ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jul 24, 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

How is everyone? Sad news about Sally Ride; she came and spoke to my middle school, making it impossible for any subsequent speaker to hold our interest. People would come in and say, "Hey, I went to the rainforest and found the cure for--" and we would sigh heavily and say, "Psssh, you didn't even leave the PLANET?" She'll be missed.

The Post homepage says "11:00 AM ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri" but when I come here to post a question, it says "Join us Tuesday, July 24 at noon ET". I don't know when to be here - in 10 minutes or 70 minutes? Or, are you going to be here at all?

I'm here now!

What is your favorite flavor: Original, Grilled or Spicy?

I'm a fan of the Original. 

The Chick-Fil-A conundrum continues to haunt me. Also, the spelling. I'd been spelling it Chik-Fil-A, thinking that once you spelled Filet Fil-A there was no limit to the horrors you were willing to perpetrate. There are many objectionable parts to Chick-Fil-A, but their chicken is undeniable.

I really loved what you wrote about Chick-Fil-A last week. You really nailed the problem moreso than anyone else has. It was helpful for me to hear a straight person's perspective on the issue. Now here's the question: If one were to hypothetically dress up as a cow with a sign to protest one of their restaurants or the food truck, what should the sign say? John Stewart came up with "Eat Mor Cok" on last night's show but I think you and your minions can do better.

Thank you!

Oooh, that's tough. Jon is on basic cable and not a family newspaper and I hope I am allowed to run his slogan, but we'll soon hear either way!


It's 12 noon in my universe.

If I am time-shifting, this would be a strange priority. I'm like Doctor Who if he just went around through history and galaxies having timely chats.

Breaking news: The NCAA just awarded the Chicago Cubs ten World Series championships.

This is how it works, right?

So you are not joining in the boycott of Chick Fil A because they refuse to serve gay chickens or something like that?

Frankly I would be more concerned that the chicken was a cannibal.

My bottom line (be warned, it does come with a pretty hefty side of guilt) is that if you choose your food based on the political principles of its owner or where the money goes after you spend it on chicken -- or, really, anything other than how good the food is, we wind up in a world full of nasty sandwiches, and that impoverishes everyone.

If someone were smart, he or she would set up shop outside a Chick-Fil-A so you could donate slightly more than the price of a sandwich, solving everyone's problem. Well, not solving. But palliating slightly.

You got over 2000 comments on your Ann Romney story. Was Rush Limbaugh involved in any way. I hear he is sweet on you. Did you read the comments, and if so, what was the most ridiculous one?

I think you are getting "sweet" and "sour" confused again.

My general rule is that if there are more than 40 comments, it is not because people liked the piece. It turns out that there are a limited number of ways to say you enjoyed something, but infinite ways to compare the author unfavorably to a camel. If there are more than 1000, it is because people disagree with some vital detail or are getting me confused with Dana Milbank. In both of those cases I will deputize friends to read them. (Thanks, friends!) Their report was "Hoo boy, there are sure a lot of comments!" so I don't have anything to highlight.

I always buy ice cream from that place that donates 1% of their earnings to groups that deny climate change is happening.

It's delicious ice cream, right!

One of the problems that I have is, relative to other fast food establishments, CFA is FAIRLY healthy. They offer fruit and vegetables as side options, and no sandwich is over 500 cal, I believe. Sometimes when I'm in the South CFA is really the only decent road trip option. So, to assuage my guilt, I try to make a donation to HRC or GLAAD that is equal to or over the amount I spend at CFA. Which, when you think about profit margins, is actually cent-for-cent more going to the good guys than going to the bad. I hope.

See, there you go!

The same could be said about the money spent on bus rides in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. If enough people boycott the restaurant, that store becomes unprofitable and closes. If that continues, the chain closes. Yes, the tasty chicken sandwiches are gone but then another restaurant (either with values you share or a CEO smart enough to not share) opens up with tasty chicken sandwiches.

These aren't quite analogous, though. The bus service wasn't providing something everyone can agree is a good thing. It was providing a segregated bus, which was actively bad in itself. It wasn't that the bus owner was going off and donating to racist organizations but the bus itself was perfect. The chicken sandwich has not harmed anyone. It is an excellent sandwich and deserves to be judged on its merits.

Damn, writing is hard! Although I did manage to whittle down my memoir from 1,500 to a thousand words by deleting every third word. Since Weingarten is a judge, though, I left in the poop jokes.

I would really like to read that. Here is the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities with your method applied to it:

It was best of it was worst times it the season light it the season darkness it the poop.

It took less time to get Mercury going than it took to develop a new airplane. Why it took so much time to get a woman in space is a mystery. All I can figure is that the women were busy designing the machines. Now we have nothing on the pad to launch either sex and we're counting on the Russians. I think we were better off counting on the women.

Leaving aside the question of women getting into space, and the women vs Russians choice you have set up and which confuses me, my favorite recent NASA burn was from XKCD, which noted "If NASA were willing to fake major accomplishments, they'd have a second one by now." Ouch.

My dad always said he drank Coors Light in spite of the fascists that brewed it. I always said he drank Coors Light because he had bad taste in beer.

Ha! +10!

Have you seen what they do to chickens before you eat them? You would never eat another chicken. You would eat only cows, except, have you seen what they do to cows before you eat them?

Believe me, I've seen videos. A lover of the law, or of good sausages, or of food, or of almost anything on the planet except possibly for babies (and even then I think there are some state and local laws to worry about) should not watch it being made.

I do love so many things about Chick-Fil-A: The food is delicious, they do offer some healthful options, I like the way the owner's religion informs the way he treats his employees, they get Sundays off, they get tuition help, and the employees seem so much nicer and attentive than many other fast food places. But giving money to groups that directly attempt to intimidate women exercising their free choice....gahhh! I just don't know what to do.

I understand the feeling.

And all the good things you mention are good. And they are well within his rights. And they are actually germane to the restaurant experience. And the flip side is that when people do very good jobs providing us with a good restaurant experience and great food, we reward them for that, and then sometimes they turn around and give that money to causes we do or do not agree with. But if you invert the example, if someone served mediocre pizza but made a big deal about its support for women's rights -- I wouldn't encourage them. So I'm sticking to my guts.

If the world is getting hotter, more people will buy more ice cream. They are missing a big marketing opportunity here.


If a fast food chain was owned by a dictator who was slaughtering thousands of people, would you still eat there even if they gave out great "Star Wars" toys with each purchase?

How good are we talking?

I have the perfect excuse for not going - I'm a vegetarian! But I ate there waaay back in the day and those were some yummy sammiches.

Wow. Writing about giving up a single chicken sandwich has made me realize how difficult it must be to stick to your vegetarian guns, if that is the term I want. Salutations, sir or madam.

If that technique was applied to "Finnegan's Wake", I wonder if anyone outside of a university English department would notice the difference.

I certainly wouldn't, unless it involved the accidental deletion of



I'm the parent of infant twins who are the most important things in the world to me times eleventy bajillion. But you couldn't pay me to watch a video of their c-section birth.

Oh, yowch. I doubt anyone would disagree. To be honest, I was thinking earlier in the process.

Could this be your unconscious telling you it's time for your colonoscopy?

I think it's James Joyce's unconscious telling him it's time for his colonoscopy, actually.

Ripped from the ground in the prime of their lives!

This reminds me of this classic song by The Arrogant Worms.

"we wind up in a world full of nasty sandwiches, and that impoverishes everyone" I do not understand what you're trying to say here. Only bigots make good sandwiches?


I tend to drift into the "the fact of a man's being a poisoner is nothing against his poetry" camp on almost every issue. If a person with whom I disagree makes a good sandwich, that's nothing against the sandwich. If a person with whom I agree makes a good sandwich, that's nothing for the sandwich. It's like Jonathan Merritt says: I don't care how my dry cleaner votes. I just care if he/she can press my Oxfords without burning my sleeves. Judge the sandwich by the sandwich.

What about if someone served mediocre pizza but made a big deal about its denying women's rights? Oh wait, that already happened.

Ha, true.

The "slaughtered many people" question made me curious - if the owner of a company was responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, but created a product (say, something unique like an iphone or ipad), would you still buy that product?

Mike Daisey, what are you doing in this chat?

If the toy in question is an animated hologram of Han Solo saying "Scoundrel? Scoundrel? I like the sound of that." over and over again, they could take my first born.


Are those the ones that shoot potatoes?

No, those are Veguns.


Lettuce was born to die and be eaten. Lots like us!

Sidenote, I've gotten like five comments about the dire conditions of lettuce since this chat started. I love you folks.

When you go to heaven, you will run into a few cows and other animals you have eaten. When vegetarians go to heaven, they will run into thousands of plants they have eaten.

I like the idea of heaven with cows.

it's like with Toms shoes. sure they support a great cause, but I find them to be aethestically horrible. I would rather donate to a worthy cause than support such unfashionable footwear. and unless you know what every business owner does with profits from their business, it's a slippery slope to hypocrisy. it's easy to focus on a sandwich, but it really is a much larger issue.

I think Jonathan Merritt does a good job of stating the larger issue: doing business with people who don't share your beliefs is not a bad thing. If you feel bad that someone is donating to a cause you disagree with, donate to a cause you do agree with. Fight apples with apples and oranges with oranges.

I agree with you on judging the sandwich for being a sandwich. Do you follow the same for say, movies by Woody Allen or by Roman Polanski or by Robert Blake? To me, I care only about the film, but I know people who won't see films by artists with whom they disagree about their lifestyles.

Yeah! The reason I don't see more films by those folks is because I have difficulty keeping a straight face during most art house films. One of the best moviegoing experiences I've ever had was when I saw "Midnight In Paris" in a packed theater and decided it would be funny to laugh one beat before all the jokes. By the middle of the film everyone was panicked and laughing with me. It was like the emperor's new Woody Allen joke.

Do you think a shark wonders if a person is a liberal or a conservative before it eats the person?

Possibly, if one ideology is clearly tastier.

How about Chick-fil-lay-anyone-you want. Of either gender.

For some reason this reminds me of the old potato chip joke, when two potato chips are at a bar and one says to the other, "So, are you Herrs or Fri-to-Lay?"

This is a very old joke and I'm not sure those are brands any more, but I always liked it.

Chopped from the loins of the tree while still immature. How cruel!



Will Rogers once said "if it is true that cows don't go to heaven, then when I die, I wish to go where the cows go." Or, maybe I got that quote wrong.

Are you sure it wasn't Churchill?

OK, so let's say this place made the best tasting barbecue ever, but you found out it was actually made from a horrible person. I assume you would say that's fine because it tastes good, plus it's socially responsible.

Didn't Sweeney Todd already cover this?

And no, obviously there's a line at eating people. That's one of those obvious lines.

So divesting of business with South Africa in the 80s and 90s was not necessary? Doing business with people who don't share your beliefs when that business is necessary and irreplaceable is a necessary thing. When there are substitutable options, by all means voice your opinion with your checkbook.

Substitutable is the key word here! 

No, the potato chip said to the battery - "If you're Eveready, I'm Frito-lay"

I am strongly opposed to battery-on-potato-chip. Seems unnatural. God only intended potato chips to lie with other potato chips. And certain dips. It's in Ezekiel somewhere I think.

"When you go to heaven, you will run into a few cows and other animals you have eaten. When vegetarians go to heaven, they will run into thousands of plants they have eaten." You're assuming, for some reason, that people are either strictly carnivorous or vegetarian. I do eat meat, but I eat far more veggies, just because I like them. So I guess I will run into cows, pigs, chickens, and lambs, but also many thousands of plants. But those animals will also encounter thousands of plants (and bugs, for the chickens), so it all ends up being a big awkward circle-of-life reunion. I think it's probably simpler not to believe in heaven.

Michael Pollan?

Chik-Fil-A is a good chicken sandwich. It is not superlative. I'd rather go to Popeye's for quality of spicing alone.

Personally I find it dry. But the biscuits... great Caesar's ghost, those are good!

What if the spouse is into that 50 shades stuff and the spouse still refuses to beat the spouse. What you still buy from the spouse who refuses to beat the spouse?

Sidenote, I like that the phrase "that 50 shades stuff" has crept into the lexicon.

Er. I too fail to fathom the question. I think the only way to solve this is just eating ice cream for a week while we think very hard. But not the global warming ice cream. The other kind.

In defense of the freedom of potato chip sexuality, I believe it is not our right to judge the sexuality of potato chips. So what if a chip likes an occasional battery shock or to sleep with something round? Who are we to judge?

I don't know, I think it's a slippery slope from potato chip on battery to --

Actually this might be the bottom of the slope right here. Good to know.

The Will Rogers quote was about dogs, not cows. Oh, and dogs taste good.

See, and I'm not a dog person. But that's another chat.

What is all this fuss about window shades? Who reads a trilogy about window shades?

50 Shades of Shades!

I want to buy that at Urban Outfitters.

This 50 shades stuff is confusing for those of us who have gotten back into the dating game. So, is first base now spanking and second base is handcuffs? I am all confused,

I thought all the bases were handshakes of increasing warmth and familiarity.

I don't know if you received my previous submission, yet I saw and honestly liked your play "Young Republicans". I mean that seriously, because I was trying to find things to be snarky about. At most I saw one joke that was telegraphed (I just knew someone would say something when the Jewish guy said "Jesus Christ"), and other than that, they play was funny all the way through, the actors were all well cast and did great jobs. Nice time, write a worse play so I may be more critical. It was really funny.

Thank you, sir!

But ridges-on-ridges is hot.

And their inner salsas are doing goddess moves, or something.

Somewhere today, one of your readers will be horrified to see a child playing with potato chips and a battery.


And on that mildly disturbing note, I'm off! Thank you for a thought-provoking discussion and for putting me through the paces. Have a great remainder of the week, 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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