ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

May 29, 2012

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.

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Connect on Twitter: @PostLive | @petridishes

I am going to begin this chat by preemptively declaring this the one space on the Internet that you will not have to hear about that horrible story out of Miami with the naked man eating another man's face. I hate this story. I hate everything about this story. I have read possibly six different accounts of it by now and there is even a twitter feed associated with it. I don't know if it was bath salts or LSD that brought this on. Frankly, I just want to travel back in time to the halcyon days when I didn't realize that drug-crazed naked attackers eating people's faces off on the side of the highway was a thing that happened.

I'm sorry, I said I wasn't going to talk about this. I mean it. The rest of the chat is going to be pictures of bunnies. And cats. And bunnies and cats fraternizing. But seriously, people, we need more news, because otherwise this story is going to keep on dominating the conversation, and I just want to chunder everywhere.

This is cute!

Oh wait no no it's got a minute and a half of ads about poultry conditions.


*tapping my foot, drumming my fingers, consulting watch*

I'm here, I'm here! Patience is a virtue! It is also the 843rd most popular female baby name of 2011, according to the Social Security Administration!

Toilet paper: over the top of the roll, or under?

We're resolving this right now.

My vote is for under. I've gone both ways, and I think if the dispenser is flush to the wall, you are better off pulling it from underneath, which keeps it flatter on its way to you and prevents your pulling off more than you intended.

Two baby deer fighting adorably! And President Obama looking a little terrifying as he stares directly into the camera. No bunnies or cats, but hopefully this is allowed.

This is great!

Here's cats as fonts!

Before, your daily paper might have devoted 3 inches to the horrible face story. Now the Interwebs offers you a plethora of accounts, comments, and gross retellings.

Yeah, and for some reason what feels like everyone I follow on Twitter has independently concluded that this is The Story.

Either that or Marina Keegan's now-famous essay about potential. And if that spoke to you or made you sad, read this piece of hers from September which is absolutely gorgeous and resonant and will ruin your day.

Have you noticed that none of them are particularly good marriage material?

No? Captain America and Iron Man both seemed capable of making it work!

Although, as someone on Twitter quipped, I wanted to see the montage where they explained to Captain America the progress of civil rights over the past 60 years.

This will never be resolved. Peace will come to the Middle East before anyone budges on their preference.

What's yours?

You were 11 minutes late from your previous assignment, young lady, according to the time stamp attached to your first post. Did you bring a note from your previous activity monitor? You realize that in today's cybertime, 11 minutes is, like, OMG, for-evvvverrr! I could have over on the Drudge Report by now. I might have moved over to Weingarten's chat and killed an hour trying to figure out how to take the poll (it took me 20 minutes over there just to figure out whether I was plain-looking or not). (The gender question was easier.)

I know! I'm sorry!

In meme years, we're all dead now!

Over the top of the roll. Weingarten is just wrong about this!

Explain yourself!

I saw no less than a dozen during yesterday morning's run. Also, toilet paper is always over.

That's two overs and no explanation, unless the rabbits are an explanation on some level I'm missing!

Toilet Paper: over the top based on our cat that can unroll it when it's under.

Aha, reasoning!

I think that puts us at 3:1 over.

NOW I have to go google that story. I was newsless (as I am typically on a tuesday after a long weekend)..although I am pretty sure I do not want to know. You know. I won't look for that story. Instead I will have my lunch.

Do that.

Please. You can't unlearn about it.

I was shocked to see Weingarten's picture announcing these chats. His cartoon profile that usually accompanies his chats show salt and pepper hair color. The salt color is gone on his picture today. Is he trying to make himself young so he can compete with you? Is this an "All About Eve" drame at the WaPo?

Ooh, I didn't notice!

Given that my picture makes me look sort of like a norn, an ageless, timeless being seldom courted for television appearances, I would say he has nothing to worry about.

When I was in junior high, we found a tiny bunny with a gash in its thigh. A flap of fur and skin was torn and flipped back and you could see the muscle underneath. We wanted to save it, and one girl promised that her mother would help her take it to the Audubon Society (or maybe a vet?) if we could keep it alive until after school (this was back when lots of people at stay at home mothers and cell phones didn't exist). It died in a shoe box that someone found, lovingly surrounded by pine needles and some grass. I don't even know if it was that badly hurt. There didn't seem to be much blood, though an infection was certainly a possibility. We may have just scared it to death through attention. We thought the original injusry was the work of a local cat, though, as I said, the actual death may have been caused by 12 year old girls giving in to the bunny cuteness. You sure you want to keep talking about bunnies and cats? Maybe keep them separate?

My favorite part of this comment is the theory that "We may have just scared it to death through attention."

That's going to be my new putative cause of death for sensational passings from now on.

And that doesn't seem to resolve the issue, either. My sons (long potty-trained) prefer to keep the paper on the floor, which might be the best choice all around (provided one keeps the bathroom clean, of course).

That also works!

STOP WITH THE FACE STORY. Monica PROMISED this topic was banned.

ASDFJKLFARB I KNOW, I'M SORRY, I CAN'T HANDLE IT, it's like THE RING of news stories. I feel mildly better now that I've passed it along.

I'm an under person generally, but at our house the toilet is all of 6 inches away from the wall and the dispenser, so for practical purposes the TP needs to roll over or you're pulling it directly into your thigh. My husband keeps bragging that he won, but if we ever get a bigger house, the rolls will go over.

That's 4:2, including your husband in the count!

That way you don't have to reach behind the roll against the wall to get the loose end.

5:2. And a rationale!

Comic Sans Cat is way too cute. Comic Sans Cat should be some guy dressed up in a bad Halloween cat costume, like a half-drunk dudebro with dollar store cat ears and a pink polo shirt with the collar popped, who thinks he's hilarious but everyone kind of hates him and wonders who invited him.



Everyone hates Comic Sans.

This discussion shall be all about bunnies/ You do realize that there are people who get so high on bath salts that they run into the woods and eat bunnies?

This rabbbit expresses my feelings better than I could.

Over, but I freely admit it's a prejudice. Under is what keeps toddlers & cats from being able to unroll it. Think about it. You paw the roll from the outside and if it's over, it'll unroll. If it's under, it'll just spin without unrolling.


6:2, but you made a good point!

I am trying to get into the 50 Shades of Gray book. This is about Dorian Gray, right? I understand this lets me know that woman like to be spanked? Is that true? Maybe it is a trade off, if we don't age, women will let guys spank them. Am I close to what this craze is all about?

Yeah, I think so.

And if we're wrong, I think Florida Public Libraries are finally allowing the book there, which is -- progress, I guess.

This is what happens when we lose the shaming effect of actually having to display book covers when reading on the subway! The slippery slope from this to just straight shots of online fanfiction is -- well, I think this book began as a Twilight fanstory, to be completely honest.

I don't know if I'm reassured or terrified by the thought that all the people with ereaders on buses and airplanes are reading fairly graphic tales of people in grey ties with oddly specific requests. But  I want someone to write a parody called 50 Shades of Black and White or 25 Shades of Grey that is deeply un-erotic fiction where, I don't know, people keep kneeing each other in the chin and apologizing, or something. Just 50 chapters of that.

"under" is more cat-proof in our house

6:3, I think!

You can advertise for people who want to have their faces eaten. Which saves a lot of trouble along the road of life.

Although people who post ads online asking for anthropophagous comradeship tend to pull out at the last minute because they are more excited by the idea of telling strangers on the internet that they have really delicious kidneys than actually going through with it. 

As is often the case on the Internet, actually. 

Ann Landers resolved this in her column YEARS ago. Although I cannot remember whether she resolved it in favor of "over" or "under." I do, however, remember that she admonished Alice Cooper for "Cold Ethyl," his song about necrophilia, telling him in a published exchange, "You are sick, mister. Sick, sick, sick."

As long as you brought up Ann Landers, here is by far my favorite column of hers:

Dear Ann Landers: My wife and I soon will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary, and though we`ve been quite happy together, I can`t bring myself to tell my wife something that`s been bothering me since our honeymoon. When we unpacked our things in a nice little resort hotel, my wife opened a large suitcase and took out an accordion.

``Louise`` had never told me that she played the accordion and that she took it with her everywhere. I was flabbergasted that night as I sat through three recitals of ``Lady of Spain`` and an old English madrigal with some surprisingly ribald lyrics. Those are the only tunes she knows.

Our social life has always been rather quiet. Our only close friends are

``Bernice`` and ``Murray.`` They come over quite often and join Louise in a rousing chorus of ``Lady of Spain.`` Murray plays his head-that is, he raps his knuckles on his head while opening and closing his mouth, which produces changes in tone. Bernice clacks two spoons together and hums the harmony.

Ann, I`ve had about all I can take of this. How can I tell my wife after so many years that she is no musician and the racket is driving me crazy? Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

Had It on Long Island

Dear Long Island: You`ve been truly wonderful. Please don`t blow 30 years of sainthood by losing your temper.

Surprise Louise with a dozen accordion lessons and several pieces of sheet music. Sorry, but I can`t think of a thing you can do about Bernice and Murray.

because my mom does it under and when I can, I do the opposite of her so I can pretend that I'm not turning into her. This also means I cook (though not that well) and do not have a spotless bathroom.

All women become their mothers, Wilde said. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.

I killed a cactus once, just to show it that I wasn't turning into my mother. I didn't mean to kill it, I'm just terrible with plants, and she meets plants at the grocery store and suddenly they want to impress her by flowering solidly for several years and grafting themselves everywhere and winning blue ribbons from passersby. It's very impressive, if a bit terrifying.  But on the other hand I'm better at making bad puns.

because you can give it a whack and it will unroll on it's own. Face story... glad to say I have not read or heard a word about it until now; however, they're blaming it on the guy being on acid (or bath salts)? I can't say I've gotten high from bath salts, but I can say with absolute certainty that acid does not make people do that. The acid stories are all made up by DARE cops (or so I guess) because in my pretty extensive experience with hallucinogens, I can tell you that they do not make someone do things like that.

There you have it, folks!

I never know how much credence to lend to all these stories of Sensational Substances The Kids Are All Doing These Days. Bath salts? Purell? Hand sanitizer? I feel as though there are numerous other substances around the home that people would get into before you got around to trying to build a still for Purell. But maybe that proves I'm hopelessly unhip and out of touch.

For the record, I'm an 'Over' guy. Nobody knows whether my wife is an 'Over' or an 'Under' since SHE HAS NEVER IN HER LIFE REPLACED THE DAMN ROLL. Counselling?

Well, if Ive learned one thing in this chat, it's that my chatters are overwhelmingly pro-over.

I guess that's an interesting demographic statement?

The Los Angeles Coroner has ruled that Whitney Houston died from death through attention.

Over for the cats here too! The one time boyfriend accidentally put it under, we ended up with huge piles all over the bathroom when kitty figured out it was a fun toy.

Conflicting views on whether cats have more difficulty with under or over! I thought over would be more conducive to cat-astrophe, but it seems as though your cats would differ!

My wife and I took one of those stupid "how well do you know your spouse" quizzes and one question was whether your spouse puts the paper over or under. I answered (correctly) that my wife put the paper under. She didn't even realize that she did it. I prefer over. So does the hospitality industry; thousands of Johnson + Wales graduates can't be wrong.

Toilet paper over so you can make the folded triangle after cleaning the bathroom. At least that is what I keep telling the help.

That's two for "over, so the place will more closely resemble a hotel!"

I refuse to be categorized. What is this, the US Census? But have you notice that it is now impossible to buy toilet paper in packages of 4 now/ You have to but like 48 rolls at the minimum. Which is OK if you are planning for the Apocalypse, but why do I need a U-Haul or a King-Cab pickup just to buy toilet paper and get it home?

I guess they figure you'll never stop needing to use toilet paper, so you might as well invest! I think if you buy just a single roll or four, you wind up on some sort of watch list.

And I assumed the new movie "The Avengers" was going to be about John Steed and Mrs. Peel. Drat!

Double drat!

Man, you don't see that many people with the last name Steed anymore. Or Peel, for that matter.

We settle it right here.

I was actually contemplating that!

Capulets or Montagues? Paper or plastic? Newt Gingrich or Stephen Douglas?

There already is a long writing about boring stuff such as kneeing people in the chins. It's called the New York Times.

50 Shades of Gray Lady?

I've been seeing many of them in the mornings as well. Maybe they're preparing to overpopulate and take over the world. Bow down before your long-eared masters, primates!

I for one welcome our new rabbit overlords!

If the Pope can't trust his butler, who can he trust?

If the POPE's BUTLER isn't the world's most trustworthy human being, then is everything a lie?

Remember the Lois and Clark show? I loved it when Teri Hatcher's Lane tore into Kent for proposing marriage before telling her his secret: "When were you planning on telling me? The honeymoon? Our first anniversary? When the kids started flying around the house?"

"When the kids started flying around the house" is great!

There are so many side inconveniences to dating a superhero that films are only beginning to touch on! Do you tell the in-laws? There are only so many times you can come up with an excuse other than "yeah, he's battling a giant sewer lizard to save the city" before they begin to suspect he just doesn't like them.

More than a decade ago, they made the iconic 60s series into a movie. It starred Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman, which means it should have been at least tolerable. But it was dreadful, down to Sean Connery's turn as a wealthy lunatic who had developed the ability to control the weather and was going to blackmail the world's governments with his doomsday machine. Let's just say it did not become a franchise.


You just sold me on it. Sean Connery controlling the weather is exactly what the doctor ordered, if only because I am picturing the Celebrity Jeopardy! Sean Connery who would make the clouds all resemble obscene bits of anatomy.

My cat doesn't mess around -- he just slashes a claw horizontally across the roll and proceeds with the shredding from there. I haven't been able to keep a roll hanging on the dispenser for several years.

I think the new score reads

Cats 3: Toilet Paper 0.

I had managed to ignore that story but your horror prompted me to go read it. Noooooooo!

I am so, so sorry. Is there anything I can do to -- uh, Michael, what's another way of saying "save face," because that is definitely not the right turn of phrase for this situation.

Martina Keegan's essay made me fell much the same was as reading Anne Frank's diary for the first time. What a waste.


These days, everyone leaves records of themselves. To the strange extent that we all live our lives in public, there's usually at least a facebook page or a Twitter or sometimes a blog. People in general are less anonymous than they used to be. But in Marina's case there is a real amassed collection of beautifully expressed thoughts and record of her battle against the kind of apocalyptic thinking that tends to take over as you graduate college. It's strangely wonderful that so many people now get to discover her voice. But it's wrenching that it's because we won't hear it again.

We need Monty Python Killer Rabbits to patrol the streets against flesh eating people. Then the world will be in balance.

And on that note, have a great week! Stick close to the killer rabbits. Feel free but unobligated to follow me on Twitter, and keep reading the Compost!

In This Chat
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,,, 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.)
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