ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jun 25, 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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What ho, chatters all!

Happy Tuesday! So, how 'bout all this news we're having?

I bet he had an even more fraught childhood than Anakin Skywalker.

Yes, that's the answer to the future of Star Wars: MORE PREQUELS!

I am feeling suicidal, and at first I though I would write Caroly Hax, but then I realized this is the correct forum. What I need to know, during this bout of depression is: What should I wear at my suicide?

Okay, well, first off, if you are actually feeling suicidal, you should call someone -- 1800-273-TALK or 1800-SUICIDE are two national hotlines, but you could also telephone a friend or family member. I realize this is probably a joke question, but I have recurring nightmares where someone asks a similar question and I'm like, "Well, obviously, wear a funky oven-shaped hat like Sylvia Plath or those models for VICE!" and then someone is found days later doing just that, and I have to live with it for the rest of my life. That being said, if this is a joke question, I stand by that joke answer. But seriously, stay alive!

Anyone else see the Escaped Red Panda's tweets? Among my favorites were: Adam's Morgan is lovely this time of year. Where did all the bookstores go? How come everyone keeps calling me "weird looking dog"? What, I thought Marion Barry was Mayor for Life. That Panda restaurant guy wants to cook me? Which Metro do I take to get to Disney World? Anyone know where the gay red panda bars are? Where is Edward Snowden? He's late in picking me up. If I can just make it to the Washington Post, I can tell the truth about the National Zoo. Hey, buddy, you're supposed to stop for pedestrians and red pandas.

I also enjoyed all the people who pointed out that a red panda is just a weird raccoon with excellent PR.

This is like what happened to slimehead (I'm sorry, "orange roughy") and that other fish, gormless mucksucker (or something) that is now being overhunted because it sounds too delicious.

I understand if Kanye West had a girl he was going to name her Wicked Witch of the.

It's a girl!

And I really wish it were Knorth.

What to hear a good knock knock joke? I know an attorney who tells a great one.

Isn't "good knock knock joke" a contradiction in terms?

Prove me wrong, chat.

is it wrong to feel sorry for her? She seems more clueless than malicious, although perhaps she deserves exile for encouraging us to put extra butter on everything.

I don't think it's wrong. My default response holds here, which is that she didn't become famous and, to a degree, beloved, for being Paula Deen, That Lady Who Definitely Isn't Racist. She became famous for being Paula Deen, That Lady Who Pushes The Boundaries of Butter. If it turned out she'd been secretly using kale instead of butter (not sure how that would work) or had never actually taken a bite of her own food, or something, that would strike a blow much nearer to the heart of her image. That being said, the "of course" part in her admission to using the n-word was troubling. The word is so fraught that it's really hard for people to see you the same way; it leaves a bad taste in the mouth totally unrelated to the food she's serving. Ask Michael Richards (admittedly a different case, but a good illustration of a career worst-case scenario).

Did you realize you're up against an astrology chat this hour?

I was wondering why Pisces said "to get to know someone, ask vague open-ended questions" today.

I feel for those journalists who flew from Moscow to Havana thinking they'd sit next to Snowden (aka Carmen SanDiego). Did anyone from WaPo fly along? However, I don't believe that seat was empty. If they had bother to pay attention, Manti Te'o's imaginary girlfriend had switched seats with Snowden, and no one bothered to interview HER to fill up blog space. Such sloppy journalism. Put ME on that flight and I promise to drink all the vodka and find anyone to interview, even the flight attendant. I'll find a story by any means necessary.

Apparently aeroflot planes are DRY!

This is hilarious as long as you're not on the plane, and if you're on the plane (I heard on Twitter, though I haven't confirmed, that you're legally required to stay 3 days in Cuba before getting on an outbound flight) it's a TOTAL AND UTTER NIGHTMARE OF ABSURD PROPORTIONS.

If you ever wanted your own cooking show, "...And Don't Forget the Bacon!" there's an opening on the Food Network.

It would start as a cooking show and then I would get distracted by something I was reading and every episode would end with us ordering takeout from any of a variety of quality local restaurants.

Hey AP - you're up against the astrologer. Perhaps you should go head to head and offer some astrological advice for us! Hey baby, what's your sign?

I'm a Pisces, but what are you?

Her middle name should be Bynorth.

This is correct.

The "interrupting cow" one is pretty good. Or "I have a knock knock joke. You start." Meta-knock knock jokes are better than actual kk jokes.

Oh yeah, that one's pretty good.

I'm also a fan of attrition knock-knock jokes like "KK-WT?-Banana-Banana Who?-KK-WT?-Banana-Banana Who?" etc.

In the tasteless category, there's always "Knock Knock." "Who's there?" "9-11." "9-11 who?" "...You said you'd never forget."

Who do you believe - SCOTUS or Paula Deen?

It's like Schrodinger's Racist Cat.

But the North and South had GOOD witches.

Who was the good witch of the South? Was that Glinda?

I know East and West were evil, but all I remember is "I'm Glinda, The Good Witch of The -- look! Bubbles!"

Knock-knock ! Who's there? Banana. Banana who? Banana banana. Knock-knock ! Who's there? Banana. Banana who? Banana banana. Knock-knock ! Who's there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn't say banana?!!

There's the attrition joke I was talking about!

I think YOU could write a decent KK routine based on the Abbott and Costello classic, starting with - Knock knock. Who's there. Yes. I mean the fellow's name. Who. The guy on first. Who. What? He's on second. (and so forth - try that on stage in one of your plays, just don't use this in front of a jury in a murder trial)

Tough crowd.

Can you break out your Ouija board, or hold a seance? I'm sure you'd be at least as scientifically valid as the astrologist chatting now. Or do you have a pet chicken who pecks out the future?

I've got my lucky entrails all set up. What do you want to know? I read entrails a lot better than I speak them. 

I think the "of course" was an acknowledgment that any white person over a certain age in the south used that word. My father used the Yiddish equivalent without thinking twice. I wouldn't.

That's a fair point. It's not just that Paula Deen is from the south. She's also from the past.

I am not suicidal, yet it was interesting reading about the controversy over the photographs of models wearing what famous people wore when they committed suicide. Then I realized, this is an aspect of journalism that never gets covered. There has been commentary on how female politicians are often mentioned by what they were wearing. It would be creepy but interesting if articles started mentioning what people were wearing when they died. "She wore a Pierre Cardin chiffon dress when the vehicle hit her", she died peacefully at home wearing her Jimmy Choo shoes."

I also want to start a movement to describe the clothing of male politicians, so remind me, the next time I'm covering something, to observe that, "Rick Santorum, correct in pinstripe twill, is now the head of a movie studio," to pick one example.

"Knock knock!" "Who's there?" "Control freak. Now you say, 'Control freak who?'" (Usually people respond "Control freak who?" and don't get the joke. There's something wrong with my delivery, but when it works, it's hilarious.")

Ha! I've never heard this one! I'll have to try it the next time I'm, um, 8.

Pretty much limited to Pole Dancing.

Knock Knock. Who's there? Kanye West. Kanye West wh-- YO Taylor I'm really happy for you and I''M GOING TO LET YOU FINISH --

I think Snowden was playing a private game of Simon Says. Snowden: "Get on the plane!" Reporters all get on plane. Plane leaves. Snowden: "I didn't say Simon Says!"

I knew I hated that game for a reason.

Can't decide if Paul Giamatti joining the cast is a good thing or not, too much, or just more drama goodness.

Only if he marries Lady Mary.

They didn't mention the South in the first book except to acknowledge that N and S were good witches. They did in subsequent books but I don't remember her name. I am such a nerd.

No, thank heavens you're here, or I would have had to resort to Google!

Way to go, L. Frank and your modern myths.

She has no right to be that clueless. The depositions show her to be so breathtakingly casually bigoted that it's totally cringe-making. And for her lawyer to say "but she's 66 and she grew up in the South" is insulting to Southerners.

There are a lot of cringe-making moments in that deposition. The wedding theme...


I have a hard time mustering up too much righteous anger for someone who may have used a racist term many decades ago. But from what the lawsuit that brought all this up in the first place looks like, her bigger problem is that she allegedly endorsed - maybe tacitly, but still - some horrible people with horrible behavior in positions of power over employees. So I feel a little sorry that the public isn't allowing her to have, um, evolved over however long it's been - I mean, isn't that what we want to happen? - but I'm really having to work at not judging her for the allegations against her in court.

Well put.

You win. This cannot be topped.

I have been trying to make this joke out loud, unsuccessfully, for years!

Paul Giamatti is going to play Lady Mary's uncle, so I hope not.

Well, Jane Eyre almost married her first cousin that one time...

Or was St. John a first cousin? I'm suddenly stricken with doubt.

Alexandra, if YOU joined the cast of Downton Abbey, what kind of character would you play?

Ooh, probably some sort of Madeline Bassett type who shows up for a weekend and wanders around saying that the stars are God's daisy chain.

That or a conniving, but inept, scullery maid of some sort.

I don't get the control freak joke...

The control freak character hijacks the joke!

Me: Knock knock.

You: Who's there?



Why did Sally fall off the swing? Because she had no arms. Knock knock? Who's there? No Sally

We are homing in perilously close to dead baby jokes now, aren't we?

I gave up on Downton Abbey after the last season-ender. With such a crucial cast member departing, not even the textile porn will be worth watching. They're tying themselves in knots already with plots; it's become a caricature of itself.

I'm tentatively excited for whatever the new Julian Fellowes America series is, though.

I am a Stage 4 Cancer with Asparagus rising. When Will I meet Mr. Wright?

Once you figure out a way to stop the Asparagus from rising.

My daughter as been in "The Wiz" about 3 times in the last 4 years (not bad for a 10 year old). The witches are: wicked witch of the east (DOA), Eviline (the other wicked witch), Addapearl (good witch), and Glinda (other good witch).

Not bad, indeed! I take it she wasn't a witch?

Glinda was the good witch of the North in the movie, South in the book. The north witch was named later (in a play, I think) as Locasta. The evil witches had no names.

Locasta. Wow. Okay. That's Kardashian-level naming right there.

1. go with a friend to buy a ticket. 2. put it in pocket or purse. 3. look annoyed. 4. pull out LAST WEEK'S LOSER from pocket or purse and say "I never win. Why bother?" while tearing up ticket.

But this requires you to buy two weeks' worth of tickets!

Paula's purpose to the Food Network is to get people to watch her show so they can sell advertisements? Forget pity or no pity, she's a commodity and she damaged her brand. Her brand is actually not cooking good food with butter, it's being likable enough that people want to watch you do it. She lost that through some ignorant statements that she should have known would be made public and had the sense to frame them in a way that didn't make her look like she was stuck in the antebellum South.

And as some other chatters have been noting, she's only 66, not, you know, Strom Thurmond's ghost.

"Downton Abby" was forced to end the last session the way they did. The actor wanted off the series. The other option would be to have the main character also in the next room and never seen, which would get a little suspicious after awhile. "You know, no one has actually seen him in a year, are you sure he is in the next room?"

And really if they were going to do that they should have done that with Mrs. Bates.

Bamboozle, garbanzo, guacamole, hockey-puck, kumquat, or succotash.

Kumquat and bamboozle are my top two, with a vote for succotash if I have to take a team of three.

Did George Lucas' best men dress as Stormtroopers at the wedding? Or Ewoks?

Can't it be both?

Who for the portrait on the 10 pound note. Jane Austen or Winston Churchill.

That's not Winston Churchill, it's Charles Darwin!

I'd say Jane Austen, because any chance an author can get her hands/face on some money, she should grab it.

If you lived in a house with no doors, I guess you'd never receive any knock knock jokes since there are no doors to knock. Yes, someone could pound on the window or toss a brick through it, but these would make different sounds, and thus you'd have different jokes.

People who live in glass houses can make knock-knock jokes, but they're kind of transparent.

We all know that. What we're saying is that that's when the show should have just stopped.


Woody Allen long ago opined that "hard-c" words are inherently funny. Cucumber!

Which reminds me of my favorite World War I ditty. (Actually not my favorite, but the only one with cucumber in it.)

I am a Sanctuary with Leebow rising and Gemstone descending, and I wish to know I am better suited to date Paula Deen or Jodi Arias.

The spirits are suggesting Casey Anthony as a possible third option, but this is why I should probably lay off the spirits for a spell.

Nope, Emerald Citizen (small than munchkins), part of the yellow brick road, and crow. "There are no small parts, just small actors."

Nicely done! As someone who proudly portrayed the Second Rock in our second-grade production of The Three Sisters (they weren't the Chekhov ones, they were other ones), I can attest that this is true.

It's hard to do these in written form, but? "Knock, knock..." "Who's there?" "Did you hear the one about the broken pencil?" (confused silence) (me, helpfully): "did you hear the one about the broken pencil who.... never mind, it's pointless."

I'm a little confused why that one's a knock-knock joke, but I like it anyway!

C'mon! Ewoks were born to be ringbearers.


You could always get some Jawas to do it, I guess. Or Ugnauts, if I'm spelling them correctly. Although Ugnauts might be good flower girls.

I can mail you some losing powerball tickets for the ticket-switching scheme so you don't have to buy them. I can't really say I'm playing my "lucky numbers" since they haven't won yet.

Ah, only in the Compost chat do people helpfully offer to mail you their losing Powerball tickets.

Wouldn't the Jawas be the caterers?

Well you certainly don't want the Ewoks to be the caterers.

I think "Downton Abbey" should realize they need to publicize their operations, so they hire the staff of "Mad Men" to run their advertising campaign, who then hire Honey Boo Boo as the official speaker.

Dang it, I'd just forgotten all about Honey Boo Boo!

I'm not even trying. This is exactly what she should be judged by. Karma's a [bleep]  ya know?

And allegations made against you in court are things you are explicitly supposed to be judged on.

If you write what the females are wearing, you should mention what the males are wearing. I was going to ask what you are wearing, but then I realized it is hard to ask that without sounding creepy.

Ed Gein.

I must be the only person who didn't know that Paula Deen was Southern, only because I've never watched her show. I always imagined her as sounding like a Midwestern suburban mom for some reason. Maybe I should have tried making one of her recipes.

It's always funny how you picture people or imagine them sounding before you know. The first time I read 1984, I somehow pictured Julia as looking just like my 5th grade sunday school teacher. Another example of this might be the Lincoln voice.

I live in SF, where George Lucas has proposed housing his art collection in the historic Presidio (remember that movie with Sean Connery & Mark Hamill). Of course, there is debate over whether this is worthy of such a notable location, what the environmental/traffic impact may be, and general Bay Area "don't ever change anything" attitude. Your thoughts? "The museum would be a gathering place for families, he said, and showcase 150 years of populist art, including the illustrations of Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish, comics, children's books, fashion, cinema and digital technology. "

He does have a FABULOUS Rockwell collection. I mean, I'd go. Then again, my saying "I mean, I'd go," in response to anything and everything George Lucas proposes is probably somehow to blame for Jar Jar.

Anyone with a casual working knowledge of statistics would not buy a lottery ticket. I was finally convinced by friends to buy one ticket just so I could say I bought one once in my life. The ticket was a $12 winner. My friends then convicted me to use my winnings to buy them lunch. Lunch cost over $40, I hate the lottery.


This was why I had to resort to selling poetry on the Vegas strip instead of the I Know How I Can Make Money! Gambling, That's How! plan I'd initially embraced. I made $11.50, and promptly lost the $11 playing Spin The Magical Dollar Wheel.

Re: Paula Deen being from the South and from the past - I am from a perceived-to-be backwards and redneck southern state (albeit one that seceded - Happy 150th, WV!) and I am probably not a lot younger than PD, and I have never, ever, ever, ever used the word that she used. Ever. Never. What is troubling is that she is so matter-of-fact about it. Is she really that clueless?

Well stated. 

I agree; the matter-of-fact-ness is what made it unsettling. Otherwise we might have been able to assume or hope she'd evolved over time, even though, as you point out, her A/S/L is not the excuse her lawyer seems to think it is. And the fact that she was teaching her kids not to use the word "in a mean way" rather than "at all" was a serious brand-and-respect-damaging flag.

Never ask Hannibal Lecter.

All right, looks like we're getting into the serial-killer-jokes portion of the chat, so I may wrap things up.

I know it is in the 90s there, but you do have a sweater to wear, right?


And on that note, keep reading the Compost, have a great week, and feel free but unobligated 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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