ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Nov 06, 2018

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Happy Tuesday, all! How are you holding up? 

This from CNN: Now, a new paper by researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics raises the possibility that the elongated dark-red object, which is 10 times as long as it is wide and traveling at speeds of 196,000 mph, might have an "artificial origin." Did not one else watch Star Trek Voyage Home (aka Spock Joins Greenpeace)? I tell you it's talking to the humpback whales.

George and Gracie! Well, I can’t wait for a visit from the Enterprise crew in various clever disguises!

Francis, the slacker middle child/adult asks Momma to invite his new girlfriend, Rosalind Quimm, to dinner. How did this make its way past the censors!?

Oh my gosh, well, A, I can’t believe Momma still exists! B, I guess if it’s good enough for Loki, it’s fit to print? 

Here in Australia Halloween isn't much of a thing for most people, and we don't do Thanksgiving at all, so when it comes to holiday-themed goods and seasonal creep in the supermarket it's just Christmas and Easter. <P>The first explicitly Christmassy foods start appearing in September. <P>Hot cross buns have been known to appear by New Year's, though Easter eggs generally don't appear till somewhat later. The major supermarket chains often continue to make and sell their own hot cross buns for a week or two after Easter. Which is fine with me because I really like hot cross buns.

I want to learn more about the holiday significance of hot cross buns! I only know them from the nursery rhyme, which I am now trying to remember but all that is coming out is “Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! See how they run! See how they run! Sonnez les matines! Ding dang dong!” which seems... incorrect. 

I'm awfully cozy.


I've discovered that a few days ago, my brother accidentally swallowed one of his dog's pills. And then called <i>poison control</i> because he thought he was going to die or something (the dog weighs like ten pounds). <p> I fear I will have to turn in my Bratty Little Sister tiara-and-sash if I let this pass unrecognized. I need to find a way to tease him unmercifully (for those big brothers out there who are thinking "It gets better," sorry to disappoint you. We're all in our fifties). But I'm just at a loss for words (and memes). Help! What can I post on his Facebook page?

Oh boy I have so many questions! My first question is why he thought that a pill that was safe for his ten-pound dog would POISON him. Was this just a scenario where you know something doesn’t merit calling 911 and, given this constraint, panic? I feel like your strongest tease is something along the lines of “wait, did you think you were poisoning your dog?” but I am open to chat suggestions. Is there a gif of dogs covering That Girl Is Poison?

I was rather delighted to find that there was already a line when I went to vote at 7:10 am. Also, I enjoyed talking to my one-year-old about why voting is important. He enjoyed the blinking lights and helping mommy with the vote button.

Yay! Also, it’s so nice any time an ostensibly adult activity results in your being given a sticker.

"A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins, marked with a cross on the top, and traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the British Isles, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and some parts of the Americas. The cake marks the end of Lent and different parts of the hot cross bun have a certain meaning, including the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm him at his burial. They are now available all year round in some places. Hot cross buns may go on sale in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand as early as New Year's Day or after Christmas." LINK:

Wow! I’ve learned something today! 

I like the part about the spices. They really went there!

I'm going to try the next most obvious possible text code that will somehow automatically and not manually create a new paragraph. <!_new_paragraph_!/beep_boop_blorp_blop/_fuzzy_wuzzy_was_a_woman?!> Did it work?

just as intended!

Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns!/ One a penny, two a penny. Hot cross buns! // If you have no daughters, give them to your sons!/ One a penny, two a penny. Hot cross buns! <P> So, they are BOGO. And boys only get them if they have no sisters.

That is much better than my nursery fusion song! 

Actually, this opens a question: what songs always fuse together in your mind? There are some songs whose bridges inevitably lead me into other different songs, in spite of my best efforts. 

Just saying.

Given the celerity with which Halloween gave way to a Christmas, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Yesterday I was at Starbucks visiting with a friend. A group of elderly men sat at the table next to us for most of the time we were there. As they left, one of the men passed me a napkin that said Save the Pandas. Vote Democratic. Huh? He said, "I know you love pandas." Am I missing something? Do only Democrats like Pandas? Or is it because only Democrats want to save the environment where Pandas live?

For me, the question is: how did he know you loved pandas? That seems like a risky thing to just assume!

When my younger son was maybe a year old, I found one of those silica gel packets (the ones that say DO NOT EAT) in his mouth. Poison Control said they're not harmful. But - DO NO EAT SLUGS!

Oh gosh, that slug story is so awful. 

I cant believe the silica gel’s bark is so much worse than its bite! Did they say it was deadly once it escaped the packet but not before? Or just that reports of its ferocity had been greatly exaggerated?

They are associated with Easter, because of the Cross. (GET IT?) In my house we have swirled pecan rolls instead. Slurp.

Mm, pecan rolls! Because of the uh because he ROLLED away the stone!


Just another boring Tuesday, right? No need to stay up late and watch the news. If anything interesting happens it'll be in the morning paper.

Seems right. 

Thank goodness it was just symbolic, because I can't imagine anything nastier tasting than myrrh and frankincense hot cross buns.

I'm making an Advent Calendar for the first time. What should be underneath each of the flaps?

Is there a theme aside from Getting Ready For Christmas? Is this calendar for a specific person? Are you thinking more along the lines of adult gifts (tiny alcohol bottles, say) or Inspiring Images or Goofy Trinkets? 

I got on a line that was already about 40 people long. When I left, there were at least that many people waiting to vote. It's a new neighborhood so I don't know if this is normal but at least one other person on line said "this is my normal time and I usually just go right in and vote."

I’m enjoying all these anecdotes about how packed the polls are, though I recognize that they are but anecdotes!  

Doesn't everybody?

Pandas are polarizing! They are something that most people are assumed to love — I would include it on the list of what comic Chris Finnegan calls “public domain personality traits,” like being afraid of clowns or hating the word “moist.” But the people who hate them are NONZERO and they hate them with a passion! They’re morons who can’t reproduce without serious assistance, although Tucker Carlson did do a segment fairly recently where he quoted some new science to say that in fact they were virile love machines, and I will have to do some research before I can say definitively. 

what am I missing about today's comic? Not too funny, but don't see anything censor-worthy.

Just the name “Quimm”!


At least it didn’t change them to trick-or-theatres.

It's out of season, but the best example in my life is "Wonderful Town" mashed up with the Gloucestershire Wassail. "Wassail, wassail, all over the town/ The Bronx it is up and the Battery's down./ The people, they ride in a hole in the ground;/ New York, New York, a hell of a town." (Conversely, although it happens less often, "New York, New York, a hell of a town/ Our toast is white and our ale is brown." And so on.)

Oooh, that’s great!! That is a perfect example!

No, because they wanted to pecan see if he was still in there.

The long  delay on my end was the sound of someone trying to come up with a cerements pun and failing!

I think another reason is that pecan rolls, too, are so good that they will surely disappear after three days.  

A piece of chocolate. I mean, duh!

Behind each flap would be a pin, a tick, silica gel, ...

Coal on Christmas would actually be the big welcome payoff! 

OTOH, there IS such a thing as edible gold leaf.

“Edible” is different than “not nasty-tasting,” though.

Maybe I can just decoupage inspiring images of cats to onto miniature liquor bottles.

Catvent Calendar! 

With the alcohol, that will seem like a passable pun!

The plural of anecdote is data.

Is it a whole bunch of you? Am I supposed to be trying that too? Or is it just one person? If the latter, I feel like I’m intruding in a person conversation between you and Ms. Petri.

No, this is a holdover from last week when folks were sad that they couldn’t format and we were trying to see if html did anything! Answer: it did not!

But what I meant to say was that it's a black and white issue.

I am indebted to Colby Itkowitz for bringing to my attention the story about a House incumbent being so offended by someone planting googly eyes on his campaign poster--and changing one of the letters in his name to evoke a flatulence-based motif--that his chief of staff went after a local poli sci professor who FB-liked the image of the poster. (See article entitled 'A top aide to Rep. Jeff Fortenberry made a stink about a Facebook like. Now the Ethics Committee is involved.') Were you as amused as I was by the *ahem* 'backfire' resulting from the outrage?

This is the most fantastic teacup tempest of the whole cycle, and I will fight anyone who maintains that googly eyes are not hilarious.  

I guess now we know how it got past...

I had no idea.

Many years ago when my mother was a little girl, her aunt from Englad lived with the family for about a year. When the kids put up their Cristmas stockings, the aunt did too although adults didn't put up stockings in those days. The next day, the kids' stockings were full of good stuff but the aunt's was full of coal. Mom and her sisters were aghast but the aunt thought it was hilarious. Mom and her sisters couldn't undeestand why.

That’s great! I have to say, your mom is the first person I’ve heard who actually encountered real stocking coal in the flesh! In my family it was only ever a distant threat, even a generation ago! (I think.)

"Vark" is the silver or gold leaf that Indian cooks decorate food with, and yes, it's so thin and delicate as to be almost imperceptible to the palate, but it's a sign of wealth and not a gourmet touch.

limited to the experiences of people who happen to frequent this chat can be data. I'm not buying the plural of OUR anecdotes being data. At least not in a nationwide election.

This will be the Literary Digest poll all over again!

We sing an advanced level one in our car sometimes: "There is a house in New Orleans/That saved a wretch like me/I'd like to buy the world a coke/in a one horse open sleigh!" (to any of the four tunes, though HOTRS plays the most often)

I love this! 

I was watching Sunday Night Foopball last Sunday night, and not only were there numerous christmas ads, but they were the same stupid christmas ads that played relentlessly last year, eg the one where Santa is driving a nice red Mercedes being 'pulled long' by eight white Mercedeses in formation, and he has to stop to let a cute little puppy dog get out to pee. Highly festive! Are they trying to build up anticipation for this year's copy of new stupid christmas ads, do you think?

OKAY I am glad you gave me this opening because I feel like this chat is the perfect place to discuss the CoffeeMate commercial where the family is (1) a gingerbread man (2) a human man (3) a human woman. The man and the gingerbread man do Rock Paper Scissors for... coffeemate?

EXPLAIN THIS HOUSEHOLD TO ME. Will they eat him later? Is he going to sit there and go stale? What’s the endgame and who are these people?

Q: What’s black and white and red all over? A: A panda with a sunburn.

Ah yes!

I would pay extra for an edition where all of the President’s eyes were replaced with googly eyes. This also should be an installation option for Google software.

Hear, hear! It even has GOOGLE in the name! 

ever I've been awake and functional while you're live (west coast and retired here), and you're about to shut down and I've forgotten anything I've ever wanted to say. And there's no time to read the thread. Right. OK then: VOTE!!

OMG HELLO!! Take your time! So far, the only emergent theme is hot crossed buns!

I do ok with nursery rhymes, but for some reason if I would try to list the US presidents in order (George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams), I want to follow that grouping with "Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations (etc)", fusing presidents and the books of the Old Testament. Both of which I used to be able to list. The results of a parochial education, 30 years later.

Then again, I feel like President Lamentations isn’t outside the realm of possibility...

Some years ago, when my siblings and I were all in our early 20s, my sisters called me out for being flaky when it came to returning phone calls, and slipped something called "stocking coal" into my stocking. (It came in a tin, and was some sort of dyed black chewing gum, IIRC.) They laughed hysterically and my mother (who had taken over responsibility for stockings from Santa by that point) looked distraught. Of course, they thought she was just favoring me like always. But in hindsight, I think this is an excellent example of Bratty Little Sister operations.

Since you're from the Badger state, you might appreciate this: When I was in college (NOT at the U/Wisconsin), one of my pledge-class sorority sisters noticed that the lyrics to one of our national sorority's ,ost sentimental songs exhorting the joys of sisterhood (but printed without music in our pledge handbook) fit perfectly to the peppy melody of "On, Wisconsin!" During initiation week, we sang this version at dinner in front of the alumnae, some of whom were amused, while older ones clutched their pearls. It was so worth it!

That sounds terrific! Also, wow, live pearl clutching! And coal, in the same chat! Truly we are receiving gifts this day!

Two of my sisters went to a funeral where a friend of the family was to play his guitar and sing "Amazing Grace," but got started with the chords to "House of the RIsing Sun," and proceeded to sing the first two lines of Amazing Grace before faltering. None of us can hear either song without giggling any more.

I thought I'd check out your chat because Gene (once again) is AWOL. But, I have no idea what is going on in here.

Okay, let’s have a straightforward discussion! Did you all see the guy who proposed to his girlfriend at MILE 16 of a marathon she was running? This seems unacceptable to me, but I saw one person saying that the last ten miles are the real race and it was a gift to run them with an engagement ring, so that is a possible charitable explanation! What are our thoughts on this? I only run to catch trains so I’m not a marathon expert by any stretch of the imagination.

Don't you mean Hot Crossed Puns?

Hot Crossed Pundas!

When I was a kid, I think there was a peanut butter brand whose logo had googly eyes. I can't remember the name -- I don't even know if it was a national brand or a regional brand -- but my mom kept the jar to store spices in, and I enjoyed the googly eyes very much, even before I knew what googly eyes were. (Does anyone know the brand? And here I am, writing about peanut butter again.)

No, this is good! We need a theme! 

How you coping? Why is so dark at 5:00 p.m.? Why didn't I get advance notice?

I hate daylight savings falling back. The darkness! The terrible darkness! I also think if you are a terrible night owl to begin with, as I am, the extra hour is largely meaningless.

"There is a house in New Orleans/That saved a wretch like me/I'd like to buy the world a coke/in a one horse open sleigh!" This is now playing in my head, to all four tunes. dammmit!

Bob Cratchit would have loved coal in his stocking.

There’s almost nothing Bob Cratchit would not have been grateful to have in his stocking, but you’re absolutely right about the coal! 

Went to vote at 655 this morning. Only about 4 people in line, so I guess the early rush had already passed. Or my polling place is just really efficient. It was so quick that the 18 month old was annoyed she didn't have more time to play with the safety cones. But she was pumped about her "future voter" sticker!

Future voter sticker? Wow, it sounds like your polling place is on the ball! 

The googly-eyed peanut butter may have been Koogle. I actually bought a jar of it in my youth and then kept it in the refrigerator, uneaten, for decades before throwing it out.

How come nobody's talking about Bohemian Rhapsody in here?!?!?!

Be the change you want to see! How was it? 

Of course, in a vacuum, that sounds very rude, because no one runs a marathon lightly. ("Say, honey, I know you're in the middle of a two-hour-plus event that you have been training for for months, which has visibly affected our social and dining habits, but could you tell me RIGHT NOW if you'll marry me?") But the overall message is that, when you propose to someone, you'd better be very sure of your intended and whether they will actually value the thing you have in mind. My own beloved wife made it very clear to me that she would NEVER accept a proposal on the jumbotron at a sporting event, which worked out great, because I have always been very fearful of the possibility of being turned down (for anything) in such a public and humiliating fashion.

Yes! I still think of that guy who proposed in the middle of the rink at a hockey game and got a No and had to skate sadly away (if memory serves???) and shudder. 

I put Big Public Proposals in the Chocolates and Flowers box: these are definitely Actual Things That Some People Do Like! But they are also shorthands that people who don’t know their actual partners very well can just assume are Universal Non-Refusable Signs Of Love. It just comes down to knowing your person, people! 

You're a GREAT night owl!

Hoot hoot?

reads the same when the jar is upside down. Still Jif, thanks to a sans serif font.

But the J has a little bar through it, doesn’t it? 

Yes, that's it! Thank you, fellow chatter!

That’s what the chat is here for!

I think every one else decided to work from home to facilitate voting. Or because it was raining this morning. Or both. I am not sure how to design an experiment to test the hypotheses.

Make certain next Election Day is sunny, and then we can compare!

Oh, how was it. I'm kind of dying to see it despite all the information about it not really doing a good job telling the story of Freddie Mercury. Just the Live Aid set ought to be worth the ticket price.

While I understand the critics complaints, I LOVED it. And so did my 75-year-old mother. If I had to find something to criticize, it would be that the prosthetic teeth they fitted Rami Malek with were a bit distracting.

They all got bamboozled.

Please never stop! I find this soothing. Like a black and white noise machine. 

Quimm comes from the Welsh "cwm" meaning "valley".

Cwm again? 

Cwm is such a handy/infuriating scrabble word, depending on whether you or your opponent is the one playing it.

I don't want to brag, but I don't understand humans and relationships.

*gets down on one knee in public* hey let’s eat the Irish babies

Dog livers store extraordinary amounts of Vitamin A and are poisonous to humans, so should only be eaten on special occasions. Source: BBC show "New Tricks"

Maybe you can incorporate this into your Facebook taunt? 

I think Anton Dvorak (1841-1904) is clearly the best Bohemian composer ever, and his rhapsodies are always worth the listen. I would give second place to Carl Stamitz (1745-1801), although technically he lived his whole life in Germany (his less-famous father Johann emigrated to Mannheim from Bohemia).

Dvorak still slaps, as the kids I believe say! I am not familiar with Stamitz: I’ll have to check him out! 

Yes, and the "i" has its dot underneath it; so, not really the same.

still cool, though! 

In his famous Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Rachmaninoff composed his 14th variation as the inversion of the original theme. Within the rules of composing, he was allowed to make a few slight adjustments, and transpose the theme from A minor to D-flat major.

Wow, classic, using loopholes to put miners out of work! 

as someone who has run a marathon but who HATES public proposals, i would still say it could be a good idea if the person being proposed to would like public proposals. i can imagine it actually WOULD be cool because it gives you the adrenaline and excitement to get through the hardest part of the marathon.

I’m just glad that a charitable explanation exists! 

Column title should read, "Amazon threatens to cut HQ2 in twain to see who wants it MORE"

*gasps* You’re right!

I love it when you go beyond the stated 12:30 deadline, but I worry about sending in good questions that may not make it because of all the others you have awaiting! We need a "Hurry Up, please, it's time" warning.

Oh wow, that’s a literary warning! Let’s have it now. Say the odds of a response will begin to diminish from this point! 

NO FOREIGN WORDS! then the argument follows about whether hominem is a foreign word, and ad hominem attacks ensue.

Ad hominem is fine but hominem as a word? I’m ad it.

Don't forget Bedřich Smetana, famous for his tone poem "The Moldau" and his opera "The Bartered Bride" (you'd recognize its overture).

A tone poet who makes overtures? I feel like swiping left.

It's what I hear whenever I hear Patti Lupone "Hey Argentina, Anything Goes! Just ask Mama Rose!"

This has a certain warbling tune in my head! I am not sure it’s the tune you intended, but it has one!

He was probably mad about getting coal in his stocking.

Full circle!

Minors shouldn't be working anyway; that's what we have child-labor laws for. (Until Congress repeals them, that is.)

Did you hear about the minor composer who loved baseball?

No, does he play in the majors now?

(or some joke like this! We can workshop it!)

So do I, since Weingarten betrayed us by pretending he was going to have a chat today and then fobbing us off with a two-question quiz.

*gasp* Fobbed! Like a watch!

I have the afternoon off, and I am thinking about going to see a movie ("The Hate U Give") at 3:25. But then I won't get to my polling place until 6:00, probably. Should I follow that plan? Or vote first and then see if I still feel like going to the 6:30 show? Or do I need to use that time to contemplate liquor purchases for watching election results (tequila if turnout is good, bourbon if it's bad)?

I’d vote first! Then movie and alcohol... Your selections for all three sound good!

Has no one mentioned singing Amazing Grace to the tune of Gilligan's Island yet?

I don't even know 'or!

Mine ore? I hardly know ore!

Less is more. Bucky Fuller had it figured. We'll all have solar power once they get a meter for the sun. Enough is enough. The truth is rough and the cats don't care.

And on this enigmatic note, I am going to scuttle off! Have a swell evening and see you here next week! In the interim, I’ll be on Twitter (@petridishes) and the blog (! 

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Alexandra Petri
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