ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

May 27, 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

Hello all! Hope it's a phat Tuesday for you so far! I hope your weekend was restful and full of grilled meats.

Why, just why?

Are you really asking for the "why" of cheese? Because if that's so I don't even know how to begin to help you without getting pretty tautological pretty quickly. Within a few seconds of starting the conversation it's going to devolve into my standing on a desk or something and saying, "Because it's cheese! It's cheese!"

"Mooncalf, speak once in thy life, if thou beest a good mooncalf."

Oh, this is delightful news! Actually, since 2008, it's even had a slight uptick!

Does anybody even use that word anymore? Cacophony!

Uh, solecism! Antimacassar!

What I find most amazing about "lucubrate" is its penetration, so to speak, in 1781-1787. Why was the word so popular then? Were people lucubrating about the decline of the North administration, the Second Anglo-Mysore War, the Siege of Yorktown, or the entrance into Parliament of Pitt the Younger?

Nothing lubricates the lucubrating gears like the combination of revolution and the Younger Pitt? I guess?

Or possibly the birth of Ebenezer Elliot was what did it for them?

I made a Peeps diorama called "The Defenestration of Peeps" (looking vaguely like the woodcut of the second defenestration of Prague, check wikipedia) for the contest a few years ago. I put a fire in the fireplace and added some art - Madonna and Egg, a bunny princess - and made the windows out of bubble wrap because the panes of glass back then were thick and circular. Plus I made the little hats and puffy sleeves and felt capes and gave them plastic canape swords. Completely failed to make an impression on the judges at The Post. I thought that I might get some love just for the title. You guys are all fairly fond of words, right? Sigh. I still have it sitting on top of a bookshelf. I can't bring myself to toss it.

Your title is TOTALLY worthy of love!

I guess people just aren't as into Defenestrations of Pragues as they used to be. Along with Images of Babies Looking Kind Of Dyspeptic While A Lady Holds Them and Images of Simple Town Life With A Dog Running Through It, they've steadily fallen off the cutting edge of the art scene.

I feel like I might have seen this, though! I remember liking it, possibly an erroneous memory if it didn't make it to the stage where admiring Post employees get to wander around the dioramas ooh'ing at them. I remember liking SOMETHING, anyway.

More snobbery after the millennium?

The tail-end of those ngrams always intrigues me. Some words totally revived!

I'm amazed that "retrousse" did as well as it did, considering how disgustingly retrousse I always feel when I have to incorporate a French-sounding word into actual real-life conversation not on the page. There's no way to win. Pronounce it correctly and everyone thinks you're a pretentious petit merde, pronounce it wrong and you're some rube who needs to keep her hands off the fancy words.

It would be the mastication of the The Defenestration of Peeps.

Followed by the expectoration of the masticated Defenestration of Peeps, if they taste anything like I anticipate.

Congrats on the win, quite the feat. How'd you get in shape for it, are there pun warm-ups?

You mean, other than my ENTIRE LIFE?


Yes, actually, there are! In Austin, where it's held, punsters get together and shoot the breeze definitely the night before and often in the weeks leading into the pun-off, to sharpen our pun-cells. As an out-of-towner, I only got the one rehearsal, but as I'm sure friends stuck in cars with me for long periods of time during the lead-up can tell you, I still managed to sneak in plenty of pun practice.

Uvula, Palindrome, Discombobulate, and Babaganoush. Actually, that sounds like the weirdest law firm ever.

You have excellent taste in words! I am a heavy user of "discombobulate," a close cousin of "tergiversate," another of my favorites.

Clifton Fadiman nce described cheese as milk's leap to immortality.

I love this! That's a good "why."

Puns are easy. Good puns ~ not so much.

I agree. The default state of a pun is "a short quip, followed by a long groan." Occasionally they rise above it to become something more, but this is definitely the exception, not the rule.

Only Medusa had the snake hair. I think that is a bit unfair, why should your sisters win the genetic lottery?

Wait, are we sure? Because that's a serious doozy on par with those pairs of fairy-tale siblings where one of you spits pearls and the other one spits frogs (not that either would be terribly pleasant, if you had to do it your whole life).

And Jon Stewart described cream cheese as "milk, if you let it go bad." I'm NOT a cheese fan. My ideal cheese shop would be the one from Monty Python.

Too much bazouki music for my taste.

Also, do not judge cheese by cream cheese. Cream cheese is milk that has attempted the leap to immortality and failed. It's just not gouda.

that it didin't even make it to the semi-finals to get the picture posted on-line, never mind physically bringing it in. I think I still have the pictures on my computer at home. They aren't very good. A friend came over with a better camera than I had, but it was already dark and we had some issues trying to get enough light on it. If you want, I could probably send you the pictures. This was before you could upload your own pictures so I can't just refer you to a particular slide in a slide show.

See, this is why memories are dangerous! I wonder what I saw and liked. Feel free to send the pic my way and remind me next week!

Maybe it's because only her name is an anagram of amused. The others were not (amused).

(Also I just noticed that you snuck in the Gorgon Zola last time, OP. Thank you for spreading the good word of Cheeses.)

I remember one question was "[something] is to [something] as bellicose is to ______." The correct answer was fisticuffs. I can't remember what the first two words were. It haunts me. A [personality trait] is to [something that a person with that personality trait would be likely to do]. Maybe the group has some suggestions. Oh, and fisticuffs is in the song "Consider Yourself" from the musical/movie Oliver. One of the few times that listening to my mother's music has such a solid return.


Fun fact (I don't know how fun this fact is actually; it helps if it's surrounded by dry tax-related facts) I played Artful Dodger at summer camp one year and had to sing those very words!

Bellicose: fisticuffs is absolutely amazing, though.

He's the Greek god of mockery (I think he's taken over the Post comments). All he could roast Aphrodite with was that she was talkative wore creaky sandals.

Seriously? Not with the fact that after she had an affair with Hermes she named the resulting demigod Hermaphrodite? Because I would really have made the whole roast revolve around that.

I'm intransigent.

Too obdurate to obfuscate, eh?

I give you Leslie Sarony, a great British music hall artiste, with his tribute to Gorgonzola--"three cheers for the green, white and blue!" They don't write songs like that anymore.

I am sharing this half-listened to, and so far enjoying it, but actually if you think about it  "They don't make [X] like that any more" could actually be a neutral to negative evaluation of whatever you're talking about.

In Act II of "La Boheme," the characters gather to celebrate Christmas Eve at the Cafe Momus in Paris. Now I know where the cafe got it's name!

See, chatter, you're being the change you want to see in the world! (Assuming that change is 'helping people to get La Boheme references to Greek myth.')

(And wait, it wasn't the LIFE cafe? What was Jonathan Larsen thinking?)

I eschew obfuscation.

Eschew? Gesundheit!

all down on the farm words for cattle people.

Gotta have a cow!

But Alexandra Petri is an anagram for "A Narrated Pixel", so I think we see who wins there.

Oh, I love that! I'm going to start sewing that onto towels.

Lollipop and Bumbershoot have to be near the top. Are you now to be addressed as "Empress of Paronomasia"?

I prefer "A Narrated Pixel."

probably does pretty well at least in the Pacific Northwest area. Not only does it rain a lot here, but there is a Bumbershoot music festival.

That'll do it! If only a "Coachella" were something cool like that.

Blessed are the cheesemakers!!!

And on that note, have a great week!

Keep reading the Compost, feel free but unobliged to join me on Twitter, and here's a segment on the punoff from CBS Morning News, as long as we're crassly self-promoting here.

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