ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jun 27, 2012

Join us next 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

We ride, together!

Thank you for your intense bouts of patience!

To the chat!

We in Tennessee believe music has been about nothing but filth ever since that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" came out.

You know what they say -- held hands are the devil's playthings. 

Monica Hesse used to be listed having a conversation every Wednesday. Last week, her conversation was mysteriously canceled. Now I see you are listed for Wednesday and as of today, Tuesday, there is no listing for Monica Hesse tomorrow . I am sure there is no rivalry between young Post writers, right? OK, give it up: what did you do with Monica Hesse?

No, not a thing, I swear! I really want to read her book! And I'm not even a young adult!

It has GOT to annoy the art department when you go on your MS Paint binges. Or did you blow the entire 2012 ComPost graphics budget getting Toles to do your avatar?

The avatar is actually the residue of months of attrition. Here is what it looked like once. My avatar has gradually swollen to slightly more terrifying proportions and is now threatening to devour the whole blog.  

I have her last two books sitting on my my coffee table. Hadn't picked it up in a long time and then earlier this week I happened to read both of them cover to cover. Now I think I had some weird Karma connection to someone I had never met, but feel like I've lost a dear friend. Did you ever meet her? What would you have said to her?

I never did, although I stood perpetually in awe of her body of work. So many people have written wonderful tributes to her whose lives were actually touched and shaped by what she did that I think it's best to link to those.

The knowledge that someone like that will never write to you again can be totally stunning.

Still, one thing that startled me about the whole thing was that the reason we found out about her demise was that someone posted a grieving personal essay about her inestimable contributions a few hours too soon. What a strange commentary on the whole institution of lyrical public elegies that is. Monica Hesse (I'm not Monica, I swear!) wrote an interesting piece about it. But at the rate we're going, when we pass the news will go something like, "I first discovered the magic of Jeff's writing when I read his lyrical tribute to the passing of Adam Yauch and Whitney Houston. How strange that he is no longer here to contribute to the elegiac pool." 

This being said, there's a definite value to public grief, and there is no greater tribute to a fallen writer than all the stories of the times his or her words touched you, so, have at it.

I thought you only worked the Tuesday shift.

Shaking it up!

I remember getting this awful pamphlet in high school about "ways to be close without having sex" or something. I don't even know if hand-holding was exciting enough to make the list. This might be a little bold, seeing as we've never met, but would you like to hold hands sometime?

Bring gloves.

First, there is an abridged chat on Tuesday - 5 questions. Day ruined. Then I see you're rescheduled for 11am today. Yippee!!! Now, you're pushed back to 12pm. You're just a tease. I don't believe you'll be here at noon. Nope, you're not as into this relationship as I am. Maybe I'll be here at noon. I haven't decided yet. I'm hurt.

I'm here now! I hope you are as well! But yes, apologies for the traveling time!

I'm sad about Nora Ephron.

Good on you for keeping close track of yours. I let my son select mine and some how I am now represented by a cross between a cat and chicken.

Pics, please!

The Tennessee law is too explicit. Parts of it should only be in Latin. To quote Canon Chasuble, "Such details are perhaps better referred to in a dead language."

Ha! Or Greek. But that already sounds suspicious.

Have you heard about the Louisiana schools in which children are taught that the Loch Ness Monster is real, and that it disproves evolution? And did you see the Texas GOP platform which officially discourages the teaching of critical thinking?

There is a plesiosaur in our midst!!! I always wondered about Nessie. 

I can't make head or tail of that sentence in the party platform. What are they for? What are they against? "We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification)," What? Maybe they should prioritize the teaching of syntax.

To play devil's advocate, the thing about "critical thinking skills" is that they are often a nebulous ballooning substitute for learning Actual Facts or Information. It's all very well to develop synthesis skills, but you can develop those skills in isolation by watching animated whales or by actually reading and discussing an acknowledged classic. 

But that might not be what they're talking about. 

Sunblock also made ill legal. Kids are all Outlaws buying Coppertone 45. Ah the humanity.

Hey, whatever keeps them off bath salts.

You don't want to know about Ancient Greek sex education. Let's just say it had a lot in common with the modern Catholic church.

Oh, believe me, it's been touched on!

There's a scene in E.M. Forster's Maurice when the instructor, as a group of Edwardian college students are going along and translating some Plato, says, "You may omit the reference to the unspeakable vice of the Greeks." 

This never happened to me as a classics student, so I'm up on it!

Don't you have any idea how much sex those Romans had?

Ah, the sex lives of the ancients... Fruit for prurient speculation since the days we were wandering around with our companion plesiosaurs. 

Human nature. It always discredits the teller of the story that shows him to have advantages. People are for the disadvantaged which is about 99% of the people. She had advantages growing up! Damn her, anyway. Evil 1%.

I think we may be talking about different kinds of bath salts...

I see what you did there. (BTW, we all know that Jerry Sandusky's autobiography was titled "Touched," right? No joke.)

No joke whatsoever! Beats "If I Did It" by several miles. 

Did you ever read any Catullus in the original? Yowza!!!

I've only gotten him in translation! The Yowza stands, however.

Speaking of Latin and Greek, although this might be more of a Weingarten question, what historical epoch would you visit if you were looking to, er, score? Greece? Rome? The Renaissance? This is probably more geared towards white men (see Louis CK's routine on time travel) because if you are a woman of anything but the highest echelons in society and you find yourself situated in 1830, the outlook's grim. Assume for the sake of the question that after a while you would not notice the low quality of dental hygiene of everyone around you.

I tried to send a Western Union telegram to Orbitz, but it bounced.

I tried to send a singing telegram to Orbitz, but they sent back a slapping telegram. It was less a telegram than a disgruntled-looking courier who made me sign her form and then hit me once across the face with a wet noodle and looked disgusted.

Actually, I sometimes wish these existed, if only to stop friends located on distant coasts from making poor choices. "Kathy has sent you a slapping telegram," someone would say at the door of your office, and then the courier would come upstairs and say, "Why are you still with Earl? He is a poor choice!" and hit you lightly across the face.

You are talking about Latin and Greek translations while the Reliable Source ladies are talking about Rielle Hunter's book. Was there an equivalent to a predatory videographer in the Greek political circles.

There were a few lewd urns, but fortunately none of them depict John Edwards.

All the fundamentalists would naturally prefer Sodom and Gomorrah. At bottom.

Hey, whoa, that's not fair. And that's less a historical epoch than it is a Biblical Incident --

Oh, no, I forgot. Plesiosaurs. 

AWESOME question! I'm going with France just before 1786. Great party clothes, great homes, hot Medici ladies and wild swinger parties with catering provided by serfs.

But everyone was always urinating in the hallways...

Well, on that note, I'm going to skedaddle! The next chat will be at our usual time, I promise! Thank you for being patient! Keep reading the Compost and feel free but unobligated to follow me on Twitter!

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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