ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

May 20, 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, all! How goes it?

If this drone is a missal launcher, does that make it a weapon of mass destruction?

+10! Have an indulgence!

Well, there we go, I think we've already reached peak pun!

"Darling, would you like to share the family plot?"

It has a certain ring to it, you have to admit.


Would you rather have a party-goer vomit on you, or read from their fan fiction?

Oh, definitely the latter! Vomit is always vomit, and fan fiction is vomit only sometimes.

The Irish do better than that, for real -- or at least they used to, with "How would you like to be buried with my people?"

I like the gravity and understatement! It certainly beats, "I'd like, if possible, to watch you die."



Then again, why did we think that a chain whose mascot has been a clown for so long would have a good sense of what was creepy and what wasn't?

I want to find the dog who buried those dinosaur bones.

No doubt a canis Cliffordius!

(Actually, there was an old theory that the dinosaurs themselves were dog-like creatures who belonged to the Giants who possibly-biblically-at-some-point walked the earth. But we moved past that once, you know, actual science arrived.)

have the BEST cathedrals. Seriously. St John the Divine in New York is even better than the National Cathedral here, and that is saying something. How did you guys get so whimsical when it comes to religious edifices? Moon rocks? Niches devoted to evolutionary biology? Do other religions even come close?

And don't forget the Apotheosis of Stonewall Jackson, my favorite cathedral window dedicated by the daughters of the Confederacy!

Also, you could take a nap during the reading. I have always found it hard to nap while someone is vomiting on me.

A pragmatic approach!

I mean, it's Sturgeon's Law. Ninety percent of everything is crap. Ninety percent of fanfiction is crap. But there's a good 10%. Not so with vomit.

Are you suggesting that the dinosaurs buried their own bones? That would be AWESOME.

I am now picturing T. Rex trying to dig a hole with those tiny arms while a stegosaurus makes fun of him.

How about "You're the last person I want to kiss."

That's a good one too!

a) it's 95%, I thought, and b) not true. 90 or 95% of NPR is not crap. Just to take one example.

Oh, you're right, this is what comes of Typing Before You Google. (Kids, don't do it!)

But I think you're misreading it. The fact that NPR isn't crap is actually a proof of the rule, not an exception. 95 percent of radio is crap. NPR's in your five percent. It only makes sense for larger icebergs. "95 of Monets are crap" would be false, but 95 percent of paintings, generally? Oh, heck yes.

I think the HORRIBLENESS of the bad 90% of FanFic (I say it is closer to 99% but that is me) outweighs the possibility of good FanFic. It's like hearing that someone is a self publish poet. AHHHHHHHHH!! Do you ever read the ads for self publishing houses like XLibris that run in the NY Times Book Review on Sunday? There is nothing more funny on the planet. Unintentionally of course.

You also have to remember that I enjoy almost nothing on earth more than things that are terrible but not on purpose. For instance, "The Room." And that kind of spectacular failure is all over fanfiction.

Stonewall only has a Window. You can visit his arm, though:

Ellwood Manor road trip! Ellwood Manor road trip, posthaste!

The window is called the apotheosis of Stonewall Jackson, I thought! It definitely shows him clad in white armor being raised up into the light. Robert E. Lee is in the neighboring window looking impressed. It's a small alcove off the Nave.

My 7 yo was laughing at "Happy" on her meal last night. She was even calling him by name. (Don't judge me! It's impossible to do the grocery shopping, cook a meal and get them to bed anywhere near bed time!)

No judging here! Fast food nights were always my favorites!

I think the person who stands to lose most from this is Pharrell. If anything can knock his "Happy" song out of people's heads forever, it's this.

Summer is coming, and a recent study says it's OK to pee in the ocean. Just don't stand next to me:

But they also say that peeing on jellyfish stings is not actually effective, right? So even if it is OK, there goes the "I'm taking the war TO the jellyfish" excuse that we've been using all these years.

you contend all vomit is crap. What's the bigger whole? Bodily fluids? Things that come out of your mouth? Surprises?

This is the trouble with logic before lunch. Um. "Vomit is a genre?"

Er, no.

Let's put a pin in this, shall we?

So we need a more complex statement of that Law, then.

I don't think it needs to be more complex -- it's about genres, basically.

Except vomit.

The vast majority of paintings are oil, watercolor, or acrylic. Very few - such as Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary ( - are crap, and even that's a overstatement, as it's really mixed media, so only partly crap.

Ha! +10!

I would say that slightly more than 95% of crap paintings are crap, though.

Clap along if you feel that mascots need reproof / Clap along if you feel that fast food is the truth

'Cause I'm happy




'Cause I'm happy

Happy, I thought I'd be able to contribute more lyrics, but that chorus really doesn't give you a lot of opportunities, does it?

Paradise Lost, The Aenid, R&G Are Dead, etc. A lot of Shakespeare was improving old stories with known characters. The Once and Future King by TH White is one of my favorites, and that isn't just updating Malory's language. Gobs of Greek literature is just grabbing characters from Homer and filling in the back story.

Yes! Thank you! Where were you earlier?

Shakespeare? Often fanfiction. The Idylls of the King? Fanfiction. Euripides? Fanfiction. Almost everything Greek, as you said. (Fewer alternate universes set in high schools or coffee shops, though.)

Why all the mentions of vomit today? Did you decide you just HAD to bring that up?

Somebody call emetic!

so your statement about oil, watercolor, and acrylic not being crap doesn't hold. Wait...

Ah, how did we get here? I really don't know how. Suddenly, everything we touch is crap and other bodily, um, exports.

An awful lot of opera is just fan fiction set to really good music. Broadway musicals too, more recently.

And some Broadway musicals are opera fanfiction -- like RENT. Lincoln has a window in Detroit:

To be fair, in the cathedral Lincoln also has a statue and a nice niche with a carved quotation and lovely light falling down on him so it looks like he's in a magical forest, which has to count for something.

Sometimes, I feel like Chinese food and there are a couple of decent Chinese restaurants near my office. Other times, I feel like Italian and I'm not far from Maggiano's. But occasionally, I feel like crap, and for those days....

Crap: America's National Cuisine.

Is the New Testament Old Testament fan fiction?

Hey, as long as we're widening our iceberg net here...

Speaking of musical fanfiction, "The Book of Mormon" makes this case pretty well.

I like to think we helped you prepare.

Oh, heck yes! Half of the infamous Quarter Horse trophy is yours, by right! So, er, an Eighth Horse, I guess.

Please. That's like saying "teach the controversy." Lincoln deserved that statue but that doesn't mean that Jackson and Lee deserve windows.

Look, I'm sure the designer of this place was intelligent. Can't we reach a compromise?

"Jesus Christ Superstar"

My favorite!

How many years ago was it that "All Things Considered" did an item on this, called "Generation XXL"...

See, there's the crap on NPR we've been waiting for!

They're wrong, though. Rinsing the sting with almost any liquid works, pretty much. Fresh water is best but if all you have is urine, well...

urine luck!


Can you briefly explain what "pennies on the dollar" and "dollars to doughnuts" mean?

To be honest, whenever anyone uses those expressions I get nervous, pelt him with loose change, and run away. What does a doughnut need with a dollar?

is more a sequel written by different authors (if you don't swing with revelation) or the same one (if you think it was revealed by God - do Christians believe that at all? I haven't heard it). I don't count that as fan fiction. There is still room in the universe for sequels.

An authorized sequel, let's say. Like that last Wheel of Time book.

"Godspell," "Jesus Christ Super Star," Oscar Wilde's play "Salome" (also the basis for Richard Strauss' opera with the notorious Dance of the 7 Veils, alias high-culture stripping!).

Ah yes, Salome.

Its success as an opera makes me wonder if we should give Wilde's "Vera, or The Nihilists" another look to make sure there wasn't something we missed. But then I think, no, that would require us to give "Vera, or The Nihilists" another look.

"Pennies on the dollar" means that one person is getting a bargain -- i.e. "Alexandra bought that expensive house for pennies on the dollar from a man who was underwater on his mortgage." "Dollars to doughnuts" meant that one person was so confident in something that she is willing to bet something of great value (a dollar) against something of little value (a doughnut). Of course, today, dollars and doughnuts are about par, so it's lost a lot of its meaning. Hardly anything costs less than a dollar these days.

I was about to say, doughnuts are definitely worth more than a dollar. Have you hung out with a doughnut lately?

My fair lady, Clueless

If we have learned two things from this chat, they are that 95 percent of everything is crap, and 95 percent of everything is also fanfiction.

The Eye of Argon takes the cake, in my book (unselfpublished). I lost it at "kissed the fleeting stead [sic] of death."

Oh, the Eye of Argon! Yes!

"The enthused barbarian swilveled about, his shock of fiery red hair tossing robustly in the humid air currents."

Do you have anything playing at the fringe festival this year?

Yes, I do: Miss Emma's Matchmaking Agency for Literary Characters!

It's exactly what it says on the tin!

Also opening this summer: The Campsite Rule, in a full production by the Washington Rogues!

It's Jane Austen's "Emma."

Right, and My Fair Lady is Pygmalion. Then again, Pygmalion itself is fanfiction about Pygmalion.

"The Lion King"


And on that note, I bid you all adieu! Have a grand week! Keep reading the Compost and feel free to join me on the Twitters!

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Alexandra Petri
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