ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Mar 11, 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.

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Connect on Twitter: @PostLive | @petridishes

Happy Tuesday!

Of first and utmost importance, here is the story of a man who called 911 on his cat. 

I'm glad they, the cat, the dog, and the baby are okay, and that their ordeal has produced a 911 call transcript that includes the phrase "CAT: RAAAAAARRRRRRR!" 

Something must be going right. 

As you work at the Washington Post, have you found that the hundreds of people who you supervise ever call you "bossy?"

No, but only because until you mentioned it, I had no idea I supervised hundreds of people and had been governing through benign neglect. 

Alexandra, with the recent bankruptcies of Sbarro and Hot Dog on a Stick, I hope YOU are finding ways to survive in the food court at your favorite mall, or hopefully food vendors are not vacating their spaces as much. I've been lucky so far.

I haven't been to Sbarro since getting disoriented in Times Square several years ago and wanting to find a bathroom that was heavily frequented by tourists. But I am going to miss seeing the cheery glow of its heat lamps and slowly suppurating slices as I walk through malls. 

Hey, dude who sent in the question, you ruined it for us. We used to be able to do whatever we wanted.


I was never a big fan of Barbie; I much preferred Skipper (the younger sister character). I think it had something to do with the fact that Skipper looked a bit more like an actual human, but Barbie's odd proportions weren't something I aspired to or felt bad about not being able to attain. I was only 6 or 7 years old. Even my mother's proportions were unattainable for me at the time. However, my favorite doll by far was a cheap knock-off of Barbie. I don't remember if her proportions were more human, but her legs popped off at the hips very easily. It made it much, much easier to get her dressed. I found tights very difficult to put on at the time since they were always getting twisted around. Removeable legs seemed like a great solution to the problem.

I knew I was missing something when it came to optimizing myself for tights-wearing! Removeable legs! Clearly!

Do pizza slices supporate? I was thinking more like desicate, but then I haven't carefully looked at a Sbarros pizza slice in a very, very long time.

Wise move. 

If your other colleagues at work are slacking (we know YOU aren't), instead of reprimands, etc. maybe Bezos can hire that cat from the 911 family. He will keep everyone in their places as good cats do. Or since SPECTRE has not yet been re-booted in the James Bond series, Blofeld's white cat is available for work. I think that cat actually ran SPECTRE, not Blofeld. Blofeld was just the mouthpiece. Cats rule! I love it.

I would type a lot faster if that cat were prowling the hallways. 

Also, it could solve our newsroom mouse problem!

Did you hear Michelle Bachman proclaim that gays have been bullying Americans? In fact she was so fearful she called 911 to get some gays out of her house, claiming she was being held hostage.

I am trying to think of some way out of this that doesn't involve a cat noise as a sound effect. 


Is the application of stinging ants during sex.

how did you get this number

Looks like we're having a cat-themed chat. 

The way French speakers have all the time. 

Do you agree with these rules?

Swap out Steve Martin for P. G. Wodehouse and replace the part where you do a lot of attention-getting loud bits during conversation with periods of several weeks where you disappear from society altogether in order to type frantically in your apartment, and I'd say that's about right. 

I'm glad too that everyone is okay from the 911 cat incident, but honestly, I was rooting for the cat. The rest of the family needed to learn their places, and the cat finally had to put his paw down and discipline them. Go feline!

I don't know, having lived under the dreaded paw of a psycho cat regime (and she generally seemed to believe she was defending the family and seldom turned her aggression on us) I'm not sure I want to rush to endorse Team Feline. Except out of sheer terror of being leaped at next. 

I am the person who was seeking heldpin finding a children's book about a rabbit. I determined it may have been "Rabbit Hill", an award winning book in the 1940s that was removed from shelves in the 1970s due to its racism. I ordered a copy for one penny,, and it arrived. It was not the book I am looking for. Which I guess is good, as it would have been embarrassing if a lost treasured memory of a book was about racist rabbits. I upped the search and spoke to a children's literature expert and looked at over 100 books. I still have not found it. If I ever do, I will inform you.

Thank you for keeping us updated!

I'm glad it wasn't about racist rabbits too! That's always a shock, when you discover that a book you loved as a child was actually a pamphlet issued by the Daughters of the Confederacy. 

Did CPAC take a stand on rocket cats? By the way I am opposed although I suspect CPAC might enjoy 16th century ideas. I am also certain there are those who want to send that terrorizing cat on a rocket (which would be cruel.) I am a member of the Pro-Cat lobby, as you might tell.

CATPAC would be a great group. Picture a pack of cats, ambling through the halls of government, rubbing shoulders and influencing lawmaking. Tell me you wouldn't anonymously donate huge sums to that. 

now you're making me miss my kitty who was 22 yo when he needed to pass on....sniff sniff...he would have had a few things to say to this cat!....

Aw, condolences! I miss my cat too, and she departed for the Misty Cat Isle almost a decade ago. I'm not sure what syllables would have been exchanged, other than "RAAAAAARRRRRRR!" but it would have been nice to watch. 

I love the idea. I am already purring.

There's also be FATCATPAC for your more sinister hobnobbing needs.

I used to have a cat that sang in the shower. For real. It took me forever to figure out what he was doing. I'd be in the other room and hear this symphony of meowing. High meows. Low ones. Chirpy happy meows. Saaaad, pitiful meows. I'd walk into the bathroom to see what in the world was wrong with my cat, and there he'd be, in the bathtub, in zero distress, looking supremely proud of himself. I think he liked to listen to his voice reverberate.


That's great. Hey, who doesn't like to listen to his voice reverberate? That's what writing on the Internet is all about!

Ours didn't do that, but before we fixed her, she made an alarming array of sounds to alert neighborhood males to her availability, and one night a very confused four-ish year-old me witnessed several toms fighting in our back yard.

One day (years ago) at my grandma's house, my mom came across what she described as "my favorite picture book." She pulled it down to show it to me. It was from the 40s, and it made "Little Black Sambo" read like the "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass." She cursed, screamed, ran down the stairs and threw the book in the fireplace. Which didn't have a fire. So she started one. In August. Oh, those precious childhood memories!

Did you notice, at CPAC, after Chris Christie left, that two lanes of highway out of CPAC were blocked?

Is this an arterial blockage joke or an, er, arterial blockage joke?

But, we already have enough fat cats in Washington!!!!


CATPAC wants to elect more cats to Congress. You already saw how a cat can hold people hostage. What to see a group of cats hold legislation hostage?

Yes, actually! That sounds amazing! I would definitely watch that on C-SPAN.

If the word Bossy is banned, I'm worried that people will start saying Ni promiscuously to fill the void. If using Bossy causes a wide-spread reluctance to lean in, imagine what Ni could do.

I'm just worried it'll kick off a "shrewish" resurgence. 

CATPAC would get things done. Cats know how to turn on the charm with purrs, head bumps, rubbing against people's legs, kneading paws like making biscuits, etc. They could probably bring back textile / clothing manufacturing to the USA, or at least the yarn and ribbons. My first cat loved pizza (really!), would nibble cheese and crust (he just ate a tiny portion, and I always picked off the meat - too spicy - and onions - can make cats sick). My current cat won't touch it, but loves a tiny bit of grilled chicken or plain fish. I can see CATPAC helping to pass food bills even through our current gridlocked Congress.

Best-case scenario, they're catalysts for change. 

Worst-case scenario, it's catastrophic. 

No matter what, it'll be catnip for punsters. 

But the official channel wouldn't be C-SPAN, it would be CAT-SPAN!

Picture the cat call-in shows. 

(Somehow as this vision evolves all the roles usually assumed by people are being played by cats.)  

"We go now to a caller, Tuxedo, from Altoona."


We believe an important part of Obamacare should be mandatory belly rubs until, of course, we decide it is time to stop, and then you stop.

Cats are purrfect for politics. Cata know how to claw their way to the end. They know how to win by a whisker.

This is quickly turning into an email called Why Cats Would Make The Best Politicians that gets forwarded by your aunt, but I don't even care. 


We know there are many unique terms for groups of animals, like a colony of cats, pack of dogs, pride of lions, members of Congress, etc. However, I wonder who (collectively) came up with these names? I'm hoping Shakespeare or TS Eliot or other famous literary people did the deeds. Maybe that can be subject of your second book?

Let me finish the first one, first!

Seems like yours is now or soon ...

Saturday! Ides of March! I'm planning to celebrate it by becoming irrelevant to advertisers!

It's a clowder of cats, or a kindle of kittens. Why do I know this? Clearly I have been brainwashed by the feline overlords...

A kindle of kittens sounds like something adorable to read on the subway, but I'm not sure about that clowder. 

We let Justin Biber stay in America, but he has to adopt the terror cat.

This actually sounds like an ideal solution. 

Justin Bieber, terrorized by a giant cat = EVERYONE WINS. 

Cats are not a "colony". Each is an independent royalist.

I think of them as autonymous collectives. 

I blame daylight savings time.

I'll take it! 

You saved SO MUCH daylight! 

Hitchcock knew that it's a murder of crows.

And a congress of baboons.

As just about everyone has pointed out demanding people stop using a word because you don't like the connotations seems rather bossy. I have told both my son and my daughter to stop being bossy this week because each was demanding the other do something. Bossy isn't leadership, it is just rudeness. My daughter is an assertive older child, sometimes she shows great leadership skills, like when she organizes games for the neighborhood kids, other times she is bossy. I can tell the difference and she is learning the difference because leadership skills will serve her well in the future, but allowing her to stamp her feet and demanding her brother play her game her way right now won't. Little brother is also not allowed to stamp feet and make unreasonable demands.

I'm fine with the distinction as long as it applies equally, which it sounds like you're doing! 

I have birds, fish, and a hamster. My house is a cat restaurant.


That's a good way of looking at it!

something to say about garfield in here.

A parliament of owls? Seriously? I would've gone with a Tardis of owls.

And it's not even a screwdriver of hedgehogs!

(okay, that's two degrees away, but it was the best I could do on short notice) 

Librarian, here, I used to fill interlibrary loan requests from other libraries. Once got a request for "One Rabbit House," which stumped me for quite some time until I found out there was a book called "When Rabbit Howls."

When Rabbit Howls?

...I'm almost terrified to ask what ensues. 

Cats are purrfect for politics. Cats know how to claw their way to the top. Cats know how to win by a whisker.

Then again, they don't tow the party feline.

They are about as easy to herd as members of your caucus. 

And a lot of people might dread seeing the halls of government turned into a cathouse. 

what will moo-cows be called in old-timey children's stories?

Were moo-cows called Bossy? Gosh, no wonder moo-cows in old-timey children's stories never rose to positions of leadership.

The Lovely Summer? Gladys and Jerome are rabbits who inflict (hysterical) terror at a summer cottage. The book ends with the tenant driving away, shaking his fist, and Gladys saying to Jerome, "Look, Jerome, he's waving at us!"

It is good that we remember Chester Garfield.

is this the terrifying hybrid of Chester A. Arthur and James Garfield produced for a few moments after a carriage collision? 

After I have searched through hundreds of books looking for the right book about a rabbit, just for the fun of it, I am going to turn to the library and proclaim "you know, maybe it was about a chipmunk."


I look forward to the GIF of what happens to the librarian's face when you do. 

When ants aren't enough, try scorpions.

Ants were plenty, thank you.

It's awesome for cats that catnip is legal in all 50 states + DC, so why isn't marijuana the same? (Colorado and Washington excepted, of course)

It's still a feliny though. 

It's daylight SAVING time - no S.

*overturns several tables*

this is an outrage

Did you hear that cartoonist Stephan Pastis has been banned from speaking at a school in Georgia, where he has previously given talks, because he won't remove a slide from his presentation that includes a cartoon cat holding a grenade. By the way, his talk was supposed to be about his children's book, "Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made," which is hysterically funny, IMHO. And a chat, chat? Tres drole.

Oh no! Stephan Pastis is amazing! It's their loss. 

I notice you overturn tables when you get mad. Does this tend to terrorize the co-workers around you who are now afraid to leave their cubicles? Are you a cat?

Well, on that note, I should probably go do some of those fun human things that I am always doing as a human being --such delightful pursuits as watching the Screen Of Faces and opening the white humming box where there is sometimes meat. 

Later I will go fraternize with other two-legs like myself and we will make our voices resonate, and then I definitely WON'T have a hairball because WHO EVEN DOES THAT, RIGHT?

Certainly not us two-legs! Ha ha ha ha hack ha ha herrrkgl. 

Keep reading the Compost and feel free but *hrrrgk* to follow me on Twitter, where I also am not a cat. 

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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