ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Feb 27, 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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Happy Tuesday! Sorry I'm late; I blame my unduly complicated new password!

I want my meals included, but I'm flexible on showers.

I want a resort that includes all the towels and showers imaginable and I can handle the food. Which, come to think of it, is most hotels.

Oh, this is wonderful news! I'm a little disappointed, though, that it's not pink. 

The only size they had was Death Star.

A small moon, but a large space station?

As long as it just vaporizes your apartment and not an entire planet. 

I'm going to smell like Christmas all year long.

Which one is that? Is it the red candle? 

My kids are going to hate jazz. :)

Ah, playing the long game, I see. That, or you will convince them to love chores.

You don't want the luck to run out. I have a lot of lucky cups.

Wait, are these cups stacked or not? 

A February 13th chatter asked about a special word that applies to puns that work in written form but are not as good orally. I missed that chat and forgot to answer this week (funny how when I was working, I never missed a chat; now that I'm retired I always have something else to do). The term is "homographic" pun, which rely more on sight than sound, as opposed to the more typical "homophonic" pun, which rely more on sound. In my mind, both the OP's u/you example and your own pi/pie example were homophonic. A good example of the distinction is the famous "You can tune a guitar, but you can’t tune a fish. Unless you play bass” which we'll attribute to Douglas Adams (unless you'd prefer Mark Twain or Dorothy Parker). The first pun in the sequence is a homophonic pun: tune a fish sounds like "tuna fish" (ha, ha!). It's funny (we'll be charitable) when you say it out loud, but it's more difficult to transcribe on the page, sice you don't know whether to write "tune a" or "tuna." The second pun in the sequence is homographic: bass (meaning the musical instrument) and "bass" (meaning the fish) are spelled the same, so it's funny (again, be charitable) when written. But it doesn't work when spoken, since you pronounce the words differently. There. I've managed to suck all of the fun out of the chat.

No, this is a terrific explanation, thank you! I always wondered why my bass jokes never survived on land! 

with a candle.

I momentarily forgot what the context was for this and for some reason my thoughts went immediately to Lumiere. 

What other Big Evil Thing would you have the Empire working on if you were in charge of the Star Wars universe? They do like their Death Stars, but someone needs to gently suggest another villainous project, because the Death Stars just haven't been working for them.

My first response was "Infrastructure!!!" but then I realized I wasn't certain what the infrastructure needs of the Star Wars universe are, exactly. 

I know! They should work on standardizing data formats. Everyone in the galaxy would benefit. See this Sarah Jeong classic:

Should also appeal to gentlemen, as the logo can be characterized as "bangable."

Oh GoOd.

This has raised an intriguing question: what liquor mascot is the most attractive? I would have said Captain Morgan, but I have not adequately perused all the options. 

I think you underestimate the rest of us.

We don't come here to have fun! We come here to pick jokes apart until we have sucked all the delight from them! At least, that is why I come!

Should I see it? I dislike comic-book movies -- I don't think I'd even heard of Black Panther as a character before this movie -- and I can never follow who's who and what's happening in them. But this seems like a big (and well-liked) cultural thing.

I would recommend it! It's action-packed, beautifully shot, and Michael B. Jordan is phenomenal. As are Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright! Martin Freeman is also there, confusingly, playing an American pilot? which as Nick Wiger joked on twitter "is like casting Burt Reynolds as Henry VIII."

I am the living embodiment of the Hegelian master-slave dialectic.

Good luck in your struggle to the death?

For shame, Alexandra. Bayberry is a New England specialty and you lived in Massachusetts for most of four years. It is the only kind of scented candle that is consistently wonderful. You have to get the real kind, not the ones in a jar with artificial bayberry scent. Bayberries grow on scrubby bushes near the shore - Cape Cod, for example. They have a waxy covering. You boil them, to get the wax off and when it cools you have wax floating on the surface of the water. Then you melt the wax and make hand dipped candles. I used to get them at the Yankee Candle in Burlington, Vermont where they were the only candles in the whole store that came by their scent naturally. Heavenly, but definitely not JUST for Christmas. If that soap is close to a natural bayberry scent, I want some. Where did your "someone" get it, fellow chatter? Oh, I am pretty sure that I learned how to get the bayberry wax from Zoom. When it was originally on. Like Edith and Bernadette time frame. Yes, I am old. But passionate about bayberry candles.

This was a delightful and vivid description, and now I am almost sad that spring is coming next instead of winter, since the thought of settle down with a candle made from a berry that grew on a scrubby bush near the shore sounds warm and thrilling. 

Would that be evil enough? Or evil at all? Seems like something the Rebels might be in favor of, too. Is that the way to bring peace to the galaxy? The Skywalker saga ends with . . . the creation and acceptance of a galaxy-wide standardized data format?

*bangs on a stormtrooper helmet in celebration*

Spuds MacKenzie and the St Pauli Girl.

I thought Spuds was a dog, and Google has proved me right!

This reminds me: what does everyone think of the "Dilly Dilly" commercials? 

It was a fun trip into a 1920s world of ocean liners, prizefights, radio, and whippet races, A lot of the jokes could have been written by you - are you sure you aren't Robert Benchley?

Oh, I'm so glad you liked it! (Also, you are too kind!) 

Was awesome. Not into comic books at all, but the movie was captivating and entertaining. I did not fall asleep in the theater.

That is one thing you and Eric Holder do not have in common!

Maybe you do, but I come to look for a partner. And the snacks, of course.

I have to teach a lesson for a group of 12 perfectly lovely teenagers whom I've never met in person, via Skype. How can I get and keep their attention? Should I have handouts, or slides, or a props or something? I do know I should not wear pj pants, in case I have to stand up for some reason.

My recommendation would be to steer clear of slides and props, maybe a handout if it contains information that's useful, but that is just because I have a wild and groundless antipathy towards slides as a Device for Making Things Fun when in fact all they are is a Device for Making Things Take Longer. Maybe, midway through the presentation, have someone unexpectedly burst into the room with a pizza? 

But I am sure other chatters have thoughts!

If your bass jokes don't survive on land, you probably won't make any. That is a bas relief.....

Bas humbug. 

Our daughter loved Wonder Woman and most of the Star Wars movies. She got freaked out during The Last Jedi in the fight scene toward the end, but other than that was okay. How violent is Black Panther?

Ooh, there's a little blood, and some scenes revolving around the loss of a parent, but the advantage of a powerful heart-shaped herb is that wounds heal pretty quickly. It's mostly typical Marvel-movie violence, but people do get killed in front of you (by villains!), if not super graphically. Anyone else have thoughts? Common Sense media recommends it for 12+ for the following reasons:

operative. Spy as unimposing everyman rather than eye catching daredevil. Which is, I suppose, a more useful way to be a spy if you don't want to get caught. James Bond had no cover at all.

When will the awards be announced? Are you awaiting with baited breath?

Like a cat lying outside a mouse-hole with a mouthful of cheese!

Not until May, so my breath is not more baited than usual! 

The commercials are good, the beer is horrible.

and the people in the know respond "Dilly Dilly". I've had people ask me "What is Dilly Dilly?" The commercials jumped the shark when they started having the big battles. Why didn't the wizard turn everybody into beer?

goes great with Lady Doritos?

I'd go to see that. It's got to be better than Dick van Dyke as Bert in Mary Poppins.

Dilly Dilly seems silly, silly to me. Can't decide if it is parody or homage to Game of Thrones or Monty Python. Back to people on alcohol bottles, what about the Blue Nun? Hot, or not?

I have just googled the Blue Nun, and I think Maria's not an Asset to the Abbey. 

I think they're incredibly stupid and not funny at all. They do not make me want to buy whatever beer is being advertised, which makes it a doubly ineffective ad series if I can't even remember the brand. But I supposed it's aimed at the Bro Culture, and not people who have actually graduated from college and/or lived a few years as an adult.

Alexandra: I would recommend it! It's action-packed, beautifully shot, and Michael B. Jordan is phenomenal. As are Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright! I'm glad you're encouraging the doubtful to go see "Black Panther" despite the hype. But without asking anything away from the rest of the cast, I'm dumbfounded that you didn't give a shout-out to Chadwick Boseman in the title role. Yes, I love me some Michael B. Jordan, too, but I would submit that it takes true acting ability to hold your own against flashier characters like Killmonger.

Oh, absolutely! Full concur! The title character never technically goes without saying, but he especially should not have in this case!

occasionally to mine them for humor. But the rest of us (well, I've not cut the cord yet, so I don't know if streaming messes with this) fast forward through the commercials. I don't think I could give you a goo handle on a single commercial from the Olympics, except that some were related to cars, there seemed to be at least one candy bar and I think that Xfininity tried to convince me they aren't evil Comcast with a slightly more interesting name. That is all I could give you.

This discussion is reminding me of the awful song by George Thorogood "I Drink Alone," because, hey, why not celebrate addiction and isolation! I know, I'm a party pooper, right? My contribution: in my youth, I recall partaking of Yuri brand vodka, which tasted like rubbing alcohol but came in an economy-sized shatterproof plastic bottle. Also: I kind of got a chuckle from Dilly Dilly, but like all successful ad campaigns, it was overused and got old fast

I have spent the last twenty minutes trying to come up with a joke for this. All I've succeeded in doing is confusing myself. According to Wookieepedia, the Trade Federation and later the Separatists broke from the Old Republic because the Republic was corrupt and had high taxes. (Who was corrupt, by the way? Was it the Jedi? Or the civilian governors?) So the Empire came in and won adherents because it provided security -- against the Separatists, I guess? But once the Separatists were defeated in the Clone Wars, who's left to be secure against? Except the rebels. But what are their political goals? They talk about freedom, but I don't see how they are unfree -- except maybe economically, since the Empire seems to want to channel funds to the military? Or is it that their civil liberties are curtailed? Is that why, as Luke says to Ben, "I hate the Empire just like everyone else"? Why are there so many smugglers in the Empire? If the Empire campaigned against taxation, did they reduce the tariffs? Or did they hypocritically keep them in place? What did the New Republic do once they toppled the Empire? Did they neglect infrastructure? Were they trying to create a welfare state, and missed? Is Rey a scavenger because Jakku is poor, or because everybody was impoverished under the Empire, and the New Republic never got around to fixing things? While I like Sarah Jeong's idea of heroic rebel archivists, I am desperate for some heroic economists.

I think the next standalone Star Wars movie we are owed is just one where you go to a space Thanksgiving and listen to the people there argue about politics for two hours, so you can understand finally Why The Empire Is Bad, what the rebels are actually proposing, and also what was happening with the tariffs, if you pick a thanksgiving with your economists. 

Movie clips that illustrate examples of the topics being covered! (I'd link to my famous government ethics Darth Vader clip, but I'm afraid I'll break the chat again.)

Throw in a tracking question here and there and make them multiple choice and have at least one of the possible answers be stupid/evil/indicative that the whole adult world is out to be mean to teenagers. A non-teen oriented and very vague example would be: Why is X not subject to rule Y? a) because Y doesn't apply to corporations of X's type b) because X has applied for and been granted an exemption by regulatory body Z c) because not applying Y to X means that all the adults in the world will get $100 that teenagers will never see.

Too many of them are animals. (I do not wish to be taken home by the Bacardi Bat.) Attractive female mascots include the St. Pauli Girl as well as the Miller High Life Girl in the Moon. I think you are right about Captain Morgan, at least for the male mascots. Unless you are willing to include Duffman.

Oh, the Bacardi Bat! How did we forget this elegant creature? 

Ask them real questions. Do NOT, under any circumstances, let your toddler or cute dog into the room.

It's actually bated breath. Which means "abated" breath, or held breath. Not cheese-flavored. (Huh. Maybe we do come here to pick jokes apart after all.)


But yes, thank you for doing what we came here to do! :)

I find them silly but fun, and the refrain dilly dilly is catchy.

I dunno. I went to college and some, am not a bro, don't drink alcohol, and still find myself chuckling (not a full laugh, mind you, just a chuckle) at the commercials.

When they first started, I hadn't seen the ads yet. Some bro in a bar yelled "dilly dilly" and I said to my friend "I don't know what that is but it sounds stupid." He told me it was from a beer ad and I said "I know what that is now and it sounds stupid." N.B. I have a strong anti-fun bias

The message that I get from the commercials is that if Monty Python decided to brew beer, it would end up tasting like Bud Lite. Can't argue with that. Dilly, dilly.

Two or three times a decade, it manages somehow to come up with an ad campaign that taps into the zeitgeist with something dumb or silly, usually aired repeatedly during sporting events. (I remember the "Yes I Am" ads when I was in college, many years ago.) Dilly Dilly is the latest example.

Thank you for settling this! And by settling this, I mean "offering a range of opinions, not all of which agree!" Which is the next best thing!

I have to scoot unseasonably close to noon today, but please have a fantastic week and see you on Twitter (@petridishes) and the blog (! 

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Alexandra Petri
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