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

Apr 11, 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. No polls, no preambles today. We must survive by our wits alone.

Let us begin. Let us begin after all of you take a moment to look at these Tweets assembled from people who apparently did not realize that the Titanic was a real ship, not just a Jim Cameron movie.

Do you think they were being ironic?

Why the over-focus on Mr. Bolek being a hairdresser in the headline and throughout the article? Why not just "local man" or something like that? Is this some sort of code?

Code? What? No!!

This chatter is referring to an article that I had in the paper today about a local man who, at the age of 46, is finally pursuing his childhood dream of becoming an iceskater. I referred to Mickey's profession because the whole piece was about how we often give up our impractical childhood dreams in favor of taking on responsible, grownup professions -- in Mickey's case, opening his own hair salon. If Mickey had been an accountant, or veterinarian, or second-grade teacher, I would have paid exactly the same amount of attention to his day job.

I thought I was pretty well steeped in Internet lore, but I had never heard of Goatse before this Gawker article  Proceed with caution...

I think this is fabulous investigative reporting. No facetiousness here. Goatse is a longstanding piece of Internet lore, and it's about time someone researched it.

And yes. Proceed with caution. If you don't know the meme we are referring to, it's so X-rated that it's Y-rated.

Is it wrong that I am hoping for an iceburg collision?

It is very wrong.

On the other hand, it would not be wrong at all for you to wonder how many people are going to sneak into the car holding deck and make Jack 'n' Rose-style whoopie in the back seat of a Model T.


That is all.

It. Is. Brilliant.

For those of you who have not been following it, here is a link to the Tumblr that perpetuated the meme, in which Secretary Clinton is given faux captions for the things she is supposedly texting. The meme climaxed when Madame Secretary herself submitted something to Tumblr.

And the most genius thing about this meme? Well. I won't tell you what I think it is. But I'm curious to see if you loved it, too.

Consider the state of U.S. public education. Plus, there are a lot of people out there who just aren't all that bright, or curious, or ... [fill in the blank.]

Or maybe they're just...young. When I was in high school (Twitter-aged), there were still people alive who had BEEN ON THE TITANIC. As a historical incident, it felt relatively close.

Now, a century later, it's receded into ancient history.

Monica, you write the most fabulous local profiles! I've always wondered how you come upon them. A good friend who works at the Boston Globe and writes similar pieces says most of them are pitched to her from locals. Is that how it works with you? Or do you just spend most of your days sniffing out interesting folk?

Thank you so much!

It's cyclical. Usually, I find my own. Sometimes, someone familiar with the kind of writing I do will email me. I can guarantee that now that I have written a story about a man who is belatedly realizing his dream to become an ice skater, I will start to receive a lot of emails from people who think I should write a piece about them. Because they a) Have belatedly realized a childhood dream or b) are an ice skater.

But once I've done something, I'm done with it. That's what makes it hard to be a feature writer. You are starting from square one with every story.

That "Hillz" spells out all her words and doesn't use text-speak? Either that or her expression in that photo.

They did pick a terrific photo to work with. The sunglasses! In the plane! And yes, the fact that she speaks intelligently. She lives out all of the dreams that her fans have of her -- that this is a stone-cold genius lady who has no patience for foolishness.


Neither of which is what I was thinking of.

I still wish she'd been elected President.

See? This is a meme for everyone who still wishes she had been elected president.

He may have owed his living to his adeptness with a pair of scissors, but the job he dreamed of doing involved a very different type of blade...

Hahahaha. Yes. That would be the tagline for the Lifetime Original version of this story.

I'm a newcomer, but love the chat! The HG cupcakes from last week look fantastic. Any chance we could get the recipes?

Hunger Games baker? You around today?

Have you had the joy of seeing this yet?  If you click on the link to the artist's web site, there's even more fabulousness to behold. It takes a while to load, though. I'm sure her server is getting more traffic than it usually does, thanks to these images going viral. So just remember, kids: next time that person in front of you is taking forever in the airplane loo, consider that he or she might be making a portfolio of self portraits in the Flemish style.

This...this is the best thing I have seen in all of 2012. There are no words. Except "Thank you." I cannot believe the wondrousness of this.

Why do golf commentators insist on saying this? Why not just "great shot"? Pompous asses.

Do they say this? I don't think I have watched a golf tournament No, I have never watched a golf tournament.

Please, for the love of cupcakes, is there any way to teach my parents not to A) leave multiple voice mails B) leave extensive, long-winded, tear my hair out monologues and C) leave a voice mail at all because I don't listen to half of them anyway? Recently, I gently suggested that leaving 3 messages was overkill and that I do not like voice mails but my Mom just laughed at me. This is driving me crazy! Also, they refuse to text so that is not an alternative option.

There is a solution, but it will require diligence and compromise on your part.

Come closer. Shhh. Ready? You do not have to listen to the voicemails. You see them? You delete them. Skip right past those say-nothing monologues.

Right now, the parents on this chat are seething -- enraged! -- by this disrespectful advice. As they should be.

But here is where the second half of the plan comes into action. You must call your parents back every time you see they called. Every time. As soon as you see they called. You dial the number and you say, "Hey, Dad. I saw you called. Is everything all right?"

He will say, "I left you a message -- I told you that the parakeet is sick but we got medicine from the vet. Didn't you hear it?"

You will say, "Oh, no, I don't often listen to messages. I'm glad everything is okay!"

If you do this enough times, people will begin to realize that you are bad at listening to messages, and they may stop leaving such longwinded ones. But you must always call back. Because if you don't, the message could have been, "You mother is in the ER." And if you didn't bother to listen to that message, then your parents will be rightfully upset, and you will regret it, big time.

No. They didn't know. Maybe they were out sick that day in history class.

The day they showed Kate Winslet partying with the working class people below the deck?

I think what the Titanic tweets, and many other tweets, comments, and other social media do is make a very very strong case that our country's education system is failing. Also this means that the Girl Scouts no longer teach the song about the Titanic, that I now have in my head. "Oh they built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue. And they said they had a ship that the water couldn't go through But the ship it hit an iceburg and the whole darn thing went down [little fuzzy on this line] it was sad when the great ship went down. it goes on to say things like "husbands and wives, little children lost their lives, it was sad when the great ship went down." Kind of a morbid little ditty. And I am 33 and remember the words almost exactly to a song I learned in second grade.

I should like to find the lyrics and melody to this song. I bet it's readily available on the Internet.

I took a cruise last year. Very enjoyable. But before we boarded, I told my wife if the band was playing Nearer My God to Thee, I'm getting off the boat.

Hopefully in one of many abundant lifeboats.

Yep. I just found out the Vikings were real. Don't they seem made up?

They do! History is so weird.

Or someone who knows what they're doing submitted it for her.

Oh, I hope it was Hillary herself. It would make it all so much better.

I took a personality test and was given my result, with the note that Hillary is the same category as me. Yay!!!! or maybe Oh No!!!! I'm not sure what to think.

Which personality test was it? Do you remember? Was it the Myers Briggs? I would peg her as an INTJ, just guessing.

I've noticed this with all sports: he fumbled the football. He got good rotation on the baseball. He shot the basketball just before the buzzer. Is there EVER a question of which ball they're talking about? Then again, I watch mostly Washington maybe that's been the problem with our teams all along - we aren't playing with the right ball. No wonder the Wizards turn over that soccerball so many times...

I have never noticed this, but now that you have pointed it out, I will never be able to not notice it, for the rest of my life.

Does this really happen, though? I've seen more basketball and baseball than football, and I don't feel like this happens with the announcers I've heard.

Yes, golf does it... as does every sport. I think college football commentators are the worst offenders. Yes, I know it's a great football play, and that the kid is a really great football player, and that he throws the football perfectly, and that the team that can score the most points is probably the one that's going to win the football game. If you can't mute 'em, join 'em!

All right. I believe all of you.

It was INTJ.

I bet that this chat has a higher than average number of IN's. Just a sense I have from the spiritual bond I feel with all of you.

Confession: I just used box cake mix and pre-made frosting. 1) Because I was worried about the toppings and tried to make everything else easy 2) Those tubs of frosting are actually pretty darn good

No shame in this. No shame at all. I vote for yellow cake mix + dark chocolate frosting (look for the kind with sour cream in it) or chocolate cake mix + coconut pecan frosting.

To the writer: You could just do what MY daughter does and never empty her mailbox. That way you can never leave a message. Isn't that right, Monica?!

Yes, but see -- I ALWAYS call you back. Always. 

Well, she actually met the creators of the site too...they have the pictures on the site. I think it was the badass picture that really made the whole thing work.

That picture just screams, "I'm taking care of business."

The only announcer who can get away with this (saying football, baseball, golf shot, etc.) is Al Michaels... whenever there is a fumble he says ("and he loses the FOOTball..."). Something about, only he can pull it off and not sound pompous.

Thank you.

(And you all need to stop writing in about sports announcers now. We have settled the matter).

I'm sure someone on her staff showed her the meme, but how could she not? I refuse to believe she met the creators under false pretenses. (I still kind of believe in the Easter Bunny, though.)

Well, sure. He delivers the Hunger Games cupcakes every year.

Here is a man singing it on you tube. you will be surprised that it a very jaunty little ditty. (We had a bit of a call and response with the "It was sad" "So sad" "it was sad" "too bad!").

Jaunty seems like exactly the right tone for a song about boating. Even if it is boating gone very, very wrong.

I know this is probably the wrong chat for this question, but this was just brought to my attention and need some input. Is it normal for a bride to expect to receive gifts at a bachelorette party? is it normal for the maid of honor to instruct attendees that the gifts must be something natural and organic? If this is normal and I live in a cave, maybe someone out there can provide internet suggestions of what I could bring as my gift. ps. I am also an INTJ!

I...have no idea if this is normal. Is this normal?

Bring some cupcakes. Make them from a mix you buy at WholeFoods. Voila. They will be organic, and you can stuff your face with them if the bachelorette party turns out to be as dismal as I fear it is going to be.

Hey cupcake/chatters- is there a decent website that lists European airports where you'd actually want to have a 7 hour layover and could leave the terminal and see the town? I guess it would need info on proximity/ease of travel to city center, and whether said city was awesome

Hmm. I don't know if there's a site for this, but I know it's a topic that the Travel section has addressed, both in articles and in their Monday chats. I don't have time to search now, but if you email me directly post chat, I'll see what I can come up with.

that your mom is reading this chat :)

She reads it every week!

Some day none of the rest of you are going to show up, and we'll just spend the whole hour talking about my dog, and whether or not my brother has chosen a grad school.

I sent the link for a you tube video of a man singing the song, but I am having one of those moments where something you remember so vividly from your childhood and assume everyone else did too is apparently not as widespread as you think. Please tell me you do know Fifty Nifty United States! not. But I know other people who do. Where do you grow up? Maybe this is all regional. I'm from Central Illinois.

Hi Monica! Any thoughts on the recent dust-up about David Simon's comments about online TV show recaps? I admit, I am a prolific reader of these (from back in the early days of Mighty Big TV and now on several sites) because it gives me a chance to acknowledge shows that I love with other people who watch them. (Like Fringe - no one I know watches it, but others on the interwebs love it.) It also allows me to catch stuff that I might otherwise miss and that can be important later (as on, say, Fringe). I can kind of see his point about week-by-week recaps, but that would take some of the joy out of parsing the episodes. Especially because, frankly, so many shows are not designed for the season-as-a-novel storywriting of The Wire. I wonder how he felt about The Wire winning Vulture's Greatest TV Drama Derby...

I actually haven't read David Simon's comments yet, though I've been meaning to.

What I think is fascinating is how recaps have augmented and elevated so many shows. Watching a show is no longer the final act for many people -- they go and seek recaps to see how the show was perceived by others. Sometimes, the recaps even seem to make mediocre shows better: as I think we've discussed in this chat, some of us have continued to watch shows we would have jettisoned long ago -just-because we're intrigued by the dialogue happening in recaps.

I'm an ISFJ. Can I still hang around here?

Yes. You are permitted. I'm actually an INFJ (not TJ), but nobody has kicked me out yet.

AUGH! No more gift shakedowns! This is not normal. Nononononononono! I recommend you skip the bachelorette party, anyway. It usually devolves into humiliation and/or boredom anyway. Go out with one or two girlfriends, instead, and go somewhere you don't need to bring a gift to get in. Jeesh!


The only bachelorette gifts I've seen were lingerie (some tasteful, some not) and lots of champagne. But at maybe half the parties, tops. Were I you I would suddenly come down with pertussis.


Use a dark chocolate cake mix and then homemade coconut pecan frosting. Trust me, it's worth the time and, with the homemade frosting, the entire cake will taste homemade. Here's the recipe: 1 c. evaporated milk 1 c. sugar 3 egg yolks 1/2 c. butter 1 tsp. vanilla 1 1/3 c. Baker's coconut 1 c. chopped pecans Combine first 5 ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened, about 12 minutes. Add coconut and pecans. Beat until thick enough to spread.

Wait, is this my mom again? This is exactly how she makes German chocolate cake. If this is not my mom, I think you should be friends with my mom.

He's dropped by before, I believe.

Father Cupcake has make special appearances upon request, usually to answer questions related to grammar, obscure English major trivia, or professorial nonsense. But I don't think he stops by on a regular basis.

Me too! Where in Central Illinois?


Monica: Where did you go to school?

Bryn Mawr for undergrad. I have a masters from Johns Hopkins.

Am I being grilled for something? Are you making me a present?

Republican Rep. Allen West suggests many congressional Democrats are Communists:  (Uh, paging Joe McCarthy)

I really enjoy the specificity of this. Not just "around 80," but "78 to 81."

I've taken Myers-Briggs twice. In college I tested as an INTJ. About 10 years ago I tested as and ENTJ, though right near the middle on the I-E continuum. I believe it is the 20+ years of working that has forced me to listen to and work with other people. Not that I'm judgemental or anything. Also, I am following the Titanic on Twitter. Pretty funny, except so many people are about to die. But for now they're enjoying the voyage.

Yeah, I don't think it's uncommon for people's personalities to shift a bit as they get older. I've only gotten more I-like. I'm a hermit. And a hobbit.

Say so in your voice mail greeting. duh.

Yes. But s/he has already told the parents that s/he will not be listening to their messages. It didn't seem like this was a  general problem with everyone's messages, but a particular problem with her parents' longwinded messages.

Hi Monica - I joined FB a few months ago,and am enjoying it so far. What I don't understand yet is when is it appropriate to post on someone else's wall? And when I do post on someone else's wall, does that go into the newsfeed? It seems more appropriate to just send an email if you want to say something directly, but of course, I'm not sure if my 19 year old niece even reads her email. Thanks!

Thanks for joining the chat! In general, you post on someone's wall when it's something that you want to say to the person that you would not mind everyone reading (Because, yes, dependent on privacy settings, it -will- go into their newsfeed). For example, you might say, "Happy Birthday, Niece!" or "Good luck at your golf tournament, Niece!"

Something more private ("I heard you broke up with Jeremy. I'm sorry!"), you should reserve a private email for, or a private message through Facebook.

If you're not sure whether your message is too personal, then err on the side of caution and do not post it to her wall. Does this help?

This website ( by one of the genius behind Married to the Sea comics is brilliant, though with questionable language. He posts stupid comments to the FB pages of large corporations and waits to see how they respond. I think it's funny, but my wife thinks it's inappropriate and unethical. Any chatters out there have an opinion?

Ooh, I wish I had seen this earlier, since now we're almost out of time. Come back next week and submit again?

We are all making you cross-stitch samplers.

You -are?- I'm so excited!

I recently moved to Bryn Mawr and figure with all these college kids in my neighborhood, someone would be happy to make some money by walking and feeding my two low maintenance dogs when I travel for work. Any idea how I could connect with some dog friendly, broke Bryn Mawr students? Craigslist seems way too random - there must be some BMC site to advertise on.

I'm sure there is these days, but I don't know it. It's such a small campus that I think your best best would be posting a flier in the Campus Center with those rippy-offy phone number tags attached. I haven't been to campus in a few years, but there used to be a big board right when you walked in the door. And if it's not there, then you could ask an attendant where it's located now. Also post fliers in the Lusty Cup cafe, which is in the basement of Canaday Library. Or go really old school, and take out an ad in the Bi-Co News!

Welcome to Bryn Mawr -- it's a lovely town.

My problem is that my parents will often miss cell phone calls. If they think they've missed a call from me, they don't wait to listen to a voice mail message, instead they call me back right away - as I'm leaving their message. I'm never able to click over to them in the middle of leaving a message so this causes all kinds of havoc.

Clearly, the most practical solution is for you and the OP to just switch parents.

Also be sure to post funny anecdotes about Niece as a child on her wall, like that one time when she had a really stinky diaper or the time she found "treasure" in the cat's litter box. That is really what a person's FB wall is for.


of the 50 Nifty United States from the 13 original colonies! oh yes, I remember - 7th grade chorus. And thanks a bunch, now that tune in my head for the rest of the day!

We are here for you.

Oo, I'm one too! Also female. All hail the INTJ's!

I have thought this before and I will say it now: I've read that IN_J's are a personality type that tends to be more heavily male dominated. If you were such a male, looking for a compatible female, this chat would be a motherlode of awesomeness.

"be sure to post funny anecdotes about Niece as a child" I love that I'm not the only sadist who participates in this chat!

No. But as we have learned, you might be the only ESFP.

Those sound gooood.

They are. I get to eat them sometimes. Since she is, after all, my mom.

It was a big hit for Ernest Stoneman in 1924, three years before the Carter Family was recorded. You can hear it here:  Extra DC Trivia: Stoneman lost almost everything in the Depression and moved to Prince George's County to raise his family.

Really? I have never heard of Ernest Stoneman. I guess I fail the Washingtonian quiz.

"(And you all need to stop writing in about sports announcers now. We have settled the matter)." Great Q&A A, Monica.

Thank you.

I see that it's 3:15 now, so I suppose we should call it a day. Quick reminder: My paper column begins running NEXT Sunday (not this one, but the one after). If there are any questions of Internet behavior you would like to see answeres, or any weird sites or trends you would like to see addressed, please email me at


See you next week? GSTQ.

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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