even those cute little trolls that are supposed to be good luck?

(oh boy, the boodle has sunk into complete frivolty today huh?)

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

[You may want to take your insulin injection before you read this]

Nah, she's too cute to be the troll.

[Incidentally, did you know the term "troll" has nothing to do with bridges and everything to do with fishing?]

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Can a part-timer kaboodler porch?

Posted by: PeterK | September 27, 2005 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Now I REALLY want pictures. And I want action. Food fights. Kung Foo Disco. Drinking games. Everyone meeting jw's Female Consort.

Just be safe, and play nice.

Posted by: CowTown | September 27, 2005 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, old lady! Glad to see you here.

And thanks for the compliment, Tom fan.

Posted by: pj | September 27, 2005 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, I go to some meetings, do some work, and next thing you know Pagan rituals are breaking out on the 'boodle.

Looks like Festivus is coming early.
I'm preparing for The Airing of Grievances.


Posted by: bc | September 27, 2005 4:08 PM | Report abuse

It's ok mo, I believe you even though rumor has it you are a (gasp)Yankees fan.

Posted by: the old lady | September 27, 2005 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Of course a part-time Kaboodler can porch, PeterK (in theory, we're ALL part-time Kaboodlers, right?) I hope you will join us.

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 4:10 PM | Report abuse

peterk - ANY boodler can porch!! all boodlers are welcome - and let us know if you are coming in from outta town and we'll put you up! hehehehe

jw - do you mean fishing or phishing?

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Fishing. It refers to the technique in fishing where you stream a line behind your boat as you move ahead, and see what bites.

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I AM A DIEHARD YANKEES FAN old lady! I WILL DEFEND TO THE DEATH MY YANKEES! man, you got me typing in caps! pls don't tell me you are a sox fan! i'll lose all respect for you! i know jw is a sox fan, but that's ok cuz i never had respect for him to begin with!! *grin*

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey Kruger, you want to see the pole?

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 4:13 PM | Report abuse

oh, i thought you meant internet trolls who phish for info...

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 4:14 PM | Report abuse

The plot thickens . . .

Posted by: Tom fan | September 27, 2005 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I am going home. I hope everyone will behave civilly towards one another. Except for Mo, who should study up on the Heimlich manuever since Jeter et al. are going to need it.

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Ha! "I hope everyone will behave civilly"! jw is the new JA.

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I have marked the Porching Hour on my calendar - will definitely be there unless some evil work prevents me. Although, I have no idea who I'm going to be looking for!

Posted by: pls | September 27, 2005 4:29 PM | Report abuse


Go to mo's link up above. It's a great set of 'boodler pic's.

First time I got a look at them myself. A fun time was had by all by the looks of it.

Posted by: RA | September 27, 2005 4:39 PM | Report abuse

pls, if you are able to attend the Porching Hour, I will buy you a drink as an apology for my 4:27:05 comment on September 22 (under the "Koko Blog" Kit) -- unless you turn out to be a man, of course (and I mean that in the nicest possible way -- judging from the pics on your blog, you are not in the least bit manly).

[Sometimes my work at the Federal Bureau of Boodling Investigations makes me crazy.]

Posted by: Tom fan | September 27, 2005 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Ugh, dangling participle in my 4:48:56 post.
I'll try again:
If the pics on your blog are anything to go by, you are not in the least bit manly.

Posted by: Tom fan | September 27, 2005 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Aww, thanks, Tom fan. I should definitely be able to make it - it's only a few blocks from my office.

And no, I am most definitely not male. :-)

Joel, will you purty please make an appearance?

Posted by: pls | September 27, 2005 4:51 PM | Report abuse

mo, you are my absolute favorite, I think. I live in New England, and am a New Yorker by bit. Round this time of year none of my friends want to talk to me. What I say is, screw them. Sore losers.

Posted by: LP | September 27, 2005 4:52 PM | Report abuse

by bit? what?

by birth.

Posted by: LP | September 27, 2005 4:55 PM | Report abuse

(Is Tom fan hitting on me via blog?)

Just kidding.

Posted by: pls | September 27, 2005 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Or wait - is Tom fan a woman? I just looked at those pics. I am SO confused now. See, I told you I didn't know who I was looking for!

Posted by: pls | September 27, 2005 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Ha ha, pls. But no, despite the "Tom" component of my handle, I am also not male. I probably should have clarified that!
Too funny . . .

Posted by: Tom fan | September 27, 2005 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Hee, hee, my first achen-faux-pas. It was bound to happen!!

Posted by: pls | September 27, 2005 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Huzzah for pictures! Thanks mo. I only just looked at them because the boss lady actually made me *do* work this afternoon. Jeez...

Posted by: peanutgallerymember | September 27, 2005 5:07 PM | Report abuse

You know, nothing good could come of me attending that event. It would probably be against some kind of company rule, for one thing. But more importantly, it would undermine my carefully crafted persona. There would be little-man-behind-the-curtain problems, ya dig. Much better to be the great and powerful Oz. Even visiting THIS, the boodle, is something I do only occasionally, and with great caution.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 27, 2005 5:14 PM | Report abuse

We understand, Achenbach. Just didn't want you to feel excluded. We'll raise a toast to you.

(But don't you mean little-man-under-the-porch problems?)

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 5:17 PM | Report abuse

ah, you are prolly right ja...
you got that right LP! (oo, i'm somebodies favorite! yah me!)... there was a t'shirt that i loved that said "what curse? you just sucked for 86 years!" so there jw - back in your face! hope you enjoyed the feeling of the sox winning for once cuz it'll be another 86 years till the next one!

tom fan is the second to the right on the first pic...

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 5:18 PM | Report abuse

jw obviously has no idea what he's talking about. I mean, he's not even in new england and he's rooting for that team - something's very wrong with that boy.

Yeah, that shirt made me laugh really hard. I'd so get my butt kicked for wearing it around here. S'aright, tho, I know I am the rightous one in the end:)

Posted by: LP | September 27, 2005 5:25 PM | Report abuse


Weingarten did meet jw and even got a column out of it. If he can break company rules, mebbe you can, too.

Honest, we won't bite. But if you don't want to do it, that's also okay.

Posted by: pj | September 27, 2005 5:25 PM | Report abuse

i spose we could cut him some slack cuz his alma mater is in boston... i'm originally from VA but my alma mater is NYU (plus i LOVE that city) so i'm also a transplanted fan...
but not too much slack since we both know the sox are gonna LOSE!
there was also another shirt that was about rings - said something like "got rings?" and on the back had all the series rings for yankees compared to the sox - what is it like 25 to 2? HAH!

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 5:33 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: LP | September 27, 2005 5:39 PM | Report abuse

My girlfriend has a t-shirt that says "Real Women Don't Date Yankees Fans." That combined with my "Yankees Suck" t-shirt, and we were two of the most popular people in Baltimore on Sunday. Never got so many high-fives from so many people I don't know.

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 5:41 PM | Report abuse

yeah? maybe that's cuz the yankees SPANKED the O's... what was the final score? um... 11 to 3??? is that the sound of a spanking i hear???

what's this nonsense about ben affleck running for senator?? of VIRGINIA? does he even know where virginia is? sheesh! what nonsense!

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 5:47 PM | Report abuse

"yankees suck"

those boston fans, so articulate.

Posted by: LP | September 27, 2005 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Heh. I don't have to tell you what Jeter does.

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I forsee a major foodfight between one JW and one MO. Remember, no grape juice or tomato-based products. And be careful that nothing you throw has sharp edges.

And, lots of photos.

Posted by: CowTown | September 27, 2005 5:56 PM | Report abuse

um... win? he is the all-time Division Series leader in hits

Posted by: mo | September 27, 2005 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Sheesh, I work all day and come back to a roomful of chaos; no underwear, Red Sox/Yankees turf wars, participles dangling with impunity... Y'all don't need any alcohol!

Porching on 10/11: I can only say maybe. I'm leaving for Fiji on the 13th and will undoubtedly have a million things to do in the run-up to a 3-week vacation.

I'm dipping my blogging toe in here, fwiw.

Posted by: Pixel | September 27, 2005 6:38 PM | Report abuse

"Y'all don't need any alcohol!"
That's possibly the most astute comment ever posted on the A'blog, Pixel.

As for the fact that you're going on vacation on the 13th, that's no excuse for skipping the Porching Hour. As RA so wisely said, "plan the vacation around [the] BPH."

[But seriously, we'll understand if you can't make it -- just as we understand that Joel can't make it (right guys? We do understand that, right? Oh, who are we kidding. The jig was up as soon as he copped a look at those pics from the last BPH).]

[I'm really envious of your upcoming trip to Fiji.]

Posted by: Achenfan | September 27, 2005 6:51 PM | Report abuse


I was going to leave a comment on your blog, but I don't have a Blogger account. :-(

I don't know that I would have been brave enough to attempt to capture a wild injured bird in a shopping bag and transport said bird in my vehicle to an animal hospital, but I'm glad you tried to help the birdie!

Posted by: pls | September 27, 2005 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, I'm new to Blogger. I'll change the comments thingy so that anyone can comment.

Posted by: Pixel | September 27, 2005 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I think it is important that we not pressure Joel. I'm sure he realizes that his presence would probably be a bit inhibiting. I think Prince Charles has the same problem. Besides, his family needs him home. God knows they have suffered enough. Nevertheless, I am sure it will be a fun bash. I guess Japan isn't the only environment that fosters unlikely connections between people.

Posted by: RD Padouk | September 27, 2005 9:33 PM | Report abuse

We out-of-towners will be eagerly awaiting reports of the BPH!

jw, looks like the "old lady" has a sense of humor. I suppose that was a given. Hoya Saxa! Did you notice that GeneW mentioned you in his chat today? And he was at an O's game - not sure if it was the same one that you went to...

Look, if you all start blogging, I'll have no time for anything else! Nice job, Pixel.

RD, your comments about Joel have me laughing hilariously. Great way to end the boodle (ooops)...

Posted by: mostlylurking | September 27, 2005 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Oz Man,

Throw caution to the wind....yeah...right.

But in all honesty ye be helping spread words of wisdom...just not sure whose...

Posted by: FF | September 27, 2005 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I asked Michael Dirda if he got his glasses in Malaysia. Am I bad?

Posted by: jw | September 27, 2005 11:04 PM | Report abuse

No, jw, you're not bad. You *would* be bad, however, if you told Dirda you had the exact same pair of glasses as his.

And yeah, I agree with RD Padouk re. not pressuring Joel. Obviously Joel is a little bit Achenshy about attending the Porching Hour -- we've all been down that road. (And if anyone's entitled to be Achenshy, it's Achenbach himself.) Also, I think Joel recognizes that the BPH is a Kaboodle event -- he doesn't want to overpower it with his Kit vibes.

Posted by: Achenfan | September 28, 2005 9:42 AM | Report abuse

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