ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Nov 05, 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 what ho, all. Just finished the new Sebastian Faulks Jeeves book. Have some strong feelings about it which will be appearing forthwith.

Hope you all had excellent Halloweens and Post-Halloweens and Pre-Halloweens!

What did you go as?

Jabba the Hutt one evening, Nicky from Orange is the New Black another, although my scrubs were too large and everyone thought I was Fat Luke Skywalker after some significant weight loss who hadn't been shopping yet.

This year, November brings us Thanchanukah. It's a weird calendar quirk that'll never happen again.

I thought it would again in, like, 77,000 years! Which isn't never, as the man thought hopefully, 'I wouldn't date you in 77,000 years!' ringing in his ears.

I'm posting surprisingly early to tell you I am, like you, chronically late. I don't mean to do it! I respect your time! Somehow, I'm just always late. The Metro is usually my go to excuse. If I'm running five minutes late, the next train doesn't come for ten. Ergo, it's the Metro's fault I'm late!

And it's rude of buses to be early! That is one job where you strive to be on time or after!

What is up with getting rid of Get Fuzzy? Booo!


Sadly, the winners/losers will find ANOTHER reason to bomb my inbox forty-five times an hour.

Do people still get those creepy "Knock" emails that were so ubiquitous in the 2012 cycle?

With stores encroaching on Thanksgiving, I'm waiting for them to be open on Halloween next. Oh wait, they are. Can we just make Christmas a year-round holiday? That would give our sagging economy a pick-me-up.

I saw a sign in a Radio Shack the day after Halloween suggesting that we "Tech the Halls" and a little something in me died. That something was hope.

Look, I don't begrudge the economy anything that it needs to recover, but I wish it didn't have to do this sort of thing.

In "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin," an old BBC comedy, Perrin would arrive at his office every day and announce "eleven minutes late" followed by an excuse. And, for the record, the series was excellent, Leonard Rossiter was superb, the book stank to high heaven.

Oh, I should do that! Let's do that next week!

I'm glad to read about billions of Earth-like planets out there that could support life. Maybe those inhabitants are studying US too, though I fear if all they know about us are broadcasts of reality shows, Miley Cyrus twerking, and Justin Bieber, they may doubt if there's any intelligent life here. Then again, it might keep them from invading us ala Independence Day. If we can find a way to broadcast the good stuff (like YOUR work) maybe they'll welcome us.

Aw, you.

Look, I'm sure those aliens have their Mileys Cyrus as well. There's some asexual being in space who is budding all over the place when everyone knows there is NO OCCASION for that, but these kids just don't LEARN.

In repeats a lot, apparently. I thought my memory was going Benjamin Buttons on me and I was remembering things that never happened in that strip.

They have such a distinct sense of humor! Is he making a TV show like Gary Trudeau, who's been in Doonesbury flashbacks for what feels like months?

Get Fuzzy is kind of one-note, but nothing like the way Lio is. I don't understand Lio's staying power.

Maybe they pay by the word?

Also, "The Amazing Spiderman"? Who actually enjoys this strip? Didn't the Tarantula just take control of Costa Verde without an election?

I get these "ENLARGE YOUR (something I may or may not have)" messages but the message body says "Enlarging your (something you may or may not have) is now (or not) covered under Obamacare! Vote for me and I'll make it (not) happen!"

That covers all your bases right there!

Since Hannukkah begins at sunset, you (well, maybe not you, but your decendents) can light the first Hannuukkah candle on Thanksgiving night in 2070 and 2165. But the first time there is an actual overlap again will be in 76695.

So only 74,682 years away! That's peanuts!

It doesn't have to do this sort of thing. It did it long before economic recovery gave it an excuse. But we don't have to play along. Tell them you're not shopping there until after Thanksgiving, and tell them why.

Aw, but then it becomes a principled stance. I think Bill Bryson said one of the stupidest reasons to do something is on principle. Plus complaining while shopping is one of life's rarest pleasures.

Are you looking forward to the upcoming Catching Fire movie? I am. I love (and cringe) at how popular movies are trickled down through marketing to other products, like cereal, toys, etc. But one fun effect has been through shelter pets. At the shelter where I volunteer, after The Hunger Games cats named Katniss and Peeta showed up (and all adopted). I'll bet Catching Fire will produce more Katniss kitties. I loved it when a pair of Life of Pi kittens showed up named Pi and Richard Parker, of course ...and yes, Richard was orange colored with stripes.

That's amazing!

I'm so glad they're finding homes!

Better than all the names trickling down into people.

Also, is it just me, or do we see more Elinors since Jane Austen began her Ineluctable Ascent To The Peak of Pop Culture?

my turdle died and his name was sam.

Sorry about Sam.

And Peanuts will still be in reruns in the WaPo then. We've gone full circle.

I feel like there's a Rerun wheel within this wheel, actually.

Bill Bryson is a charlatan. I'm not taking his word for anything except about how odd it was to come back to live in the U.S. after 20-some years in England.

I know, but if a remark is attributed to someone else at second hand, it automatically sounds more convincing! As Teddy Roosevelt so wisely said.

I enjoy it the way I do "Blondie" -- from nostalgia. I read Marvel Comics as a kid and Stan Lee's humor was so far ahead of the other comics of his time, it was like Mad Magazine or something. It's also why I watch the movies (well, that and Robert Downey Jr & Chris Hemsworth ).

But these days the Amazing Spiderman is exactly on par with Mark Trail for me in terms of its hilarious absurdity.

One of my favorites, Harbor Freight (great for cheap tools 'n' whatnot) was going to have a big sale beginning on T-giving morning. A bunch of us customers started ragging on the regional manager who happened to be there, and they apparently changed their plans.

Huzzah! The People have spoken!

The only thing better than shopping and complaining, is shopping and complaining and then being late as hell.

That sounds like my weekend in a nutshell.

But seriously, I'm trying to be earlier to things.

is "Curtis." I'm tired of his classroom and his stalking the supermodel girl.

What I always wonder with strips like this is, what's the endgame? Does Curtis finally persuade Michelle? Does he settle with Chutney? They seem to be trapped in middle school forever; maybe they can keep exploring it until they reach a satisfactory arrangement.

You know when the economy is really bad when people camp out all night for the midnight Yom Kippur sales. Thank you! Enjoy the veal!

I chuckled at the veal.

I see a grass-roots movement in the making. Can we start gangs of vigilantes?

Yes! We sneak into stores under cover of night and we aggressively remove the holiday decorations until such time as Thanksgiving is past! We will be heroes!

What's a good name?

Jane Austen now comes in an action figure and in an air freshener

Of course she does.

The Save Halloween and Thanksgiving Activists is a bit unwieldy but we could come up with an acronym that...oh. Wait.

How about UNDECK or something? That sounds kind of devo!

"She laughed - and it made the sound of a frisky brook going over the strings of a particularly well-tuned harp." This is constructed exactly like one of Wodehouse's endearingly humorous metaphors, but it doesn't work. It is more puzzling than amusing. It clunks rather than chimes.

That's the book in a nutshell. Something is missing, specifically, P. G. Wodehouse.

Two radio stations in my town started playing Christmas music 24/7 as of November 1. I've sent strongly worded emails to each. Strongly worded!

They'd better have been strongly worded!

Ooooh! I so agree with you AP! I used to always read every. single. strip just on principle to support teh industry, but I cna't make myself bother with the spider man nonsense.

I still read every strip on principle, but I feel like back in the day there was more urgency, when the Lizard was our antagonist and there weren't three panels of Spidey sleeping on a plane.

to remember when stores put their Christmas decorations up either the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or on Thankgiving (while closed!) so that the day after was not only a shopping bonanza but the 1st time you saw everything decked out for the holidays. Made it a special occasion. Now decorations appear after Halloween. Dagnabit --says cranky (semi) oldster.

Maybe the answer is to come up with an intermediate holiday that's so cool everyone wants to decorate for it instead. We're pretty good at making novelty days -- look at May the Fourth. Something could come of this!

I really wonder at people who don't think PGW wrote enough and they have to come up with more. I don't like Jane Austen imitations/continuations but I acknowledge that six slim novels isn't a lot.

No, I understand the frantic desire for more, but the whole concept of the substitute as a starter really rubs me wrong. 

I officially declare the opening of Undeck season. To last until midnight on November 30.

We should all get big chunky sweaters that say IT'S NOT THAT SEASON YET in inoffensive knitwork.

How about "Put the Turkey back in the Oven!" I could just be hungry ...

Oh, I like that!

Mm, turkey.

When's lunch?

Technically, "Sleigh Ride" is not a Christmas song. I think Alexandra's awesome teammate Karen Tumulty pointed that out awhile back. The lyrics don't explicitly mention Christmas either. However, I too don't want explicit Christmas music so soon either. If only we had Thanksgiving music to serve as a buffer (or buffet). Alexandra, do you write songs as well as plays?

Here's the thing about "Sleigh Ride." I agree with Karen that it is not technically a Christmas song, but the key word here is "technically." Anything with sleigh bells sets off this weird pavlovian NO NOT A CHRISTMAS SONG response in me and, I think, in most radio listeners. Sleigh bells are the glitter of holiday music in the sense that they get everywhere and weeks later you're still finding them stuck on you.

I do write songs, but actually the next song I'm working on is a Christmas song.

Some of the combinations have potential, but my biggest disappointment was "Scream for Jeeves." It's easy to do H.P. Lovecraft. It's hard if not impossible to do PGW. But I do like the atheist screed (Dawkins maybe?) where Jeeves explains Christianity and Christmas to Bertie and Bertie, with his prize in Scripture Knowledge, is astounded.

Yes! I liked it too! I think it's easier to do Wodehousian dialogue than it is to do his narration.

Not sure about the Lovecraft.

My TV satellite provider devotes a whole channel each November and December to "Holiday Fireplace". a running view of the inside of a fireplace with three logs burning merrily, played over and over again. It's oddly cheerful and, I swear this is true, it does warm up the room but, could they not wait until at least December first?

Or why not have it all year round?

Like an offended genteel maiden when you see Christmas goods on sale before Thanksgiving. (I swear I saw red bells in Target right after Labor Day when they were clearing out the school supplies.)

Ooh, I want to go off now and make some custom post-its that say "DAGNABBIT, IT'S NOT EVEN THANKSGIVING YET!" which can be stuck on the offending displays.

They wouldn't do it if it didn't make money? Who is buying Christmas lights in October? Who shops on Thanksgiving? Who demands Christmas music before the winter coats come out of the closet?

Not I!

Well, actually, I might have bought a few Christmas lights, but I wasn't thinking.

I love the idea of an "It's Not That Season Yet" Christmas protest sweater. Do you knit or crochet, so you can make one and wear it to work / post pix on twitter? Or can your mom make you one in time for the holiday protest season? But don't have her delay and then give it you you as a Christmas present, as it would kinda defeat the purpose.

I think this calls for Etsy!

"Put the key back in turkey." Stuffing is evil. It adds mass and means more cook time which dries out the bird and wastes cooking fuel. The key to a moist turkey is no stuffing! The Chef

Stuffing is delicious on the side, though!

...but my mother was so clever that she'd get an early jump on shopping on Veterans' Day, which actually used to be celebrated on November 11, no matter what day of the week it was (as opposed to shoved to a Monday for a 3-day weekend).

Did she wait until the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, or shop earlier in the morning?

I've been a lifelong fan of comics and comic strips. I once thought I was remembering the "good old days" too fondly but after buying collections of old Rip Kirby, On Stage, etc., I realized they really were great in the day. Stories moved along at an entertaining pace (not Spidey sleeping on a plane for a week) and beautifully drawn. Of course they weren't reduced to the size of Bazooka Joe comics then.

That does help!

Then again, I have notions of the golden age of Garfield which subsequent investigation has informed me are entirely unfounded.

How come there's no voiceover? "Coming up this hour, we'll be burning birch, oak, mahogany..."

"Oh my God! A talking fireplace!"

They could show a beach for summer. If you can't afford a pool or a vacation, you can sit in your recliner, tike drink in hand.

Or just a bug stuck in the screen door.

I realize you dislike boycotts, but if customers would just muster the self-control to NOT SHOP on Thanksgiving Day, the stores would quickly get the message & discontinue the practice of being open that day.

I don't dislike boycotts if you are aiming them correctly! This would be a good use of one.

When baked on the side, it's called "dressing." And you're right, it's more delicious that way!

I stand schooled!

We can do this! 500 are like ten bucks at VistaPrint. If we all got a few packs, we could start a movement. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor! Nothing's over until WE decide it is! Sorry, I got a little revved up there. But we could, you know.

Hand-writing them is another possibility, if you don't want to splurge!

I make stuffing both in the bird and separately (in a casserole dish). The stuffing from inside the bird always disappears first. And if you use a turkey roasting bag, the cooking time is dramaticly reduced. So, TAKE THIS BIRD AND STUFF IT !!!! - space cadet

This sounds delicious too.

Dang it, you are making lunch absolutely imperative.

I'm putting a tombstone in my yard for Santa.


Good thought. Having it year-round would solve the big problem of having two focal points - a TV and a fireplace - in a room - just have one (the TV) which you could instantly switch to a fireplace in off hours. Brilliant!

They definitely used to make a tape or DVD of this, although it was probably awkward to have to get up and change the fire every so often.

Let's say a boycott was "successfully" planned to have no shopping on Thanksgiving. The result, lots of people shopping on Thanksgiving since they would think the stores would be empty so it'll be easy to shop. The toothpaste cannot be put back in the tube.

You make a fair point.

I think the holidays divide into People Appalled By The Idea of Black Friday and People Excited By The Idea of Black Friday, and the second category are the ones you have to worry about and also the hardest to reach.

Shopping on Black Friday is ridiculous. Our family, for nearing on twenty years has taken to the hills and the fields. Hike, eat, sleep, and be happy. Then turn on the news to see who won the "How Many Trampled" betting pool.

Hey, there's an idea!

That could be a fun holiday!

Oh, that reminds me: we bought one of those fireplace DVD's because we live in the tropics. It looks nice on the big screen, but a neighbor called because they saw a giant fire in our living room. Also, you don't get the crackly sound effects because it's littered with cheesy public-domain carols.

I hope they also called whenever anything else was on television.

"Is there a robot charging through behind your couch, trying to save Sarah Connor?" "Why is space visible from your wall?"

I was very annoyed "Get Fuzzy" left the paper version of the Post. Why not get rid of Garfield, an old and one-note comic strip past its prime?

Seriously! If you're getting rid of occasionally one-note comic strips, you might as well tear the whole page out!

I understand why Calvin & Hobbes had the clout to demand that newspapers carry it at a certain size, with all eight panels, etc. What I don't understand is why Judge Parker has the most clout today. It is by far the largest strip in the Post, at least on Sundays. Why does the Post think Judge Parker deserves all that acreage, while much more entertaining ones are downsized? What kind of compromising photos do the Judge Parker people have on the Post comics editor?

People always try to take down Judge Parker, and it never goes. The fans are oddly vocal. It's Post lore. If not the most complaint letters ever, certainly up there.

Everyone knows that you buy your Christmas lights right AFTER Christmas...that's when they are all on sale...

Like Halloween candy!

I've always muttered "get your own d#$@d characters" at writers who try to replicate a beloved author's works. And I'm muttering that right now, even as I note that the cover of "Jeeves and the Wedding Bells" says that it's an homage to P.G. Wodehouse. No. To those of us who genuflect at P.G. Wodehouse's altar--well, to me--it's a combination of sacrilege, opportunism, and mainly, poverty of imagination. I make exceptions for pastiches and certain other works whose ideas do not reduce the original authors to robo-writers. For instance, Laurie King's Mary Russell series is fine with me. Robert Goldsborough's Nero Wolfe books are not.

It was not, shall we say, the ticket. By the end, I was emitting the kind of bellow usually used to summon cattle home across the sands o'Dee.

Do you think he can hold a candle to the Master?

In the sense that people holding candles to you sometimes light you on fire by accident.

We live in a suburb with a ginormous mall that's probably the largest commercial contributor to our tax base. So I have mixed feelings re "Black Friday," because while wild horses couldn't drag me to the mall to shop that day, when I see all that traffic backed up beyond our house with shoppers headed to the mall, I know it's good for our community's economy.

Ah, the economy again, weaseling its way.

Have you SEEN those women? The male readers keep hoping someone will lose their dress.

Aw but remember Kelly on Mark Trail? That was a real siren, if you ask me!

Have you not seen the SHOES on those ladies?

WAIT, is this the real secret of Judge Parker? Secretly catering to everyone's tastes in the guise of a strip about obscenely wealthy people whose problems are all things like "BUT RICHARD WHAT IF THEY MAKE TOO MANY FILM ADAPTATIONS OF THE NOVEL I WROTE IN SIX PANELS?"

My placed burned down right after xmas awhile back. TV was gone, all the decorations and tree were gone. Could of been worse, could of been a gas explosion! Saved time on taking down decorations. They gave me pictures after the fire. I was waiting for a video so I could sit around and watch it. Thanks for the pictures of my ruined home!

I'm really glad you're okay!

I think the chatter means "shoes" in the Moraesian sense (long live Pookie!).

Oh, here I was taking the Tracts O'Land as assumed and adding a whole shoe wrinkle. I genuinely thought to myself "I don't remember the footwear focus; will have to investigate further."

Unfortunately the artist who sparked the sexing up of the good judge left due to illness. The new guy, Manley, kept the skin but his people have all the sensuality of mannikins in skimpy clothes. And the plotting is a nightmare.

That artist was great! I remember him!

Also, I hate New Sophie.

Can we discuss this more next week? I really should skedaddle!

I agree with your synopsis. JP is mostly "Oh my god my life is too perfect and now it's getting perfecter! How much can I stand?"

And on that note, I'm off! Have a great week, keep reading the Compost, and feel free to join me on the Twitter horn.

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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