ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jun 18, 2019

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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!

Hello all! Happy Tuesday! Hope it is super, in the normal and not in the primary sense!

But I'm afraid the page will automatically reset just before I hit the "submit" button. Also, can we talk about the use of this term "submit," your majesty?

We can, but may we? Is this your question, or did the page eat it? 

Could you please inform the powers that be that ever since you added the required sign in, the "weekly schedule, past shows" page no longer works. You still get there when you click on it, but when you try to click on the left of the weekly calendar to get the previous week, nothing happens. Also, if you click on other days of the current week, that doesn't work either. Thanks!

I sure will! Thanks for the heads-up!

To the stranger who alerted me to the one Post Point from the Express. Thank you. A million thank yous. I'm now safely and contentedly back in the multiples-of-five.

Which is worse: being a good looking straight woman and getting hit on by men, or being a plain looking woman and being ignored by men?

The patriarchy!

Well maybe you are deluged with questions and are deciding which ones to answer. But nonetheless this "live" session is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Maybe it will liven up if I wait long enough?

I don’t know, I’ve watched some riveting paints drying in my day, but I’ll try to speed things up! 

I'm doing intermittent fasting. It just means I don't eat breakfast. So far, I just sit at my desk in the morning waiting to be able to eat. Has not been good for productivity. Will not keep you posted, since I'm sure you and your readers don't care. Have a great week.

I am not sure this sounds like an ideal system! You should get some food! 

One of the few things I took away from reading Heinlein as a wee nerd was the thought that word meanings got more complex as they got shorter. "Submit", at 6 letters, seems like a good example of that.

That’s interesting! It makes sense that the really long convoluted floccinaucinihilipilification-y words would only have one very precise meaning, in contrast to little seemingly simple words that have a lot of surprises and are sometimes their own opposites. 

Wait until your brain tries to get you obsessed with palindromic numbers or 5 of a kind or something like that. I am aching to get to 66666.

If you get to 66666 Post Points during a full moon you get to summon something!

Maybe you could give us some statistics, and become the inventor of Paint Drying by Number.

Related to paint drying, one thing I’ve enjoyed doing lately is go to one of those wine and paint evenings with something else in mind than the Majestic Sunset suggested by the instructor. You get wine, you get paint, you can bring friends, and it is no skin off the instructor’s nose whether you paint the sunset or not, so often they are quite willing to help. 

I checked. International Falafel Day was June 12th. And honestly, the doodle basically says that getting ready to be eaten is like having friend over to camp in the backyard (a backyard pup tent is what the pita looks like to me) but with tahini and vegetables on the floor instead of sleeping bags. I can't tell if is getting ready for an orgy or self-sacrifice, but there is something really off about it.

Hang on, let me take a look so as to form my opinion! 


It is cute, but it definitely falls squarely into the category of Food Tempting Other Identical Food To Its Death that we have been coming across so often in the chat lately! This one is presented in such a way that it makes me fear the falafel does not know what fate has in store for it.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that's all.”

Do people just collect Post Points? I thought the value in having Post Points was to spend them. Somewhere? I live too far away to qualify, so I'm not sure what the system is. But if the point is just to collect them, you'd think we could do that just as well from Delaware as from DC.

The three letter word "run" has the most definitions of any word in the English language.

I can believe that! It’s at least two nouns, several verbs, and can be an adjective if it plays its cards right. 

Aw, man. I thought it was tough having to remember that there are only eight planets in the solar system. Now there's a new longest word in the English language? Darn it. And I spent so much time learning what antidisestablishmentarianism means.

Don’t, uh, floccinaucinihilipilificate yourself about it! 

I was struck peachless.

But if she left you with an empty peach bowl you could say her conduct was un in peach-bowl. 

The same thing is true of titles. You never have to explain what your job is, if your title is "President" or "Editor In Chief." But if you are "Assistant Vice President for Fulfillment," or "Deputy Metro Editor, Prince William and Anne Arundel Counties," then you have a lot of explaining to do, and a lot of work convincing people that you are more important than, say, "Accountant." Then again, I have never lived in a culture where people are happy, nay eager, to do the work of parsing long titles than Our Fair District. So most of us never have to worry about this.

Miss Piggy, in her Guide to Life, as told to Henry Beard, had a wonderful line about how the fancier the hotel name, the worse the establishment. The delay just now was me trying to find it, and failing! 

My Starbucks cup is empty. I am desolatte.

That’s a tall tale. 

reason not to collect them from far away. There are a few redemption prizes that wouldn't be useful from Delaware (like a $10 gift card to Rodman's grocery store, but that is arguably not useful to people who live in Alexandria or even Capitol Hill). However, it is much harder to collect them if you are far away. Anything other than the quiz, the code on the front page of the paper and the point from The Express come from doing local stuff. You can get the front page of the paper code and Express code on-line. I once figured out that the best "value" for the points was for a grocery card at Giant. Seems boring. I'm holding out for a "Democracy Dies in Darkness" t-shirt with points.

 How many points is that?


That sounds painful. 

You haven't lived until you've watched rivets dry. Bonus adventure: Rework songs and poems that feature rivers to feature rivets instead. I'm sure this will be entertaining. I'll just sit and wait. Sit and wait.

All I have so far is Old Man Rivet , but... it’s not nothing! 

You mean you have your heavily used copy right there next to your computer, along with other essential writer's tools: Bartlett's Quotations, Roget's, etc.?

You were joking but I have it in eyeshot! 

Hey, Alex. Weingarten here. Tragically I must assert the grave duty of informing you about a serious factual error in this chat. You are not the perpetrator, but as the host, well, it happened on your watch and you must accept responsibility. "Run" is not the word with the most meanings. "Run" is a distant second. The word with the most meanings is "set." (Yes, sadly I knew this. The longest published word, though it is an invention, is "osseocarnisangineoviscercartelagenonervomedullary," which is an adjectival descriptor for the human body)

STOP THE CHAT PRESSES! Weingarten comes, bearing facts! I think it seems suspiciously pro-tennis that the sedentary and cliquish “set” beats “run,” a hardy patriotic word that has served as the site for battles, two- thirds of an Updike novel, and is a necessity at baseball games. Maybe this is socialism. Good news, though, about osseocarnisangineoviscsrcargelagenonervomedullary, which I misspelled too deeply in the middle to fix. 

There's a scene in a Tom Holt novel where hell for people like Attila the Hun and other conquering jerks and dictators was to sit in an auditorium watching paint dry, literally. He makes it very funny.

This does sound funny! 

Well, at least they have this chat to get it off their chest or, y'know, Venti.

I tried to venti but they told me to put a lid on it. 

It is. It's a very long term for Black Lung. It was the Guinness Book of World Records longest word when I was young enough to have the free time to memorize it.

Sure, that's easy for you to say. Yet another reason Physicians are paid the big bucks; they have to know stuff like that. The rest of us get by with, "I hurt here."

the same principles applies to housing developments -- The Residences at Olde Oake Pointe, that kind of thing. Especially if there are unwanted e's tacked on to various words.

“Olde” is a red flag right there! Everything “olde” is new but bad.

On September 11, 1946, a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers was called (on the account of darkness) after 19 innings; score 0-0. So a run is not quite a "necessity" since there's one runless game on record.

Sorry, what I should have said was “a necessity at baseball games, except for that one game between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers that was called on account of darkness after 19 innings, score 0-0, on september 11, 1946!” 

Weingarten and Petri in the virtual room together! This is almost as good as all those TV crossovers - what was up with that anyway?

I recently watched a Murder She Wrote crossover with Magnum P.I. that raised all kinds of questions! Do these shows take place in a shared universe? Also, Jessica Fletcher calls him “Mr. Magnum.” I had not previously realized his name was just Magnum, Private Investigator; I thought it had to be an adjective of some kind. Does everyone on the show just call him Mr. Magnum? 

The longer one is a subtype. In other news, I once suggested black lung disease as a prompt for an improve group doing a set based on Downton Abbey because I loathe that show and thing that it could only be improved by setting it in a coal mine. But none of the players knew that black lung was associated with coal mining (at least they didn't seem to) so they just did an improve of Downton Abbey episode with everyone coughing on occasion. Very disappointing.

It sounds like an improv, but not, alas, an improve. 

I just typed in "pneumono" into google. That gets the whole word up to the top of the choices list. It was a lot harder to do this stuff when I was little. But I think I originally learned the word from ZOOM the PBS tv show for kids who had aged out of Sesame Street and Electric Company.

I was going to say that I think I remember Zoom, but I believe what I actually remember is Zoboomafoo!

IIRC, his first name was Thomas. Given that I haven't watched the show since it went off the air I will be impressed if I remembered that correctly.

Yes, and...there was a cough and then President Trump ordered Mick Mulvaney to leave the office immediately

I was once kicked out of dancing school because a student started coughing and the woman in charge very sternly lectured us all that “People who cough in public will not get far in life. You may think it’s cool now, but later, no one will want to be in your company” and I began laughing so hysterically I had to leave the room and was made to write a letter of apology before I could come back! I guess the lesson here is... she was right?

This is one of those indestructible TV shows that will always be on the air on some obscure channel or another until the end of time. I've never seen an episode, but my sister is a fan, and she's somehow seen every episode. (M*A*S*H is another such show, and guess what? My sister's seen every episode.)

I love shows where every episode is exactly and reassuringly the same! And this is certainly one of them!

When we cram words together to make bigger words (like German is (in)famous for), we should use little dashes or perhaps dots to separate the components to make it easier to read. Also, I could have broken up that sentence, probably.

Well, speaking of breaking up sentences, I must skedaddle! My editor calls! Have a glorious week! See you on the blog ( and Twitter (@petridishes), in the interim! And thanks to Weingarten for the cameo!

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