ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jan 08, 2013

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

Hello all!

Apologies for yesterday's lack of posts; it seems that eating a banana every day does nothing to prevent your getting sick. Maybe I should switch to apples for my new year's resolution! Or possibly I should get rid of my other resolution to "give up sleep; sleep is for the weak; Oprah never sleeps."

What's on your minds?

Did you see Alex Jones?

You sent me to the dictionary again in your piece on Les Mis. Now, I'm looking for an opportunity to use suppurating in a sentence. It took me months to use heliotropic in a sentence. Thanks.....

Oh, huzzah! I love "suppurating," but it's hard to use out loud, and if it's actually the aptest word for the situation at hand you should probably be on your way to the hospital.

So I figure you're busy with your new 3D printer. Whatcha making?

I wish! A 3D printer! I don't even have a 2D printer! I'd settle for a 1D printer, although I worry it would do its work and then there would be a boy band in my apartment.

When the next Apocalypse hits, I'm loading up my pickup with Bisquick and driving to the strategic reserve. That syrup is sugary gold!


as Velveeta always says.

Did the organizers of the 6pm Sunday show for Schoolhouse Rock expect a small crowd because of the NFL playoff game at Landover? There was arranged seating near the stage of maybe 50 chairs, but there was a crowd of two to three hundred more behind that extending back to the JFK bust. There was at least a simulcast TV screen above the stage, but it would have been nice to have a few more screens scattered further back in the hall.


Never let it be said that something as minor as a football game could interfere with Schoolhouse Rock. I guess this is a sign that this needs to happen more often, in larger spaces!

Speaking of Schoolhouse Rock (to which I still resort whenever I am trying to remember the preamble), did anyone else watch "Science Court"? Or was that unique to my fifth-grade class?

where's Alex? And why does the Live Q&A's column at the upper right of the web site have all the times wrong for today's chats AGAIN?

Oh my gosh, I've been here this whole time! Thank you for complaining; I clicked all the buttons but the one that lets you know I'm here, and I would have gone on merrily answering questions without anyone.


He wasn't responsible, but it's something to shout.

Have you seen the article about the newspaper up North publishing gun permit owners names and addresses? (It is legal.) The gun owners are furious, though, They say the newspaper has endangered their lives. Wait a minute. They have guns. I thought they had guns because then their lives do not feel endangered. Did those gun owners just admit that guns do not make them safer? Also, did you catch Alex Jonas' meltdown on the Piers Morgan show. He started talking about the government giving out suicide pills! Jonas is the creator of the Deport Piers petition. It is very scary that Jonas has a gun. After seeing all this, I came to a thought. We gun control advocates just need to stay silent. The gun owners are doing our work for us! What do you think?

Well, Erik Wemple has been making the converse point that Piers Morgan, by telling folks that "I know why sales of these weapons have been soaring in the last few days. It's down to idiots like you," is doing his own part to shore up the gun owners' case. Maybe we should just lock all the really strident folks in a secure room together and continue the Serious National Discussion without them...

I have to get something to eat. Try to be boring until I get back. I don't want to miss anything.


Why does Jeff Probst have a talk show ? I mean I just don't get it, he dresses like he's still on some island and has guests that are wiereder than wierd. He seems to have a perpetual smirk at the swarminess of it all and they show it on my local TV station at like 2 AM ? Does any of this make sense to you ?

This makes total sense to me! It makes me want to watch this program! I like to think of Hell as a series of concentric talk show circles of decreasing famousness. I think Jeff Probst is probably hosting the one where you get buffeted about by high winds. That would explain the island gear you describe.

(Sings) By the stars I will not rest until I find Alex behind computer bars




oh wait no, wrong part, but you know what I mean, clearly.

But that is usually the effect of the drugs in their tap water.

Right, right, promotes docility.

I am torn, though, because people who believe in Bath Salts Zombies have been such faithful clickers-on of my blog for so long. If there is one thing you can say about conspiracy theory adherents, it is that they are willing to click things on the Internet.

Oprah doesn't sleep because she lays awake wondering why she gave up being top dog to start the OWN network which is a homeless mutt if ever there was one.

I enjoyed the WOMEN CAN BE SERIAL KILLERS TOO special (not the actual name, but the jist) that I saw on OWN in a hotel once. They played the same footage over and over and over and over, and I was not sure whether it was supposed to be empowering or discouraging.

Well, the wittiest person I know once used a similar word, while he was visiting Prague, but it was in an e-mail: "Happy Heydrich Day. May all your sadistic overlords die of festering shrapnel wounds." "Suppurating" would have done as well there. But that's about the only instance I can think of.

That would have worked nicely! And there would have been some alliteration, which is always fun.

We have been. And that's what allowed Newtown and Aurora and Columbine to happen. Sorry to get serious there.

<entire room gets suddenly very quiet, glass drops>

I wouldn't go so far as to say gun control advocates were staying silent before, though. But more voices are definitely making themselves heard now.

This is Orwellian, or possibly Orson Welliesian, but I find it disconcerting.

Yeah, I don't know how I feel about being watched.

I mean, as a millennial, I'm contractually obligated to encourage it, but it's strange to put a number on it.

Because people who cannot spell "weird" know who he is.

Aw, I should have fixed that. I was trying to respond too quickly to edit.

I before E except after C and before GHTH, as they say.

I am torn between trying to make the case that criticizing someone's spelling is an indication that you have run out of better arguments and that having bad spelling in public is the equivalent of going out without pants and makes it hard to take your remarks seriously. Sometimes you forget to wear pants. Sometimes you don't own pants. Sometimes you are doing it as a Statement of Some Kind, or it's that day that no one wears pants on the subway.

What is your opinion on blue dresses from JCrew for a crew of 4?

As long as it's "Liquid Jersey," sounds fine!

1981, senior year, required Government class. Teacher thought he'd pull a fast one with a pop quiz. Told us we had to write out the Preamble to the Constitution. He didn't notice all the humming going on. Everyone got an A. I don't think he ever figure out why we were all smart that day.

They should make more history hummable!

I'm a little suspicious about the 97 people supposedly online in this chat because I've left and returned 93 times so I think there may only be four of us actually in here.

Well there goes all my newfound self-esteem!

to "Munchkin" and "Fluxx." What kind of games do you like to play?

I am really trying to make Victorian parlor games come back, so far without success. For instance, there's a game called "Ha Ha" or "The Laughing Game" or something, and you go around a room saying, "Ha" and the next person says, "Ha Ha" and the third person "Ha Ha Ha" until someone laughs or smiles. Riveting, right?

You can see why they were actually willing to read the complete works of Dickens aloud.

Defenestrate. So economical, so specific. Rolls off the tongue.

Yes! Truth! +10!

You probably know of my deep love for "carminative."

And "virago" is one I always wish I used more but don't, like "meretricious." It sounds like the sort of thing you could work in after sneezing.

Love everything about your Les Mis article. Tough question for a humor writer, but why do you think humor is such an effective defense mechanism?


... I hope you didn't want a serious response to that.


I think because it sets you outside of yourself. Most things look more orderly and beautiful from a great distance. If you fly over traffic or road construction there are these wonderful orderly snakes of road stippled with little orange cone dots, and it looks like Someone Or Other has things in hand. If you're in it, you're whacking the dashboard and shouting, "DEAR, I RESPECT YOUR CONCERNS, BUT I THINK MY LANE POSITION IS JUST FINE." But humor allows you to see something from the outside. It's the whole Mel Brooks analogy -- tragedy is when I cut my thumb. Comedy is when you slip on a banana peel, fall into a sewer, and die.

Like, one moment you're standing on the side of the Seine staring down and thinking "Life is pain" and the next you're like, "You know what, Inspector Javert-themed bungee jumping could be a lucrative business." The ability to refract things a little makes all the difference.

I would not support using suppurating at supper....


Assonant, too!

a 3d printer from a 3d printer. I mean, you can already use it like a Star Trek replicator and get food that's as good as McDonald's.

Whoa, you're clearly the jerk who's always asking the genie for more wishes.

I am not a number! I am a free man!

Now if we just got 24,479 more people in here, this chat could really be something.

Downton Abbey is back -- so who dies this season ?


Depending on the year and the month, that would have been a short list early on.

"And now, we will read the Pickwick Papers, a fifteenth time."

Oddly enough, in one of my favorite Evelyn Waugh books, Waugh posits that a pretty convincing vision of Hell is being trapped in a jungle forced to read the works of Dickens aloud.

Audio, video, written (electronically or traditional, tree-based)? I'm certain it's always well done, regardless.

I think it really depends on the joke. Some jokes are better aloud. Some things are only funny in song. Video is great because visual/atmospheric humor can really do you in in a way that verbal humor can't, if applied correctly. But it takes skill to apply it correctly. I'll always be a sucker for print, if only because I like verbal humor and print makes you read more slowly.

"I before E except after C and before GHTH, as they say." Some hormone?

Probably, but I just meant the spelling! Like, eighth. Don't put the I in first.

Beleve you me I no how to spell weird but I jest thought it look weirder spelld wierd.

Fare poynt

Patricia Arquette.

HEYO! +11

I don't know, I'm more of a John Edward person myself.

Madame Zora is good.

...and we all went dashing for that joke!
I knew I liked you people!

So, AIG is contemplating suing the government for not doing enough to save AIG when they were about to go belly up.

You know what they say about biting hands that feed: it's something our family dog has done for years with no discernible punishments incurred.

Alex, I have to ask. Do you know what that refers to?


A perfunctory Google suggests that it is somehow related to the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich.

Do not go on the interwebz. Brits are posting about this all over the place.

I know! I wasn't even safe offline! My relatives read it to me from the New York Times over the holidays!

Dear Ms. Petri, Given that you have the best fashion sense of anyone I know (typographical tights, anyone?) I'm hoping you can help me out. I'm getting married in June and have no idea what my bridesmaids should wear that would be a) fashionable, b) comfortable for summer, and c) indicative of my radical feminist ideology. Please help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hmm. Given your misidentification of me as a person with fashion sense, I am not sure how to advise you.

Well, given your radical feminist ideology, I would suggest dresses like the one in the Hunger Games that appear to be on fire, which gives you all the joy of burning a bra combined with all the fashion and comfort of haute couture. Except that probably would upstage the wedding gown, or, worse, set it on fire, and we don't want you pulling a Miss Havisham because that kind of casts a pall over the proceedings.

In actual sentences. You makin' fun of me???

Only if you follow it with "Happy New Year" am I makin' fun of you.

I think pointing out spelling errors on a real-time chat that isn't about spelling is pretty petty. To me it's usually an indication of someone if a desperate need to be right about something. Am I right, or am I right? Pleeeease say I'm right.


Best name ever? NPR featured this last evening.

Oh, this is brilliant! Strong approve!

Well, besides the excellent message is that the lyrics actually rhyme in both French and English! Can you imagine the scope of talent to do that and still tell the story?

You are plaisanteing me!

The location of the partisans' hiding place is now a national monument. They were surrounded and killed themselves rather than surrender. Heydrich himself took a good while to die. hence the suppuraton ref.

Thank you for this.

The CIA also has an account.

1. Take a Subaru instead of a horse-drawn carriage 2. Sleeve-less. Show off those arms! (and foliage) 3. Flannel shirt (arms cut off, see above) 4. Dungarees, box of Marlboros in the right back pocket, wallet on chain in left for accessorizing. You're welcome.

I'm not sure that's a real feminist you're depicting there. I am pretty sure that is Larry the Cable guy.

If the number increases during the chat, can you stay on line longer without putting more coins in the meter (as in parking not poetic for those who read "medium" psychically)?

I don't know. I haven't looked at the number; only heard what you tell me. I'm trapped in the echo chamber!

I think if we pick up a couple I can switch back to dactylic hexameter.*

*yes I realize that this is in express defiance of your wishes

Did someone keep hissing under their breath where to insert "of the United States," since that little phrase is left out in the song between "We the people" and "in order to form a more perfect union?"

Since they all got A's, I'm assuming they managed! But good note!

Never make their attendance be all matchy-matchy. Pick their closest friends as attendance, not just their closest female friends. Don't overload on make-up and hairspray. Wear shoes they can walk and dance in.

That's good advice whether you consider yourself a feminist or not.

Let the bridesmaids choose their own dresses - just try to keep a theme to the colours. (And no, that is the correct spelling of colours.)

Be careful, Piers, or I'll deport you from this chat!

What an outdated cliche, that feminism means dressing and acting like a redneck guy. Do you also think all feminists are butch lesbians?

With the caveat that this is the Internet where it is difficult to read people's Subtle Non-Verbal Cues, and before I start to call everyone to come running with incendiants and bras, let me just say that if the Subaruuster wasn't joking, I am very impressed that he has traveled here all the way from the past and is having so few difficulties with the chat software.

Is a satisfied employee gruntled??

GRUNTLED is also one of my favorite words. I think Wodehouse describes someone who, "If not disgruntled, was far from being gruntled." It sounds like something a small pig does.

I had a wave of deja-typed-this-in-a-chat wash over me, but, uh, a foolish consistency is a great thing that hobgoblins like.

How do they die? The great Flapper Revolution of 1922? Guy Fawkes blows up the servants' quarters?

I assume the Feminist from panel 7 comes and does unpronounceable things to the wedding.

I was associating the type of person who knows who this totally lame "talk show host" is with the type of person who can't spell, so it was relevant.

(And here's the orrrigenal respondant's poste)

I think the institution of marriage is not very feministly oriented to begin with, suggestion, which is way more pratical is to elope and then throw a raucous party..

No objections to the party, although -- while marriage might not be the most feministly oriented thing ever (few hand-downs from millennia ago tend to be), weddings these days [dons crotchety old man hat] are such exercises in Showing How Individual You Are and Pinterest and Et Cetera, that it's almost worth entering a marriage for some of these kids to have one. Grumble Grumble.

Now that I've said it like that, I'm not sure I actually agree.

I meant attendants, of course, not attendance. Attendants dance attendance on those to be attended to.

This is like the old Rocky Horror callback.

"Where do buns go to dance? "In a bun dance!"

Yes, I was being dryly ironic, which didn't translate well into print in real time. Relax people. Sorry if I offended anyone, unless you are easily offended, in which case you offend me and then we're even.

Oh, huzzah, joyous sounds of subtle non-verbal cues pealing gently over the land!

You're one reader away from 666.

Yeegh! Wouldn't want that! Well, on that note, which I assume is not longer the case, I am going to skedaddle!

Have a glorious afternoon, see Les Mis, keep reading the Compost, and feel free but unobligated to follow me on Twitter.

I got married almost (gasp!) 20 years ago. I was the anti-bride. My hubbie wanted a 'real' wedding. So we had one, with a few attendants, in a church, but the reception was a really awesome outdoor party/picnic at our farm. The entire wedding party changed into casual clothes - even shorts - once the ceremony was done and we bascially had a kegger. It was great! But then we're not really formal folk.

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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