ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Dec 31, 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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Happy New Year's Eve, all!

Let's wrap up 2013 with a bang! What delighted you this year? What do you wish would go away?

Any resolutions?

I believe this. Most of my Christmas vacation consisted of me tweeting and my aunt taking pictures of things we were doing and sharing them on Facebook, where a bunch of people's parents would all comment enthusiastically. I think the divide's growing.

I thought you'd enjoy O Queen of Bacon!

Ha! Well done, Herb and Jamaal!

I cam across this new social interaction site called MySpace. Do you think it will catch on?

Hey, maybe social networks are like cuts of skirt, and they all come back around eventually if you're patient. Can't wait for the resurgence of AOL Reference chats!

In 2013, I found A&E caitiff and feckless. Here's wishing your 2104 is an medusoid gasconade of amour fou!

And yours as well!

May you evade unwanted crepitations and may you have many libelluloid moments.

My family spend its Christmas analyzing George Washington. What does you family do?

How did you get into this chat, ME?

That is our tradition too! Every year we discuss George and his choices, rewatch a 1984 CBS miniseries about George Washington starring Barry Bostwick (all 8 hours of it) and try to invoke George Washington in any and all arguments that arise. "Should I get a job in Minnesota?" "George Washington never had a job in Minnesota." This is less a tradition than it is maybe a condition we should get checked out.

Jes sayin - glad to have you back again.

Glad to be back! Although I'm going to miss lying around on a couch for days eating homecooked foods.

Has there been any news in my absence?

Why don't you get knives at Chinese restaurants? I know they have them.

Curse those new FAA regulation!

This is going to be my default answer when I don't know the why of a thing.


I am glad I discovered twerking in 2013. Twerking is when one stuffs a turkey with bratwurst, right?

That's turwursting! Or rather, turbesting, because it sounds amazing.

Well there's always this...

At first I misread that as "Commoners Calendar" and I was wondering what was going on.


I can't wait until they legalize time travel so I can go back and unsee that.

Nope. Nothing happened at all. Tell us what your family serves for Xmas dinner. And do you open your gifts on Eve or Day? Are there joke gifts? I personally am grateful for in-laws who give books. I got five. Including "Tequila Mockingbird," which is a book of drink recipes with such names as "The Old Man and the Seagram," accompanied by hilarious anecdotes.

That's amazing!

I got one of those CVS animatronic Santas that makes spastic, terrifying motions while "Gangnam Style" plays, so basically Christmas was the best. Especially because none of my folks were terribly familiar with the Gangnam Style phenomenon and just thought it was "an obscene Santa."

I believe 2014 will be the year Obamacare is repealed, China lands a person on Mars (most likely a dissident), Miley Cyrus releases a gospel album, and Justin Bieber retires for good.

Oh, if only Bieber would. I keep hoping he'll grow faint and flicker as fewer and fewer people beliebe in him, sort of like Tinker Bell, but he keeps popping up on Twitter, apparently vibrant.

when did TSA become CAS? we had plenty of time to notice the agents' new shoulder patches when our flight home was canceled.

Oh no! I hope you made it back all right! CAS is a contractor that works for TSA, I believe.

Actually, TSA might have been a better fit here. They're ALWAYS banning things you want.

I don't want anything that doesn't fit into a 3.4-ounce container!

I wish Internet hoaxes would go away - I was taken in by Jimmy Kimmel's twerk fire. For my second wish, I wish Jimmy Kimmel would go away

What's your third wish?

That really is a find. And while it would be creepy enough for all sorts of reasons, what is really haunting me is why the mom thought that wearing a cleavage-y sweater would be a good idea?!?!

Every part of this makes me want to pass a law against something or other.

I tell this and no one believes me, but this is the truth. I come from a small family and none of my friends exchange gifts. When I unwrapped my gift from my senior citizen relative, she had wrapped dental floss as a gift. Hey, at least I should have great teeth in 2014.

Hey, at least she wrapped it! That takes skill and effort!

That definitely beats the year my cousins and I all got toothbrushes.

No, but you will have great gums, which is even more important.

Great teeth come from great gums, after all.

1. If you're selected for the random search, you get a free lottery ticket. 2. Every 100th passenger gets to rummage through the contraband bin.

I would 100% rummage through that bin. I almost lost some nice new bath salts to the investigators. Not the hallucinatory zombie kind, the regular kind. I think.

They used to tell us we could not use cell phones during take off and landing because it could interfere with the pilots' communications with the control towers. Now they say we may use our cell phones during takeoffs and landings . Do the airline industries want us to die?

No, they figured out it's fine. It turns out that someone on a plane using a cell phone during takeoffs and landings is only hazardous if that person is the pilot.

The new Star Wars movie will not suck.

I use all my wishes on that every time I see a big cake with candles in it, even/especially if the cake is not addressed to me.

Yes, but I finished my big fat book, my Kindle stopped working, I finished my knitting travel project and all the crossword puzzles I'd brought, long before we got home. The horror, the horror!

What did you DO? Did you TALK to people? Nap? Sit silently staring out the window brooding about how trees look like broccoli from way up, and isn't that just a commentary on all our LIVES?

they invent a totally new, really, really, really good coffee.

If they do, I want a gallon of it.

It's for three more wishes, of course.

That is a classic.

Once I heard a lecturer on Dorian Gray point out that people always think the problem with wishes gone wrong and deals with the devil is that the person making them just made the wrong wish, not that the whole premise is dangerous and impossible to win.

I want to teleport.

Slept some, would have slept more but for the brat behind me whose parents would not making him STOP KICKING THE FRICKIN SEATBACK.

Think of it as a terrible massage?

Come and visit Ottery St Mary next summer for Pixie Day!

That sounds incredible!

Are there any other days we should look into celebrating? Besides Bacon Day, of course?

I want a pan galactic gargle blaster.

I want TWO! And a babelfish.

At least the FAA has come to its senses, after the rising tide of fury at the thought of sitting next to someone yakking on a cell phone all the way across the country.

This is a bit of a tangent, but I wonder how yaks feel about what has been done to their name.

And guys named Ralph. The verb forms really did a number on them there.

would be a great incentive to get people to vote.

I'd vote 10 times!

2013 was a fair year. Bad coffee is no coffee. Anything is better than none.

How do you feel about half-loaves?

I want forty-two of them.

And a towel, I want a towel!

Would you settle for a horse and saddle?

I like horses as a historical mode of transportation because it's funny to me that your car used to poop and have a personality.

I told all my friends that it is a tradition to leave money on a window sill on New Year's Eve. It will bring good fortune in the new year. I know it works for me. Last year I walked around my friends' window sills and collected over a hundred bucks,

That's a great tradition! I'm telling my friends it's car keys!

2013 was a fair year. Bad coffee is no coffee. Anything is better than none.

(you can't see this on your side of the chat, but I've gotten at least 8 of these identical messages, so maybe I'm initiated into a coffee cult now!)

"Life is the pits." Bear How did the deer get in with the cats?

That is a depressing bear.

Whenever the Powerball gets big, the columnists trot out the same tired odds - "10 times more likely to be hit by a meteor, or drown in a bathtub, or be hit by a car". We need some new sayings. How about as likely as being eaten by a zoo cheetah?

The thing is, we have good-ish stats on being hit by a meteor or bathtub-drowned.

But those cheetahs... they're real sneaky.




I hope that in 2014 we finally get that hyperspace bypass that has been proposed for the last 50 years or so.

We'll never get to Betelgeuse 7 at this rate!

Or perhaps the writer had so many cups of fair coffee today that his mouse finger twitches at a rate equivalent to that of a hummingbird's wings.

Ah, the coffee twitches! Sign of a productive morning! Or impending cardiac arrest. Potato, potato. <--- wow, that saying works much less well typed out.

Should we expect sexy Sherlock holmes fan fiction from you shortly?,0,5610784.story#axzz2p4dKNjLq

Well, that was the only thing stopping me! 2014 will be the year that instead of writing about breaking news stories I write about Sexy Sherlock Holmes discussing breaking news stories... very slowly. 

Then again, I can't help but feel that he's belonged to the world for a while now.

Why is there no William Henry Harrison Presidential Library? Surely he wrote at least one letter while he was sick.

Good question! I feel like you would see a sign for the William Henry Harrison Presidential Library, walk in, and realize it was another of those Dave Eggers gift shops (Museum of Unnatural History, anyone?) that keep springing up around the country.

Will be Usenet.

UGE! It's going to be UGE!

(that was my impression of Donald Trump promoting Usenet)

Don't Fear The Reaper! 8 O'clock is a good coffee. I'm a coffee grinder. I have the cast iron hand grinder. Get rid of stuff that needs juice. Run on steam and hay. Candles and wood. If you win the rat race you are still a rat. Winning the horse race doesn't make you a horse.

Mm, yes.

But remember, you can't win the human race.

-That will be the headline of my TED Talk someday, when I sell my soul so I can give a TED talk.

Grab coffee and run.

If there's a cannoli, grab it also.

Sounds like yarn bombing. Did you get mittens for Christmas?

No! I did find some string, which could be viewed as a mitten starter kit.

I have trouble with compliments. I feel if I say to a woman "you look nice today" it's the equivalent of saying "...unlike other days." But I'll try it... you're in great form today, better than usual.

I would suggest you leave off the "today."

"You look nice!"

but then you run the risk of placing a weird emphasis on "nice" and prompting an indigant "as opposed to how I usually look?".

So I guess you could leave off the "nice"

but "You look..." (silence, stare off into space) is definitely the worst option yet.

I guess you could just say "YOU!" and smile slowly.

That's not creepy. That'll work well.

We need to have Bandersnatch Cumberbund play the title role since he has already played Khan, Sherlock and a nasty slave owner.

He's been preparing for this role all his life!

Then you could cast Johnny Lee Miller as Benjamin Harrison in the follow-up biopic after Harrisons become hot hollywood commodities.

Because his nickname was Baldy?

(clicks link)


"There were persistent stories from soldiers on guard duty claiming that the General would spend many hours in his tent quietly chirping to himself."

Okay then!

Felt making machine and new hats. We can go mad which should work out fine since we are already mad. Adventures in Wonderland 2014 await. I used to buy a hat for the new year. I used to do lots of stuff. I want a hat factory. Everybody has a head so everybody is a potential customer!

That's true! I never thought of it like that!

You know what could be the next growth industry? Individual mismatched socks. Just as a sign of luxury. "My left foot is wearing Marc Jacobs polka dots from Marc by Marc Jacobs for Marc Jacobs, and my right foot sports a Dereon sock, which exists now. I threw their mates away. My clothing bin is like a vomitorium for the feet! Genius!" -something I imagine Kanye saying if this trend takes off

Felt making machine and new hats. We can go mad which should work out fine since we are already mad. Adventures in Wonderland 2014 await. I used to buy a hat for the new year. I used to do lots of stuff. I want a hat factory. Everybody has a head so everybody is a potential customer! Will you buy a hat from me?

P. J. O'Rourke said "a hat should be taken off to greet a woman and then left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks stupider than a hat" but if you can overcome that objection, I'll line right up.

After you cast Jonny Lee Miller as Benjamin Harrison, you then cast Lucy Liu as Grover Cleveland.

I'm sure she'll disappear into the role!

General Ewell could have had OCD. Of course, no one reported the conditions. They needed the eggs.


"There were persistent stories from soldiers on guard duty claiming that the General would spend many hours in his tent quietly chirping to himself."

Winners did a great job on this one.

is a good recipe. What you got ?

I have some expired chives!

I don't know how to cook with them, but I suppose you could carry them around in a box with you and threaten to pelt them at people if they didn't order pizza.

I'm debating "Cook an actual meal at least once a week" as a new year's resolution, but my kitchen can fit in a fly's navel and still leave room for six carraway seeds and a producer's heart so I don't know if it's practical. Also there are lots of cobwebs and what appears to be a big spider squatting in the corner gently chirping to himself, so maybe it's best left alone.

P. J. O'Rourke said "a hat should be taken off to greet a woman and then left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks stupider than a hat" but if you can overcome that objection, I'll line right up.

I seldom have a cold head. A hot head, maybe. A big head, possibly.

Do you have any head-slimming hats that make you look more withdrawn and self-effacing?

Kaiser Wilhelm II would give 12 new hats to his wife (Auguste Viktoria Friederike Luise Feodora Jenny von Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg) on her birthday. They were to be worn the next 12 months.

One for each name! Two for the Von.

"But I wear too many hats already!"

That's what I should have said!

Arg, l'esprit de chatscalier.

Bacon Bowls!!

YES! I saw those! And you can use them for bread, too!

"Do you have any head-slimming hats that make you look more withdrawn and self-effacing?" *I'm the one with the astricks whose horse is waiting on the Washington snail mail address... all good things cannot be scanned and sent electronically, you know. like vintage recipes that would crumple in the scanner...

I can't wait until you can 3D print a horse!

(Post snail mail is 1150 15th St, NW, DC, 20071)

EOTWAWKI we have horses for transport and emergency food, the dogs for security, plenty of water, the kids have chores and the cat will just keep doing what it has always done as if there is no disaster.

So today I learned that EOTWAWKI is "End of the World as we know it."

Amen on the cats.

The better statement is "You look especially nice today." That keeps you out of trouble - no implying the other person looks hideous the rest of the time.

Oh, that's so easy! Yes! Done!

ski, -avous: these are two suffixes (derived from Russian and French, respectively) used in flapper parlance to “dress up” normal words. The suffix could be added to any word. There was only one hard and fast rule: if you responded to a question containing a suffix, you had to use the same part of speech somehow. Example: “Would you like a drink-avous?” “No thanks, I’m on the wagon-avous.” “The sun-ski is so bright!” “Put on a hat-ski.” Have a Great New Year-ski!

You do the same-ski!

*As a bystander to this asterisk-containing hat discussion, I must say things are getting delightfully weird. And as someone who has had to rely on horses for transportation, I gotta say, a car with a personality is all good and well until it decides it would rather choose its own route than yours.

At least the GPS can only murmur passive-aggressively as you turn the wheel. At least until the self-driving car hits the market.

Post snail mail is 1150 15th St, NW, DC, 20071. ps. *How do you make the long em dash on the regular keyboard??

You tell the short em to chase it!

(booooooo hissssss flinging of vegetables)

Oh, uh, I didn't do anything. I just hit two -'s - and it turned into one for me.

Would you settle for a horse and saddle?


would be a good incentive to get people to vote.

The two things I fear most in culture 2014 are backlashes against Jennifer Lawrence and bacon.

If pigs turn out to be so intelligent that they find a means with which to communicate with humans, would you still eat bacon?

Not all bacon, just the bacon of the pigs who disagreed with me!

on a PC, press alt and (on the number pad) 0151. to make an en dash, alt 0150

Oh cool! Hey -- look at that!

Years ago, a woman with GPS and I drove to a motel the beach. At the water's edge, the GPS insisted that we keep going another block. Apparently it thought the boardwalk was a street, and it got very mad that we stopped short.

GPS: To Murder

is a show from the future that I'm looking forward to a lot after the machines rise.

Alternate titles include:

GPS: One Bad Turn Deserves Another

*oops, I forgot. Nevermind with the astricks then. Btw, your punctuation story got picked up by the Chicago Tribune for their Christmas paper. I saved you a hard copy...

Oooh, cool! Way to go, Chicago!

Maybe you can lease it and not sell it. You can lease a breezer! Do some bootlegging for some extra dough. Make gin in the bathtub-ski.

No down payments until 2040!

Er, "ski"!

What a control freak.

Well, did he specify which hat went with which month?

There is a contest, writing of a memoir, undergoing right now offered to seniors (, which was advertised in the last months issue of AARP magazine.. The rules are interesting. Once you submit an entry it becomes their sole property to do what they want, and you relinquish all your rights to the materials in perpetuity (you and your heirs will have no claim in their stories). All submissions, whether you win or not, becomes their property to use as they see fit. Now the lighter side of this, if there is one, is that even AARP is taking seniors to the cleaners. It is a diabolical and greedy scheme. They are throwing a net in the Atlantic Ocean of seniors and harvesting all their talents, their stories, and their lives for themselves. Baby boomers be aware of the sharks who think that our stories are gold to them, but we ourselves are dirt.

This really does seem like a terrible contract, on first read.

Then again, it would be a great way to get Uncle Milt to stop telling that one story, in perpetuity.

A friend works at a call center for a rental car company. The calls she gets from indignant renters who drove the car off a cliff because the GPS told them to (I'm not, as Dave Barry says, making that up)...

Good lord!

Then again, I'm definitely guilty of taking a totally illogical path instead of a route I know well, just because the machine says so, so maybe I don't get to "Good Lord!" these people.

Years ago, a woman with GPS and I drove to a motel the beach. At the water's edge, the GPS insisted that we keep going another ...

Herpes gave you bad directions to a motel? This seems contrary to the usual order of things.

Pink bonnet, Easter, The hat with the spike, August, start World War I.

Why don't they still make The Hat With The Spike? That was a classic look. Classic.

Hatmaker, if you would make me one of those, I would gladly buy one!

Maybe he just went with her Christmas list of desired hats.

Yeah, everyone! Don't look a dozen gift hats in the mouth!

*That two-to-one does not work automatically in all programs, so you just get two short dashes.

Everyone stop this asterisky business! It's disorienting and I'm head over footnotes and making awkward puns to stave off the feelings of panic.

Stonewall Jackson was practically certifiable. He thought he had more blood in one side of his body than the other, and rode into battle holding one arm in the air to even it out.

He also liked to suck on lemons, if memory serves, and once got stuck in a persimmon tree.


Pickelhaube. Or, as Queen Alexandra wrote to her son the future George V, when the latter accepted a colonelcy in his cousin the Kaiser's army, "And so my Georgie boy has become a filthy blue-coated Pickelhaube German soldier. I never thought I would live to see the day." Wilhelm was not popular with his royal cousins.


To me "pickelhaube" sounds like German for "I have the pickle," and I am a little sad that this is not the case.

"You gave my daughter herpes, and she took it to school, and gave it to a boy there." That is a dreaded conversation I fear happens when I saw the plush disease dolls at Comic Con. I wonder how many people bought them for children without reading the name of the toy. Or think of the thank you notes from the children: "Thank you for the gonorrhea. I love it."

But ebola's so cute!

Ah, falsche Freunde, they always trip you up. Pickle in German is Gurken, as in gherkin. Pickel means spike. Spiked Helmet.


"Gurken" is great.

B-b-but I did give you a keyboard trick! Alt 0151 for em dash (—), Alt 0150 for en dash (–). You have to hold down Alt while you press the numbers on the number pad, not the strip of numbers at the top.

Does this help?

No wonder it got shot off.

Are we sure this isn't apocryphal? He was a better general than you would think a guy holding one arm in the air all the time would have been.

The 12 hats for a year reminds me of the old joke of the Army recruit who told the quartermaster he wanted 12 pairs of underwear.

Somehow I think this might be an appropriate note to end the last chat of 2013 on...

When is your book coming out?

Not, I hope, before I finish writing it, which won't be for a few more months! But I'll keep you posted! I think 2015?

I just found out that the old episodes of Mister Rogers are available for Amazon Prime members to pay per view. I can't decide whether this is a good thing (gold standard children's programming now available universally, or at least, for anyone with enough money and resources to purchase it) or a bad thing (same descriptor).

Then again, it is consistent with the Internet Rule that everything is available instantly for free all the time except the actual quality item you want at the present moment.

It is really hard to think of him as "my Georgie boy," since he's been quoted as saying "My father was terrified of his mother" -- Queen Victoria -- "I was frightened of my father, and by God I am going to see to it that my children are frightened of me." P.S. it worked.

And on that note, Happy New Year! Happy New Year's Eve, keep reading the blog, and feel free to join me on Twitter, unless you don't want live updates on that CBS George Washington miniseries my family watches.

And thank you for making my 2013 swell, not in the sense of expanding in a balloonlike fashion but in the sense that you made it great fun and brought me cheer and bacon. Hope your 2014s are lovely. See you in the new year!

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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