ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Dec 19, 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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Connect on Twitter: @petridishes And catch up with the blog here!

Happy Tuesday, all! 

Will today's chat at least attempt to be spoiler-free? I hope to get to the movies this Friday, and will avoid reading until after that if necessary, but would like to participate in the live version if it's "safe" to do so.

We will at least ATTEMPT it! And if something spoiler-y comes up, I will post and say NEXT POST HAS A SPOILER DO NOT LOOK!

I agree it bears a striking resemblance to Jon Voigt but maybe also Jimmy Swaggart? I wasn't sure which televangelist it reminded me of and, let me tell you, you do not want to google "famous televangelists." <insert Sideshow Bob shudder>

I just did! Nothing leaped out of the screen at me, but I can see Jimmy Swaggart. I think it's because he also approaches Jon Voight. 

Has been absolutely great since Last Jedi came out, particularly the "dear diary" series.

Thank you! I didn't realize how much I missed him. It's been really fun to hop back in the saddle. 

since unmarried James Buchanan was President?

Listen, William Rufus King would have done his best, had he but lived... 

Wasn't able to get tickets opening weekend (didn't try to buy soon enough).... (Indirect way of asking if you liked it, or agreed with Alyssa Rosenberg)

The third viewing is the best! 


I did not disagree with Alyssa for the most part, but when I saw it again, understanding what it was trying to do, it really grew on me a lot. Everything she points out as frustrating is intensely frustrating. But I think the good parts are really, really, incredibly good, and the music is super. Basically, it's like watching a fantastic Star Wars movie with a forty-minute sequence from the prequels inexplicably stuck in the middle, but I still found it a terrific experience. It's worth seeing. Some people are loving it more than anything. 

Was a cigar shaped object from another galaxy. Am I the only one that thinks it looks EXACTLY like the alien ship in Star Trek IV The Voyage Home? Maybe it was here looking for humpback whales.

Only one way to find out! *makes low space-whale noise* *makes another low space-whale noise* 

After all the waiting, and speculation, and anticipation: Was the cast appropriately diverse? Did the level of production give you what you wanted? It's not easy following in those footsteps -- so did you think the live musical Christmas Story was as good as you hoped?


Also, what was that and how did it happen? 

Post-zygote development of a homo sapiens sapiens embryo? Something like that? It is embarrassingly easy to get around science-base and evidence-based. Just call that "something that we actually can prove is true and/or useful." There you go CDC, et al. We on the chat have your back.

That's good to know. What are we going to do about the other verboten words, though? PZDOAHSE doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but -- I just can't conceive (oops, word choice) of why you'd ban "science-based." Seems like needlessly shading your own programs. 

I did go and ask about them. First of all the one in the window seems to be the only set in the store, and they are on a manikin, so likely a small size. Second, the material is low luster like satin, but it is tissue thin, so not actually something you could dress up with pearls and wear out for an evening. And the price. Oh, the price. $465. They are still there if someone out there in chatland wants to know the store so they can go pick them up. I'm sure that some of you were just worried that they would be over $500 last week so didn't request the location.

I was curious what would happen! Wow, that's a lot for tissue-thin pajamas, but to each his own! 

Rey always seems sweaty for me. Poe is tying too hard, it's like "This is the new Han, spend your merchandise dollars on him".

Is this a spoiler? I don't think it's a spoiler, unless you count a character's existence as a a spoiler. 

I really like Finn! I like Poe too, but mostly because he calls everyone "Buddy" and gives his droid belly rubs. I am excited for Rose in the next movie but right now she keeps having to say lines like she is in a Diablo Cody Star Wars film through no fault of her own. 

Does he have an equipment manager? A droid? Or if you want to look good you have to polish it yourself?

I think the same team that is responsible for dragging away recalcitrant officers probably deals with helmet shining? There must be a whole Vader entourage. 

Made for an overlong movie. In the trailer for Marvel's Infinity War it looks to the be the same hero slumgullion.

You're not wrong, but when their bit is so good... Also "Hero slumgullion" is a very evocative phrase! And makes me hungry?

This is what you get with good health care.

"Listen, if everyone in the nation eats a waffle, no one in the pool is taking on a particular risk..."

December is Mystery Fecal Surprise.

Is there a scarab in this chat? 

But I was disappointed that they focussed so much on Kylo Ren and didn't even mention his associate, Kylo Stimpy.

There are lots of articles reporting that "some fans" were disappointed with The Last Jedi. What's your reaction? And did you indeed see it more than once over the weekend?

Yes! I was not one of those fans who was viscerally upset and wants it removed from canon. I was glad I saw it multiple times; it has improved with each viewing. 

I got to the theatre around 5:30 for the 7pm showing on Thursday. We were in the first 20 on line. At 6:55, they announced there would be a slight delay because "they couldn't load the first trailer." It seems they download the movie and were having problems. We left around 10 without the film even starting, with only a refund and free ticket for a future show. This is the first SW movie I did not see on opening day!

Oh my GOSH! That's awful! Was this a big or little theater, or do you not want to say? 

I haven't seen it yet -- anddon'twantanyspoilersplease!thanks -- but I've noticed that critics were much more pleased by it than fans seem to be. Does that surprise you?

Not at all! Critics are not as invested in the rules and specifics of the universe as fans are. (That being said, I think there are also reasons a critic might dislike the movie that have nothing to do with *pushes up glasses on nose* there's no WAY that Character X could do Thing Y, and we don't have NOUNS in our universe!) 

2D or 3D?

Always 2D, if I can possibly help it!

He may have kept a low profile for different reasons, though. Very educational chat. How do you know all that stuff? Thanks!

Listen if there are two weird things I am very informed about, it is James Buchanan's roommate William Rufus King and the life of Benjamin Harrison. 


I understand the criticisms, but I ultimately thought the middle came together into the final theme he was trying to hammer home. Plus Mark Hamill to me was so great in this that it's worth the flaws in the other storylines. But that is obviously just one opinion.

Of course the music was good, they lifted the entire piece from the original Star Wars' tie-fighter sequence. PS: PORG.


Enough about Star Wars. Any travel plans for the holidays?

Yes! Headed over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house! Excited to spend a week drinking martinis and watching alarming local news broadcasts. 

Over Turkey Day, I made a pun my wife actually enjoyed. We were going to The Met after brunch, and my wife commented on a young girl's fancy sparkly dress. "It's the sequins of events," I said. So many years, so many puns--some instantaneous, some elaborate (including one on the Plantagenet Dynasty). Yet I persist, because making a really good pun is like opening up Schrodinger's box and finding that the cat is not only alive, but also tap-dancing. I can imagine James Joyce, after coming up with yet another trilingual pun to be mashed into "Finnegan's Wake," jumping up from his chair to punch the air and crow to the poor, young, transcribing Sam Beckett, "That one was so good I am going to fill the umbrella stand with whiskey and drink it down in one go."


That pun is, indeed, amazing. Drat, someone recently told me about the most triumphant pun he'd ever made, we all agreed that his life afterwards would only be a shadow of itself and he could never hope to top it, and... I forgot it. 

I love the Joyce paraphrase, too. 

I find your lack of a second coat... disturbing.

There's not a lot of job security aboard a Star Destroyer. 

Was that you on the Twitter last week?

Ha, no, but I liked its tweet of Delight At Its Sudden Irrelevance!

I'm from Quebec, we have good health care and we also have poutine as national meal. I think OP should look into developing his theory, the better the health care services, the more sugar or fat is in the national meal....

shouldn't new Star Wars characters have been named Meee, Pha, Zohl, Law, and T?

Hey, you said it, not Mi!

because the CDC must de-fetus!

I've never vaccine such a pun. 

"Porg. . .the OTHER other white meat."

My favorite movie tie-in recipe (ah, the joys of being a Star Wars fan) is this, horrifying and delightful in equal measure.

I kind of assumed that that's part of what was going on in that Meditation Chamber scene in Empire Strikes Back. Darth gets to meditate, his suit goes to the cleaners.

Hoffman in Alexandria. So pretty big. High points of the otherwise spoiled evening: Dinner at Ted's Montana, and I saw a co-worker I hadn't seen in ten years.

Ah, a coworker from ten years ago! That makes up for the rest of the night! 



If you google "Last Jedi Plot Holes" you get 476,000 results. That ain't from critics.

Can we move on from Star Wars? I personally am very excited to see A Wrinkle in Time, but also worried it cannot possibly live up to my expectations. I was a huge fan of Madeline L'Engle's books when I was growing up and felt like the character of Meg was ME. So my anticipation mixed with mild dread must be exactly what Star wars fans feel every time . . .

I am also incredibly excited. I think it is in great hands, but seeing the trailer reminds me how much of the book was physics, and I don't envy anyone the task of translating it onto a screen. But it looks visually stunning. 

martinis? My grandmother's house (at this time of year) had tollhouse cookies, latkes, bagels, lox, lemon squares, etc, but NOT martinis. This is a new concept to me.

In our house, we celebrate Lunch as "Beer and Wine Time." But yours sounds much tastier. We have some lemon squares, sometimes, but martinis always. 

We saw "All The President's Men" in Chevy Chase at the first day matinee (played hookie from work!). Is "The Post" also hookie-worthy?

Ha, I haven't actually seen it yet. Those I know who have say that it's quite enjoyable, though some plot lines didn't get explored enough and others were explored too much, and the John Williams score is great. I hope they were talking about the movie I meant them to be talking about. 


The Last Jedi reminded me of the episode of the Big Bang Theory when Amy "ruins" Raiders of the Lost Ark for Sheldon by pointing out that Indiana Jones had no impact on how the plot turned out. My feeling has always been that, while she's technically right, the plot did have an effect on Indiana and that changed him and how he dealt with things in future episodes. I think the same will be true for the parallel characters in LJ. What did you think of that whole arc?

It frustrated me, mostly because it involved beasts and children, and the planet we visited at best reminded me of the prequels and at worst felt completely out of place in a Star Wars film. Also, there were too many shots of glasses full of liquid shaking on tables. The fact that it didn't work didn't bother me; I kind of liked that. But all the trappings filled me with rage, especially the dialogue. 


I can only hope that by Martini you mean a cocktail made with gin or vodka and tiny bit of dry vermouth, not any of those monstrosities that are now sold as Martinis (sour apple, etc.) but are not. It's not just the shape of the glass.

Oh, gosh no! It is what you describe! 

Your Jar-Jar, your Ewoks, your C-3P0 bitter about his declining screen time.

I would watch this climactic end battle. 

I’ve smoked since I was 13 years old. I started when I was 13 years old ‘cause I stole 2 cigarettes [holds up two fingers] from my older sister and I hid them in a shoebox under my bed with a copy of Cosmopolitan Magazine. And my dad came home from work, and my mom told my dad that she had cleaned under my bed and found a shoebox with two cigarettes and a Cosmopolitan to which prompted my dad to ask, “How does John know how to make a cosmopolitan?”

That is a beautifully constructed joke! John Mulaney is great. 

Anyone there?

Yes, come in!


I have an issue with people touting TLJ as "SoOoOoOoOoO feminist", like in what way? Leia is in a coma for most of the movie, Rey's inexplicably good at everything and doesn't change or struggle at all, Holda is inexplicably mute most of the time and then she sacrifices herself, they kill Phasma and Rose has no purpose and inexplicably falls in love with a guy she met three minutes ago. Like is it too much to ask for women to be fully fleshed out human beings with flaws and struggles and not these benevolent Mother/Strong Women stereotypes?

As someone said, re: Holdo: if your entire plot problem could be solved by one character just giving another character information that they have, you have a problem. If she just said the dang plan, which she clearly has-- But I did think the end was cool. 

My biggest Rey question is why she's a good person. So, we know she was abandoned by her parents and literally just raised herself alone on a junk planet. Who is she? How did this make her become the person she is? Why would she be a good person who is nice instead of a strange, feral child with a power she doesn't know what to do with? I love Kylo but he has this raised by wolves with a power he doesn't quite know how to handle quality that I feel like would make WAY more sense for Rey. 

I liked the ice doggies, though.

My favorite thing about the sea cow was how it insisted on making eye contact!! (credit for noticing this to @meakoopa, on twitter)


A previous Christmas season, an in-law berated me mightily for ordering my martini extra dirty. It's apparently The Wrong Way to Order a Martini, and all martinis must be to his specifications. Like, dude, and we're in the aggressively mediocre chain restaurant you selected, eating reheated appetizers of indeterminate origin and wacky names. I don't think the purity of my cocktail selection matters. Frankly, people who fuss about food and drink choices that don't affect them need to unclench.

"Reheated appetizers of indeterminate origin and wacky names" sounds exactly as appetizing as I'm sure it was. 

In general, people who judge other people's eating habits for not being persnickety ENOUGH can go pound sand. I am sometimes guilty of judging people for being too persnickety, and I feel bad about that, but the reverse really doesn't make sense to me. You're not the one eating it, Dave. 

Just curious.

The plan is to have a little low-key chat on the 26th for anyone else just lying around a house eating leftover turkey!

We're a Manhattan family, but we have cookies too. It's the best of both worlds, I think.

Why not both?

Or getting smashed on martinis...

Hmm, and on that note, have a wonderful holiday!! See you on the 26th, hopefully with martini and roast porg in hand. In the interim, I'm on twitter (@petridishes) and the blog (! 

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Alexandra Petri
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