ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Sep 04, 2012

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.

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Connect on Twitter: @PostLive | @petridishes

I'm back from Tampa and full of answers, so I hope you have questions! You go, girl!

I am going to claim full credit for that recipe recovery! Never mind that the expert that the New York Times got to look at the recipe said it was "second-level beginner" in terms of ease. Which, ouch, I suppose.

Last weekend I went to a Civil War re-enactment, and I now have an appreciation of hoop skirts as practical garments you can adjust your underwear to suit the weather.

Yes, that's what hoop skirts were! Practical garments!

What battle?

I have a problem, I ran a marathon in four hours but told people I ran it in under three hours. Is that wrong?

Ooh, let's debate this.

In general, at least in the People Who Run community, the consensus seems to be that Marathon Time is right up there along with Names of Wife and Children on the list of Things That It Seems Ludicrous and Mortifying To Forget Even Once.

Of course it might be worth noting at some point that John Kerry said he'd run the Boston Marathon which, as someone put it, does not seem to be a thing that happened.

Has the chair shown up on Ebay yet?

I want that chair so much. I want that chair to show up everywhere from now on and offer its usual brand of audible-only-to-Clint-Eastwood off-color commentary.

Yeah, yeah, so they "claim" that is the official White House recipe. Why won't they show us the long form of the recipe?

Ha! +10!

Did I read you took a tour of Tampa strip clubs? I did not realize there were so many automobile repainting shops there.


Actually, if I had one takeaway, it would be that they all look like spaceships on the inside. There is one called 2001: A Nude Odyssey that looks like a spaceship on the outside as well. It was, apparently, founded by a guy after the Kubrick movie came out, concerning which one of the managers told me the thought process was that "Hey, that Kubrick movie was pretty cool. You know what would be cooler? A strip club."

I heard on the news this morning that there is an online petition to have Betty White address the Democratic convention. Leaving aside the fact that I have no idea of Ms. White's politics, does this mean that people now think politics is merely another form of show business and not a very elevated one, at that?

Just now? Haven't these people heard the old adage that DC is just hollywood for ugly people?

But if there's one force equal and opposite to Clint + Chair, it's Betty White + anything.

Your posts from Tampa were the first things that I wanted to read, but I felt it was my civic duty to first read the "most serious" account in the news section. I quickly realized that I had it backwards: ComPost placed the entire convection in proper context. When understood as a giant informercial, everything makes sense! Thank you. Also, Clint.

Thank you for reading! Yes, it's an infomercial. And, not to toot my own horn, if I have one area of expertise, it is in watching infomercials.

Also, CLINT/CHAIR 2012!

Tell me this bumper sticker already exists.

John Kerry versus Pau Ryan in a marathon. Winner takes all.

You're sure you want to go all in on that?

I tried wearing one once to the office and was told I had to wear pants like the other guys.

Try a hoop kilt next time.

They've stolen almost a million gallons of sweet sweet syrup from the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve! A million gallons! What could they possibly intend to do with this! Is Mrs Butterworth involved? What about the Log Cabin Republicans! A fearful nation demands answers!


So there's always one person whose questions are bizarre, surrealist prose poems, and I assumed that this was he or she. BUT THIS IS A REAL THING THAT HAPPENED. There is a Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve! And there was a heist!
That's it, all other news, you can go home, there is nothing more required.

I have this vision of a smiling, back-on-the-straight-and-narrow Walter White funneling syrup from a halted syrup tanker, but that's just me.

Seems like if you're a beginner, it's smart to start with a simple recipe. I didn't start baking with French pastries either.

That's fair, actually.

No, Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney in a marathon.

Also, who is this Pau Ryan guy?

Which do you suppose better revealed Clint Eastwood as the Democratic mole in the GOP, the Chair Monologue or the Chrysler Commercial?

I'd say the Chrysler Commercial, because the Chair Monologue transcends party affiliation.

My husband and I are planning an election night party. He's making one of the White House beers and we'll play a drinking game in which whenever a state is called for Obama, we'll drink beer; whenever a state is called for Romney, we'll drink Diet Coke. If Romney wins, we'll end the evening sober and very alert.

HA! I like this game, if only because "sober and very alert" is a hilarious drinking game outcome.

The only thing that would have made it better would be if, at the end, he had drawn a total blank and said, "So I urge everyone to vote for Ron Paul for president." In fact, that would have been more logical than what actually happened.

Actually when you come right down to it, almost anything would have been more logical than what actually happened.

Squirrel Bopper, and I'm back after a long hiatus. I work in a secure facility now, but I figured out how to get the WaPo discussions. And as long as the guards don't find out, I'm good to go. I missed you, Ms Petri.


You haven't missed much. Only the Greatest Speech of All Time.

And hey, if you can figure out how to get the discussions, maybe I can figure out how to get them to close the open tag that makes them bold.

The Defense Department has just doubled security at the Pancake Reserve facility.

Whoa, and leave our waffles undefended?

This is like OPEC for maple syrup. These guys keep a warehouse of syrup in order to control world prices. Assuming the thieves are looking to sell the syrup on the black market it might lower syrup prices. Can't help but to wonder if IHOP is behind this.

Or Waffle House!
Gosh, what an anti-waffle bias you chatters have!

But yes, probably IHOP.

I made my own hoop skirt out of hangers one year because I was dressing up as Scarlet O'Hara. I may have been a little too ambitious for a 13 year old. Also, now that I think about it, did they even wear hoop skirts during the Civil War? Jeez.

Nicely done!

I think there were hoop skirts in the Civil War.

My halloween costumes were always famously difficult to decipher, as has come up in the chat before. I dressed as John Adams, they assumed I was Mozart. I dressed as a hobbit, they assumed I was an elevator accident victim. No doubt if I'd had a hoop skirt they would have assumed I was the Michelin man.

T'Pau's twin brother. Obviously.

HA! + 10!

Sorry, but no caffeine for you. Try warm milk instead.

If Romney wins, you will be sober and SO READY FOR SLUMBER!

I'm as enthusiastic as the next person, but surely we have to wait a few years for legal purposes. CLINT/CHAIR 2016.

Fine, fine. Exuberance tempered.

Clint talking to that empty chair reminded me of those awful Family Circus cartoons that featured Not Me, the invisible hooligan Billy and Jeffy always blamed when they got into trouble.

Yes! Props for the print comics reference!

It reminded me of that old Civil War-era-I-think song that ran "We shall meet, but we shall miss him; there will be a vacant chair..."

Or "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables" from Les Mis, naturally.

Use tow chains. Detroit is car stealing capitol of the Great Lakes region. Ripping off Uncle Sam is a bad idea.

See, this is the sort of question I initially thought the Maple Syrup Heist story was.

They aren't International like IHOP. They can't cross sovereign borders to commandeer syrup.

Fair point.

The empty chair has a long political history. One of my favorite empty chair political stories (and believe me, I have several) involved Richardson Dilworth running for Governor of Pennsylvania in 1962. William Scranton declined to debate him so Dilworth stated at a press conference that he was prepared to debate an empty chair. What Dilworth did not realize was that Scranton psyched him out. Moments before the live televised debate, Scranton showed up. Dilworth was so flabbergasted and unprepared for a real debate that most analysts state Scranton won the debate. Scranton went on to win the election. One debates an empty chair at great political risk.

As someone funnier than I quipped on Twitter, Newt Gingrich has already challenged the empty chair to a series of eight Lincoln-Douglas-style debates.

When was the last time you saw maple syrup in an IHOP? It was around the time hoop skirts were in vogue. As opposed to in Vogue, which will write about anything to fill the space between ads.

I saw maple syrup there the last time I was there! Yes, it was in the company of those ersatz strawberry and raspberry and mixed berry syrups they also have, but it was there, doing its best in the venue it had booked. I felt for it. I poured it liberally over my pigs in a blanket.

But did you repurpose your family's curtains for your dress?


Do you get the feeling that his chair prop was something he learned in a method acting class?

"Are you talking to me? You talking to me? No? Then who the **** you talking to?" -- the chair, during all this

It's because too many of us are from the Northeast, where Waffle Houses rarely tread. If there were a Strategic Coffee Reserve, and people talked about Starbucks, rabid New Englanders would accuse them of anti-Dunkin Donuts bias. Personally, I cherish every dram of regionalism that remains in our McWalMarted nation.


Apologies, I seem to be playing 6 Degrees of Chairs today.

"I saw maple syrup there the last time I was there!" No, you saw maple flavored sugar water (albeit thick). You did NOT see pure real maple syrup. There is a difference.

Fair, fair. Apologies for any maple syrup I may have incidentally defamed by comparison.

Of course, one should use an unsharpened pencil to try and do this.


I once dressed for Halloween as Supreme Court Chief Justice Morrison Waite, and not a single person guessed correctly.

For shame!

OK,so we have Joe Biden debate an empty chair, and we rig the chair so it debates back. Will this be good TV?

I'd watch it! 

So given my taste in television, it's probably not good tv.

How about a game of Horse?

A game of horse? Like dressage?

Oh. Oh I see.

OK, so you drink tree sap, take tree bark for your election evening headaches, and turn trees into empty chairs. You are all monsters, monsters, I tell you.

Treebeard? How are you typing this?

Haven't you seen any photographs of Mary Todd Lincoln or Clara Barton? How Clara did any nursing in that skirt is beyond me.

Now my vision of how the nursing went is just a lot of nurses trying to approach the beds and failing and saying, "Sorry. Whoops. Skirt, you know. Sorry" a lot.

He's still alive, so technically he didn't lie. He still might run it.

Sorry, apostrophe confusion: said he had, not said he would.

"The blues... is a chair, not a design for a chair or a better chair or a bigger chair or a chair with leather or with design. It is the first chair, it's chairs for sitting on, not chairs for looking at or being appreciated. You *sit* on that music." John Lennon said this in 1970. Somehow from him it makes sense.


As someone who read Skywriting By Word of Mouth in its entirety, hoping that it would make sense, I can vouch that if John Lennon had said any of it aloud, it would have, but if you just read it on the page you sighed and muttered to yourself about needing to abuse more substances.

Gosh, I sure hope it wasn't made out of Petri-fied wood.

Hey, I used to write a comic strip for my high school humor magazine called Petrified Wood! It was exactly as bad as you'd expect.

I have people, you know.

You and Squirrel Bopper should talk.

I would be really surprised if the stuff they have at IHOP is real maple syrup. At their prices, it's probably 'pancake syrup' - no claim to a maple in sight.

It's nauga syrup, probably.

Isn't it interesting that we are more focused on the marathon comment Paul Ryan made, and less on the matters that involve policy, such as stating the plant closed in his home town under Obama when it actually closed before Obama became President. This is just an observation, but we seem to find the inaccuracies that do not involve partisan political discussions more appropriate for comment.

You must dwell on some blessed isle where no one has been focusing on the plant closure comment. I certainly haven't noticed that.

This being said, I think you make an interesting point. There's a whole subgenre of non-political political chatter (Romney dog, Romney horse, Obama dog, Obama beer) that people fill pages with, and the glib explanation would be that  secretly no one wants to talk about policy if there is the slightest opportunity to talk about something else. So instead of having that Big Picture Policy Debate that everyone expected for about six seconds after the Ryan nomination, we're calling him out on his marathon times.

Before I meet this "Squirrel Bopper", I need to know. Does he bop squirrels, in which case I believe we can be friends. Or is this a squirrel that bops, in which case, we may wish to keep our distance.

The former.

What about French toast? Get it? French, as in foreign conspiracy.

I think you mean Freedom Toast.

Apostrophe confusion. The new excuse for lying about things you said you did, but did not do.

Hey, worth a shot. It all comes down to grammar and punctuation, and nobody has neither now'adays.

We're in a humor chat. If you want to talk about stuff that matters you're just going to depress everyone.

And also that!

It would be very suspicious if iHop suddenly had real maple syrup...

Indeed, indeed. Delicious, however.

after reading some of the Qs and As, I became a bit chary about participating

Which oddly makes you only the second-most chairy participant in this conversation.

"I helped my Uncle Jack off a horse" as opposed to "I helped my uncle jack off a horse."

This remains one of my favorite confusions!

Sweet Chairity.

Yes, a round of chair and/or syrup jokes 'ere we part! Send 'em!

I love that I find fans in all kinds of places. I always hear my name shouted out at Lynrd Synard concerts.


Senator Schumer stated there are going to be 15 to 20 Koch brothers in 2020. Wow. What does Mrs. Koch have to say about these plans?

Well, it's not a chair joke, but I chuckled.

We need a hologram of the late Mayor Sonny Bono to appear on stage with an empty chair. Think about it for a it...Sonny and Chair....Still don't get it?


They're shouting "Free Beer," Treebeard, sorry.

<<<:-(<<|=  <--- supposed to be an emoticon of a distraught Treebeard

And on that note, thank you for a delightful chair chat!

Feel free but unobligated to follow me on Twitter (especially if you really enjoy it when people live-tweet convention speeches, or if you will benignly tolerate it when people live-tweet convention speeches) and keep reading the Compost, where I'm about to settle whether we were better off four years ago or not.

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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