The Web Hostess: Online manners, memes and must-see video

Jan 12, 2011

A weekly chat about the best ways to kill time online. Our Web Hostess, Monica Hesse, sifts the Internet so you don't have to, searching for meaning, manners and the next great meme.

Afternoon, everyone, and thanks for stopping by. We'll get started at 2, but this intro is a tad long, so I'm posting it early.

This week on the Internet:

You probably saw the magnificent rise of Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice who was scooped from the side of the road and tapped to be an announcer for the Clevelan Caveliers.

Alas, the next part of his story is less rosy -- the LAPD detained him after they received a call about a domestic disturbance between Williams and his daughter.

The story is still unfolding, but I think it brings up questions about viral celebrity in general. What responsibility do we have to our flash-in-the-pan celebrities? In Mr. Williams case, should the journalist who discovered him insisted on a background check? Should people have thought more about the possible repurcussions that fame could have on a man who had been homeless? Do we owe anything to our Internet stars besides a forward?

Also online:

Lots of newspapers are using Jared Loughner's Internet trail to analyze the personality of the alleged Tucson shooter. How valuable do you find this kind of analysis?


Saturday is Wikipedia's 10th anniversary. I've got a piece about it tomorrow, but today I'm interested in your fondest Wikipedia memories. What articles do you love? What mistakes have you caught? How creepy did you find Jimmy Wales's plea for donations?

Let's roll. Or potentially, "Let's rool," which is how I first typed it.

I had to occupy my own self online. It wasn't pretty.

That must have been so awful for you. Would you feel better if I showed you Intel's new online-only commercial, which is cooler than it has right to be?

Or what if I passed on Dan Zak's favorite video today, in which one man sings the Ghosbusters theme in 14-part harmony?

Last week I was struck down with an illness sweeping the office that we have taken to calling The Affliction. The Affliction strikes many, and shows no mercy.

Good afternoon, Monica! Well, we can't talk about viral Internet "fame" without talking about Antoine Dodson. Do you view someone like him as being exploited?

Antoine Dodson (aka Bed Intruder man) has become the poster child for questionable exploitation, hasn't he?

My amazingly smart colleague Phil Kennicott comes down on the "Yep, exploited" side in this essay here.

I'm not so sure. Dodson has never appeared to be anything but pleased about his fame, and has done what he can to take advantage of it. I also wonder if there is a difference between Dodson and Williams, in that Williams will continue to perform (He wanted to become well known for his voice) whereas Dodson will continue to be famous for one incident in which his normal vocal patterns were made into a performance.

My favorite error came when I was responsible for checking the entries for my previous workplace and the CEO of it - someone changed his bio to say he graduated with honors from "Bovine University". I laughed and considered leaving it.

What company was this? McDonalds? Jimmy Dean? And how often did you have to check Wikipedia for errors? Every day? Needless to say, I. Love. This.

A few weeks late, but I've been out of town. Just some praise for your list this year! The whole thing was great! As a fan for 20+ years, loved the NKOTB shout-out and sadly realize they probably wouldn't have made it on the list if they didn't make the mistake of attaching BSB to the back of their acronym.

I think it's fair to say that NKOTB probably would not have made it into most people's consciousness were it not for the BSB addition. It's a sad, but necessary parasitic relationship that these two boy bands have embarked on.

Yesterday the gym had a TV tuned to 'Dr. Phil' and Ted Williams was on promising Dr. Phil that he was so grateful for his recent fortune that he'd left his old days behind and wouldn't have anymore run ins with the law/booze/drugs. I'd like to know when that episode was taped v. the fight with his daughter. I am not a fan of the "Doctor" and I think he was using this poor man for his 15 minutes, but he did promise to give him the support and tools he needed to live a completely different life. So my question is where was Dr. Phil in all this mess?

Where was Dr. Phil, indeed?

This article from E implies that the second part of William's two-part Dr. Phil appearance included a reunion with five of his daughters. Presumably, the reunion did not so exactly as planned?

I love this method of learning a foreign language. I only wish there were more interactive videos such as this:

Aw, I am having flashbacks to high school French, and the operatic videos of Corinne and Luc we would watch every day.

I am a closeted editor, and sometimes the Wiki link doesn't point to where it should. To fix it ... for example .. if the linked wiki article is WebHostess, but the text reads Monica Heese, use: [[ WebHostess | Monica Heese ]]

I suppose there's no room for Monica Hesse on Wikipedia, just Monica Heese?

Whatever, I'll take it.

I saw "My Neighbor Totoro", and again fell in love with the Japanese countryside. If only I could vacation in that movie! What movie would you like to vacation in? Avatar?

And plug my tail into all sorts of other questionable life forms? I think not.

This question is complicated by the fact that Ender's Game has not been made into a movie yet, when everyone knows that the correct answer is to attend Battle School with Ender Wiggin.

Barring that, I will obviously be enrolling at Hogwarts. As if there is even a debate.


Donny Graham will never allow posties to use a processor that fast and capable in the newsroom. You might be able to multitask three applications at once, but that is all.

Dinoputer feels bad when he hears about computers that can do more than two applications at once. Shhh.

As the best comment says - they're alone since you don't win friends with salad.

This is a single-service Tumblr page waiting to happen.

Is there any reason I should stop now and not eat the entire bag?

Only if you work new McPherson Square and you can come real quick and give me the other bag.

What, Monica, you wouldn't pick Jurassic Park for a vacation?

Whose car am I riding in? Jeff Goldblum's or Laura Dern's? This matters, people.

I love it and use it a lot, but I always get a laugh at how extensive any entry on a, shall we say, nerd-friendly topic will be. (I say this with all affection, as a partial nerd with many, many nerd friends.) Look up something about history, geography, pop culture, and it's fine for a brief overview and some leads for additional sources. Look up, say, a video game, graphic novel series, or canonical sci-fi movie, and it's a thing to behold. My partial-to-whole-nerd friends and I marvel at the intricacy (and the hours of labor that it must have involved)...

That's one of the things that Jimmy Wales talked about wanting to work on when I interviewed him -- making Wikipedia a friendly place for all nerds (geography nerds, pop culture nerds) and not just Star Trek nerds. Right now the site is heavy on the fan culture.

Nope - it was a small think tank in town. And I just checked when I remembered it, because I figured no one would care (or would look for my boss' bio on there). The whole entry just referred back to our website, anyway.

Maybe the CEO changed his own bio, just to see if anyone noticed.

I'd take Sirens... Elle Macpherson romping around naked all of the time.

Sam Neill is also in "Sirens." Perhaps there could be a Sirent/ Jurassic Park crossover.

But they were in the same car! Remember chaos theory and the water droplets on her hand?

You are totally right. It was Sam Neill who was in the other car. I want to know what the chimp was selling.

Evolution? Naked gymnasts?

People call Bovine University a "cow college", but really only one cow graduated from there.

Did everyone else know that Bovine University was a Simpsons reference?

Should all make a movie together with Charlie Kaufman writing the script. It would be the freakiest thing ever.

They would probably all be fighting over Tilda Swinton.

Welllll...probably Laura Dern's.

(In that case, yes, let's all go into Jurassic Park)

My fondest memory of wikipedia in the last 10 years has been of sitting,  in my walk-in closet with my computer in one hand and the Twilight series in the other. I would read entire passages and go into Wiki to find out more about this particular character, etc. Also, after years of stopping my dork-fabulous obsession with Star Wars books set after the end of the orgiinal trilogy, I have found that I can keep up with the development of our heroes and heroines lives without picking up the now over 30 books published on the subject of the "New Republic". Can you believe that Leia has 3 kids and one of them turns totally to the dark side!? Thank you Star Wars Wiki!

1) Surely someone out there has done a study about the brains of Star Wars fans, and whether their amazing ability to keep 10 bazillion characters straight positively impacts the rest of their brain functions.

2) A lot of women seem to end up reading Twilight literally in the closet.

Did you see the study?

It's pretty interesting, no? Especially when newscasters and celebrities all adapt the bland midwestern accent, it's nice to know that cultural preservation is happening somewhere. Wonder whether linguists will start using Twitter, just as historians are.

My movie vacation? "Field of Dreams," baby. "Is this heaven?" "No, it's Iowa." I'd have a reserved seat on the first base line for a game every day, mustard-slathered hot dog in one hand, cold diet Pepsi in the other!

But as long as we're giving ourselves the ability to step into a movie, wouldn't you be following Shoeless Joe into the corn fields instead of sitting on the sidelines?

A little Birds and Bees time except it's just birds.

I feel compelled to warn everyone that this clip contains a full minute of bird sex. Am pretty sure that the reason it has 100,000 hits is because of what comes after.

Nah, I'd just ask James Earl Jones about what's in the corn, since I'd be sitting next to him...he could describe it in all its literary, basso-profundo detail. Just watching those old guys play would be joy enough. :)

"People will come," he would tell you. And then off in the distance, there would be thousands of cars, carrrying people who were, in fact, coming.

will never stop hurting from the bird sex.

I'm sorry. And I'm double sorry that I have to scoot early this week. Forgot about an appointment.

We got a little bit off schedule with the holidays, but next week we'll be back on track . See you at 2, and GSTQ.

"mustard-slathered hot dog in one hand, cold diet Pepsi in the other!" -- If this is heaven then there's no way that I'm going to be stuck with a _diet_ Pepsi.

So true.

I am not sure this could shed much light. If you looked at my Internet trail, for instance, you would be forgiven for thinking that I am a complete madman. And of course there's not a grain of truth to that. Beep.

So true, also. It's easy to retroactively find evil in people's Internet rantings, but thankfully rare that anyone's Internet trail is truly indicative of madness.

Now I'm really leaving. See y'all next week.

In This Chat
Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

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