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ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jan 15, 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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My new years' resolution to eat a large fruit every day is so far going as planned, although my others are falling by the wayside like flies who have fallen by the wayside.

How about that Death Star?

Oprah has "no idea" why Lance Armstron decided to confess. I know, this is how the game is played, but this outrageous level of disingenousness (disingenuosity? I think I like that better) is still strangely hilarious to me.

I find this whole thing so strange.

All these levels of pre-confession are also bizarre. I thought, though, that he would at least come out with an "If I Did It" book before reaching the Oprah stage.

Why not have 2 Death Stars, a Republican and a Democratic one? The Republican Death Star would be the size of Sputnik (starve the beast), yet be bristling with guns. The Democratic Death Star would be the size of our Sun (union labor), yet have no guns.

I am not sure how this would affect our credit rating as a nation, but I can't wait to find out!

Ben Affleck would like to mention that he forgot to thank Canada. Thank you, Canada!

And "Gigli."

"Thank" may not be the word. "Repudiate."

Did you know that pockets started out as a fashion accessory? They were made in pairs, sewn onto a tape worn around the waist, and reached through a slit in the skirt.

Hot Pockets started out like that too, except you could wear them on the waist without having to sew them onto any tape.

I know that in second grade we hand to hand-sew pockets that basically meet your description (don't worry, this wasn't just the girls, this was everyone) but A Giant Pocket You Can Wear Under Everything would certainly solve a lot of my pocket-related problems.

How about celebrity waterboarding? Might be quite popular. High bidder gets to pick the celebrity.

Sounds intriguing. But not having seen "Zero Dark Thirty" yet, I don't know what my views on waterboarding are!

Er. I assume that is how it works, given the furore surrounding the film.


Only large fruit? That means you can have a melon of some type but that's about it. What's your melon of choice?

Anything larger than an apricot! I actually put some thought into this.

I want to know how they figured out how much it would cost. Did they check the blueprints by freezing the DVD when they showed it? Frankly, I'd be happy with the one-man fighter like >o< or maybe (-0-)

Ooh, I'm a fan of the [-v-] myself.

Dang, that can't be how you render a Y-wing.

Hang on.

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Instead of a platinum coin they should issue a copper coin the size of a penny and put it in general circulation, like Willy Wonka's magic ticket. Everyone would start looking at their pennies again instead of throwing them into jars.

I don't even throw my pennies into jars any more. I just toss them into the gutter as an incentive for elderly people whose ideas of currency value are still stuck in the 1930s to exercise and keep limber by bending over.

This being said, a question for the chat: smallest denomination of coin you'll pick up?

At the rate things move in Washington, the Death Star likely wouldn't be "fully operational" as the Emperor put it, until sometime in the 2030s.

See, this is why our system really needs Darth Vader. Forget the executive branch. Give me the Executor branch every time.

Perhaps he can find new ways to motivate us.

I pick up any coins, including pennies. I need to know where you usually toss them - I will be there. I need the money AND the exercise.

This reminds me of the classic quote from Joan Rivers -- "If God intended us to exercise, he would have put diamonds on the floor."

I walked past a dollar bill the other day. I wasn't touching it - I don't know where it's been. I'll pick up a $5 for sure, though.

I always worry that dollar bills are involved in some sort of elaborate prank where they're glued to the sidewalk and you're on camera, or they're embezzled and now your prints are on them, or something.

A penny. ten pennies make a dime and 100 make a dollar. It all adds up.

Well, dang, I feel like a wastrel, folks.

I will pick up a penny. Not only may it be lucky but it makes me stretch which I should do more of anyway.

This too.

Hope that the falling away flies are steering clear of your large fruit. Avoid the pomegranate as the effort is not commensurate with the eating reward.

Ha! +10!

Officials in Sweden are investigating how a cleaning lady was able to steal a commuter train that later derailed and smashed into a house in a suburb of Stockholm. How does this work?

If I knew, I would already have stolen a commuter train and derailed it into a house! I always thought part of the allure of stealing trains was that it was like stealing with the training wheels on -- you could only get so far with it.

"At the rate things move in Washington, the Death Star likely wouldn't be "fully operational" ..., until sometime in the 2030s. " It would never be fully operational because of glitches, technical and/or man-made. That's reality.

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

In lieu of picking up coins, sometimes I'll get change back, pick up a penny/nickel/something, say "WOW! THANK YOU! WOW!" and ask if they know where the nearest rare coin dealer is.



But the restraining order has prevented it since.

Sidenote, I'm amazed we haven't somehow worked around to "Miss Moneypenny" jokes yet.

If it take 5 seconds to pick up a penny, that is $7.20/hour. Minimum wage is $7.25/hour.

Clearly, the answer is greater efficiency in penny-lifting.

I've been told that it is good luck to pick up a penny that is "heads up" and bad luck to pick up a penny that is "tails up". The appropriate response to the latter is to bend down and turn it over so the next person to come along can have good luck.

I have a friend who does that!

And, now, you!

I was so excited. I couldn't believe my luck. Then I opened the folded bill and there was a friggin religious lecture about greed and sinning. Boy was I pissed.

That's your greed and sin talking!

Still, it was nice of them to include the money with the pamphlet. Usually you just get the pamphlet and no compensation whatsoever.

See, that's precisely the problem. If your ideal government is The One That Gets Things Done, then the dictator is the way to go. But if your ideal government is The One That Prevents Bad Things From Happening To You, then republicanism is the smart move. I think this was explained in The Federalist.

And if your ideal is blissful inefficiency, coupled with lots of acrimonious yelling -- well, you have some options.

That Justice Scalia has learned to speak without moving his lips. Long live Paul Winchell! Or Senor Wences, if that's your cup of ventriloquism.

Oddly, his lips still mouth, "No new taxes."

It only looked like one when folded. Once opened it had the lecture about being a bad person.

Oh, never mind. Booo all around.

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Did you know that according to myth, if you can eat a pomegranate without dropping a single seed, you will be the shah of Iran? Is that something to strive for or avoid?

I wondered how I had suddenly become the Shah. What do you have to eat to turn back? I have responsibilities back home!

Cost overruns. Darn government contracts.

I have seen vigorous debates on Star Wars forums about whether or not the Alliance should feel culpable for the civilian laborers who no doubt perished when the under-construction second DS exploded.

Ebay! Empty the Nation's Attic. "I don't know a lot about this, but I'm putting a ridiculously high price on it!" "Buy it now" would clear things up in no time. Hope Diamond for $13,000,000,000,000.

And for $14,000,000,000,000 you can give it to a family you dislike!

If you had a ring that made you invisible, is there any good you can do with it? I can't think of anything.










Hm. Well. You could get into Lord of the Rings conventions without paying, I guess.

Have you thought about either of these? |-^-| or |-o-|

I'm a fan of "A" or "t" (which looks nothing like a B!) as well.

We've been saving and rolling all our pennies since 1977. I'd estimate we've accumulated around $400. A thief could get a hernia trying to steal the collection (although they'd deserve it!).

"A thief could get a hernia trying to steal the collection" is one of my favorite sentences this year so far.

Do these only happen to scantily clad celebrities, or do regular people have them, too? What would be classifies as a normal person's wardrobe malfunction? Baseball cap brim turned up? Slip showing (do women even wear slips?)? Fly unzipped?

I would say, "My typical Friday attire," but...

I think slips went out around the same time as those secret waist-band pockets.

My rule is, found money is charity money. I donate it, if I find it on the street or in the washing machine after doing my kid's clothing. So if I found the $20 that wasn't a $20, the scolder might have taken that money out of a starving man's wallet. Just my $.02.

That's a good rule!

...although if I were your kid I'd probably try to argue that if you found it in the machine right after doing my clothing, its origin would seem pretty clear. Then again, free laundry! Who am I to complain?

Hey, that's not fair. A large number of studies have shown that Justice Thomas is consistently more conservative than Justice Scalia, so he's no puppet. Of course, Justice Thomas still makes Calvin Coolidge sound like Bill Clinton.

So it's only calumny, maybe!

*everyone leaves the chat*

I've heard complaints from servers that some fundamentalist families deliberately use the phony money as tips.

Oh, man, that's lame. It's one thing finding it on a sidewalk. It's another thing giving valueless paper to your server, unless your server has done something exceptionally terrible.

I LOVE slips. Being a guy, i don't get to wear one often.

The Freudian kind or the regular kind?

Would you please explain the heiroglyphs you're posting? They don't make sense to some of us. (Me.)

Well, you know what they say about hieroglyphs: "Feather before squiggly line, except after bird."

Er, these are mostly my trying to render Star Wars starships in text art, speaking of conversations that are not offputting if you just walked into them.


Hey, don't you guys read your own paper? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news...

I wrote about it too!

I think we're all here in denial, speaking of hieroglyphics!

(I'm sorry, I haven't eaten my large fruit yet today.)

I won't pick up anything smaller than a quarter. I twirl my mustache and sneer at smaller change on the ground.

You sound like the sort of person who would have a strong opinion about what monopoly token to keep.

I routinely picked up one to two bags of trash around the condo complex where I lived every morning as part of my exercise routine. My butt thanked me. I kept all the money (biggest amount $5 bill), rehomed several abandoned cats, and threw away everything else, including lottery tickets, 7-11 slurpees, liquor bottles and used condoms, I moved, for obvious reasons.


Sidenote, I have never heard "rehomed" used as a verb like that.

Erik Wemple's commenters are giving yours a real good run for your money in the snark department today!

Oh, these are great!

That whole story is hilarious -- or terrifying, as usual.

And really, who gives a rat's patootie about ol Lance anyway? He hasn't been a major figure in quite a while. Is this all just a desperate - pathetic - wail for attention?

Lance Armstrong talking to Oprah is like that objection about not being as major a figure as you once were in stereo.

He made the point that despite the fact that the death star cost $850 quadtrillion, a single starship bought with a few six-packs was able to blow it up...

Yeah! It's a sound objection.

Actually the one raising it was Paul Shawcross, who deserves full credit for the quality of that reply.

That was in Clerks! Randall and Dante discussed it there, and it predates the internet.

Oh, right!

Kevin Smith movies were the Internet before the Internet was the Internet.

a penny--cuz if it's a wheat penny it's worth a nickle

As a kid, I used to run a business selling wheat pennies on Amazon for $0.01 and charging in excess for shipping, but people quickly figured out what was going on and I had to stop.

If everyone on earth spent 12 hours a day picking up pennies at $7.25/hr, we would have enough to fund the Death Star in 3,823 years.

The circle is now complete!

My tights were running down my butt while I stood in line, all I could do was hope they wouldn't hit my ankles til I got to my car and could grope and pull them up.

My general litmus test for wardrobe malfunctions is that if an old lady approaches you on the sidewalk and says, "Dear, your dress," it is never because she is taken aback by its beauty. It is always because you have tucked it into your leggings by mistake.

Several years ago I unilaterally decided to clean up the other side of the road (brushy) across from our house, because so much trash had accumulated there over the years. Never found so much as a penny (if only all those bottles and cans had been returnable, though), but did find among the odder items one shoe, a car muffler and a large dead snake.

Speaking of dead snakes, I think it may be about time to wrap up this chat! Speak now or forever hold your comment!

Just ask Mehitabel.

I'm sorry, we don't have a seating in the "Friends of the Gyges Joke" section of this chat until 2:00.

An as. You'll never see me stooping for a quincunx.

Speaking of Gyges jokes.

When I was in elementary school we had the heads up rule. We also thought the luck only applied if the penny was dated with the year of your birth (though there was no bad luck penalty if the date was wrong). Then again, you could actually buy a piece of gum or a tootsie roll on the way home from school with a penny at the convenience store. Yes, it was a while ago. Now get off my lawn!

I feel as though luck years ago used to be much more skittish than it is nowadays.

I sometimes pick up a penny that is heads up if I think I need the "luck" that day. Often though, I leave them for someone who might need more luck that day than I do (I feel pretty blessed most days). I'm going to start turning over tails up pennies; I like the good-pay-it-forward-karma of that.

And in 35 years, you can build up $400 worth of karma!

When I worked in DC, about 12 years ago, my work had a shuttle bus that make rounds among our locations throughout the day. In between making rounds, the drivers would often let the bus idle out front (this is pre-9/11), sometimes while they got snacks or used the restroom. Once, the driver came out to find it gone. Then we received a call from a local liquor store--someone had comandeered it, and driven to the store, where he was attempting to trade it for some booze. The shopkeeper saw the company logo on the side of the bus, and doubted the legality of the proposed trader. The bus was returned, but it no longer idled out front.

I am now adding "commandeer a bus" to my list of life goals.

Did you ever see the episode of "Designing Women" where this happens to the normally tres-elegant Julia Sugarbaker (the late Dixie Carter)? Hilarious stuff if you can find it.

No, I'll have to look it up!

I once read that 45% of dollar bills had passed through a strippers g-string at some point in their circulation. Eeuuw.

Well, on that glorious and easily verifiable note, have a fantastic 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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