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September 20, 2011

11:02
A.M.

ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Total Responses: 54

About the hosts

About the host

Alexandra Petri

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost, a lighter take on the news and issues of the day, and she contributes to the Post editorial page. Her work has appeared in venues such as The Huffington Post, The Week, Newsweek.com, Businessweek.com, Collegehumor, and The Harvard Crimson. She has appeared on Jeopardy!, Showbiz Tonight and Canadian radio, and she has performed at Boston's Comedy Studio and Comedy Connection. She would love to be on your TV show, radio show, Daily Show, HBO special, or to be an honored guest (or regular guest) at your Bar Mitzvah. She is the author of two books (unpublished, but contact her!), two screenplays, three plays, one musical, and one memoir (Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.)

About the topic

The Compost, Alexandra Petri, offers a lighter take on the news and political in(s)anity of the day. If you believe life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it, this is the chat for you. Join us every Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. ET to laugh, cry, and dish about the moments that amused you, shocked you, or caused you to yell things that frightened the other people on the subway.

Past ComPost Live Chats
Q.

Alexandra Petri :

Can we talk about all this organ donation and automated attack drones?

I turn my back on the news for a second, and suddenly it turns all dystopian on me. Or is that dystopic? Whichever it is, hold on to your kidneys.

Here's a quote, from the Post article:

Critics, however, say the move heightens the risk that potential donors will be treated more like tissue banks than like sick people deserving every chance to live, or to die peacefully.

“This is another step towards this idea of hovering, hovering, hovering to get more organs,” said Michael A. Grodin, a professor of health law, bioethics and human rights at Boston University.

Hovering, hovering, hovering to get more organs?

Did anyone see "Repo: A Genetic Opera"? I didn't, but I feel as though this must be a song in it somewhere.

On to the questions!

Q.

Rand Paul wasn't named after Ayn Rand

Ron actually named his son Krugerrand, after his favorite gold coin.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Oh, thank heavens! For a few minutes there I thought he was one of those people who chooses strange kids' names for obscure reasons --

Also, why is Velveeta Ron Paul's favorite cheese?

 

 

– September 20, 2011 11:02 AM
Q.

Alexandra Petri :

Q.

Computer science found a generic Republicans

Are you ready for this: We developed a computer analysis for a "generic Republican". Mathematics says the "generic Republican" is Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. We have no idea who he is, but, mathematics is never wrong.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Are you sure that's math? Are you sure it's not class warfare?

– September 20, 2011 11:06 AM
Q.

Washington, DC

Can someone tell the President that math is actually warfare? Or at least I always become violent when faced with word problems.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Why don't you tell Congress?
Keep in mind that Congress is leaving the building on a train with a velocity of 5 mph at 10:00 AM ET and that you are leaving Pittsburgh, which for the purposes of this problem is 500 miles away, on a train traveling at lightspeed and supercooled, so you'll have to schedule accordingly.

– September 20, 2011 11:15 AM
Q.

Three and a Half Men

Now why did they have to kill off Charlie Harper's character on "Two and a Half Men". You would think the producer Chuck Lorrie would want to keep open the option of enticing Charlie Sheen to come back sometime. Sometimes I just wonder what people are thinking.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I know! They seemed to get along so well!

– September 20, 2011 11:16 AM
Q.

Ron Paul

You should do a post on him, just to see how many of his fanboys (why do they always seem to be boys) take up angry acreage in your comments section.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Paul is one of those figures, like Palin, who has a lot of die-hard supporters who enjoy commenting whenever they see his name mentioned. Even if the comment has no bearing on the actual content of the post! Maybe it's a rite of passage.

I should call the post "Ron Paul's Sarah Palin One Night Stand Bachmann Pornography" because that would attract the maximum possible number of commenters, even if the text turned out to be a picture of a cat looking disappointed by the state of public discourse.

– September 20, 2011 11:21 AM
Q.

Tissue banks?

Does this mean we're moving to a "tissue standard" of currency? That's really gotta chafe the TP-ers.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Charmin.

– September 20, 2011 11:22 AM
Q.

What Really Happened

After the debate, a woman came up to Michelle Bachmann and said "my daughter was given the HPV vaccine and it caused mental retardation. You tell people about that." And Michelle said "I can't tell people about that, mom!"
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Oddly this isn't the first joke along those lines I've heard this week...

– September 20, 2011 11:23 AM
Q.

Blah Blah Blah Class Warfare Blah Blah

If this is class warfare, when's the food fight going to happen?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Soon! We're trying to get the have-nots more food so the fight will be balanced, but this may take a while.

– September 20, 2011 11:24 AM
Q.

Republicanism

Now, now. Republicans do not believe in class warfare. We Republicans believe that all poor and middle class people should pay lots of taxes and dream of the ability to someday become wealthy enough not to pay taxes. That is not class warfare, that is the American dream. If you take away that dream, America dies.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

That is! It's the Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaire problem! That's why we're all irritated with Warren Buffett for suggesting that he has too much money. "When I have as much money as Warren," we murmur, "I definitely won't think it's too much."

– September 20, 2011 11:25 AM
Q.

DADT ended!

What's the most appropriate way to celebrate?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I actually am a bit sad -- not as a matter of policy, but because DADT was one of the great easy punchlines of our era, and now it's gone and millions of jokes are instantly dated.

– September 20, 2011 11:26 AM
Q.

"Can someone tell the President that math is actually warfare?"

I'll do it. I'm not that busy today.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Thanks!

This might also be a good time to tell him that if he says "pass that bill" another time, there's a man in Cleveland who will perish of alcohol poisoning. Just something to keep in mind.

– September 20, 2011 11:28 AM
Q.

Math = Class Warfare

That is why they want to have failing schools. If there is no math then no one understand the rich are getting all the money, because they can't do basic arithmatic! Thus there will be no warfare because everyone will be paying their "fair share."
A.
Alexandra Petri :

True! You can't tell if your slice of pie is correctly sized if you didn't take fractions!

– September 20, 2011 11:30 AM
Q.

Levi Johnston

Now that Levi Johnston's book is out, we can settle the issue if Bristol is a rape victim. I think the answer is 'ick'. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/political-bookworm/post/levi-johnston-on-love-sex-and-abstinency/2011/09/19/gIQAEB4zfK_blog.html
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I'll say this for the guy, he has a vivid prose style. It's somewhere between those romance novels you pick up in the checkout aisle ("The Rogue Billionaire's Virgin Bride") and really, really misheard Fitzgerald.

– September 20, 2011 11:31 AM
Q.

If this is class warfare, when's the food fight going to happen?

Eat the rich!
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Yes!

Seems like a modest proposal to me.

– September 20, 2011 11:32 AM
Q.

I is learning

I like Harvard journalist. You make me go to the dictionary looking up words like "dystopia". All this time I thought it meant looking at things backwards which, considering what the word means, maybe I had it correct all along.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I don't blame you. I think it sounds like a potted plant to which something terrible has happened.

– September 20, 2011 11:33 AM
Q.

My Favorite Cheese

Velveeta was my favorite cheese.....when I was six. I much preferred the grilled cheese sandwiches my mother made with Velveeta to the ones she made with Kraft American. What say you?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Liquid GOOOOOOOOOOOLD, say I.

– September 20, 2011 11:33 AM
Q.

DC Trivia and Trains

Speaking of DC and trains leaving the station, one of my favorite stories was a former Supreme Court Chief Justice who once boarded the train and discovered, when the conductor came around, that he didn't have his ticket. The conductor recognized the Chief Justice and told him not to worry about it. The Chief Justice replied, "you don't understand. Without the ticket, I don't know where I am going."
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Ha!

I hadn't heard that. Do you know which Justice it was?

– September 20, 2011 11:34 AM
Q.

"Oddly this isn't the first joke along those lines I've heard this week..."

Joke?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Zing!

But all kidding aside, it's a strategy that could earn her $11,000!

– September 20, 2011 11:37 AM
Q.

Salahis

I don't know about you, but I can't get enough of the Salahis. Any chance that Michaele and rock boy will have a TV show?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Tareq, what are you doing in this chat?

I assume you're Tareq, because I have never heard anyone say "I can't get enough of the Salahis" who wasn't a Salahi.

– September 20, 2011 11:38 AM
Q.

Parental cruelty

My parents also liked Ayn Rand. Still, I don't believe they should have named me Fountainhead.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

As someone who narrowly dodged the name Bergliot (I think it was a tribute to a putative great-aunt) I see your point.

How about Atlas?

This reminds me that if anyone wants a bad idea for a business, you are welcome to create a line of objectivist shoulder wraps called Atlas Shrugs and not credit me at all.

– September 20, 2011 11:40 AM
Q.

The best way to prevent organ hovering

is to party your life away. If you use enough drugs, drink enough, and have enough exposure to STDs I bet nobody will want your dirty body tissue and overtaxed organs. Charlie Sheen is on to something.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

But it's okay, because the Singularity?Rapture is coming soon and we'll all become one with the robot hive-mind/Jesus, depending on your apocalyptic theology. At least I hope so.

Eat and drink and laugh and lie/Love, the reeling midnight through/For tomorrow we may die/But alas, we never do.

-Dorothy Parker, the Flaw in Paganism

– September 20, 2011 11:41 AM
Q.

Emmy writers' categories

Did you notice the groups of writers who came on stage to accept writers' awards at the Emmys? It seemed like out of the groups of 10-12 people that one, maybe two were women (the one I noticed most prominently was the Jon Stewart show). How hard is it to break into TV or comedy writing as a woman?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Yeah, and Jon Stewart had come under fire from Jezebel in fairly recent memory for not having an adequate enough ratio, so they might have been making an effort to show their whole lady-arsenal.

I think the going wisdom now is that we're past the Dog Preaching On Hind Legs Christopher Hitchens argument that when one sees a woman making jokes one marvels less at the fact that it is done well than that it is done at all. Especially with Bossypants and the somewhat burgeoning number of woman-helmed shows, people have the sense not only that Women Can Be Funny (of course they can; that's no longer the question) but that their funny comes in as many shades and gradations as male funny -- from the bawdy and blue to the subtle and er, un-blue.

So the question is not "Are women funny" or "can women, given the chance, make it in comedy"? Both of those have had answers since Lucille Ball and Dorothy Parker. The question is 1) are women trying? 2) are they succeeding 3) if comedy still looks like a pasty boys' club, why is that?

I think the hardest part is getting from "oh, there's a girl in the room" to "among our writers are John, Matthew, Sarah, Carl, Roberta, and Lucille." I think Twitter is helping in terms of people being judged on "are you a funny writer" as opposed to either "aw, nuts, a woman will ruin our man-cave of camaraderie" or the slightly more progressive  "dang, we require further lady-meat for our arsenal" to eventually the point when it will be exactly as difficult for women to break into TV or comedy writing as it is for men. It's hard! And I think we're closer to that now than we ever have been.

– September 20, 2011 11:43 AM
Q.

Mathematics joke

An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one tells the bartender he wants a beer. The second one says he wants half a beer. The third one says he wants a fourth of a beer. The bartender sighs, puts two beers on the bar, and says “You guys need to know your limits.”
A.
Alexandra Petri :

That, as Dr. Paul would say, is comedy gold!

(At least, I enjoyed it.)

 

– September 20, 2011 11:44 AM
Q.

Best cheese

At least for grilled cheese sandwiches: government cheese. I am not making this up. It's even better than Velveeta--it melts perfectly and has the weirdest, best taste. I'm sorry, free marketeers, but the government is more efficient at creating tasty childhood memories than private corporations on their own (they contract with Land O' Lakes, but the cheese isn't manufactured for retail).
A.
Alexandra Petri :

What? If there's one thing I learned in the last debate, it's that there's private sector cheese that can handle this more efficiently and with greater compassion.

– September 20, 2011 11:45 AM
Q.

Levi Johnson book

"I walked right up to her. Just "cause. "Cause I couldn't keep away."........thanks for introducing that particular piece of prose to me. Jerk.

A.
Alexandra Petri :

I want William Shatner to read this aloud.

– September 20, 2011 11:46 AM
Q.

We're trying to get the have-nots more food so the fight will be balanced, but this may take a while.

We can get plenty of food for the have-nots from the Wonder bread outlet. The bread is only a day old and should be just fine for a food fight. Love, Marie Antoinette
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Wow, sounds like Marie Antoinette has suffered a downgrade lately. What happened to apocryphal cake, Marie?

– September 20, 2011 11:47 AM
Q.

millions of jokes are instantly dated.

Yeah, but at least they can date openly now.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Ten points, you!

– September 20, 2011 11:50 AM
Q.

I LIKE YOU MORE THAN I LIKE WEINGARTEN

Because you don't force a bunch of lame polls upon us and then harangue us if our answers don't agree with yours. And you're cuter.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

But I could never pull off a mustache like Gene!

– September 20, 2011 11:51 AM
Q.

The United Network for Organ Sharing

The name of this organization is a little creepy.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

This is definitely Newspeak.

I find that sharing is one of the most creepily misused words in the English language. Whenever anyone says he wants to share something with me, this "sharing" is generally indistinguishable from "telling me something I would as soon not hear." And this organ sharing is just one more layer.

– September 20, 2011 11:53 AM
Q.

it melts perfectly and has the weirdest, best taste

Weird taste = best taste? Really? Usually when I say something tastes weird I'm not complementing the flavor. Maybe it works best if you don't think of it as cheese when you eat it?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Yeah, I also wondered if this government cheese thing was some sort of wildly subtle commentary out on which I was missing. If so, I assume the cheese represents, er, the EPA.

– September 20, 2011 11:53 AM
Q.

Search terms and disappointed cats

The "cat looking disappointed about the state of public discourse" made me expel my coffee, narrowly missing the keyboard. Thanks for somehow continuing to give us creative ridiculousness in your chats and writings - it's gotta be hard to do since reality is increasingly (and not creatively) ridiculous.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Thanks!

They say life imitates art, and I think these days it's a Hiernonymus Bosch.

I mainly say that because I like the name.

Also, this.

– September 20, 2011 11:57 AM
Q.

But I could never pull off a mustache like Gene!

You can now! But act quick because supplies are limited. http://www.spirithalloween.com/product/hh-classic-mustche-brn-glasses/
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Oh, that reminds me that I need to get on this year's topical Halloween costumes!

If anyone needs a last-minute easy one, just go as Michele Bachmann and whenever anyone takes a picture, look slightly to the right as though you have found another camera.

– September 20, 2011 11:58 AM
Q.

I want William Shatner to read this aloud.

OMG! Can we start a lobbying campaign? It'll be even better than his cover of "Common People."
A.
Alexandra Petri :

YES.

I'll get on this this afternoon after I get the chance to leaf through my Levi. Anyone want to start the Facebook group?

– September 20, 2011 11:59 AM
Q.

there's private sector cheese that can handle this more efficiently and with greater compassion

Yah, but there's never been a recall on tainted government food, only private enterprise food.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

But from the sounds of that cheese, perhaps there should have been.

– September 20, 2011 12:00 PM
Q.

government cheese

Is just corporate welfare for the dairy industry
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Nonsense! The Cheese Stands Alone!

– September 20, 2011 12:00 PM
Q.

Two Words

Soylent Green
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Spoiler Alert:

Soylent Green is Luke's Father, Rosebud.

– September 20, 2011 12:01 PM
Q.

DADT

I enlisted back in the day when they did ask and if you were, you had to lie. I wasn't, so I didn't have to lie....about that, ha! Anyway, I'm retired now but I think the military would have been so much more awesome with a bunch of openly gay people.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

This is probably nudging out George Washington's farewell address as my all-time favorite quote from a retired serviceman: "I think the military would have been so much more awesome with a bunch of openly gay people."

– September 20, 2011 12:02 PM
Q.

And this organ sharing is just one more layer.

It's just one more thing I'm going to have to add to the list of "things we're not supposed to share" when I tell my toddler that we ARE supposed to share. So far the list includes toothbrushes, germs and now "organs, at least while you're still alive and no sooner than 2 minutes after death."
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Can't tell them too early! Also, "anecdotes about your formative times abroad during high school." That's one of those things you have to start drilling into your child's head at an early age.

– September 20, 2011 12:05 PM
Q.

Favorite Thing About Harvard

Harvard journalist/playwright/former writer/correspondent for a not-ready-for-primetime (or any time) Harvard sketch comedy news program, What was your favorite thing about Harvard? Least favorite thing? What is post-Harvard life now like in DC?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

My favorite thing is how you managed to incorporate it five times into that question!

My answers are standard on all counts: I loved the people and the chance to work insanely hard outside the classroom on things I loved (in my case, writing/writing for theater/not being ready for primetime); my least favorite thing was the fact that you are only allowed to stay there for four years, which is exactly as long as it takes to make you forget that you are still by most standards a tremendous nerd and leads to an awkward adjustment period of wandering around expecting people to laugh at your Charles Martel jokes.

I love life! DC is a town that atones for sometimes being a little overdressed, over-policy-wonkish, and over-Oxford-shirted by always being absolutely and self-consciously over-educated, which I still find endearing, although when it starts cloying New York is nearby and sells gourmet french fries at 3 AM.

– September 20, 2011 12:10 PM
Q.

Is just corporate welfare for the dairy industry

This is actually true. The government stockpiled cheese to assist the dairy industry in keeping prices high. It is basically American Cheese, which is similar to Velveeta.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Wow, I learned something this chat! Thank you!

– September 20, 2011 12:10 PM
Q.

Re: Best cheese

It was an analogy for the fact that the government manages to do things cheaper and more efficiently than the private sector can on its own, by relying on a combination of cost-saving government bureaucracy operating on an economy of scale for administrative functions and well-placed, well-used public/private partnerships for innovation in production. Or, I suppose it could be an analogy for that, but mostly it was about the cheese itself. If you ever had a grilled cheese sandwich or hot ham & cheese sandwich from a US public school cafeteria in the last twenty years or so (at least), you've had it.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Once more unto the cheese.

– September 20, 2011 12:11 PM
Q.

I think it sounds like a potted plant to which something terrible has happened.

No, it sounds like something you end up with after eating too much chili.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Or a Rihanna single. If it isn't now, it will be soon.

– September 20, 2011 12:11 PM
Q.

If you take away that dream, America dies.

Um, you forgot to add "and the terrorists win!"
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Right. Take that as assumed! Also I forgot to release the eagle that you usually release after a statement like that.

– September 20, 2011 12:12 PM
Q.

G-Dub and openly gay servicemen

Well, Friedrich von Steuben was Washington's right hand man in Valley Forge, and...have you seen the statue for that dude in Lafayette Park? It's two naked guys messing with a sword and a cameo portrait of von Steuben's closer personal secretary. It's not really talked about much, but he was gay. He came to the US to escape persecution for his indiscretions in his native Prussia, and ended up turning our ragtag little gaggle of poorly-trained merchants and farmboys into a commanding military presence. So Washington could've might've said something like that, maybe even using the word "awesome."
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I'll have to check out that statue! Also, I like that you refer to him as G-Dub.

– September 20, 2011 12:16 PM
Q.

Halloween Costume

Last year, I went to the John Stewart rally as Christine O'Donnell. Blue skirt suit, wig and makeup like hers and I had name tags that read things like "HI! I'm not a witch" and "HI! I'm you". I knew all of her stupid lines and would spout them on demand. Did I mention that I'm a guy?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

No, you didn't, and I didn't ask --

(See, I can't really make that joke any more. Not that I could make it in the first place.)

I miss Christine O'Donnell. I'd miss her more if I had the sense she were actually going away, but still.

 

– September 20, 2011 12:18 PM
Q.

In the days before you were born

A benevolent Republican president released the government cheese upon the masses. Not long after, a band called the Rainmakers recorded a satirical song called "Government Cheese"...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wksJcCy4BU Ah, the 80s.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Thank you for that! I haven't clicked on the link, so if this turns out to actually be just a video of Ron Paul swaying back and forth to the theme from Goldfinger, I apologize.

PS: Hmm, inordinate amount of Ron Paul ribbing today... must be something in the weather.

– September 20, 2011 12:21 PM
Q.

Pookie, Cupcake and ???

ThePost's Divine Ms. Lisa de Moraes is "Pookie," while web-etiquette maven Monica Hesse is "Cupcake." How shall we address you, Ms. Petri?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Hmm, a nickname is sort of a thorny bed to make for yourself to lie in. All the ones that spring to mind are awful, like "Dander" and "Muffin," "Not Carolyn Hax," "Jabba" and "Nickname." Is there some process by which these are earned? I picture it as being similar to the process of taming one of those prehistoric birds in Avatar.

– September 20, 2011 12:24 PM
Q.

movies

Did you get your copy of Star Wars on Blu-Ray yet?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I ordered it, but it hasn't come!

– September 20, 2011 12:25 PM
Q.

I ordered it, but it hasn't come!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Twenty points!

– September 20, 2011 12:27 PM
Q.

Bridezillas

Alex - do you think you'll ever be a Bridezilla?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Doubtful. Seems like I'm always a zilla, never a bride.

– September 20, 2011 12:28 PM
Q.

It was an analogy for the fact that the government manages to do things cheaper and more efficiently than the private sector can on its own

Sort of like the Post Office?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Touchy! Or rather, touche.

– September 20, 2011 12:28 PM
Q.

DWTS

Who's your favorite? Wanna make a wager on this year's winner?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I need to catch up! I did read the headline "Chaz Bono killed on Dancing With The Stars" which for a moment made me worry a horrible accident had occurred...

– September 20, 2011 12:30 PM
Q.

Is there some process by which these are earned?

Actually, Lisa de Moraes started calling some of her online chatters Pookie, but then we started calling HER Pookie instead.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Ah, yes, that's always how it starts, Topanga.

– September 20, 2011 12:32 PM
Q.

sounds like a modest proposal

I'm embarassed to say I just got this.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

No shame! Only yesterday did I realize that what I had taken to be a handy storage drawer under my oven was in fact the broiler. I kept wondering why I was scalding myself on all the pans.

– September 20, 2011 12:34 PM
Q.

Alexandra Petri :

And on that note, I'm going to go sign one of those notes where you agree to be the kind of organ donor where they make certain your heart doesn't suddenly start back up (also, who knew that this was something that happened? Is it something that happens? I would hate to assume someone was dead and, minutes later, have one of those awkward Denethor moments.) before getting rid of your kidneys. I happen to be attached to my kidneys!

Groan.

Have a splendid week! Keep reading the Compost! And feel free but unobligated to follow me on Twitter!

Q.

 

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