ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Sep 25, 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

How's it rolling? Any travel safety tips? 

The Romney campaign is performance art. The whole point is to show that you can be a terrible candidate and still compete. You can insult half the country, never campaign, have no personality, never say anything specific, and change your mind half the time and still be within a few percentage points of winning! I find the campaign as art less scary than if this is really what our politics are...

As Ann says, "Stop it. This is hard." Performance art is difficult, especially when people start to worry it's not performance art, or when the dancing squid get out of the tank (this is scheduled for later in the month.) Actually, this would be a fun explanation for all the zany horse business.

Alexandra, have any of your favorite NFL teams been screwed by the NFL replacement refs? (not literally, of course) I'm guessing some of them work part-time on Romney's campaign given the hug number of mistakes they've made.

Wait, so what happened? Twitter seems angry...

Intellectually I'm all for raptor-chickens, but as a child of the 80's I'm having nostalgic issues. Big, heavy, cold-blooded lizards stomping their way across the Jurrassic terrain is WAY more fun.

I concur! Also, I can't believe that as a child I was playing with Scientifically Inaccurate Plastic Toys. If I wanted that, I would have owned a Barbie. 

While we're on the subject, why don't the windows on my 19th floor office open? I find it hard to believe that the building is pressurized, and that all the air would be sucked out if I opened a window. Maybe they're afraid I'll jump? Or do they think I'll toss pennies out and perhaps kill passersby? (I swear I wouldn't, except maybe on really slow Friday afternoons.)

I think you may have answered your own question?

Why won't they let me pet the velociraptors, that's what I want to know. 

Doesn't everyone giggle at tax codes? Years ago, when I read the section changing the depreciation rates on yachts made in America, I couldn't stop laughing for hours.

"Call the wagon, Reba! That's not a natural laugh!"*

*anyone who can identify the origin of this quote wins points, more points if you convince me it wasn't Google

You are on time today. No punishment for you today. Sorry. Not matter how much you beg, the ghost of Ayn Rand nor the billionaire will both refuse to do anything to you. Thank you for being on time.

Gee, I'll have to try this every week!

You have insulted my narrow version of a deity. Members of my previously unknown religious institution are planning to protest in front of the Washington Post, that is, if it is not too hot, or too cold outside. We must warn you: if we see you in public you may expect a serious snubbing.

Venganza, what did I say?

The problem is fans do not understand the new NFL rules. If a referee sees a hanging chad during a touchdown, then the touchdown does not count. If the referee sees both teams making touchdowns in the same quarter then the previous touchdown is negated. If the referee sees a touchdown by one team, he or she is allowed to award the touchdown to a team playing on the next field.

It makes much more sense now. 

Also, if the referee sees the crowd doing the wave, the touchdown is -- not -- a -- particle?

(For some reason, I'm really into limp wave-particle duality jokes these days. So what I'm trying to say is: I'm really big into sports.)

But only once.

True words.

I'm just hoping when Ann Romney said, "Stop it. This is hard" she was really refering to Mitt's campaign and not trying to slip in a double entendre. Blog commentariat would have a field day with THAT, or would they be flat on their backs from laughter? Then again, that might be a good thing, or it could just be a stretch.

Well, speaking of stretches, did you see what Jill Biden accidentally let slip?

We intend to protest your "Mrs. Jesus" drawing. Her name is "Ms. Jesus".


The quote is from something called "HUbert and Reba" and there is no way anyone would know this except for the authors of"Hubert and REba"" without looking this up on Google. It may, though, appear on a future episode of TV's "Reba".

This is not, in fact, correct! Any other guesses? I can offer another quote from the same source.


No, it is a Kuiper Belt object.

(laughs, loudly and at length, then looks nervously around the chat)

It would definitely help in many other situations, as well. Such as the person who keeps reclining his seat into my face, or the child kicking my seat.

For me, this whole thing raised a larger question: I could have expected Mitt Romney wouldn't have seen "Snakes on a Plane," but not "Goldfinger" either?

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is 61 today. This seems so wrong.

Hey, when 61 years old you reach, look as good you -- probably will, actually. 

Happy birthday, sir!

It sounds like Garfield, but I'm only admitting it because this is anonymous.


Well, so much for my efforts to keep my appreciation of the comic art of Jim Davis off the record.

Okay, I Googled this. I thought I knew a lot of random obscure stuff. But I bow before you. You are deeply, deeply weird.

Thank you, I think!

Whilst sitting in the bulkhead row, across from a jumpseat, I asked a stewardess if it's possible to open a door in midflight. I also prefaced that with "I know this is going to sound suspicious, and I can't figure out how to make it NOT sound that way, but I've always wanted to know..."

There are so many questions like that. You want to know, but you hate to be the one to ask.

One of my friends has an epic story of trying to get through airport security with a package that needed to go to gate C4, which culminates in her tossing a strange package over a barrier and shouting "C4!" -- just as security came and tackled her.

"Call the wagon Reba" is from Garfield. I can prove I did not look this up on Google because it does not appear on Google. This appears on Bing. Plus one for Bing.

The fact that this information would be instantly discoverable on Bing somehow makes perfect sense. 

Packers-Seahawks 'DWTS' Apple brawl 'Zombie bees' Beyonce They are all listed as In the News (above your chat information). This says that Washington Post readers have highly eclectic tastes.

Post readers love zombies, though. On any given day, even the slowest, there are anywhere from 70 people reading a piece I wrote about zombies and bath salts. Google that, and I come up pretty quickly. I think I've inadvertently lent credence to some sort of mass zombie conspiracy. So, er, you're welcome.

Alexandra, if Jesus indeed had married, how did He and the missus solve the marriage-wrecking bathroom issues like whether to leave the toilet seat up or down, which direction the toilet paper rolls, etc.? I'd guess if They owned a cat at least the TP problem would be solved - leave it in the cabinet or vanity since cats always love to spin the TP off the rolls and play with the pile of paper. Maybe Their cat loved to flush the toilet constantly too (my previous one did now and then).

I love how frequently the subject of correct TP-hanging etiquette manifests itself in the chat! (I'm all for under-the-back, but some cats consider this an invitation.)

More irksome would have been those times that Mrs. J came back to discover her husband walking on the bathtub or casting demons into the family cat. (Although it would certainly explain the cat's attitude towards the toilet paper.)

I don't know which Google that other person is using, but the cartoon in question is the first result on MY Google.

It's a tangled web of lies and deception!

Garfield could be funny again, and the WaPo can help: drop the strip. The Fusco Brothers, The Flying McCoys, Shoe are all funnier now that The Post dropped them. Anges and Lio were funnier before the WaPo picked them up. I'm guessing Spiderman could be my laugh of the day, if only....

I laugh every day reading Spiderman, but mostly because it has come all the way back around into Mark Trail-constan-barrel-of-unintentional-laughs territory. Has anyone else been following the Clown 9 storyline? Pure ironic comedy gold. His name is Hardy Laurel! And he just wants to make people laugh! With pratfalls and joy buzzers!

If you allow a bathroom gospel, you should also let in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas where as a lad Jesus animates clay birds, kills a boy, and blinds his parents. I think it was a dispute over not sharing a toy.

I remember that! We had to read it for New Testament class in high school, and you came out of that gospel thinking, "Wow, Infancy Gospel of Thomas Jesus was a real twerp."

"Mr. and Mrs. J," the story of a messiah and wife and the wacky hijinks that ensue when they move into a liberal neighborhood. Or, if you prefer those 70s PI series, "Jesus and Wife"

And don't forget the pet velociraptor! Hijinks! Reba, call the farm! 

In the office yesterday (avoiding work) we were trying to come up with the stupidest use for a time machine. Assuming you could only use it once and return, I would go back yesterday and add bananas to my grocery list.

As a sidenote, if we ever invented time machines, it would be a major job creator, if only for people to protect hated historical figures from time-traveling assassins.

The first pointless thing that springs to mind is to travel back to 1830 and take an hour-long nap, then return. Although that's pretty much cribbing from All Summer In A Day. 

Sex near unicorns? Really?

It's just NOT DONE! The unicorns find it disrespectful. Or they get way too interested and it's creepy for everyone involved. 

Now velociraptors...

Sep 19 (Talk Like a Pirate Day) has come and gone, but maybe we need "Talk Like Yoda Day." Popular, it would be.

Good ideas, you have. If survive so long, Talk Like William Shatner Day can, then surely for Yoda room there is. 

Whether you're a man or woman, toilet seats should be down and with the cover on so things don't fall into there. If there is no cover, then the seat shall remain up for the obvious reason that it's easier to lower a seat, than it is to raise it. Women will forever be inferior to men due to their inability to use gravity to their advantage.

"Women will forever be inferior to men due to their inability to use gravity to their advantage"?

Stand next to me near an open plane window and say that...

I would go back one second in time.

That is, indeed, pointless.

I assume this is "smart searching" at work. That person who didn't get the hit on Google clearly uses it only to look up accurate science like wave particle theory, and uses Bing only for recondite pop culture references. And maybe porn.

Yeergh. See, no matter how long it thrives, Bing will always sound like a grandfather name to me, so the latter use just sounds uncomfortable.

Actually, in one of Michael Crichton's last books a group of archaeologists were using a time machine to make their rebuilding of a medieval castle more historically accurate.


Well played, Crichton.

The stupidest use for a time machine is to use it to dry your clothes on.

Or leave it out in the driveway to rust. 

"Oh, it got terrible YPG. You couldn't travel more than 6 decades without refueling!"

No, we need a "Sing Like William Shatner Day".

Concurred, enthusiastically

I always wanted to do responsive reading like William Shatner. That would wake up the congregation. Also zombie bees.

William Shatner and the Zombie Bees just climbed past Mrs. Jesus and the Dinosaurs in my list of Desirable Band Names. 

I immediately thought of several jokes based on this juxtaposition, but exactly zero of them are appropriate for this family-friendly venue. Thanks for the (unshareable) laughs.

Unshareable laughs are the best kind!

There's also a series by Connie Willis about Oxford grad students using time travel to observe historical events (everyone is conveniently studying European/American history of course, so no worries about being a white girl in the middle of the pre-colonial Mexico). It all goes horribly wrong, naturally.


I read a series like this, but it was a magical treehouse, not a time machine, and they definitely were not graduate students. 

Man, time tourism. That's the industry of the future. Or the past, I guess. 

Why aren't these things bigger? Does anyone stop using TP? Why do I have to buy it so often? I look to my left and there's the toilet roll attached to the wall, and a lot of blank wall space. But there should be a massive wheel of toilet paper taking up the entire wall. It should be almost like the big wheel they spin on The Price is Right. I want to buy a wheel of TP once a year and that's it.

Let's Kickstarter this. 

To me, it always sounded a little dirty, for example as in, "Hey, I just Binged that girl you're dating."

To be fair, Googled sounds little better.

There are two reasons one can never have sex in front of a unicorn: 1. Unicorns are a symbol of virginity, and more important, 2. There are no such things as unicorns.

Also true words.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear he's still alive.

I know people always make a big fuss about celebrity deaths, but just once I want to have a day celebrating all the people you're startled are still here. Carol Channing! Lindsay Lohan!

wrote a time travel novel ("Making History") about going back in time to stop Hitler from being born. Believe it or not, this turns out not to be a good thing. He's a great plotter (Fry, not Hitler)

Duly noted! I tell you, Hitler Bodyguarding is the growth industry of the time traveling future. 

If these things were to ever exist, we would have known about it for thousands of years because people from the future would be visiting the past all the time. And if anyone ever does show up with a time machine, I'm going to kick their ass for not stopping 9-11.

Although, as I understand it, the only real theoretical objection to time travel is the difficulty of making a time machine. Once you have one, you're set.

Kinda likes unicorns.

I remember reading a story about the first time traveler to visit Shakespeare. The Bard is totally jaded, because he has already met thousands of travelers who visited him in his past, but they all come from the time traveler's future. I can't find the citation, but I am pretty sure I remember reading it in the past... or possibly the future.


That does explain the plot of Winter's Tale, though.

An episode of Big Bang Theory which doesn't travel back to the Big Bang.

I would go back last year and pick the players to win all my fantasy football games.

I'd go back and get a unicorn and ask JK to sit on it.

... you could go back and change that toilet paper roll.

Dear villains: Do not pick on Mary Jane Parker. Learn from the mistakes of past villains.

Villains never seem to learn. 

The real tragedy of most villains is that their deep and passionate love of explaining diabolical plots is fundamentally incompatible with their chosen line of work.

Do you provide translation services?

Would it help if all the text were entirely bold for no reason?

I am always impressed every day that Keith Richards is still alive.

I've been less surprised since his autobiography came out. You can't generate that much fanfare for a posthumous autobiography unless you're Mark Twain.

Why, why do none of them ever read Peter's Evil Overlord Rules?

True words.

Who says we haven't already been visited by lots of time travelers? The first rule of Time Travelers Club is no one speaks of Time Travelers Club.

On that note, I should probably skedaddle off into the future!

Thank you for traveling in time with me! Keep reading the Compost and feel free but unobligated to follow me on Twitter! Enjoy the rest of the week, or wherever your travels may take you!

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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