ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Nov 06, 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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Hey all! I'm live! If you want to talk, I'm here!

If you just want to, you know, sit and reflect in silence on the state of the nation, that works too!

It's been a long time since I encountered an evangelist on a Metro car. The other day there were two. I thought they were working at cross-purposes, at opposite ends, but eventually it seemed they were together -- but saying different things in different ways. ALL the way from Metro Center to Shady Grove. God forbid!

One of my favorite things on the campaign trail, actually, was the traveling bands of ragtag evangelists. There was one fellow I kept seeing everywhere, from the Reason Rally on the National Mall to the GOP convention in Tampa, a few blocks outside the perimeter. I'm never certain of the level of coordination; the man I interviewed at the Reason Rally said that they'd seen it was happening and had organized themselves, and I think he'd come all the way from California. The funny thing for me was that as you listened to the debates rage between the believers and the non was that it gradually became clear that the evangelists were all preaching slightly different creeds -- not massively different, mind you, but enough to cause a serious schism back a millennium or two ago.

Lets talk about the midterm election shall we... after all, what will CNN, MSNBC, and Fox do if they can't whip up rediculousness in a political front...

Well, there's always Piers Morgan.

Hey -- this chat is listed as 10 am on the page and 11 am to the right in the list on the same page. Still haven't changed the clocks over there?

Yeahhhh, I noticed that as I was logging in. In my experience, there's always one clock you forget to change.

Sorry, all I have is a serious question: Where is the best place to follow the election results online tonight? No TV is available in my residence.

Well, two things:

if you aren't on Twitter, for the love of all that is earthly get on Twitter. Twitter is the place to be, bar none, if you want news and factchecks as they come in, as well as a lot of (often amusing) commentary from the Bubble. And you can choose whom to follow so it doesn't overwhelm!

also, not just because they employ me, but the Post has been working fantastically hard to make the stream of election news as amazing as possible, and I think it's one of the best bets around. Hit the homepage or the Opinions front and cruise from there!

Reflecting in silence on the state of the nation sounded like a really good idea, but now I'm depressed and short. Any suggestions?

Were you short before? Not sure there's much I can do about that.

For the rest, I recommend this.

I'd chat, but I'm on line waiting to vote. Sorry.

Good on you! Everyone cheer this anonymous chatter! Yay! +10! Civic duty!

Since Mitt Romney has adopted Stephen Colbert's slogan "Building a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow", does that mean the fix is in: Romney collects Colbert's PAC money to add to his piles o'cash, and cedes his place on the ticket in place of Colbert's Comedy Central gig? --Confused in Maryland (I'm voting to expand gambling only to houses with elevators in the garages)

Lord, I hope not. The country could handle four years of President Romney, but the Romnee Report would push me to my breaking point. There are only so many Jokes Your Uncle Tells that you can handle before throwing the television through a window and screaming wordlessly for a week.

I'm going to try to sneak into Maryland and vote yes on Prop 67, which lets gay casinos marry.

THANK GOODNESS political ads are done. That said, if the upcoming Christmas commercials are anything like political ads, all the stores are evil evil places and don't deserve my business.

Can we TALK about the Christmas commercials?

I would gladly have taken one more day of attack ads in place of ALREADY having to deal with the Lovable Toddler Finding His Mother Earrings By Crawling Through The Department Store which, while I enjoy it now, I imagine will soon grow to be my least favorite commerical of the season.

I just got back from Philadelphia, where I got to breathe in all the wonderful indecision of a swing state...except that Pennsylvanians did not seem nearly as ambivalent as portrayed. In fact, I had a slaptastic time feeling out the electorate while there and found a wide range leaning blue. Do you think the state still swings?

Good question. Throw the Keys(tone state) in a bowl and see who bites.

(Sidenote, I wish you had seen my expression of unmitigated delight when I realized that Pennsylvania's state nickname worked for a keys-in-the-bowl joke.)

I recommend the BBC America coverage. I watched it in 2008 and it was nice to see an outsider's view of our process. It was a completely fresh take, and funny, without all of those ridiculous blow-hards on other stations.

But what is results coverage without the ridiculous blow-hards?

Well, "fresh and funny," I guess, but still. It's the principle of the thing!

On line? Online? Doesn't the chatter mean s/he's IN line??? Also like fingernails on the blackboard, "I'm waiting on..." when the person means "I'm waiting FOR..."

I have learned from bitter experience that there are certain sections of the country that, for reasons unfathomable to me, insist on saying they are waiting "on line" or "getting on line." They are more to be pitied than censured. I think it's like "soda" and "pop" in that neither is, strictly speaking, wrong, but they do brand you.

But I am as always liable to correction.

Someone tried to hand me a GOP sample ballot. In Arlington, of all places.

Of course Arlington! Virginia is swinging this year!

There are so many commericals at Christmas that suggest you buy a car for your loved one. Do people actually do this? And how can I befriend them?

I know!

I love how they gasp and then cry little decorative tears.

Among most people I know, the person you got the car for would start crying, but there the similarity ends. "That was... our whole budget... for 2013..." the recipient would sob. "And you broke a wall."

Where I grew up in upstate New York, we said "on line." Everywhere else says "in line." Now I say "in line" too, partly to fit in and party because now that Al Gore has invented the Internet, "online" means something different.

See, there you go!

Sometimes I feel that no conversation is more than six jokes away from Al Gore.

There is only one candidate who takes this election seriously, and that's Roseanne Barr.

Don't neglect Vermin Supreme!

Voting post-coffee is a little risky too: imagine you had that super grande whatever and then had to stand in line for a couple hours. Reason #1,342 why FLorida rules: they had outhouses in the parking lot of our early voting location the other day.

Well-played, Florida!

When you say "outhouses," though, I picture those old-timey farm buildings with the little moon cut-outs. I really hope this is what you mean, but I suspect it's actually portopotties. Then again, portopotties always give me great hope for humanity. Next to a picture of a cat doing something undignified, nothing gladdens my heart like the weird pun names people come up with for portopotties. I feel like if Gene Weingarten and I ever hung out this would be the kind of thing we'd agree on.

People who stand on line also, "have a catch," as opposed to playing catch. The oddest one I ever heard was from a man from Mississippi. He had to go to the store to "make groceries."

Did he have to go to the hospital to make babies?

We have a little older digital travel clock in the bathroom that -- even by changing the batteries -- won't allow us to change the time. So every fall, it's an hour and eight minutes fast, and every spring it's eight minutes fast. No big deal as long as you remember that it's ahead, but it's also a great way to get guests to leave when you feel like the party should be over.


Unless there is an ACTUAL written/printed/paved line on the floor or pavement on which you are standing (like those danged Fidelty ads), you are standing IN a line. You are forming a part of the line; hence you are IN it. Yes, grammar nazi here.

This has always made more sense to me, but I think there's an argument to be made for the other idiom. And what about "queues?"

I'm having some weird issues. And by issues, I mean "problems."

Jared! *giggles*


I'm so used to facebook now, I keep looking for the 'like' button on your chat

Notice how I keep handing out meaningless points! I have the same where's-the-button problem responding to you folks!

jebus, buy a new clock already! they have them at the DOLLAR store!

...I wasn't going to say anything, but...

Calamities and incompetence. Medusa? Bounty set sail right into the storm. Suicide by ship. They entered the deep because the shallows were a bore!

Er, yes, what this chatter said.

If Obama wins, that will mean the so-called Redskins rule has failed 2 out of the last 3 times. If Obama wins will the Rule be declared dead? And has anyone checked to see if any other football teams portend the fate of the election?

When it comes to portents and patterns, I stand by this recent XKCD.

Why? I know what time it is. You fancy people think clocks grow on trees?

"They sometimes grow on dandelions." <-- someone who isn't me, because I am surely capable of thinking of a better joke than that

This is like a recurring nightmare. I wasn't prepared for an existentialist chat.

If this were really an existentialist chat it would be 12:30 and I still wouldn't have shown up, but you would have tried to eat a carrot a couple of times.

As a responsible media critic, I am sure you have some kind of opinions on the status of highish-end magazines. Can we get your thoughts on a) the New Yorker, b) the Economist, and/or c) The Atlantic?

You must be mistaking me for Erik Wemple!

High-end magazines are like fancy restaurants. I don't eat there, but I approve of them, in theory. And if someone invited me to contribute, uh, cooking to one I'd do it in a second. I realize that the metaphor somewhat broke down there.

This thought is largely inchoate; I think different kinds of beasts fare differently when the climate changes. The kind of people who read the New Yorker are a distinct breed who are going to keep reading it (or letting it pile up on their coffee tables, or forming book clubs to read it, or whatever it is they do) come hell or high water. And they just brought Andy Borowitz on board! As Abraham Lincoln said, "for those who like that sort of thing, that is exactly the sort of thing that they would like." That's the New Yorker in a nutshell.

The Economist is the sort of thing people are always reading in airports. My theory for the survival of print media and books used to be that people would always need something to read in airports. The only thing standing between the publishing industry and total decimation is the fact that they still force you to turn off certain smartphone functions in mid-flight. I think its style of journalism retains an appeal, although of the three publications mentioned I read it least often, which explains the numerous problems with this answer. Its main flaw, I would say, is that it assumes you already know what you're reading about. It's the news for the people who already know the news. But within that niche, it's The Thing To Read.

The Atlantic has been ballyhooing its strategy of Making Stuff You Will Want To Share With Your Friends, and I think it's working. I have gotten more of their gifs of Olympic gymnasts emailed to me in the past few months than you can shake a stick at.

I think on the whole, to apply another metaphor, different beasts survive differently. The really big species you were sure would make it die out before you can say "Jackalope." Meanwhile cats, of all things, get adopted by the new dominant species and you see millions of them bouncing around the home. I think magazines might be better-positioned to be cats  of the new media than certain other more lumbering publications.

So there are some inchoate ramblings, for whatever they're worth.

You don't have to be standing on a painted line to be on line. And in line has multiple meanings. Get in line often means get your act together, or behave appropriately. Grammar Ally here

Where are the Grammar Quislings?

Didn't Salvador Dali do a picture of that?

Was that a Dali painting? I thought that was the night I decided to quit abusing substances.

So, what is the unpublished subject of your unpublished novel?

Which one?

(Sidenote, I'm trying to do NaNoWriMo once I emerge from the welter of election coverage, but we'll see how that goes. It's basically a myth-based scifi novel set among smugglers with a female protagonist. It's what I wish the next Star Wars film would be but know it won't, unless one of you is secretly a Disney exec who wants to read a treatment...)

Either and/or both. Is the female protagonist Mara Jade?!

No, I'm way, way out of the original hero cycle because I think the fun of more films would be falling in love with a new set of characters...

The guy from Mississippi who said "making groceries" probably had relatives from Louisiana. It's very common there, because it's the English version of the expression in French, "faire de courses," and in Spanish, "hacer la compra." Just a little lagniappe from a former New Orleanian.

Aw, this is the second time this week I've seen the word "lagniappe"! Thank you!

I am a grammar boson and I strongly object to the double capitalization. No I don't. Yes I do. No I don't. I apologize, my location is unknown.

Well, on that note, I will release you into the future!

Keep safe! Vote with precision! And feel free but unobligated to follow me on Twitter, where I will be tweeting along as the results come in!

Also, keep reading the Compost!

Here in Canada, francophones have a problem with turning lights on because the French expression is to "open" the lights.


I'm from Noo Yawk, but because of a fairly extended stint in the Midwest during my formative years, I say "in line" rather than "on line." But I say "AHH-ringe juice" rather than "AW-ringe juice." Am I still OK?

You may be OK, but are you OJ?

Okay, I should have left before this one, and I recognize that now.

I think that may conflict with Lucasfilm's belief that adding fancier, faster, more incoherent lightsaber fights is the fun of new films.

In conclusion.

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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