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

Mar 21, 2012

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 start at 2; I'll post a few things leading up to then. Remember. Hunger Games opens this weekend. Y'all have your tickets?

Since we've last talked about the viral Joseph Kony video, which encouraged viewers to get involved in the capture of a Ugandan warlord, much has happened. The film's director, Jason Russell, was found wandering through the streets in his underwear, screaming and banging his fists. Today, his wife released a statement blaming his behavior on "reactive psychosis" to the fame.

I'm curious to know what you think of these events, and if they alter your perception of the video or the organization.

Read also: Paul Farhi's discussion over whether traditional arrangements about the privacy of presidential kids has changed in the era of the Internet.

And finally, in one of the more inspired online protests I have seen in a good while: Women are storming Rick Perry's Facebook page to ask him questions about their menstrual cycles.


An example:  "Since you know so much about my healthcare, I was wondering if you could tell me how to handle my period since it is very heavy 4 days out of every month."

Your thoughts? (On this protest. Not on this political issue. That's a whole other chat).

Okay, I have what may be a stupid question, but - if I become the fan of a company on Facebook, can they see my news feed, wall, and info? I'm curious because I'd like to become a fan of my apartment building's page (they frequently announce things there for residents) but I may have an additional pet that they do not know about but who sometimes pops up in my feed and my comments. Thanks!

You should be safe. Here's a link to Facebook's explanation of how pages work. In short, your apartment building should be able to see your name and your profile picture, but not your timeline.

5,600 women trolling him with questions about their menstrual cycle. Best internet protest ever?

There are two things that make it brilliant.

1) It's played so straight. There's no causticness in the messages, no venom. Women are asking very direct, matter-of-fact questions.

2) The public nature of it all allowsthe submittors to play off of each other, giving all of the exchanges a kind of rhythm.

It's just poetry.

Hey Monica! I'm the OP who asked about ideas for the hunger games cupcakes a while back. Boyfriend's birthday is next week and I'm still stuck on how to decorate cupcakes for a few districts: 3 (electronics), 5 (power) and 6 (transportation). I figured you and the chatters could help me out with some ideas. Thanks!

We can do this. I know we can. For District 5, can you stick a Christmas light in the frosting? And what if you towed cupcake 6 in on a little plastic truck?

Other ideas, chatters?

Obviously, you must send us pictures of this project once it is completed. Obviously.

I know this topic has been beaten to death, but I've recently been scheduled to interview for a job where a background check will be done prior to employment. I am pretty tame, so I know I'll pass. I've secured the hell out of my FB acount, made my profile picture one of my dog, and changed usernames/linked emails on other pages so the searches don't come back to me/my name. But then- PINTEREST! It's not that I've pinned anything that I think is crazy or criminal, but what about all of those pins on my "things that made me laugh" board that have the f word in them? Do I need to jettison those?

As long as "things that make you laugh" don't include, like, a man being robbed at knifepoint, I think you're okay.

If the company was not cool with your GIFs of Liz Lemon or your Ryan Gosling "Hey Girls," then you would have a broader problem. It's fine (good, even) for companies not to want their employees to look like idiots online. But if they want their employees not to have personalities at all, then that's not really about the Ineternet. That's about a place that probably would not be that much fun to work for.

both perry page that turn up when I search Rick Perry on FB are just propaganda. What am I doing wrong???

The discussion thread in question was linked to in the piece I posted, I believe, but now I'm having a hard time loading it. Can anyone else find the link for this chatter while I wade through more questions?

District 3: A mini radio or tv? From a barbie or something... Distrcit 5: Could you just do the nuclear power symbol in frosting? District 6: A little toy car? SOOO excited for the movie! I feel like a teeny bopper and for the first time, not ashamed about it!

I like the nuclear power symbol in frosting. It seems like extra points should be given if the entire cupcake is edible.

or change your user name on Pinterest.... mine is just my first name, which it seems that 25% of the females born between 1975-1980 have, so I don't think anyone would find it if they searched for my whole name.


I just wonder what you think of Ann Hornaday's assertion that this film won't win over viewers who weren't already fans of the books.

Agreed. I think. But then again, I could never understand how you could watch the Harry Potter movies without having read the books, and there were plenty of people who did that.

the fact that they get middling scores from Charity Navigator on transparency and decided to use campaign swag as their viralization tool already made me underwhelmed by them.

The story just got more and more complex as it unwound, didn't it?

Their protest is ineffective because it is a non sequitor. Perry is not claiming medical knowledge nor saying women may not use gynecologists, he is saying that Texas will not provide tax money to certain medical practices. The protestors remind me of a person I know who would answer every question by saying "isosceles." It pretty much shows the protestors to have very low IQ or are deliberatley ignorant.

Hmm. Do others see it this way? I viewed the message as more, "If you are cutting off availability to places where we used to get information and treatment, we will have to go elsewhere. Oh, I know. How about we go and bombard your Facebook page?"

It's Lulzy and needling, but then, many online protests are.

Hi Cupcake! Have you or any of the chatters been following Vulture's Greatest TV Drama Derby ? As an ardent TV lover, I think it's been great, even though there's been some decisions I vehemently disagree with (Buffy over Deadwood??). But the best part is always the comments section - half the people say how correct the decision is, the other half talk about how obviously this is rigged which is why their choice lost. Both sides of the argument are hilarious, with very few people saying that, you know, there may be some subjectivity at play in the decisions and they're all great so don't take it personally... Although it's obvious The Wire will win in the end!

The comments sections on the Internet continue to be poignant, Anna Kareninian insights into how unjustly most people believe themselves to be treated.

They only go bacterial.

Nonetheless, I hope you remember to wash them, frequently, with antibacterial soap.

Maybe not on topic, but personally I'm totally OK with a certain amount of hypocrisy involving politicians and their kids. Yeah it's a double standard to cry foul on every unauthorized photo while using kids at official events to bolster a family image, but the alternative is a news story every time a kid acts like a kid, which seems grossly unfair to them

Really, my primary emotion from all of this is how dreadful it would be to be the child of a famous person. Or a famous person themselves, for that matter.

I think the Lady Business protests (emailing that VA State Senator, and Rick Perry) are very creative protests that use a certain medium to make their point. The protesters feel that government is crossing over into personal medical issues with their policies, and so to highlight that fact, they are asking for personal medical information. I think it's brilliant that the way in which the protest is conducted demonstrates the issue they are protesting (government interference in personal medical decisions).


The comments remind me of the comments posted on related to the Wheelmate Laptop steering wheel desk.

Or of the infamous Three Wolves howling at the moon T-shirt.

Ha--excellent guess, but it's Kate. Between the Kates/Katies and Jennifers, we must make of 50% of the names in the age group I cited.

Especially if you try to fold in the Jessica/Ashley cohort.

What was for him to get psycho about? Now if he were the president of Uganda or Joseph Kony, I could see it. It doesn't alter my perception of the video but it alters my perception of Jason Russell. I just hope he's seeing a doctor.

Reactive Psychosis to the sudden onslaught of fame and pressure, was the explanation. Which may seem dubious, but then, as I've already stated, I wouldn't want to be the guinea pig to test it out.

Train tracks in icing. Also works for the nuclear power thing. And the TV. And forestry (a leaf). Actually, I saw go minimalist with all of them. Kinda like this:

Oh, the Princess and the Pea one is priceless.

District 5 can't be the nuclear symbol! District 13 was nuclear production. I think a little light bulb or light bulb in frosting would work better. (I've been following this discussion these many weeks, and am excited to hear how it turns out!)

Of course! Silly us. How could we forget about District 13?

Hi, I posted a few weeks back. I'm having a mastectomy next week and will be off for a week or so to recover. Any recommendations of movies/books/websites, etc., to take my mind off things? I like sci/fi, anything medieval or Renaissance, and Downton Abbey (to name a few things). My favorite movies are "Enchanted April," "Room with a View," "Chocolat," and "The Lion in Winter" (which I might have to watch again). Any thoughts? The book series "Game of Thrones" has been recommended to me. I am in your hands.

The book series "Game of Thrones" will take you all the way through recovery, and the next several years. If you can't get into the books, try the TV series. I would normally never recommend skipping over books, but this series is well done, and I think it works.

Chatters? Please load up your suggestions.

I'm going to recommend The Chronicles of Prydain for reading. It's a 1960s young adult fantasy series by Lloyd Alexander, and it's just marvelous. I read them when I was a kid, but I really think they stand up.

My wild card recommendation for television is Pushing Daisies, a much-overlooked series from a few years ago that has fantastical elements, and stylistically reminds me of Chocolat.

Take a few minutes to scope those out and let me know if I'm on the right track.

If they are aware of it, what do Hunger Games fans think of the Japanese movie "Battle Royale" in comparison, which has a fairly similar story? (Admittedly, this film is pretty obscure and it's probably difficult to get a copy of, but IMO--Hunger Games borrows pretty liberally from it...not to rain on anybody's parade...)

Suzanne Collins swears up and down that she'd never heard of Battle Royale. I'd heard of it, but admittedly haven't read the book or seen the movie.

Honestly, there are only about 15 original plots for authors to keep circling back to -- I'm not bothered by similarities in stories, if the characters and writing feel unique and compelling.

Assuming that Hunger Games Cupcake Chick is an adult, is the fact that she's creating a childhood snack based on a series of books written for 12 year olds to celebrate an occasion that should only be meaningful to children indicative of the extension of adolescence into young adulthood in our current culture?

Surely not.

I'm writing about this a little in an upcoming piece, but here's a thumbnail sketch: "Young Adult" literature, as it were, is a very recent invention. In the past, books could contain children but still be meant for adults -- now, an under-18 protagonist immediately signals that the book is "for kids." "Little Women," "Anne of Green Gables," etc -- none of them were explicitly kids books.

So, at least in this case, I don't think it's that adolescence has been extended. It's that too many adults have forgotten how to sympathize with children.

My husband is really into the books. I never wanted to read them. But when he wanted to watch the movies I thought, why not? It's just a couple hours of my life every few years.

Right -- but you're doing it for him. You're not an avid, frothing fan of the movies who still hasn't read the books. That's what I don't get. If I loved a movie or TV show, I would want to read the original source material.

And -- tying back to the Perry protest -- the Yelp reviews for the Abortionplex (taking off, if memory serves, on some rightwing politician's false claim that someone was going to spend $10 billion on a women's health clinic in Arkansas). Some of them are quite funny, but be warned that it's often not for the squeamish (and NSFW).

I think it was an Onion article (the Abortionplex), but your point is taken.

Don't forget the Sarah/Sara(s)! There were multiples (usually with the Sarah spelling) throughout my grade and high school years. It got to where I wouldn't turn around in the hallways when I heard someone call "Sarah" because there were so many and odds are it wouldn't be for me! And I've always had best friends with my same name, which was weird when we'd be out and meet people and have to introduce ourselves.

My mother is named Dawn, married to a man named Don. And I've met other Chris/Kris  or Gene/Jean couples before. Maybe we're drawn to people whose names sound like ours.

You need to be more worried about pinning stuff that is in violation of the owner's copyright. That site is going to get slammed with a huge copyright lawsuit at some point, and don't think they won't go after the users. Look what happened to Napster users. A twelve year old girl was sued. If you use Pinterest, be sure and read that user agreement very carefully. Do you really want to pay Pinterest's legal fees if someone sues them because something you pinned infringed their copyright? As an aside, do you also not mind that you gave Pinterest all the rights to the photos you pinned? You gave them a royalty free license to use your photos in any way they choose.

I'm posting this as a general "be careful online" caveat, but I haven't done any research whatsoever into Pinterest's terms of use.

Well, you've also got to throw in the exhaustion, lack of sleep and dehydration. Shit like this can happen. It's not dubious.

*Exhaustion, sleep and dehydration resulting from the sudden onslaught of fame and pressure.

I have to agree with her. I'm the father of 2 very young kids. I'd never heard of Hunger Games until this year, but the idea of a movie about children fighting to the death in some dystopian future world holds zero appeal for me. I mean seriously who wants to watch that?

But the question is, if you saw it, would you get into it?

Books -- anything by Sharon Kay Penman (best writer of medieval historical fiction); also The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (combines SF and medieval historical fiction) DVD -- Larkrise to Candleford (series) and Cranford/Return to Cranford And best wishes!

I'll second Connie Willis. Her Night/Daybreak two-book series was completely engrossing. It was time travel-meets-WWII, which pushed my favorite historical buttons.

And yes, best wishes from all of us. We hope you'll still be chatting.

Monica, you will not believe this, but I JUST reread those last week. An excellent set of books. (For some reason, I'd only read The Castle of Llyre as a kid.) Definitely on the right track. :)

Oh, fantastic! Well, you can move onto his Westmark trilogy next then, yes?


...I didn't realize that cupcakes were the sole purview of "childhood snacks" Cupakes are for everyone! Thanks, Cupcake!

Cupcakes for Everyone will be my slogan if I ever run for political office.

Go for Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared (Judd Apatow tv series that each only lasted one season)--they're funny and criminally underrated. As for a book, I really like Jonathan Lethem, especially Motherless Brooklyn

Posting. For the record, I like both "Chocolat" and "Freaks and Geeks," but would never, ever think, "Oh, you liked Chocolat, so you will probably like Freaks & Geeks."

So, ah, tread with caution?

I'm a Jennifer. We all went by the nickname Jen. We had to number ourselves in the book club. I'm proud to say I was Jen 1.

Might as well call people "Awesome Jen," "Prettty good Jen" and "Jen we invited to round out the club" at that point.

I knew a couple named Patricia and Patrick -- and yes, she took his last name when they married -- we all referred to them as Pat 'n' Pat. And a friend has a niece Carol who's married to a Carroll.

Combining three chat strains! (Names, adolescence, books): When I was a kid there was a very popular book series featuring best friends named Peanut & Jilly.

I'm just throwing that out there.

Read the manga and saw the movie when I was a teenager, and when I first heard of Hunger Games, that was my first thought. But like you said, eh. Collins crafted her own universe and characters and unlike seemingly most male dystopian authors, doesn't feel the need to include sexual violence to make it seem "real."


Brother Cadfael mysteries. Very entertaining. Not too surprising. And if you get the paperbacks, they are very light. You aren't going to want to deal with anythng heavy. Go for the single volumes, not the compendia.

I'm going to post a few suggestions in a row.

ooo if you haven't watched the recent Battlestar Galatica, please do so. Currently on Netflix if you have it.

Except unlike Kris/Chris, Dawn and Don aren't pronounced the same, unless one is a marble-mouth yokel. Signed, A Dawn that has tragically moved to a place where annunciation isn't a prized skill PS - Sara/hs, Jessicas, and Jennifers accounted for roughly 75% of the girls in my class (early 1980s births)

Believe me. As the daughter of a Dawn, I know this. But I also know that 75% of people either do not hear, or do not attempt to pronounce, the difference between Dawn and Don.

This looks dorky and academic. I can't wait to read.

Have you seen Series 7? It came out just as the reality TV thing was starting, and it's absolutely hysterical. And chilling. You know, in all the right ways.

Never seen, never heard of. Thanks.

Maybe the Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde?

Maybe pair it with the BBC miniseries "Lost in Austen," about a modern woman who finds a closet in her house that leads her to the land of Pride & Prejudice.

Not quite right. It's the combination of the exhaustion, lack of sleep and dehydration combined with the sudden stress of fame. What bugs me though is that people are dissing this as something that is made up or that it's funny. It's not. Mental health issues are real and they can affect anyone at any time. The guy didn't want to have this problem, I'm sure.

No, I'm sure he doesn't.

And I think you and I are talking about the same thing, from other directions. What I'm saying is that he -- to our knowledge and according to statements from those who know him -- never had problems with exhaustion, lack of sleep or dehydration until after the sudden onslaught of fame. The fame caused these other real, physical problems. There is causation.

Your mother and I should start a support group. I was straight-up told today that Don was the male version of my name. Thanks for the therapy moment

This is just...disturbing.

Don't you mean, "Cupcake for Everyone!"

That, too.

But the point is, I'm not going to, so I won't. (Although, I've seen most of the Harry Potter movies even though I've read only the first book. I've also never read any Ian Fleming but that doesn't stop me from watching James Bond. They're different things.)

All of this aside, I think you should read The Hunger Games. The plot description might sound off-putting; the books are engrossing.

I think there are a number of fallacies/assumptions in the Philosophical Cupcake Question: (a) if you enjoyed cupcakes as a child, you cannot enjoy them as an adult. Does that go for all snacks?; (b) Young Adult fiction should automatically be written off as too juvenile to offer a meaningful reading experience for adults; (c) birthdays are only for children. I disagree with all assumptions. Kind of a curmudgeonly bummer of an existence to live without tasty snacks, good stories, and celebration of the ones you love.

All of this is correct.

BTW, have we heard back from the cupcake baker yet? Has she (I've been assuming it's a she) landed on any plans for the decorations? Have we helped at all? Will you invite us to the party? Will you tell your boyfriend how diligently we have all been following this?

You're right- and Stephen King is one of the authors. He wrote a short story over 30 years ago called "The Long Walk" (I think under his Richard Bachman NDP) that is even MORE like the Hunger Games than Battle Royale. So, I can believe Collins when she said she didn't crib from BR- but King should call his lawyers if he hasn't already done so.


For us marble-mouth yokels, how are "Dawn" and "Don" supposed to be pronounced? I checked Pronunciation Manual but couldn't get any help.

One rhymes with "fawn." One rhymes with "con."

Unless you also pronounce those words as if they rhyme with each other. Then, obviously, that won't help you at all. It's sort of like the difference between "aw" and "ah," if that helps.

It -is- a regional thing. I've noticed that people get it or don't depending on where we are in the country.

I'm a Mark married to a Mindy. It is amusing how every person who makes a "nanoo nanoo" joke seems to think they are the FIRST person to notice it. On the bright side, younger people don't even know about Mork & Mindy so we are usually safe with them.

That's it. Befriend the youngsters.

Ken Follett Pillars of the Earth (miniseries also on Netflix) and World Without End.

So many people have recommended Pillars of the Earth. I must get to them next.

Nice generalization there. Actually, BR doesn't have the aforementioned violence either, so I don't know what the poster was reading/watching.

I breezed right past that in the original poster. As I mentioned, I haven't read or seen BR. But I do know female authors who have explored sexual violence, and male authors who haven't. It's obviously not a gendered thing.

I know I'd want lightness and humor, such as "The Spellman Files" or anything by P.G. Wodehouse, but admit that they're not in the right areas of interest. For video, has the commenter seen the original "Upstairs, Downstairs" series?


My husband, from Pittsburgh, pronounces these names turned backwards; Dawn is pronounced like normal people say Don and vice versa. Him mom and sister do the same. It is soooo confusing

I'm going to take my parents to Pittsburgh, just for amusements sake.

Stephen King BLURBED "The Hunger Games." No worries there!

Good egg, that Stephen King.

for the person recovering from surgery, definitely read the Game of Thrones books, but not if you're on painkillers. Too many characters. I also just read "The Mill River Recluse" and found it quite charming.


Stephen King is already on the record saying he enjoyed the Hunger Games, while acknowledging (and no big deal-ing) the similarities between his stories and hers. No lawyers needed! Hunger Games AND Stephen King forever.

Yes. Class acts, there.

Yes! You all have been very helpful and I will send pictures. And boyfriend will be sure to know this was a group effort. You guys rock.

I am delighted that we have been able to help in this matter, and inject ourselves so completely an inappropriately into your relationship. I hope that your boyfriend has a happy birthday, and that all of you have great weeks/weekends.

Thanks for stopping by, and talk to you next week. GSTQ.

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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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