ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Dec 04, 2018

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Happy Tuesday all! Let’s roll! 

I know you've written about this, but reading that millennials are killing canned tuna has raised my ire ONCE AGAIN. I'm a Baby Boomer / Gen X Cusper (and don't I love the fact that there's a term for that), and I'm just-- ugh-- so tired of the loaded language that makes personal preferences an attack on all we hold dear. It's a sop to Baby Boomers (Sweet Baby Boomers, of course you're right to love canned tuna! Millennials are very wrong and bad-- they're killers!), and it attacks a demographic who continue to get a raw deal. Different people in different generations prefer different things. Demonizing a demographic for their preferences isn't just bad reporting (or headline-writing), it's flat-out unhelpful. Golly. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest.

You are welcome! Also, I was most enraged by their rationale that we were too lazy to open a can of tuna and pour out the nasty oil residue, then fetch a fork, which is exactly what the article alleged. Come now! We HelloFresh entire meals; don’t come in here with “the ONLY reason these millennials can POSSIBLY no longer enjoy a substance that you start eating and think, wait, this definitely isn’t cat food, right? and after a few bites remain uncertain is because they are TOO LAZY for FORKS.”

Hi Alexandra, I hear Zak Penn is in the process of rebooting The Matrix with a new movie in the works. No word on whether Keanu Reeves and the old crew will be starring, but, Millennial nerd to Millennial nerd, do you think it's got a chance? Let's put aside that Reeves is immortal and could pass for 30 again (seriously, he looks just like French painter Louis-Maurice Boutet). Will today's young'uns revel in the joy of a screen covered in kaleidoscopic binary code like we once did? Are non-Russian hackers still a thing? What happens to a Hot Topic dream wardrobe deferred? This White Rabbit needs some hope, I tells ya.

Oh man, my loose understanding from reviews is that they already made a Matrix for our time and it was called Ralph Breaks The Internet, but I am going to miss the kaleidoscopic code. 

I am being forward thinking.... :)

And to you too! Happy Heat Death of the Universe! 

So, it being the season and everything, I am attempting to produce a Completely Objective Ranking Of Christmas Songs, and, in the interest of democracy, (wow, I’m really going overboard with the subordinate clauses here, as Santa said) which song do you hate more than any other?

Continuing the diatribe against those who fault Millenials for their supposed disdain of tuna in a can, I note that some cans come with pull tabs, there is also tuna WITHOUT oil, and there is also tuna in foil pouches that can be opened merely by tearing across the top. Easier than peeling an avocado. So there!

I use three separate tools for peeling avocado! Don’t tell me about easy!

Also, Relatable Figure Of The Present-Day Candace Cameron Bure is always advertising snackable tuna, so it’s not like we lack this information! 

The Post ran an article last week, I believe, on how Millennials don't do/eat/buy exactly what Baby Boomers did/ate/bought because they have much less disposable income, thanks to the supply-siders who've been wre3cking the economy since 1980.

Also, our taste in food has evolved! We no longer eat entirely gelatin everything, with potato chips on top. 

I also misread this as “supply spiders” and now I’m not entirely sure we shouldn’t try to make that happen. 

Thanks to a large and complicated workplace, there are a lot of office parties planned for the holidays. I look forward to skipping them all.

Ho ho ho!

"The Christmas Shoes." It doesn't even have the merit of being funny, like the egregious "Dominic the Donkey."

Dominic The Donkey is, I would argue, a classic song for this and for all time! Jiggety-jig! (Hee haw!) 

"in the interest of democracy" is a prepositional phrase, not a subordinate clause.

Drat, I should have said, “as someone who is interested in democracy and who wants to make certain that all voices are heard and who is really going overboard with subordinate clauses” instead of rushing to set up the Santa thing. 

Santa Baby (by anyone other than Eartha Kitt)

But props to the infamous Michael Buble “buddy/pally” cover, which is just Something.

Either Chipmunk Christmas or Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. Those are the only two I hate, with the burning passion of a thousand suns. The others are, at worst, not horrible.

Rudolph tr-nR; and all of it's cutesy ilk

At least it’s over quickly! Christmas Shoes goes on and on and on and on and doesn’t rhyme. 

"Wonderful Christmastime" and "Carol of the Bells" and really all of them, now that you mention it. Humbug, humbug I say!

Slice in half, pull out the pit, then scoop the lovely creamy green innards. The Oxo Avocado Tool is great for this.

Yes! I highly recommend this tool! 

My wife bought this unusable tool that has a small blade, a sticker (for sticking into the pit) and a spoon-like blade for peeling it out. I just use a paring knife to make one long cut and remove the peel, and a soup spoon to get to the good stuff. Why must you ladies complicate things?

Look, sometimes it’s nice to have a single unusable tool that theoretically does the entire job perfectly rather than a series of small usable tools not explicitly designed for the purpose...

Prepare for the deluge of hated Xmas songs. Personally, I wouldn't mind never again hearing any of the ones that tell holiday characters' backstories----e.g. Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman (Exception: Anything from the original Grinch movie) Also, any version of Little Drummer Boy that is not sung by Crosby/Bowie should be banned.

The original Grinch song is honestly maybe the BEST holiday song on the air? What other Christmas song just INSULTS a guy in vivid, memorable terms using a deep bass voice? The only downside of this song is that Christmas is never mentioned. 

It is the can opener. Now, back when it was cereal, I think you were accused of being too lazy to pour into a bowl and add milk. Or maybe it was washing the bowl after the eating? Not sure about that. I think of canned tuna as a treat, because it was more interesting than peanut butter (plain or with jelly or fluff) or plain cheese. Because deli turkey was too expensive back when I was a kid. It was literally a food you only got on the platter at grandma's house for a party which was a buffet not a sit down dinner. Making up the deli tray was the best job other than helping with dessert because you got to nibble deli meats while doing it. Until mom yelled at you.

I can forgive them for killing canned tuna but not for murdering the cereal industry because combining cereal and milk in a bowl is too complicated.

That cannot have been our excuse. This seems like slander.

"Do you hear what I hear?" makes me want to yell NO and slam the door shut. "Blue Christmas" is a close second. Not even Elvis can make it palatable.

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming. Ugh.

Really? Is it the tune? 

I always turn off the radio when I hear "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer." What's funny about the death of a cherished relative? And it's poorly sung.

Do we agree that Grandma didn’t make it? It does seem that way from what remains of the song. 

I wrenched my back last December as I lunged to turn off the car radio when Wham's "Last Christmas" came on. Worth it.

The frustrating thing is that this seems to be the only post-Mariah addition to the canon that people are willing to concede. Or can we think of others? 

AKA In-the-Black Widows.

Ziggy Stardust tried to warn us about the Supply Spiders from Mars. But the FAKE NEWS ("the papers') only wanted to know whose shirt you wear. ("Who ya wearin'?)

Tiny Tim - Santa Claus Has Got the Aids this Year. I am not making this up.

Oh my goodness. Well. That is certainly... a song that exists. I do love Tiny Tim’s cover of “My Way,” though. 

Another vote for Chipmunk Christmas. It makes my skin crawl.

wins the prize for most insipid. It's not vomit-inducing the way "Christmas Shoes" is.

I find it more frustrating than “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”, but I do think both songs typify the worst excesses of their post-Beatles song-writing. 

"Christmas Eve in Washington" (do they even play this anywhere but here)? If not, I'm moving! and "Christmas Shoes."

I love “Christmas Eve in Washington.” It seems so cheerily divorced from reality. “It’s Christmas Eve in Washington! America’s home town! For it’s here that freedom lives and peace can stand her ground.” 

Hands down, my least favorite is "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year". Just way too forced and lacking in any real sentiment.

The other night I was listening to request radio and someone called in to request that the DJ choose a special song on her behalf and the selection was “It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” and I could not believe that anyone would intentionally select it as a specific and personal tune. 

Christmas Shoes is such a weird and awful song that I started playing it ironically, and then I played it so much it grew on me and I started liking it sincerely. It went full ironic circle for me.

The dreaded Full Ironic Circle is responsible for I want to say 90% of my musical taste.

I'd like to second "Grandma got run over by a reindeer," and also add "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus." UGH. But then... I enjoy spending Christmas with my family, but I know not everyone does so maybe I shouldn't judge?

That’s an angle to consider, you’re right! Keeping Grandma safe from tiny hooves is only a priority if she is indeed a cherished relative.

Oh give me a break. It's usually men who insist on, say, getting out the huge electric floor-scrubbing machine when a paper towel would clean up that spill.

Sorry, I should have drawn myself up stiffly and said, “Who are you calling ‘you ladies’?” in a withering tone! I do understand that my avocado flank is exposed, but I am not sure, as this chatter points out, that you can draw generalizations from it. I think it varies by household! 

My vote: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

"Do They Know It's Christmas" Racist, Colonialist, AND Patronizing! And also just a terrible song!


SOMEONE hasn’t been watching Hallmark compulsively for the past month!

But our late cat Bruiser's favorite canned cat-food was tuna. I hated the smell, but especially as he aged he would hold out for it at breakfast and dinner. Then, after he'd enjoyed his meal, he'd come sit on my lap and exhale his tuna-breath into my face. Yuck! But now that he's long-since deceased, I still miss him, and even the smell of his beloved canned tuna catfood.

A) Bruiser is a wonderful cat name! B) My now-defunct childhood cat was also a big fan of the tuna flavor that came in the little blue can! She found it incredibly motivating when nothing else would do the trick, even if it did seem to make her coat oily. Condolences on Bruiser, who sounds like a cherished companion. 

"Charlotte's Web"?

But I can't stand the Bruce Springsteen version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (not that I like the traditional one much better). And Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime" makes all the wrong hairs stand on end. Though my 16yo absolutely adores the song. There's no accounting for taste.

I guess what we’re discovering is that there is a very broad range of opinions!

Perhaps there are people who dislike this song because it is overplayed. You should expel such people from the chat.

the corn industry was desperate to get people to eat stuff for breakfast that you can digest in about 15 minutes causing a blood sugar spike and crash, making you hungry an hour later. I once stayed in a hotel that was built in an old silo (circular rooms with a bit cut out for the elevator access and the bathroom) and had corn flake memorabilia in the lobby. Akron, Ohio.

That sounds delightful! Corn flake memorabilia?

I don't know if the ones you know are like the ones I know, but they came of age with processed foods and mixes that taste terrible. I don't blame Millennials for eating actual Real Food. My Gen X self started that a couple decades ago.

They are. The casseroles! The cans! The... undulating gelatinous masses! I am glad we have made culinary strides since then.

It has to be "Same Old Lang Syne" by the late Dan Fogelberg. Not only is his old lover/girlfriend now in an unhappy marriage, but as he walks home late on Christmas Eve, "the snow turned into rain."

That song wasn't post-Mariah, was it? Also, the Crosby/Bowie song is awful, and the video makes it worse. The best version of Little Drummer Boy is Bob Seger's.

Wait, is there NOTHING Post-Mariah, then? 

Those are some singeing hot takes on Little Drummer Boy. 

"Last Christmas" was released in 1986. "All I Want For Christmas Is You" was released in 1994. But you are right that the canon was mostly forged between 1933 and 1964. The rock era has not been good for Christmas songs. I mean, if you spot me "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and "Christmas Wrapping," you can probably have every other Christmas tune of the last 60 years.

There must surely be some song written after 1994 that has entered the rotation! This is terrible! 

Bob Dylan's "Christmas in the Heart" and (sorry Alexandra), the Star Wars, "Christmas in the Stars."

Which tune do you sing "Away in a Manger" to? There are three. Also, Brits have a different tune for "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear."

I sing the tune with the fewest notes possible! 

"God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen" by the Modern Jazz Quartet. Still brilliant after all these decades.

Not only is Grandma dead, the fact of her demise seems to make everyone shockingly happy. Or maybe they're just thrilled they have a legit reason to get completely blotto. Or something.

Little Drummer Boy. ARGH

Anything sung by a child or animal. Anything sung by anyone. Anything that mentions Christmas or refers to Christmas or any person or thing associated with Christmas in any way in its lyrics or title. Any piece of music not normally played or heard outside of the month of December.

I think that does it!

I think the question has come up before, but how do you write parody when real life has already turned into a bad joke . . .

The short answer is “sometimes you don’t.” The more specific answer there is “I can’t believe they beat me to that headline!”

There is no comparison. Joseph Spence's rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" is both the best and the worst song of the holiday season.

This is a true feast for the ears!

It is indisputable that "Christmas Shoes" is the worst Christmas song, but only Patton Oswalt has properly explained WHY it sucks. This is long, but richly rewarding.

I’ll have to check this out! 

Oh dear, that's one of the few Xmas songs I actually like. It's so gosh darn bouncy.

Definitely not on the list of bad Christmas songs, but when it gets to the line "Holy infant so tender and mild", my brain fills in with a stereotypical announcer's voice "just 6.99 a pound at Giant."

BYO spices!

In one of the Muppet specials on TV (the "It's a Wonderful Life" version, where Kermit wishes he'd never been born), they do a stage presentation of Moulin Scrooge. In it, Miss Piggy is the equivalent of Satine, and instead of Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, she sings Santa Baby. It's the perfect song there, and she's adorable in it.

Dr. Kellogg and Dr. Graham were two of many 19th-century fanatics about diet and digestion, and they invented their products (corn flakes and crackers) by way of getting people to eat more grain and fiber, for the sake of their intestines.

I knew about Dr. Graham and his digestive crackers, but I didn’t know Kellogg had a similar tale! Thanks, chatter.

I am four days into December without hearing Wham's version of Last Christmas. This is 4 days longer than I expected to last.

And on this incredible streak, I should skedaddle. Stay tuned for the ranking at and catch you on Twitter in the interim (@petridishes)!

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