ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Apr 22, 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 Earth Day, everyone!

Also, Happy Tuesday! 

Are you still doing embarrassing situations? Here's something kinda girly (I think? Any guys have this problem?) that you might understand. Wanting to heat up some frozen packaged meal for lunch, but your coworkers keep hanging around in the breakroom chit-chatting and not giving you alone time where you don't have to be embarrassed about having frozen pre-packaged food instead of something you lovingly prepared for yourself out of carrot sticks and shame. Sometimes I'll loiter in the hallway pretending to check messages on my phone until they go away and then I have to sneak into the kitchen and throw my meal into the microwave as fast as possible before anyone sees. Am I the only one?

I think you're not the only one, but I think your level of embarrassment about it is higher than most people. 

I microwave my Stouffer's Family-Sized Macaroni and Cheeses with pride. Then again, I am the person with her arm stuck inside the vending machine yelling at the beef jerky, so microwaving something not-home-cooked is probably a step up on the Adult Evolutionary Scale for me.

"Something you lovingly prepared for yourself out of carrot sticks and shame" is a great turn of phrase and sounds like a delicious casserole. 

My gf has been living here (Alexandria) for over a year, knows her way around, has driven around the state and neighboring states. Yesterday, she realized that she couldn't find DC on a map of the states. I'm pretty sure she's from Ukraine, TN.

I usually can locate it because it has a handy line pointing to it labeling it DC. 

Wow, to imagine that the Earth is 3,000 years old today. Oh, and I am one of those 1 in 4 who do not believe the Earth revolves the Sun The universe revolves the Earth, sllly. Just look at the sky, Oh, and, repeal Obamacare.

It's turtles all the way down. 

what with Earth Day, Shakespeare's birthday, and the anniversary of the founding of Rome.

In sooth!

I'm planning to go a little overbard, but with the big 450, you have to. Rome can wait. Look, Rome wasn't built in a day.

I don't know how much time you have spent in the Midwest (probably holidays and summers), but I wondered if you exhibit signs of the peculiarly Midwestern trait of actually attacking someone for not putting you out; i.e. "Why didn't you tell me you were coming into town! I had some fresh raspberries and I could have made you a pie!"

Bob Levy, the daily columnist who appeared in the Style section when I was growing up, said the defining characteristics of a Midwesterner were to "apologize constantly and cook with lots of butter." (I think I'm mangling the quote a little, but that's me to a tee, or in a nutshell.)

Silly you. It's 6,9996 years old today. Just ask Bishop Ussher.

At 9 AM! 

Obviously not, since DC is not a state!

There's going to be a new LGBT chat competing with you in a week or two. I'm guessing you'll be funnier.

I don't think of it as competition! If anyone's been coming here with queries about LGBT-related etiquette, that person has certainly kept quiet about it. We're different niches. I'm just excited any time there's more etiquette to go around! 

Does that take Daylight Saving Time into account?

God did not make Daylight Saving Time. That was the Devil's handiwork.

I also like the image of the Devil's handiwork because you have this picture of Satan sitting there knitting something very patiently, in maybe a craft circle or something.

I am sorry you find yourself apologizing a lot. I am truly sorry. Here, I am from New England. I can make you an elderberry pie.

Elderberry! That's the kind of berry I respect the most! 

I'm sorry.

I ask every week! You always ignore me!


Moscow had tourist maps that were designed to fool tourists. You would get lost to prevent a tourist takeover of Moscow. Now they have an app for that because it's the future. All we had were songs from TN and there's gold in the hills of Nashville country western music.

Ha, as though a tourist could take over anywhere. What are they going to do, build a fortress out of fanny packs and ask-for-directions-to-a-landmark-they-are-clearly-standing-in-front-of us into submission?

If Rome wasn't built in a day, was it built by night? Or in a day and a half? There are probably other options, but I can't think of any.

Well, it wasn't built to the sound of music, like Thebes. Or built to "The Sound of Music" like [Insert Joke City Here].

I am looking at an official map. Where within the District of Columbia is the town of Washington? I can't find it anywhere. Help. I can't find Washington,

You should talk to Other Chatter's girlfriend!

I am easily confused. If one goes to sites like WebMD, or whatever it is called, it states that nothing other than a flu shot reduces the likelihood or duration of getting the flu. Yet, if you read about elderberries, it states that elderberries reduce the likelihood and duration of getting the flu. I believe elderberries deserve more respect. Maybe the elderberry growers need to get a lobbyist or something,

I would love to see what Big Elderberry and the lobbying arm of elderberries looked like. I assume they would throw big events on Pi Day.

It is now and you are here. Everything else is moonshine.



Neither do I. I just click back & forth between simultaneous chats.

What did we do before tabbed browsing?

If all the tourists are pirates this takeover might get off the ground or the water.

That sounds like it could degenerate into a Duck Boat Tour very quickly. 

When traveling in Moscow, is it customary to tip the KGB agent who follows you around your entire trip?

No, no, in Moscow, KGB agent tip you.


I came from a town so small, we sold tourists maps of our town which were one straight line and an arrow to the line with a caption reading "You are here. That's it."

Why were there tourists? Did you have Historic Baseball Things?

I like how you put the soundstage where the faked the moon landing on the moon. Well, that explains how NASA got its funding approved by Congress. "We'll fake the landing, but it will be really, really expensive…"

Right? It makes the most sense of any theory I have yet heard proposed!

People come to my town to see where nothing happened. We were so fortified during the Revolutionary War that the British did not attack. Granted, they made one of their biggest attack on the port across the river from us, but the left us alone. I think something happened in our town in 1934, but no one remembers what it was.

One of my favorite things in all of the District is a plaque in Upper Georgetown near the library that says "On This Spite In 1897, Nothing Happened." I would like to lead a tour there. 

Is that like tipping cows?

...we just need iPads as big as a dining table you can fold up and put in your pocket.

And sometimes lose in the back of the car, just when you're about to get to that confusing turn-off onto I-80 -- or is it 76?

"On This Spite" you said.



Not "turtles." Four elephants, but just one turtle.

Well that seems like a terrible system. Turtles are obviously the One True Way. 

What are your plans for Charlotte Bronte's birthday. Me, I am going to avoid standing next to the mantle, as I hear that can kill you.

At least Branwell died doing what he loved.

The District of Columbia of Columbia once included the cities of Washington, Alexandria, and Georgetown. Alexandria retrocessed and Georgetown was absorbed by Washington.

This sounds very medical! 

"Alexandria retrocessed!"

"Well why are you standing there? Can you DO something about it." 

"Georgetown has been absorbed."


When I worked at the Capitol, I made a sign for my door that read "No One Important". I later learned my door was added to the tour.

That's great! Was it a plaque-style sign or just your run-of-the-mill paper sign?

My favorite plaque in Alexandria is "On this site in 1781, George Washington stopped his horse and took a leak on the way to Mount Vernon."

Is this real? Because it belongs on the tour, if so.

How can a cloak kill you? A mantel, now, that I'd be careful of.

Haven't you read Medea?

Are you watching? It's way better than I hoped. And I remember the original.

No, I'm reading! So many fun tips for ways to incorporate ice cubes into your personal life!

Oh, Cosmos. Er. No. I've been meaning to, though, although I've heard mixed things!

"The doctors did all they could, yetAlexandria retrocessed on the operating table. Fortunately, Washington made it through the operation, yet it had to absorb Georgetown to survive.:"

That's a narrative behind which I can get.

Answer: It was a home made sign. Comment: That Alexandria sign someone else posted is funny. I have no idea if it is real or not. Yet, there is (or used to be, I don''t know if it is still there) a sign on a tree in Key West that read on a certain date "Ernest Hemingham pissed on this tree."

I'd believe that. 

Hm. I thought that was Deianira.


Medea's robe-dress-mantle gift to Jason's new bride catches fire; Deianara's is just poisoned, if memory serves. 

If it helps the first poster any, I'm a dude with the same hangup. Although I get more frustrated by people washing their Tupperware in the sink for what feels like hours when I just want to rinse a fork off or something.

My request that they place a historic sign in Harrisburg, Pa, keeps being denied. Harrisburg played an important part in Presidential history. When Vice President Teddy Roosevelt was speaking in Buffalo, he learned that President William McKinley had been shot. He immediately left to return to Washington, pausing only for a bathroom break in Harrisburg. Now, I think that deserves a historic sign, don't you?

Certainly one way to update George Washington Slept Here. 

If anyone really wants to know where the old Washington City used to be, it was juuuust about everything east of Rock Creek, west/north of the Anacostia River, and south of Florida Avenue. (That's why Florida Avenue used to be called Boundary Street!) Also for a while there around 1900 the District tried to get Georgetown to start calling itself "West Washington", but it didn't take.

There are still boundary stones, I believe, marking its former borders! They make for a fun trek, if your idea of a fun trek is driving around and taking pictures of some large white rocks that mark an old boundary. 

My peeve isn't in the breakroom - it's at Starbucks, where people turn into coffee chemists and spend all day adding a little more sugar, three kinds of milk, a whiff of nutmeg, six other secret ingredients and then start the process all over when it's not satisfactory. And all I want is a packet of sugar . . . Maybe they're alchemists and waiting for it to change to gold!

Hear, hear! I don't even want the sugar! All I want is a napkin and/or straw! Who are these master mixers?

"Ernest Hemingham pissed on this tree." Any relation to Ernest Hemingway, the novelist?



A trending story is most people do not believe the big bang theory, Turtles are in the running!

Very, very slowly. 

It never ends. You can't make anything totally foolproof because you can't estimate what the fools might try.

At best you can make things slightly fool-resistant, but even then. 

Those heroes -- they never learn. If you're going to commit bigamy, don't do it with a princess because your wife is going to hear about it.

And especially don't tell your current lady that "it's cool because you are a foreigner and you can TOTALLY be my mistress later," cough, Jason, uncough. 

Resistance is feudal.

Resistance is part of an organized system of serfs, vassals, and lords offering protection! 


The real problem is, as soon as you make something foolproof, nature comes up with a new model fool.

Durn you, Steve Jobs. 

If autocorrect corrects Hemmingway to Hemmingham, who in history was Hemmingham?

He wrote For Ham The Bell Tolls, To Ham and Ham Not, and A Moveable Feast (didn't even have to change that one!)

Was it Oscar Wilde who stated he is against bigamy, as that is two wives too many?

"Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same."

I hear it attributed to him but I'm not sure. 

Virginia has never managed to absorb its cities. They are independent entities. In Maryland, however, all the cities and towns are subservient to the counties. It's a hopeless situation; they can't get away.

It's the feudalism.

I think the true author of the works you cited was Bacon, not Hemmingham.


And on that note, I think we should call it a day. Happy Earth Day! Keep reading the Compost, and feel free but unobliged to join the beleaguered few following me on 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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