ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Mar 28, 2017

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Live chat with Alexandra Petri at 11 a.m. ET. Submit questions and comments for her to respond to now.

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Happy Tuesday, all! Hope you are running like a fine-tuned business machine!

(I trust there will be a lot of headlines along those lines in the coming days/weeks/months.) Good reasons for Nunes to cancel this week's intel committee meetings: (1) He's stepping down, (2) ???

(3) profit?

(4) if the meeting were held, the members of the committee might receive information before the White House did, and this we cannot stand! 

The adds for peeps on sale in the store flyers make me sniffle. Or is that the pollen count. Anyway, with all the stuff going on in this town, I was really looking forward to it. If someone had let us know entries were going down, I bet a bunch of new crews would have come out of the woodwork.

I agree! On the bright side, the Community Coming Together To Restore The Peep Contest is exactly the kind of whimsical public domain story that will make a great musical one day. 

or in an Outback Steakhouse?

oh man, this is a good one! I love a Bloomin' Onion and I am not a huge fan of camping but to actually pick the Outback Steakhouse  seems like it would be taking things too far.

Who wants buttered parsnips?

Where did this saying come from? Did someone wildly misremember Loose Lips Sink Ships? Was Ben Franklin off that day?

In your opinion which is more disconcerting ? The side effects of Mr. Trumps hair loss prevention treatment ( which include insomnia, confusion, suicidal thoughts and painful erections ) or the fact that Jon Gosselin has started a career as a male stripper ?

I no longer have room in my soul for any Gosselin or Gosselings related news, so I guess the first one? But honestly nothing disconcerts me any longer. I have not been concerted in months. 

Quote from an article on NYT website: what is Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencranz and Guildenstern Are Dead” but Shakespeare fanfic? They don't seem to have figured out that Paradise Lost is fanfic for the Bible, but it isn't like that kind of cultural catch up is a crisis that has to be solved right now.

No, let's solve it! Everything is fanfiction except uh autobiography, and some of those are fanfiction too.

I'm relieved that the premise of my comment wasn't immediately debunked.


I am so glad to have found this chat ! I use one part egg shells, coffee grinds and banana peels to two parts dry leaves in my compost pile but worms keep turning up in it. Am I doing something incorrectly ? Thanks for the tips !

Ha, I see what you did there. Be careful though, odds are someone reading this chat genuinely knows how to produce a wormless compost heap. 

I do. Butter goes with all root vegetables.

Is it okay to start drinking now as long as we share ?

hydration is important!

(and you're not drinking alone if you are surrounded by people, even if it is 11:15...)

Everyone on the chat needs to go see Pike St. at Woolly Mammoth immediately. It is fantastic. I saw the first preview last night. Not related to the show or the theater in any way. Just, this one is worth seeing.

Ooh, I have been hearing great things about the cast! Tell us more!

so I suspect the poster is joking. Worms are the greatest sign of compost success.

how is compost like Martin Luther's famed defense of his religious beliefs?



i'm sorry 

How do you feel about this color since it is allegedly pitched to your demographic?

I was just discussing this this morning! I don't like it but I can see why it's popular. This is how I feel about a lot of things pitched to my demographic. 

Still, better than Boomer Pink, which locked Millennial Pink in the basement without a job and is inexplicably snide about it. 

I find I am subscribing to more and more (such as Vanity Fair) because they are a reliable source of pushback against the current administration.

I generally only read paper magazines in their pixel form but I love the Week and New York and The New Yorker (I think if I subscribed to it in paper form I would come to hate and resent it as it piled up on my coffee table, but I can bite off manageable chunks online) and a part of me wants to subscribe to Teen Vogue for the very pushback you described. 

How far from the city do we have to live to be excused for not going to see plays and museums and whatnot, but instead spend all our time on social media, playing computer games, and watching TV? ... I mean reading. Yes. We are definitely reading excellent novels. ... Asking for a friend.


unless there is something you would rather be doing like learning to cook or writing a novel and you can never find the time, in which case I can send back whatever portion of guilt would be motivational instead of stultifying 

so once I start eating, I have to stop typing and can't chime in here. Fortunately, I have nothing of interest to say.

Can we discuss that enormous chicken from a couple of weeks ago that was making the social media rounds? That thing was huge!

not sure what there is to say other than "YES THAT WAS A BIG CHICKEN" but want to hear in case there is something 

I have decided that the smell of Washington DC in the spring is the manure that they use to fertilize the beds all over town. Even around the trees. Like enough of the tree roots of a tree that comes out of a gap in the sidewalk can be fertilized in the few feet surrounding the tree. It seems an oddly hopeful activity and a little nanny state'ish. In New York, the sidewalk trees live or die depending on their own grit and kindness of the local dog walkers. No special manure dinner provided.

I thought it was fresh mulch! I am going to cling to that erroneous belief as it makes my life more bearable. 

can cause 95 feces.....

You joke but didn't Martin Luther famously claim he threw his [scheiss] at the devil? (He also claimed the devil started it.)

Stephan Pastis, I have located your muse.

When good puns die they appear in Pearls Before Swine strips, and when they are especially good they appear in color on the weekend. 

She is also the author. She plays about 10 characters. Now that I think about it, only four of them are female, maybe five because you should count one of them twice (different ages and circumstances).

...and it looks like an Easter egg color. So I predict it will go away in about another month.



For watching your waste

this works on every level! Plus 15!


someday on the street someone will come up to me and say "I am a regular chatter and I have come to claim my points" and I will have to go with them to purchase a bitcoin 

Only one reason to subscribe : those little perfume tabs.

Or as I prefer to think of them, a Loud Aroma between you and which only a thin slice of paper stands guard. 

It's pine-bark mulch, and it does stink. And it needs to be eradicated. Just ask the great Adrian Higgins. Mulch is a perpetual income generator for landscaping companies, which pile mulch around trees which kills the trees so the landscaper has to replace them.


Is it better or worse than that bouncy plastic that now appears over all the tree boxes?

Does being in this chat count for this drinking rule?

Does it? *gives you long hard look*  

I saw a bunch of guys putting mulch down today. But a month ago, it was manure. You can tell the difference (if you don't see the bags) by the smell. Mulch just smells like tree bark - kind of damp and woodsy. Manure smells like what it is.

"Like what it is: A wonderful new White House initiative!"

sorry someone had to snag this low-hanging fruit or the tree was going to die 

This may be off topic ( if there is actually a topic ) but what is your opinion of those companies that send you the ingredients for you to cook a meal ? Seems totally beside the point to me because that's what a wife is for, right ?

This chatter is a cannibal. 

A waste is a terrible thing to mind

We are getting in deep with these. 

No need if you see a therapist and get there 10 minutes early.

Really, it's a cost-saving measure!

Do you mean those green plastic things around the tree trunks? They are to keep water in, during droughts, and they are as bad as the mulch because they are overused and incorrectly used. Another perpetual income generator. I'm trying to work the term "recursive" in here, but I don't really know what "recursive" means, so someone needs to help me out.

No, the green plastic bags I understand, I was wondering about the spongy playground foam that coats certain sidewalk trees.

No, that's what a personal chef is for.

Two cannibals! 

Good only if they get you over Fear of Reading a Recipe and Finding Stuff in the Grocery Store. Otherwise a scam.

As someone who (I have admitted this here before) once went to a grocery looking for garlic and had to have it explained to me that the cloves were INSIDE the bulb, I can vouch that these fears are legitimate. But, yeah.

I read the article on the Post Website. Millenniel Pink is NOT "A" colour - it's several sorts of somewhat similar colours. So bah hooey. I vote only for true colours. (And yes there is a "u" in colour - Sir John A MacDonald said so.)

Clearly I am behind on this trend! I hope I'm not too late to make fun of it. 

I will have no trouble filling my time. I will subscribe to the New York Times and the New Yorker and the Atlantic and Harpers and actually READ THEM.

I will subscribe to Readers Digest, not to be confused with worms, who Digest Readers.

Sorry, I wanted to keep the worms involved 

It's called Slime Flux. It's a disease.

expects you to take a job at no salary requiring you to transform the entire US Government into a well-oiled machine while achieving Middle East peace in your spare time, and the only qualification you have for this job is that you are his son-in-law. This might not end well.

This is what happens when someone believes the things you say about yourself in your college application essay. 

OR maybe Donald Trump is setting him one final test before he can truly claim his daughter. Next he will have to assemble a motley crew on a flying ship and bring back the pelt of a magical animal...

I once helped a bewildered tourist who saw a sign saying Use Other Door and went around the side of the building looking for the Other Door.

Ah but you yourself were not that tourist...

It's not fear, it's lack of time. Yes, these services cost more than Doing It Yourself, but like everything else in life, it's all about the cost-benefit ratio.

That too! 

I'm going to stop drinking now because of the cannibals in the chat.

No one who spells it "millenniel" has any business making proclamations about spelling.

Or maybe they're on to something the rest of us have missed! And it does keep the letter A out of the word Millennial, which I'm sure the letter A appreciates.



Why oh why do places lock one side of the double doors? It's always the right-hand door, too, which most people reach for. Why have two doors at all if one of them is always locked? This is way up there on my list of pet peeves.


"Shampoo, rinse, repeat"?

I don't think so. Sir John A. MacDonald was a Canadian politician, who has nothing to say about American English spelling that concerns any American.

Of course: Canada, as we know, has no place in America! 

Did you see this article today ("Spiders could theoretically eat every human on Earth in one year")?

these spiders are showing considerable restraint 

This is an accepted spelling - Amazon advertises a book named The millenniel kingdom of peace: Or A new system of ecclesiastical government by the holy ghost and saints! by Ebenezer Kellogg (Author). I stand by Sir John A - he was Canada's first Prime Minister and instrumental is bringing independence to Canada. That was on July 1, 1867, 150 years ago this summer. Come to Canada this year and help us celebrate our 150th anniversary.

Ebenezer Kellogg!

i would love to name a child Ebenezer but it would instantly become a twee Millennial name and be ruined

Sorry, "twee Millenniel name"

[11] See footnote 11. Also, I would more precisely cite this, but my internet is slow at the moment.

I so want this story to be true. Harry Truman was entertaining some dignitaries and they commented on how green the White House lawn was. He responded it was because the landscapers laid down chicken manure to grow the grass. Some horrified aide rushed to Bess Truman and said you have to get the president to say fertilizer, not manure. Bess sighed and replied do you know how many years it took me to get him to say manure?

Oh, this is ABSOLUTELY too good to check! I will not call manure on this one.

Let's face it. Anyone who defends English spelling has something wrong with them. Have you seen English? It's monstrous! Very monstr-like.

assigned to an RAF base. They spent a lot of time in the alert room. He said he spent most of that time losing at Scrabble because of the spelling differences.

The story goes that Harry Truman was campaigning in an agricultural area. For an impromptu speech, he stood up on a manure spreader. He started off by saying he was more than a little uncomfortable to be speaking on a Republican platform.

It appears we have stumbled on an infinite reservoir of alleged Truman manure jokes!

Are there classes and/or workshops that talk about how to formulate jokes? I feel like mostly the process is that we get an idea that seems funny to us, so we say it, and whether it works on multiple levels is basically beyond our control. And then maybe we edit it if needed, hopefully but not always for the better. What's the secret, humor professional?

All I know on the subject of jokes that work on multiple levels (as, reader emails often inform me, my writing illustrates!) is that there are two famous perfect puns that work on both levels across multiple words and one is the story of a cattle farmer who named his family ranch "Focus" because it was where the sons raise meat. Every word works both ways! I forget the other one. 

That was not Truman, though. It was somebody earlier, and I can't think who.

It was Falsman!

Hey, no fair! Who set the rules?

Or, er, rewls? (I should never have conceded any spelling points; now all is kaos!)

For those who aren't in the know, be in the know now: Bovine scatology.

And don't forget equine scatology, for when bovine won't cut it. 

We need to give Sir John A. a pass here - there's a good chance he was drunk or at least tipsy - for either his assertion re: the "u" or the spelling of milleniel. That was kind of his thing (the drink, that is)

I've heard of dropping H's, but I guess if sufficiently drunk he began to spill vowels all over the place.

and someone in the audience yelled, "Throw her in gear, she's never had a bigger load on!" I still can't remember who the candidate was.

He was one of a small group of American officers who were there to receive the codes to allow the US nukes to be loaded on RAF planes to drop on the Soviet Union.

With a set-up like that, I suppose conceding to their dictionary is the least you could do. 

Even being a fan of the Free Market and Tom's of Maine, could we not stop the very loud, very intrusive ads from autoplaying?

Noisy autoplaying videos are truly the scourge of the Internet. There is no punishment too grotesque for these vile creations. Maybe something recursive to do with worms, just to bring the chat full circle.

And on that note, have a great week, all! Enjoy whatever weather you are experiencing and I will be on Twitter (@petridishes) and the blog ( where we are entering the final March Madness countdown, should you require me!

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Alexandra Petri
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