ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jun 24, 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

Good Tuesday, all!

Let's get rolling!

Regardless of their problems (including the name), our football team has always had the distinction of being a local thing for locals. But so many of these jokey suggested new names, like "Filibusters" or whatever, are just references to that cavalcade of clowns that the rest of the country sends here and then blames on us even though we don't even get to elect any of them! So we need something local for a name instead. If we can't have the Washington Half-Smokes or the Washington Mumbo Sauce or the Washington Weekend Single Tracking, then maybe we'd be better off with no team at all.

You make a fair point. Then again, the Senators didn't do so badly, back in their time. 

And look at all the other teams, named for Wikipedia Washington (Capitals? Nationals?) -- it's like the namers didn't bother even setting food near Ben's Chili Bowl. Except for the Wizards, of course.

How about the Go Gos? Utah's got the Jazz.

Pool, beer, motorcycle, YouTube. Roadrunner, Coyote, Acme, Boom. Mother, Father, backseat, Me.

Oooh! I like this challenge:

Panic! Crunch. Found glasses!

Or the Hemingway--

Selling shoes. Baby died.

A lady on the Metro this morning took her shoes off and had her bare feet on the seat. I guess I'm lucky she wasn't flossing.

Oh no no no no no no no.

Then again, she's the one who had to put her feet on a Metro seat, so maybe she was duly punished for her crime. Unlike the person I saw clipping her nails on the bus once.

52 year old plump woman here... I haven't done it yet, but am frequently tempted to sing along with my iTunes when Daft Punk's Get Lucky comes up. I'm right to fight that urge, yes?

Well, depends who else is on the subway. The aforementioned foot-sitter might need a little music or terror in her life, depending on where on the performance spectrum your singing falls!

Do we have any reason to believe that the squirrel shadowing Hillary Clinton might be one of our fellow squirrel contributors? Or are squirrels slowly taking over the media and politics?


It seems to be an intern.

We already complain about that, so it'd be a time-saver. With every cloud comes a Silver Line.

"Go! Go! Go!" as we already chant frequently while riding.

"What an offensive line!"

And hey -- "expect delays" is football in a nutshell.

We've had the Washington Senators. How about a team named the Washington House of Representatives? Or the Washington Federal Tax Court?

Or the Washington Acronyms!

your four-word story is too blunt. his six-word story is oblique and sad.

No, I agree. It was the limitations of the medium! Four is harder to work with than six!

"Some buffalo are sad."

"Remember when Mufasa died?"

Hmm, these are hard.

Box. Gravity. Foot. Hospital.

That's better! Okay, I think the trick is to fight my desire for verbs.

Man. Plan. Canal! Panama?

Fingernails or toenails?

Honestly, I can't remember. I rapidly averted my eyes but the distinct noise of clipping assaulted my ears the whole ride. Just thinking logically it seems like fingernails make more sense, but someone who would clip nails on the subway clearly defies all logic and might not stop there.

Write. Post. Typos! Cringe. (And my subject line was four words, too!)

That's the four-word story of my life.


What is wrong with alternately clipping your toe nails while flossing your teeth while riding the subway? It shows one may multi-task. That should be an admired skill, right?

Wasn't there a whole spate of articles a while back saying multitasking was a lie and that what we humans thought of as multitasking was actually "trying to do a lot of things at once, badly, and splintering our attention"?

"[you're] lucky she wasn't flossing." Huh??? Who the h*** flosses their FEET?

We say this, and just watch, next week: someone will have a Terrifying Account of a Metro foot-flosser.

Is frightening behavior on the subway more or less horrific than frightening behavior on a bus? Does being below ground make things seem more creepy?

I think so, because in theory you can yell to the driver and get off a bus. In the subway, you're stuck. Even if you're above ground, the doors only open for you every so often.

I hope you do it. There should be more impromptu public singing. (Signed, the guy who drove his cube neighbor to flight by singing several verses of "A Little Priest" from Sweeney Todd. I still don't know whether it was the bad Cockney accent or the references to baking people into pies, but it was entertaining nevertheless.)

"is it rather fat?

only where it sat!"

What brought it on? I worry that I'm encouraging our whole chat to become Those Monsters You Don't Want To Work Next To.

I've started impromptu whistling a lot more ever since the Whistling Convention, to the point that I can hold more tunes than I used to, but none of the people who wait with me on subway platforms ever seem to appreciate my soulful renderings of "Guys and Dolls" numbers.

It was reported that the Redskins owner took a copyright on the name "Braveheart". Will the new mascot be Mel Gibson?

We could just call it the Washington Slurs and split the difference. He could still mascot if he wanted to! Has he worked since "The Beaver"?

Dingo ate my baby.

You are Hemingway reincarnate.

Supercalifragalisticexpealadosis. Too damn long.

Words words words! Sickening.

Sea Jane. Jane Swim.

Swim, Jane, swim!

Great Falls! No, wait...

Walk on water fails.

See Dick. Dick arrested.

Bad Richard, Bad!


If i was just a clipping noise you heard on the subway, it might have been me. Oh, and I wasn't clipping my nails. I was clipping my ear wax.

Guys I will TURN THIS CHAT AROUND right now if we keep going down this road.

Reminds me of the guy who sat in the second row of his ridesharing van and clipped his fingernails. Drove his fellow passengers crazy. But he got his comeuppance: one day he tried to do his feet as well, and the contortions required caused him extreme back pain. When he went to the doctor and explained what had happened, the doc diagnosed him with Car Pool Toenail Syndrome.

Oh thank God, there was a pun at the end of that carpool tunnel.

I feel like this genre lends itself best to the small disappointments in life. Cone tilting precariously... PLOP Ugh, stall recently utilized Chunks?! dry cereal today

Laundry pile crushes local.

Mine are all in headline form is another problem.

What is wrong with foot flossing? Once again, I find myself asking a question that I don't even know what it means.

Once you start down a dark path, consume you it will.

Bride. Altar. Alone. Revenge!

I tried to work Miss Havisham into my reply but no cigar. Which I guess is good because you want to keep cigars as far as possible from Miss Havisham lest she go up in flames.

What is this play you wrote and why should I see it?

Well, first up we have "Miss Emma's Matchmaking Agency for Literary Characters," which is exactly what it says on the tin. Daisy Buchanan! Dorian Grey! Sherlock Holmes! Medea! They're all in it, and some of them even meet their match.

(Take a gander. SQUAWNK! would be a potential story, maybe.)

I think I get what she was trying to say, but she was wrong. Because I have been where she was (on a much smaller scale) and it is stressful, but it isn't the same as being actually poor. When I graduated law school I had an intimidatingly large negative net worth, but my cash flow was enough to cover it. By the time I had a time of zero or very low income, the debt was gone and I had enough savings to cover my burn rate for a while. Both situations were hard. Neither was at all like having no money and no obvious way to get any at the same time. But my situation (and her magnified one) was sufficiently complex that it doesn't lend itself to a 5 second sound bite.

Exactly. No complex situation lends itself to a 5 second sound bite, and if you aren't careful in those five it can sound like you're equating two things that aren't the same. 

Birth. School. Work. Death. Which is also a punk rock song: the Godfathers, maybe?

I get excited at hearing sudden shouts of "World Star! World Star!" because I know I'm in for some intriguing free entertainment, but on the downside I usually have to scramble to get out of the way of the cameraphone because I don't want to be in the video if it becomes a meme. What's wrong with my self-esteem, anyway?

Not wanting to become part of a meme is no reflection on your self-esteem! In fact I think it's a sign you're at a healthy level.

How about a nice neutral animal name--also makes mascots cuter. The Washington Pandas? The Washington Firefoxes? The Washington Wombats?

Or even the Washington Red Pandas, something I've seen suggested! Then the debate would move to whether or not they were glorified raccoons, which would be a serious improvement.

That sounds like some kind of disease. It's "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" But still too damn long.

"He died. Of supercalifragalisticexpealadosis."

That's the first one I've made that I actually liked!

Better foot flossing than butt flossing, eh?

How did we get here?

53 of the peppiest, singingest toe-nail clipping writers in the nation! PS: Please mention Jeeves. Just because.

Hi, 53!

Recently I read that "Ask Jeeves" is still a more popular term than "Bing it" but then again I didn't know that "Bing it" was a term until I read the infographic. Wodehouse lives on!

Podracer. Jedi. Killer. Darth.

Jar Jar never died.

Suburbs. Disillusionment. Drink. Die.


Duck! Duck. Duck? Goose! <-- the Ugly Duckling

In my town, we have an annual Shakespeare festival, which I normally skip, but I've been in the mood for some theater lately. One of they plays they're doing is Merry Wives of Windsor. Never read it. Has anyone here? Is it any good?

I've seen it twice and read it just the once a long time ago. There are some very funny sequences in it, and I've actually belly-laughed at it before. It's basically a series of elaborate pranks on Falstaff, whom you may remember as the fat drunkard in Henry IV. He goes a-courting... other people's wives, and shenanigans ensue.

Feet. Floss. Die. Now.

There we go! Correct.

What literary character would you match up with me?

Well, that is the question. Apart from To Be Or Not To Be, of course.

What do you look for in your companions, literary or otherwise, so we can know whom to recommend?

Sports team names are supposed to instill fear into opponents. May I suggest the most fearsome name of them all: The Washington IRS Agents?

I've had three of these in the submission box. I think there must be something in it! Everyone seems keen!

As I always say, "Bing it, Jeeves".

Very good, sir.

I'd vote for going mythological - like the Washington Compromise or Middle Ground.

Oh, I was worried you were going to say "Centaur" or "Centaur for American Progress."

Imposter. Stolen pig. Blandings!

Bertie extricated from soup.

"Matrimony, Bertie?" "Jeeves!" Averted.

Did I stumble into Chatological Humor by mistake. Becareful, Alexandra. Weingarten works that side of the street and he's very territorial.

Please please go and deliver the butt flossing to him, with whatever compliments are appropriate.


is very, very dependent on the skill of the director. Wait for the reviews. If people say it is good time (not meaningful, the play can't really handle meaningful, though it can handle a little girl power) then go.

This is a very good call. It's a farce. If the word "wistful" appears anywhere in the review, run like the dickens.

Goats Troll Bridge Keeper. ="Three Billy Goats Gruff"

Ha! Well done!

Was depressed to note Wodehouse's use of the N word... not as a slur, but wow, we've come a long way in the past 80-90 years.

Taboo moves. I agree; it's always a bit jarring.

In Pittsburghese it's common to say things of the form "The lawn needs mowed" (rather than "The lawn needs to be mowed"). Thus Hamlet's soliloquy is reduced to merely two words: "Or not."

And some people wish it had been, too.

Is Arabella from "Jude the Obscure" still available? I'd let her slaughter all the pigs her heart desires!

Yours if you act now!

I am obviously a cretin who doesn't even know how offensive she is! what is the big hang up with clipping your fingernails in public? (I get the problem with toenails). when my nail is snagging everything I touch, I grab my clippers and snip it smooth.

I think there is a case to be made for surgical single strikes like that. What I'm talking about is someone just sitting there continuously clipping away as though the bus is his bathroom at home. Still, I try to find a bathroom or other secluded spot before I snip a snagging nail.

I'd also recommend Verdi's "Falstaff," should it be playing at an opera house near you.

Y'know, just in case.

One of my favorite scenes in The L Word took place with two of the main characters talking in the kitchen while in the extreme foreground the boyfriend of one of them (she was backsliding) was clipping his toenails on the living room couch. Just the framing and the context spoke more than any dialog.

You know, I've never watched "The L Word," but that sounds like great framing. I'm glad the makers shared my opinion of public clippers.

with, say, a seventy-two word title? I could probably do that.

Go for it!

A four word construction story: Cost overrun, Need more cash. Now. Or else.


Quilting. Netflix. Dawn. Marathon!

That sounds like a good weekend!

I was shocked when Alec Guinness' otherwise tour-de-force performance in the film "Kind Hearts and Coronets" was marred by use of the N word (even though it was made back in the late '40s, which I realize was another era, blah-blah-blah). My question: Do you think it would be morally right to remove the offending word now?

Oh, gosh, way to fling a doozy at me just as we're winding down.

I think it's an easy question with a book like "Huckleberry Finn" that's actually about racism. It's in the DNA and you can't take it out without serious damage to the book. But when you're confronted with an offhand use from people who don't know the weight it carries and think "gosh, this would be so easy to remove, because that really isn't what the play's about" it can be more tempting. I think, though, it's also important not to make the past -- its great art, its comedy movies, its mediocre art -- conform to the standards of the present. Do what the other chatter did -- shake your head, think, "wow, how far we've come in 80 years" -- bleep it unobtrusively if you really feel strongly, but don't pretend it wasn't there. It was. If it's a choice between removing the movie from circulation because of one word and removing the word from the movie, though, I'd lean towards the latter, but I hope we're mature enough to see it and think "ugh," and wonder what word we're using now just casually is going to be wildly taboo in 3/4 century.

overlap performance runs>?

Yes, so for one glorious week I can feel like I'm Neil Simon, and the rest of the time I can just feel panicked that I'm splitting my audience.

Not just Pittsburgh. It's all over Pennsylvania, and Maryland, too.

Ooh, good to know!

Or the classic Marx Brothers line in Cocoanuts--do we bleep this?: Groucho (as hotel manager): What would you like? Would you like a suite (pronounced Swede) on the third floor? Chico: No. I'll take a Polack in the basement.

Once you start bleeping, where do you stop?

That's why I lean the way I do.

Actually, wait, no, that was over-simplified. I think there are some pretty clear places where you stop, and we're pretty much clear on where they are.


And on that glorious note, I will leave you for the week! See you back here next Tuesday (I'll otherwise be off that week, doing a combination of frantically typing book stuff and taking a quick break from blogging to take deep breaths and feel the sunshine and et cetera, but you'll be in good hands with Rachel Manteuffel!) keep reading the Compost, and feel free but unobliged to join me on Twitter.

Would using an emery board on fingernails be as objectionable? Is is the clipping sound that rankles?

Everything rankles.

Indelible image of uncouth: supervisor clipping his toenails over a wastebasket. In his office. With the door open.


I'd like to see you turn this chat around. No, seriously. How would that work? Would the words on this page spin around?

We're about to find out!

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