ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jun 18, 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, all! Happy Tuesday!

So hypothetically if you had been selected to be a Google Glass explorer, what color Google Glass would you get? Your options are charcoal, slate, cotton, tangerine, and sky, because Google only uses the MOST POETIC NAMES possible for its Glass(es). Hypothetically, you are leaning between Tangerine and Sky, but you would like input. 

If you ask an agent "what did you do at work today?" the CIA agent will say "I can tell you, but then I'd have to kill you." The NSA worker would say "I can tell you, but then I'd have to kill myself."

Aw. Ha!

And one of the numerous contract workers affiliated with either agency would say, "I can tell you, but then I'd have to leave the country, alienate my girlfriend, and become a polarizing national figure." 

IIRC from earlier chats, your mouse came back, right? Did you find a solution? I suggested earlier getting a cat or reading Shakespeare to it to find roommate or drive it away. I hope you found a plan for peaceful co-existence. Alas, any mouse in my place for any amount of time would quickly become mouse sushi or mouse kebobs for my cat.

Still no sign of mouse in trap, but I keep tripping over it on my way to the kitchen. It's more of a Petri trap really. I've been told by everyone I know and love that the mere fact that I've given the mouse a name doesn't mean I can allow it to cohabit with me, at least not if I ever want to have company over. 


Basis for color choice for Google Glass - I didn't know they offered a choice of colors

Also, "cotton," really? You couldn't just say "white", Google?

I wish viridian was an option for Google Glass, if only to make everyone who does NOT have a last name of Petri or similar ask, "What the (heck) is viridian? And how do you spell it?" ...until they realize it's a shade of dark green with a hint of blue. I like dark green. I wish tortoiseshell was also a color mix option - it would match my cat (she's a tortoiseshell colored tabby).

Oh, tortoiseshell would be rad!! 

I've started saying "rad" lately and I don't know where I picked it up. 

I wonder how tough it is for spies to find jobs since they can't discuss anything they did at work. The resumes must look rather barren too.

Actually, in my family, whenever we have a friend who doesn't appear to be doing a lot with his or her life, one of my family members always charitably suggests, "Well, maybe Dave is a spy." 

... assuming no one noticed a person wearing them, or would that defeat a purpose of the selection process?

I don't think so. Then again, in order to cover the cost, I assume they expect us to use them to blackmail strangers, so maybe there's some kind of clause around that.

Just had a chance to read the chat from last week. I put forth the idea of "The Groundhog Effect" for always catching the same episode of a show randomly. For those who prefer alliteration, perhaps the Punxsutawney Predicament?

Oh, I like this!

I read this!

Somebody was saying that he's a good example of using Millennials' premature nostalgia for good, which I agree with. We have a lot of premature nostalgia. We spend all our time wandering around in chunky sweaters talking about how good things used to be in our childhoods. We're going to be the best grandparents EVER!

I had mice in my old house, but that was because the cats would bring them in as playthings. Oh, the fun we had at 4 in the morning, me trying to prod the mice out from behind the radiator, the cats looking eagerly on so they could chase them back again. They never ate the mice. Who wants to eat a stinky old mouse when you have Fancy Feast conveniently placed in a clean bowl?

This sounds delightful. 

If not, why the glasses part, and not just have the monitor hanging out on a stick like a carrot in front of a horse? Oh, never mind...

But carrots don't come in "charcoal" and "sky"!

All the Science Guys I can think of are male. How come there's no Jill Nal, the Science Gal?

Well, I do have vivid positive memories of Science Court!

After catching them, you must cut off their heads and display them on toothpicks as an example to the other mice. Or you can ship them to Hong Kong.

That is one option. 

That's a new one to me. A few years back, I happened to be with my four-year-old and his friend when a cat came up to us with a shrew in its mouth. The cat proceeded to strangle the shrew by shaking it violently back and forth. The shrew emitted a piercing shriek that is far more frightening than anything I've ever heard before. The boys watched, more curious than transfixed, and then shrugged and went off to play when the cat presented us with the carcass. Of course, they always root for the tigers in the nature videos, too.

Well of course you root for the tigers. Who else are you supposed to root for, the wild boar?

He worked the Langley night shift and had to listen to the radio in case anything interesting came in. He said it was the most boring job ever.

Nothing drags like being the person who has to sit there until something happens. This reminds me of the old Jonathan Winters sketch about the night guard at the Empire State Building, whose job was rather dull until the night a giant ape started climbing up the side. 

When I first read of Google Glasses I thought the technology would go perfect with college football helmets. That way, players could take advantage of "downtime" to study for tests, tweet, check traffic, make reservations at a restaurant....

and we could get a lot of real-time data about head injuries!

*sad trombone music plays*

"I've started saying "rad" lately and I don't know where I picked it up." 1982?


10 points for you!

What I find interesting is that they think they will convince people en masse to don glasses, when wearing glasses traditionally has been very uncool.

Have you MET hipsterdom? 

Wild boar = potential bacon, if you can get it away from the tiger.

I feel like there's a very good Calvin & Hobbes strip about rooting for the tiger just out of my brain's reach at the moment. 

Once I watched a National Geographic special about New Guinea with my first grader. During the video, for a feast, a tribe beat a wild pig to death with sticks. My first grader turned to me and asked "That was a bad pig, wasn't it, daddy?"


Try to keep the first grader out of Lord of the Flies-type situations. 

Do we get kickbacks for submitting comments and questions?

I mean, if you consider pride in your contributions and enjoyment of the experience itself a kickback then, yes, kickbacks for everyone!

What do you call the person you're not yet divorced from? Divorce is imminent, unless I kill him first. You go boyfriend - fiance - spouse - ??? - ex. I'm tired of "the guy I'm separated from." Near-ex? Insignificant other? Bitter half?

I like "bitter half"! 

"The old ball-and-chain" doesn't even require any changes. 

In nature / animal shows, I always rooted for tigers and other cats. In Life of Pi, I was more interested in Richard Parker the Tiger than in Pi, who can't make up his mind which God to believe. In old Warner Brothers cartoons, I always rooted for so-called bad guys like Wile E. Coyote, Sylvester the Cat, and Yosemite Sam, NEVER for Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, or that obnoxious Tweety. It must be something about the Dark Side that's alluring.

I always felt bad for Tom. I know we were supposed to be rooting for Jerry, but Tom needs to eat! He really needs to pursue an easier mouse. 

Oh no I've brought the conversation back to mice. Er, so, how do people feel about that new Kanye album?

(1) Tangerine. Definitely tangerine (2) Funny that you've been hooked on "rad." I've been hooked on saying "Oh, snap!" lately. Please help me.

Can we switch?

Usually, I choose these words, but "rad" seems to have chosen me. I feel like I'm about to show up at your high school to talk disapprovingly about drugs. 

I've been re-reading some collections and have decided that Calvin is really mean to his parents.

I only submit questions because your Mother is paying me.

It did seem fishy that someone was always asking "Have you sent those thank-you notes?" "Why haven't you fixed your mouse problem?" "Do you need someone to bring you non-expired milk?" "Are you wearing a sweater?"

I think you're right, that there's a strip out there of the two of them watching a nature show. Though I might be recalling Pearls Before Swine. That said ... Rooting for the Tiger would be a great title of a book about the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip that looks at the symbolism, meaning, and all that other stuff.

I always thought a funny idea for a character would be a guy who has an imaginary tiger friend but the tiger friend is more of a Nietzchean and has really unsound philosophical ideas--

Okay this might need some workshopping.

It was Bob Newhart (and I'm not THAT old)

I had a flicker of doubt and decided not to Google-check, but now I wish I had. Thanks for the fix!

I could never figure out why the boat didn't fill up with tiger poop.


Well, as a friend once said, metaphors don't poop.

is whether Putin did pocket the super bowl ring. I rather hope so, just makes a better story than if the Patriots owner gave it to him

I like the Patriots owner story version better, but then again, that story included KGB agents, which, if they were running around in 2005 we have some deeper problems to tackle. 

has been my stock phrase lately, not sure if its British or Canadian, but I feel like I'm wearing sturdy shoes and a cardigan sweater when I say it, but I can't seem to stop.

I've started trying to say "What ho!" but I worry that I could accidentally offend someone and things would spiral downhill, if that's the phrase I want.

If you'd rather discuss Kanye instead of mice, naturally the topic will drift to his baby with Kim (aka HER). Is there a baby name betting pool among the WaPo writers? I'd love to see Kim break the "K" first name trend and call the newborn Taylor just to watch Kanye's reaction.

Nikki Glaser was joking on Twitter that if they want to stick with the K names the kid should be called Potassium, which I fully endorse.

I had a divorce drag on for 3+ years. During that time, I referred to my ex (when I was being polite) as "my ex." From my perspective, the marriage was over, we were just waiting on / arguing over the paperwork; "ex" worked for me.

This works too!

I was the "1982" submitter. Can I convert your +10 into Post Points?

Maybe we can work out some deal where I email you links to 10 pieces over your 20 piece limit, I say, naively, not realizing that I am about to create hours of work for myself. 

Isn't that like reading Les Miserables and coming away with the idea that Javert was the most dogged, heroic detective ever?

I mean, it might not be erroneous. A lot of Les Mis readers seem to identify with the guy, at least if you believe what they say on their tumblrs. And  he and Valjean are apparently two halves of Vidocq, the guy on whom Sherlock Holmes and every zany adventurous eccentric parlor-scene-having detective seems to be based, so you could at least get behind his detective methods...

sounds much cooler than sky

But... it's orange.

The 1980s

Sorry, you are the second caller!

ARE you wearing a sweater? Sorry. I'm not your mom. I just have a thing about sweaters.

This is like the most tame, respectful possible variant of the old "what are you wearing?" game. 

"So, are you wearing a sweater?" "A cardigan?" "Please describe said cardigan." "That sounds very sensible." 

This guy I was dating disappeared for 4 months and suddenly reappeared. He won't say where he's been.

...Hong Kong?

Javert's not a BAD guy in Les Mis - he represents the law but also the inflexibility of the law. And you have to give him "dogged". The guy has dedication. He's Lawful Good, really. Paladins. What're you gonna do.

Well put!

He's not a bad cop, he's a good cop! He's Hugo's way of pointing out the Law is not enough. 

If companies cannot patent genes, can we trademark ourselves and charge our offspring for use of our genetic material?

Unless you're a Gene. 

*puts on dark glasses, gets into speedboat, speeds off, cringing in shame*

You can pass that tip along to the FBI for me, right? Or are they already tapping my internet?

I'll pass it on so we can pretend they aren't.

Do you think you have more of an east coast mentality or a west coast persona?

OkCupid questionnaire, how did you get into this chat?

I imagine it's actually incredibly boring to be one of the analysts tasked with rooting through the NSA's vast data archive. Imagine reading every article in the pile of old magazines in your house that you really mean to get to some day. Now imagine they are everyone else's magazines, everywhere, and they all have titles like What Debra Did The Other Day, Can You Believe How Rude. You'd be begging for a terrorist attack by day three.

That is true. 

Mel Brooks always said that the trouble with interviews was that you couldn't be the edited essence of yourself, and he was Mel Brooks. The unedited non-essence of everybody else is even worse. 

Although "What Debra Did The Other Day, Can You Believe How Rude" sounds like a great magazine.

"Let's not get personal here." Dedicated to my college roomie: Gene

These gene/Gene jokes are, I feel like, about the level to be a successor to those  'organ donor? but all I have is a piano!' jokes that used to go around.

My niece's play (she's in kindergarten) got picked by the "big kids" (7th and 8th graders) for them to perform for the school. She said it was the best day of her life. Any suggestions about how to encourage her writing. I figure if she can keep appealing to 7th and 8th graders, she might be able to write movies and take care of the whole family.

I think having a performance of your work (by the 7th and 8th graders, no less!) is one of the best ways to encourage your writing. If she loved it, she'll want it to happen again. It's really one of the most addictive things there is. And the only way to get another fix is to write more. 

That's grand!

Well it's certainly not upright. 

Speaking of having no privacy - don't wear in bathrooms??? Please let us know what kind of waiver Google wants one to sign.

Don't remember anything about the bathroom, but you'd think that would be implied.

I had a friend whose indoor, highly domesticated cats seemed to be hearing the call of the wild, but only dimly, and so in their confusion they resorted to "killing" her brothers' beanie babies and dropping them triumphantly at her feet.


Be careful with those beanie babies! Some of them depict endangered species, or are Commemorative Princess Diana editions.

The key to telling that joke is to really pump it out. Put the pedal down and really bellow. Okay, I'm done.



Your off key piano jokes are falling flat. You should put the pedal to the metal and stop being such a stool.

Sorry, piano isn't my forte.

What's better than roses on your piano? Tulips on your organ. :)

I'd never heard that one!

I know we were on this topic a few weeks ago. I came across another gem of a quote. Thought you would like it. Here it goes: "Boyhood, like measles, is one of those complaints which a man should catch young and have done with, for when it comes in middle life it is apt to be serious."

Say it softly.

And on that note, it's about time to wrap up! 

Have a great week! Keep reading the Compost and feel free but fortissimo 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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