ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jan 28, 2014

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.

Past ComPost Live Chats

Connect on Twitter: @PostLive | @petridishes

Happy Tuesday/State of the Union eve, all! What's shaking?

Just in case you get that time machine working:

PSA for time travelers!

I'd like to see one for the Victorian era, myself.

See: I bet your wallet could fit in a Salmon P. Chase. My only idea involves the Shirt of Nessus, which killed Hercules. Is it OK to give your philandering husband a shirt which promises to guarantee eternal fidelity, but in fact contains poison?

Well, that does guarantee eternal fidelity...

(coughs) I mean, er, what, no, murder is never the answer. One should never do anything one cannot talk about after dinner.

Princeton thinks it's a disease:

Ah, XKCD. Pure, crystal blue chunks of wisdom.

How many more years before they become outrageous again?

Then again, how outrageous do we expect an award show named after a dear elderly lady relative to be?

and I"m spending the day looking up performances of his songs on YouTube.

That is the one upside to the departure of musical greats -- days of luxuriating mournfully in their discographies.

Sure it is, because you didn't know it contained poison. Because you foolishly believed what the dying centaur who kidnapped you told you after your husband killed him.

Serves you right, really. Never trust anyone whose idea of a winning wooing strategy is to grab you on your way across a river go galloping away with you on his four hooves.

Then again, minus the four hooves, that was the courtship strategy of way too many men in mythological antiquity.

It seems there is a Franz Kafka video game. (Have you been to the Kafka Cafe? It's always empty, but you can never get a reservation.)

That does seem promising! I like the suggestions of the article's author about updates to make the game more soul-crushingly pointlessly bureaucratic and Kafkaesque. I think another way of going about it might be to just have a game that was Halo or Mario Kart for the most part, and then one day you wake up as an enormous vermin and none of the controls work.

Minus three points for the Pope! How could his staff not have known about this? Or did his staff deviously let this happen to make him look bad?

No religious figure has been so let down by his staff since Joseph of Arimathea!


I think the doves escaped, but I still love everything about this story. This is the danger of working with live metaphors.

Deianeira rode off for a dalliance and got caught. Did she say No?

Accounts of this vary. One account, I think, is Heracles handed her to Nessus who said he'd help her across the river, he wooed, she rebuked him, he gave her a magical shirt o'fidelity as a parting gift without being particularly specific about what MADE it a magical shirt o' fidelity, so that when she used it on Herc she was as stunned as he was. Another, I think, is that they did dally a bit, Heracles shot him, and he gave Deianara a shirt containing his poisonous blood just, y'know, in case you ever need some poisonous centaur blood. Which she later (when Heracles appeared to be wooing someone new) decided that she did.

It was 65 last summer. Now there's a demographic that's dying off!

That or maybe Methuselah started watching and threw everyone's numbers off.

We old timers are glad to ruin Facebook for you youngsters. By the way, did you all like my photographs of my operation scars? Also, how about that photo of Grandma drunk at the neighbor's cookout? Now, I better not see any photos of you chugging from a keg or in bed with any of those Twilight characters, which by the way, we oldtimers just loved that movie series. Now, how may we ruin Twitter?


Already it begins!

Please, leave us Twitter! Take Myspace instead!


They were threatened by evil, but they escaped and survived! Christ's sacrifice has brought salvation to all, even the doves of peace! Peace will triumph against a range of perils! This pope wins even when he loses.

There we go!

Depending on whether you read the centaur version, the Heracles version, or the Deianeira version. Blaming the victim is always a good ploy.

+10, you!

Hey, an Amazon drone just delivered a new shirt to me. I wonder who sent it to me. Shall I put it on? I wonder what is so magical about it?

Are you allergic to centaur blood?

Also check to make sure it's not made of gluten, because sometimes people update myths weirdly to make them sound relevant to a modern audience.

They're attacked by Flock of Seagulls.

I don't know whether to award you all the chat points or send my attack crow after you.

MySpace? That is so 2005. We oldtimers killed that years ago. Hey, we give back. Enjoy several more years of Beatles music releases and Marvel movies.

I like the Beatles and the Marvel movies. I could listen to or watch either all day long! It's just the Marveling at the Beatles that gets old quickly.

I am glad that good wins over evil. Now, does anyone know a good recipe for doves? I found two dead ones in my front yard.

I think I'd be less focused on the need to cook the doves and more excited that my house had apparently moved next to the Apostolic Palace, Dorothy-Gale-style.

Was it on the occasion of your bigamous wedding to the king's daughter? Don't put it on. Or, better yet, do. That'll teach you.

Amazing how many stories from Greek myth to Arthurian legend center around Jaded First Wife Gives Poisonous Garment On Eve Of New Wifing. It's a standard play at this point.

Basically, don't take a second wedding gift from someone you're already married to. Especially not if you're a mythical figure and you and your new intended want to live in safety.

I always wonder why celebrities like Chelsea Handler (most lately) state they can't find anyone to date them. I would date her. I also have a pet centaur that would love to date her.

A pet centaur? Isn't that a violation of some kind of convention? Or at the very least, unconventional?

I have to admit that when you say "pet centaur" I am picturing a goat-sized centaur in a small grassy enclosure gamboling about, and I'm not sure my mental image is ready to date yet. Let him go to college and get to know himself first.

We old timers do some good removing some things from our culture that deserve being discarded. Our next target: Justin Bieber.

I thought you already got him?

As a long time fan of the book, The Hobbit, I was so dissapointed to see the movie did not have the talking crows.

You'd think in ninety-seven hours they'd have room for them.

I used to wonder, when I was a kid reading myths, why nobody ever noticed that Cassandra's predictions always came true. Then I grew up and started reading the news.

It's a curse, man! You can't notice your way around a curse!

Still, you really would think that in retrospect people might apologize a little.

It lives on in modern myth. The apocryphal story about reading a newspaper ad for a Ferrari for sale for $25 because the adulterous husband fled with his girlfriend and instructed his wife to sell his car and send him the money.

Ha! That's a good apocryphal revenge tale! Definitely less mess and fuss than the usual Stab Him On The Lavish Carpet That You Force Him To Walk From The Ship On.

They've been saved for the director's cut on DVD, along with Tom Bombadil and the inauguration of the Elves' 24-hour cable news operation.

I would watch 24-hour elven cable, if only because I suspect that there would be zero news and 100% hair care commercials. 


"You'd think with ears like that you might be able to--"


No, they were attacked by The Raven and Jonathan Livingston Seagull as part of some obscure metaphorical competition.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull!!!!!

This reminds me, we haven't talked about Soylent Green in a while. Everyone okay?

My pet centaur went to college. It was very traumatic. Every fraternity voted not to extend him membership. At least he graduated with a degree in Accounting and got a good job on Wall Street.

I feel like that was a big mistake on the frats' parts. You'd think he'd have been wildly sought after. What frat would not love a centaur? He'd add a whole new layer of verisimilitude to the toga parties.

You're right -- it's so ubiquitous that I'm surprised Shakespeare never stole it as a plot device -- if you don't count Gertrude, but that's not really the same thing, is it Although now that I think about it, poison was sort of a Shakepearean crutch, wasn't it...?

Is that so? I'm trying to think of poisoners in Shakespeare before whipping out the Google.

Romeo and Juliet, both real and temporary poison.

Hamlet, everybody.

Othello -- no poison, unless you count alcohol.

Macbeth -- I don't THINK there's any poison.

King Lear -- Goneril and Regan get some poisoning action.

Richard III -- someone gets drowned in wine, which is kind of alcohol poisoning in a sense, but there might be actual poisoning I'm forgetting.

Okay, I see your point. Given that he actually did the whole Surprise Child Pie trick, you'd have thought the poisoned garment gag wouldn't be far behind.

Yeah, we old timers are trying to destroy Justin Bieber. He got away from us, but he shouldn't have run. Oh, no, he shouldn't have. He is in more trouble now for running.

Please keep me updated as this Old Timer Bieber Hunt continues. I will watch your progress with great interest!

Oh dear God, no! Leave him out in the name of all that's holy! Of course, I just really don't like the books anyway, so I'm probably just a philistine. I did like the LOTR movies. Haven't seen the Hobbits, yet.

I saw the second Hobbit, not the first because I heard it was about 53% dwarves singing, 37% wizards smoking whatever that wizard weed is called, 10% dwarves looking uncomfortably sexy, and 10% actual action. Then again now that I reread those stats I don't know why I skipped the first. I enjoyed #2, mainly because I missed Middle Earth, where I spent a lot of time in middle and high school.

Oh yeah. He'd steal your girlfriends and then trick them into killing you.

Centaurs can be wise, just, and fun too! Although they usually are either wise and just or fun, not both, and they really know how to show up drunk and ruin a wedding. But then again, your fun college buddies showing up inebriated usually ruins your wedding. Again fail to see frats' objection.

I've always wanted to know what kind of poison acts through your ears (see Hamlet Sr & Claudius).

EAR POISON (TM): Who Would Ever Have Expected Such A Thing?

Accept no substitutes.

Where does one find a poisoned shirt? I have searched Google and every distributor appears to be out of that item.

Yeah, this doesn't really cut it, does it?

Tom Waits?


What a great name for a literary-themed heavy metal band! (mainly because Led Zeppelin is already taken....)

And now the band jokes begin...

It is hard to compete for women with a centaur at parties. Let's just say that some of us are not built like a horse in certain areas.

Whom are you inviting to your frat parties, Catherine the Great?

I dare say, thou has a Motley Crew of characters in this story about a man who doth used to be named Prince and the Kings of Leon.

Aaaah, we've unleashed something and I don't know how to leash it.

She was a lusty goddess.

Really, what is the point of a classical education if not to make tactful allusions to bestiality during your lunch hour?

I was right there with you Alexandra. I recommend watching the first Hobbit movie for this reason. The parts PJ added in the first movie are a lot less distracting from the "Yay! Middle Earth!" part than in the second movie. And you actually get to see Martin Freeman play a great Bilbo. In the second movie, I think they forgot that the movie was called "The Hobbit". I mean, an elf-dwarf romance? After hundreds of years of bad blood between elves and dwarves after that whole Silmaril incident in the first age? Give me a break!

Yeah, not to mention the message it sends to young studly dwarves of "always hit on your elven captor, because it will charm her, not irritate her."

I have long believed the Catherine the Great story about her and a horse are false. Yet, I will state that when I took Russian History, our Professor taught about the era of Catherine the Great. He ended his lecture, started to leave, and then returned and announced "For those of you who are wondering, it's true"

"And on THAT note, have a great week!"

That raises the next question -- why has there never been a heavy metal band named "Umlaut"? Okay, I'll stop now...

That would be a great name for any band!

Zeus alone could fill an entire chat, what with bulls and swans and all.

And, er, showers of gold.

Once the chat software allows a font with umlauts, we're all doomed....

My favorite poetic quote about umlauts is from James Merrill's Lost in Translation where he says "the owlet umlaut peeps and hoots over the open vowel." It's one of those rare metaphors that enhances both owlets and umlauts.

Ask not for whom the The Animals roar, for it is the B-52s for whom one makes one feel as the Grateful Dead.

*unplugs chat, starts hitting buttons at random*

Do you A. watch game and commercials, B. game C. commercials only, or D. primarily hang by the buffet table ?

Game and commercials now, although I used to be more of a C-D'er. Omaha!

for the Post owl.

I liked Snowden.

In a one God society, it is interesting to note they don't make Gods like Zeus anymore, do they?

And thank God for that.

Remember. tonight, every time President Obama says "Bob", every one has to drink.


And on that note, it's back to work for me! Have a great week! Keep reading the Compost, stay centaur-free and feel free to join me on the 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.)
Recent Chats
  • Next: