ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri (Oct. 22)

Oct 22, 2019

Humor columnist Alexandra Petri will be online every Tuesday at 11 a.m. Eastern for ComPost live, where she'll offer a lighter take on the news of the day. Submit your comments on her columns and any other questions you might have.

Read Alexandra Petri's columns or catch up on past ComPost chats.

Follow Alexandria Petri on Twitter here.

Hello everyone! Happy Tuesday! Welcome to the weekly live chat where we discuss everything from food to Halloween costumes to THE NEW STAR WARS TRAILER to... well, let’s see! Come on in!

We took a trip to Ohio last week, ostensibly to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but we also visited two presidential-related National Historic Sites - the First Ladies NHS in Canton and the James A Garfield NHS in Mentor. Both were quite interesting, but also somewhat depressing. The First Ladies site was highlighting the ones from Ohio. Three of the seven lost their husbands while they were in office (W.H. Harrison, Garfield and McKinley). Mrs Harrison outlived nine of her 10 kids - the tenth fathered Benjamin Harrison. The second Mrs Harrison died from TB at the White House. Mrs McKinley was of poor health for much of her adult life, lost her two children to illnesses while they were both under 5 years old, and she also had occasional seizures. And then there's the whole sad Garfield story, though I was surprised to learn that his widow was the beneficiary of essentially a 19th century "Go Fund Me" campaign - actually a "subscription" deal set up by a wealthy friend of her late husband. She received over $350,000 tax free (equivalent to nearly $9 million today) that allowed her to support herself and her family, and to add on to the family home (which you tour at his NHS) to build what essentially became the first Presidential library. Both places are worth a visit if you're traveling through Ohio.

Wow! That is all fascinating! I knew a little about Caroline Harrison’s death (second Harrison’s first Mrs. Harrison): they still have preserved at the LOC all the condolence letters he received from foreign potentates, from Queen Victoria on. And Cleveland suspended his campaign. But I’m so intrigued by all the other misfortunes! The story about Mrs. Garfield is fascinating! 

Dear Alexandria Petri, Pardon my ignorance (I'm Dutch, and only subscribed to The Post after Trump was elected): would it we possible that Trump resigns, and lets his daughter (I mean Ivanka; don't know about any other ones) run for office? The "The Brand Survives" scenario? Kind regards, David Bos, Amsterdam

Well, he could certainly resign, but that would give the presidency to Mike Pence! However, she could run in 2020 — children of former presidents have made it in the past, and she’s within the age limit (you have to be at least 35).

America’s relationship with scientists? It’s complicated. [WaPo 8/2] Sharon Tate Is a Woman in a Tarantino Movie. It’s Complicated. [NYT 8/7] Most Camels Have 1 or 2 Humps. In Kazakhstan, It’s Complicated. [NYT 9/1] She’s a Protester. Her Husband Is a Cop. It’s Complicated. [NYT 9/10] Forget moderates vs. radicals. The debate was a left vs. far left brawl. [WaPo 8/1] Forget Peak TV. Pop culture has reached Peak Predictable. [WaPo 8/21] Forget Putin and Kim. Trump’s real soulmate lives in Tokyo. [WaPo 8/27] Forget rock star. Was Bruce Springsteen born to be a filmmaker? [WaPo 10/17] Macron’s gamble to get Iran and the U.S. to talk didn’t pay off. Here’s why. [WaPo 8/30] The 2020 electoral map could be the smallest in years. Here’s why. [WaPo 9/1] Young adults use their phones 6 hours a day but barely touch their news apps, a study shows. Here’s why. [WaPo 9/5] Schwarzenegger: Too many voters live under minority rule. Here’s why. [WaPo 9/9] I want a journalist to see what happens to my organs after I die. Here’s why. [WaPo 10/7] A stranger told her he had an ‘Asian fetish.’ Then things escalated. [WaPo 9/13] A teen told the restaurant he had a dairy allergy. Then his birthday meal killed him. [WaPo 9/15] The nuclear submarine Thresher was said to be America’s best. Then tragedy struck. [WaPo 9/27] Harvard made it easier for alums to donate. Then its president compared them to freed slaves. [WaPo 9/28] A photographer told a group of teens to stop using the n-word. Then shots rang out. [WaPo 10/8] Thousands showed up for the funeral of a veteran with no family. Then the truth came out. [WaPo 10/10] They found a stack of WWII love letters for sale. Then they began to unravel the mystery of who wrote them. [WaPo 10/14] A man worked at the IRS for 10 years. Then he came back to live where his cubicle was. [WaPo 10/19]

I don’t know about clickbait, but I now have a BURNING DESIRE  TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN ALL OF THESE SCENARIOS! 

Welcome, David, but please don't give the Trumps any ideas.

I think they already have the idea! Have you seen the memes?

resides in the Museum of the History of Medicine in Silver Spring. Complete with a little plastic rod (maybe glass?) showing how the bullet entered his body. And the bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln. And the blood spattered shirt cuffs of the doctor that attended to him.

Well, this sounds like my next field trip!

McSweeney's (dot net) does a lot of this: classic titles rewritten as clickbait. “This Man Stops By Woods On a Snowy Eve… You Won’t BELIEVE What Happens Next!” by Robert Frost"etc.

Plot theory: The real Force was the midichlorians we met along the way.

Oh man what if the end of the trilogy is... we pull back and reveal that secretly, these characters were midi-chlorians all along? 

My daughter's high school has spirit week next week, and one of the days is supposed to be dressing up as a meme...any recommendations?

I KNOW!!! She should get two other people to help: one in a red dress, one in a blue plaid shirt, and one in a light blue sleeveless shirt, and blue plaid shirt person can stare rapt at the red dress person as blue shirt person looks on in confusion! Like the “distracted boyfriend” meme. It’s an older meme, but it still checks out, I think!

Does anyone have any left, or have we all eaten it all already?

I have a whole vat of candy corn, but it’s the gross glazed kind, so my forbearance is not actually virtuous!

stores are already full of Christmas stuff. And Halloween stuff. And whatever stuff is for Thanksgiving (some of the pumpkin and harvest related table settings?). It is like the fall holidays are having a professional wrestling match in some places. And screaming at you. I just wanted some olive oil. Or celery and lettuce. Or whatever else I needed. And I got attacked by scary good cheer or something.

The real Nightmare Before Christmas was EVERY GROCERY!

Why is Mom/Dad doing daughter's assignment which is to think up meme costume.

Oh, good point! I’m sure she has a handle on it! This is a coals to Newcastle situation really. 

Why not bring back truly old memes? Get some friends to dress up as a badger, a snake and a mushroom? Or that guy from All Your Base? Or Rick Astley (but obviously with some more topical mask on which can then be pulled off)

Oh, that takes me back! Or... Salad Fingers!

Okay, I'm old. What the heck is the meaning of the red dress/blue shirts meme?

I have avoided all trailers for the new Star Wars movie since they started appearing, because I want to go in completely fresh, free of preconceptions and expectations. But for those who have seen them: Without giving anything away (please), do you think this one is going to be good? (That's not to suggest previous movies haven't been good.)

All I will say, spoilers-wise, is: if you were worried the trailer would give away the plot, I am probably more uncertain and adrift after the trailer, plot-wise, than I was before.

Was the ice bucket challenge a meme? Would a school consider it a threat and therefore not allowed under some zero tolerance policy? Honestly, I think this sort of thing is best left to the teenagers. Anything that mom comes up with will be declared bad even if it is a good idea. Just offer to help her get whatever she needs to carry out her vision. She is much more likely to come up with an idea that conforms to her peer group's vision since she spends at least 7 hours a day with them.

One that I've never clicked on says "The one thing all liars have in common, BRACE YOURSELF!" And I'm thinking, um, they take liberties with the truth? What else could there be?

I once spent a whole afternoon trying to scroll to the bottom of one of those clickbait-y These Teachers Turned Classrooms On Their Heads With These Clever Ideas and what amazed me was that, almost an hour later, there was in fact a bottom and I did reach it. I don’t know how long I would have gone if there hadn’t been one.

I have wanted one ever since the other Garfield window toys became popular.

Can we KickStarter this? Has some enterprising Etsy person already concocted it? I have gone from zero to Wanting Nothing More Than Such A Window Garfield in seconds, and I want also to give them to all my friends. 

She's got great ideas, but she's a big fan of Ms Petri's, and can't be on the chat live (school, etc)

Aw, well, that’s cool! I hope my meme concepts are worthy of such a vote of confidence. There’s always Galaxy Brain...

The romantic-triangle meme was one in a whole series, and that series is pretty great, and if I internet-searched it now I could probably save other people's time, but I'm too busy writing how I'm too busy to do it. Anyway, I'm pretty sure the plot of this series is what's going to happen in Star Wars.

There are baby shark plush figures on sale EVERYWHERE. I confess, I bought one in every color to clip onto my tote bag. Let's Go Hunt, Nats!

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Dooo!! say we all

And here I was expecting something about a lasagna loving cat!

Stop and Shop near Providence, RI. It may already be in a grocery store near you!

I’ll keep my eyes peeled! 

and you're not telling us WHAT THOSE clever ideas teachers had were?

They were mostly things like “rearrange the periodic table so it spells out the opening of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance.’”

Ohio kid here. We went on a field trip in elementary school to Rutherford B. Hayes's museum in Fremont. I have just recounted to you everything I remember about that trip. I used to think we had quantity but not much presidential quality -- a bunch of mediocre, bearded 19th-century guys in black and white pictures. (In contrast to our Civil War generals, who basically saved the Union.) But I'm fond of Hayes after reading his memoirs (this ties into the Civil War thing), and now I know how much potential Garfield had, and Taft was also Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which is something. So we can be proud of some stuff.

My only Hayes fact is that his wife didn’t serve alcohol and was called Lemonade Lucy for that reason! I hope it’s a fact! If not, I have nothing! 

Know your meme distracted boyfriend. So we have this discussion page as the girlfriend, us as the distracted guy, and pages about whatever we're discussing as the girl in red.

The tab that is always my girl in red is TVTropes. 

What if everything that we thought was real was just a long Force-in-the-cave situation and someone forgot to wake them up? I'm guessing Kylo would be the dreamer in this case. But maybe two people can share the same dream, because the Force or whatever? Anyway, sorry to spoil the movie for everyone by cracking the code.

You did it, you ruined it! 

Oops. I meant Grant, not Hayes.

Oh, that makes a lot more sense, actually. 

Your column integrating the baseball playoffs with the Democrats' debate! I of course watched baseball - tons more satisfying.

Thank you, that’s very kind! 

Go Nats!!!!

Did he hate Mondays too?

Someone had to ask!

like Garfield?

Harrison definitely was! 

If the child is both very crafty, political, and also into video games, Mei from Overwatch has been becoming quite the symbol / meme of the HK resistance!

My theater of choice told me to keep my eyes "glued to my email" on Monday for early ticket sales. The tickets went on sale after I went to bed. If they weren't within walking distance, they would no longer be my theater of choice. Grrrr.

Grrr indeed! I hope you were still able to lock a ticket down!

I have become an aficionado of the Garfield assassination and have some recommendations: Sarah Vowell’s book “Assassination Vacation,” the occasionally-offered National Park Service tour of Garfield-related sites in DC, the Garfield memorial near the US Botanic Garden.

These are all great recommendations! I would recommend the creepy series of comic strips from the 80s when it’s revealed that the entire plot of Garfield is the hallucinations of a starving cat in an abandoned house! 

My 8 year old has decided that for Halloween he wants to be Forky, from Toy Story 4. So now I get to turn my child into a spork. I feel like there's a way to spoon a joke in here somewhere.

I’m just glad it sporked his creativity! Always happy to give a spork plug.

Sorry to see that Jimmy Carter is in the hospital. Regardless of what you think of him as president, he's one of the best ex-presidents we've ever had. Second only to John Quincy Adams, I think.

I’m intrigued that JQA’s ex-presidency landed so high on your list! But I join you in being sorry about President Carter’s fall! I wish him a speedy and complete recovery. 

I haven't purchased mine yet! Holding out for sale prices next week - where I live, the trick or treat traffic is unrelenting - kids come in from other neighborhoods - so I need to buy a LOT. (Also, what kind of blasphemy is glazed candy corn??)

Many of your columns are truly brilliant and hilarious. Just wanted to say that, sometimes, occasionally, you get a real solid (and at times dark) chuckle out of me. Keep being awesome. And thank you.

Aw, thank you for the elusive chuckle! I always appreciate when people send nice notes like this but I never publish them because I feel awkward, but then I worry I am creating an incentive structure that will result in fewer nice notes, so: thank you! 

But yet we rarely hear about the poor foon. Is it because no one wants to clean them - and be labeled a buffoon?

Well, he was the only ex-prez to go back to serve in the House of Representatives and was a big voice against slavery.

That definitely beats Taft’s post-presidential tenure, then! 

"Sheryl Crow saw something really strange when she was a backup singer for Michael Jackson!!!!" After scrolling seemingly endlessly, she said "I saw something strange and that's all I'm going to say."

This seems like a good place to add that an ancestor of mine, James A Beaver, former governor of PA and Civil War general, was approached to run on Garfield's ticket as his VP. He was, however, a somewhat reluctant leader, and declined the offer. Had he accepted, he'd have become a US President. And thus his descendants were destined for obscurity instead of fame. He later was a trustee and acting president of Penn State University and is the guy they named the stadium after.

Well, I am sorry we were denied a President Beaver, but also, just a little bit, grateful. 

isn't about a guy moving into an actual cubicle (bummer). Apparently an old Federal office building was converted into apartments? condos? and he moved into one. He saw a window with scratches on it and realized that HE had made those scratches when it had been an actual cubicle and he had worked in it. Still pretty cool, though.

That *is* cool! And a satisfying note to end the chat on! I hope everyone has a wonderful week and I will catch you on the blog ( and the Twitter (@petridishes)! 

In This Chat
Alexandra Petri
Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences." She joined The Post as an intern in 2010, after graduating from Harvard College.
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