ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri: The Chat That Must Not Be Named

Nov 19, 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.

Happy Tuesday! Are you, too, watching the hearings? If not, what? 

and if so, do I have to wear one of those backless gowns?

It took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize that a "backless gown" was not something fashionable but the thing you get to wear at the doctor. I have only had half of my cup of coffee this morning. No, no gown needed! 

Were you aware of the shoutout you got from webcomic xkcd author Randall Munroe in a print interview in the NY Times Book Review last week? ( ) Q: "Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?" A: "I’m a huge fan of Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post, who I think is one of the funniest writers alive."

I am both aware and thrilled!!!! I'm going to put it on my next book in a large font! 

Does gropple ever fall from the sky in the DC area? I never heard of it until moving to Portland (OR not ME), where it's not uncommon in winter.

No, and that's something we're going to have to gropple with. (Without?) 

I kept hoping someone would bring it up when I read last week's chat, but apparently it was not to be: Converse also makes “Chuck 70s,” which look like the original Chuck Taylor All-Stars but are designed to have more cushioning and arch support. That might help someone whose only obstacle is podiatry-related.

Hey! Good to know. 

(texting) Romeo, I've got a message for you. (texting) It's about Juliet. (texting) Romeo?

If only he'd had more bars, a great tragedy could have been averted! 

This would make an okay Verizon commercial! 

Also, chatters, I have a task for you: the Post is thinking of renaming this chat. What do you think it should be called? Current contenders include "Petri Dishes" or "Weekly Humor with Alexandra Petri" (what it lacks in verve, it makes up for in straightforwardness!) 

Apparently groppel is derived from the German word Graupel. Either way, it sounds a bit like a traditional recipe for a side dish occasionally served at large family gatherings. Perhaps along with a heaping helping of grandma's scrapple.

Scrapple and Gropple also sound like evil muppets.

Does anyone remember Red Ball Jets? Those were the shoes my mom bought for me -- red with a white rubber toe!

I don't remember them, but I like the name. It sounds like a forceful pen. 

Despite the constant drumbeat of "buy for Christmas" that we have heard since AUGUST!!, the Christmas season has arrived here in Kennett Square, west of Philly. On Friday, the 22nd, Longwood Gardens' fabulous Christmas display will open. Lights! Trees! Floral displays! Fountains that dance to Christmas music! For me, this is the true start of my holiday festivities. What activity or event marks the start of the holiday season for you?

The inflation of my festive inflatable turkey! Gobble McGobbleface (last year's Matthew Gray Gobbler) is currently inflated and standing on duty, so the long arm of the holiday season has been extended, as far as I'm concerned. It could also be viewed as starting the first day we avid Hallmark Movies and Mysteries viewers can't find our usual "Murder She Wrote." 

I am deep state operative subversively editing a technical resource document to help government personnel get things, when trying to enforce the laws currently in the US Code. It is fairly boring, but needed. Also, contemplating that there might be another shut down, but probably in December (again) rather than this Thursday.

Thank you for your boring but needed efforts! And give your deep state colleagues my congratulations on all their work suppressing the uh green UFO technology.

Petri, she try, we all try...

A Trying Chat

I've read a couple of interesting articles on how mystery writers have coped with the rise of technology that eliminates a lot of the classic plots -- ya know, if Othello had had a Find My Handkerchief app, etc.

Ooh, I would be interested in reading those articles! Every time I think I might want to write fiction I am immediately stymied by the existence of cell phones. 

Why are they buried in the online WaPo, often appearing briefly, only to disappear quickly (like gropple on the sidewalk when it is only 34 degrees outside)? Can the WaPo create a better index of past gems, because right now a search for "Petri" turns up all sorts of things, including some of the topical satire, some currently doing business as ComPost chats, and several curiously unrelated articles from others.

Well, there is this handy page that links to everything I've written: or should! Just chats and pieces, no curiously unrelated articles that I can detect!

Since I'm reading this chat while having lunch (hey I'm a bureaucrat and I start at 7 so I'm starving by 11) I vote for Petri Dishes. Maybe you will get more food-related questions and comments :)

Or maybe more agar-related questions, but either way, a win!

She puts the try in punditry. :)


I don't really know what that means or where it came from, but I like that it's weird and confusing. Every so often someone will post here that they don't understand what this chat is, and that is perfect. Keep the name!

This made me laugh audibly. "I like that it's weird and confusing" -official chat review

they start "The Christmas Story" 24 hour movie marathon! And I pull out my Jean Shepherd and read the original in all its mid-western nostalgia glory.

Petrial and error?

I loved that TV show! (Trial and Error, not Petrial and Error). All my favorite TV shows must include the letter T and Error, with the exception of HBO's Gritty Prison Drama Oz. 

You can stream Murder, She Wrote on Amazon Prime! All Jessica, all the time!

oh no my fragile productivity

Go with the straightforward title. Although "Petri Dishes" is a fun name, I remember petri dishes as items filled with agar-agar and growing fuzzy blotchy layers of something repellant. Also, a simple name will clearly communicate what you are about. Having more readers is always a good thing!!

You will have to forever forego your preferred pronunciation.

Oh, this is an intriguing additional question: what name will be most likely to result in a correct pronunciation? Probably the Petri, try, try again version?

At least get the spelling right of this awful stuff.

Thank you!

that Romeo and Juliet can no longer be fully updated. Friar Lawrence can be played old enough to not have figured out texting (I know, I know, but my mom is proof). But the idea that Romeo and Juliet aren't in contact by cell phone is too much to deal with. I guess old Capulet could confiscate Juliet's phone for refusing to marry County Paris, but wouldn't she just then "borrow" the nurse's or her mother's or Friar Lawrence's or somebody's? Maybe Romeo just put his number in her phone and she never memorized the number so she can't text him with someone else's phone? But, Friar Lawrence has to have the number in his phone, even if he only uses it to make actual phone calls.

My only contribution right now is that I want to see a production where "Friar Lawrence's cell" is a phone. I'm going to have to ponder how you could make the rest work! 

The Times today has an editorial extolling us to not allow our children to become "insufferable poets." Does that mean it's ok to allow them to become palatable poets? Weigh in.

"Insufferable poets"? Who wrote this, Lord Byron's dad? That is the only scenario where I would feel some sympathy. Link please?

No. Try not. Do or Do Not. There is no try!

But what does [Spoiler] BABY YODA think?

"Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be poets..." although why it's just Mama's job and not Papa's, too, annoys me.

"Parents" scans! 

"Set Free with Petri"!

That is certainly one way to pronounce it, but not the way I do! It's Pee Try! 

was that AI had taken over all technical work, so the only things that anyone studied in advanced education were creative endeavors. The article urged parents to let their kids study science and engineering even though they were useless degrees in which no one could get a job. It was a little too plausible to be as funny as it was meant to be, though I think there could still be physicists even if someone comes up with and proves the Theory of Everything.

Hosting a small get-together to re-watch The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Am trying to come up with clever names for popcorn. For example, we may have "Practical Effects" Bread and "A beverage that is neither blue nor green milk." Oh, and a "I didn't know there was this much green in the whole galaxy" Veggie Tray. Suggestions?

Oh, I like this! (Also, you could label almost any dish "I Like This") 

Lifting Rocks (whey protein); The Belonging You Seek Is Not Behind You (lost and found area); Let The Pasta Die (pasta); Kill It If You Have To (live lobster) 

I don't have Disney Plus and don't plan to get it anytime soon, but is The Mandalorian good? (I'm assuming you've seen it because you know everything about Star Wars.)

I'm LOVING it so far! It's taking its time enjoying the world, and it has a very Star Warsy-feeling sense of whimsy to it, and it is set in the parts of the universe that I was most hoping something would explore. 

OP neglected to state which Times had the opinion piece about "insufferable poets." Turned out to be the NYTimes, where someone is once again touting the virtues of STEM education. No mention of C.P. Snow's "Two Cultures."

"10 Clickbait Topics You Can't Believe Are Here! You'll Hate Number 8!!!" What it lacks in clarity, it makes up in no one cares about clarity, just clicks.

Ah but the trouble is that overt clickbait is out. Headlines of the format. "They told her clickbait was out. Then this happened" are in. 

I'd go for "Dishing With Petri".

"Be Free with Petri"!

Oh, I see what's happening here. 

Pee or pee not. There is no pee try.

The Petri Files

This is also kind of a pun! I am always telling friends that I have to file, and they think that I am very organized, when in fact I am just sending in a piece to my editor. 

One of their best selling covers could become the new name for ComPost: Read This, or Petri Gets the Axe!

I don't like this one, although it would be funny to give me a literal axe, but I appreciate the reference! 

Tea Try. Heat Rye. ... I don't suppose we can turn this into a food chat?


It might help the confused people.

I have a weirdly spelled last name, and as a consequence, I often hear, "Ms....Bitch??" Do not encourage a mispronunciation of your name; when you become a world-famous humorist, it will work against you.

Petri Dishes: We Got Culture

I like that, though!

Then you would always have an axe to grind.

And I could keep it in my car in case of graupel. I don't know that it would help, but I could keep it there!

(not to be confused with Admiral Akbar) Being overly descriptive can be a trap. You want to talk about whatever and stuff.

"Where should I move the troops?"

Oh, I thought this was GENERAL advice! 

badumshhh urgh

When are you going back on Wait Wait?

You tell me!

How about Julie? I've always liked the name Julie.

How about "Milou"? 

Can I just say I'm genuinely proud that my question has a legacy of sorts? I may have to put this on my resume.

It will make your resume as welcoming yet confusing as the chat itself!

Helps distinguish you from Weingarten's, where there is often doo.

Ha! There is some joke to be made here about how between this and the pee trying our chats include both number one and number two!

Isn't that Snowy's name (from TinTin) in French?

Mais oui! Which I guess makes it more of a chien name than a chat name. 

I heard you on Dear Prudence the other day and I am writing to you from beyond the grave, so deep was my delight in hearing two of my favorite Internet People on the same podcast.

I was delighted to be there! I still can't believe the laptop person at the wedding! Truly the stuff of legend. 

Can you tell if anyone there (witness, representative, camera operator) is in the chat?

As far as I can tell, no, but speak up if we're wrong! 

Hmm, drat, am I double-answering the questions? 

I like distracting you from paying attention to the news and writing about it.


You can already get tickets to Inherit the Windbag at Mosaic Theater company even though it doesn't start until March. (I think you could even get a discounted ticket on Goldstar as of a few days ago.)

Yes! And if you want to preorder my new book... you can! Right here! 

Please give us the details on person at wedding, for those of us who didnt hear Dear Prudence!

Oh my gosh there was a guest at this person's wedding who worked on a laptop, complete with notification sounds, THROUGHOUT the wedding! A nightmare! 

I Don't Know What We Are Talking About Or What I Am Doing In Life But I Digress

And on that note, I think I am going to skedaddle (return to my other forest of tabs!) But thank you for all the name suggestions! Enjoy the hearings, hearings, debate, hearings! And see you on twitter and the blog

At least it will nudge people toward pronouncing your name correctly.

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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