ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jun 03, 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! I hope you are having a swell Tuesday!

Let's roll!

The wild pansy is also known as love-in-idleness. The story goes that Cupid missed one of his devotees, struck the white flower, turning it purple. It is the base for a magical love potion (mixed with alcohol, I presume) that causes a person to fall madly in love with the next person they see.

In fact, you can sometimes omit the wild pansy altogether.

(Thank you, A Midsummer Night's Dream Guide to Botany!)


As a member of the Holy Order of the Internet, I am upset that people discriminate against our religion. First you create laws prohibiting us from engaging in our scared texting while driving a vehicle. Now you criticize public officials being sworn in on our holy book, the Kindle. We shall rise someday and show the world the truth. The Internet is our savior!

You take that back!

The Internet's not your savior; it's a very naughty boy.

(Also, I know "scared texting" is a typo for sacred, but I think it's a great one!)

It's a good thing they dropped the plan to name hurricanes after Pokemon and Muppet characters.

I don't know, Hurricane Ash and Hurricane Animal sound pretty terrifying to me!

Could John Kerry tell a female hurricane to "man up" to make it less deadly?

I like this as an added definition of "man up."

I think John Kerry could tell a hurricane any number of things, but I doubt the hurricane would listen, and the chief diplomats of other nations might start passing remarks.

Or hurricane Joan of Arc. Or hurricane Khaleesi.

I also wonder whether if we chose villain names -- Hurricane Ursula? Hurricane Maleficent -- that might have an impact. Hurricane Voldemort could turn the trick, although The Hurricane That Must Not Be Named could pose evacuation risks of its own.

But they're few. Hurricanes Miss Piggy, Beaker, Kermit, Big Bird.... Not too scary.

Hurricane Pikachu?

*shudders* what you get after Krakatoa erupts and there's no summer.

Right? Ominous!

You saw the study that people are less afraid of hurricanes named after women? They're obviously not married to one! Thank you! I'll be here all week! (Channeling my inner Henny Youngman. Take my hurricane--please.)

"Why is a hurricane a woman?"

"She storms in, storms out, and takes the house when she goes."

"Why is a hurricane a man?"

"Total blowhard who frequently appears on TV and usually the main event feels like it's over in eight minutes."

Er, that's my stab! Got others?

But that's like declaring "the trial of the century" in the first year of a century. It's bound to be surpassed, probably very quickly, by a hurricane named something like Wormtail.

True. You have to wait until later in the century so you can bestow the trial title on something deserving, like the O. J. Simpson case.

by the time he finished, the hurricane would be a mild breeze. Out of respect, I'm not going to make a blowhard joke here.

Also, *something something windsurf something something.*


If the goal is to come up with scary names, I say we should move on to abstract concepts. Like Hurricane Chronic Drug Addiction, Hurricane Contradictions of Late Capitalism, Hurricane Cycle of Grinding Poverty, Hurricane Breakdown of the Political System, and Hurricane Well-Meaning Effort to Measure Public Services Leading to Catastrophic Mistakes.

These are the scariest ones yet!


Some time ago, I mentioned I was on hold with a certain company---so we are not sued, let's just say their name rhymes with Horizon, only with a Ver- in front of it---while I was posting to this discussion. I wish to let people know the outcome of this long wait to speak with a representative of a company, which may or may not have been Verizon. I had purchased a router which the sales person assured me reached the rural area to which I wished to be connected. The salesperson then demonstrated how it worked and had it so it would connect to my computer. When I arrived at my rural destination, the router did not work. I called the number provided and was informed that this company, which probably is but might not actually be Verizon, does not serve that area. I returned the device. I knew in advance that I would have to pay a $38 restocking fee. I conclude that in the ten seconds it took to restock the device that the average Verizon salesperson is paid $13,680 per hour. I requested an employment application. This bothered me as I don't know why I should pay them for something they misrepresented during sales and I never used. Yet, at least I knew in advance that I would have to pay this. I then received a bill for $16 from a company that definitely is Verizon, yet for legal purposes let's state it might not be Verizon. I called to question what this amount was for.I spent the waiting time conversing with you and your readers. When I reached an actual human (or a well programmed robot), I was informed that the $16 was for the amount of data usage for the time the router was used. When I responded that I never used the router and that it was a salesperson who used the router---indeed, had the router worked when I wanted to use it I would never have returned it---I was told they would look into the situation and call me back in two days. No one ever called me back. I received another bill for $16. Ditto. I called again. I was kept waiting. I was told someone would call me back within two days. No one ever called me back. I received a third bill for $16. Fearing the loss of my credit rating and the knowledge that it was not worth the time to call into a void to protest, I paid the bill. The system won. We shall soon be controlled by large corporations (or is it already too late and I am just realizing this?) I do wish to seek employment with the automobile industry. I believe this is an excellent strategy for their recovery. Every time you return a lemon vehicle, they should charge you a re-parking fee. Further, you will be charged for the time you spent with the salesperson. I bet this will get the auto industry back onto its feet. What do you think?

Well, if we already are under the control of massive corporations, I'm glad you took such pains to disguise the company involved! They'll never guess!
Yikes, that sounds like an ordeal. Hurricane [Cable Company That Must Not Be Named] could, I think, go either way -- on the one hand, you could be fairly convinced that it would not actually show up when it said it would, but then, as you noted, its wrath can be implacable and swift.

Can we name hurricanes after all the Kardashians? That should scare everyone into taking them seriously.

Or we could, I guess, name them Hurricane Whatever That Outfit Was That Jaden Smith Wore To The Kimye Wedding (Seriously What Was That?)

The new Thai coup leaders are seriously considering banning the Hunger Games' Three Finger Salute as a protest gesture. I presume they banned the One Finger Salute. I don't know if YOUR upcoming book (will it be titled "Something Pastel With Feelings"? Hope so, but I digress) will have political gestures, but I'd accept it as a badge of honor to be banned by political dictators and tyrants - great free publicity too.

Before it was the Hunger Games salute, that was the classic "Read Between The Lines Salute."

I saw that it was being used. Life! Art! Always intertwined! And yes, what a badge of honor!

Why use names at all? For any name, there will be people upset. Whether it's named after you and you quickly tire of the stupid jokes, or it's named after an ex or enemy etc, or it's the name you were going to name your baby (hello, how many Katrinas were born recently?), etc a name is a bad idea. Call them Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc or use something else. Just drop the names.

Some frats might be upset, though.

We'll see what happens. I liked the erroneous sense of personality you got on hearing the name, but I guess that's the problem.

I've been watching a lot of Barbie movies lately (don't ask), and they all pass the Bechdel test. They always have two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. That something is often fashion, fairy magic, mermaids, unicorns, and whether you should be a princess or a popstar.

Hey, whatever works! Are the characters named? Jaden Smith's tweets make perfect garfield comics.

This is perfect! Especially "You Must Not Know Fashion"!

The scariest suggestion yet is Hurricane Ebola Virus (not mine; someone tweeted that). Who wouldn't flee?

This sounds like either the 11th plague or a SyFy original movie, and I'm not sure which possibility terrifies me more.

I remember when the NWS started using boys' names for hurricanes, in response to protests that using girls' names was sexist and stereotypical. Now that NWS is using boys' names, we've got protests that boys' names are too threatening. There's no pleasing those gals! Am I right, bros?

You're so right, brah! Dude, ladies! How do they even work?

Are you kidding? They wouldn't be upset, they'd be happy. Think of the parties and drinking games when "our" hurricane is bearing down on some towns. The higher the windspeeds, the more you drink. Then, they buy the newspapers (eh, good business) and frame them for the headlines. "Delta detroys <town name>"

Oh no, I can't figure out if we've solved the problem or made everything worse!

I think the whole "naming them for companies" thing has some potential. Either get companies to donate a tiny percentage of their profits to a hurricane relief fund, or their name gets added to a giant jar at NOAA headquarters. After Hurricane JambaJuice devastated Miami in 2017, further rebuilding was much faster.

This is great! There could also be an even more lucrative pool beforehand to determine which companies the hurricane was NOT named after. 

Oh, must we?

We need not, but the comics are worth a look-see.

What do you think of a book that claims that what your parents instilled in your generation---the belief that you should have self-confidence and feel you may achieve what you want---are the very things people of your parents' generation hold against you in the workplace. I guess you should have been told you are worthless and will never amount to much, like your grandparents told your parents.

"We're trapped in a dependent love cycle!" as I used to yell at my mother as a kid when she tried to alter my bedtime, having discovered a psychology book lying around the house. 

I'm guessing SyFy will eventually make enough Sharknado sequels to name an entire hurricane season for each movie, but would that be enough to make people take hurricanes seriously?

Hurricane Sharknado IV: The Jaws of Fate?

Sharknado V: Rebel Without a Jaws

Sharknado VI: Chum Like It Hot

This is spiraling quickly out of control

I live in Texas. If Hurricane Nana forms out in the Gulf this summer, I will probably not stock up on anything, fill my gas tank, board up any windows, or hunker down in any form. I can't take Nana seriously.

Is this a Texas thing or a universal thing?

(I fear I may be walking into a joke minefield here.)

How about Hurricane Godzilla, or Hurricane Mothra ?

Let's wait and see how the movie holds up!

Thank you for answering so many questions, and please train the new Reliable Source gurus on how to answer lots of questions during a chat.

Thank you!

It took me a while to get to this point! I used to sit there thinking, "Oh no! It's going to be on the Post website forever; I must polish each reply into a gleaming jewel whose facets catch the light like the Great Carbuncle et cetera and so forth" but then the consequence of that was that I would carefully craft two paragraph-length responses and then every subsequent question would be "Are you asleep?" so I thought "There's got to be another way."

Hey, done is better than perfect, as they say.

...have you ever noticed how strongly the legendary symphony/opera conductor James Levine resembles Garfield?

I don't know, I think he looks more like Doc Boy.

We should have naming rights for hurricanes. "Tropical Storm WalMart Weekend Sale is gaining steam while Hurricane Test Drive a Chevy is hitting the Florida coast…" Of course, Tropical Storm Verizon would turn out to not be what it advertised.

Then again, when what you're advertising is a hurricane, that's good news.

I want to make hundreds of plastic life-size sharks. Then, during a tornado, I want to place them in the tornado's path? Who is with me on this?

I think you're on your own.

Princess Tori, Popstar Keira, Duchess Amelia. The men exists to be dance partners or greedy foils.

Ah, Duchess, Princess, and Popstar, the unholy trinity of aspirations. I want to learn more about this!

The Hunger Games would provide a wealth of names. So would the Wizard of Oz series. May the Oz be ever in your favor.

Heh heh heh.

Hurricane Why Is Disney Trying To Turn Oz Into A Franchise With James Franco And Sad Porcelain People (Am I The Only One Who Saw This? Well, Good.)

Well, we'd have to workshop the name a little, I think.

They can't just use Alpha, Beta, etc. b/c the idea is to distinguish them from season to season. I guess they could call them Alpha 2014, but that sounds like a bad science fiction movie, where the computers gain sentience...

I'm sorry, we can't do that.

I guess there's always the Hurricane HurryCane (R), speaking of ways civilization ends.

Please explain--sounds gruesome

Oh lord, where to begin?

The short version of this is that the Core Characters of the new wizard movie are a talking monkey, a porcelain doll girl WHOSE FAMILY WAS SMASHED and whom James Franco has to glue together very poignantly except that it's James Franco, James Franco, Michelle Williams, and probably some other magical ally whom I'm forgetting and who clearly made a big impression. Until you've seen James Franco glue together a porcelain person, you haven't known true terror.

If I heard Hurricane Soylent Green was headed my way, I'd leave.

You mean... Hurricane PEOPLE?

Man, it's been a while since we had a Soylent Green reference in the chat. Brings me back. Names are reused every 6 years so you already have the problem of "which season was that?"

See, there we go! Problem solved!

Er, complicated, not solved, but -- that's similar, right?

Nana Sahib was pretty scary, though.

I can't even take Nana seriously when she's a goddess of variable degrees of vengefulness!

Has anyone see the spoof movie The Starving Games? I just learned of its existence and I do hope Netflix has it.

I'll have to hunt it down posthaste!

Speaking of hunting things down posthaste, I should skedaddle! Thanks for all the hurricane names! Have a great Tuesday, feel free to join me on Twitter, and keep reading the Compost!

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Alexandra Petri
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