ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Oct 16, 2012

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"I am not young enough to know everything."

Also, it's Tuesday, debate day, and Halloween draws on apace!

Let's discuss! I will try, if I can, to incorporate a Wilde quote in the responses. I think it's what he would want.

I don't understand DC people. All the last few months I have heard DCers complaining that there are too many gnats. Now that I hear the gnats have been eliminated, apparently destroyed by a huge flock of cardinals, now you are all depressed. I do not understand.

Oh, booooooo.


"There is no truth comparable to Sorrow. There are times when Sorrow seems to me to be the only truth."

I am still nursing my wounds.

But as Wilde says, "One needs misfortunes to live happily."

I learned there is a huge difference between writing "Twilight" fan fiction and writing Presidential candidates fan fiction. At least when you write about which Twilight characters you wish to kidnap and torment, you don't get a visit from the Secret Service.

"Formerly we used to canonize our great men; nowadays we vulgarize them."

I hope you're speaking from experience in both cases, because I'm posting this as a PSA!

Can we get those cardinals to eat the freakin stink-bugs?

Is that a way of referring to the Giants that I'm unfamiliar with?

Wilde wrote that in America, "Bulk is their canon of beauty and size their standard of excellence."

Would you like to go to Heaven when you die?

"Don't be led astray into the paths of virtue."

Should I register for continuing education, and if so, what does one wear to college classes these days?

Oh I see what you did there.

"The only way to atone for being occasionally a little over-dressed is by being always absolutely over-educated."

Or, alternately

a) "Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

b) "Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear."

I am planning a trip. Should I take my diary with me? Also, as a baseball pitcher, should I continue to throw slow pitches at the middle of the plate?

1) "I always travel with my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train!"

2) I thought I said not to mention the Nats.

I told him that crickets go to bug Heaven, which is different from people Heaven. Then he wanted to know if there was a dog Heaven, and could the dogs visit people Heaven? I hate theology.

Yeah, Heaven as explained to young children is a really ghastly and confusing place with lots of strange rules and arbitrary segregations.

I think Spider Heaven doubles as most people's version of Hell. Rat Heaven also works.

"Where will it all end? Half the world does not believe in God, and the other half does not believe in me."

That's not really cricket-in-heaven related, but it'll do.

Speaking as a guy (wasn't this beaten to death last week?), I have discovered that if I pull out chapstick to put on, it's pretty much ignored. HOWEVER, if I pull out the chapstick and a little mirror and brush, I get a LOT of odd looks.

Hey, if I learned anything from the How To Date Conservatively lecture at CPAC, it is that proper application of chapstick is important! Don't listen to the odd-lookers!

"Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn."

You know, San Francisco is lovely this time of year.

"San Francisco has the most lovely surroundings of any city except Naples."

So my best idea so far is to go as Hey-Girl-Paul-Ryan. I assume that the hat he's wearing backwards is a University of Wisconsin cap, rather than a Nats hat, but other than that it should be easy to pull off. What do you think?

I think that's a good idea! "Nowadays we are all of us so hard up, that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments."

Is it a deal breaker if we fall madly in love and want to marry and I insist you go kosher,even though I'm not Jewish, but I really think pigs are smart. (I know, if they are that smart, they should create an escape route.)

If they're really so smart, why are they so delicious?

On the bacon/kosher front, Wilde did note that "The only charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties."

Where are the costume ideas? I'm afraid everyone's gonna just dress as Honey Boo-Boo. I was thinking of Honey Boo-Boo Bear. "Hey Yogi, I'm a better redneck than you."

I keep hoping someone will dress as a ghost covered in honey and insist on being identified as Honey Boo Boo, but I am told this is not what is happening. And after all, "nothing succeeds like excess."

Not question just thanks and a seasonal happenning I'll be quoting. I had family visit work two weeks ago and ended up intro'ing an old exec to my 4 yr old nephew. (Old guy's request) He bent down & asked nephew what he wanted to be when he grows up. My nephew responded (repping my DNA), "Mister, I have no idea what I'm gonna be for Halloween yet!"

"The old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying." (This is great! +10!)

I even have a bacon joke. A visitor asked a farmer about a three legged pig. The farmer explains that his tractor once fell and pinned him to the ground. The pig saw this and dug him out and saved his live, "So the pig lost a leg saving you?", the visitor inquires. "Oh,no", replied the farmer, "a pig that loyal you don't eat him all at once."

"Each man kills the thing he loves.

By each let this be heard.

Some do it with a bitter look

Some with a flattering word

The coward does it with a kiss

The brave man with a sword."

And the guy in this poem with a hacksaw, apparently.

"Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are why I have trust issues."

That was one of his best.

"I wish I had said that."

"You will, Oscar, you will."

So if blue jeans were invented in 1873, what's the message of 1791 blue jeans? "Return to a time before Vermont was in the Union"? "Wearing blue jeans is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, adopted in 1791"? "Join us, because we have a time machine, which we used to invent blue jeans 80 years before they were invented in your world"? I mean, if they can make a rocket on the ice (and why is he abandoning all that perfectly usable private property like the sawhorse by running away?), I guess they can make a time machine.

Time machine? Why not! "The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it."

Also, I have been informed on Twitter that this is not ice but a salt flat. I worry that this makes me solid-ist, or that next someone will say that "in America, we call them salt apartments."

As Wilde said, "It is hard to have a good story interrupted by a fact." 

With the The Portrait of Mr. W.H.


"History is merely gossip."

in Times Square? I'm sure there was a book or something....

I read that book! I don't recollect the plot at all. I hope the cricket made it.

"Each of us has Heaven and Hell in him," Wilde said, which is another way of looking at the cricket-heaven issue.

"You will, Oscar, you will" was said by James Whistler, best known for painting his mother's portrait.


They were always running into one another at salons. I forget who said that "bores, like wits, attract one another," but they were definitely a case of the latter.

Whistler had his moments. Once, a conversation between the two about actresses was parodied in "Punch" magazine and Wilde wrote back "Punch too ridiculous. When you and I are together we never talk about anything except ourselves."

"No, no, Oscar," Whistler wired, "you forget. When you and I are together, we never talk about anything except me."

"It is true, Jimmy, we were talking about you," Wilde allegedly replied, "but I was thinking of myself."

You shine out like a shaft of gold when all around you is dark

(This happened.)

Historian? A failed novelist.

"History never repeats itself. The historians repeat each other."

I am tired of bacon.

"When a man is tired of bacon, he is tired of life."

Last year we went steampunk, which was a lot of fun to put together. This year, however, I'm going through chemo/radiation and have no energy for that. So my husband is wearing his kilt and I'm wearing one of my Madrigal costumes (left over from when I sang with a Madrigal group). However, I need some sort of hat because all my headpieces need hair and I don't have any at the moment. Sigh. Our three-year old wants to be a pumpkin.

Would a muffin hat work? I've always been partial to muffin hats because they combine "muffin" and "hat," two excellent concepts.

At least the pumpkin is easy! All you have to do is put an orange shirt on and convince the child that this is sufficient. After all, "the best style is that which seems an unconscious result rather than a conscious aim."

That was one of Shaw's!

(blows raspberry)

Gene Weingarten speculated that Obama was distracted by some disturbing news prior to his debate. Others have suggested he was throwing the debase as he no longer wants to be President (although, to be fair, it looks like whatever the news is, Joe Biden would take the job.) There is speculation that the news is either an asteroid heading for Earth or space alien invasion? Which are you rooting for: asteroid or invasion?

Oh, invasion all the way. The odds of my surviving an invasion are nil, as are the ones of surviving an asteroid, and with the asteroid you don't get to meet any fun extraterrestrials first.

As Wilde said, "Everything is dangerous... If it wasn't so, life wouldn't be worth living."

Didn't the cricket play a trumpet and then ride around on a toy motorcycle? I vividly remember having the Cricket in Times Square book but remember absolutely nothing about the plot. The cover art is very familiar though. Maybe when I was a kid I kept it on the coffee table to show off what I was reading without getting around to actually reading it.

Ha! I wish kids did that, because I would love all the display copies of "Oh The Places You'll Go."

"To know the vintage and quality of a wine one need not drink the whole cask. It must be perfectly easy in half an hour to say whether a book is worth anything or worth reading. Ten minutes are really sufficient, if one has the isntinct for form. Who wants to wade through a dull volume? One tastes it, and that is quite enough."

The reason why I discover it is a Snaaguge when I smell bacon is why I have trust issues.

Wilde has no quotes for this one.

"Anyone can make history. Only a great man can write it." (Does Wilde contradict himself? Very well then, he contradicts himself.)

"In his very rejection of art Walt Whitman is an artist."

Perhaps, but Satre said that "Hell is other people." I think I like that one more. -extreme introvert Oh, and when I was in charge of props for a high school show, one of the actors who brought in something signed his name as Jean Paul Satre on the props crew list. Then a typing student who helped us with the program put both Jean Satre and Paul Satre on the props crew. I think it might have been the best laugh that Jeff had in all of high school.

That is great! +10!

Oh, Jean and Paul, always wreaking having on the props.

This reminds me of the moment that Wilde told a group of miners in Leadville, CO about some things that had happened to Benvenuto Cellini and, when he told them he had not been able to bring Cellini with him because he was dead, the miners' response was, "Who shot him?"

I think there was a cat named Harry and that he was friends with a mouse and they had to help the cricket get back to the country (somewhere on Metro North or LIRR). Not sure, but that sounds right. There was a sequel called Harry Cat's Pet Puppy. I can't believe I remember this. Then again, why don't I check on Amazon.

I love the familiarity of everyone with the plot of this book!

There was definitely a cat.

"Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there."

And was preceded into heaven by all the pigs he didn't eat.

I like this image of a parade of pigs preceding Shaw to heaven. Churchill had a great quote about pigs, but I can't find anything from Oscar on the subject. He did note to a woman who said that she would write a book in Heaven, perhaps, "Oh no, Madam, there are no publishers there."

repetitive! This is one of my pet peeves. The only worse phrase is: "the reason why is because..."

Oh, that's a really good one. That's definitely hopping to the front of the line for a second list.

And after all, "We should treat all trivial things of life very seriously."


This is why I'm bothered by the current media assignment of Blue States as Democratic and Red States and Republican. You'd think the Republicans would complain about being RED.

You would, wouldn't you? That bears pondering.

(Sidenote, I feel as though I've been using a lot of animal names as verbs lately. Bear and quail spring to mind.)

Wilde said that "America is the noisiest country that ever existed."

He also noted, "I am told that pork-packing is the most lucrative profession in America, after politics."

So, when you are in Heaven I presume you are basically going to be avoiding the area where the pigs hang out? Anything to say to them? Anything?


You are going to become your mother. That's your tredgedi. Mine is I'm not going to become mine. There's no trying, there's just do and don't. The Gedi

-Oscar Wilde

WC Fields reading the bible. You aren't a believer, what are you looking for Fields? Loopholes.


My favorite Wilde Bible anecdote was when he was given a passage to translate for an exam pertaining to the Crucifixion, and when his examiner told him to stop he said, "Oh, do let me go on! I want to see how it ends!"

"Wow, I didn't realize heaven was a pig construct too."

"" - Oscar Wilde

(yes, I'm flagging)

Private Adam said, I'm the one who can make you madam. General said, if we shoot all the reporters, we'll just be getting reports from hell by the morning.

"In the old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press."

Steel mill closed. Only mill around this part of the rustbelt is the pepper mill. Dr. Pepper is considered a health drink around here, because we're bumpkins.

As long as he's not your primary care provider.

"I only care to see doctors when I am in perfect health; then they comfort one, but when one is ill they are most depressing."

"I do not know what a rugby scrimmage is like, but I imagine it is very much like an online conversation with Alex Petri."

That bad, huh?

I didn't realize rugby involved so many gratuitous Wilde references, but I clearly need to start watching more closely.

Speaking of party symbolism, and since you seem to be on an animal bend, is is not a bit odd that both Republicans and Democrats still use the animals assigned to them by Thomas Nast (elephant and donkey, respectively)? Would it not be time to pick animals that fit with the parties of the current time, like the Democrat's Liberal Endangered Lynx or the Republican Tiger?

That was on my list this summer of Controversies To Create If No News Breaks, but there kept being news! I think it's about time. Especially after the Kony 2012 strange chimerical beastie. It's mascot re-evaluation time!

"Life," as Wilde said, "is terribly deficient in form."

"FOR SALE BY OWNER" Church sign in Rustbelt

"Oh dear." - Oscar Wilde, probably sometime

I hit the bottom of the barrel long ago and I think it's time to wrap up! Last couple!

If I yell "Be yourself, everyone else is taken",run to your left for a pass. Where is that quote from about conversing with you is like a rugby game?

"I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation." - Shaw, actually, although I'm going to start attributing it to myself

I have no idea where the other one is from.

Which reminds me, while we're on the subject of quote attribution.

"Not withstanding the forgoing to the contrary" Also known as "but." Then again, it is a legal phrase.

Ha! That's a big but.

-Not Oscar Wilde

Please, eat more bacon. In fact, bacon should be all you eat.

And on that note, have a great week!

Remember, as you go to Halloween parties, that "Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth." Also, "Pain, unlike pleasure, wears no mask." Probably because Pain has just bumped into something while wearing a mask and had to take it off to recover.

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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