ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Sep 03, 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

DC is bidding for the 2024 Olympics?

This is certainly an idea! Let's converse! 

Happy Tuesday, too! Good to be back!

That's my only explanation.


I learned everything there is to know about real estate in three days. Although I am worried that they don't give you at least an associate degree after completing Trump University. And where is the school's football team?

Really, where is the football? This is the true question. 

When I was a 9-year-old kid in the 1980s, the movie version of "Grease" was really popular among children, and a couple of us who had black fake leather jackets tried sticking letters to the backs of ours spelling out "T BIRDS". However, the "B" fell off of mine at some point in the day, and some kids from another clique (who didn't like me much) pointed out that I was proclaiming via my jacket that I was one of the TIRDS. As you can imagine, these other kids were quite decorous and tactful when they informed me that my TIRDS membership was plain for all to see. I'm not sure I have a question.

TIRDS fly together!

I'm not sure that was an answer, but I love any story with TIRDS in it. 

Well, I have discovered new uses for a foam finger I have never seen in any sports event. My question: While we blame the entertainers, how much of the blame belongs to the choreographers that created these dances? These things are rehearsed: It is not like Miley Cyrus spontaneously did those dance moves.She was playing some character in some TV dance skit. Granted, I presume she had veto power so she gets some blame/credit for her performance. Yet, who decided to have her do what she did?

As someone whose idea of choreography is repeating the same movement eight times while turning slowly leftwards, I cannot really speak to this, but it didn't look as though there was an overwhelming amount of choreography, at least for Miley? More of a general directive to make the audience uncomfortable through movement? 

That is a question I would like to see you tackle. I just don't understand. There are so many completely moronic comments that follow your fantastic columns, it's really perplexing. It really is like an army of deranged lunatics just emerges out of the ether and attacks all sense and reason. I know someone will say, "if you think that's bad just go to youtube comments," which I understand, but seriously what gives with the Posts' most active commenting "community?"

I don't want to bite the hand that leaves CAPITALIZED AND GENERALLY OKAY-LY SPELLED COMMENTS on me, so I will defer to Weingarten, who once described getting comments along with your article as "like ordering a steak and getting a side of maggots." Why this is the case I could not say. Generally my thesis is that the more broad and generic the topic, the meaner the comments -- the Panda Furries Forum is uniformly polite and well-policed, while the Post is angry and yelly and full of ad hominem arguments, but I was reading Chesterton recently and he argued the exact opposite, saying that the most bitter flame wars were to be found in the obscure scholarly journals, where Professor So And So quivered with rage to think of what Professor Z had said about the Hittites. So I don't know. 

Do you think the effort to bring Olympics to DC will succeed? I noticed you and Karen Tumulty have posted tweets on this, including DC Olympic events like watergat polo. I think filibustering can count as a marathon event.

I've been trying to think of a debt ceiling joke for a while but I've been able to come to a satisfactory resolution. 

Are you late again? Is it there thousands of demonstrators in front of the Post that delayed you, or the streets closed because the President wants the local Starbucks, or have you forgotten about us loyal fans who believe there has to be a good reason why you are late?

Nuts, I was here minutes ago, I just didn't hit the button! Phooey!

Is sequestration a horse-related event? Perhaps one where riders don't wear the fancy outfits and just ride in jeans and t-shirts, and the fences aren't surrounded by trimmed shrubs and nice flowers?

That sounds idyllic! 

Your line about MC being a sim whose creator deleted the toilet made me laugh out loud. At work. (I blame you for the looks I got.) I watched the video - without sound (because, you know, at work), which would be my preference anyway since her voice, um, doesn't really do it for me - and was torn between being super embarrassed for her and snickering at the audience's expressions. But I also read an article speculating that the snide remarks are coming from a place of slutshaming. I'm trying to tell myself it's not so, and that she was just really bad, but...what do you think? (For the record, I liked Christina when she went through her trashy phase, but I was 10 years younger then. Maybe I'm just that much closer now to being my parents.)

The thing about Miley, with the caveat that I am not any closer to Miley than she'll let anyone be on Twitter and that I see everything through that cloud of speculation through which you see anything celebrity, is that through this whole reinvention phase, it has seemed that she's the one driving the (at time alarming) bus. I have had more than one conversation with people who feel this way. 

I don't know what to say about the slutshaming. If we're going with the thesis that Miley is running Miley, and the further thesis that this dance was just Miley being Miley and expressing herself, I still don't think it's slutshaming to say, "Please, express yourself elsewhere." To say "That's in poor taste" isn't slutshaming. 

Then again, Rachel Shukert wrote on Twitter "Utterly baffled by what the big deal re: Miley Cyrus thing was. She danced around in her underpants, like every other lady at the VMAs ever." She added, "Is the problem that she was once a child? Bc every lady that dances in her undies for 1000's of people was also once a child. I promise."

This did make me think a little.

I believe in free speech, yet I believe people should use their real names when publishing comments online. I believe it is the anonymity of comments that allows people to develop alternate personas where they do not restrain their comments to what should appropriate. If people are allowed to just rant and rave at will, those dirt bag jerks will take what we pretend to be a democracy and will turn into in a fascist socialist state where zombies rule.

True, using your real name does mean that there's a greater incentive for people to behave themselves, because it can all be traced. Then again, there's always that one sliver of people who won't behave themselves, the same people who always rant at you on Facebook, and I have a sneaking suspicion that those are the type of people who tend to comment in the first place. I think it was CmdrTaco who noted that the line where the piece stops and the comments begin might well be labeled "Here Be Monsters" -- only a certain type ventures beyond.

Isn't running for higher office already a DC Olympic event?


Can you sprint 100 meters, and feed a parking meter at the end before you get a ticket? Contestants must bring own quarter.

Truth there. 

If DC was bidding for the Winter Olympics, debt ceiling drama would be like ice dancing - great to watch the drama on TV, lots of shiny outfits, but it's not a real event - it's all rigged tv drama. At least serious figure skating has a list of specific events to do / rating system (no more mystery 6.0 judging). And speed skating at least races a clock.

Aw, but I like ice dancing because What's It Doing There? It's Crazy!

It was an effective criticism of the sexual exploitation of preteen girls, but it would have been more effective if she had been wearing stiletto heels.

I knew something was missing!

If the Olympics comes to DC. will filibustering become an Olympic event?

I'd like to see him go at it with Wendy Davis!

Someone way more clever then me said "Academic arguments are so bitter because the stakes are so small."

tiny stakes! always the key!

Sniff... sniff... WAHHHHHHHHH. (signed, a very said Polly Ticks)


It's been done by Monty Python. Look for "Upper Class Twit of the Year"

I love that skit, but I think there's more DC-specific meat to mine! If mining is something you can do to meat, which I doubt.

I know anonymity doesn't work in cleaning up blog comments, and Alexandra explained why. Her teammate Karen Tumulty knows firsthand - she used to work at rival TIME, and their swampland blog always has had a few trolls who use their real names or their names were known, and it didn't stop their bad behaviors at all. Those few bad apples always ruin it for everyone unless they're kicked out for good.

Some people are always jerks who won't let you have nice things!

I'm one who enjoys a good online conversation with other commenters, but it rarely happens these days as I think the ravers bring down the level of conversation to the sewer level. Best web community I was part of was on Roger Ebert's site, he somehow managed to attract only thoughtful people, and he reviewed and published all comments. Many disagreed with him, but no one was nasty. Don't know how he did it.

I often wonder that about Ebert. Man, I miss reading his reviews. His site still hosts excellent content, though. I think the thoughtful community has persisted. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates is also often cited as an example of someone who's created a vibrant commenter community. But it does seem to be something you really have to work to cultivate; it doesn't just happen on its own, and it takes serious time and investment that most writers prefer to lavish on, say, making limp puns on Twitter.  

The endless hurdles. Just when it looks as if you have a clear path to the finish line, they throw up a whole new set of hurdles, increasing in height until the runners just give up.


Maybe it's that Miley was a child in the public eye so we still think of her as a child. I have cousins that I remember as being 12 years old even though they're in college, and I have the same reaction when Miley or Selena Gomez appear on the covers of Glamour and Cosmopolitan instead of Teen Beat. Do you think there's a double standard here, or do you think many people had the same reaction when the Justins (Timberlake and Bieber) came of age? One can reject the double standard of slut-shaming and still be repulsed by people who lust after underage celebs - years ago, one attention-seeking fan at a Capitals game held up a sign reading "### Days Until Mary-Kate and Ashley are Legal."

I remember those signs! 

Maybe it's a sign of age -- not hers, ours. 

Do that if you want, I guess, but I have a hunch that I'm not the only one who behaves himself as a matter of course and would still never comment again. Maybe I'm just unusually fussy about keeping my online life separate from my real life, and I admit that I don't have a real reason for doing so other than this nebulous sense of protecting my privacy that I can be fairly sure no one wants to invade in the first place. I hate the awful comments as much as anyone, but this solution would drive away a bunch of the good people along with the bad.

I am a fan of Internet anonymity! Even if it's an illusion, which I realize that it often is, given how traceable most of our lives are if anyone cared to look. But under the illusion that no one cares to look you can still enjoy yourself a good deal. 

In fact, I think one of the big fun things of the early Internet was so few people went by their real names that you felt it was a crazy playground where Nobody Knows You're A Dog and, to take one random example, you could offer homework help to a Canadian ninth grader for months without his realizing you were in ninth grade yourself. 

Wait.... You don't have to use your real name? Nobody tells me anything. I've been writing a book on "world's weirdest names," all culled from the comments here. Ah well. It's a good thing books are obsolete.

wait, books are obsolete?


*flings manuscript out window*

Don't know that I'd want to go down that road. Timberlake seems to have avoided the worst behaviors, but my indifference to Ms. Cyrus is exceeded only by my revulsion to the saliva-flinging Beiber.

Oh lord, Bieber. Allow me to quote from his memoir. "I want everything to go right. I don't want to let anyone down."

I hope that was helpful. 

So, Miley Cyrus has grown up. At least Justin Bieber remains a kid and isn't doing any foolish. Right?

*overturns small table, walks out*

That's why I'm the only commenter on your "what I learned" post. :D


The Boodlers over on the Achenblog are a pretty astute and civil lot.

Yes, should have mentioned them! I can also attest that they're pleasant in person!

Nobody Knows You're A Dog and

oh no, now my conversational habit of trailing off mid-sentence has found its way into the chat!

actually I just consulted the transcript and that was just an ill-constructed sentence!

There ought to be a special section for them. Like a visit to Bedlam, one could go there to be entertained.

Choler Commentary is great!

We are Barnes and Noble wish to insist that books are not obsolete. Also, is anyone here a good bankruptcy lawyer?


Or a tiny arachnid?

if misspelled, multiple arachnids!

I have a Twitter account that I gave up one year and five months ago. I have tweeted nothing in that time. I am amazed I am still getting followers. I received two new followers just today. Seriously, who follows a dead Twitter account?

Twitter vultures?

I think of a George Carlin line that a good friend of mine uses: "Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of all people are stupider than that." (When I say he's a good friend, I mean that we both post in a sports-related forum and his comments are pretty smart.)

Does he post anonymously?

The D.C. variants would be the K Street Lawyer Dash, the Lobbyist Lasso and Bureaucrat Baseball.

Don't forget Softball Question Fielding and Can-Down-The-Road Kicking

See, the thing is that I'm really, really smart (almost genius level IQ) and the comments I generate in online environments are well thought out, comlex, and sometimes even nuanced. Most are not. Forgive me if I don't want the neanderthals who, when they can't understand my arguments, threaten to do nasty things to various orafices in my body to know my actual name. That is all.

This has to be a joke comment.

This reminds me of what I think is an Auden quotation-- Anyone who tells you that he is an intellectual is automatically committing a social blunder and, usually, an error.

Was saddened to hear that such a large percentage of college freshmen don't own a radio, get all their music online. There's something about going up and down the dial checking out the variety of stations and settling on the one that fits your (my) mood.

But I'm sure they'd counter that there's something to doing the same online, and that dials are unwieldy.

Polly is actually short for "Mary." And, I shouldn't admit this, but I'm also known (?) here as "squirrel bopper."

These relevations are rocking my world. 

Maybe commenting should be a sport (excuse me, an "event"). There can be decorous commenting, vile commenting, and punditry.

But all the spectators would be competing!

I'm bummed to find out parking garage where Deep Throat and Bob Woodward hung out to chat Watergate is slated for demolition. Is there no sense of history anymore in Washington?

I saw that! 

Then again, we don't want to turn into Hoarder City ("NO DON'T TEAR DOWN THAT OVERPASS BOB WOODWARD ONCE BREATHED ON IT"). Maybe the memory can suffice. 

A few more events: * Line-Standing *Cocktail-Party-Impressing *Credential-Inflating

I like line-standing! Or line-toeing (the party)!

Charge money for them. PLEASE. Cut down on the crazies, the long arguments, and make some money off it.

Penny for your thoughts!

Ooh, I kind of like this idea!

The revelation that Polly Ticks is the Squirrel Bopper has stunned me. This is like when I realized Clark Kent is Superman.


I suspect today's youngsters don't even know what a dial is.

Or a dial tone.

Since the real Olympics already have javelin, discus and hammer throwing, why not have the DC Olympics offer a contest in bovine-effluvium throwing?

Or shooting the same!

I have been trying to come up with this week's obligatory "50 Shades" reference, and I am not doing well. When did it become a board game? Or is it a border game?

Speaking of weekly references, whatever happened to Soylent Green Is People?

Oh, there it is, I guess. 

Is it slut shaming to say I just wish she'd keep her [darn] tongue in her mouth for 30 seconds straight? I really think it's just 'cuz, Ewww! But maybe I'm secretly a woman hater? Can a feminist think something another woman does is just bad taste? or does that get me booted from the club?

Does that mean that corporations are Soylent Green, my friends?


My husband is in the music industry here in LA, and we know people at Miley's label. Let's just say everyone there has been expecting this for, oh, the last five years or so. Really, it's a miracle she's gone this long.


She performed as she did at the VMAs so no one would remember her so-called singing.

Am I the only one who didn't mind the singing?

Thanks for your post. I left the second reply after Polly Ticks. I'd avoid going to dinner with a group of people (and just stick to dates or dine solo) if there's going to be a hassle over the check. Go dutch or sneak off to the bathroom, then escape out the kitchen back door or climb out the window. People need to learn to pay their fair share at meals. However, the bathroom is the best place to discuss politics. I think most of Congress's current ideas come from there.

They always say, when you have to look to the bathroom for your ideas, the writing is on the wall!

Finally, a solution worthy of the name Donald Trump.

Ack, my comment vanished!

What I meant to say was, "and on that note, time to skedaddle!" Keep reading the Compost, and feel free but Olympic (yes this makes no sense) to join the small huddled masses following 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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