ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Feb 12, 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

I agree that Cerberus would be the perfect name for a moon, loyally following Pluto wherever it goes. Wouldn't Sisyphus be another obvious choice? What could be more pointless than to be a rock rotating around another rock that isn't even a planet anymore?


Or Tantalus -- always close enough to orbit, never close enough to touch, unless something has gone horribly wrong!

Also, hello! Chat is live!

I've never wrestled, and in fact wrestlers in school always sort of creeped me out, but for some reason this decision makes me really sad. Wrestling has a pure olympic pedigree. So for the IOC to ditch it is just more evidence to me that the IOC has lost its soul. What else is new, huh?

I think this calls for a return to Pure Olympic Pedigree sports, if only because I want to watch some people race in hoplite armor before I die. And pankration! Don't forget the pankration!

When you signed off last week, you stated you saw there was no one left on the chat. I was there, I can verify that, and I saw there were well over 200 people still online. So, don't fret. You have us loyal fans, even if our numbers don't show up on your side. We were there and we are still here.

Oh huzzah!

I think, in general, my end of the chat is the end where the problems are.

Real reason for Pontiff decision: need more time to focus on improving twitter feed.

Where better to pontificate?

Circe and Medea, after my two favorite witches. Which one would be better as a girlfriend? Circe would teach you a lot but would turn you into a hog when she was bored. Medea would be wacky fun until you try to leave and then all hell breaks out. Medea.

Ha, I like this! I think Circe would be better if you were looking for a low-commitment relationship like the one Odysseus enjoyed, but if you wanted a serious girlfriend and you were confident that you were never, ever, ever breaking up with her under any circumstances -- as you said, obvious choice. 

Follow-up question: which of the big-three gods would you date? Zeus, Poseidon, Hades? I can see this going any number of ways.

The last few Popes have not been coronated with the bejeweled three-tiered Papal tiara. Do you think the next Pope should be crowned with it?

You had me at bejeweled three-tiered Papal tiara. Clearly, yes. The more Distinctive Headgear, the merrier!

Wow. I don't know if I was cyber-bullied or if someone was sending me a reality check. I joke around on Twitter. I believe I have almost no followers. This allows me latitude to experiment with bad jokes. I always felt like doing so was sending jokes up into the cloud, where maybe someday someone who might like them might find them. I then received a personal tweet from a stranger asking for my email. I sent it to her. She then emailed me that she is an agent for comics and she wanted me to know that my jokes are no funny. She advised me to stop wasting my time and to do something more productive. I at first ignored her but then it upset me in the middle of the night. If I send jokes into the cloud and the cloud tells me to stop, maybe the cloud is telling me something. Now I am conflicted. Any advice?


Wow, this person sounds like she needs more hobbies. Does she do this to everyone who makes jokes of variable quality on Twitter? If so, how have I been spared?

It is 11:11. The students are organizing marching to the Dean and demanding to know where you are. We are thinking of hiring a billionaire to fly you to an island and torture you mercilessly by reading you bad romance writing. Is that a good incentive?

Ha, there are four of these, each with increasing urgency and a different time-stamp. I stand rebuked!

Great line about the pope becoming a chef in retirement . . . I never cease to be amazed at how eager some people are to be offended by what is OBVIOUSLY humor. Did you expect the reaction in the comments?

Honestly, after the poets, I feel strangely numb to criticism.

And you should have seen the jokes I didn't make about the pope. Given the response to the few sturdy limbs I felt comfortable crawling a tiny distance along, I am glad I went no further. But if you can't make fun of the most powerful single religious figure on this earth, whom can you make fun of? I tried to make it about the obviously (from a modern perspective) somewhat wacky aspects of the job, not about the man himself. The trouble with trying to do even that is that, historically, if there's one thing people are not good at taking, it is jokes that come anywhere close to their religious beliefs. So even when you try to tread carefully, you get -- what you saw.

I suppose Proserpina has already been used somewhere?

I was wondering why they suggested Persephone and not Proserpina, given that it is Pluto. Deep waters...

Pankration is called mixed martial arts today. People are trying to get it into the 2016 Olympics.

Do they still have the thing where you can disembowel a guy, like Damoxenos did? Because if so I am... not in favor of that.

I think he suddenly realised he has no wife, no kids, no pets and he's working every day and can't enjoy that. I want to retire to spend more time without my spouse and chillun.

He wouldn't be the only retiree who wanted to spend more time without his spouse and children. And that number includes people who have both. "For better or for worse, but not for lunch," as someone on a greeting card says.

According to this CNN piece, Stephen Colbert is eligible to become pope. Apparently the standards are rather, um, non-rigorous. A male baptized in the Catholic church. Or something. So I say Colbert for Pope! He didn't make the Senate - maybe this is better!

God was reserving him as an instrument for something higher!

Hey, if his sister doesn't win her election, this will be a nice consolation prize!

I see a vicious rumor that the Pope decided not to retire after all, yet I don't see it on the Post and therefore I conclude the Post would have the story if the Twitter rumor is true. If it is true, though, and if the Pope is infallible, was the Pope wrong when he retired or when he did not retire?

I don't know, but I'm not asking him which door has a tiger behind it until I can get that sorted out.

Zeus had commitment issues . . . . You could do Hades for half the year, and spend the rest in Poseiden's hot tub

Hades: Studies Show That People Can Stand Him For Half A Year!

is a slogan that was bandied around at Greek God headquarters before they went with Lord of the Underworld.

Date, no; quick fling, yes. With birth control. Raising a demi-god is a pain. And none of those three would ever be able to commit. Too many other maidens to chase & impregnate.

Good thought! Zeus was singlehandedly responsible for the epidemic of mythological single motherhood. Although if you look at the way most of the heroes turned out, their moms/mothers and mothers' understanding husbands/the random shepherds who picked them off hillsides/ did well.

The influence of studying classics is evident in your work and that of J.K. Rowling. Makes me wish I had done more than read the summaries of classics in high school. ' Do you see recurring themes in today's world? Do you think our reality TV will survive so that future generations will see it and judge us by it? Presumably the Greeks and Romans had low brow entertainments, but presumably most of that didn't survive and what did survive is what we generally describe as classics?

I believe Things Based On Greek Myth are going to be the next big wave of referential entertainment. Fairy Tales are almost old. And I think there's a show in development about Athena and another one called "Olympus" or something.

My Unified Tastelessness Theory of the past is that everything that you assume has survived because people realized what a Grand And Lasting Classic it was, actually looked pretty garish at the time. So I have no idea what of us is going to last. Given the Internet, probably everything, not that anyone will want to see it.

Zeus seems prone to fits of anger with unexpected consequences for the angree. Hades... uh, no. But Poseidon can keep me in pearls. :D

That's one for the Lord of the Ocean.

The philanderer, the surfer dude or the bad boy who needs a restraining order to release his wife? Women. You always ignore the nice guys.

Where are you finding nice guys in Greek myth?

I guess there's Hector, but he's taken.

Or Patroclus, but -- that might be a problem.

You fool!

Yes, but I understand the optimistic impulse! "Ah," you no doubt thought, "she wishes to congratulate me at greater length!"

Zeus would be all "I am Captain Thunderbolt" and in need on constant reassurance ("Oh, yes, you are the biggest god of them all!"). And while Poseidon would have a killer waterbed and I can think of many ways to have fun with that trident, I'm just not as into watersports as I used to be. Hades, on the other hand, would be fun, creative and devious. Don't know if I'd marry him, but he'd definitely be the best in the sack (or wherever).

You deserve points for this answer. +26!

Hades did take a bit more of a Stockholm Syndrome approach to courtship than I usually go for, though...

Zeus pro: Your offspring would be demigods. Zeus con: His attention is known to wander. Poseidon pro: You'll probably be a mermaid. Poseidon con: Red Lobster Friday is out. Hades pro: No drop-ins from annoying relatives. Hades con: Drop-ins from dead relatives.


I think your offspring would be demigods in all three cases, but I could be wrong.

Well, the rules said anything goes except biting and eye-gouging, so...

The guy was disqualified afterwards because they said that his reaching into this fellow's ribcage to disembowel him counted as several blows, not a single one, and he was supposed to be administering a single undefended blow. Which was not very consoling to the deceased.

Who would even want to be a moon circling a minor, recently demoted planet? I want to name the next pope. Maybe Syzygy the First.

Oh man, if they sold the papal naming rights, I would be elated. Think of the pun possibilities! Pope Floats! Pope Diamond! Pope Solo!

I am less disturbed by the news that there is an ape that loves to watch porn than I am by the realization that somewhere someone thought it might be a good idea to give porn to an ape.

The shame! He's never going to finish the complete works of Shakespeare now!

Don't you have to be an ordained priest?

Shhhhhhhhhh! Let us dream!

The pope is only infallible when he makes a pronouncement ex cathedra about doctrinal matters. Sort of like, he has to say "Simon Says" for it to count as infallible.

I love the sentence "Sort of like, he has to say 'Simon Says' for it to count as infallible." Thank you for explaining!

I find it upsetting that they are dropping wrestling from the Olympics. My son was a wrestler, and it was the best sport he was ever involved in for discipline and athletic prowess. It seems like Pizza Hut dropping pizza from their menu and focusing on chicken wings!

Yeah! Now if Domino's were to drop pizza and focus on chicken wings...

I should have typed that the pope has to say "Simon Peter Says" in that last submission.

Well amended!

You must have forgotten about Semele.

That was her own fault. Well, Hera's fault. But her fault for listening to Hera.

Strife always seems to get involved in those god-human relationships.

You should definitely invite both to your wedding, though.

Helen had a couple of nice-guy brothers.

Castor and Pollux?

This is where I say "Castor can't have been that nice if they named the oil after him!" and you groan and leave the chat.

Dating Hades would have the advantage of being able to visit where he lives and seeing all the great late authors.

Oh, that's true. As long as he didn't feel you were using him. And if Achilles in the Odyssey is anything to go by, they'd all be bitter and angry.

(as the room empties of non-Classicists)

I always get the two Ajaxes confused, which I guess makes me Ajaxist. He was the big one, yes? But didn't he get upset with Odysseus and kill himself? I mean, "Spoiler Alert."

They would. And they might be resentful because Zeus's demigod kids get all the attention.


But I think Rick Riordan is writing a series to fix that.

but then he's the father of the protagonist, so that's probably why.

Hey, just as I mentioned them, I saw your comment!

He does have that terrible grudge against Odysseus, though. But you can't be a hero unless at least one god has a grudge against you.

Just think of all those lovely beach vacations!

Good point!

I think you guys - or rather gals - are getting too influenced by Disney. Posidon of myth was mostly into messing with the wars and other travel plans of his friends and enemies by manipulating the weather. Imagine never having to worry about bad weather on a vacation as long as you are willing to keep it near the coast. Or being able to mess with the travel plans of people you don't like as long as they are going to be on or near the ocean. This has posibilities.

Or just shutting down DC forever by threatening a single inch of snow that never actually managed to fall...

OMG: Someone reads jokes on Twitter, takes the time to contact the joker, ask for private email, then tells you your jokes are no good and you should stop wasting your time and do something more productive. Dude, she's just showing off her exquisite mastery of understated irony. People with an actual job don't have time to contact strangers on Twitter to tell them their jokes aren't that good.

Well put!

(Of course, we say this and just watch her be a tremendously successful agent who is alarmingly good at budgeting her time and views this as a public service of sorts. But somehow I doubt it.)

The new Vatican soft drink Popesi?

Even I groaned a little at that one...

The previous chatter had it backwards: Should be, "Hades con: No drop-ins from nice relatives. Hades con: Drop-ins from annoying relatives."

This presumes you don't have any dead relatives you might want to see, though...

But then again, just because you might want to see them doesn't mean you want them to join you on dates.

Isn't this like Speaker of the House, where apparently one need not be a member of the House of Representatives in order to be elected Speaker.

Less sure of the first half -- as for the second, it's a fun bit of Congressional mythology but Slate suspects that if you actually look at the emanations of the Constitutional penumbras, it's assumed the Speaker is a member. Worth a try, though!

Hello, I am a literary agent. I see you have some unpublished novels. May I please have your private email?

You can't fool me! You're just going to excoriate me for ruining the cloud!

Another major disadvantage of a fling with Zeus: vengeful wife hanging around waiting to turn you into a cow or get you burned to death.

Poor Hera.

Did Hera ever cheat? I can't think of a single incident, off the top of my head. She was obsessed with Jason, but I don't think it led to anything.

This chat has made me realize how much of the mythology I learned in school has been sadly forgotten. Reco for best book to bring it all back? Edith Hamilton? Something else?

I enjoyed what I've read of Edith Hamilton and Robert Graves' mythologies, but I would actually advise Ovid's Metamorphoses -- hits most of the big stories, he's a hilarious writer, and there are all these weird little side anecdotes that are great fun as well.

Pygmalion was a nice guy. You'd have to hide his chisel. I also like Pope Pourri.

Oh, Pope Pourii!

Edgar Allen Pope.

Er, wait.

What about castor sugar, though? (Any Brits here?)

"Marmite! Weetabix!"

I'm just shouting the names of British food products; I'm not sure if there are Brits here.

They're thinking of dropping wrestling, but still have boxing for men and have recently added it for women? Priorities, people!


I think you can tell what will be coming out of me next, as far as opinion pieces are concerned.

For the poster way at the beginning (sorry, I'm late!) who insisted that s/he'd have a fling but use birth control: That ain't how it works. The ancients were very clear that the gods are ALWAYS fertile. That's how we got Aphrodite. Also: I am thoroughly depressed to learn that wrestling got fewer viewers and ticket sales than handball. Frickin' HANDBALL! WTH is wrong with us today?

My first response to that was, "Huh, maybe handball is more exciting than I thought!"

Zeus: Alpine skiing.

Hades: You can be surrounded by dead people!

There's a Disney movie about the Trojan War, involving Hades?

Fortunately no. Just Hercules, which features Hades as the antagonist, of all the random antagonists to pick when Hera would have been perfectly fine and more interesting.

But I do have a soft spot for the film, if only because of the muses.

Would you drink Popesi with your Popa John's Pizza?


Chose Hades.

Especially if you really like the head part of the dog and wish dogs came standard with more than one of those.

Hephaestus! I have a thing for blacksmiths. Aphrodite didn't like being married to him but her taste in men totally sucks anyway. Ares is a total psychopath.

Hephaestus also controls the metallurgy robots, if that floats your boat, and WHY WOULDN'T IT?

He makes armor -- maybe he makes amor, as well!

(I apologize to the friend whose joke about dating blacksmiths that was.)

You have 199 online, up from 189 just a few seconds ago. We are still here.

Well done, gang! If you'll stay for the Greek God date-off, you'll stay for anything!

You can divide "Popeye's" into Pope Yes

And don't forget the Superb Owl.

If it makes you feel any better, Gene Weingarten is now a half hour late. Are most humor writers late for things?

Punctuality is the thief of time, as I think Oscar Wilde said.

Judging by the sheer number of humorists who have jokes about unpunctuality, I would guess it's a pattern.

We got our start trying to make endearing excuses for not turning up, or something! Also, "discontented muttering irreparable childhood damage something something."

Once Stephen is elected by the conclave, he could then be ordained. His present lay status does NOT preclude his selection.

There we go!

Now it begins.

I thought for a moment Gweneth Paltrow had birthed more children.


Orpheus was devoted to his Eurydice. OK, perhaps a bit obsessed.

Just a tad.

Musicians, man.

The wiki tell me that Hera produced Hebe after being impregnated by a head of lettuce. I'll believe anything I read on the Internet!


is the best impression I can give of the noise I just emitted on reading that. Well done, Greek mythology/the Internet, whichever of you is to blame for this.

We should probably wrap up soon, speaking of being impregnated by heads of lettuce.

though I can't recommend it.

I took a quick dip, but I have no memory of it. Or of anything, actually. What am I doing here? Who am I?

I think Kim Kardashian bought it and to wear in her wedding to Kanye.

I'd believe that. Heaven forfend Kim Kardashian should ever be absent from any conversation!

A few years ago I used to frequently see this Internet ad that read "Which rock star would you date?" Now we have moved to dating Greek gods. In some way, I see this as progress.

Oh, absolutely!

I thought any lay status was a no-no for popes (and priests, for that matter).

Oh good, I'm glad someone else went there!

Today's Mardi Gras, and the classic Brazilian film "Black Orpheus" is a retelling of the Orpheus and Euridyce legend against the backdrop of Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro. Thread-weave!

Oh, right, it's Mardi Gras!

Well, I'd better go figure out what to give up! Maybe... tardiness. That should go well.

What childhood damage have you suffered?

It's just something anyone who writes humor is contractually obligated to say... Unless they've updated the Code since the '80s.

Weingarten is still late and Robinson has postponed until tomorrow. You are the God of Tuesday Discussions!

Well, it's not quite the deityship I was hoping for, but I'll gladly take it!

Is that what we have to call you now?

It's a bit of a mouthful, and I'm not sure I could keep a straight face. Also if you mail anything to the post addressed to Your Deityship I am pretty sure it goes to Carolyn Hax.

Olympic team handball is like indoor soccer where you use your hands. Quite popular in Europe. Unlike hoplite racing, which is as popular as a Bud Light pub crawl.

I take the first point, but -- I don't understand your hostility to hoplite dashes.

You personally can't say on WAPO?

"Is Poetry dead? Let's contemplate this question."

Your damaged childhood is that you had a good childhood, thus preventing you from the torments that create great writers. We really should have had your parents beat you and abandon you a few times..

I am always complaining to them about this.

"Beethoven's parents at least had the decency to come storming home in the wee hours of the morning and force him to practice the piano in the cold and dark! And you just offered me unstinting love and support! It's like you didn't want me to succeed!"

Yet the Olympics now have golf, which is about as exciting as watching grass grow. Actually, now that I think about it...


To the lady poster who's willing to have a quick fling with the gods. Disclosure: I'm only a semi deity from the southern Mexico pantheon, but I'm adorable. Send me your email so I can send a winged panther for you.

Are you sure you won't just send her an email excoriating her for daring to make jokes in the cloud?

Okay, this is the second callback to that exchange; I think I have to ring down the curtain.

The big dumb one.

I just like hearing Ajax referred to this way.

But wouldn't all of your adventures take place upside down?


I know these things. The first is a spread that has both the taste and consistency of ear wax. The second is a cereal that has both the taste and consistency of a doormat.

So, English delicacies, is what you're saying!


I'm sorry, I had to.

I got gold for watching paint dry.

I bronzed.  :(

I so want to hear a Pope say the words "Simon says..."

And on that note, have a great week! Enjoy the State of the Union! Have a grand Valentine's Day! Enjoy the asteroid flyby! And keep reading the Compost!

Also, feel unobligated 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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