ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Mar 19, 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

What would you think of robot squirrels could invade the homes of American citizens without court ordered warrants and steal bacon from the refrigerators of people without due process of the law?

The horror... the horror!

Happy Tuesday, all!

Anyway, I just want to point out that Big Gulps were never threatened by Mayor Bloomberg's regulation. He only had the ability to control sizes in establishments that got graded by the city health commission (or some agency with a similar name). 7 11's aren't included, so Big Gulps would have remained perfectly legal in NYC. Perhaps some of the restaurants would have changed their rules to allow people to BYOBP (bring your own big gulp)? We may never know now, but I am amused by people who get so absorbed in their big gestures against big governmment that they protest by doing something that the government wasn't going to touch.


Yes, to spite my face, I'm going to cut off this actually unrelated nose.

Bring Your Own Big Gulp could have been an intriguing trend, although I foresee some oil-spill related confusion with the acronym.

I found this funny and useful -- saw it on another on-line forum: "I am so happy. I AM CAPS LOCK HAPPY." Useful, no? I AM CAPS LOCK MAD. I AM CAPS LOCK SURPRISED.

That's a good way of putting it!

I'm going to try "This is Paywall Good" and see how that goes.

As a side-note, I've noticed that I say "That's a good way of putting it" a lot. Any alternatives? I'm open.

... because your chat seems to be working, unlike the travel chat yesterday, which I STILL can't see. What's all this about robot squirrels, anyway?

I can pretend we're talking about travel if that would be helpful!

The Robosquirrel is one of the colorful examples of government spending that Rand Paul chose to target in his CPAC speech last week. Its day job consists of being attacked by rattlesnakes, FOR SCIENCE.

Will you count as part of my twenty visits? And why is the Washington Post just taking the NY Times plan and putting their byline on it? Reputable news organizations would never do that.

I should but do not know how blogs are being counted. If you are .gov or .mil, a student, or a teacher, you're safe! Also, "Get back to work!" If not, I think you can still sneak around and see us through Google and social without adding it to your numbers, but you didn't hear that from me.

Speaking of CAPS LOCK, has anyone else noticed that there is a character in some of John Sandford's police procedural novels whose name is Del Capslock?

No, actually, but that's amazing! I guess Mac Keysmash seemed too pulp-y.

So Michelle Shocked is shocked that Ian McKellen is marrying Patrick Stewart. I am shocked Michelle Shocked doesn't realize that God hates us all equally.

I didn't realize Michelle Shocked was!

I had to Google her. Apparently she used to identify as a "Fornicator with a capital F"? And no, he's marrying him TO someone else, it turns out. Fangirls, cool your engines.

Well put. And then, well expressed. Or nicely put. Rotate as needed.

Duly noted!

That is a good way in which to put.

That is a good way offputting.

Sea cruises are awful. The toilets don't work, they run out of food, and there are tigers in the life boats.

Or at the very least, metaphors.

For some reason, all these hours of panicked coverage of the Poop Deck on CNN have actually inspired more of a desire to cruise rather than less. It's probably the best way to get me to go camping -- unknowingly, by doing a bait-and-switch and transforming the cruise into worse-than-woodland conditions.

Your chat title reminds me of the man in Tennessee who was committed against his will for mental treatment because he refused to keep a large pile of rotting vegetables in his back yard. The judge found him to be non compost Memphis.

Ooh, or it reminds me of the snobby praying insect who went on a date with a female of the same species.

"Are you from that heap of rotting vegetables?" she asked, trying to make conversation.

"No, no," he scoffed. "I'm a non-compost mantis."

Then she bit his head off.

Should we practice putting virtual dollar bills into your virtual thong now?

 Only if you can assure me it's what does...

I like your answer-timing. I can open other tabs with WaPo articles I like and read a couple of paragraphs, then come back and read a Q & A, then go back.... A nice way to spend two hours (although my employer thinks otherwise). Unlike Weingarten, who seems to have his questions answered at machine gun pace by a team of rabid robot squirrels.

Frankly they really should have cut Weingarten's robosquirrel budget before thinking about the paywall, but everyone agreed that "there are some things as an institution that we would be the poorer for sacrificing."

We have to start paying for WaPo online? When? I have been living under a rock so please forgive me if this is old news.

If you're already paying for the print product, you're safe!

Any other news I can catch you up on, while you're out?

"If you are .gov or .mil, a student, or a teacher, you're safe! " Or you could, oh I don't know, subscribe to the paper and get it all online for free. Geez, the Post ain't free.

This, too!

Freedom isn't free! Even bacon isn't free!

I thought Carrie Fisher's "metaphors be with you" like was brilliant, if misused. My SO says, not so much. What think you?

I'm a fan, myself.

Then again, I'm a fan of most of Fisher's writing. I saw her one-woman show, and it was spectacular! The thing about that line is that it's a straightest-line-between-two-points-type joke that is lying there for anyone smart enough to make the connection, so probably someone else got to it before she arrived. But it's still, I think, quality!

What's your SO's objection?

Sounds like advice from Tiger Woods.

Haw haw!

Hey, I guffawed.

That there is something seriously wrong with the Post website. I am currently typing this with the entire page "flashing" every time I input a letter/space/whatever. It is akin to a visual representation of listening to microwave popcorn pop. Same thing when I try to scroll down the page. Very odd. Started yesterday, I think.

Are you sure it's the page? Are you sure you aren't having a seizure? Because if you think it's the latter, please, call someone!

What's the rate? I have an online account but haven't received anything about changes. I did at-home delivery when available while I was still in Charm City but that wasn't reliable.

We're still figuring out what to charge so as not to be offputting to good humans like yourself! It might be in the seven-dollar range?

Who do you want to replace the esteemed Canadian? I'm thinking Ken Jennings would be good. And when he dutifully intones the correct answer, you actually will believe that he knew that before reading his teleprompter.

I am strongly in favor of Ken Jennings! He's affable and I love his Twitter feed! Also, exactly what you said!

(I know ~ not as good by half). SO says Carrie is "better than that." Maybe she's a superfan. I thought, considering it came from a princpal, it was brilliant.

Princess Layer? (neither of these are better!)

I'm still foggy: "better than that" in terms of "this is disrespectful to the saga"? Or "better than that" in terms of "The Carrie I knew would use a fresher pun!" Either way, I'm in favor of the line. If Star Wars didn't afford us legions of slightly awkward puns about our life struggles, it wouldn't be the multigenerational modern-day myth it is today!

The entire Post page goes blank (just a plain white page) when I load in IE. I'm in Firefox now so try that (if you can)

Oh, that explains!

The difference between i.e. and e.g., as I always say, is that IE is a browser you should never, under any circumstances, use.

Alexandra, re: yesterday's post on CPAC and talking to yourself, how do YOU best deal with talking to yourself? I use a cell phone (turned on or off, doesn't matter). Cell phones and bluetooths let us babble away so others think we're talking to real people instead of imaginary friends or Yoda on the other side of The Force ordering us to do or do not, there is no try.

I like to do the cell phone thing. For a while, when I was going to movies alone but feeling self-conscious about it, I would whip out the phone and yell "CARL, I'M GOING IN NOW, OKAY? JUST WALK STRAIGHT INSIDE WHEN YOU GET HERE!"

But as it turns out, most people are completely indifferent to the question of whether you're attending movies with people or not. Most people are completely indifferent to most aspects of your life, actually. At least in movie theaters.

"It is hard for bigotry to survive proximity." You wrote this in your Rob Portman piece last week. I do not know if this is original, but it is a perceptive and concisely-state thought. Thanks.

Why thank you!

But the real question is: IS IT PAYWALL GOOD?

Er. Don't answer that.

Hi Alexandra! I'm looking to celebrate easter with the fam, but I think I've outgrown the childhood pastime of the egg hunt. But it's a household tradition! How do I break this to the parents/what tips do you recommend to make it more adult-friendly?

Fill the eggs with bourbon.

No, I'm sorry. I don't actually mean that.

Oh, that's a fun yet awkward stage, when you have figured out all the pulleys and wires behind the Rabbit and Santa, but you don't know what the day would consist of otherwise. Do you have younger kids around you could hide eggs for?

You could always try an easter egg roll, or easter-egg spoon race, which has the added benefit of Your Eggs Won't Shatter If They Fall Off The Spoon. This is less childish, but more 1700ish, which I guess is the tradeoff.

Then again, maybe cling to the eggs side, because in the years after the egg hunts ended I just have dim recollections of attending a lot of strange buffets.

Does anyone have better suggestions?

What's obtained too cheaply is esteemed too little. Spend like you'll die tonight and save like you'll live forever.

This always brings back to my favorite (if-slightly-pre-sexual-revolution) Balzac quote, where he notes that "The duration of the attachment is proportional to the original resistance of the woman." Substitute woman for "newspaper article" and hopefully the paywall will spawn decades of lasting affection.

Ken Jennings has been mentioned, and he would be great. Considering his success on the show, though, he might not be interested or sufficiently hungry. Thus, I have 2 other suggestions: Watson, who doesn't seem to have been too busy of late, and Will Ferrell, who has relevant work experience for the position.

Oh my gosh, yes, those are both quality answers! As long as we can get Sean Connery on with Will.

You may think you outgrow hunting for Easter eggs, but in a few decades, you'll be able to hide your own Easter eggs and you will be able to enjoy hunting for them because you will have forgotten where you hid them. You never outgrow hunting for Easter eggs.

As long as you put them in a Special Place Where You Won't Forget Them, that's guaranteed!

If he is still alive in 2016, Emeritus Pope Benedict would be good. Formerly infallible is almost as authoritative as Alex Trebek.....


The clothes washer is a bad place to put Easter eggs, ESPECIALLY if you forget to boil them.

Good hint!

Half the adults take the front yard, half the back and hide their car keys in plastic eggs. Added incentive to keep looking!


This is not quite what I had in mind!

Egg toss using mousetraps as a catapult. See how far it goes! Think Spring!

Better yet, construct a ballista!

He kind of swears a lot for a Mormon.

So, "a below-average amount" is what I hear you saying.

A woman can last for decades or a century. An article is good for a day, two or three at most and you need another one.

Speaking of things that need replacing, can we talk about this lululemon story? From all the accounts I've read, suddenly without warning the pants started to become see-through, even though there had been no change in the composition or durability? Is this accurate? What the, pants?

Is there a funnier name in literature than Balzac? Always makes me giggle. Also, Buckholtz is an unfortunate name for a middle school substitute teacher.

If there is, it doesn't spring to mind. Goethe's kind of funny if you mispronounce it, but -- still loses to Balzac.

Take the battery out of the keyless entry and don't forget your key to Easter is the Energizer Bunny. Car doesn't have a key. I was bummed.

This chatter has some advice for you, too!

It's all about the bottom-line. There, I said it.

Someone had to, I think.

I missed that. Were there horses and were they wild? Sire, it is madness, sheer madness!

I read the FAQ on the Lululemon site, and it would appear that there was just one batch of luon that was "off." Their managers started to complain about the unacceptable sheerness, and they took prompt action.

And naturally, even in the midst of this, some people on the site have the following worry:

"Will you be able to recycle the unusable pants or do you have to destroy them?
• We have a process to take care of product that doesn’t meet our quality standards and will be working to ensure that these products are recycled and managed accordingly as well. Once we have received all the affected luon, we will be able to make an informed decision on the best way to reduce the impact of this batch."

I'd like to visit this home for Bad Lululemon Product. I'm picturing it as sort of a farm upstate, with people's childhood dogs and things.

How did they figure out that the pants were see through? Were the guys staring extra hard during class? It had to be some friends who pointed it out to each other.

That's a good question. I guess we'll be left to speculate...

Balzac is a great name, but in British politics there really is a leading figure named Ed Balls. He should run for Labour Party leader next cycle with the campaign slogan, "If you want to take back Parliament, you got to have Balls."

Oh, that's pretty good. And just think of the headlines if he had to withdraw.

Did you know he's a big fan of Ayn Rand? I'm not sure what this means in terms of yoga pants integrity. FIgured you could help me out with that

The pants have remarkable integrity in the face of shrugging.

I wasn't worried, I was just confused as Will Rogers said. Usually what you worry about never happens. When you are confused anything can happen. I hope that clears up any confusion.

"I was never lost, but I was bewildered once for three days," as Daniel Boone's been quoted as saying.

As a member of the clergy I try to be clear without being stuffy when people ask me to marry them. I reply, "I am already married, but I would be glad to officiate."

Ha! Right, you want to head off any aspiring Thornbirds at the pass.

I subscribe and want to see the Post survive. So it won't cost me more (hopefully). I must say though, once you start charging for the on-line content, you are going to have to step up your IT game or you will get a ton of complaints from people paying to read on-line. Blank pages in IE, bad links, design problems, bad search functions, pictures that don't display are tolerated when they are free, but don't cut it when you charge. So there will be a cost to the Post if you really want to make this work.

I think (not being on the IT end) a lot of these stem from the problem that it's very difficult to tie your shoelace while continuing to run. Not that I'm on the runner end either. But we really are grateful for your subscription!

Given how some red carpet fashions are sheer elegance, so to speak, maybe lululemon can sell the yoga pants to celebrities and let 'em all hang out in front of the cameras.

We will not rest until someone finds these pants a good and caring home!

Would that mean Benedict's answers were always correct or that we just have to go along with them anyway?

Deep waters.

On that note, I should mosey off! Speak now!

As someone who was on the receiving end of a Trebec condescending "Noooo," I would like to clarify that Trebec does not have a teleprompter. He's supercilious all on his own.

True! It takes years of practice and constant training to put so much precise disdain into a single syllable. It's a very demanding task really.

Alexandra, I finally have to ask: how do you pronounce your last name? Like the microbial culinary dish? Or Pet-tree? Or other options? If you were on TV like many of your teammates we'd know. Maybe karma is wanting YOU to be on TV more often.

Pea Try, like a vegetable that's making an effort!

Gay marriage rates much higher than do members of Congress. So, if you are a member of Congress and you are at a party and want to be popular, you would do better telling people you are gay than telling them you are a member of Congress.

I think, technically, you'd do better telling them you were a gay marriage.

Is this a thing? Not sure Ken Jennings is avuncular enough to fill those Canadian shoes.

Give him time! Everyone becomes a little avuncular with time!

Michele Shocked tweeted that God hates homosexuals. The Ian McKellen comment that he was marrying Patrick Stewart was correct, but as you note, only in that he would be officiating. Michelle Shocked would be shocked at the rest of the wedding.

Something tells me she's always shocked.

I find that a day-old Post is just as relevant as the hot-off-the-press version. And it's free!

And on that note...

Have a great week! Keep reading the Compost, and feel free to follow me on Twitter, where there is no paywall at all!

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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