ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri: The untitled goose game

Nov 12, 2019

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Hello everyone! Happy Tuesday! What’s bugging you this week? What excites you? Did you see that renegade cat who was trying to release his compatriots from their rooms in the shelter? Let’s converse! 

Dark swan or extra noise?

Swan? I would say he is like the untitled goose from the game: extra noise, and he is running through the town ringing his bell and making havoc with the flower arrangements. No one asked for this! If he would just walk away and leave everyone alone the townsfolk would not be upset with him and pursue him with rakes. I am not sure this analogy is holding but the untitled goose game is great and swans made me think of it. 

What are your thoughts on the term "conversational snow"? I heard it in a forecast a couple of days ago.

Is this a new drug slang I’m not familiar with? 

Let's not. Those Converse All Star sneakers that I wore in my youth offered no arch support and ruined my feet.

I still have mine from middle school! They offer even less support than they once did, but fortunately I never had to wear them to do anything athletic. I just wore them to, like, convey my personality! 

Can we agree that last week's suggestion about how to use leftover french fries (who has leftover french fries? are these the ones we lose between the seat in the car?) was one of the weirdest yet? Not sure how it compares to the *hint* that people should be doing crossword puzzles in 2017.

What was the suggestion? Imagine having leftover French fries!

Let's talk about that untitled goose game. Have you played it? Watched others play it? Etc.? Can we all agree that it's delightful although we have to admit that we as the main character are a terrible person/bird?

I have watched others play it and my only contribution has been to urge them to honk more. 

played for what cricket team?

I know this! An awesome teenager told me this fact and I have them to thank! They were called the Allhakberries (sp?) and I think they were not very good at cricket! 

Caffeine is one of the compounds that evolved in plants as a pesticide. Which is why white tea (tea made from very young tender leaves) has more caffeine than tea made from older leaves. The plant needs to protect the leaves when they are small more than they need to protect them as the leaves mature, so the pesticide is more concentrated in the young leaves. Yes, I went to the tea lecture/tasting at the US Botanic Garden over the weekend. Also, some teas are astringents so they make your tongue feel dry. Seriously. Your mouth is fine. You drink something and your mouth feels all dried out. It is weird. Also tea is part of what caused the West's love affair with sugar. There just wasn't that much call for sugar before we were using it to make the caffeine delivery systems taste better.

That’s fascinating! Mm, I can’t start my day without a nice cold cup of pesticide! 

One is an altruistic escape artist, the other is the feathered personification of chaos. How could it be worse than what we already have?

Ugh but why do I have the feeling that in 2019 Goose would lead the ticket?

At what age is someone too old to wear them? I've been wondering recently if I've reached -- or passed -- that age. But I think they're a good "between" shoe -- not as fancy or formal as the shoes I wear to work, but not as casual or ugly as my running shoes. If I'm too old for them, I don't know what else could fill that spot in my shoe lineup.

Yeah, a versatile “sneaker but I made an effort” is good to have, and I think it may be one of those things that you won’t age out of but might continue to be the shoe that fills that function as you age with your demographic? It’s like the hairstyles that people alight on in their formative years and keep into old age, that turn into what the next generation thinks of as “grandma style.” 

Well, I saw the perennial Mercedes television ad featuring a bunch of cars dashing through the snow, simulating Santa and his sleigh, so the Happy Holiday season must be upon us. And in other, more heartening news, I saw Candy Corn discounted at my grocer. Time to stock up for next year!

I can’t find any discount candy corn! Woe is me! It is all Christmas Creep from here on out. 

Dear Heloise: Sometimes we have leftover french fries when we dine out. Whenever possible, we ask for a “doggie bag” and save the ones we don’t eat. I take them home and put them in the freezer and use them for breakfast potatoes. Sometimes I chop them up and mix them with peppers or onions in a potato pancake, or use them as hash browns. My whole family has now started to copy what we do with leftover fries. ------ But this was from 2017! I read a new one last week, so now we know there exists exactly two people in the world who have leftover french fries.

Well, that does sound delicious, if you have them! But I join the general amazement that anyone has them. 

crosswords. Evidently my brother gave my mom a book of just Monday puzzles and told her that he could do them in 8 or 9 minutes so she should be fine with them. And I told them that my average was above that, but my best time was 7:03 on a Monday. And they both demanded to know why I was timing myself to that level of accuracy and keeping records doing a crossword. They seemed completely shocked when I told them I didn't time myself at all. I was doing it on the computer and the computer did the timing and compiled the statistics. And then I wondered whether I should yell at my brother for making mom feel dumb because she can't do the puzzles in the book. The only ones she ever did when we were growing up were from TV guide. Not great practice for even Monday puzzles.

I just got the app and started doing them that way, and now my husband keeps hearing enraged yells as my clumsy thumbs shave vital seconds off my time! My best Monday so far is a 6:25. The TV Guide crossword is hard in a different way, though; or at least if you get an old enough TV guide that assumes you are very familiar with the cast of MASH. 

Named by J. M. Barrie of Peter Pan fame because he mistakenly thought 'Allah akbar' meant 'Heaven help us'.

While I worry about anyone whose brain retains the name of that literary cricket team, a stroll over to Wikipedia reveals a great deal about their notable members. Makes the Hampton's annual Writers versus Artists softball game ordinary.

If memory serves, Chuck Taylor All-Stars were only available in black, orange, and (maybe) white in the mid-1970s, so my mom would never let me get them no matter how much I begged. I had to wear Keds instead, so even from an early age, I was excluded from the "cool kids" table. However, Wikipedia doesn't bear me out on this memory, and says Chucks were available "in a variety of colors." Can any reader confirm? I remember Sarah from "The Summer of the Swans" tried to dye her orange Chucks blue, which would seem to support my memory.

Is their definition of “a variety” just white, black, and orange? That’s another possibility! Or maybe it was regionally limited? 

Sure, or like the boxers or briefs dilemma: what's "in" is what your dad didn't wear, generation after generation.

My local Giant overbought and there were shelves full of it in the discount aisle. The other unsold candy was Boyer Mallo Cups, which are just disappointing because your mouth is expecting a Reese's cup.

Is this some sort of marshmallow in a cup? It sounds unpromising.

Conversational snow is that in-between snow, more than a few flurries, not enough to measure. Just enough for everyone to talk about it.

Not a topic that sticks, in other words.

Why would chatter's Mom not let her get black or orange sneakers? I understand not wanting white as they seem to get dirty instantly but black seems like something a mother would love (I would!). OTOH I had to have white sneakers in high school for gym. It only took one day at camp in PA to turn them clay red.

All of this checks out as far as I’m concerned! Maybe Chatter’s mom thought black looked too Goth? I think that was my mom’s concern?

may I suggest boat shoes. Comfy, easy to don, quick to lace up, and still look cool as they did in the 60's. And no, I'm not a 75yr old boomer who has been instrumental in forming the post-millenial worldview of "grandpa style". I'm not *that* old!

I can second that they are comfortable, and if you get the right pair you don’t even need to lace them! 

That's me, and it's fine. You can now get leather sneakers in various shades of tan, cordovan, black, even blue -- they're much less casual than canvas sneaks and way way way more comfortable and supportive than All-Stars. I even bought a pair of "wingtips" with sneaker soles that are my new business casual go-to.

This seems like a good solution. Also, cordovan! Such a good color term! 

but all you have to do is fry the bacon, lift the bacon out of the pan onto paper towels, then put in the french fries, and they crisp up beautifully. Better than any hash browns I've ever been served.

Congratulations on being the third person on earth with leftover French fries! This sounds so delicious I might be forced to eat fewer fries! 

In my neck of the woods (N.E. Ohio) a side of fries at a typical casual sit-down restaurant is huge. These are not the serving sizes at the fast food chains. I don't box those up take home because I'm a nuke-leftovers-in-the-microwave person.

After reading all these references to Wikipedia, I have to wonder if this chat could construct a wiki entry out of hole cloth and make people believe in it...

Well, this always brings me to the classic XKCD: 

I'm with our moderator, the only Leftover Fries I've experienced are either the one renegade that escaped capture at the bottom of its sack or the runaway that has now established residency on the automotive floor. All others are consumed voraciously.

I had the coolest leather Celtics high tops, I thought. Until one day, my girlfriend, now wife, said, "Aren't you a little too old for those if your not actually playing basketball?" Question posing as a statement. So, the answer is 27 years old.

But an actual Celtics player would never wear Converse high tops! They lack arch support! By this logic— well, I am not sure what, but it sounds like you found a positive resolution. 

If we mesh properly, we could net quite a crowd-sourced entry.

Hole Cloth is what people use to strain cheese, I think. Or is it what the Emperor’s new clothes were made of?

Thank you, fellow chatter. I will look into these things, even though I don't know what cordovan means. (Thank you also to the chatter who suggested boat shoes -- which I'm not a fan of -- for calling me esteemed. I'll take it. "Low" is a type of esteem, right?)

I was limited to red or blue Keds. 0range clashes with everything, and while "goth" hadn't been invented yet, I don't think black Chuck hi-tops were sufficiently lady-like for my mom. I suspect that even if Chucks had been available in red or blue, my mom still wouldn't have let me get them, but the limited colors offered a convenient excuse.

Red or blue are pretty solid options, though! That’s 2/3 of the colors that count! 

What about those Lands end slip-ons everyone was wearing about a decade ago? They are suede, so not perfect for bad weather, but recognizably not sneakers if that is important.,43330,43416,44372,44474

Oh, those! I had forgotten them! They look comfortable and sturdy. 

I've always been a fan of regional candy brands. There was one kind of candy bar sold in Upstate New York. I don't remember the name of the bar, but I do remember the candy company's slogan: "Candy is fun and good to eat."

That is truly a magnificent slogan. Especially for a candy company. Does anyone else know of this?

There's an interesting paragraph at the conclusion of the Wikipedia entry for the shoe, reporting that they have been deemed the ideal shoe for power lifting. "Chucks have flat, rubber soles that enforce correct posture on movements such as deadlifts, squats, and bench presses...The canvas material allows powerlifters to push their feet to the outside on squats which helps keep their knees out and activates their glutes."

Hey, what do you know! 

Bright blue with a plaid lining so you can fold it down. They are not very comfortable because of the lack of arch support, but they look fantastic.

They do sound fantastic to behold! 

I can’t believe no one has started a shoe company called Brevity or The Sole of Wit yet. 

The finest Spanish leather (not Corinthian, pace Roberto Montalban), which gave its name to fine shoemaking, and the occupational surname Cordwainer.

Well, I have learned a new word today!

A major retailer based in Maine long ago sold Chuck Taylor high tops with khaki uppers and olive green soles. I had several pairs. Ballcourt meets campfire.

I have nothing useful to contribute besides that between conversational snow and khaki uppers we are amassing a wide range of possible euphemisms. 

I still have mine and still wear them! Except I got them in Nordstrom's children's shoe department for several dollars cheaper than in the adult dept. (I wear an adult 6 or kid's 4) I have a black pair and a tan pair. I wore out my first black pair and the ones I have now were my daughters because she got too cool to wear them.

There was a period when I was about in the 7th or 8th grade when all the cool kids wore cordovan Weejuns. Not black or brown. Consensus was never reached as to a coin in the eyelet.

I am trying to remember what the equivalent was from when I was in 7th or 8th grade. I know it was not my brown Docksiders, but I am not sure what it was. 

We Happy Few theater company is doing "Lovers Vows" which is the play that causes so many problems in Mansfield Park. At CHAW in SE. I'm going tomorrow.

This is the part of the chat where I admit to my shame that I still haven’t read Mansfield Park! But for those who have: check it out!

I had to Google "what is cordovan". Cordovan is an equine leather made from the fibrous flat connective tissue beneath the hide on the rump of the horse. Also: Cordovan takes its name from the city of Córdoba, Spain, where the production of cordovan leather was first practiced by the Visigoths in the seventh century.

Ooh, the fibrous flat connective tissue from the rump part of the horse! I hear that is the best tissue for equine leather! 

I am in my early sixties and I am proud to announce to the world -- or to this chat, at least -- that I recently bought a pair of oxblood-red Doc Martens. I was never a punk rocker but now I can pretend that I had a wild and misspent youth.

Yikes, I thought it was a color. Now I learn it's horse hide. No thanks.

I think it is also the color that that horse hide is!

Yet another factoid gleaned from the All-Star Wikipedia entry, Converse redesigned to keep pace with other shoes like those from Nike, including the Chuck Taylor All Star II in 2015. Also, Mickey Johnson, was the last to wear All Stars in the NBA, when he played for the Nets in the 1985–86 season.

Fun fact! Thanks! 

I will take them! I am apparently a weirdo in the States in that I adore marshmallowy, gummy texture. Mallow cups are GREAT - toothsome chocolate, soft and pillowy mallow, and a truly heinous amount of sugar.

As long as we're talking about Converse sneakers, I urge any basketball fans or fans of awkward '80s rapping to fire up the YouTube and find the commercial for Converse Weapon shoes, featuring Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and other stars of the day. (Yes, Larry Bird raps!)

Well, I am going to go look this up, for sure! Right after the chat! Which is, alas, drawing to an end!

There are many colors that are derived from or named for animal byproducts - oxblood (as mentioned above), carmine (cochineal bugs), sepia (cuttlefish ink or burned human hair)... unsurprisingly, a lot of them are red or brown.

“Cuttlefish ink or burned human hair” In sepia, there are no winners. 

maybe for the dude in charge of the Holey Roman Empire?

This made me chuckle(magne).


I will not scuttle but sneak, and now is the time! I am bad at sneaking and thus will announce it now. Good luck with your shoes and your leathers! See you next week — and catch you on the blog in the interim, and on 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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