ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Mar 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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Happy Tuesday!

Before anything else, I have found the holy grail of Facebook studies, which will enable you to tell if people are smart, happy, or even heterosexual. It's here. Peruse the heck out of it!

And now on to questions!

You know which movie they should make: "Argo". No, not the one the already made: they should actually make the fake movie from the actual script that they used as the cover for the fake movie. Come on, wouldn't people like to see that?

Or they could make Argo: The Story of Jason, which is actually pretty dynamic, all things considered, and for once has Hera being helpful rather than hinder-ful to a Greek hero.

But yeah, I'd see it. Then again, I'd see Oz The Great and Powerful, and I hear that's TERRIBLE.

You don't really do your laundry in public in your pajamas, do you? Which reminds me, for those of us a bit older who are less familiar with this trend of wearing pajamas out in public: Is there an appropriate thing one is to do when conversing with a person in public wearing pajamas? Are you supposed to complement the pajamas ignore them all together Iwhich has been my option so far), or what?

I think you're supposed to do what the other people in my building usually did, which is mutter, "Why are you eating a banana?" and then ask, "Are you even doing laundry, or are you just here for the WiFi?" Just, you know, to make the encounter as mortifying as possible.

I see you have gathered that 11 am is too early in the morning for you. I guess those late nights watching Star Wars make it hard to get up in the morning, eh? I presume this means you will always be on time at noon?

No, it's a quirk of the daylight savings!

Or does it actually say noon somewhere? Because I would have zero problems with that.

I love her too, and I don't know her either. I've been thinking, though, is the "cult of imperfectionism" particularly a female thing? And maybe even an 18-45 year-old-female thing? I don't use online social networking, but I can't imagine guy friends doing this sort of thing, even though I know my girlfriends and I do. Also, even though I am far removed from highschool, I can't imagine highschool-age kids doing it either. Back in the day, my highschool peers and I were all about perfection, or--at the very least--fitting in.

I think there is a component of it that's female, especially just in terms of when you are establishing the baseline of People With Strong Opinions About Jennifer Lawrence, that does narrow your pool a little. I think the "Gahhh I'm A Walking Wreck" sentiment I was aiming at is a more general human condition that blossoms only, but its cousin the I Think I'm Kind of Neat Actually But Let Me Put Myself Down To Seem More Relatable Thing, if not an exclusively female phenomenon, has an uncomfortably large number of female practitioners. But that's fuel for a whole other thesis!

But in high school didn't you have the "Oh My Heavens It's 3 AM And I Have Started Nothing Yet" "Oh yeah? It's 8, and I just ate some cereal and decided not to study" competitions? We definitely had those, especially if we were trying to fit in.

I don't understand the target audience for Palin's book. Well, yes, I do -- the only people who'd read her are people who already agree with her. So, her book's intent is not to convince anyone that the war on xmas is real, right? Is it to give advice to her followers about how they can wage and win this war, i.e., a rallying cry? I just don't see a book's worth of material here, but if anyone can squeeze something out of nothing, I guess it's her.

Although, according to my Holy Grail List of Facebook Things, one of the Likes most predictive of high happiness is "Sarah Palin." So maybe we're doing it wrong.

The internets need to get started on this. What can I do to help with this cause?

I think first we need some sort of graphically interesting banner, and second we need to wait until the War on Christmas starts up in, oh, October, or wherever the Constant Christmas Creep has put it.

Yesterday they had your chat listed for noon. I see they changed it back to 11 today.


A HOUSE THAT LOOKS LIKE HITLER?!?!?! (Oh no, I just lost the argument)

The above is the classic original House That Looks Like [Item], I believe.

I see that new TV series "The Bible" is getting good ratings. I haven't seen it yet, People tell me the book is better. I see there is a sequel called "The Book of Mormon", I can't wait to see the theater version of that book. Does anyone know if the author plans any further books?

I don't know if the author does, but there is what L. Ron Hubbard describes as an authorized sequel "closer to the author's vision" by L. Ron Hubbard that I can hook you up with if you will just sign over all your possessions to me.

I'm really hoping The Bible and Vikings do a crossover episode where a monk has to run into The Bible and grab as many characters as he can and run with them to safety before the pillaging starts.

(I have watched neither of these shows.)

Is it just me or does "China Watch" always sponsor your discussions? I have noticed they always advertise on your discussion site, at least on my computer.. If you read Alexandra Petri, you'd love to read about China, because the two are so...little related.

Well, we both have A's and T's and I's and N's in our names, as I always say to people at parties when I realize we have nothing else in common and am unwilling to let the conversation die just yet.

Someone recently asked me the oddest question at a Metro station. They asked if the Metro goes to Disney World. That got me thinking: Is there a connection in Arlington to Disney Word?

I totally understand this, though, because the interior does somewhat resemble those Disney World tube-train things, if my dim recollection of visiting when I was 6 and equally dim recollection of returning when I was 22, serve.

On Sunday I will be drinking a vanilla instead of a shamrock shake.

Next you'll be bringing the snakes back!

I've never encountered any non-Christian who takes offense when someone wishes him or her Merry Christmas. But I've encountered plenty of Christians who act like Sarah Palin, getting all huffy when store clerks wish them Happy Holidays. "What's wrong with Merry Christmas?!" Palin could double for Walter in the next Jeff Dunham Christmas special.

Embarrassing Confession: I have not seen the Jeff Dunham Christmas special.

But I'll take your word for it.

I am looking forward to Sarah Palin's new Christmas book, wherein she will decry the commercialisation of the holiday. It'll, um, be for sale just before Christmas.


Put Frigg back in Friday. Norse goddesses need love too.

Oh, good point! I do love me some Norse goddesses! Freya! Frigg! Loki, on occasion! But Thor has the name recognition he needs right now to start a real movement.

It is my observation that if there was a War on Christmas, that Christmas won.

I've been concurring in that opinion for the past two W's on C, but nobody else seems to have noticed! Heck, I'm more concerned with the War on Thanksgiving. It's a holiday too, Every Commercial Ever!

The best part of the study is the little graphs on pages 7 & 8 and the charts on pages 11 thru the end. The rest is sominex replacement.

I'm glad you read it!

The charts, I should have specified, are the best/only good part. But they are so excellent.

Singles like "The Hunger Games." People in relationships like "Scrapbooking." Just to pick one random example.

Your piece did allow me to understand some of the dislike of Anne Hathaway which was previously inexplicable to me, but the tone of the vitriol spewed about her is totally out of proportion to your theory. I can see not liking her but the personal hatred is crazy. I'm sorry she comes off as together and organized. She is a curve wrecker. That doesn't mean folks should act like she is the worst person on the planet. In my mind there isn't any split between the two of them because they are both fantastic actresses, although I give Jennifer the nod because when I saw WINTER'S BONE I was so blown away I was speechless.

This is where I murmur that I once had the honor of meeting Anne Hathaway when she was the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year and she was super nice, a good sport about the roast, very down to earth (I realize that is what people always say about celebrities, and Carrie Fisher has a good riff on it in her new book where she points out 'as opposed to what?' but she really was) and so all the vitriol baffles me too. We just liked her, like, SIX MINUTES AGO, INTERNET!

And yeah, both are awesome. I was trying to focus more on the J-Law adulation than the A-Hath antipathy, because as you point out the phenomenon I was trying to describe does underpredict the sheer amount of mouth-foaming weirdness.

I'm a woman who likes Mac cosmetics and I'm confused after waking up from naps. Does that mean I'm a male homosexual?

Deep waters. 

Although "Hello, sir, are you confused after waking up from naps?" is definitely going to replace, "Sir, are you heterosexual?" as my go-to pickup line.

Only three people in the Falkland Islands voted for independence from the United Kingdom. As Che once stated to Fidel , this is not a good sign for the revolution.

I think one vote was mysteriously lost! Probably a penguin ate it.

"YAY, STATUS QUO!" as I assume everyone in the Falklands is chanting now.

Interesting that liking hello kitty suggests you are disagreeable and unstable. That's been my experience.

I did see a bearded gentleman on the bus the other day with a very fetching Hello Kitty bag who seemed pretty friendly and agreeably until I tried to compliment the bag.

To him every problem looks like a nail.

And when all you have is an MC Hammer, every problem looks like a -- STOP. HAMMER TIME.

"I've never encountered any non-Christian who takes offense when someone wishes him or her Merry Christmas". Depends on what you mean by "takes offense". I'm offended when somebody wishes me a joyous occasion linked to their religion when I am not celebrating it because doing so (IMHO) they are assuming I am celebrating it since there would be no reason on this earth why I wouldn't be celebrating it because it's the most important holiday in the world. Do I react when they say it - heck no, it's not worth it. But don't assume we're all Christians and celebrating Christmas. I'm celebrating a day off of work and chinese food.

I think you do a good job of phrasing this. It's not that the greeting doesn't bother you. It's that you're POLITE. Especially compared to the people who snark at you for wishing them Happy Holidays.

China Watch is not sponsoring your chat on my computer. You're brought to me by the Centers for Disease Control. I choose not to ponder the reasons for this, and attribute it instead to Internet magic. I think the best strategy to foil these ads is for each of us, every so often, to click on or search for a bunch of random things -- shoes, Nazis, Greek myths, Thai food, birthday decorations, acai berries -- to confuse the ad algorithm. With luck, this will work on unmanned drones, too.

Ooh, let's see what it says for me!

I'm responding from the back end, so I can never see all the exciting things you do like How Many People Are Here and What Are The Creepy Ads. Just a second...

The Promise of Paradise Exhibit at the Freer/Sackler!

Guys, I feel so... classy now. Thanks, creepy ads!

Tomorrow I'm supposed to have a one on one meeting with my new boss. I know he's going to ask me lame questions, like what are my goals. I don't have any goals. I'm 50. I just want to be able to retire some day. What should I say if he asks me this?

You could try the old chestnut. "My goal is to become immortal. So far, 100 percent success!"

Or you could do that Marco Rubio thing where you awkwardly quote the title of a hip hop song as though it's a lyric and hope that answers the question.

Any thoughts on the potential reunion of Luke, Leia and Han in the new Star Wars movie? Simple pandering to folks like me, old enough to have seen the original movie in its first run?

Other than whimpering and whispering, "PLEASE, LET ME REMEMBER YOU AS YOU WERE," I think a reunion would be sort of cool. I hope it won't be that they're needed to save the galaxy or that there's a crisis, but rather that they'll just be relaxing on a porch swing on Corellia, sipping spiked blue milk, and wishing good luck to whoever has to actually go resolve that.

No, but it does go to the Capitol, which is pretty Micky Mouse.


I'm all for putting "Saturnalia" back into Christmas. What is Saturnalia? It was a pagan Roman holiday celebrated on Dec 25th. Lotsa drinking orgies, etc. Emperor Constantine appropriated the holiday in an attempt to Christianize the empire, and solidify it becasue it was starting to break up.

Baby steps, baby steps. Let's start with reintroducing the one pagan deity, and then, when the public is comfortable and relaxed, introduce the next Mind-Blowing Party Concept.

I object to the War on Pi day (March 14th - 3.14). The only company that even mentions it is Think Geek. I'm having a party (unrelated reason) on 3/13 and none of my friends have volunteered to bring pie - though one has mentioned the possibility of a tiramisu cake.

I hope you got really indignant and said "A good cake is NOT a Happy Pi Day!"

Google chrome, advertorials by How Life Works, and The Paul Singer Collection at the Freer/Sackler


Jennifer Lawrence might seem more imperfect to me if she couldn't eat pizza without getting a spot or two of sauce on her blouse. Or if she once laughed so hard her drink came out her nose.

Maybe we can get Buzzfeed to make a gallery of Suggested Jennifer Lawrence GIFs and include these.

Excellent point. No question that we shouldn't assume that everyone celebrates Christmas, and that the non-Christians are the ones who are typically polite about their objections. Reminds me of the anti-feminist myth that men who hold doors for women are being subjected to tirades, and this suggests a hero and/or martyr mentality among the men who believe the myth.

Although I think there are a lot of good apples in both barrels that we aren't taking into account -- there are plenty of people who do celebrate Christmas and don't kick up any fuss about/actually enjoy hearing Happy Holidays as well.

Here too. And I don't know if I take "offense" so much as I feel uncomfortable. Its silly to correct them, "well, actually I don't celebrate . . ." I feel even weirder saying it back when I don't even know if they celebrate (ie, my vietnamese nail tech, where the salon decor indicates the family that runs it/works there are buddhist and they simply seem to be taught to say it to all customers). Obviously this gets even more complicated when it is a question more than a greeting, "so where/how are you celebrating christmas, this year?" Um . . . But certainly, I have never ever said, hey that's Happy Holidays, harumph!!

Nicely put!

"Harumph" in general is not something I've ever heard said in earnest.

A lot of people are waging that war, seeing how many ads refer to it as "St. Patty's Day." The only St. Patricia in the calendar was from Constantinople and her feast day is in August.

I'm glad we know that now! We'll have to have a back-up day!

Technically it does...sort of. You just have to transfer at National airport.

Details, details.

When I was stationed in Turkey one of my fellow Americans asked our Turkish co-worker how Turks celebrate Christmas. No, our co-worker was not one of the 3% of Turks who is not Muslim. Why are my people so stupid?

Oh dear...

A war on Christmas? You mean the season that begins on or before November 1st and ends around the first week in January? If someone has declared a war on Christmas, it has failed spectacularly and he/she should sue for peace. Otherwise, Christmas might start in early October.

Please, Christmas.

Does anyone know where we go to sue for peace?

I keep worring that Christmas In July is a beachhead for a larger assault into summer.

Every year it creeps earlier -- or perhaps the complaints about it creeping earlier creep earlier. Either way, truce!

Are disgusting. We didn't go to McDonald's much when I was kid, but I do remember one time we got to go and I was so excited. We did the drive through and went to my aunt's house to enjoy the meal. I was going to have a vanilla shake! They screwed up and gave me Shamrock! I hate them.

What does it taste like? Mint? I've never, I confess, enjoyed one! Or had one, for that matter.

even though I am Jewish and don't celebrate it. I was offended once when I told someone that I didn't celebrate Christmas and she told me that Christmas wasn't a Christian holiday, it was an American one. This right after I had purchased a ticket to her singing group's Christmas concert.

Oh no. That's like adding Awkward Misinformation to Having To Attend Someone's Christmas Concert! 

Er, I think the original formulation of "insult to injury" is better.

Well, that was easy. I hit a few likes on Facebook and the China Daily ad has changed to for correspondence courses on learning moonshining.

All set!

If you want to see this in action, look at about 90 percent of Tumblr pages. Plenty of teens exploring/celebrating/lamenting their imperfection and the imperfection of others. They do it and they do it well

Tumblr is definitely where a lot of adolescence takes place! It's well worth a look!

Shamrock shakes taste like the green beer from last year's St. Patrick's Day with a five year old mint added to it. In other words, it is one of the most delicious things you'll ever have.


People are ignoring the most important thing about your Jennifer Lawrence post: how wonderful it was. I just wanted to say thank you for that piece and keep up the wonderful work. No, this is not your mom, dad, auntie Em, uncle Wiggly, or cousin Kevin.

Aw, thanks, Cousin Kevin!

It seemed more banana than mint. (This was circa 1983, though.) Hate.


I wouldn't be offended at all if someone wished me a Happy Chanukah, Holidays, Kwanzaa, Solstice, etc. To me it represents a celebration, and you have decided to include me.

I think you're one of the good apples!

Yeah, but the new commercial is super-hot. An attractive couple argues fiercely and jealously about them, and the argument is resolved when they both get a shake, with the strong implication that the shakes will be followed by a night of carnal passion. It's been a long time since a milkshake created that much excitement, and the last time anyone I know got turned on by McDonald's food was... well, never.

Exactly. Never.  "Not Thursday."

This is a very good description of the ad.

I had the reverse problem on Christmas greetings, I am a Christian, and for the first two years where I worked, the boss made a special effort to come visit me and wish me a happy Chanukah. Seriously, that really happened.

Ha! Oh no! Sometimes, bending too far over backwards is just as embarrassing as falling flat on your face.

I for one am tired of people celebrating snow days. "Yay, we don't have to work for four days, making soup, sleeping in, blah, blah, blah." I don't get snow days. 14 inches of snow, I'm at work. I say, no more mention of snow days on Facebook until everyone gets one!

"Did you bring enough snow days to share with the whole class?"

My son's class (fifth grade) is celebrating Pi Day with pie. Lots of it. Last year, each kid got three pieces and then school was dismissed. He spent most of the afternoon climbing trees and screaming gibberish. Ah, youth.

Youth is the best!

On that note, I should probably skedaddle. They're almost fully loaded when it comes to cardinals in the conclave, and I want to watch the last few file in!

Feel free but liberated to follow me on Twitter! And keep reading the Compost!

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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