ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Oct 16, 2018

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! How is your Oh Suddenly It’s Fall treating you?

Years after the death of PG Wodehouse there will soon be the publication of new novel—somehow “authorized” by what one can only assume is the Wodehouse literary estate and his publisher. What do we (the Chatters) think of this? Right ho! Or, Really, sir, I think that Ill advised. (And Wodehouse will be recognized by a memorial in Westminster Abbey, amongst countless other dead British literary lions.)

Aargh, haven’t we already been through this? Did we learn nothing from Jeeves and the Wedding Bells? 

but Wendy's sells hamburgers?

One makes as much sense as the other, I suppose. And Michael’s is a crafts store!

It came out as bread.

Ah yes, the power of inverse operations! 

uh, it isn't october 16th yet, despite the date you have on this.

This statement was true when you wrote it, but now it is false! 

Turned on the heat ... just doesn't seem like it's working ... must be the rain ...

Good blanket weather, though!

could take down Piers Morgan with one hand while feeding baby with the other. Discuss.

Some people exist solely to get other people’s goats and then they live quite comfortably off the resulting milk and cheese and have herds of something that will eat all their old rusty tin cans, and Piers Morgan is one such person. That being said, what he said about Daniel Craig was aggressively idiotic and kind of sad and reminds me of the time Donald Trump *boasted* he’d never changed a diaper. 

As long as he doesn't sell it on his buses. That could get messy...

There is a certain cruel irony in someone so deeply associated with being able to FLY as Peter PAN running a bus line. At least the peanut butter is a non sequitur. 

and John is...nevermind.

It's not like PGW didn't write enough! Another abomination is the "continuation" of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels by someone new. Who on earth thinks they can write like Rex Stout?

Actually, group question: can we think of a single occasion on which this has been a good idea? In my mind the only thing that comes close were the Jeff Shaara Killer Angels sequels, before they became a history franchise, and even they were no The Killer Angels. 

Was it Ray Stevens who sang about playing country & western LPs backward so that your wife came back to you and your dog got well?

Ha! That’s great.

and reminds me of yesterday's column about "girl books" and "boy books." Simone de Beauvoir lives, alas.

That was so disappointing to read! I would suggest that someone write a whole series For Boys where they pull a “Psycho”-style protagonist switch midway through (ideally sans shower stabbings) and the next seven books are all about a female character who is the real protagonist but at that point you’re already invested, but I feel like that simultaneously is giving boys too little credit and might not work. 

As in, I slept through my alarm after turning off the ringer and switching it to NPR. Usually get up after listening to1/2 hour to 1 hour of Morning Edition. Today, it was the lack of sound that caused me to leap out of bed panicking that I was late. I was a few minutes later than usual, but only a few and no one cared in the slightest. I really feel like I need to face consequences or this could become a habit. But I really like sleeping with the windows open for as long as it lasts.

Oh no! I’m glad you are up and at them though! And glad you dodged consequences this time!

Maybe he operates a bus line because he doesn't have enough pixie dust. I know every ride I've taken feels as though it lasts straight on til morning.

I like the idea that the reason the Peter Pan bus doesn’t fly is just because the riders are thinking insufficiently happy thoughts. Way to blame the consumer, PP!

Latest one got a good WaPo review:

Poirot? Her? Cool!

Has anyone read Karim Abdul-Jabbar’s Holmes books, speaking of this?

now your truck can leave you too.

I would definitely download this country song.

It depends on your definition of "this." I think that when a series of novels has been written by a single mind and acknowledged as good, then there haven't been any good sequelae. But there are many instances of serial fiction (e.g. Conan the Barbarian, Nancy Drew) where later episodes are as good or better than the originals. In some media -- where the works are products of collective work, such as plays, comic books, film, and television -- reboots and updates can be better. Maybe it's a function of the collective work.

This is a good answer. I think broadly speaking when the characters are the most important thing you can replace the author without incident, but when the authorial voice is what counts, the replica falls through. Wodehouse characters are so great that I can see why people keep making this mistake but, man, I wish they would not. 

I didn't read the Wedding Bells book but it seems you didn't care for it. I've tried to read some authorized books but have not cared for them but I'm not sure if it's because I know they're not by the originator. Yesterday would have been PGW's birthday had he lived to be 137 years. To commemorate it, I read one of his short stories, "Uncle Fred Flits By". Even after many readings, it's still fun.

What did Tinkerbell get? She's invented something?

Tinker Toys?

Not that the little Belgian couldn't think of a way out of the end of Curtain, but I'd like to know what it was...

Someone tell me about Halloween stuff so I can vicariously enjoy something.

Strangely, this is a year I’m feeling like a topical costume is actually NOT the way to go. I might go as a sign that says “WE DON’T KNOW WHERE 75 PERCENT OF INSECTS WENT” because no matter how you unpack that, it’s a terrifying thought. Are they right behind you? Are they extinct? No good outcomes here!

Peter Pan is hardly to be found in grocery stores. Jif apparently DOMINATES the big peanut butter market; it must get three-quarters of the shelf space. (There are, of course, all those weird organic and artisanal peanut butters and other nut butters that need stirring and taste terrible.) I say this as a disgruntled fan of Skippy reduced fat peanut butter who can't find it on the shelves in any of the stores near me. Let the other peanut butters compete, Jif!

Ever since the great GIF pronunciation wars jif has been fighting for every inch of shelf space it can get. I do wish there were an affordable home peanut butter machine option (maybe there is; I just had this wish and have not googled yet) since the stuff is so great fresh from the grinder machine but goes downhill once you take it home...

I'm about as hopeful and full of dread about the midterms as I was for the 2016 elections.

All I can definitely state from any of the poll results is “yup, it looks like someone took a poll!”

He needs to get his wiring checked out ASAP. Something is backwards.

He came to a fork in his toaster and took it! 

voter registration form. And bring some real ones with me even though it would be too late to register for the midterms except in places that let you register at the polls. Speaking of which, Round House Theater has DC, Maryland and Virginia forms out and available for anyone who needs one in their lobby. How I Learned to Drive just started playing. Very disturbing, but well done.

I liked Laurie R. King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, at least to begin with (I sort of lost interest after the first nine or ten). There's a great sequence in one of the novels where Mary meets Lord Peter Wimsey at a party; she captured him so perfectly (Laurie R. King, I mean; Mary Russell did not engage in any kidnaping) .

I mean, one never knows...

I reluctantly picked up "Thrones, Dominations," the continuation of Dorothy L. Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane series, because I had read that DLS left extensive notes and chunks of dialogue. I was pleasantly surprised to find it indistinguishable from DLS's works. But the next novel by the authorized continuer, Jill Paton Walsh, didn't strike me that way, although it wasn't bad, so I haven't bothered with any more. The authorized "Before Green Gables," however, sucked big-time, and I think L.M. Montgomery must be spinning in her grave at the thought of this travesty being authorized by her descendants.

I guess I’m also curious what even HAPPENS before Green Gables...

The last time I went in the store, I was looking for a sleeping bag, but they didn't have any, and directed me to go to Dick's Sporting Goods. The salesperson seemed glad to have someone to chat with, and I hope she got a new job at DSG.

You could make Jif taste like Skippy if you mixed in a half cup of sugar to the jar. The best PB was Reese's, but I haven't seen a jar of it around here in years, and I don't really want to buy it by the case online.

forks go into the garbage disposal. :(

He says I can be buried, cremated, or cremated and put in a burial plot. I want some more options.

As Woody Allen put it, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying.”

I actually like Jif the best. It's not as sweet as Peter Pan and more peanutty than Skippy.

I think Laurie R. King's series proves Alexandra's point about the value of the auctorial voice. King isn't writing in Doyle's voice, but in her own, using Doyle's characters as well as her own. (IIRC, Mary narrates the tales, not Watson.)

Why does anyone want a sweet peanut butter? I literally cannot understand this.

 Now we have stumbled onto the true controversy! I think it depends on the intended use of the peanut butter. 

Have you ever put peanut butter on bread and then toasted it (as opposed to putting peanut butter on toast)? You have to make sure you toast it for the right amount of time, but it's sinfully good. (I don't know if I invented this or if it's a common thing.)

Yes I have, and it’s so wonderful it feels like a dessert! 

bought nuts and bolts and then went home and fixed the handle of my hand truck so I can actually use it. I am feeling rather proud of myself. It cost a little over $8. I am definitely NOT going to check online to see if I could have purchased a brand new one for less. At least it gave the guy in that department something to do. I certainly didn't know how to find the right pieces. I could put them together once I had them, but finding them was beyond my skill level.

I can’t tell if hardware stores are organized in a way that makes sense once you understand the system, or if they are just cleverly arrayed so that those who work there can alone penetrate their mysteries. 

Yes, Jif is great, and probably the best. But I switched to Skippy for health reasons (too complicated to explain here) and found it to be the best available substitute.

There's eleven years worth of poverty, neglect, and being shunted around various households to occupy a writer, but that's a pretty depressing start.

So a whole Dickens novel, you’re saying.

If you're making PB cookies, you can add the sugar. There's no reason to buy sweetened PB.

What if you are dipping celery in it or pouring it into cups?

Wendy is/was the daughter of the founder of the Wendy's chain of restaurants.


I grew up on those as well as grilled cheese ones. You make the sandwich, butter the outside of both bread slices (which takes some dexterity), and fry it in the cast-iron skillet on both sides til brown. Eating it requires so many paper napkins that you might as well use cloth ones.

I don’t usually think about the trade-off between paper and cloth napkins in terms of absorbency rather than fanciness/foldability, but you raise a good point. If you’re going to need a small forest of paper towels, might as well just use something you can really ruin and then wash. 

I assume you have to use a toaster oven for peanut butter (if you don't want an ungodly mess). That got me longing for bagels, which I haven't eaten for ages. Are bagels an autumn food or something?

Bagels are an always food, I think!

Even less reason for it to be sweet. Ugh.

What are you, a two-year old? You can't manage to stir a jar of peanut butter AND you need it pre-sweetened? Good grief. I think your Skippy/Jif/Peter Pan all taste revolting and, further, that they don't even qualify as food. Peanut butter is made of peanuts. Period. (Salt is permitted in small quantities.) The BEST peanut butter is Teddie brand, but I cannot get it where I live. Sometimes my sister takes pity on my and sends me a few jars. Otherwise I make do with Trader Joe's organic chunky. Which I stir myself. Because I am a grown-up! Harrumph.

The Peanut Butter wars are heating up, just as I feared. 

Tinkerbell had a kids cosmetics line in the 80s. Maybe she still does. It was like lipgloss and peel off nail polish. Right? Did I imagine this?

I don’t know! My only contribution to this is that any nail polish can be peel-off nail polish if you work hard enough at it! 

I discovered recently that my parents took both Jif and Skippy on their road trip because they can't come to a pb agreement. The notion of being unable to stand a couple of sandwiches worth of your unfavorite peanut butter amused me. (Note: I am a Peter Pan fan)

The notion of being unable to stand a couple of sandwiches worth of your unfavorite peanut butter amuses me too! But hey, if it works...

I hope I'm misremembering, but I could swear there were pumpkin spice bagels at the store last month.

Let’s put it this way: I hope you’re misremembering, but I don’t believe you’re misremembering.

Wow. Who knew one could get sanctimonious about peanut butter??

I think/hope it is in good fun with a degree of self-mockery, but anyone who witnessed the toilet roll placement wars or the If People Stand In A Line Facing The Same Way, What Order Is Clockwise wars knew, going in, that this was a possibility. 

I bought a carton of self-opening eggs. I didn't know they had such a thing, until I dropped the carton.

This cracks me up.

-an egg 

It's one of the great privileges of adulthood, not to be told to eat what's put in front of you and shut up about it. When I was a child I vowed that when I was grown up I would never ever clean up my plate, and I've done my best to stick to that. Having both butter and margarine in the house, and two kinds of mustard, and of peanut butter, is bliss.

That does sound like bliss. And on that note, wow, I’m hungry! See you all this time next week! And in the interim, I’ll be on the blog ( and Twitter (@petridishes)! 

You're the only one who's confused about this, Alexandra. Everyone else knows it's left.

These sound like the words of a saboteur! The last time, the chat was 50/50! You don’t know if you’re facing the inside or outside of the clock! 

I take a small jar of Kraft Crunchy with me on my trips to the British Isles because I don't like British peanut butter. It's too dry so I imagine not enough oil.

Last peanut opinion! 

Have a great week!

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Alexandra Petri
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