ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Aug 20, 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

Happy Tuesday, folks! What's on your minds?

I love days where I make discoveries like this: a site that generates altenate filler text to use instead of the "Lorem Ipsum".

Oh, this is amazing!

"Sausage tail shankle"

Now that all the Premier League games will be broadcast here, do YOU follow any EPL team? I picked Aston Villa long ago - I root for underdogs and they held off relegation past years, Us National team's backup goalkeeper is their goalkeeper, and they're among few American-owned teams - former Cleveland Browns owner owns them. I love how they upset Arsenal on opening day. I wonder what team Shakespeare would've cheered for. Probably not Manchester United since he always gave overpowering lead men a hard time (Macbeth, etc.).

Ooh, good question. Well,  for me, based on humorousness of name alone, I am leaning toward West Brom, although someone could make a case for the juxtaposition of "Hull City" and "Tigers."

Karen Tumulty's been tweeting about a mouse in the newsroom. Can you help her out? Maybe you can take him in your home temporarily as a foster parent, rename it Shakespeare or similar, and then adopt it out to a nice family with kids. Emphasis on temporary - don't keep it forever. I can't take in the mouse; my cat will eat it.

I saw this! I thought -- the one week I go on vacation, a mouse turns up in the newsroom! This is the story of my life. Maybe it was trying to take my spot.

Do you glue the bits together during final assembly?

I don't own any glue, so fortunately the furniture was spared that particular indignity.

I am guessing that WashPo is rather lonely this week. Seems like most staff/reporters are away, no?

Well, I'm away, so based on that anecdotal evidence, I would say it seems like everyone's gone.

If there's a mouse at the Gray Lady, then they have the basis for the next trend story.

Maybe it's just a mouse with an implanted memory of being at the Gray Lady.

Who's pouting in the newsroom?

Ha, well played.

I thought of you this morning when I stopped in at a supermarket and the cashier asked cheerily, "How are you this fine morning?" and I replied "Fine, thanks, and you?" and she replied "I have a headache, actually. Usually that happens when I don't eat breakfast, but today I ate." How would you have responded?

I would have scowled at her internally (can you scowl internally? I would have tried, at any rate) for ruining the chain but said, "Oh, how peculiar! Can I assist in some way?" Or, you know, more natural, human-sounding conversation.

I'd love some insightful reporting. And to know if you saw the Dunwich Horror.

Can one see the Dunwich Horror? I thought that was sort of the point of the Dunwich Horror.

that baby who was born in England a few weeks back. You never hear about him (her? I forget) anymore.

The news cycle ate him, I think.

Has anyone considered the possibility the mouse is a Bezos drone? I hear you can get them at Amazon.

It's probably some sort of Bourne-project memory-less highly-skilled mouse. If you see a lot of mouse-related propaganda in my usual space, or if someone going by "Alexandra Petri" files a lot of pieces that sound like the sort of thing a mouse would say if he/she were posing as a human ("Cheese is okay, I guess, but I could do without it") sound an alarm!

I probably would have said "I don't actually care. Can we start over?"

Aw but she asked so cheerily! It was a trap!

In 1692, four women and one clergyman were hanged as a result of the Salem Witch Trials. And they hadn't even read the Harry Potter books.



It's the 2nd time he resigned from an army. Quitter.

One time resigning from the army might be regarded as a misfortune, but twice looks like carelessness!

That was my comment. You passed.

Huzzah! And when's the con? I'm always in the market for new reporting experiences.

I just now read your column about Ketcham. I share a very quiet office and when I got to the part where you are remonstrating him for inspecting the bushes I laughed and snorted loudly. Awkward. Then I got to the end and actually shed tears which caused me to snort AGAIN, but more sniffily this time. I am now 65% convinced that I am in fact a bulldog.

Snorting and sniffly? That would do it.

Thank you for the kind words! I've been absolutely floored by the dog pictures and dog stories people have been sending in, and it's taken me a while to respond.

I am one who has made several "50 Shades" jokes because it seems to be one of those books where mere mention makes people laugh, or at least react. I know one other discussion here has announced she is closing further comments on the book. That is fine. Probably time to find new things to make fun of. I do have a comment. First, I confess I have never read any of the books in the trilogy. I admit I have no idea what part of Middle Earth this trilogy is set nor if the main character is in Hogsworth or not. Not a clue. Yet, I fear I want to retract all my previous jokes only based on a study that came out which makes me wish to reopen discussion on these books, and I would appreciate hearing from people who actually have read at least one of them. The study claims that because of these books there has been increased stalking and nonconsensual violence. Do readers think these books encourage readers to become stalkers and to engage in nonconsensual violence? Is the study overreacting, like when they blamed comic books for teenage delinquency? The stalking issue personally upsets me. I have had stalkers. I am not talking about someone following you around with puppy love. I am talking about a stalker who calls repeatedly and follows you and chases off others and becomes threatening. That can be very scary. If the books promote the idea that it is fine to stalk others, then I too believe it may be time to close discussion on them.

So sorry to hear you were stalked. That sounds awful.

I have to confess that I haven't actually read the trilogy either, although I did buy some friends an interactive couples' boardgame based on them. (Oddly enough, it was rated PG, and if you wanted to enhance the, er, couply aspects, you had to buy a special expansion pack.)

My uneducated guess on this one is that it's the general rule of books that set the romance paradigm: what can be delightful when you love someone is completely terrifying when it's not mutual. Juliet is delighted that Romeo climbed over the wall, broke into her yard, and climbed up the balcony to be with her. Rosaline is screaming "POLICE POLICE THERE'S A CREEPER IN MY YARD" even though Mercutio's like "WHAT? WHAT'S WRONG? I LOVE YOU! This is what people in love DO!"

The same problem arises with a lot of fairy tales, which, if read correctly, are stories of Guys Who Have Seen You One Time In, Like, A Parade Or Something And Follow You Across Seven Oceans In Order To Be With You, Then Do Something That Terrifies Your Dad So Much That He Just Hands You Over. Or, alternatively, maidens you had a thing with just a single time and then they pursue you east of the sun, west of the moon, and bribe people to let them into your bedchamber at night to watch you as you sleep.

Pretty creepy all around, by modern standards.


Your story must've been instrumental in Obama getting a second pup. Although "Sunny?" Come on now!

I was hoping it was "Sonny" and he'd later take over the Family and do a pretty mediocre job, but that's just because last week was Mob Week on AMC.

I can't think of anything funny or clever to contribute. Should I leave now?

Er, hasn't stopped me today! Stay put and see what happens? Keep a window open, or something.

from the Bacon Ipsum filler:

That's kind of creepy, actually.


So the one thing I've had a lot of opportunity to do on vacation so far is watch commercials, and there's actually been a fairly heated discussion about whether the Office Depot back-to-school spot gender stereotypes are annoying or not. The girls have a pink chandelier mirror locker! The boys like SCIENCE! The girls are using their notebooks to rank the members of One Direction! The boys are staring at CARS!

It got my goat, anyway.

As George H.W. Bush once observed. Other than those nothing wars, that is.

Right, other than those.

It looks like the usual posting persons are also on vacation.

Nobody here but us mice.

And, no, I'm not a stalker. Honest.

I'm staying in the Pepper Spray Kingdom, beyond the lake of Dangerous Wild Animals, and near several blue-light phones.

I too found your dog column quite moving. This was especially poignant for me as I have an almost 15 y.o. lab cross, who is still in remarkably good health, but we know of course it's just a matter of time. Sob.

Aw. Old dogs are the best dogs, as someone wise said.

If the US had a monarchy, each new royal baby would be treated like a movie sequel. CGI-laden trailers of the royal mother defeating zombies at charity events.

And if Joel Shumacher took over the franchise, the royal baby would be dressed in some seriously questionable outfits and have to be rebooted a decade later by Christopher Nolan.

It gets mine, too. Shouldn't this be OVER by now? Of course the cynical answer is that it's just a marketing ploy to double the amount of crap sold. Girls have to have separate pink crap from regular, i.e. boy, crap. Look at the Bic Pen for Women (or rather read the reviews on

Yes! My grandparents, whom I was watching with, didn't see the problem, but then again they're still grateful for the 19th Amendment.

But the Target penny-whistle ones are A-Mazing.

Yes! In fact, I'm always a Target commercial fan. I swear they're not paying me. If they were, I'd have more hip, yet affordable garments and furnishings! Also housewares!

Speaking of back-to-school, is there anything better than a new bottle of Elmer's glue and a box of crayons? And it has to be Elmer's. I bought a store-brand glue one time and it dried funny.

Glue (both Elmer's and store-brand) and algebra are two things I haven't used since graduation.

to Iron Man? I'd love to find out.

I'm sure Tony Stark has equipped the suit for contingencies like this.

I think I've been in one of their bars. Several times. The weird thing is, I never find out until I use one of my A-number-one-primo pickup lines.

I'd love to hear one of these lines.

Looking at the Office Depot ads, do you sense that we're going backward somewhat? I grew up in the 1970s and retailers pushed more unisex clothes for kids back then. It's almost like Office Depot is desperately defending some idea of gender roles. I laughed when the old Love Boat series lampooned those fears, with Capt. Stubing lamenting to a passenger that everyone would be one sex in the future. Of course, the passenger was John Ritter disguised as a woman.

Aw, John Ritter!

I don't remember the unisex phase. I definitely think the ALL PINK PINK EVERYWHERE CONSTANT PINK Y'ALL phenomenon is on the newer end. I always had fairly unisex toys (I was gifted a doll once, but I stuck it in the closet and never played with it.)

was upstaged in the "official family portrait" by that big furry black thing next to his daddy. You can barely see the kid. Of course, this is an upper-class British stereotype, where you love your dogs more than you do your kids, and spend more time with them.

Heh! It looks as though both William and Kate were told to bring a baby in for show and tell and she got the kid and he is trying to pretend he brought the correct item.

It's official - Gene Simmons has just announced his new Arena Football club - the LA Kiss. It's about time pro football (outside USC) came back to LA. Maybe your new boss Bezos can buy the Redskins and finally change the name. If so, I just hope he doesn't change the name to Super Save Shippers.

Or the "Primes!" Then we'd have a great chant: "2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19!" It could go on indefinitely. I think? Or has that been disproven?

"Do you live around here often?"


no one really wants a dude in the front yard playing 'your song' on a boom box

Even if you love the person, you're like, "Okay, Dave, that's nice, please, let's stop bothering the neighbors."

I read somewhere that Tom Hanks is an owner of Aston Villa, which he chose simply because he liked the name.

It's the best way to lead your life!

My 4 year old daughter chose a Captain America/Hulk toothbrush at Target the other day. . I will point out she hasn't seen any movies/shows with Captain America or the Hulk but is generally a fan of all superheroes. I'd also like to note that she puts Disney Princess toothpaste on the Hulk toothbrush.

Admirable! It's all about the sensible fusions!

I do. You probably also do not remember the "women must not wear pants/slacks/trousers because they are inappropriate for ladies!" thing, in which elegant pantsuits were lumped together with ratty jeans in offices, restaurants, etc. But can't we find a happy medium between unisex-all and PINKPINKPINK?

One would think! I worry the reason this has seized on so virulently is that it is, gulp, selling.

Also, the people on Disney channel shows need more varied professional aspirations! We could solve all our STEM problems!

My 3-year-old niece's latest photo on Facebook is of her wearing her bear camouflage jammies under her filmy pink princess dress.

See, this gives me hope!

For boys as well as girls. Only when we stop the silly hysterics when boys want Disney Princess toothpaste will we have won.

Truth! Now every time that happens a Proud But Definitely Reading Way Way Way Too Much Into This HuffingtonPost Parenting piece gets its wings. It should be a non-issue.

I blame Disney for the idiotic obsession they encourage in young girls for princesses. Ugh. It really has taken us back a couple of decades.

Hopefully now that Leia is, technically, a Disney princess, she can start cleaning up shop.

I guess it makes more sense than Lakers. A lot more vampires in LA than lakes.

And everything beats the Utah Jazz.

Science in school can made cool to both girls and boys, especially in the chemistry lab where you can start fires, create volcano-like eruptions, and blow up stuff. Maybe thanks to Walter White, now kids can learn to make crystal blue pure meth as their final exam. Note that if Lydia succeeds in taking over the meth trade, she proves that anyone of any gender can succeed no matter how ruthless the competition.

This reminds me of that CollegeHumor Bill Nye The Science Guy Breaking Bad fusion sketch. Speaking of fusions!

Office Depot wants all the girls to grow up to be secretaries who shop at Office Depot for their bosses who are too busy to buy office supplies. It's the circle of Office Depot life.


When I was doing my family genealogy, I was deeply moved when I discovered that my grandmother and great-grandmother were already registered to vote in the early 1920s (in other words, they must not have wasted much time signing up). I wonder if they had to show a photo ID, though...

That's really exciting! Well done, your grand and great-grands!

Speaking of grandparents, it's almost Beer and Wine Time in these parts (that's how the Grands refer to lunch) so speak now, or forever hold your peace!

"the Utah Jazz" is, all by itself, the embodiment of why the team name should stay with the city.


We have a long way to go still. "Isn't it wonderful? She's playing with the Hot Wheels" is still heard way more than "Isn't it wonderful? He's wearing mom's high heels."

Ideally, the entire toy rack would be on-limits. I think there's, for whatever reason, a much longer tomboy tradition. There's even a term for it that isn't super negatively freighted, except that there's an implied it's-just-a-phase, you can play at whatever you like but you can't actually expect anything to come of it because WOMAN, GO KNIT SOMETHING.

That's all very well, but did you read the depressing Harvard Business Review study a couple of years ago on how badly men in STEM fields treat women in those fields? Total stupid guy tricks. How do we attack that?

I think in all groups that are traditionally guy-dominated, then start filling up with women, once you get a quorum, there's still at first a certain bro-y-ness as the price of admission, a desire to show that I'm Not One of Those People Who Gets Offended By Things Like This (If That's The Price Of Joining) but then after you hit a quorum beyond that it just becomes transparently not okay in a way it wasn't when the room balance was still off. But maybe that's naive. I don't know.

Steve Roberts, filling in on the Diane Rehm Show this AM, just did an hour with the author of a book about clothing and the Constitution! Apparently there are still judges who won't allow women lawyers to wear pants suits in court.

Zoiks! (clutches -- not pearls, but something)

Not to mention how un-athletic the Philadelphia Athletics were after they moved to Kansas City. They eventually recovered their athleticism in Oakland, however, probably due to the felicitous climate.

But the Philadelphia Cream Cheeses just lacked a certain soemthing.

Allegedly the Brooklyn Dodgers' name had something to do with catching streetcars (the dodging, I believe, had to to with not getting struck by one). Considering the paucity of public transit in LA, there's a certain irony to them being the LA Dodgers, huh?

Aw, I always thought of them as Dickensian pickpockets.

When is your book coming out? Can we pre-order?

Not for a while yet -- I'm still writing! Probably 2015! But I will definitely keep you abreast!

The Princess is rescued from the Evil Witch by a girl superhero.

That's what I like to hear!

Around age 11 I remember my mom reminding me to bring my purse and me grumbling about it. My mom responded that I would have to get used to carrying one.

I can rage against this for hours! But I won't, since I should probably skedaddle!


And that's it, I'm off to lunch! Stay well, all! Keep reading the Compost (let me know if the mouse posts anything) and feel free to follow me on Twitter, where I just posted a pretty alarming picture of Richard Nixon that will soon decorate my apartment.

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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