ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Aug 19, 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!

There were some problems with the hamsters who power our servers (for once, it wasn't that I was late!! (yes that merits two !!'s)) and they just now got fixed! Anyone still in this thing?

I wish to send a message to help one of your advertisers on your site: Dear amazon,com. I do not know how you coded your cookies (or donuts or whatever it is that tracks my purchases), yet you do not need to show me ads on for the exact same book I just bought from you. You do not need to advertise something I already bought. I hope this helos.

I hope it helos too!


Can you make some up?

"Petri, have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet?"
"Why yes, yes I have! And it warmed all my cockles! It made owning a plant look almost appealing."

Enjoyed Sunday's two episodes on WETA. Lord Emsworth didn't have all the good lines. Freddy was big in both. First featured two urchins from London. Second introduced the imposter theme -- with two independent fakers of Portuguese. One was an awkward and unsuitable (as potential husband) priest. So a number of reliable Wodehouse themes were successfully brought into play.

I am really enjoying your weekly "Is Blandings Worth It" updates, or I guess "blandingshments"! I think I will have to tune in!

If a message falls in the forest, will it be retweeted?

Not if it falls in the forest during off-peak hours.

But it might get a favorite or two.

Have you put up your Halloween decorations yet? Time is wasting.


I love Halloween, inordinately! I have some cobwebs in my hallway, but they were put there by real spiders, not hung intentionally by me!

Oh, I have an idea for a chat around that time, if people are interested: we could pretend it wasn't 11 in the morning, gather round a small metaphorical fire with or without marshmallows, and share scary stories from Reddit or other sources.

Can we talk about twitter is all Ferguson and facebook is all cold water and not at all vice versa? Fascinating.

That certainly describes what my feeds look like, but I hear from other people with other algorithms that theirs can differ. But this seems to be the majority experience of people who've spoken up.

It looks like the Browns coach will have to make Manziel the starter since the backup always has to give out the play calls with hand gestures Given Manziel's One Finger Salute last night, he can't be trusted to be doing the play call hand gestures.

Ah, but then he'll have to do the one thing he's worse at than making hand gestures: playing actual football.

True Trek fans already know that today is Gene Roddenberry's birthday ...though alas, he's dead and can't enjoy it with the rest if us fans.

He's a Trek McCoy and I'm a Wars Hatfield, but ever since Abrams the twain have been meeting. Happy birthday, sir!

I see there has been two decade long research at Harvard on ending aging. It sounded interesting until the researcher said something about biting the neck and,,,, Seriously, though it was stated we could live maybe up to 150, We'll, Harvard graduates could. Not sure about the rest of us,

On the bright side, a world full of 150 year-old Harvard graduates would not be a world anyone else would want to spend much time in.

So if someone forwards your column to fb and it flags it as "satire" is it going to start flagging everything from the WaPo as satire? I mean in addition to George Will's columns.

Mine never flags as satire, which explains much of my early troubles with commenters. Also, unlike the Onion, I often write in the first person as myself, and you can never be sure that a person with an obviously wrong opinion isn't just an idiot or troglodyte. If I had a dime for every "I hope he's just trolling us..."

We have a verb for getting your pants taken off ("pantsed") but what about putting them on? Empanted? Empantalooned? De-pantsed? "I empantsed myself." Help me out here?

Can't "pantsed" be one of those words that's it's own antonym, like "cleave"? I think it should be!

Did I ever tell you about the scary giant rat that comes out around Halloween and eats your food and the insulation on your electrical wiring and steals dollars bills for bedding and jewelry because it likes shiny objects and…oh, wait, this is a true story, not a scary fictional one, Never mind.

Mine specifically? Or is this a general rat?

What do you call a hamster with a top hat? Abrahamster Lincoln Why not just blame Honest Abe?

Ho ho ho

What do you call a ham with a top hat?


Caroline Hax's topic chats are called hootenannies, and her chatters are called the 'nuts (for "peanut gallery"). Any ideas of what your chatters should call ourselves?

I'll open this to the floor!

"The floor"?

Whoa, I am unprepared!

Is this Snowden's commanding officer?

Or General Re-Rat, who knew Winston Churchill back in the day!

I hope you're doing illustrations for your book instead of photos, using MS Paint, of course. Photography was around in Charles Dickens' time, but he chose illustrations over printed photos. You should do the same. Phiz would be proud.

I'm not sure what the status is on illustrations. I've drawn one, but so far it's all by itself in a large manuscript.

Or "sanction"? Or "inflammable"?

Yes, those!

What is this "Star Wars" of which you speak. Is it one of those talent com;edition shows?




A new "Star Trek" fan funding campaign has just hit warp speed. The crowdfunding campaign for "Star Trek: Axanar" — a fan-funded "Star Trek" film — has raised more than $200,000, donated through the website …Yahoo News Space-That's where the real money is!

Imagine if we spent this kind of money on real space instead of just fictional space!

You might have to reschedule to appease the advert gods.

Did you see that Gawker story about how Time writers were being ranked by how useful they were to cultivating advertiser relationships, among other criteria, in deciding whether to let them go? I mean, did you see that DUNKIN DONUTS CLASSIC TASTE LOW PRICES story about how NORTHROP GRUMMAN just makes me feel SO SAFE?

You may like Wars better, but you have to admit Gene Roddenberry's Wikipedia profile pic beats the heck out of George Lucas's.


Yeah. It's Han and Jabba.

I like that we could be Petri Dishes. You dish it out, we dish it back and we do so while dishing others.

Here's an option!

I don't know. Search says, "You know those jokes that start “What do you call . . .” and usually end with a groan." So here's a groan. GROAN. Do some moaning, please!


Alexander Hamster

I guess you could also call it that.

What's the name of the narcoleptic general? General Anesthesia.

What's the name of the general who specialized in background noise? General Hubbub

What should we name ourselves as your followers? Dishes? Greaters? Whatever we decide, we need to get leather jackets with the name of the back.


No, that's just today!

I'd definitely go for a leather jacket!

77 brave souls made it through the delay. See, Gene, we will stick by you no matter what,


The Chatterati?

I like that too!

"“Well, I’m thinking about inventing Gentiles.” “Gentiles?” I asked. “What are those?” “You know,” Jesus answered. “Jews who drink.”" New Yorker Chatters who chat while drunk. Chunkers!

I need to catch up, if this is so! Wow, you start early!

If I remember right, the mainstream media got to blow off most of their steam about Gen X by writing about Kurt Cobain's death. You need to nominate some millennial celebrity to be sacrificed for the same purpose.

But this is a problem: if we sacrifice one that people will be genuinely sad about, we all lose. If we sacrifice any of the names that instantly spring to mind, nobody will be quite as sad as the writers of trend pieces would hope.

Has the word "contranym" been sanctioned for this concept?

There's some very complicated joke to be made here about Iran Contranym, but I am several drinks behind you all and don't know what it is.

I've always wanted to be called Xavier.


Wait? Your column is now satire? When did this happen?

It's generally not! But sometimes it is!

I hope that cleared things up!

We should all have a few drinks before the chat and call ourselves petrifried.

Fun fact: I used to draw a really terrible cartoon in high school called "Petrified Wood." The protagonist was a piece of wood who was petrified. There were no jokes, that I can think of.

Given your earlier tweet about calling in the cavalry to fix the web server, maybe we can be The Cavalry or something where we get to dress up in fancy military uniforms with feathered hats and ride in on horses to save you from web servers, mice in the office, or similar.

As long as we still get to put our names on the back!

There's a faculty member in my department who goes by his middle name so that he can be officially addressed as "Professor Xavier." Nickname obviously "Prof X." No evidence of telepathy....SO FAR.


Breezy day. Watching the treeline. Paddled around a bend. One pine fell, cracking other branches as it went down.

Ah, but you were there. It was showing off.

Petri, help me understand this: why do some people stand up as soon as the aircraft gets to the gate but before the jetway is in place. You're not getting off the plane any faster! Sit down!

Some people are go-getters, and we will never understand their mysterious ways.

Fun fact: I've been trying to get onto a sleep schedule that isn't 4 to 11 the wrong way, so I was reading Marcus Aurelius to see what got him out of bed. The answer turned out to be that whenever he was reluctant to get out of bed, he would say to himself "but today I get to do the work which is given to me as a human being." Then he would look at all the ants who were already up and think how much nicer it was to be a human being doing human-being work than an ant doing ant-work, and then it would occur to him how comfortable the bed was, but he would remind himself that he was not put on earth for thoughtless pleasures and --

well, long story short, I would not recommend it as a wake-up technique.

I'm not sure what this had to do with the airport people.

Since you pronounce your name to rhyme with "try", we could be the Triers. We decide who in the public eye is innocent or guilty or whatever we make up about them.

Lars Von could be our second member!

Not only because of Petri dishes, but also because of the old saying, "I don't care what you call me, just don't call me late for dinner."

"Late for dinner!"
Oh, wait, I get it now.

Was Woody afraid to appear in public, make major decisions, or take other bold actions because he was petrified?

Not really? He became a cub scout leader, for some reason, and led a bunch of wood chips on a trip to see nature. A squirrel nested in him for a brief time.

If we all get leather jackets, we should pick a cool name, like the Bombers. Only we would never be let onto an airplane ever again.

Well, who needs those airplane people and go-getters, anyway?

I like that your first thought for solving the problem "I don't want to get out of bed" was "well let's see what Marcus Aurelius had to say about this." I wonder what he would have had to say about Ant-Man, though.

He probably would have said that ant-man's true vulnerability was his ability to form the opinion that people had injured him, and that his real strength was his virtue.

My philosophy is to work hard now, because I'll have plenty of time to rest once I'm dead.


Sorry, something about stoicism brings out the yeller in me.

"In America, we hurry — which is well; but when the day’s work is done, we go on thinking of losses and gains, we plan for the morrow, we even carry our business cares to bed with us…we burn up our energies with these excitements, and either die early or drop into a lean and mean old age at a time of life which they call a man’s prime in Europe…What a robust people, what a nation of thinkers we might be, if we would only lay ourselves on the shelf occasionally and renew our edges!" Loafing Twain There's more to it, it can wait. Easy does it! It is the thing. Do you do it?


In fact, if I get off the shelf at all, I am so pleased with my accomplishment that I don't do anything whatever the whole rest of the day.

Post Its? Postettes? Smart Alexes?

I secretly like all of these and am flattered that we're even coming up with them!


I get up as soon as the plane stops because I'm tired of sitting. Also I enjoy hitting my head against the little console.

Actually, on reflection, I think when I've stood up prematurely it is because I imagine I am demonstrating my good faith and seriousness about getting out to the other people on the plane. "See," my standing says, "I am just as intent on getting off this thing as you are, and I'll grab my bag in an orderly manner the second I hit the aisle!"

At least this is how I imagine it.

My candy brand IDEA! Eat a piece of the sword!

Zounds would also be a good name for a board or card game!

So when I was teaching law, I would tell the students in Torts class that the first and primary rule of Tort law is that people are stupid.

That's a very safe rule.

And the first rule of Torte law is "mmm, torte. Hey, I'm hungry."

Baconaters. A terminator that eats bacon and discusses in this chat.

This is like a better-armed Baconian!

Love this. Both as food product reference and, of course, for Francis Bacon.

Which reminds me, we've been off our bacon-talking game lately!

Bake it so...


The problem, or benefit, Millenials have is, because there are so many choices for music and entertainment on the Internet that there are few, if any, leaders who have captured a large portion of Millenialls to follow.

If anything ever happened to Tina Fey... I know she's not one of us, but--

Petricians. How rich sounding, eh?

*pelts you with crumpets*

May as well be Eggs and Crumpets, with an occasional Bean.

I am regretting introducing the food element to a chat that immediately precedes lunch.

For some reason the Post would like me to buy a Wolf stove. I hope they give me money for this..

Is this a brand of stove (it's probably a brand of stove), a stove that looks like a wolf, or a stove designed for Wolf use?

Zounds were an English anarchist band formed in 1977 from loose jamming sessions around the Reading area. Originally they were part of the cassette culture ...CD culture never took off. A Petrician? Is that a kids doctor?

Ha! No, that's a Pedipetrician

IT'S 11:15.

This came in at 12:42.

Either you are the worst time traveler ever or your watch has stopped.

if you taught a writing course at a college, after signing up for it, we'd officially be petriculated.

I think I need to teach one now, just in order to make that joke.

Can we just call ourselves Stormtroopers? If anyone can get Disney's and Lucas' permissions, you can.

You forgot about Hitler's permission.

Let's not.

It may be raised by wolves.. and not cheaply..

Wolves are known to spoil those they raise.

I think that would be the appropriate name. Or we could be the lawn ornaments on the bacterial lawn in the petri dish.

There's always "Petritus," which, but for the grace of my roommate, is what my column would have been called back in college.

Because everybody pees and the theme today says, try!!!!!!!


Don't know whether it's your site or mine.

That was back when we were having technical difficulties, a lifetime ago!

Actually, I should probably skedaddle soon! How are we determining names? I guess I can do the Owen Glendower thing where I call for you and see if you answer to it!

Petridactyls AlexOnePetrobies AexanDrama Queens (might not go well on male leather jackets)

Petridactyls is adorable-sounding though!

It's bakin or fakin. That's the general sway (supreme rule). There's more to it. No time to stop it. We need more IT people. Sorry hamsters!

I'm confused, I think!

If at first you don't succeed, Petri Petri again. (I don't even know what that means,)

Neither do I! I guess I could come in again!

Any favorite Shakespearean characters you can think of to name us? Hamlet's Angels might egg us on to further greatness. I always liked Macbeth and his ambitious wife, but they faced a bad ending.

Hmm, I was just rereading Much Ado and apparently there's this wife of Leonato's named Innogen or something, who was in one or two editions and some scholars think she's supposed to be a Silent Presence through the whole play, which shows what some scholars know, but could also be hilarious. Uh.

Banquo's Ghost?

What do you call a hippy’s wife? Mississippi.

Ho ho ho


Please, no. Some of us (well, me) don't like bacon. (begs for forgiveness)

Right, I forgot!

Lots of good options! I don't care what I get to call you folks as long as you come!

I like Petrifried Wood. We could pick a cool name, like the Evening Petrified, or the Morning…oops, never mind.

Right, and on that note, have a great week!

Keep reading the Compost, and feel free but unobliged to join me on Twitter!

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Alexandra Petri
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