ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri: The time warp

Jan 28, 2020

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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Hello everyone! I am back, and ready to chat! How have you been holding up? 

Where have you been? Are you aware today is the 28th, not the 29th? When you put on a sweater or sweatshirt or anything else that you pull over your head, do you put your head through the neck first and then put your arms through the sleeves, or do you put your arms through the sleeves first and then pop your head through the neck?

I am now aware of that, although I tried to date today's piece tomorrow!

I usually pull it over my head and flail around! 

Ya, I've been irritable, scratchy, loud and generally hard to be around. I wondered what was wrong ... and then it hit me I haven't had my Petri fix ... so where you been?

I was getting some vacation in during what months ago I erroneously thought would be a slow news time. I was wrong; it was decreed four years ago that slow news times were extinct. I was in Japan with my in-laws, where I had never been before but have always wanted to visit, which was very cool, and as an added bonus allowed me to stream the impeachment proceedings at a normal time to be awake. I understand that this is not technically what 'vacation' means. 

According to the site, you've cancelled your chat of two weeks ago and instead will be doing today's chat tomorrow (and yet, today). Do you have a special Einstein-Rosen bridge in your pocket or something?

Look, we all noticed that time was warping strangely at the edges, and it was bound to snap and become incoherent at some point. I guess this is the point! I also made the mistake of scheduling this week's chat from a time zone fourteen hours ahead. 

At one point, it appeared that you were both here and not here. Very confusing morning, I must admit!

Schrodinger's Chat! 

The title of your forthcoming book, Nothing Is Wrong and Here Is Why: Essays, sure sounds like the GOP defense team. Was your manuscript leaked to them?

Look, I figured that the only and best way of getting urgent news to people was by selling that news as a book and then circulating the manuscript of that unpublished book, so it seemed like my patriotic duty. 

Welcome back! Good to have you chatting again. Did you have a good vacation? Any fun stories to tell?

I don't know that I have anything that amounts to a story, but I did see a lot of cool stuff! We went to a sumo tournament, and also to a Fire Festival (not to be confused with a Fyre Festival). The town of Nozawa-Onsen has an annual festival starring men of so-called unlucky ages (25 and 42); they construct an enormous wooden shrine pavilion and the 42 year-olds sit on top of it while the 25 year-olds stand beneath it and defend it from villagers attacking with torches. Then after it has been successfully defended for an hour, they light the whole thing on fire. It's really spectacular, and, based on the crowd, apparently a huge hit with Australian tourists. 

How was Winter in Japan? Did you engage in any Winter sports, like skiing or snowshoeing? We've had cold weather while you were gone, but not any real snow here in Kennett Square, PA - not that I'm complaining. Only 53 days until Spring!

I did a little skiing! It was very fun. The one danger of skiing is that I must always remember not to think about the fact that, in its purest essence, it is just the combination of height, speed, and cold, three things I intensely dislike. This time, I remembered this midway down the mountain, became paralyzed with abject terror, sat down, and had to chagrinedly ask the ski patrol to take me down in an ignominious sled. Just 53 days until Spring! 

Me too. I get the sense we're in the minority, though. At some point as a kid I realized that everyone I saw doing it in movies and on TV was going arms first. It does look a bit more dignified, I think, because there isn't any flailing around, but I stuck with my way.

If it ain't broke...

Heck, even if it is broke! 

This improves the odds of not putting it on backwards from 50% to 60%.

it looks more dignified. Not because it is better in any way. Also, you can't use your hands to ease the sweater over your glasses if you put your arms through first. At least, it seems like it would be harder.

Then I take it off, turn it inside out, and try again.

I confess, I have been binging on programs I watched in the 90s. I tried, I really did, to watch the hearings, but the first day did me in. I don't think there is a hope of ousting the President, and this renders the trial meaningless. Am I going to Hell?

*laughs hollowly* GOING? *gestures vaguely around* 

Or is it something else now?

There was SO MUCH Hello Kitty! There was also a fair amount of Gudetama, a depressed egg yolk. 

I'm going to see Knives Out, because I hear there's a demonstration of perfect sweaterness. If it turns out that the secret is to first be incredibly fit and handsome, I will just quit.

I think that second thing does not hurt, but the sweater itself contains its own perfection. 

When you're dressing a particular toddler I know you stretch out the head opening, put one part under her chin and the other on her head --- leaving her face exposed and not "in the DARK!" Pull over the rest of the head and guide arms accordingly

That is optimal, but requires two people! If only they made something like that for your closet that would allow you to see the light at the end of the tunnel when donning sweaters. 

I'd love to read your book, but the cover art is so disturbing that I haven't been able to look closely enough at it to know what it represents. Could you explain, or even better market a version in a plain brown wrapper?

It's Saturn Eating His Children! Goya! Delicious! But I think you will be able to just peel it off if you get a hardcover version! 

His take on mascots was wonderful, especially his look at Chiitan:

Yes! My husband in fact made me sit down and watch it before we went! 

Did you see any Japanese fashion trend that you expect to see in the near future here in the US? How about a beauty trend?

There was so much good fashion that I wanted to entirely revise my wardrobe with a new concept. Everyone had amazing coats!  But instead after much lengthy thought at a vintage store I wound up purchasing what turned out to be a Canadian sweater from I think the 90s. 

Um, no it doesn't. It's like folding a cloth diaper; takes a bit of learning but then you know it for life and can do it by yourself, as countless moms have known for centuries.

I meant one to hold the sweater and one to emerge from the sweater, but even then I may be wrong! 

Oh, I see. I have put so many pullovers on small children that my assumption was that the technique was limited to parents of toddlers.

Hi. I re-submitting this. I read somewhere that you're writing a comic book! Which one? Where will it appear? I gotta know!

I wrote one!!! It came out in August but I think is still out there! It's a one-issue She-Hulk adventure called "She-Hulk Annual" -- you can definitely find it online, even if it's no longer in shops! 

Get an optimized robot to put the sweater on itself. Call it a Woolba. (What are sweaters made out of these days?)

Woolba would also be a good name for a sheep. 

What were the Kit Kats like? Are the legends true?

They were delicious and green-tea flavored, as advertised! 

I went to a Mosaic Theater show at The Atlas. Before it started they announced some stuff about the rest of the season. You got a cheer when they announced your name as the author of their next show. It was just clapping, nothing really fun like, "hip, hip huzzah," but still nice.

Aw, that is nice! I savor and appreciate that! 

Sorry, but this is not what "Leap Day" means, and it's not until the end of next month anyway.

There are a lot of "funny" comic books out there now: Squirrel Girl (canceled, unfortunately), Hawkeye, a number of others. You could clearly do a monthly book, if you have the time.

Don't tempt me! I would love to, but I do not control the pipes of production! But if anyone is out there listening, I'd be extremely down for it! 

Everything you can possibly imagine. Plastic (acrylic, nylon, etc.) plant fibers like rayon and ramie and cotton, plus vegetables like corn and soybeans, and even milk. I kid you not. Oh, and silk.

"Milk sweater" sounds like an insult from "Grease." 

the Play in a Day event is in Bethesda on February 22nd. The playwrights work over night and the companies just have that day to do all the other stuff. Actually last year one group said that they went to dinner after getting the assignment and chatted, went home to sleep and only worked on the play during the day. But they always do devised theater, so are used to working without a written down script. Imagination Stage is pretty close to the metro and a free on weekends Montgomery County garage is right next door.

Oh, this sounds cool! 

So the 42 year olds sit on the shrine while the 25 year olds defend it and it still gets lit on fire? Should I assume that's without said 42 year olds or is it a massive Wicker Man experience?

They climb down to safety and then it is lit on fire! I should have specified! 

for Inherit The Windbag?!

I think they're on sale now

Do you have the answer to this pressing question, which was posed by a commenter yesterday (acc Ben Wittes), as Starr sermonized on the “divisive” nature of impeachment?

I was wondering the same thing! It feels almost metaphysical. Is it possible, in a deeper sense, for any man truly to know that he is Ken Starr? 

Speaking of knowing whether or not you are Ken Starr, I had better skedaddle and get ready for another afternoon of fun! See you here next week! And on the blog! And on the Twitter!

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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