ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

May 07, 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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Good morning! Let's roll!

Can you chat entirely in the "ultraconserved" words?


Is there an ultraconserved word for "what's with these kids today"? The old-timers in the caves probably griped about the younger generation wearing animal skins and cooking meat.

What surprised me was that there was none for "good."

"Bark," "give," and "Thou," but no "good"? Or, heck, "bad." Hard to gripe without either.

No word for "internet." Or Al Gore, for that matter.

There's always "Bark."

I've been on hold with the furniture store for 40 minutes now. Is there actually someone there or is this just some sort of wierd Psych 100 experiment? How long should I wait before I hang up?


Have you received any shocks through the telephone yet?

"Back to the Future" is now an ancient, archaic classic movie. That happened when we passed the date that Marty McFly travels into the future. Even that future is now our past. All I have to do is ask: where is my hover skateboard?

As so many great souls have asked before you.

I'm sure the next X-Men movie, "Days of Future Past," will sort all this out.

In my day, "bark" was what we called the "Internet." And we were grateful.

Surprisingly, no words for "uphill both ways."

And I put a cutomer on hold for the past 40 minutes, while I was reading your recent posts and the chat. Should I pick up now?

Only if you commit to ultraconserved words...

Speaking of movie pasts, who wants to tell 20th Century Fox it is now the 21st century?

Shhhh they're hoping you won't notice!

Although on more recent films I have seen just "FOX" with searchlights...

President Obama has tried dinners, golf, and more to reach out to republicans. What's left? Does he offer to do favours in honour of his daughter's wedding?

I think he offers to write a Maureen Dowd column, clearly the only thing capable of penetrating the Convincers in the Halls of Power.

Unless the commenter has his or her own delorean, the BTTF Future hasn't happened. They travel to 1955, 2015, and 1885 (back 30 years, ahead 30 years, back 100 years). If you're going to whine about a pop culture reference from the 80's you should at least know what the pop culture reference is and stopped being fooled by photoshopped posts on Facebook.

I blame those durn time travelers!

"Iron Man Vs. Magneto." That'll last about 30 seconds.

But they'd be 30 seconds I'd gladly pay to see.

Sure, a hover skateboard would be nice. But I want something else that was promised to me in an old movie. I want my Soylent Green! Sweet, delicious, and nutritious Soylent Green. I never saw the end of the movie, though. Did they ever say what tasty little animal it's made out of?

I was beginning to worry about the chatters given the recent paucity of Soylent Green references. It was hard to tell what was amiss -- a certain critical ingredient missing from their diet, perhaps?

Glad to see that's over with.

Alexandra, thanks for today's caveman post. We can speak normally with cavemen, as the GEICO Caveman commercials showed. Besides creating language, do you have more thoughts on what else they encountered in their early discoveries, such as learning the hard way that fire is totally awesome for grilling steaks, but you can't shave with it?

My favorite evolutionary theory that never got enough credit was the Uncle Fred theory of evolution, where Uncle Fred is that one family member who tries shaving with fire and eating that mysterious new plant and tries but fails to domesticate things. Uncle Freds are the first out of the gene pool, but, dang, their lessons are useful.

Should I wear the blue sleeveless dress tomorrow, or the print skirt with the white blouse?

Chatters, what say you?

Did you do anything special for Star Wars Day? I watched all six movies in the order released so I could lose interest by the time the "prequels" appeared.

I got out the Star Wars blanket, fed the tauntaun, dusted all my Yoda paraphernalia, and wandered around reverently whistling Princess Leia's theme. So, no, nothing aside from my usual routine.

I love the video of you whistling. I also want to know about the other video---the one where your music does not come on. What was it like being on stage and realizing there were technical difficulties? (I blame the liberal media conspiracy for your technical difficulties. Or is it the right wing media conspiracy I'm supposed to blame? I get them confused.)

It was my own fault for not having a CD with my accompaniment in good order and trying to improvise with my iPhone. So the only media conspiracy was me, against myself.

Maybe Antonin Scalia's opinions will be written only in ultraconserved words from now on.

You are spitting fire!

We haven't seen any time travelers from the future, perhaps because you can only travel forward in time. If I met a time traveler from the Roaring 20s, what could I ask her to establish her bona fides, as opposed to being a Great Gatsby expert?

Ask if she's seen Owen Wilson lately.


No. Ask something that isn't a reference to a 2011 Woody Allen film.

How about the news story of the 3 women kidnapped 10 years ago found alive (and relatively safe) in Cleveland? Best part was the news interview with a neighbor who helped save them

That really was an incredible interview.

I'm so glad they found the women! I think I saw Amanda on America's Most Wanted; it's always a huge relief and gift when the story ends with the missing person going home.

No brainer. If you've got those tawny, ripped, tanned guns, go with the sleeveless blouse. If you've got showgirl gams with perfect knees and no cankles, go with the skirt. If you've got both, we need to meet.

One chatter, at least, has spoken.

Go with the print skirt with the white blouse. Unless you have ironic tattoos, then I want to see them.

Or this!

The problem with cavemen kids is they waste their time drawing on cave walls. Someday they will find something more productive, like read on a Kindle.


For stores, waiting on the phone for 40 minutes means the kid working there has a 5 minute attention span and forgot about you 35 minutes ago. Hang up. . Now, if it were an airlines and you are attempting to redeem frequent flyer miles, it is part of a game to see if you will hang up. If you stay on the line long enough they will give in and let you use your miles.

Yeah, if you're still on I would advise you put the phone down.

I am relieved to know that since no deep-space mission left Earth in 2006, apes will be unable to take over the planet by 3978. Phew.

Although they might make another prequel with James Franco, a fate almost as bad.

(But he was good in Spring Breakers.)

If that's not true, then it ought to be.

Mm, bacon. Knew it was a mistake to have this chat right before lunch.

Unless of course you mean Kevin, who would make more sense in this context...

Tell the traveler that when she goes back to her time, write a letter to you and order it delivered to you the day before you meet her. True, when you get the letter the day before, you will be confused but the next day it's all clear. However, since you got the letter and are assured of her bona fides, you won't ask her to write the letter so you won't get it and you won't be assured of her bona fides so you will ask her to write the letter but then...(head explodes)


See, this is why it's best to just burn all time travelers at the stake immediately as witches.

The boxed set won't be complete without all fifteen of the Chinese versions.

And by the time you're done watching, you really want to buy that Inner Mongolia energy drink!

Knowing Tony Stark, he'd invent an iron suit that is resistant to magnetism! Hey, in real life, we have real life clothing that is resistant to fire! It's not that far of a stretch!

"Not Fire!"

Let's just hope he's not up against a Magneto who's figured out how to manipulate electromagnetic fields generally.

Don't pick out tomorrow's clothing today - wake up and throw on whatever strikes your fancy...unless you're getting married, burried or feted tomorrow, in which case, blue photographs better.


For some reason, the ultraconserved words remind me of the joke about the guy who joins a silent order's monastery where only two words are allowed every 10 years. After the first 10 he tells the abbot "Food bad". Another 10 years, "Bed hard". Another 10, "I quit", to which the abbot answers, "I'm not surprised. You've done nothing but complain since you got here." (Rimshot optional.)


I mean, "No, worm."

We are all from the past and we are all going to the future. Just because it's involuntary doesn't mean it's not time travel and therefore worthy of note.

And unidirectional :(

"Those the gods love grow young," as Oscar Wilde said.

But yeah, way to go everyone, moving toward time! Boats! Current! Past!

He or she will only be able to communicate in Captioned Slides.

Theda Bara, is that you?

(In captioned slides, and someone has to follow them around with a piano to play along.)

I love your snappy responses!

I love your mother's snappy responses!

Dang it, I was just getting the hang of this.

Sure, all the part-time fans may have celebrated May the Fourth, but how many die-hards were still around to celebrate Revenge of the Sixth?

Coming as it does directly after cinqo de mayo, I would say Revenge of the Sixth is less of a celebration and more of an... observance.

You posted two of my comments! I feel like I have accomplished something for the day! If only my boss would understand the sense of achievement I currently have and allow me to go home and rest my wit

Well, you could just blame your holiday observance. It is May the Seventh, after all. It's the -- er, the 150th anniversary of the day after the Battle of Chancellorsville-- oh, just run off when no one's looking.

I just realized that we've passed the point in real time where the recipe for Soylent Green could include actual Charlton Heston...

Guns don't kill people. Misguided attempts to incorporate an expired Charlton Heston into Soylent Green, kill people.

Should be Iron Poor Blood Man and sponsored by Geritol.

I keep hoping for Ferruginous Man, but somehow I'm pessimistic about sequel prospects.

robert downey jr. is awesome. i tell my husband I'll go with him - when I really want to see RDJ.

I enjoyed the movie, too! He pulls off loveable jerk without ever veering too far in either direction. Go see Iron Man and contribute to this vicious cycle!

Some evil dude wraps wire around him and attaches a battery. Then he waits for refrigerators to attack him. Or puts him into an MRI machine and when they turn it on it'll launch him into low earth orbit.

Again, I'd watch that. He's been getting by on his personal magnetism alone for far too long.

Your mention of "refrigerator" after all the mentions of bacon have suggested a plan of action, and I may go scooting off into the wild blue yonder soon...

Seeing how no one has come from the future to the present day or any day in history to the present, it seems to indicate that we never figure that one out. If we can't figure out the metal in the microwave thing, how can we do time travel?

Well, they did have that Time Traveler convention, and if my life has taught me anything it's that if there's a convention for it, it must be real...

Alexandra, after your American Girl post, now I'm wondering: if there's an Alexandra doll, what's she like? What's her story?

Well, keep your fingers crossed for my book proposal, and if there are no available dolls, you'll at least be able to get the companion adventure book. In a nutshell, it's all the awkward hijinks you'd expect, some you definitely wouldn't expect, and just about the right amount of bacon. She has the mental attitude of the Teddy Roosevelt doll, but she comes with the fun accessories of the Terrified Of The Lake Just Like You modern gal.

I'm a guy. Should I go with the pants and shirt tomorrow or the shirt and pants?

The latter.

Unless you're British, in which case, put on some trousers.

But the second one was so cheesy and cliched, as was the Avengers. It was like they made a movie, then decided to make cartoons for the sequels.

Hey, don't knock cartoons. Some of my best friends are cartoons!

And on that note, have a great Tuesday! Keep reading the Compost and feel free but ferruginous to follow me on Twitter!

... to follow your American Girl doll on Twitter?


You know, there's a positive to this. It's said that many Presidents are consumed by the challenges they face. Chris Christie might be the first President since Taft to consume the challenges.

In modest, bite-sized chunks.

was actually just Comicon 2011. Or a Dr. Who-themed cocktail party. Sorry.

Drat and blast!

Why is it called a suit when a man wears one but a pants suit when a woman wears one? Can they be called pants suits for men too? If not, then why not - they are wearing pants with those suits.

Hey, yeah! Pant-suits for everyone! Although women do have the option of wearing an, er, skirt suit. Which, hey, men have also, just they take it up more seldom.

Then again, in my mental dictionary, there's something insisting that a pantsuit has to make your hips look big.

actually, the alumni mag of Penn State had an article not so long ago (a few years?) about a physics prof who is studying time travel. The conclusion, however, is that you wouldn't be able to go back to before time travel was possible.

Drat again! I guess we'll need to build a special future mecha-Hitler for all the would-be assassin time travelers to cut their teeth on.

And on that note...

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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