Auto Load Responses: 
Font Size: 

August 21, 2012

11:05
A.M.

ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Total Responses: 51

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 She is the author of two books (unpublished, but contact her!), two screenplays, three plays, one musical, and one memoir (Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.)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

Join us next Tuesday 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

Connect on Twitter: @PostLive | @petridishes
Q.

Alexandra Petri :

Sorry for the slight delay! Let's get rumbling!

Q.

I fear I will be Swift boated

I have a dilemma. Taylor Swift asked me out on a date, which at first sounds great, but now I fear she only wants me for inspiration for her next album so she may sing about what a lousy date I am. She will probably sing about how I don't know how to properly feed her asparagus (what is the proper way, anyway, maybe someone should tell me). Help!
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Go forth and conquer, sir. Taylor Swift seems to share the opinion of many artists that true Art (or at least true decently catchy country-pop break-up-themed hits) can only be gleaned in the bleak field of suffering. So go sow away! Also, she has enough of the green at the ready to be able to buy a summer home near her latest fling, not that I would ever recommend a mercenary approach to dating.

– August 21, 2012 11:08 AM
Q.

Just wondering

What is the world coming to, when a member of Congress can't take off all his clothes and jump into a lake in Israel without having the FBI check it all out?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Well, it seems on further scrutiny that the FBI was actually checking into something else, and only incidentally felt the need to do due diligence on the skinny-dipping tale. Once the FBI is involved, you get pretty well investigated.

But seriously! I remember back in the day when John Quincy Adams and Ben Franklin were frolicking about in the waters in the altogether (not simultaneously, of course) to the delight of at least one lady journalist who wanted an interview and was able to locate Adams' clothes on the bank.

– August 21, 2012 11:12 AM
Q.

GOP party in Israel

Would you please make up your minds? All we ever hear is that Republicans should be more like Democrats...then as soon as we start acting like Democrats, you put us on the front page.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I think skinnydipping is a bipartisan pursuit, actually...

– August 21, 2012 11:14 AM
Q.

Augusta National should be ashamed for not inviting you to join

Alexandra, I'm surprised Augusta National didn't invite IBM's CEO Virginia Rometty to join since IBM's a huge Masters sponsor. But I am disappointed they didn't invite YOU. I wish the men there would be man enough to invite comediennes like you, Stephanie Miller, and Tina Fey to join. Imagine poking fun at the guys golfing there in their mismatched "Caddyshack" outfits, tossing Baby Ruth candy bars in the swimming pool, etc. But how quickly can Augusta build some female locker rooms and bathrooms to meet building codes and satisfy shy guys' modesty requirements? I'll bet they'll be keeping contractors busy.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I hear from those who know that the secret to being invited to golf often is to be bad at golf, in which case I have no idea why they wouldn't invite me.

Good question on the bathrooms. I think women played at the course before, even if in off-green jackets (really, every non-green color is "off-green") so there were probably facilities, but I hope they construct something large and special to commemorate the occasion. There are few bathrooms on earth that can't be improved.

– August 21, 2012 11:19 AM
Q.

One argument settled...

I find it interesting that in Gene Weingarten's chat, there was a discussion where several people argued that there is no rape joke that is funny. That align comes Todd Akin to disprove that theory.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Well, actually.

So it's been interesting to me as a (dons monocle, feels stupid about it, removes monocle) scholar of the rape joke, to see how this has played out on Twitter. The joking has been pretty exhaustive. There are some people who are making "legitimate" the punchline of everything. There are other people who are advocating humorous retaliation to Todd Akin. There are still others who are playing on his lack of scientific knowledge, or his paternalistic approach to the ladies. Most of this joking hasn't been about rape, though. It's been about the way we talk about it -- and in particular the extremely inept way he talked about it. And they've been quite funny. The exception are all the ones that run along the lines of BLAH BLAH BLAH TODD AKIN PRISON BLAH BLAH HE'LL LEARN which are just -- ugh. Both unoriginal and unpleasant. But there's been a lot of very funny comment on it. One of my favorites (I'm biased, though) was Megan Amram's "My illegitimate rape whistle is a kazoo."

– August 21, 2012 11:27 AM
Q.

Let's have a DC version of skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee

Alexandra, if Kevin Yoder can swim naked in the Sea of Galilee, can we have WaPo sponsor a Labor Day DC Skinny Dip in the Potomac for all members of Congress + staff, reporters, lobbyists, powers-that-be, and public? Advantages: no more skinny dip scandals since everyone's now guilty, nothing to hide, GREAT photo ops, guaranteed media "coverage" w/ plenty of ads (great for biz). Disadvantages: none other than some mild blushing. Hope YOU would be assigned to "cover" this, but how would your WaPo teammates deal with this?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

But this is the Potomac we're talking about.

The last thing we want is a mutant, radioactive congress comprised entirely of irate, half-drowned, disease-bearing slime-beings.

– August 21, 2012 11:28 AM
Q.

Is this in the Congressional handbook?

OK, I think I got the rules:A member of Congress may be naked in public, but a member of Congress may not tweet a photo of it. Did I get that right?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

It helps if there's water involved.

I've come up with a litmus test for this in which you imagine a constituent and you tell him what just happened and then if his response is "HE DID WHAT?" you've got a scandal and if his response is to sort of squint at you and say, "AND?" you've got the Skinnydipping in Galilee event.

– August 21, 2012 11:31 AM
Q.

For the producer

This chat always ends up being reformatted in all bold at some point after completion. This makes it *impossible* to read without straining my eyes. Please let the format stay unbolded. Thanks.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I don't know how to fix it but I'll email the people who do! Apologies to your poor eyes. :(

– August 21, 2012 11:32 AM
Q.

Todd Akin

I really hope that Akin stays in the race so we can find out the answers to such important issues as to whether or not a woman can get prego if she has sex standing up or if witches actually can't drown.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I am especially concerned about the witches!

– August 21, 2012 11:33 AM
Q.

"legitmate rape" a legitimate question for GOP

One of the things I see lost in the discussion of Todd Adkin's "legitimate rape" comment is the fact that, even as the GOP tries to frantically distance themselves from him, the question still remains: If the GOP does allow rape as one of the few exceptions to their proposed abortion ban, what will a woman and her doctor need to do to prove it was "legitimate" rape? Wasn't that part of the picture under Roe v. Wade - "Roe" initially tried to obtain a legal abortion by claiming rape, but was denied because there was no police report?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

See, yes, this is the other trouble. It's an onion gaffe. You can apologetically peel off a few layers and still find a disturbing core. I think he's gone on the record to say that by "legitimate" he meant "forcible" which opens a whole different can/kettle of worms/fish.

– August 21, 2012 11:37 AM
Q.

How's your reading?

How far along are you in reading "50 Shades" and/or Ayn Rand? Have either books stirred you into seeking something new and exciting in the world? What does reading both together at the same time do: make you wish to build a new libertarian society on an exotic island?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I'm about a fifth of the way through. My goal was to finish by the convention, but that seems increasingly unlikely, at least if I want to retain my sanity.

Then again, suffering a temporary psychotic break induced by bizarre reading combinations might be exactly the ticket to a really exciting week. The Hunter S. Thompson approach, but more legal.

– August 21, 2012 11:39 AM
Q.

naked congressmen

But how will this play in Kansas? Oh, wait, he's from Kansas. Could this story get any stranger?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I think it's safe to say it could, but I have difficulty imagining how. Possibly Joe Biden could involve himself somehow.

– August 21, 2012 11:39 AM
Q.

Sneezing is a woman's body's way of shutting down pregnancy.

On the tenth day after conception, pains are felt in the head, vertigo, and dimness of the sight; these signs, together with loathing of food and rising of the stomach, indicate the formation of the future human being. If it is a male that is conceived, the colour of the pregnant woman is more healthy, and the birth less painful: the child moves in the womb upon the fortieth day. In the conception of a child of the other sex, all the symptoms are totally different: the mother experiences an almost insupportable weight, there is a slight swelling of the legs and the groin, and the first movement of the child is not felt until the ninetieth day. But, whatever the sex of the child, the mother is sensible of the greatest languor at the time when the hair of the fœtus first begins to grow, and at the full moon; at which latter time it is that children newly born are exposed to the greatest danger. In addition to this, the mode of walking, and indeed everything that can be mentioned, is of consequence in the case of a woman who is pregnant. Thus, for instance, women who have used too much salted meat will bring forth children without nails: parturition, too, is more difficult, if they do not hold their breath. It is fatal, too, to yawn during labour; and abortion ensues, if the female should happen to sneeze just after the sexual congress. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0137%3Abook%3D7%3Achapter%3D5
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Hey, Pliny counts as a doctor, right?

As a friend of mine quipped, when Akin heard from doctors, maybe he should have clarified "...doctors of theology."

– August 21, 2012 11:41 AM
Q.

There have to be bathrooms, don't there?

I never asked, but there have to be women's bathrooms at Augusta National. My Grandmother actually broadcast from there in the 1950s. Women attend the events; they just could not join the club.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Yeah, that's what I assume! Good on your grandmother!

– August 21, 2012 11:43 AM
Q.

Explanantion for Todd Akin's remarks

I finally heard a sensible explanation for Todd Akin's remarks about a woman's body's ability to "shut things down" to prevent pregnacy following "legitimate rape" Apparently he has confused woman with ducks, whose corkscrew shaped reproduction systen was created by a benevolent deity to stymie forced insemination. Of course, that raises the question as to why he confused women with ducks. . .
A.
Alexandra Petri :

"I wouldn't have such strong words for women if they didn't keep taking dumps on my pier!"

– August 21, 2012 11:45 AM
Q.

Improving Bathrooms

Bill Gates <a href="http://go.bloomberg.com/tech-blog/2012-08-14-bill-gates-funds-quest-to-build-better-toilet-to-combat-disease/">wants to try</a>. But I don't think that's what Augusta National would have in mind.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Hey, a fancy toilet is a fancy toilet!
One of my long-nursed desires is to host a toilet tour of Washington, because we have some gems.

– August 21, 2012 11:48 AM
Q.

Anne Royall

The wiki tells me that Anne Royall, JQA's interrogator, was once convicted of being a "public nuisance, a common brawler and a common scold." She avoided the ducking stool. Thanks for the history!
A.
Alexandra Petri :

A common brawler! I like that!

– August 21, 2012 11:48 AM
Q.

Taylor Swift

Please do go out with Taylor Swift. Do you think she writes her own songs?? Just don't date her song writer(s).
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Well, she... helps, I think. She supplies critical details so we can tell whether this song is about John Mayer or Taylor Lautner or the songwriter's difficult boyfriend Randall who never let her finish sentences.

– August 21, 2012 11:50 AM
Q.

Skinny dipping in Galilee

Of more importance was your scriptural reference to naked fishing. I can see the beach t-shirts now.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

This scriptural passage and I have a decently long and storied history together, actually. My first encounter with the Reverend Peter Gomes consisted of asking him why Peter was putting on clothes and jumping into the sea. The reverend seemed to think this was not the critical question of the passage and explained that Peter was "girding his loins" for the task ahead.

– August 21, 2012 11:51 AM
Q.

"Let's have a DC version of skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee"

Oh, we already did, back in the mid-1970s, when all-powerful House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Wilbur Mills and his "companion," exotic dancer Fanne Fox, took a dip in the Tidal Basin. Guess there's not much new under the sun, or moon, in DC after all.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Oh, the Tidal Basin! I thought they were the capital steps people. But that turns out to be John Jenrette.

– August 21, 2012 11:53 AM
Q.

Only a slight change...

Alexandra Petri : "The last thing we want is a mutant, radioactive congress comprised entirely of irate, half-drowned, disease-bearing slime-beings." I fail to see how adding" half-drowned" to the current state of congressional members would change anything. Maybe then they could figure out what waterboarding really is (hint, it is torture).
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I knew I was teeing up a nice shot for someone with that comment. And here's the shot!

– August 21, 2012 11:54 AM
Q.

A member of Congress may be naked in public, but may not tweet a photo of it

Thank goodness there was no Twitter back when Rep. John Jenrette and then-wife Rita were gettin' down on the Capitol steps.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Oh, ahoy!

– August 21, 2012 11:54 AM
Q.

Potomac

George Carlin swam in the river and it was full of sewage. That increased immunity. Swim in sewage would be the solution.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Get Congress To Swim In Sewage seems like one of those ideas that would pay for itself on Kickstarter within a few minutes.

– August 21, 2012 11:55 AM
Q.

Congressional Dip

"The last thing we want is a mutant, radioactive congress comprised entirely of irate, half-drowned, disease-bearing slime-beings." I don't know, maybe that would be better than the one we've got...I'm just sayin'!
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Another shot!

– August 21, 2012 11:55 AM
Q.

It's an onion gaffe.

You mean it inspires stories like these from The Onion? http://www.theonion.com/articles/pregnant-woman-relieved-to-learn-her-rape-was-ille,29258/ http://www.theonion.com/articles/republicans-condemn-akins-comments-as-blemish-on-p,29259/ http://www.theonion.com/articles/i-misspokewhat-i-meant-to-say-is-i-am-dumb-as-dog,29256/
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Also that! I meant layered, but those are better. And anything I can do to contribute to the increasing Onionification of the actual news, I will gladly do.

– August 21, 2012 11:56 AM
Q.

The last thing we want is a mutant, radioactive congress comprised entirely of irate, half-drowned, disease-bearing slime-beings.

..isn't this already a description of COngress?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

All right, all right, well-played, everyone!

– August 21, 2012 11:57 AM
Q.

Phyllis Diller

in the 1970s she was willing to buy jokes from unknown comedy writers. I sent her about a dozen once, she bought two and sent me a check for about $4.00 which I don't think I cashed (but I don't have any more)
A.
Alexandra Petri :

No way! Do you remember the jokes?

– August 21, 2012 11:57 AM
Q.

Reading weird books before the convention

I went through this with Hunter, so let me help guide you through this process. You will begin to hallucinate. You will think members of Congress are skinny dipping naked, and that one says a member raped women can't get pregnant, and...what, maybe you should help me through this.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

The news this week has been the kind of news that makes me worry I ate strange cheese before going to sleep, and then it turns out that I'm awake and have been for some time.

– August 21, 2012 11:58 AM
Q.

This is unconventional

In reading "50 Shades" before the Republican Convention, your mind will start thinking about an attractive middle age man with nice hair and trained horses who has money on a remote island who wants you to do things for him so he may gain more power. Resist this, I tell you, resist this.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I'm combining it with Atlas Shrugged, though, so oddly enough the man I'm picturing is Ron Paul.

– August 21, 2012 11:59 AM
Q.

Bathroom Tour

Yes please. Good bathrooms are gold, once you find them. I have a recurring dream (nightmare) where I am constantly searching for a clean toilet but they're all dirty.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Oh, that's the worst!

I am a fan of the one at Mie N Yu in Georgetown, if only because it proudly displays the citation for Best Bathroom or Most Innovative Bathroom or something that it received a few years back.

– August 21, 2012 12:01 PM
Q.

whose corkscrew shaped reproduction systen was created by a benevolent deity to stymie forced insemination.

Just how benevolent is a deity that does this favor to ducks but leaves human women out of it?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

The design is intelligent, but the distribution leaves a lot to be desired.

Sidenote, you so seldom see two-parent duck families. What's going on with that? Or is that just the duck neighborhoods I hang out in?

– August 21, 2012 12:04 PM
Q.

favorite DC bathrooms

Does anybody else remember the ladies room at Garfinkels, with its caged talking parrots? The first time one of them said "hello pretty girl" to me, I just about jumped out of my skin...
A.
Alexandra Petri :

NO! WAIT! WHAT? DOES THIS STILL EXIST? ALL CAPITAL LETTERS!

– August 21, 2012 12:04 PM
Q.

She avoided the ducking stool.

So men's confusion of women and ducks goes way back.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

+10!

– August 21, 2012 12:04 PM
Q.

Obvious Clue

When men talk about women's bodies using terms like "certain secretions" and "ways of shutting things down," it's obvious that they are clueless on the matter, they damn well know it, and they're trying to sound halfway knowledgeable. They wouldn't talk about 1969 Mustangs that way. I suspect the ones who fetishize motherhood really fear and resent the female ability to bear children like it was a mysterious deity. The female reproductive system is just that, a system, and perhaps these men react to this like creationists who mistake evolution for atheism. What do you think?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I love the line "they wouldn't talk about 1969 Mustangs that way." I don't know about the resentment and fear. But as a general rule if you are referring to the woman in the room with you as though she is some sort of mysterious goddess of fertility, this does not fill me with confidence in your ability to see her as an actual person.

– August 21, 2012 12:08 PM
Q.

I'm going to defend Taylor Swift.

Yes, really. She wrote all of Speak Now by herself, and since it largely sounds like the stuff on Fearless and her debut, one has to assume she was consistently a major contributor to the songwriting. She may be formulaic, but it's her formula. (I did hear she ponied up to the pop producer/co-writer table this go-around, but it seems like everyone else does eventually too. Sigh.)
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Yeah! Taylor Swift! I apologize! This time around she has a number of co-writers on board, though. But thank you for speaking up.

– August 21, 2012 12:09 PM
Q.

George Carlin swam in the river and it was full of sewage.

George Carlin is dead (from old age, not pollution). The Potomac River was cleaned up decades ago.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

It's cleaner, but not clean. But no actual sewage. Usually.

– August 21, 2012 12:10 PM
Q.

Best bathrooms

Back when Garfinkel's was still downtown, it had an absolutely gorgeous women's bathroom, with a black-and-white checkerboard tile floor.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

And parrots?

– August 21, 2012 12:11 PM
Q.

Dirty toilets dream

Wow, I thought I was the only one who had that recurring dream, since I have never found it listed among the common dreams. Surely one of your chat participants knows a plausible interpretation.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Interpret, someone! I assume every dream is telling me I need to sacrifice my daughter or the ships won't leave.

– August 21, 2012 12:13 PM
Q.

Please help out Gene Weingarten's readers

Someone out that can do a great service to Gene Weingarten's readers by answering this one simple question: how much is 100 minus 10? It takes Alexandra Petri readers to explain the world to Weingarten readers.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Oh, the Jonah Lehrer question! I stand by the Fran Lebowitz assertion that in real life there is no such thing as algebra. Also, who has $.10 balls? Or $.05 balls? Maybe $.10 is right because I've never seen at $.05 ball and you have to round up to the nearest real ball number.

– August 21, 2012 12:16 PM
Q.

Garfinkels ladies room

No, sadly, Garfinkels went out of business a couple of decades ago. But it was one of my favorite places to take out-of-towners just for the parrots.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

I should say! Dang! Does that Pirate Restaurant in the 'burbs have parrots? I have a sudden craving for parrots in restaurants.

– August 21, 2012 12:16 PM
Q.

Please elect me to Congress

Did you know that a 1969 Mustang can't be pregnant unless it wants to?
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Seems legitimate.

– August 21, 2012 12:17 PM
Q.

Women and Ducks and Witches - oh my!

Wasn't that from Monty Python and the Holy Grail? A witches burns, so she's like wood. Wood floats, so its like a duck. Therefore if a woman weighs more than a duck, she's a witch.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

BURN HER!

She turned me into a Newt! Now I visit zoos constantly and keep having the overwhelming urge to start a moon colony.

– August 21, 2012 12:18 PM
Q.

Potomac sewage

When we first moved to DC in 1970, we went to see Great Falls one fine Saturday -- and were horrified to spot signs warning people of the need to wash off with soap and water should they get any river water (even spray) on them, because of it was polluted.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Oh, dang.

This is just another of those times when I sigh to myself and whisper, "I'm so glad I wasn't there for the 70s."

– August 21, 2012 12:20 PM
Q.

Simons

I don't remember Garfinkles, but I remember Simons. Simons had a bathroom with 50 parrots. Each parrot told you a different way to leave your lover.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Ha! +10

– August 21, 2012 12:20 PM
Q.

Dirty Toilet Dreams

Don't know about anyone else, but in my case, it means it's time to get up in the middle of the night for a trip to my clean one.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

This might or might not be the answer you were looking for.

– August 21, 2012 12:20 PM
Q.

Sidenote, you so seldom see two-parent duck families.

I grew up on a creek. One year, two male mallards stole babies from other duck families so they could have their own. They used to swim up and down the creek as a family, one daddy in front, all the adopted babies, one daddy following.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Man, if this chat were a children's book, we would be so controversial right now!

– August 21, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

Flattering bathroom mirror

There's a college library I occasionally visit whose ladies' room has a mirror above the wash basin that is tinted slightly pink -- makes a person's complexion look fantastic!
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Hey! We'll have to add it to the tour!

– August 21, 2012 12:24 PM
Q.

Therefore if a woman weighs more than a duck, she's a witch.

NOOOO!!!!! If the woman weighs the SAME as a duck, then she's a witch.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Oh, good catch!

Or if she weighs the same as churches or very small rocks...

– August 21, 2012 12:26 PM
Q.

"Quacky Has Two Daddies"

Thank you for the title of my new book. Of course, it is on econometric theory...
A.
Alexandra Petri :

But it'll sell like hotcakes! In the sense that both hotcakes and econometric theory textbooks are not known lately for their mass saleability.

Oh no, I was hoping I could go through life without ever using the word "saleability." Sad day.

– August 21, 2012 12:27 PM
Q.

Ducks

I learned in school that ducks mate for life. If you only see a mother duck with her babies, the, well, you may have eaten daddy.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Well, on that cheerful note, I think it's time to wrap up.

Thank you for a delightful chat! Keep reading the Compost! And feel free but unobligated to follow me on Twitter!

– August 21, 2012 12:28 PM
Q.

Bathroom dream

Maybe it just means we need to stay away from the liquids at least a few hours before going to bed.
A.
Alexandra Petri :

Also that.

– August 21, 2012 12:29 PM
Q.

 

A.
Host: