ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jan 16, 2018

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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 to all, and an apology: I am supposed to be a featured lunch person at noon (just inches from my desk, fortunately) so I will have to scuttle more promptly than usual! I will type extra fast so we can pack as much in as we generally do!!

Robert Benchley published far enough in the past that copyrights are expired. A few of his works are available on The Gutenberg Project ( )


oh I see 

For ridiculous reasons, I've thought about this for a long time. Here is my proposal: the year starts on Winter Solstice, with five (or six in leap year) days of celebration and holiday for everyone. This sweeps up Christmas and Solstice and probably a few other celebrations, and we could call it "Yule." Those who have to work are all paid double wages during that time. All the other months keep their current names, and each is 30 days. Each month has one holiday, either on a Monday or a Friday to make a three-day weekend (seems like Canada does something like this, very civilized). This smooths out the current pattern whereby holidays are clustered in the winter months. I don't think we can "undo" the seven day week, and it's nice to have a rotating pattern where everyone gets a weekend birthday on occasion. Thanks for being someone I can tell this to. I feel better having shared my brilliant idea (although if we can't manage to pass a budget I don't see this ever really happening).

This is amazing and I think you make a terrific case for Yuletide. And three-day weekends sprinkled throughout the year -- what a boon! 

But rarely at the same time.

What about a Louis Vuitton bag full of Air Jordans?

He is a noble gas.

No you argon too far with this one and there will be a radon the chat. 

"I'm not ready to date yet."

that will explain why there are no dates on it

I call it Gnarlington.


this word once meant "cool," right? 

You deserve a free lunch!

Man, on the one hand, yes, I get that it's hilarious, but on the other hand, what on earth, really? I hope Samantha Bee and the Daily Show and Colbert get them instead of actual real news reporters. 

But I do have book thoughts: Will Cuppy, The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody; Jasper Fforde, The Eyre Affair, which you kinda have to read before Lost in a Good Book.

Added to the list!

"When I type extra fast" comes out "wqjhe typel extra fasr"

asl;kdgne biurwen g;l



Lv t th vwls.

"love to the vowels!"


Can't one scuttle off, like under a couch or something? In this scenario I guess I am transforming into an enormous vermin. 

From 1922. It better be good.


I like your units! 

Or scurry?

That too!

It is called "Dream Hoarders." I think that he is spending too much time on income statistics and percentages of low birth weight babies and who goes to trade school instead of 4 year colleges. If your parents have figured out a way to take you or are trying to figure out a way to take you to Hamilton and you are under 18 years old, you are upper middle class. Just being in a school that gets to be part of the Hamilton American History project doesn't count since I think a bunch of them are title one schools, but as a family venture? Yeah. Oh, and NPR said that today is Lin Manuel Miranda's 38th birthday today? What did you accomplish/expect to accomplish by 38?

I like the name "Dream Hoarders" for a very different book, like Inception but for people who keep storing terrible pointless dreams in such a way that their coffee tables are completely swamped and they can never find anything they are looking for, and you have to go through and fumigate and send away the raccoons and haul away piles of their dreams before their family members can inherit the place. 

I cannot believe he is only 38. I don't think 9 years is enough time to become Lin Manuel Miranda. Maybe I should wake up a little earlier and also ALTER EVERYTHING ABOUT MY LIFE FOR THE BETTER. 

I hope by 38 I will get to keep doing this job that I love, produce another book or two, a movie or tv show, and seen the end of the Trump presidency, but I will settle for three out of these five things. 

As a counterpoint to Trump's FAKE NEWS award, I certainly hope someone will stage the Trump Biggest Lie of the Year Award, complete with video footage of (what he claims he never said). Granted, there should be many contenders and as with the Academy Awards, there will be debates about the winner and those overlooked by the academy.

Yes, where's the counter-programming? I want some counter-programming!

has a video ad for the Boeing T-X fighter. If I PROMISE I will not buy any more T-X's, can I get the ads changed to something I might buy, like shoes?


I was just telling a non-DC person about how all ads in DC on the subway and in print are directed at ONE ODDLY SPECIFIC PERSON WITH CONTROL OVER THE DEFENSE BUDGET. I would also like an edition of ads that actually cater to my tastes as a human with no control over the DOD. 

Are you having lunch with Prufrock or someone named Eliot?

It's a pair of ragged Claus. 

What feature are you featuring? Is a double feature involved? I'm hoping you're not being featured on the menu.

I am the main course at a banquet in C-3PO's honor. 

We need a completely revamped method of managing the government's budget. Instead of requiring a positive action by Congress every single year -- which in recent years routinely fails to make a full-year budget on time, much less with time to plan ahead -- we should have a default setting that Congress can tinker with on the edges. Changes have to be slow, except for emergencies, which can be pre-programmed to enact fast. Also, we need to check the thesaurus, because "default" is an unfortunate word choice when talking about budgets.

Ha! Then again, it is fun to pun around with. Default lies not in our stars but in ourselves! Default is our default!


I've often wondered what your usual 'Skedaddle' at the end of a chat is like. Is it wild crazy feet with windmill arms or more of a 'moonwalk' backward with fist pumps or maybe ... Scuttle? Just say you're going to Scuttle this chat early ...

It's more of that thing where you keep your elbows on a plane and gesture back and forth with your arms? Like if you were a background dancer on a TV show in the 1950s. 

As the great Tom Lehrer said, "When Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years."

But you probably didn't grow up listening to Mitch Miller and the gang. Better stick with scuttle, though not on your butt.


At least, Christmas with Mitch, which was a fixture of the family holidays!

You were just dying for someone to ask, weren't you?

I hope he'll become angry and use his magic, or this will be a roast!

At least you don't have to set foot outside in this miserable wintry weather in order to scuttle to the lunch.

I blame all my questionable fitness decisions on the bomb cyclone. 

What if I just stayed indoors forever? Specifically under several blankets on a couch? 

What about plays? We need more of your plays! We laughed ourselves sick at Miss Emma's Matchmaking Agency for Literary Characters!

Oh, I am so glad you enjoyed! I am working on another one! 

Some MRA snowflakes have edited all the scenes with competent women saying things that make sense out of the movie and now it's only 46 minutes long. That seems like a lot, doesn't it? Plus poor Kylo must look pretty silly just talking to himself.


Ha, I *love* that this happened. The footage of Kylo Ren just talking to himself is its own punishment. It's funny that that wasn't where my mind went first -- I thought "oh so the ship just spontaneously splits for no reason?" 

Lv t th vwls. A: Alexandra Petri "love to the vowels!" I think the chatter was going for "Leave out the vowels," no? :-)

Ha, yes, that was the joke I was going for!

Last week my comment was the winner "so far". There was no announcement for the final selection. Bottom line: What are the prizes and do I need to be home when they're delivered?

They will be distributed by President Trump tomorrow. 

Crabs scuttle... I wouldn't call crabs vermin. Besides they're quite tasty.

ALSO WAIT DID EVERYONE SEE THAT LOBSTERS MIGHT FEEL PAIN AND SO SWEDEN HAS DECREED THAT STARTING IN MARCH SWEDES CANNOT BOIL THEM ALIVE? So, Swedish friends of the chat, enjoy your slightly-over-a-month holiday of boiling creatures who may or may not feel pain before the new rule kicks in!

I hope you fly first class because there's not enough room in coach for your elbows.

I knew as I was typing this that some form of this joke would be inevitable, and I am glad that you delivered!

they were showing some SW movies on tv's above the bar. They were open captioned, and whenever R2-D2 would "speak" it showed "[beep bip boop]" or something like that. How come, with their marvelous tech, they couldn't make ALL the droids speak in whatever language they needed to speak?

I don't know, I like that in space everyone has to be multi-lingual. You have to speak a little bit of beep boop boop and also some AAAAAAA AA AAAA AAA or you will drift through the world only slightly understanding what is going on around you. 

the AAAA AA AAA was supposed to be Wookiee, in retrospect I am not sure how clear it is

I'm still waiting to see your plays on the internet, because I love your work but hate leaving the house.

Listen, if there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that no one should ever be asked to leave the house for any reason.

Sweden is OK with cooking them in fondue.

"She died doing what she loved: being enveloped in warm cheese." 

hmm I regret typing this but WE MUST GO QUICKLY AND NOT LOOK BACK 

My son calls shrimp "the cockroaches of the sea". I tell him that when land cockroaches are as tasty as shrimp, I will eat them too. Am I at any risk of having my bluff called here?

Yes! Quick, turn the ship around while you still can!!! Scuttle it if you have to!

Seems like a stunt to pull when you have at least a week or two before a looming government shut down. Not less than 3 days.

Maybe the greatest trick he ever pulled will be making the Fake News Awards itself a fake -- always promised but never actually occurring, like the Yellowstone Caldera or the End of History. 

All the tortured wiggling by Republicans as to what precise word President Trump uttered re Haiti, El Salvador and African nations reminds me of President Clinton's weasel-wording of what the meaning of "is" is. And not in a good way.

the "gross" word

the unmemorable word

what did he say

did he say something

Have you heard the joke about what happens in Scandinavia when a child falls down on the playground and cries? The Danes surround the kid and stuff him with goodies until he stops crying; the Swedes pass a law so that this will never happen again, and the Norwegians tell the kid to get up and quit crying.

Ha, I have not heard this, but I think it has taught me a lot about the difference in policies among these countries!

I assume that this is part of a brilliant plan to create jobs for the people who will now have to chloroform lobsters. And that this demonstrates to you coastal elites why Scandinavia has the kind of people we want emigrating to our shores.

No now you are supposed to either strike them on the head, knocking them out, before you boil them, or strike them on the head, killing them, before you boil them. I think. 

I just want to be the first to let you know that you are definitely going to be late for your noon appointment a few feet away.

Thank you! This is probably true. 

I wonder how many of your chatters would've gotten a major spanking, or their mouths washed out with soap, in childhood if they'd uttered such a word.

I would have had to pay my parents 50 cents apiece!

Last week Gene Wingarten was impressed you were still chatting at 12:30. He said you'll get jaded some day.

I really enjoy the chat!  And it is also a great excuse for not filing anything before noon on Tuesdays...

Sexbots are a sad commentary on society. We should each be having sex with another human -- through the internet, as the gods intended.

This took an unexpected turn!

I have actually never seen this sketch but I am hoping it is worksafe!

Because then what would we do with our Tuesdays?

I mean, probably just wait for Weingarten? 

People like Julia Child have advised this since forever. There's a point on the back of the lobster where you can poke a knife between the shell segments -- kills instantly.

This is a great note to end the chat on! Today I learned how to kill a lobster! 

And you KNOW we'll expect a report on it! But do have fun.

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Alexandra Petri
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