ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jan 22, 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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Happy Tuesday!

Hope the inauguration treated you well! Let's roll!

So I gather that at the Inaugural they don't give a silver medal to the candidate who finished in second place?

I was waiting for that portion, if only because I would love to have seen Mitt Romney's version of the McKayla Maroney face. 

Have you heard of maple bacon ice cream? If so, what do you think?

*leaves chat, treks to wherever this is sold, buys 8 tins, stops returning calls*

Ever since my fake girlfriend died, I have come to realize how bad the fake health care system is.

This calls for fake health care reform!

But there are some other fictional problems that are just as pressing. We need that Death Star! And comprehensive fictional immigration reform, if only to keep people's memoirs from suddenly migrating over there without warning. 

Dana Milbank wrote: "Mitt Romney sent regrets and, it appeared, the vast majority of House Republicans skipped the proceedings as well." I suspect there was a secret coronation of Mitt going on at the same time.

The shadow government begins now! 

It is 11:12. You have eight minutes before this class marches into the Dean's office.

Dang it, I've been here and answering this whole time, I just omitted to click the LIVE button again! I blame the  Second Term post-apocalyptic world we live in.

I can't find that hat that Justice Scalia was wearing anywhere at WalMart.

Peter Marks joked on Twitter that Justice Scalia seemed to think he was Lord Capulet, and I can't think of a better way of putting it. 

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.


I understand the dead fake girlfriend. As a nerd,I know the only girlfriends we can tell people we have are fake ones, and then when it comes time to produce the girlfriend, of course we nerds then have to explain that the fake girlfriend died. Every nerd does that. What I don't understand is why a popular jock needed a fake girlfriend.

Nerd culture is mainstream culture now! Didn't you hear?

Would it be too much to ask for the WaPo to put a link to your latest, or at least to a Petrified Forest page, where I can easily find your older columns? I mean, they make it WAY too hard to stalk you. Nice shoes, by the way. ;)

I am mildly alarmed by your use of the phrase "they make it WAY too hard to stalk you." Are you that van that keeps circling my house? 

I am a human being.

Ha! +5!

As a sidenote, it is so cold in the office right now that I cannot feel some of my fingers. Now typing in gloves. We'll see how this goes.

The Number Currently Online divided by the Total Responses.

Sorry I'm typing at this glacial pace! In my defense, I am also typing at a glacial temperature. A mammoth just walked past and complained of a chill. 

I love these electronic cigarettes. I never could get into smoking before., Yet, with these electronic cigarettes, I am learning to slowly get used to increasing dosages of nicotine until finally I believe I will be able to leave the electronic cigarettes for regular cigarettes. I want to say that electronic cigarettes are a great invention for future cigarette smokers.

They're a gateway drug. One day, you're trying e-cigarettes... the next, you're smoking an entire gate.

On the front page of the Post, in the story by Monica Hesse and Manuel Roig-Franzia, I read the sentence, "The enormity of the occasion met the enormity of the room." Is it really possible? Did they really write that? Indeed they did. Someone please take them a dictionary. Also, take the editors a dictionary. And make them read it.



I love both of their writing so maybe, maybe the dictionary has finally caved and is admitting that usage? Maybe? 

California is facing enough problems with its underfunded school system. The last thing they need to do is get rid of science teachers who want to teach, ESPECIALLY middle school science. Frankly, I think we need more people like Stacie Halas, especially if we want to encourage more people to study STEM.

I wish Ms. Halas the best and I think California made the wrong call. This does also showcase how long the process is for firing teachers though, from another angle! I wonder if anyone has contemplated combining her former and current professions before? speaking of things that I should probably not Google on my office computer. It could be a great way to learn units of measurement!

I hope you didn't miss Michelle Obama's eye roll directed at something John Boehner said -

That I saw! That was quite the epic eye-roll!

This is what happens when you slash editorial staff. Now, that's an enormity.


They have descended to being a record current usage, rather than arbiters of usage: a fact that Dr. Johnson would find terrible!

I assume, given all the dispiriting updates to dictionaries, that Dr. Johnson spends most of his days doing his best impression of a rotisserie chicken.

So it should have been "The enormousness of the occasion met the enormousness of the room"? Was that the problem?

Enormity is supposed to be a big awful thing, not just a big thing, is I think what is riling us folks. 

I think there should be some way of crowdsourcing grammar/usage edits, because there are so many people on the Internet who feel so strongly about it, and otherwise we waste our energies fuming in these chats, when we could be forces for good!

See, we who found their usage grating were believers in the first two, since the last two are sort of kind of a little bit the product of attrition of the first two by people's desire to make enormity mean enormousness. It's like the irritate-aggravate-exacerbate slippery slope. Irritate used to be irritate and aggravate used to be 'make worse,' then aggravate became irritate and exacerbate was 'make worse' and now exacerbate is poised to fall as well. 

Commas Save Lives! "Let's eat, Grandma"

Ha! It's like the old saw that capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse, and, well...

Such an excess of stupidity, sir, is not in Nature. Just received from Dr. Johnson by Ouija board about the current state of dictionaries.

We should retitle this chat the Old And Young Curmudgeons Hour Of Complaining About Terrible Things That Are Befalling The English Language. I think it would sell. Misappropriation of quotations -- the other day, I saw a card that said "It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." Guess to whom it was attributed?

The only problem with this rebranding would be that if I committed even a minor solecism I would have to go jump off a bridge Javert-style. 

crowdsourcing usage? who gets the last edit?


No, I think Lynne Truss, the author of Eats, Shoots, and Leaves should. I don't want that awesome responsibility. 

Should have been, "alas, poor enormous room,, with the swirling air of deceit brushing thine walls, I hardly knew ye, yet with this enormous event, I may trade my horse for a kingdom."

That's how I want every sentence to be. 


Also the bonus commas. The bonus commas are essential. 

Grammar (misuse of "myself"), definitions (e.g., enormity), gun control (confiscation). Digression - Guns should be like razors - low cost and widespread - and ammunition should be like razor blades (and cigarettes) - expensive)? Now a tax on ammo would really raise a ruckus.

Actually, a question I was pondering recently is: Is there an active ammo lobby? People who don't really care about guns but really value their right to own ammunition? The NAA, or something?

No, Jesus! No! Peace.

Well, if we're letting exclamation points into the ring, it's a whole different ballgame, to mix some metaphors into a thick soup. 

The other problem is that people use online reference tools. Some of the tools have questionable credibility, but a person who would use an online reference tool probably wouldn't be concerned about that anyway. Sigh....I'm getting old....

No, but Merriam Webster is one of those online tools that has a patina of pre-online respectability to it, right? That is a problem I always run into. I think, "Well, Britannica beats Wikipedia!" and then it turns out that actually having a vocal and attentive crowd constantly fighting over definition turf can actually prove more accurate in some areas.

Pretty sure it was Gandalf that said that, wasn't it?

They attributed it to ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

Yes. The difference between "don't stop" and "don't! Stop!"


I want to punch anyone who describes a funny situation and says "it was hysterical."

It wasn't! You were! 

That doesn't bug me as much, but that's because I'm fortunate enough not to hear it often. 

The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute. It includes both gun makers and ammo makers. Remember that the NRA is an organization of gun users and enthusiasts, not makers.

Hey, there we go! 

I still think NAA would be a better name...

Smithsonian attributed this Woody Allen quote to Albert Einstein: "Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once."

And Einstein was pretty funny himself, so it wasn't as though this was desperation in the face of scarcity...

I have found copies of both "The Cricket in Times Square" and "Harry Cat's Pet Puppy" in my box of kid books. Should I read them on the ride up and back and provide a book report? I also seem to have a complete set of Dr. Doolittle.

I'm impressed you can read on buses! I always get motion-sick! By all means, read away! 

Also, this glove-typing experiment is working pretty well, but I might wrap up soon both metaphorically and literally. 

But saying "I want to punch anyone..." is more annoyingly hipster.

Is it? I'm unfamiliar with the trend of hipsters wanting to punch people. I thought it was the inverse. 

Actually not. The NRA is by far mostly funded by gun manufacturers. I always wondered why gun consumers were ok with manufactures speaking for them, usually they have different opposing lobbyists. It's easy to check on this.

I think you're both right, at least in terms of who the constituency is -- enthusiasts and sportsmen, even if the funding comes from people on the manufacturing end.

... whom corrects my grammar.

I've been meaning to ask this for a while -- doesn't "free" kind of imply "unobligated"? That is to say, are you being redundant?

Yes, I am! I just wanted to stress the lack of obligation. But I can change...

Apparently, Mammoths were ill-tempered. One complaining of a chill might be dangerous.



And on that note, have a glorious remainder of the week!

Keep reading the Compost, and feel welcome, yet 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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