ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri: The Last One Before The New Year (December 31)

Dec 31, 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.

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Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone! Let’s talk about the decade, our resolutions, and anything else on your mind!

Obviously, when written, "2020" is the most concise. But when spoken, "Hindsight" has fewer syllables. And if I could get a nickel for every time we'll see video clips of "I'm Barbara Walters and this is 2020" over the next few days, I'd likely have a LOT more nickels than I do now.

I am excited for the year of Hindsight, as well as for the New Twenties! Nobody brought back fun things from the 1910s, but I am optimistic we can bring back some of the fun of the 20s, for a very specific given value of fun.  

What are your new year's plans - partying with friends, a fancy dinner, board games with the family, or binge watching something in your PJs? Perhaps you love crowds and are going to a "drop" somewhere. There's the Mushroom Drop here in Kennett Square PA, the Baloney drop in Lebanon, PA, and the Pickle Drop in Dillsburg, PA. Whatever you do, stay safe, thanks for all your hard work, and have a wonderful new year. May 2020 bring us all clear vision!

The Mushroom Drop sounds amazing! I am playing board games with friends, in the er hip and irrepressible vigor of my youth! Thanks for the kind wishes and a merry 2020 to you too!

I went back to your Christmas songs ranking seeking some spiritual guidance, but was disappointed. You left out "Here Comes Santa Claus"! So I'll ask you now: 1) where would you rank that one?, and 2) doesn't it raise confusing theological issues -- or at least mix heavenly metaphors -- to "give thanks to the Lord above" that Santa is coming -- from above! -- tonight?

I also forgot “Christmas Wrapping,” I think (or forgot that I didn’t forget it, which is almost worse) of which I am reminded by the fact that it is invariably playing everywhere I go, every time I leave the house. I also forgot “everybody’s waiting for the man with the bag,” I think?

I think Here Comes Santa Claus fascinatingly situates Santa Clause in a theology where both he and God exist! Santa is not supreme, though endowed with his usual accouterments of a lane and a bag that’s filled with toys. This is a Santa who is merely a cog in a larger system. That or the song is just designed to pull the rug out from under you in that way so many Christmas songs have, where if you keep singing them they really take a turn. You thought you were singing about Santa? this song asks. NO! The more fool you! 

How can the Republicans/Democrats be so deluded? Can't they see that Trump has done nothing/everything wrong?

How right/wrong you are!

Sounds like the title of a "Friends" episode!

These titles have taken a turn! Speaking of which, are there any things folks would like to see in the chat in the new year? 

First one needs to be, "Make list." That way you can check something off right away!

Since you're about the only chat going this week, I thought I'd make sure to be on to justify your loyalty when all of the others are out vacationing. But now I've got to pick up a prescription at the drugstore. I'm sorry! Maybe y'all will still be chatting when I get back; if not, I look forward to the transcript!

Enjoy the drug store! May your doctor’s writing have been prescriptive, not descriptive! 

I am currently eating a delicious blueberry muffin (breakfast treat from a friend) and tea, and hoping the rest of the shortened work day goes by quickly. Not a NYE person, but taking my toddler to a friend's for possible swimming and early fireworks.

That sounds delicious! The muffin, not the toddler, though these days you can never be too careful when specifying. I’m about to have a sous vide egg bite you can make at home— from Costco! They’re amazing. 

The real question isn't what are you going to do? It's are you going to be able to stay up to midnight without taking a nap this afternoon to prepare?

Worth it or not? Never looks fun when watching on the TV.

I’ve never been to the place where they drop the ball, but I would like to someday! Has anyone? This might be the year; it’s less cold than it has been! 

In rural Vermont, a storm brought freezing rain and snow. Today, looking out the picture window is like being in a wraparound Currier & Ives engraving. Happy New Year!

That sounds lovely! Happy New Year! 

Is it me, or do people seem to have more rolls than bread over the holidays? I mean, there are traditional holiday loaves like Stollen or Challah Bread, but all the ads I see are for rolls. Theories?

I have been besieged by rolls all holiday season and can confirm that in my entirely anecdotal experience they feel especially numerous. Besieged is too strong; most of these rolls have been homemade and delicious, but they have also been strong in number to the point of being steamrolls. 

What types of food will be served? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wine, I believe, but also pumpkin bread! 

Wait, wait... Costco makes these?! How did I not know this? As usual, this chat is invaluable. No Costco immediately near me, being an urban dweller, but I may have to check those out when I go visit the parents in suburbia.

How fortuitous! I just had egg bites today and am thinking of ways to potentially improve them. I think the usual texture may be too squishy-mealy for my taste (a common problem with sous-vide anything) and I may want something firmer but still giving. How are the ones from Costco?

The texture is the same, if you microwave them, but you also have the option of frying them in a pan or baking them, which I have never explored but which might result in a different texture! 

I’m spending NYE pining for the days when I lived on the West Coast. The ball in Times Square dropped at 9 PM and I was happily asleep at 901 PM. The only thing that I’ve stayed awake past 9 in years was the World Series. Go Nats!

Yay Nats! 

Wait, did you make it at home or did you get it from Costco? Also, is a sous-vide cooker worth it?

By make I meant “microwave”! I apologize for filling anyone with hope! 

you liked the new Star Wars. If you are waiting for someone to ask, I'm asking.

I enjoyed watching it, but it infuriated me in whole new and different ways than any previous slightly disappointing Star Wars movie. Spoilers, I think, but: ARE THERE NO RULES? ARE THERE NO STAKES? Also, how much more subjugated can the galaxy get? Come on. All the people sitting there saying, “This is the final battle, and if we don’t fight, afterwards, the galaxy will truly fall” — there seems to be a First Order presence everywhere, they are taking people’s kids to be stormtroopers, there are star destroyers over every planet, even without this massive collector fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers. What more could anyone possibly want? I liked when they said, “uh, find a planet that has some kind of emotional significance to the characters, and destroy it,” so we’d know what they were doing. Also, I found a lot of the fan service insulting. Sure, give Chewbacca a medal! That’s what people want. He’s just lost, in rapid succession, almost everyone he’s cared about for years, but he has a medal now! People will clap! I got a grim satisfaction in all the movements when the movie wanted people to clap when no one in fact clapped. It stopped caring about the rules in ways that undermined the storytelling instead of strengthening it. If anyone can do anything, and if you don’t lay any groundwork to explain to me what happens will happen, besides that it needs to, to end happily, then why should I care?  Why should I believe you? Is this even a happy ending? This is going in my prequels pile, emotionally, although the prequels at least had interesting ideas. I am not sure what ideas this movie had, other than “let’s give people what we assume they want, which is both not what they want and insulting.” 

On the bright side, I enjoyed the group adventures, seeing Lando, and Adam Driver crushed it as usual! I have seen it twice so far and will see it again. But it infuriated me. Maybe I’ll like it more a third time. 


I've never had a sous vide egg bite, but I agree with you about Costco. My local one has the best combo pizza slices for lunch, and the cheapest good gasoline around. They're certified "Top Tier" which, if you check ( ) , means that their gasoline includes all the recommend additives and leaves you much less likely to end up with a "Check Engine" light from using cut-rate gas.

Wow! I like that this chat is turning into a CostCo infomercial. In 2020, turn to CostCo for all your shopping needs! Their gasoline is certified Top Tier!

Ummm... These are things you just heat up or do you need a sous vide set-up for them? Not that I've ever set foot in a Costco. Just wondering. Glad someone is chatting this week.

Just heat ‘em up! 

Do you think it more likely we are eventually conquered by aliens beng disgusted at how we are ruining our planet, or robots of our own creation slowing using creeping technology to make us slaves?

I’m team alien. I don’t know if it’s more likely, but it would be cheerier to at least learn we weren’t alone, and that somebody had managed to develop space travel without destroying their planet first! Also, I wonder if we’re competent enough to create a robot competent enough to destroy us. Then again, maybe that robot doesn’t need to be so very competent. 

Many years ago, when I moved to Manhattan for my first job right after college, I decided to go to Times Square for New Year's Eve. My date & got separated immediately from our friends, and I got caught in a packed crowd that suddenly began pushing so hard that I felt I was slowly being forced to the ground and would be squashed. It was incredibly frightening. I was spit out on a corner a few blocks away, the only casualty being my shoes, which had lost their ornamental buckles. I shakily got on the subway and went home -- and never celebrated NYE that way again.

Well, this sounds like an absolute nightmare. Thank you for sharing. 

So, just to be clear, these are egg-bites that are labeled Sous-Vide Egg Bites? That you can cook in a sous-vide thingy or that have already been cooked in a sous-vide thingy and you jsut have to heat up, via microwave, oven, air fryer, cast iron skillet, etc.?

Yes! They have already been sous-vided; you need simply apply heat.

as a sous vide cooker. I have attempted this in that I have purchased the bags that my brother claimed were needed to try it and not done anything else. But I might. Someday.

Thoughts from your chatters on where my husband and I should go to feel holiday-ish next December? We're in DC and want to drive. We've already been to Kennett Square (loved it), Williamsburg (also loved), and are contemplating the Holiday Train display at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (I think?). I could ask the travel chat, but feel like your audience is more quirky.

I went to a party once at a bar, far, far from Times Square. It was fun. Do NOT venture into Times Square. You are tightly packed in a large, drunken, rowdy crowd for several hours. There are no bathrooms. You may not leave unless you are literally dying, and even then the cops will give you a hard time.

To gather with a few friends, drink some wine, retell some stories and jokes, tell a few new stories and jokes, and we will close it down about 10:00 pm. I will start the year getting enough SLEEP!! Yeah, oldsters here.

This sounds fun! Have a great New Year!

I don't recall seeing the sous vide eggs at Costco - do they come frozen or refrigerated? When you search their website for "sous vide" the only thing that comes up is "Antibiotic free, USDA Choice, Sous Vide 3.5 lb Chateaubriand with Twice Baked Potatoes and Demi Glacé, Serves 8" for the low low price of $149.99. But it has a customer rating of 4.6 out of 5.

They’re refrigerated! Their name is “Sous Vide Egg Bites” and their flavor is four cheese and uncured turkey bacon, if that helps! 

NOOOOOOOOO! You have it all wrong! Leia left Chewie HAN'S MEDAL from the end of the first movie! It had great emotional significance!

Yay, one fewer thing to be upset about! I thought it was just “fans have always been mad Chewie didn’t get a medal.” I guess that squares the circle. 

Come visit us up in Pittsburgh! There's a First Night (tickets only $10), as well as museums, concerts, fine restaurants, maybe a day-trip to Fallingwater...

THANK YOU. The entire theater I was in seemed mostly baffled and certainly not inclined to clapping. I enjoy the occasional fan pander as much as the next person, but goddammit, give me stakes! Meaning! Plot that doesn't have to be inferred using mental gymnastics Simone Biles would be proud of! CONTEXT! I felt a similar way after Avengers Infinity War - either death has meaning or it doesn't, and a movie can't have it both ways. [Character] is clearly gearing up to die in a Big Sacrifice except LOL [they're] OKAY. [Character]'s entire planet blows up, theoretically with them on it, but THEY'RE OKAY for some reason. UGH.

Yes! But I’m glad about the medal at least! 

Character Okay For Some Reason After Loss Of Planet really bothered me, because it was one of the few things that I thought worked really well and had good stakes, and then we got to learn it didn’t! 

I have made four attempts at whale-watching, and all have failed. The first: on a family vacation and there were no whales. The second: as a student, and the trip was cancelled the day before. The third: on my honeymoon, and there were no whales. The fourth: on a vacation with my husband, and the trip was cancelled that morning due to weather. I will be on the west coast in the spring to see family, and told my husband I want to go whale watching again. He said I am cursed and he wants to go without me. I quoted Churchhill to him, never give in, never never never. Do you have any advise on how to end my whale curse?

I saw your subject line and I thought, OMG, Captain Ahab is in the chat! 

Your resolution is officially the thing I am most invested in this year. I would suggest maybe trailing krill after yourself? No, I wouldn’t suggest that. Perhaps you could start small, watching dolphins, to build up your confidence, then progress to whales? I want you to obtain your White Whale before the year is out. 

My SO and I have been doing this for the past couple years. We did Asheville, Pittsburgh, and Chincoteague. We skipped this year, but spent a long weekend in Floyd, VA after Thanksgiving. It's nice to get away, but not deal with the airport chaos.

I imagine NYE at Times Square being like the climax of that novel/film, except with cold temperatures (and maybe precipitation).

Some ringing endorsements of Times Square NYE here!

I got one of those silicone molds to make the egg bites, made them, and they were pretty darn nice. A bit runny on the inside, but I think that's probably because I put too much stuff in them.

Let us not forget the UberCostco item: the $1.50 hot dog. It is excellent. And $1.50.

Does it get cold enough so that Fallingwater becomes Falling Ice??

Or just Stationary Ice?

Learned something new, had never heard of sous vide. What is special / particular about the taste of these? Also Wikipedia, on which we all depend, is fundraising, like PBS, many who use it don't donate. So turn over a new leaf, and start 2020 right, support what you enjoy.

Thank your Wikipedia today! 

Maybe I'm just lazy, but I wish a person could watch a movie and not need an entire book of annotations to explain why every disjointed half-second is actually REALLY IMPORTANT AND MEANINGFUL IF ONLY YOU KNEW ABOUT X.

There’s also that.

For me it's mooses (meese?) that seem to have a special radar for avoiding me. The Rockies, Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Michigan's UP, Maine, Ontario, Quebec... nada! It's as though they know that I (and my camera) are coming. I'm beginning to think they're just deep fakes shown on TV and in photos.

These are the best goals and I’m so excited for our year! 

I am going to add seeing a large mammal to my 2020 list; I have no expectation, but think how exciting it would be if it worked! 

AND that $1.50 hot dog INCLUDES a soda - that you can REFILL!!!

And with the savings, you can support Wikipedia!

I did it in, aherm, 1960 if I recall correctly, as a teenager. Unlike now there was zero security, my friend and I just strolled over at 11:30 PM and waited a Whole Half Hour! and it was really cold too, but it was great fun to see the (can't remember what it was) dropping at midnight. But, aside from the fact that if I was a teenager in 1960 I must be pretty old now, I couldn't stand to do it now -- you have to come many hours ahead, there are no bathrooms, you're penned into a small area the whole time -- it's as if the sheep decided to pause on their way to the barn to sit outside for a few hours and then couldn't even turn around.

Do you anticipate having any new books of yours published, or plays produced? If so, what?

Uncanny you should ask! 2020 is going to be an exciting year! I have NOTHING IS WRONG AND HERE IS WHY, a collection coming out from Norton June 2,  and I have INHERIT THE WINDBAG, a play about the Buckley-Vidal debates, hitting Mosaic Theater this March! I am very excited and will be drinking lots of coffee. I hope you will join me for any of this— it would be a great treat! 

I'm just glad to be leaving 2019 behind. Not that I have many hopes for 2020 (after all, it is an election year), but holy cow this past year was a slog.

Aww, now I'm nostalgic. The only time I was ever on TV was during the KCPT funding drive. My favorite job was writing the pledged amounts on the boards, but answering the phones was fun too.

I appreciate your support. I've already seen so much on my whale watching boat trips that I don't need to build up to whales. Seals, dolphins, arctic puffins. Tuna leaping through the air! A bald eagle snatch a dead flounder right out of the water. A note to Moose Curse: one of failed whale watching vacations was on the Atlantic Coast in Canada, and we saw two magnificent moose hiking in Cape Breton Island. We have a framed picture of that moose in our house. Don't give up! I will update you on the whales in April.

This could be an unwitting strangers on a train situation— you saw Moose OP’s moose, and now Moose OP will see your whales!

ME TOO! In fact, when I was in Colorado, I thought I saw some moose, and took several photographs; but when I got the film developed, the scenery was there . . . but the moose were not (Doo-doo-Doo-doo, Doo-doo-Doo-doo)!

You might not have seen a moose, but you saw a VAMOOSE.

It is almost midnight in Bangladesh. Can you count us down to midnight as you close the chat today?


Just wanted to say that between talking about food, media, wildlife, and nostalgia, your chats are always the most fun and varied. Thank you! All I want in 2020 is more of this.

2... (thank you!)

Richmond! If you're driving anyway, a lot of the suburbs have the tackiest of tacky wonderful lights, and for pretty lights there's the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. There's some cool hotels downtown (Quirk and The Graduate come to mind) or the Jefferson for snooty fancy Christmas decorations.

1... (good recs!)

When I went on a whale-watching journey out of Lajes do Pico, in the Azores, there were no whales that day. But we got to see hundreds (at least) of dolphins, who came up really close to our zodiac (I have photos to prove it!).

Happy New Year! May you be delighted by the sight of as many whales or moose as you have set as your goal, and see you in the chat in 2020! 

(And, in the interim, on twitter and the blog.) 

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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