ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Oct 22, 2013

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What's on your mind? I just finished "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," so if anyone wants to talk about how Claude Frollo would probably be one of those guys who does not understand why his OkayCupid profile is not exciting more responses, and also about that goat, the Actual News can wait.

Did the guy who designed the Obamacare site also do the Post 'Up Next' popups? Because they really should be titled 'Previously'.

Oh, yeah, sorry about that!

Or, possibly, "Here's One We Made Earlier."

Well, the End Times are here - Kim Kardashian and Kanye West finally got engaged. Alexandra, is there a WaPo betting pool on how long THIS marriage will last for her?

Does everyone need to be so cynical? Isn't it just barely possible that two of the world's most deranged attention trulls could have found love in each other? Why are we rooting against them? They named their child North! That has to count for something!

How can you bail out? ...but how 'bout them Red Sox? ...but are you free for drinks later?

I recommend having your kind-hearted hunchback friend come leaping down from the towers of Notre Dame to spirit you off, shouting "SANCTUARY! SANCTUARY!" so you never have to finish the sentence, but if this is not in the cards, you are best off never speaking again.

When you finished The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was that reading it or writing a reboot of it? I noticed nearly all films eventually get remade or rebooted, like "Carrie."

I actually hadn't seen the Disney version, and so afterwards when I managed  to find some representative clips I spent a good hour laughing hysterically, especially when Quasimodo delivers the "You taught me that the world was cruel! But I think the only thing cruel about it is PEOPLE LIKE YOU!" Also the gargoyles who give him pep talks.

Then again, given that in the actual text Quasimodo is deaf (but he reads lips and signs so well that he can carry on long, passionate conversations) one-eyed (but Hugo specifically says his one eye is SO GOOD it almost makes up for the other organs he is missing) and also goes through an awkward courtship of Esmeralda where he brings her flowers in Wholesome But Unprepossessing Earthenware Pots that are blossoming just fine, in contrast to Other Flowers In Beautiful But Cracked Crystal that have wilted, while singing songs about how True Beauty Lies In The Heart, maybe Disney knew what it was doing. 

I'm not saying she deserved it, but ... it's about time Kimye got her ring!



Unfortunately if I participated, I might die.

This is how the hunting of the snark begins.

Is there anyone in this novel who would have a good profile? I mean, Phoebus and Fleur-de-Lys would attract a certain crowd, but really the pickings are pretty slim. Then again, since Frollo couldn't post under his own name because he's a clergyman, maybe he'd have an entertaining profile under a pseudonym -- Charlemagne Danger, perhaps.

True fact, I Twitter-searched the names of the characters and someone pretending to be Frollo had claimed "Robed Creeper," which is definitely the most apt moniker he could hope for, if not the one that brings all the girls to the parvis.

I think Pierre Gringoire might have a good profile (he'd at least sound philosophical, which, uh, that's what attracts people, right?) and Jehan Frollo, the archdeacon's cheeky layabout younger brother, if he ever sobered up and ditched his mistress long enough to write one, might come up with something relatively engaging.

Who thinks this engagement will actually result in a wedding? Cause I don't.




Perhaps we should start a "Snark Week" to save the snarks . . .

mumbles something about how that's the entire Internet all the time

I think I've got it: Kimye are getting married at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, where no one deserves to have Obamacare.

That's the news, folks.

Now that Les Miz has been made into a live action movie, isn't it about time that Disney did an animated version of it, with the ending changed? And what about all the other Victor Hugo novels just waiting to be made into children's stories, like "[Seventeen] Ninety-Three" and "The Last Day of a Condemned Man"?

Actually, fun fact, there is an animated Les Mis! Actually, there are a couple!

They sort of lack the Disney touch, though.

I didn't know what a "Kimye" was so I googled it and discovered that today's the 216th anniversary of the invention of the parachute.

And now we have a reason to jump!


Is this better or worse than "Carlos Danger"?

At this point, there's a convincing case to be made for Robed Creeper. At least he's robed.

Your opening comments got me thinking: Which literary characters would you send a response to if they were listed on an Internet dating site?

Well, as we've established, pretty much no one from Notre Dame.

Cyrano de Bergerac, definitely. But he probably gets all the catfish loving after combining his personality with Christian's picture. "I thought I was talking to a handsome cavalier, but when we met, it was this other guy!" "Did he have a big nose?" "Yeah!" "Me too!" "Me too!" "Me too!" "Whoa how many of us are there?"

Thanks for your Obamacare hotline post. As I replied there, I learned from you that if you hear breathing over the phone while ordering pizza, that place must have really good pizza for people to be that excited. The recent Domino's ad mocking phone orders / praising online orders annoys me since I rarely have problems ordering pizza over the phone. Indeed, two pizza places near me are next door to bars and I often order pizza in person, then wait at the bar and have some drinks. Are there other services for which you still use the phone?

The number of Domino's pizza is one of the few phone numbers I still have memorized, besides The Landline Numbers Of People I Was Friends With In Middle School.

I'm trying to think of other services. 911, I guess?

Can you explain to me why I always get Victor Hugo and Emile Zola mixed up?


If the novel Longbourn has taught me anything, it is that I find reading about poop neither entertaining nor uplifting. Not meaning to turn this into a Weingarten chat, but it had to be said.

I've never read Longbourn, so you'll have to enlighten me! This is poop poop, right? Not deck poop?

Since Hugo was one of Rand's favorite novelists, maybe Disney can finally make a decent Atlas Shrugged movie, animated of course. Mickey can start a Steamboat Willie company from scratch instead of a railroad, without government help of course. Scrooge McDuck would finally get his due as the world's savior instead of a greedy hoarder.

Given that I think the market has been doing everything it can short of screaming "STOP! STOP!" at any and all live action Ayn Rand movies, this might be the only way to go. It is definitely time Scrooge was redeemed!

No, no, I"m a Francophile! But I have the same problem with Verdi & Puccini.

I think it's the same basic basis of confusion -- they did similar things in ways that are Clearly Different If You're Steeped In Them but look fairly similar from the outside.

This is why nothing about poop ever appeared in the actual novel about life at Longbourn. And why I don't read Austen fanfic.

Please someone explain what this is because I am growing increasingly alarmed.

It is totally impossible to discuss it (as Emily Yoffe has learned), but I don't think saying rapes are CAUSED by rapists is mutually exlusive with not getting totally bombed may help you avoid them. Analogies are overdone, but here is what I'm TRYING to say: It is like wearing a seat belt. Even if you are a perfect and careful driver, don't you advise people to wear one in case a terrible drunk driver plows into you? There is no FAULT being assigned, it is simply safer to act in that manner. I would not say this if the chat were not annonymous because words would be put in my mouth immediately and I would look like I was blaming people. No blame, just advice to try and help yourself avoid the evil people.

This is hard to phrase right and I think you deserve credit for trying.

This isn't a response to your whole point, but whenever I  share something on the lines of Wow I Can't Believe Someone Actually Said Or Did This Thing To Or About A Lady, it tends to resonate in a very specific choir that loves it and emits loud 'amen's, but I'm not sure it reaches the people who need to realize that You Should Never Say, Much Less Do, This To Anyone. Sometimes the chamber feels, well, sealed. Inside the chamber, everyone is super-vigilant about language and blaming-- as Emily Yoffe has learned. And I think the theory is that gradually the circle spreads and eventually the people who are sitting silently fuming when moronic remarks are made out in real life in the world will outnumber the morons and the conversation will change. But what do you do in the mean time? How do you argue? How do you reach the people to whom this is not yet obvious? Paste your pieces on AXE bottles? And how does this translate into practical advice to give your sons and daughters? It's much thornier.

I'm bummed out that A&E is cancelling "Hoarders." We're always told to save more, don't waste anything, etc. and these people on that show do it better than anyone. So why do they get called out as bad people?

How did I miss this cancellation?

There were a lot of great headlines at the time noting that A&E "puts Hoarders in a bag, takes it to the curb" and then presumably fumigates it for cat skeletons.

Still, not sure what I'll do without it.


Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead!


"Longbourn" appears to be P&P told from the POV of the servants, so there seems to be an emphasis on, for instance, emptying chamber pots. As Miss Jean Brodie said, "For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like."

Oh, rapture!


For many years during my childhood, I assumed that Quasimodo was a star player at South Bend.

He's built like a linebacker, assuming the linebacker in question is knock-kneed and has legs of uneven length. But he can take down a crowd of 6000, so don't misunderestimate the guy!

Longbourn was the residence of the Bennets in pride and Prejudice. It's also the title of a novel about the servants of the Bennets. Hence, it's fan fiction.

I like the strange and wavering line between Publishable Fanfiction (the kind with zombies in it, or the kind where anyone from Pride and Prejudice has carnal relations) and Shameful Fanfiction that you can't be seen reading until someone publishes it as 50 Shades of Grey.

Aren't (Isn't?) Kimye a good illustration of Ayn Rand's ideas? Look at 'em, making us all better by being the best Kimye they can be. Also, "Kimye" is an anagram for "Mikey," and Mikey loved Life and so did Ayn Rand.

Good save there with the anagram!

OK, so I start hearing the Les Miz Dream song in my head , and then somehow it morphs iinto the Sound of Music "Climb Every Mountain" song, which is also about dreams. Apparently my head is a scary place.

Does anyone else have these songs that morph into other songs whenever you try to reconstruct them in your mind, and it turns out that you did not in fact know how "Brick House" went at all?

Wrong chat? Or do we do Catfish jokes in here too?

Catfish jokes are always welcome!

The Notre Dame jokes have come full circle!

I added 5 minute over 30 years.

That's the opposite of what usually happens!

Thanks AP. Now you've put THAT song in my head. Over and over and over and...

Sorry, same here! I am being hoist by my own petard!

Mostly, I'm glad I didn't invite friends over for a Longbourn themed reading party, because who wants to eat "what Jane would have eaten" prior to discussing poop?

Then again, when my grandmother had her book club over to talk about The Help, she prepared a chocolate pie, so I guess it's possible?

And so is Antonio Salazar, of neighboring Portugal.

Quick, roll call!

I keep hoping this will happen to the climate-change denying politicians, too. And that those who sit silently by on the sidelines will finally get fed-up -- or overheated, in this case! -- enough to act on their disgust and throw the bums out.

Well, it's just a theory.

(The Critical Mass of Fumers, that is.)

yes, happens all the time, a piece of one song leads into another, and then I try to figure out why my mind put the two (or more) together, there is always a similarity, even if I have to think about what it is.

I am trying to think of examples, but all I can hear is "Brick House!" over and over again.

Leading to endless rounds of "Yugo, Hugo." "No, you go."

And got stopped by a tree falling in his path, which he had to remove with an axe.  "Yew, go!" "Hew! Go!"

But only Robed Creeper is an anagram for "Crepe Beer Rod"

Good save there with the anagram!

Sure I do, but I don't believe in those two. Or rather, I believe in ego and craziness even more.

When love goes, ego and craziness will still be there to keep you warm at night.

And what about that movie "Gravity"? Is the movie better than the force?

The force is always better.

Whatever happened to death panels? I was hoping to be picked as a panelist, so I could ask goofy questions before voting thumbs up or thumbs down.

Knowing my luck I'd wind up on a panel where death turned out to be modifying the panel, not the people up before the panel, and midway through a response a trap door would gape beneath me.

The head of the English department in my high school ripped out a few pages from Ragtime when we read it. Now, admittedly, mother's younger brother really shouldn't have been hiding in that closet, but the teacher's first recommendation was that one of us get a parent to buy an unredacted copy and pass it around the classroom so we could all read the missing pages. The department head was embarrassed, but he just couldn't imagine giving those pages to his own grandchildren, so he made a bad decision. Then again, there weren't movies about using the results of mother's younger brother's peeping as hair products back then.

Also, if you go by the rule of not allowing people to read things you wouldn't imagine giving to your grandchildren, my entire library would consist of etiquette manuals.

Last night I saw Cyndi Lauper sing "At Last" in a guest spot on "Bones," and by bedtime it had morphed into the Tommy Dorsey Band's hit "So Rare" (both start with a rising Sol-Do motif).

Oh, I can hear that!

So it DID make a sound!!

I thought that loud groaning, followed by a crash, was my joke landing.

Civilization advances funeral by funeral, as Max Planck said. Unfortunately it will take a lot of funerals of climate-change deniers, and in the meantime, climate is changing.

If we can somehow reach an equilibrium where the intellectual climate's rate of change catches up with the regular climate -- well, it'll be a snowy day in somewhere that it usually does not snow.

In our senior year of high school Latin, our teacher provided handouts of some of Catullus' amatory poetry for us to translate. She only assigned us the clean lines, but those of us who were serious Classics students translated the unassigned lines for our own educational benefit. Yeah, that was it, academic dedication...

Dedication! Dedication! Always dedication!

That's the good thing about the classics. This reminds me of the part in Maurice where everyone's translating along and the instructor says, "You will omit the reference to the unspeakable vice of the Greeks" and everyone keeps translating quietly. You get through a lot more of the material if you skip those bits, because suddenly there is no Aristophanes to read at all.

My high school banned "1984" in the 70's. I was able to find a sympathetic teacher to give me a copy from the closet. And they MADE us read "Brave New World" -- go figure.


That's classic! Brave New World continues its rampage through the curriculum, trampling 1984 in its soma-addled wake. Huxley definitely aced the whole future-prediction thing.

The mistake Orwell made about dystopia was thinking we wouldn't enjoy it.

I have the same problem with Areopagites and Monophysites.

I'm going to go Google that, and leave you! Have a grand week! Keep reading the Compost, and feel free to join 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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