ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Oct 23, 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

Gadzooks, on preliminary perusal there are a whole lot of questions! Or maybe just one big one!

Happy post-debate everyone! How are you recovering? 


I have a very serious warning: Italy, you have an earthquake coming. There, at least no one can convict me of not warning them.

It's good to be proactive. 

For Halloween, I am dressing in my Star Trek uniform and then dressing over that like a Korean rapper? Is that cool, or what?

That sounds pretty cool. I am trying to make certain this isn't secretly a pun of some kind, but since you aren't wearing a Battlestar Galactica outfit I'm assuming you are not going as a Psy-lon and I can't think of anything else it might be.

Is B-2 a hit?

Negative! C-4?

Being male, I can't be the woman reading "50 Shades" books, but I could be the man reading the Ryan Report underneath "50 Shades".

And under that, a copy of Atlas Shrugged! 

Did you know that it is estimated that eight million horses perished in military use during World War I? I am glad that we are moving away from repeating such horror, and instead now fighting wars that can wipe out entire cities of people and horses more quickly and more humanly and more horsely.

I like the term "more horsely."

Yeah, World War I was not a good war to be a cavalry horse. Not that it was ever optimal to be a cavalry horse during wartime, but it especially wasn't then. Nor, for that matter, a load-bearing horse. 

You had to do it. You had to have the Halloween costume chat last week. You had to do it BEFORE we got "binders full of women." Now I have to go to Amazon where there are over a thousand new comments on that Avery binder to try to find out if there is some advice on how to make product number 17032 (I think) a viable costume. On a lighter note, my niece's school won't let them wear Halloween costumes to school unless they are dressed as characters from their favorite book. So she decided to write her own book called, "The Story of Super Fairy" so she could have the costume she wanted. I am so proud. Already taking advantage of legal loopholes at 5.

That is brilliant! Congratulate her for me!
This reminds me of when Oscar Wilde was asked to contribute to a list of the, I think, hundred greatest books ever written, and he replied that he couldn't.

"Why not?"

"Because I have only written one."

Alexandra, have you picked out your Halloween costume for parties and candy run at the neighbors? I'll be a zombie but wonder how many will dress as horses with bayonets, women in binders, and Big Bird? Some kids can dress as Katniss and others from The Hunger Games (fake archery equip. please), but will adults wish to dress as Christian and Anastasia from 50 Shades of Grey?

If they do, I think they will do so in the privacy of their own homes. 

I'm actually not sure what I'm doing, costume-wise. Dressing as a loose leaf feels a lot like taking work home. 

Every now and then you get a comical response from someone---sometimes it even is me---pretending to be your mother , as in pretending to remind you to be safe when you let a billionaire kidnap you. Just because he' a billionaire doesn't automatically mean he remembers to wear his seat belt. What I found funny was a friend of mine was writing about her plans to attempt to hook up with a different guy every night this week, and she would then blog about the success or failure of her efforts. The first response comment is from her mother telling her she should be ashamed of herself. Don't you just love the Internet? Also, are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? All I ever read about you eating is red meat.

Well, red meat is a much easier target. 

I think I ate a vegetable Thursday.


Alexandra, do you think the deep debate discussion about horses, bayonets, and Battleship reveal a lot about what games the candidates play? I'm guessing Romney is into Risk, given many versions of the game feature horses and bayonets on the cards, let alone the famous cannon, of course. No doubt Romney as a one-percenter plays polo, and Ann owns Rafalca. I'm not sure what board / strategy games Obama prefers.

Monopoly? Balderdash? Dreamphone?


It seems that most board games have unnecessarily freighted names. 

But Dreamphone is a classic.

President Obama showed his lack of knowledge of the military last night. Unbelieveable! "Ships that go underwater." I couldn't stop laughing! The only ships that go underwater are the ones with holes in them. Submarines are "boats."

Subtle but meaningful distinction!

"We have to make sure their arms don't fall into the wrong hands."

Yes, that was great! +10, Mitt, if you're tuning in.

You need to add that a big or small, long or short, earthquake is coming. Cover your bases! Also, please remember that tsunamis may follow earthquakes. So that is coming too.

Also, everyone you love is going to die!

Just covering my bases.

Here is a picture of a kitten. 

I am not too familiar with the American journalists, yet I see that photographer Clark Kent is making news for leaving the Daily Planet. What is the significance of this? Will the Daily Planet suffer a loss of readership?

No doubt.

Frankly, I'm amazing that Peter Parker still has work. Or is he freelance now?

I don't believe I had ever heard anyone vocalize that word except, maybe, ironically. Why does Romney talk so strangely and stiffly?

I didn't notice anything, good gentleman or madam! No need to engender spurious tumult among the plebes, tally ho, tally ho! Catafalque! Melisma! 

<collapses and has to be rebooted>

No more virginal words have ever been spoken.

"I intend to survive this horror film."

If I had hair, I'd tousle it and add some copper highlights, then wear a sweater over jeans to accentuate my smoldering blue eyes. Yes, I read the book when I could pry it out of my wife's hands.

I had no idea wearing sweaters over jeans accentuated your smoldering blue eyes! 

Also, I know smoldering is supposed to be sexy, but it makes me think these eyes were aflame earlier and then someone threw a damp towel on them, or something. This also explains why my romance novel-writing attempts always stall. 

The 1690s called, and they'd like their exclamation back.

They called?

On what?

I'm assuming this is shorthand for "the 1690s sent a herald."

Women need all the reinforcement that they can get, I understand.



(yeah I know.) for Christmas, I want to get a binder full of women.

Under the tree or as a stocking stuffer? 

Do nor dress like a zombie for Halloween. The military is actively conducting exercises in preparation for a zombie attack. You could be a victim of friendly fire.

Smoldering friendly fire? 

This is my rifle, this is my gun. One is for fighting, one is for fun.

Is this a thing? I've never heard it before, but maybe I don't move in the right circles!


I know Nixon liked Checkers...

Given his concern about health care, wouldn't it be "Operation"? Or its lesser-known spinoff, "General Hospital Coding, Billing, and Insurance"?

I'm less familiar with that one. 

I'm still waiting for the people to come in and shout "Clue but where the answer is GOVERNMENT RATIONING OF HEALTHCARE WITH THE DEATH PANEL IN THE LIBRARY."

But what's your favourite shade of purple? I'm kind of partial to heliotrope, but I get funny looks if I walk into a store and ask if they have any heliotrope tights.

Heliotrope is a word that tends to provoke strange looks. 

I like lavender, but only because of Carl Sandburg's Lincoln biography. 

Okay I just lost the chat with that joke.

An excellent Hallowe'en costume would be "Oscar Wilde Thing," with yards and yards of purple velvet, terrible eyes and gnashing teeth.

Ha! +5!

Or Girls Gone Wilde...

Our gaggle of 5-to-8 year olds (about 10 strong) is going to re-enact the Gangnam Style video up and down the street (the girls will be wearing more clothing; we're not totally stupid parents). They've got the dance down pretty good, though their grasp of Korean is sketchy (most of the kids think the song is called "Gungan Style," which leads to any number of fun parody options). My question is how long we can expect the enthusiasm to last (among the kids and those being tricked-or-treated)?

Gungan Style! Ha!

Enthusiasm for Gangnam style? I think you'll be able to squeak by this Halloween! But possibly not into November! 

But I've been wrong before!

I am amazed, How did the person who responded to my posting know I am a virgin?

The responder is a unicorn.

Clark Kent is a reporter, not a photographer. (He also briefly worked as an anchor at WGBS-TV.) Peter Parker has never been a staff photographer for the Daily Bugle, but has only ever been a freelancer -- well, somewhere between a freelancer and a stringer. Don't you read the Columbia Journalism Review?

I did know that about Clark, in my defense!

I thought at one point Peter Parker was staffed, although never to the point of getting healthcare benefits. ("Webbing? No, I don't think that's covered.") But obviously I defer to people whose knowledge of Spiderman comes from anything other than the daily comic strip. Wasn't there, er, a week when Spiderman pictures were needed on every front page when this turned into a real job?

No, no, they must mean "call" as in "pay a call." Like in Jane Austen novels.

Oh, like a gentleman caller!

Good call.

when this election season gets me down, I remember it's given the world things like this:

That's magic. 

You're in great form today! You get the first ever sbp (squirrel bopper points): +10

But...but what do I spend them on?

Any credit is due to the bayonets. 

If Clark is going to be a blogger instead of a beat reporter, would that make it easier for him to hold down a secret identity? No more unexplained disappearances from the newsroom when trouble strikes? I'm surprised your Post colleagues haven't yet figured out that you're secretly ComPost Woman, champion of truth, justice and humor.

To be honest, that really isn't the job description implied by the name ComPost Woman, but I'll take it. It's certainly better than ComPost Woman, champion of truth, justice, and covering plants with manure.

Of course, so do their "corpse-men" as the president called them in a 'Prompter incident.

Ooh, a corpse-man reference! I was worried that that gaffe had died. Glad to hear it's still kicking.

Actually, the fallout from that remark from servicemembers who are attached to their ships, bayonets, and horses has been the delightful surprise of the after-debate. If I'd known we were still using the last two I'd have been reassured about our military prospects. I think "reassured" is the word I want there. Horse is wide awake.

This is entirely correct. 

But I'm having problems with the texture.

Wouldn't want to go as 50 Shades of Curds by mistake!

I bet Peter Parker could singlehandedly bankrupt just about any health insurance company.


And he gets to stay on his parents' insurance until he's twenty-six! 

Er, wait.

No, I meant for guys. Unless it's "Mom, we're out of Hot Pockets and I need to eat something before I go to Comic-Con."

Heh, well, you never know. 

"Hey! Look! I found the Holy Grail with little difficulty!"

I am just glad this finally came up! I have been suggesting more bayonets for the military for years! but NO ONE listens to me. Probably because, you know, I'm not in the military, or anything, but whatever..

But they're cool! I'm on board! Ship-board, mind you, not boat-board. 

Yes, men, we need to pry these "50 Shades" books away from women and see what it is they are plotting. All I know if I keep finding handcuffs and spatulas lying around, and I don't buy that she is attending both police academy training and chef cooking school.

Also, that explains the strange taste of these pancakes. 

With all the leaks that the media receive, why have we not yet gotten a leak on what Donald Trump's big, Big, BIG announcement tomorrow is going to be? (My hunch: because it's not really big after all, unless one is a birther).

I think the media would agree that no one really wants anything that leaked from Donald Trump. 

Why don't Gene's chat updates ever show up? There is no text out there.

Invisible Gene is having a great chat though!

... are you, or anyone else out there, aware that U.S. Army soldiers and U.S. Marines STILL CARRY bayonets, and practice with them?

Yes! I linked to this fact in my piece! 

Not so many as 1916, if only because the army is also smaller than it was in 1916.

Screw Hunger Games

Is it possible to play retroactive drinking games? Because this would have been a good one!

Good one. About time some sophisticated humour showed up here.

Sophisticated humor is always fashionably late. 

If that counted as either sophisticated or humor, which I suspect is a stretch!

gross! and i was about to go have lunch...


Avoid the ham loaf!

I am getting Thursday's Chat sessions showing up..I thought it was Tuesday, but I could be wrong. I am very confused and I now need a bayonet. Or a dose of Nyquil.

If one doesn't work, try the other!

It took the debate to expose the Horseshoe Gap that is threatening national security.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail!

Somehow I sense this is not what you were talking about!

Clark Kent is apparently going to become a successful internet journalist. Just like... like... hang on, it'll come to me...

Like What's His Name!

No, I think there are successful Internet journalists out there, but I mainly think that because I am contractually obligated to believe in them, or the abyss would look into me, and all that.


It's not impossible.


Well, on that note, about time to wrap things up. Last couple of questions!

The fact that I carefully use approriate case in the topic and it comes out as ALL CAPS.


And sometimes proper paragraphing aids in understanding what I'm trying to say

and the chat thing makes everything one long annoying paragraph.

Can't we get one of those journalism




earlier (Parker, Kent) to fix this?

They certainly aren't busy doing anything else. 

I blame them for what just happened to your paragraph formatting.

Talking whales? This should be great. Maybe they'll say save the people.

The great thing about a whale is he has plenty of room for bumper stickers. 

If the recent Presidential debates had the most viewers of any debates in 12 years, and if more people watched Honey Boo Boo than watched the debates, does that mean Honey Boo Boo is the most watched Presidential debate in 12 years?


It's just that the average Post reader doesn't want to believe that Breitbart, Malkin, Carlson, et al are legit. But they are, and they're printing money (okay, digital money, but money all the same).

The legitimacy question is going to be an interesting one to watch over time. 

Then again, most newspapers started out as the mouthpieces of people with money who wanted to get their views on the news out there, so maybe we're just reverting to a vintage shouting model and people will adjust their perception of reliability accordingly.

My husband and I want to drive to a bed and breakfast/spa place driving distance from Baltimore in the Mid-Atlantic or the South in 2 weeks. Any recommendations? Emphasis on affordable spa relaxation destination vs. home town bed and breakfast places.

Does anyone know the answer to this? If you do, you have a minute! 

I would recommend "not Penn Station," which you can have breakfast in but they seem to frown on it if you try to bed down there.

Does this mean that the campaigns will be able to train whales to deliver political messages to beachgoers in coastal swing states? (*ahem* Florida?) Ex. "Obama's environmental protection policies are pro shark: why won't someone think of the whale calves?"


Okay, on that note, have a glorious week!

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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