ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

May 14, 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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It's the secret to a longer life:

In good news...

My theory about longevity is that all the really ancient people who get interviewed seem to do one peculiar thing every day. It doesn't matter what the thing is, just the fact that Gerald polishes off an onion sandwich daily, or Martin eats two bowls of hummus, says something about the kind of weird discipline that enables you to survive.

How about one of these?

Oh my gosh, I want eight of them.

I assume it's a bag, but it reminds me of the Amelia Bedelia book where she knitted a sweater for the chicken, because she'd been instructed to "keep the roasted chicken warm."

Also, speaking of -zillas and things you find in kitchens, this is happening.

Once these people realize how old and healthy they are, they indulge in things that most of us can't. That's all it is. Don't fall for the old (har) post hoc ergo propter hoc thing.

But the Oldest Postal Worker ate onion sandwiches! Daily! And now he and his son go sky-diving together!

Where were you?

Was I supposed to be there? I was at Dagnabbit Another Monday's, aka my neighborhood 7/11 where I go to purchase the suppurating rack pizza on an alarmingly regular basis.

Alexandra, any over / under betting pools on how many comments you'll get today on IRS, AP (Associated Press, not YOU), and that guy named Ben Ghazi?

They say when comments come, they come not single spies but in battalions...

My 28 year old son bought chocolate covered bacon as a present for Mother's Day. I raised that boy right.

Indeed you did! Now you'll live forever!

I see that Oscar Wilde was.

I've never been rusticated, but I was bewildered for a bit.

Accoring to PPP, 43% of Republicans believe that Ben Ghazi is the worst scandal in American history. However, 39% don;t know where Ben Ghazi is located. Discuss.

Wait, it's not a person?

And we all know the plural of anecdote is data.

Speaking of anecdata, how do we feel about Britain's chances in Eurovision? They seem convinced that they are doomed to unsuccess, but given that one observer described their performer as resembling an "animated corpse" I am not sure it's the conspiracy they think it is.

Have you ever been estivated?

Not since college, and that counts time spent lucubrating.

Convenience store / gas station rack pizza is awful but addicting, scary thought. So why is it legal while cocaine, heroin, and meth are illegal? I think the pizza is more dangerous to our health.

Everything I like to do, as someone wise once said, is either immoral, illegal, or fattening.

Perhaps the pizza is explained by the fact that they try to keep those three categories separate. Immoral and illegal activities will often at least get you out of the house.

It turns out the republicans think the worst scandal in US history is Ben Gazzara.

"It all makes sense!" as Jordan says in The Great Gatsby.

Which, can we discuss for a bit? Show of hands: who's seen it?

I have never read a Dan Brown novel. This question is for those who read his novels. For instance: Does he give a compelling reason why so many important things are left in code? Why doesn't the grandfather tell his granddaughter to go look in the church they were at as a child,?Did he really think the process he created was more efficient and effective? How hard is it to just leave straight forward information? I understand the new novel has something similar. When I die, I am leaving all my possessions in code in what I write. The eagle soars above the rocks on a blue moon.

Having decoded your message using only a copy of a Barnes & Noble gift certificate for "Inferno," I have to say, that's very rude and you shouldn't post it in a family newspaper chat.

Please, no.

Why, are you like the guy I passed on the escalator going in, who stopped us and said, "Are you watching The Great Gatsby? I'm about to see it in 3D. Please, no spoilers." Because high school apparently passed him by.

I saw Iron Man 3. I understand they're pretty similar.

Although there was a neat scene in Iron Man 3 that passed the Bechdel Test, causing me to exclaim excitedly and make the rest of the theater wonder whether an explosion had happened in the background as Maya and Pepper had a lengthy in-depth discussion of Werner Von Braun (sp?) and the costs of science, and they'd simply missed it.

It's in 3D. It's not about Fitzgerald's story, it's about Baz Luhrmann's self-indulgence. I'd watch the Redford bomb a dozen times before I'd see Baz's version.

I've never seen the Redford bomb.

What was odd to me about the adaptation was that it really pointed out the flaws of the book rather than its strengths. It made me worry that the whole thing was coasting on the strength of its lambent, beautiful prose. It was like a book on tape, in expensive 3D, with letters raining at you. Also, you had the feeling that you would have liked to party with the guy. I almost think it wasn't overboard enough. I felt as though Baz clearly loved the book, to the point that he didn't realize there were more dynamic things to do than just have Tobey Maguire read it to us.

My other problem was that in the book I don't remember Gatsby as having been so excruciatingly socially awkward. By the time it was over, I was rooting for Tom "Uncle Owen Beru" Buchanan. I just wanted to cringe at everything Gatsby did. Gatsby has that awkward quality to himself where he thinks if you just get enough zebras and paper your house in platinum, you have to be accepted as a member of the landed gentry. It's like my philosophy when decorating houses in the Sims -- buy the most expensive one of everything, because then you get all the points for taste, even if the Giant Rocket-Shaped Pool Table looks hideous next to the paneling you've selected.

I'm saving my shekels for Star Trek. Even more pricey than the 3d imax version is the holodeck one.


I see you've read today's review. If you haven't read or won't read Dan Brown, you'll still get a kick out of This: He is one of the worst writers around. Great plotter, terrible writer. He uses 'indignity" to mean "indignation," for just one example of hundreds of such solecisms in "Angels & Demons." Worst of all, in the intro to that book, he THANKS HIS EDITOR.

Oh man, solecisms like that make me shake my fists at the enormity of his success.

I know of one grocery store where they sell the alcohol, cigarettes, and lottery tickets at a separate checkout. If they added Penthouse and Hustler, it would be One-Stop Vice.

"They sell all kinds of things at drug stores nowadays."


I point you to this invaluable flow chart:

Ha! "Two hours of people staring out of windows not having any sex at all."

They have an extra dimension, so spoilers cannot necessarily be derived from reading the original novel.

The X and Y axes were the same, but HOO BOY, the Z axis!

That's awful. Could you tell whether it was Leo's acting, Baz's direction, or the script that was responsible for this ghastly error, worthy of inclusion in's "Goofs" page?

No, it made me think I hadn't read the book right, and that I'd been wrong in thinking of him as suave, and that in fact he was a pretty transparently awkward social climber all along, and Good God Were My High School Essays Wrong? It was a compelling portrayal. Still, I wondered how he didn't pass as a rich WASP given that his way of dealing with his total inability to have normal social interactions was to throw money and alcohol at everyone. Seems about right.

Haven't seen it, but did hear that some film producers are making their dialog more generic so it is easy to market worldwide, but that means fewer witty comments for us English speakers, ex. they gave was the latest Die Hard movie. Think this is a trend we much protest. What did you think of the Gatsby dialog?

They did have a couple recognizable one-liners -- "I love large parties. They're so intimate." -- but I did think it was weird what Nick said about beating on, "like how you're in a watercraft or other vessel traveling against the direction of flow, headed away from the present."

Is that the CNN version?

Wolf Blitzer plays every role.

Have you ever seen the ballet of the "Great Gatsby"? It's my favorite version, with all the wonderful Jazz Age music, beautiful bodies -- and dancing too!

I heard good things, but I didn't catch it.

The only ballet I ever seem able to catch is Giselle. I've only been to the ballet twice in the past six years, but both times, through some weird stroke, it was Giselle. I don't even really like Giselle.

is that how you're coding your exchanges with sources this week? Good work, they won't be able to listen to hours of discussion on Gatsby's strengths and flaws.

"And what do we think about what they did about Mr. McKee?" (sound of government agent loudly sighing a put-upon sigh into the receiver) "Do you agree with the Salon essay on the subject? Where was the elevator? Where was the lever?"

I started to read the book voluntarily, but only got halfway through, so I'm not a douche, right?

Not in my book, but I'm probably the wrong segment of the flowchart to ask.

What will happen once we have 4-D movies? Will time be suspended or distorted in them?

I think I saw one of those recently. I'd been watching for two hours, and I glanced at my watch and only 13 minutes had elapsed.

But you have to throw those things with the right accent, tailor, and other evidence of having been to The Right Schools.

Nyes, nyes, of course, old sport.

I really hope "Old Sport" comes back into circulation now. I would try incorporating it into my dialogue but I worry that I wouldn't be able to stop.

Alexandra, I'll cut some slack for the Great Gatsby 3D Dude you met. Many films rewrite stories and history an get away with it. JJ Adams rewrote the canon in Star Trek reboot to destroy Vulcan. Tony Scott (RIP) moved Unstoppable's location from Ohio to Pennsylvania. Argo left out Canada except for the ambassador's home and flag lapel pins. Maybe Gatsby 3D film could have Gatsby and Daisy driving off in the sunset to become doomsday preppers and buy an abandoned motel called Bates from some obsessed mom named Norma.


She's your usual wimpy dead heroine.

Gives me the willies.

So I'm just going to have to stick to British-made films from now on, I see. This is very depressing.

Not entirely depressing: you're watching British-made films!

"Sing ho for the estival festival" as the great poet Felicia Lamport sang.

Speaking of estival festivals, I'm about to head off. Speak now, or hold your peace until next week!

Maybe after 4D movies you actually get back the time you wasted watching them.

I would definitely go to those, no matter how stupid the glasses looked.

Yes, but it's embarrassing to me as an American.

Oh, well, that.

I think it's too late. No one cares about preppies any more, even if we could find preppies any more.

I wonder what the Hipster Gatsby would look like.

He'd probably call people "Old Sport" ironically.


"Of course I live in West Egg. East Egg is far too MAINSTREAM."

All his parties are loft parties, although the soundtrack is the same.

Wouldn't be a story to tell, then. It's an entertaining adventure, not Great Gatsby.


Have a great week!

Keep reading the Compost and feel free to follow me on Twitter, old sport!

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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