ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Apr 15, 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 Tax Tuesday, all!

This made me chuckle

How goes things? 

But the heir to the French crown is only a dolphin?

At least they get to be large sea creatures. The heir to the papal chair is just a cardinal. 

Bugs Bunny says "I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception."

I think Groucho Marx said that too!

My aunt wouldn't share these! She'd know they were obvious fakes!

Who's there? Putin. Putin who? Putin my troops in Crimea.

(shuts door in your face)

(timidly reopens door)

What is Putin's favorite Justin Timberlake song?


If we know Jennifer Lawrence isn't going to die in the movie, why do we believe in it as a suspense?

Hey, in this post-(during?) George R. R. Martin world we live in, who's to say what's impossible? No one is secure!


When I was 12 I was really excited about having gone to Space Camp over the summer, and looked forward to telling people about it on the first day of school. So on the first day, the teacher asked us what we had done on the summer, and I mentioned Space Camp in hopes people would say "oh, cool!", but instead one guy instantly turned and said "hah, I always knew you were a space cadet" and everybody laughed and called me the space cadet for some time thereafter.


But you were a literal space cadet! I hope you made it a badge of pride! Space cadet, I salute you!

Thank you for name-checking Alexis Neiers and giving me an excuse to rewatch "Nancy Jo, this is Alexis Neiers calling" on youtube.

Any time!

Alexis Neiers is on my long list of "Hey, everyone, time for a brief reminder that this person still exists and is walking around!" people. 

How happy is the newsroom the day after winning some Pulitzers?

Elated, I think! And invigorated!

Did you see the Reddit chat where Harrison Ford was asked whether he or Greedo shot first in the cantina in "Star Wars"? His response was "I don't know and I don't care." I like Harrison Ford.


He also responded to an "I love you" with "I know," so clearly he's got it where it counts. 

Why did the chicken cross the road? Because there is no inherent meaning in the universe.


Who's there?



{silence and void in the darkness of the soul}

I hope your book writing is going well. If you hit writer's block, I recommend the usual remedies - watching cat videos on Youtube, picking out a font for the finished book, etc., doing research on twitter, etc.

That's what I like to call my "writing regimen." 

I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.

I dream of a world where chicken narratives give way to the narratives of all kinds of road-crossing creatures. Why does no one care why a squirrel might cross the road? Why are chickens the default?

Crimea river?

There we go!

Why did the chicken cross the road? To show the squirrel that it can be done.


Because "chicken" is an inherently funny word, like "pickle." It's the fricative of the "CK, (perhaps why Louis CK himself is funny, but I digress). Although "pickle" is funnier than "chicken" because it has a fricative AND a plosive. "Why did the pickle cross the road?" See?

But "puck" is only a somewhat funny word. Pickle > puck. Buckle probably > buck.

Do we think the deflation of the second syllable helps? 

Might the post office be a better place to hang out today instead of the neighborhood bar? I wonder what pickup lines work. "Got free time after midnight?" "Want to creat some more little tax deductions?" etc.

Ha! Just for that cartoon, I hope. 

Nope, not interested in seeing the alternative minimum.

Ooh, burn!

The problem with spoilers is that the people who make the art WANT you to be surprised. Sudden events have more impact when you don't see them coming. It was truly shocking when I learned the identity of Luke Skywalker's father. But my son knew about it well in advance of seeing the actual movie (curse you, tie-in books) and so he missed the pleasure of being shocked. So I can't go along with you in favor of spoiling.

To be frank I think a lot of this has to do with genre preferences. Greek drama: You're supposed to already know everything that happens. Romance novels: you'd be surprised if they didn't wind up together. Mystery novels: writing the name of the person who did it on the front page is really an act of cruelty. Classics: people usually know the broad outlines of the story already and are reading it for some other reason. 

I think generally the plot-twisty things that sell a story initially and can be spoiled aren't the things that make it most rich and interesting and bring people back to it later. But they are big sellers for the first go-round. The parts that can be spoiled are the most perishable. 

Your son still enjoyed it, right?

The torment of her existence outweighs the horror of her non-being.

I don't get no respect! Because of my grammar!

Ranks up there with Bryce Harper's now-famous retort, "That's a clown question, bro."

It's pretty good, yeah.

But eating unleavened bread is not?

I think this was explained to me last night. 

I was also concerned about the plague order. Why lead with blood? Blood seems like something you'd hold for later, when people are going down to the river to get away from the falling frogs for just a second or two.

Why is no one talking about this? How can we love Captain America and not obsessively watch Agents of SHIELD? I'm not judging, just terribly hurt and confused. Like, they didn't mention it in last week's TV chat at all. *sobs, runs out of the room*

Are you watching Agents of SHIELD?

I enjoyed Captain America a lot, but mainly for the exterior shots of DC that were clearly actual exterior shots of real DC, not the fake Baltimore-as-DC of House of Cards. I would watch a whole show of just establishing shots of DC exteriors. 

Squirrels are so furtive and low to the ground. Chickens have a jaunty air, like they should be wearing a bowler hat and twirling a cane. Armadillos apparently have never mastered the art of road crossing given their prevalence as Texas road kill.

"Chickens have a jaunty air, like the should be wearing a bowler hat and twirling a cane" is my official quote of the chat.

That's very well put.

What is the second-jauntiest animal? Cats can be kind of jaunty, but nowhere near chicken territory. Turkeys in my experience always look startled and mistrustful. 

Maybe iguanas? They have a certain swagger.

So the bugs are free to multiply, causing heartbleed ...

The Plague of the Passwords was the worst plague of all. 

I'm enjoying it-- it's a Whedon show, dadgummit! I liked Captain America, though I nearly cried when I saw they'd built the huge building on Teddy Roosevelt Island.

I liked the building! It definitely improved the skyline on that side of the river.

So you're saying spoiling is okay because it increases the value of a SECOND viewing/reading? In other words, our first experience of an artwork should be structured to prepare for our second experience of the artwork? I hate to break it to you but I can only read your works one time apiece. I think you may have a point that some genres are more dependent on surprise than others -- "Scandal," anyone? -- but to assume that all genres are spoiler-friendly seems at least as bad, if not worse, than assuming that all genres are spoiler-proof.

The word "pickle" does not contain a fricative, and anyone who says it does will get a D in phonetics *at best*. (The fricative in the word "chicken" is there, but it's not spelled "ck" - it's the second half of what we spell "ch", because that sequence of letters generally stands for an affricate, which is a phonemicized combination of a stop - or plosive, if you insist - and a fricative.)

Okay, I need to read up on my linguistics, it would appear. 

*lashes self with the Ann Landers-approved wet noodle*

"Chuck" is a funny word.

Should I be good and eat what sweetie has packed me, or go to the deli and get a giant greasy burger with a hot steaming mess of fries?

If you have a free lunch, I would eat it! 

Why did the pickle cross the road? To get away from the McDonald's after learning his inherent meaning in the universe is to be embedded with to all beef patties, special sauce, etc.

But that is a pickle's highest perfection! 

To peck the Grammar Nazi to death.

And whom would fault him?

*shhh I know it's wrong I'm just trying to lure the GN out of hiding*

At least squirrels can cross the road on power / telephone lines. I never see chickens do that. That also reminds me of an old "Peanuts" cartoon where Snoopy followed Woodstock and bird friends around for a day, and had to sit on telephone lines with them.

One of my favorite things that I ever learned about Ezra Pound (the blood moon has turned me into an obnoxious literary name-dropper; I apologize) is how when he was in prison working on the Pisan Cantos, he formed chords in his mind by looking at the pattern of birds sitting on telephone wires. 

I am now picturing a very confused Ezra looking up at the beagle in the sky. 

Funnier in the Star Trek world than Real Life, but still a fun word to say

And it's fricative-free! (Or is it, linguistics chatter?)

I am SO with you on spoilers Alex. Especially when it's a book, I flip to the back to read the end so I can better enjoy the writing, layout, timing, etc. of the story without angst about how it will turn out. With movies I tend to be too impatient to sit through the whole thing, probably for the same reason.

I have the sense we're a minority, though.

Me too. I want to enjoy the book, not fret. I use IMDB for movies when that is a concern. But I also have a hard time sitting through movies. I got up and went to the bookstore in the middle of the first Hobbit movie.

You browsed several hours, bought Ulysses, finished it, returned, and the dwarves were still singing, I presume.

One of my favorite memories is from going to see Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet at the the movie theater in high school. About half the people in the theater went to walk out after Romeo took his life upon finding a "dead" Juliet. My boyfriend at the time got quite upset about this and started yelling "Sit down!! Read the book!!"


Speaking of Baz Luhrmann adaptations (he has definitely figured out how to shoehorn himself into the American high school curriculum), I was in a theater leaving the Great Gatsby and discussing it with my friends when someone behind us loudly said, "DON'T SPOIL IT, PLEASE."  We were tempted to turn to him and observe that "It's been a book for DECADES, sir!" but we refrained.

There's no such thing as a free lunch...

Only one way to find out!

Have a great rest of the week! Keep reading the Compost and feel free but unobliged 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.)
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