ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Dec 12, 2017

This is the chat you're looking for! Join us every Tuesday to talk about everything else!

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

Past ComPost Live Chats

Connect on Twitter: @petridishes And catch up with the blog here!

Happy Tuesday! Hope all is well with you! Let's roll!

Remind me: do we have to pull the blankets off our heads every single day for it to count as not giving in?

My vote is you get one free day?

After last weeks chat which included an anti-crumbcatcher post, I looked online for info/pics of the trend. My opinion of the look is not relevant—just wanted to write the following. Strapless wedding dresses have been “in” for, at least, nearly two decades. In that time we’ve seen the big ball gown skirt, the sweetheart neckline, the colored sashes, etc. Designers look for new ways to mix things up. Brides-to-be are influenced to varying degrees by whatever is current/stylish while they are planning the wedding. My mom and dad married in 1968. I am not a big fan of my mom’s dress. When she hauled out the album in 1993 for their 25th, she told me that style of dress was the “in” look back then. One of LBJ’s daughters married in 1966 and that style grew very popular for brides and the maids. Fashion is cyclical—the crumbcatcher will not be around forever. Maybe the crumb catcher

... oh alas! I bet that final sentence would have explained everything we needed to know about the crumbcatcher!


Do you find yourself buying things more freely at this time of year, with the holidays as an excuse? Should we, instead, spend more randomly during the year, and not be hostage to arbitrary dates?

Actually, quite the opposite! In theory this year I committed to the resolution that whenever I saw something and thought "oh, so and so would love that" I would get it and just wait for an occasion like the holidays. At the end of this year, I have... mugs for everyone in my life, and a singing duck for no one in particular, so now I need to shop more? Hmm, maybe I should try the opposite approach. 

Have you really not seen it yet? Do you have colleagues who are going to have to exercise extreme restraint around you for a couple days? Or will they just rub your nose in it?


They are well-behaved, though. 

Alexandra, today is the first day of Hanukkah (for that Alabama lawyer and others). Since DJT made it okay to say "Merry Christmas" is it also permissible to say "Happy Hanukkah"? Help a confused goy out, please.

In this chat, absolutely! In the Pottery Barn Winter Wonderland of the White House? Eh, possibly? But Happy Holidays is right out. 

Crumbcatcher, crumbcatcher, catch me a crumb. Make him not dumb. Crumbcatcher, crumbcatcher, look through your book, and catch me a perfect bum.

I can't tell if we have nowhere to go but down from this comment, or nowhere to go but up. 

This is also, incidentally, how I feel after 2017. 

When are you going?

Thursday night! And then again Friday. At least, that's the plan!

Ooh, maybe themed pajamas are the gift I should be getting everyone this year! Who doesn't want a good pajama? 

It seems like it already has been. Designers love strapless dresses because it makes design and production so much easier -- fitting sleeves and necklines take up an inordinate percentage of the process. See:

I wore a dress with what I have now discovered is a crumbcatcher neckline during college and, frankly, I am quite disappointed at its track record of crumb catching. But that does make sense as a time-saver!

Alas, they did not have the BB-8 onsie in my size. Or, maybe that's a GOOD thing. Also, porg, porg, porg, porg, porg, porg.



I want the flannel pajamas I used to get. All that's available today, even from the usually reliable Vermont Country Store catalogue, are tissue-thin flannel pjs that don't even deserve the name.

What has become of our nation's flannel? It seems like the only flannel worthy of the name has a fleece lining, and that feels like a betrayal too!

Was Alyssa excited/happy/despondent/quizzical/other when she got back from Star Wars yesterday? Or this morning if that is when you saw her. This is most important because I am busy all this weekend and will not see the movie until the 19th at the very earliest. Possibly later.

I haven't seen her yet! How about this: I will post a chat update as soon as I do!

play Dr. Strange?

No, that was Bandersnatch Cummerbund. 

I have a friend from high school who is obsessed with Star Wars and saw Episode VII in theaters VII times. She's planning on seeing the new one 3 times in 48 hours (Thursday night first screening, Friday night with coworkers, Saturday morning with another high school friend who is also obsessed and traveling to visit specifically for the occasion). I think she's tempted to see it VIII times to continue her streak, so this is a strong start. Has anyone else here seen VII/planning on seeing VIII more than 7 or 8 times?

*raises hand sheepishly*

I dropped my phone and it wouldn't work right any more: the time it showed was wrong, and then I noticed the screen was cracked and mostly off. I was anxious about having to get a new phone until I woke up.

This really took me on an emotional journey! So glad your waking phone is unharmed. 

male cousins. I did great getting them actual presents until they hit about 11 or 12. I think the best one was a microbe growing thing where you could take samples around the house and then grow them. He ended up using it for a school science project including taking a sample from his dad's armpit. But once I send the gift cards, I am done, done, done. OK, last year I invited a friend and her family to Zoolights and bought a family pack of ride tickets so that is sort of a present, but I'm not sure we will do that this year. I have to talk to her to find out their schedule. Christmas on a Monday seems to mean that people are expected to be out of town that whole weekend.

Ooh, I went to Zoolights this year! It was very fun but FREEZING! 

Are they in the Appreciate Clothing Giftcards demographic yet, or are they more in favor of food, electronics or moviegoing?

Hey, I coined that name on Lisa de Moraes' online WaPo reader chat!


It is the only true name for this person, and the Post Style Guide accepts no other. 

on the same street as my apartment. They have a set of slinky looking black satin pjs with ivory piping that look incredibly comfortable and nearly elegant enough to dress up with pearls and wear to a party in the window. I'm almost scared to go inside and find out how much they cost.

Do it! We'll support you! 

What is it about those movies that makes you nerdlingers want to see them twice in a row? Are you worried that the box office will be so soft that they won't make another one? The only time I ever did that was with Animal House, which I had to see again because I missed half the jokes from laughing so hard at the other half. The SW movies that I've seen haven't been that funny, mostly. Except that one with the Congressional debate, or whatever it was. That was hilarious!

I think it's a combination of wanting to make sure they know we like them and genuinely liking them. If I see it and like it, I will want to see it again, and if I don't have a ticket, I will be out of luck. If I see it and don't like it, I will want to see it again just to make certain the control conditions were not wrong. 

L.L. Bean flannel nightgowns are great. If you're into gowns. (Not strapless.) I can't speak to their pajamas. (Oh, but the flannel sheets are awesome.)

It's not the first day of Hanukkah. Tonight is the first night, and tomorrow is the first day. Jews change days starting at sundown. But feel free to say Happy Hanukkah to everyone anyway; people started saying Merry Christmas a few weeks ago.

(porg) Excuse me.

I chuckled aloud! (porg) hmm pardon me

You mean, this week?

No, no, in life! Or in theaters, just so we separate tiers of rational behavior! 

Make sure you have the afternoon free.

Honestly this sounds like a delightful afternoon to me. Especially after the film!

Texas GOP rep, Blake Farenthold was photographed sporting this ducky number. Very hard to un-see or forget.

*sadly resets calendar of Days Spent Without That Image Burned Into My Eyeballs to zero* 

How do you think the best known Alabama resident will vote today? You know him as a football star/war hero/ping-pong wizard/shrimp boat captain/Apple tycoon/gardener/runner: Forrest Gump.

Frankly, I'm surprised Forrest didn't run. 

In VII, they referred to Luke as the last Jedi. But does the title to VIII refer to Luke, or can Jedi be plural or singular, like salmon? I seem to remember people saying things like "they are Jedi" but I can't pin down a quote.

Based on the foreign translations, it appears Jedi is plural! Let me see if I can find a link. Aha, here: 

I am an old person who saw Episode IV 17 different times in theaters in 1977. (In my day, we didn't have video players. Also, we rode dinosaurs to the theater.) I took my teenage children to see Episode VII, and they enjoyed it a lot, but when I suggested we go again, they looked at me as if I were dumber than usual. (I went and saw it again myself, but still.)

Tell me more about these dinosaurs you rode to the theater! On a scale from 1 to 80s Haircut, how feathered were they? 

My car fell into a pit in the first block of Connecticut above the bridge. I had to clamber out via handholds on the side of the pit. Really glad to wake up just before I lost my grip.

Oh no, not the Connecticut Bridge Pit! That one is the hardest to climb out of in dreams! Glad you awoke in time. 

Invariably, the (teenage) recipients complain about the size and say they're too small.

and you have no input age. I happened to go with Amazon. I think my parents give them American Express ones, but that is because they still send them by snail mail and I do it electronically. Oddly enough, my parents really love getting movie gift cards. My mom says it makes her feel like I am treating them to a movie and it almost feels like I am there with them. So, after I get over the guilt trip, it is a really easy gift to give.

We're having one next Monday. What fun, useful, under $20 thing can I bring? (Note, Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

I laughed so hard the first time I read that in a chat that I nearly coughed up a lung. I was at work so I had to keep pretty quiet, but it was one of the best, most all encompassing laughs of my life. Thank you.

Another fan! 

"They have a set of slinky looking black satin pjs with ivory piping that look incredibly comfortable and nearly elegant enough to dress up with pearls and wear to a party in the window." Why on earth would you want to go to a "party in the window"? An actual room seems like a better place for a party! Oh wait. It's just bad grammar....

Then again, a fancy party in the window of the shop described would be literally the perfect place to wear those pajamas. 

Roy Moore is arriving at this very moment at his polling place astride a horse named "Sassy", an act which might result in an Emergency Judicial Commitment Hearing in many states. Note: This is man who aspires to be on the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, which could create a conflict of interest. Question: What is the age of the horse? Is it also his friend?

I was about to say, it makes you nostalgic for Caligula, who, seeing Roy Moore and the horse riding towards the polls, would not hesitate to make the horse a senator. 

Shouldn't "a pair of pants" be called "a pair of trouser legs"? And what's the deal with panties?

And if a dog wore pants, would they cover two legs or all four??

Once, I bought my wife a set of 8 nail polishes, opened it up, and wrapped each individually as a present per night. On the third night, I got a withering look. The fourth is when I got the Chanukah punch. On the fifth, I gave her the rest AND got different things for the last three nights.

Hmm, this sounds like a great plan in theory. I wonder what went wrong. 

I always bought my flannel sheets at Land's End, until last year, when I saw a raft of grumbling on line about how the quality had suddenly deteriorated, so I went to, and got some nice thick ones. But no nightgowns for me, thanks. I want ski pajamas, with those stretchy cuffs, so the legs don't ride up or the sleeves fall back as I read in bed at night.

A "raft of grumbling" is a great unit of grumbling. What happened to flannel, though? Are we overfishing the wild flannel? Should we switch to down for a few years to let it repopulate and lick its wounds? Is the flannel a fish or a land mammal in this analogy? 

On the plus side, that means that one only had to see Episode I only I time. Sadly, there was no shock death of Jar Jar Binks, so you are destined to see him five more times.

And I'll be at the 7pm show Thursday. I HATE having high expectations for ANYTHING. And I may cry when Leia shows up on screen.

Oh, 100%. To everything you have just said!

I've noticed that Yoda, Chewbacca, and some others never seem to age. I wonder if they grow old differently on their worlds.

Yeah, Yoda's 900 years old but he still looks like a million bucks -- all green and wrinkled! 

Hey, I'll be here all week!

I like seeing a movie that I love twice. First of all, it's something that you loved. Why not experience that again? And a second viewing is in some ways a richer experience, because you pick up things you didn't catch the first time. (P.S. I just saw Lady Bird for the second time.)

I am 49 and saw the original Star Wars in the theater, and it was a wondrous experience. As far as I'm concerned there are three Star Wars movies, and the rest is dreck. I did go to see the first "prequel," and that was enough to keep me away from the excessive followups. I really, really, really don't understand what the rest of you see in these terrible movies!!!

I see the same thing in the prequels you do, but... look, I hear this next one is going to be different! I read that a man in Chicago who hates everything liked it! 

I can confirmed that the Last Jedi was translated in French as Les derniers Jedi with s, which means that jedi are plurals. So Luke is not the only one remaining Jedi according to the French people (but in the age of Trump can we trust foreigners talking a very weird language?)


For some of the middle Star Wars movies recruiters would set up tables and try to recruit Visual Basic programmers from the line of people waiting to get in.

Wow, I love that. They clearly knew their demographic. 

OP here: I was feeling disgusted with what I deemed to be a rather snotty interview that Benedict (then in his first season of "Sherlock," so not yet a household name, and not an easy one to remember) had granted the press, and wanted to comment on it to the Divine Ms. de Moraes. At the same time, I was on deadline writing a critique of a contemporary short story that in one section invoked Lewis Carroll's masterpieces. In my fatigued state, I conflated "Benedict Cumberbatch" and the "Frumious Bandersnatch" and voilà! Bandersnatch Cummerbund was coined in my fevered brain.

Honored that this chat is the receptacle of the Bandersnatch Cummerbund oral (er, textual?) history! 

I think another chat suggested a travel clothes steamer. It may even have been this one. It's a good one!

That is ingenious! I keep recommending the new Odyssey translation, but that's less a White Elephant than just a good generic gift for elephants and humans. 

and please stop referring to any writing that is slightly unclear as "grammar." Spelling is not grammar. Punctuation is not grammar. Choosing a slightly wrong or even hilariously wrong word is a semantic or lexical, not a grammatical error. The "party in the window" bit is a prepositional phrase that could have been better placed.

OK then, what should we call a pair of scissors?

I'm sure this has been mined before many times, but is one of the two hinged cut-y bits in a pair of scissors a scissor? Or does it not break down like that?

Same thing that happened to textiles worldwide. You never used to have to worry about wearing a lace-covered bra with a shell (what we used to call those inside-a-suit-jacket tops that had jewel necklines and no sleeves) because the lace pattern would not show through. All tops seem to be see-through now.

I'm all in on seeing something twice or 3 times. But beyond that its a stretch -at least more repeat viewings over a short time period.

That's fair. The returns do diminish. But I think there's a strong case for second viewings, as the previous poster said. Especially for films you really like. 

Pulp Fiction has to be the best for that. You see two really bad dudes (the killers) walk into the bar wearing really goofy t-shirts (one was the UCSC Banana Slug), but it doesn't register until you see it the second time and understand why.

This is why you have to watch Robert Altman movies half a dozen times, or watch them at home with subtitles on and the Pause button at the ready. There's always so much going on in the background that's essential to the story. Go see "Gosford Park" if you don't believe me.

I can confirm! I have only seen Gosford Park once, and as a consequence, I have no idea what happened in Gosford Park. 

I feel like that cartoon of the convention of people who didn't like "Dances With WOlves," where two or three people are in a huge hall. I second this: As far as I'm concerned there are three Star Wars movies, and the rest is dreck. I did go to see the first "prequel," and that was enough to keep me away from the excessive followups.

Every year, the tales of gift-giving woes gives me reassurance that my life of a lonesome hermit was the right way to go.

The trouble with gift-giving is that it takes a lot of effort to do it right enough to be noticeable, but is very easy to do so bad that it becomes obviously problematic. Give someone a nice sweater and it goes unremarked. Give someone a can of tuna because you panicked and the stores were closed, and suddenly you're That Guy Who Gives Cans of Tuna As Christmas Gifts. 

...I'm in the endless cycle of grading finals (and wondering if my students really learned *anything* during the semester). You'all need to do better than flannel jammies and Star Wars to get me through this....please, before I throw them all down the stairs and see where they land....

Oh no! 

Hmm, those would not be graded on a curve, but it would be a stepwise function. 

(What subject? I bet we can do better than that if we know your field!)

Isn't it clear from "Return of the Jedi" that "Jedi" can be plural? Why is this suddenly an issue now?

Because when people heard "last" they thought it might have become singular! The question was not, could it be plural, but, in this case, was there only one left! Sorry that was unclear!

My SO used to read LotR Hobbit to finish Once Every Year.

That is a huge commitment! Then again, I had a friend who liked to marathon re-read all the Harry Potters before new releases...

Maybe Luke went to that island/ocean planet because he was sick of the gift-giving drama.

Gifts cost an arm and a leg, and he only has one arm left! 

So the singular would be "Jedus"? Somehow, that sounds vaguely not G-rated.

No, no, it's like -- shrimp. 

I don't know how it breaks down, but in the first episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry keeps trying to find "a scissor," which I found endlessly funny. It's how I've referred to them ever since.

At the rate that people are coming off his list, this may not be a problem for him much longer...


Nice - you reminded me of that joke about "...but you *&%$ one goat, and forever..."

Hahahahaha, stepwise, that's a good one, well done! You get an "A!" (BTW, my field is Teacher Education. Math would have fit your answer better, but thank the universe it's not that...!)

Remember Edward Scissorhands (NOT Scissorshands).

I saw Star Trek: The Motion Picture twice in the theater and two more times when it hit the cheaper theaters. That amazing scene with V'ger opens the movie, then they spend what seemed like an hour with a slow motion view of the ship.

It is the SLOWEST POSSIBLE! You could fast-forward it and it would still take half an hour, I think. 

is both singular and plural, just a deer is both singular and plural. Every decent nerd knows this. FYI, I have only seen the original SW episodes, and cannot make myself see the others.

I don't remember. Do we usually exchange presents on Life Day? Or just do Bea Arthur impressions?

To be safe, do both!

And on that note, I am off to wait for various sorts of things with bated breath! Have a great week, a Merry Star War (for those who observe it), a Happy Hanukkah, and a joyous election. See you on the blog ( and twitter (@petridishes)! 

In This Chat
Alexandra Petri
Recent Chats
  • Next: