ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jul 08, 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.

Past ComPost Live Chats

Connect on Twitter: @PostLive | @petridishes

Happy Tuesday, all!

Let's roll!

I am upset at the Facebook ads. Ever since I clicked that I am a Nationals and Redskins fan, Facebook has been showing me ads for anti-depressants.

It's some of that emotional manipulation that Facebook has become famous for lately! 

At least mine isn't telling me about Ivy Singles any longer.

Today is Global Forgiveness Day. I am not sure what my globe does when I am not looking at it, yet if it requires forgiveness, then I forgive it. Unless it uses my credit card at night. Then we need to talk.


As a relative of Warren Harding, I find it distressful that family secrets are about to be released. As it is good to get ahead of the story, let me please comment on some family secrets. First, Warren's advice to a happy marriage is to keep a woman satisfied at least four times a day may be among those released. Believe me, it works. His advice that it is fine to have an affair was not among his best advice. It may have gotten him killed. Also, we are quite convinced that the Tonya side of the family is not at all related to us. I hope that comes out. No comment on his advice about cigars. The nation has already been through that one.

I like that there is a "Tonya side of the family." 

"Oh, a Harding? Of the Warren Hardings or the Tonya Hardings?"

How do you feel about Crumbs closing? it's probably no surprise that a food niche (cupcakes) got stale, so to speak, along with over-exapnsion, too many competitors rushing in, and yeah, a recession to boot. But still, cupcakes, enough said, even if grocery store bakeries make good ones too ...and cheaper. But still even more, Starbucks finds ways to survive and grow even though there are coffee shops on almost every street corner (for real) ...and yeah, many of those are Starbucks.

I have walked past Crumbs many times in my day -- in Union Station and the one near Metro Center. 

I have never gone inside. The cupcakes looked wrong, somehow. 

I think whatever Crumbs was doing wrong had something to do with that. 

One of the principles dropped was "the paper shall observe the decencies that are obligatory upon a private gentleman". I guess that went out with the poop jokes?

Poop jokes are ancient and time-honored! Look at Aristophanes! Or, more recently, you all heard the famous poop joke that Abraham Lincoln used to tell, about pictures of George Washington in outhouses. Are you saying that Abe was no gentleman? Sirrah? *tosses gauntlet at you*

In the penultimate scene, the prince's glass slipper "happens" to break, and guess what, Cinderella "happens" to have another glass slipper, and the glass slipper just "happens" to fit! Wake up, America! It's a trick!

That seems AWFULLY convenient. 

It was an inside job, I think. Faked on a soundstage.

I'm late b/c I had to make a Kleenex run after reading that Taylor Swift WSJ editorial... You should put a trigger warning on that one. (She is working so hard, poor dear, because she is saving up for a garden of her own. The men she dates must have other priorities. Did I get that right?)

Oh man, I know! I started laughing audibly. She's like Candide's philosopher!

Have any salubrity to share?

No, it's I, this time! 

I have a bunch of salubrity but I don't know how to get it to you! 

Ever since I was creeped out by Prince Charles and Diana.

Oh, I was creeped out by Prince Charles and Camilla. 

Still have nightmares. It's on par with the Lewinsky scandal in terms of formative awkwardnesses of my young life. 

I haven't. I think I might have missed an era or an epoch or something.

I think if we were missing something, Crumbs would still be in business. 

They looked, from the window, like glutinous cannonballs. 

I'm sorry, I shouldn't kick them when they're down, but I feel no attachment. 

Why would Cinderella ever wear GLASS slippers? That has to hurt her feet like heck. High heels alone are already a pain. If Prince Charming wants her bad enough, she can wear fuzzy bunny slippers and he won't care.

If Lady Gaga were still in the public eye I'm sure she could answer this question for us, but as it is, I'm not sure! 

I've never worn anything made out of glass, myself.

Did you ever get blamed for something you didn't do and it turned out to be the efforts of a foreign intelligence service? I've never tried the "Cuban spy gambit" excuse, but I think I should now!

Certainly more intriguing than the old "I was hacked" gambit! We'll have to see how it plays out! 

Dibs, though. 

The escalators stretched to the heavens like a tangled highway overpass beanstalk. Also I was being pecked by a Big Chicken.

I forget whether I've told you all this, but I've been having the problem lately where my unconscious mind tries to be helpful and makes things worse. The other day I dreamed that I'd bought soap. When I woke up and discovered I hadn't, it was really disappointing. 

Then again, I also dreamed that I introduced Leonardo DiCaprio to neosporin. He was amazed by it. He kept asking, "And you can buy this ANYwhere?" 

You fear you are made of glass and likely to shatter into pieces. King Charles VI of France refused to allow people to touch him, and wore reinforced clothing.

Oh, man, it's been too long since I thought about the glass delusion!

Not to be confused with the Glass delusion, where you think you're wearing Google Glass and you aren't. 

about the Netflix job. When I was volunteering at the book based interview show on a public radio station, I had a great time reading the books and putting together a list of questions that could be used as the outline of the author interview. I favored science and economics a bit. Occasionally dabbled in an historical novel. (By the way, almost all the novels were historical because you don't want to give away the whole plot and if you can't talk about the history that surrounds the book, you are stuck talking about "process" for 20 minutes out of the 23 minutes the interview has to take up. Blech!) However, the people who actually had that as a job, had to cover the books that none of the volunteers wanted to read. Over a dozen smart people who liked to hang out at a public radio station and were willing to get "paid" in nothing but books and an invite to a party once a year, and the people who got paid had to cover the books that no one else wanted to read. That junior producer position had a pretty high turnover rate.

Wow, I bet! 

It's not the average book that's the problem! It's the outliers! For every book that should not be cast aside lightly, there is another that should not be cast aside lightly because it deserves to be flung with great force. 

To borrow a Parkerism. 

She did, in the original story, which was in French. The slipper was fur, or vair, but it somehow got turned into glass, which is verre, pronounced just like vair. I mean really, dancing in glass?

Oh, "verre" and "vair"! That makes so much more sense now! Vair, I think, is squirrel fur!

I never understood Cinderella. Do all women have completely different shoe sizes?

Her stepsisters must have had truly grotesque feet! 

I just took Cinderella as a cautionary tale for why you should never make permanent body modifications for a job you don't have yet. 

I've had 2 or 3 from them over the years. I found them ok but not great. Not worth the expense. And they were too large and I felt sick after eating each one. I was surprised they lasted as long as they did.

I was so excited when I saw you on CBS Sunday Morning this past week. It's like a friend of mine had made the big time, but in reality you don't know me at all. The power of the chat I guess. Anyway, congrats! Will you be on more? Did they approach you after reading the column or was your appearance already planned?

They liked me after the pun-off, apparently, and said if I wanted to rant about something, I should let them know and they'd consider it! 

You'd be astounded how much hate mail I've gotten, though! I've responded to some of it, but only the ones that were correctly spelled. This seemed like a good rule! 

I hope they'll have me on again. It was really fun to tape!

My phone weather app says there's an "air quality alert." How come there are never "air quantity alerts?" "Breathe deep, everyone. The air's kinda thin today" or "take it easy when inhaling. You don't want too much of the thick air."


Breathe heavily and often!

I was asked to be an unpaid contributor to a newspaper's web site. Recently they called me in to tell me that I had been promoted to an unpaid columnist. I have one question: At what point do you get paid?

92nd day. Assuming you successfully guess the name of the malicious gnome, come to the office not walking and not riding, not clothed and not naked, not hungry and not full, and find the other slipper. 

Wait until you introduce Leo to duct tape and WD-40. I bet many rich and famous people - who aren't already born into the role - forget their common touch and working class roots. Imagine Leo and other stars entering a Walmart for the first time. I don't know if he'd be amazed from the experience or recoil in horror.

I'll tell my subconscious (or is it unconscious? Who handles the dreaming around here? I want to talk to the manager!) to get on it!

If the book was really terrible, we didn't put it on the show at all. After the show, we would go back to the office and review stuff in the slush pile. I regularly rejected most of the books the producer asked me to look at. And these were books that had actually been published and had some publicity behind them. I don't even want to think about the ones in the publishers' slush piles. I did once agree to take a book because of the title and found out later that it was awful. I don't think that author enjoyed his interview at all.

When you put it like that, it IS an average book problem. That makes sense!

Always judge a book by its cover, never by its title, I guess. 

Are you talking about Fess Parker or Dorothy Parker? I pretty sure Fess would have cast aside a bear.

Dorothy, natch! I'm a friend of Dorothy (Parker). 

I just read that JK Rowling has written a Harry Potter update short story about his future - 30's. I would have first guessed it'd cover having a mid life crisis, milking the speaking tour circuits, trying to shelter all his HP movie franchise royalties overseas to avoid taxes, and buying an Aston Martin because he can. Affairs with younger wizards, too.

It turns out it's mainly a commentary on tabloid journalism! My favorite line is "Does Hermione Granger prove that a witch really can have it all? (No – look at her hair.)"

I would gladly read a continuing series about the midlife disappointments of Harry Potter characters. Just putting it out there. 

Besides Global Forgiveness Day, today is also National Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day. I suspect candy manufacturers created this a.s a marketing stunt, but I like milk chocolate with almonds, so no major complaints here

I forgive the milk chocolate with almonds. 

did you finish yours or reread Proust instead?

I read a lot of Wodehouse, which, at the time, I convinced myself counted as "working on my book." Now that I have returned I am realizing that was not the case. Next several weeks are going to be kind of a doozy!

And supposedly in the Egyptian original of that story, the girl lost a fur sandal when a bird carried it off and dropped it in the king's lap. The king was so enchanted by the dainty size of the slipper that he vowed to find its owner. Which is seriously icky in these days of child-molesting.

Also, who goes around the kingdom approaching women and then snarling, "NO! YOUR FEET ARE NOT SMALL ENOUGH!"

Maybe the whole story is just someone with a fetish who is using his authority improperly. 

I thought this phrase referred to Stephen Glass.

He visited a whole office of a brand new company where everyone was LITERALLY made of glass, I hear. 

Rachel said that, like you, she is a "tall blonde." Are we talking 5-9/10ish, or more like 6-0ish? Or has she been reading that book about giraffes?

She's like a more elegant, statuesque me. I'm not particularly statuesque, unless you like your statues of median height and somewhat skittish. 

Dorothy Parker was portrayed in the recent Broadway play "Act One". I recall she stated that there are only two things to do in Philadelphia :drink and see the Liberty Bell, She then added she wasn't into history. So, anyone up for a Dorothy Parker tour of Philadelphia?

Have you ever thought of joining the P.G. Wodehouse Society? Yes, there is such a thing, If you want information, I know a guy who knows a guy.

I AM a member! I haven't been to meetings in a while (I've been procrastinating on going to Wodehouse Society meetings by taking up church) but I get the newsletter every so often. It's an absolute delight. 

I'm planning my visits tonight.

I'm so glad you asked! I was going to have to bring it up inorganically! "Speaking of Speaker Boehner, I have a play opening this weekend!" Miss Emma's Matchmaking Agency for Literary Characters! 

It opens Saturday and runs through the 26th! Here's the link to showtimes and such! 

I saw rehearsal last night and, although I am of course biased, I really think it's a good time! The cast is fabulous. 

I never see those. Have they all skittered out of the museums?

There's one or two discoboli (discoboluses?) answering to that description in most galleries, I think.


I wish there were a vocabulary fairy who went around saying that. That would be a great job. 

Wouldn't you have guessed the Cinderella story would have originated in China, given their history with foot binding?

I was just thinking that. 

I'm afraid to ask but... What was that Google glass thing made out of? Hardened gelatin?

Stephen Glass. 

I imagine there is a bar in Fantasyland where princes gather and exchange complaints about the women they married after having only met them for brief instances before marriage. Similarly, I imagine princesses get together and tell tales about their lazy rich husbands who do nothing all day long.

That bar is located inside a Sondheim musical 

A proper Wodehouse church, I hope, with terrifying bishops, meek curates who nevertheless boxed for their college, canons, prebendaries, and all the rest.

And don't forget the Scripture Knowledge prizes!

I belive I could handle the Netlix job. Where do I apply? It sure beats my previous job. I was a sword swallower, which paid well, but, let's just say there was an inappropriate sneezing fit and I had to retire,



Jeeves is disappointed you haven't been to Wodehouse Society meetings. He hopes you will rectify this and partake in an upcoming gathering. Perhaps you could even provide a lecture at an event. You feel into that one, didn't you (especially if you print this.)

Invitations to give lectures in Wodehouse-adjacent situations always go so well! And prize-givings. Especially prize-givings. 

I was a little disappointed in the TV series "Blandings," although it was very well cast. There were vulgarities uttered that the Master would never have allowed, and Lady Connie was allowed some very un-Connie-like revenge. So Fry & Laurie's Jeeves & Wooster still stands as the acme of Wodehousian adaptation.

I never saw it, actually. I'm still curious! I love the Fry & Laurie J&W. People who are knotted by the stout cord of an ampersand make for good adapters of other people with the same condition.

Get back to work!

Dang it, Spelling Fairy, you always ruin everything!

There was a great Mike Peters cartoon, years ago, where Snow White and Cinderella were comparing notes: "Wait. You mean we're BOTH married to Prince Charming?".

I used to think that was something disgusting that wore polyester and liked to dance. Thank goodness for a classical education.

It sounds like something shiny that you got stuck in your throat and had to remove using the Heimlich. Or whatever the new Heimlich is. 

On the way home, a house fell on me.

"Never wear slippers of any kind" is another lesson you can take from fairy tales. 

I'd go if the meetings were held at the Drones Club.

As long as no one loops back the rings over the swimming pool. And there's a darts tournament. And rolls are thrown! I would totally throw a roll or two. 

Gross! (Grody to the max!!)

Is that what "gross" has secretly meant all this time?

…And then the prince declared, "I must find the woman who fits these Google glasses."

"Incredible! It's EVERY woman!"

I believe the different between Dorothy Parker is Dorothy left us with "Excuse my dust" while Fess left us with "Pardon my dust".

Fess up!

Ruby slippers were only for the movie. They were silver in the book.

No slippers of any kind ever, and that is final!

Glass slippers, ruby slippers - man, the medieval Thom McCann must have been AMAZING.

And just try wearing glass slippers on carpet. 

Without making a pun?

I think I did last week, by accident, the way you can forget to have lunch sometimes, but it was a near thing.

And they weren't slippers, they were just shoes.

No footwear is entirely safe!

I enjoyed it so much, I'm going to read another.

And on that note, I should go turn back into a pumpkin!

Have a great week! Keep reading the Compost! Feel free but unobligated to join me on Twitter!

When in midtown Manhattan I used to always charge my phone at the Starbucks on the mezzanine above the Louis Vuitton purse area at Macy's, but I think they rearranged the furniture there just to make that harder. I heard that Starbucks also wants to get out of the business of being the only public toilets in Manhattan, which makes me wonder what they think their business model is these days.

I'm a big fan of the AT&T store in Chinatown as a charging place. You just have to pretend you're looking at their phones while you plug in yours! If you stand there for a half hour they can get a bit suspicious though.

Story changers: "Nah, I'll go barefoot." Cinderella "I think I'll have an orange instead." Snow White

"What is this? I've never seen one of these things before! They've been outlawed in the kingdom my whole life! And I'm certainly not going to touch it with my finger." Sleeping Beauty

In This Chat
Alexandra Petri
Recent Chats
  • Next: