ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jul 22, 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



Howdy, all! Happy Tuesday!

I enjoyed your piece last week re the subjunctive, although you almost lost me with the parenthetical where you called the subjunctive a " verb tense". It reminded me of an intense discussion I had with my fiance' many years ago. Even though she was an English major, she kept referring to subjunctive as a tense, and I kept correcting her. "Tense"; no, "mood". Predictably, the mood did become progressively more tense. I could not actively voice my frustration; I just decided to passively defuse the situation by changing the subject. Had we continued, we might not have celebrated our 30 wedding anniversary last year.

I read this, grew visibly agitated and pale, and my glass fell from my hand. I wasn't holding a glass, so I had to go pick one up and drop it, just to emphasize the point.

I knew the piece was bound to contain at least one grammar mistake that suggested I didn't know about what I was talking, but I had hoped it wouldn't be that one. I'm going to see about an update!

Did you know that some of the websites that are designed for viewing pornography include clicky buttons to "like" the video you're watching on Facebook, or tweet a link to it on Twitter? Some dudes I know never log out of Facebook or Twitter and live in fear of clicking one of those buttons by accident. What is the deal with dudes, anyway?

I really do wonder why those buttons are on those videos. I can see the use of a button to forward it via email, but Liking it seems needlessly dangerous. It's like having a big red nuclear button mixed in with the m&ms. Or a better analogy.

Wait five more years till the 50th.

The news-beast demands constant anniversaries! The news-beast will not be sated!

The toilet seat is going to stay up!

Ah, but which way is the paper going to go over the roll?

The half-horse half-chicken is mentioned by Aristophanes, but it is associated with no myth.

I think it would only be good if you were so hungry you could eat a horse-chicken.


I dawn-rose to the sleep-stealer shriek. Donning bureaucrat-cloak and baseball-helm, I rode electric-wurm to Cubehalla. Burl-secure-guard sang that Eric-chief returned from Dunkenheim with sugar-toroids. Leaping into breaking-room, I pushed aside churl-gatherers, took two, and a horn of Ethiope-mead. In cube-hall I called upon Dell, snore-document-keeper, to conjure me a beast. It was a dragon from Brian-whale-droppings-for-brains.

Ah, Dunkeneim! There have I passed many an Ethiope-mead-halt.

Though lives in my heart the awake-brew of sky-light-speck-male-deer, to be found at the crossing of lane and lane, and the other crossing of thoroughfare and thoroughfare exactly opposite.

(Yours was better!)

Do you think any of the myriad local theaters will pick up "Miss Emma's Matchmaking Agency"?

I think it's a fun show, but obviously I'm biased! I think it could work in high schools even.

Thanks for earlier blog post on moon landing with Facebook. It's interesting the with all the fake moon landing conspiracies out there, the movie Capricorn One dealt with a fake Mars landing and the powers that be trying to kill the crew. It's a good thing 2001: A Space Odyssey is only a movie since having Hal run the Apollo 11 mission would lead to Neil Armstrong being locked out of the lunar capsule and having to bang on the door shouting, "Open the pod bay door, Hal!" over and over. That would make for bad network TV. Also, if the Pink Panther's Inspector Clouseau was real, he would've tripped going down the ladder and thus create the first faceplant on the Moon.

I like that you believe Inspector Clouseau would have made it all the way through take-off and into space without incident!

Alex Trebek is turning 74 today! What are you doing to celebrate?

Being obnoxiously smug about my own correctness, as I always am.

If the Moon landing had been covered on twitter, would there have been a greater response from the Moon Landing Denialists since twitter is not very reliable on covering celebrity deaths?

I think there's a difference between celebrity deaths and Big Ongoing Events. People on Twitter often differ about the Oscars, but never on the grounds that the Oscars are not really happening.

Dunno, sounds like the mood was pretty tense to me.

You've won the chat! We can all go home!

The things a verb can have are: person, number, tense, aspect, mood, and voice. You can remember PNTAMV via the sentence "Petri needs to advocate mayonnaise violence".

Tis in my memory locked!

Rachel did not tell us how to pronounce her own name. Does it sound like a tough ruffle or 'too full', as in pushing back from a buffet?

Toofull! With a "Toof" in it!

It wasn't a grammar mistake, so you can pick that glass back up (or sweep it up, if it was -- not were -- actually glass). Calling something by the wrong name is a lexical error, not a grammatical one.

Oh no! I made a lexical error talking about my lexical error!

Because some of us who were already adults 45 years ago might not be alive five years from now, unfortunately, so this might be our/their last hurrah.

Oh, that's true too. That's more legitimate!

waiting until he's 75. For a proper celebration.

Ah, but we're all alive for this one!

with conspiracy nuts. I was in high school, and a neighbor came over and saw the moon landing replays on our TV and said, "You really believe they're up there, don't you?" It was sort of a defining moment for me, learning how crazy apparently normal people could be.

It is crazy! So many apparently sane individuals who think we actually sent two men there!

(Kidding, obviously.)

My first exposure to it was watching Dharma & Greg. Her parents were big moon truthers, as I recall.

And don't you just (heart) someone who uses "myriad" correctly, i.e., as an adjective, not a noun?!?!?

Of course I [less than 3] him or her!

If you ask me (and I know you would have), the only birthdays that should be celebrated with a party are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80 and then every one after 80. Nobody cares about the others.

Unless you can come up with a really good theme, of course.

Also, drat, I'm in a birthday desert!

Yes, silly people who don't realize we sent three men there.

Collins stayed in the capsule so I wasn't counting him!

Is this a lexical error?

I believe the moon "landings" were faked. Of course, I myself am CGI.

Anything worth having is worth faking! <--- is this a good rule? Somehow I doubt it.

Subscribing to the rule of "fake it 'til you make it" NASA staged five whole moon landings while it struggled behind the scenes.

Apollo 17 was real and landed without a hitch but by then NASA was too wrapped up in a web of deception to share this news with anyone.

My favorite anniversary card ever was sent me by one of my sisters on the occasion of our Petroleum Derivatives anniversary -- 19th, according to the great Sandra Boynton. She filled in all the blanks up to 50. (75 was Chocolate.) Aquatic Pets, Homeopathic Ointments, etc.

That's great!

The full list is here

No, it's a numerical one. We sent three men there, two of whom walked on the moon.

An Alexical error, then.

"..Ah, but we're all alive for this one! " as is he. As is he. so far..


The heck with Alex Trebek. Wee Prince George of Cambridge is one today. Let's hope his future does not include hosting any game shows.

Who Wants To Marry A Prince But Actually For Real This Time?

The funniest part is the people who think the government can have this big secret conspiracy on things (moon landing, 9/11) also thing the government in inept and can't do anything right. Can't have it both ways. Either the government is full of smart capable people or it isn't.

I don't know, I think actually it works out: the government is inept and full of bureaucracy, but the People Behind The Government (Bilderbergs, alien intelligences, petroleum derivatives) have everything well in hand. It's nice and reassuring that way.

I am working on a service that allows people to post 80 character messages. Since that's 4/7 the length of a twitter message, I'm gonna call it "twit."

I'll retwit you!

Not only did he walk on the Moon on a subsequent voyage, he also directed the construction of the Air & Space Museum, which he brought in on budget and ahead of time!

What a champ!

Imagine having to make two trips to the moon before you could walk on the thing. Or maybe he was just taking things slow and doing it the old-fashioned way.

And since they left the moon has receded almost 6 feet. It has of course been receding ever since there have been oceans to push it away, but it seems now to be doing so with a mixture of sadness and scorn.

"It's waning, men!"

I bet the same people who think the moon landings were faked think there are aliens in Area 51. I often wear a hat so my head doesn't explode.

I wonder what the overlap is. I guess it could make sense if you are not a big fan of humans and our achievements -- we'd never make it to the moon! It's all a sinister Masonic conspiracy! But aliens are pure and wise and good and low in carbs and travel here all the time!

I guess.

But you're right. It's good to have a hat.

It's been 50 years since we, the students of Garfield High School in Indiana, were released on an unsuspecting (but not undeserving) world. I'm going back home this weekend for the festivities. We're having a mixer (with all the 1964 grads from the then-active schools, all long since closed and replaced by consolidated schools) on Friday night, a banquet on Saturday night, and a brunch on Sunday morning (the last two will be for us Garfield Purple Eagles only). So wish me well, as I drag my creaking bones and joints in and out of the car.







I hope this is how your victory song goes. The emphasis in the last line is wrong, but it was the best I could do!

I read this as "ret-wit" and am struggling to figure out what kind of wit that is. Other than that soaked in water so that the hull will fall off and yield flax fiber. Sorry, I guess that was obscure and precious.

What better way to celebrate Alex Trebek's 74th?

All together now:

"Hur hur hur" *adjust monocle* "hur hur hur heh heh quite so quite so."

Legendary Brazilian newspaper columnist João Ubaldo Ribeiro died just a week ago. His humorous final column, "O correto uso do papel higiênico" ("The Correct Use of Toilet Paper") was published this past Sunday: The relevant portion, in English, reads: "...I’ve been thinking about the times we live in, and it has occurred to me that soon, by decree of the executive branch or some legislature, we can expect standards to be handed down for public and home bathrooms, to make sure we’re taking into account what’s best not only for us but also for our community and the environment. For example, I imagine the choice of position for the toilet paper roll can be regulated, once a scientific study proves that if the paper is unreeled from the top side there will be an average waste of 3.28%, with the result that more waste will be generated and more trees cut down in order to make more paper. And the correct way to unreel the toilet paper must also have its rules, especially in the case of ladies, as I learned the other day on a TV program..."

Oh, I like his take!

It really is an evergreen debate. I would say that one day the earth will be split into Over-The-Top Hatfields and Under-The-Top McCoys, except that the people with the most vigorous differences about this issue tend to live under the same roofs and be coming up on their Asbestos anniversaries.

Than a mountebank. (I love that word.)


That's a good woody word.

I actually saw Area 51. That is, I went to a place where I would have been able to see Area 51, if it existed. Which it doesn't.

I'm confused!

Just as they want me to be.

Why not have toilet paper dispensed like pop-up facial tissues?

Nowhere near enough toilet paper!

I should have said, "I think we can dispense with that idea."

Dave Barry said this about UFOs in one of his longer pieces, way back when. He said it was conceivable that the government might try to hide its alien discoveries, but then the floor of Congress would be the scene of acrimonious debates over whose district the alien-storage facilities would be built in, etc.

The trick would be to bundle them with the nuclear waste treatment plants.

I'm a professional translator who's celebrating my 47th wedding anniversary this year. So imagine my delight to discover that Foreign Language Aids are the appropriate gift (although I believe every year should be!):

Can you help us with the kennings?

We took a few pounds of rocks and left a few tons of lunar lander. The moon's heavier. It should be moving closer now.

Just because we helped get the moon's rocks off doesn't mean it will necessarily move closer to us.


Reading a book about these women and some of them were way more interesting than the celebrated husbands (some of whom weren't so personally charming).

That's what I hear!

Do you think tattoo chokers are going to come back into style anytime soon?

*shudders uncontrollably, drops another glass*

There's a dentist named Gail Cherry-Peppers. Have you ever thought about finding something good to hyphenate your name into?

Gail's surname sounds delicious! But maybe I'm just hungry.

I guess if I ever meet a Mr. Dishes everything will be over with me. But that seems a little on the nose.

Compare them to the Post. We know now charming the reporters are, but what about the hamsters who run the website?

Shhh don't say that, you'll anger the hamsters!

Dang, I like yours better than ours! Of course, not that Garfield's football team actually got to hear that often. Our worst defeat, at the hands of fellow North Side school Gerstmeyer, was ... gulp ... 63 to 0. Ouch!

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that!

Gerstmeyer had to live with the name Gerstmeyer, though.

Hush now. Nevermind your age, if they hear that attitude, they'll have you in adult diapers in a wink! (It's a all a conspiracy to conserve. Less disposables to dump on the moon.)

That must be it!

So that would make her "Dr. Cherry-Peppers"?

Oh snap!!

She should have stuck with Dr. Peppers.

How do you choke a tattoo?

Well, first, you discover that you're in a book of Ray Bradbury stories, and then -- I don't know what you do.

Once the loneliest man in the universe, he NEVER returned to the moon to walk on the surface. Air and Space Museum: YES!

That makes two Alexical errors, I think.

Gemini Astronaut Scott Carpenter's beautiful, bright, witty ex-wife Rene (pronounced "reen") Carpenter was a wonderful talk-show host on Ch. 9 in DC in the early-to-mid '70s. I wonder what's become of her (I've only heard that she remarried, got out of TV).

Anyone know? Not the person who said Collins went back and walked around. Someone else!

If you are dedicated to the lifelong humor thing, shouldn't you be looking for Mr. JustTryPleaseBeforeWeGetInThisCarAndTheresNoWhereToStop ? (Kidding!)

Well, if I ever met anyone by that name, I'm sure we'd consider it briefly.

If you ever meet someone with the surname "Pup" you could hyphenate your name to Pup-Petri (pronounce it with a long "e" on the end, though).

I'm not changing my pronunciation! Except for the ease and convenience of literally anyone who has ever introduced me on video, pretty much ever!

There was an actress in the '50s named Gale Storm. Besides comedic movies, she had a hit TV sit-com.

Gale Forcewinds never really made it out of radio.

I have collected quite a number of the original "picture" books, and explanatory books for mass audiences, explaining the science of the missions and the deaths back then. (Lots of older people where I live, which makes the second-hand offerings worthy. People cleaning out estates 'dump' a lot.) These books are great! Pre-Tom Wolfe, concentrations on the wives' roles too, the training, and plenty of pictures. I'm not big on celebrating pop culture off-anniversaries, but looking back and noting the important days of space travel is ok with me!

That sounds like a cool collection!

How not to memorize the planets, backwards: Petri Needs Unsweetened Sugar, Jam, Marmalade, Elephant, Viceroy, Moo.

I've already forgotten the other mnemonic, but I think it had something to do with weaponizing mayonnaise.

I hope you create a traveling production company to produce your plays all over the country. A traveling Bard is always a time-honored tradition, and once it takes off, will get you more publicity and income ...and thus the publicity is good for WaPo as you become a bigger name. You can write ComPosts on the road using a tablet and MS Paint.

I've never written anything on a tablet! It's yet another quality Old Testament God and I do not have in common.

Dharma & Greg was always one of my favorite TV shows. An early one where Larry had go on the lam from the FBI (or so he thought) over his 60's arson event at a military draft office made him realize that all his underground hangouts had turned into Starbucks - ALL of them - and that 8-track tapes are now obsolete. Actually, conspiracy buffs could correctly note that since Starbucks IS everywhere, they could track all of your movements ...and Starbucks owns Teavana too,so tea drinkers can't escape them either.


Is Teavana any good? I only heard of it when Starbucks started to offer it. I'm a fairly inveterate coffee nut myself when it comes to my caffiending, but I'm open to suggestion!

it reminds me of The Fufumal (little bunny fufu in edda-type English):

The correct way, of course.

And on that note, I should skedaddle!

Have a grand week, all! Keep reading the Compost and feel free to join me on Twitter -- where I'll probably deluge you with play information, since "Miss Emma's Matchmaking Agency for Literary Characters" has two shows left and "Campsite Rule" is going into previews this week and opening next week!

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Alexandra Petri
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