ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jul 29, 2014

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Nothing other than the pleasure of the phrase.....

Orbiting Sex Geckos to you, too!

And a happy Tuesday, also!

Do you think there was any cross-pollination of ideas between PG Wodehouse and Arthur Conan Doyle on the cricket field? I never even thought of them as being contemporaries, forget about being in the same cricket team! In a pinch, who would you rather have in your corner -- Holmes or Jeeves?

(For anyone just tuning in now, the two of them were on the same cricket team, the Authors XI!)

This question reminds me of a chart I made lo these many months ago of Unified Buddy Theory (it might have had a different name) where I tried to argue that all the famous duos in literature and film can be plotted along axes and you can reach all of them by adding or subtracting in one direction -- ie, Spock is Jeeves + stakes.

I think it all goes back to the Logos Eros Thumos horses of the soul theory, as well.

I think in this case I'd say Jeeves because my problems tend to be low-ish in stakes and he makes a mean restorative.

Watched The Reichenbach Fall on Saturday and Star Trek Into Darkness on Sunday and am thanking my lucky stars that Wodehouse never killed off Jeeves or Bertie, because I couldn't take it. If you were going to cast Benedict Cumberbatch as either Jeeves or Bertie... which would you go with? I have an opinion, but I await yours.

Ooh, I want to hear yours!

Getting back to my theory -- I found the chart! -- I think he's so well cast as Sherlock that making him either Jeeves or Bertie would require him to dial back on one axis. Sherlock and Bertie both have a certain naive exuberance to them; Jeeves and Sherlock both have a calculated ultra-competence and a tremendous rote grasp of facts that extends well beyond the average. I think if you can play Sherlock you can play both Jeeves and Bertie. I'd, I think, be curious to see his Bertie.

While searching for early Dorothy Parker theater reviews, I happened upon this Wodehouse article, which addresses the question whether it's more difficult to buttle, or be buttled to:


Also, "Madam" Ha! Didn't know Spode was online.

1. He lusted in his heart - extra credit for effort. 2. He is eradicating the Guinea worm. You become infected when you drink water with fleas infected with guinea worm larvae. Initially there are no symptoms. One year later, you get a burning feeling as a new worm then hatches out of your skin over several weeks.

Well, you make a fair point. There is nothing sexier than eradicating the guinea worm, and I don't know why I didn't see this sooner.

Surely any assessment of Grover Cleveland's sexiness must take into account that he had known his wife Frank pretty much since her birth -- she was born when he was 27 -- and he had apparently decided he was going to marry her when she was still the right age to be a One Direction fan today. ("I'm only waiting for my wife to grow up," he reportedly said.) And yet... historians seem to agree that EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE 19TH CENTURY fell in love with Frank when she became First Lady, so mmmmmmaybe he was just a few years ahead of his time. Also, by all accounts their marriage seems to have been a pretty great one, so I suppose that, as the old folks say, it goes to show you never can tell.

I believe you! I remember what a big deal "Baby Ruth" was. Er, I mean, I don't remember personally.

Someone should do a ranking of first couples!

Someone, but not me, at least not this week, as I am still reeling a little.

Is he a space alien?

Oh, no, you want our "Is My Uncle A Space Alien" etiquette chat, which is Thursdays at 11.

I'm reading a Blanding's novel right now. If I put it down will I get Plum tweets?

That would almost be worth it!

You don't need Jeeves. You ARE Jeeves.

You are very kind to say so, sir.

I was set up with someone EXACTLY like me. We both love antiques, mountain vacations, and we work in the same field. Also we're both straight women.


It's like Gloria Steinem said -- "We are becoming the men we wanted to marry."

Have you picked out a portrait of yourself to be used when you get a Wikipedia article? I've always wanted a portrait as cool as the one on the "Jean-Jacques Lefranc, Marquis de Pompignan" article.

Oh, that is a very swank portrait! He looks so jovial!

I mean, at this point, I'd settle for a Wikipedia page without a portrait on it at all.

And if this happened today, everyone would be going EEEEWWWWWW. How times change.

I agree, definitely, 100%, we can all now look back on that era and shudder.



It is SO MUCH BETTER than the alternative.


But then one would be forced to tackle the problem of where to put the Kennedys. Great couple in public, heaven knows what in private considering what we now know of JFK's philandering.

Yeah, that marriage seems like it was a little overcrowded.

OP here, I think Cumberbatch would be a great Bertie, simply based on every time he's had to pass out or fall over on Sherlock. PS: Have been daydreaming about writing a Pride and Prejudice where Darcy is in the Bertie mold and his valet is Jeeves great-great-something. It's a fun pasttime. So maybe Cumberbatch is my ideal Bertie/Darcy mutant.

"Ideal Bertie/Darcy Mutant" would be a good name for a very specific band whose concerts I'd definitely attend.

There's a cracked pot for every crooked lid. Or something like that.

And some of those pots have chickens in them!

Oh, sorry, wrong expression!

Saw this happen at a college party once. Boy & girl at opposite ends of the room being told about this great girl/boy-who'd-be-perfect-for-you. Boy & girl are siblings.

Wow, way to ruin Return of the Jedi!

Do you think the Twitter bookmark could bring Theodore Dreiser back to life to tweet at me?

I think on reflection I did not adequately consider the appeal of bringing back beloved dead authors to yell at you for not finishing fast enough.

"Jeeves, I have mortally offended the one woman I can even think of marrying, by describing to her how totally unworthy she is of my affection." Nope, can't process that.

Fortunately Lizzie was there to untangle this herself and no Jeevesian intervention was required, or Darcy would probably have wound up surrounded by cats for some reason.

There's not going to spoil the movies, they're going to make tons of Jedi-themed animated Saturday morning cartoons.

...I'd watch those.

Is it sharing or just making others feel bad?

Is there anyone out there who really, genuinely wants to see pictures of his friends' food? Home-cooked food, I can understand. But I feel like there is a time when I want to see pictures of restaurant food, and a time when I want to hear how my friends are doing, and those two desires never quite overlap in such a way that a picture of your artfully plated salad is exactly welcome.

AHEM... who do you think did the background work so that Lady Catherine heard the false engagement rumor?!?

My word! I never should have doubted!

How do you spoil bad movies? The good three are already spoiled by Lucas's silly tinkering, and the others aren't worth watching.

Ah, but George's silly tinkering is powerless against my ultimate weapon: denial.

They could call them something like Clone Wars.

Or even -- and this is crazy, I realize -- Star Wars: Rebels!

Have you seen the debunking of that article about examining restaurant security camera tapes to prove that cell phones are responsible for poor restaurant service?

No! I have no idea how that thesis even got started! Was the idea that all the patrons on cell phones were so happy and distracted that the restaurants no longer felt there was time pressure about getting them food?

I was surprised you were allowed to include Rutherford B. Hayes on your presidents list, since you're writing for one of those newspapers that always referred to him as "Mr. Hayes" (and contrasted him with "President Tilden"). Stilson Hutchins must be rolling in his grave!

Enh, Stilson Hutchins is always rolling in his grave.

Facebook photos of my restaurant meals get more 'likes' than photos of me. But that is probably a personal problem.

Try smearing the food on yourself so they can't choose!

Hmm, I think reports of my Jeevesness have been somewhat exaggerated.

Lady Catherine must be the prototype for the Wodehouse aunts. Lady Constance & Aunt Agatha in particular.

Ooh, I never thought of that!

Christopher Hitchens makes a convincing case that Lady Bracknell is, and since this gets Wilde and Wodehouse into some semblance of the same room, I am inclined to believe him.

Alas, I do not understand the fascination with him. In the Star Trek movie, I found him to be only the fifth most attractive male (he did beat out Simon Pegg).

Well, there is that.

What about Simon Pegg's Friend (I don't know the name of the creature I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm a bad nerd)? How'd he rank?

As opposed to the Stephen King sequel, Carrie's Sister. And the best Theodore Dreiser reference ever is in Horse Feathers when Groucho says to Thelma Todd "You know, this is the first time I've been in a canoe since I saw The American Tragedy."


"Too soon!" You have to love a URL that includes "stopsharingthiscrap"

I think actually that whole URL deserves some sort of ovation. Just look at it.

No, it was that customers were so busy with their phones that they kept the waitstaff waiting and then complained that their food was cold because they had been so busy on their cell phones. I'll look it up for you.

I guess that also makes sense. Serves me right for hoping that the upshot of having phones at the table would be to make us less jerk-y to waiters. Maybe what we need is an app that lets you order food inside the restaurant -- like Seamless, but to stay.

Ha. Wilde probably read "Pride & Prejudice." Either that, or British Aunts are a Thing the way British Public School Horrors are.

That could well be. Sometimes tropes are real! Maybe all these writers had aunts of their own.

So I was at the Billy Joel concert on Saturday and the group in front of me (late 20s I would guess) seemed to be into the show at first. They would initially get excited when the recognized the song he was playing, but then about 1-2 minutes in would all start looking at their phones for Facebook, Twitter, and other updates. Seems like a very expensive way to spend the night checking your phone. I know you say that excessive phone checking is not the disease that many (including me) see it as, but why would one do this? They seemed to like the music but could not manage to spend 4-5 straight minutes to pay attention to an entire song. So strange to me.

Well, I think there are two ways of looking at this (eleven fewer ways than there are of looking at a blackbird) -- one that they were, as you said, distracted and seeking what Facebook was up to instead of embracing what was around them, which they might see as multitasking but which I think you'd correctly see as a bit sad; or, two (this is definitely not how this sentence should be punctuated) that they were actually doing what those food-photographing diners are doing and trying to share what a nice time they were having with their friends. That is to say, that they were using the phone as a way of bringing other people into the room with them as opposed to using it to get out of the room themselves. Whether that's doable is another question, and whether it's annoying is yet a further question, but I don't think it's as bad.

It's Booth Tarkington's 145th birthday today. Hard to believe it's been that long, isn't it?



That line deserves A Place In The Sun. ...sorry, couldn't help it.

*smites you, tips the canoe, flees the scene*

He was much cuter when he was younger. See the otherwise negligible comedy series "Fortysomething," a waste of Hugh Laurie. But he was great, absolutely wonderful, in the mini-series "Parade's End." Even though he is not as cute as he was when he was younger.

I think I'm correct in saying that you can tell everything you need to tell about that series from this picture?

and appearing in Keith Knight's comic strip this week. Keith is amazing, and it's worth looking for (and the previous JJB appearance a few weeks ago).

Oh, I love that comic strip! (Then again, I also love Mark Trail, so my comics judgment is not to be trusted.)

I can't remember the last time I saw a word lose all meaning like that.

"Not you. Everyone else like you" is how I'm trying to get it defined.

Much as I adore the great Stephen Fry (I refer you to the BBC program "50 Not Out" celebrating his 50th birthday), he is limited to Jeeves, whereas Hugh Laurie is versatile enough to play both Jeeves and Bertie.

At the same time, I think they divided the labor just right! Being a good Jeeves is harder than it looks.

Makes me think of Dave Barry, Amy Tang, Stephen King and other motley writers in the band "The Rock Bottom Remainders."


Oh to be a fly on that wall -- actually, not sure why you'd want to be a fly on that wall. You wouldn't understand the speech of anyone around you, and the fact that the man swatting you had written Carrie would be so much less impressive than if you were, say, a person on that wall.

And I'm delighted to tell you that I was talking to another fringer while waiting for the X2 bus, and she had not realized that one person wrote both Miss Emma's and Tragedy Averted. Quote was (approximately), "Oh, no wonder this was my favorite show this year. That was my favorite last year." I agree. Congratulations.

Aw, thanks!

In a word, yes. Although it did give the great Anna Chancellor the chance to be something besides haughty and obnoxious.

In a thousand words:

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Pine, Quinto, Urban, Yelchin, Cho, Cumberbatch, Pegg. Not sure who was Pegg's friend as he played Scotty,--maybe the young Chekov (Yelchin)? Unless you're thinking of Pegg's companion in his trilogy starting with Shaun of the Dead?

No, I meant the space alien! The one who looks like a fungus!

A googlenope no more. Unless there was already a rock band by this name.

You'd hope there would be!

Or we've all missed a great opportunity!

Depending on where the party was being held, this might not be a problem.

What parties are you going to?

I've been looking for weeks but can't find a link to the Dorothy Parker play review I mentioned in my somewhat glitchy July 15 post(s). Maybe you'll have better luck: Vanity Fair, November 1918, review of Oscar Wilde: An Ideal Husband. If not: " . . . it is almost as if they felt they must be continually expressing their appreciation, to show that no epigrams get over their heads, to convince those about them of their cleverness and their impeccable taste in drama." My apologies for "incorrectly describing" the review; it's only been 27 years since I last read it!

Yes, ONLY!

No apologies necessary! Thanks for hunting! That quote is swell!

But "eradicating the guinea worm" is also the least-sexy euphemism ever.

And one that note, I've got to go eradicate the guinea worm, friends.

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


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Alexandra Petri
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