Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Oct 31, 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. I hope you're all warm, dry, and powered up -- in whichever order is most important to you. Sandy threw me off my game a bit -- or rather, it appears to have thrown my Internet connection off its game a bit. I've been kicked off a few times already, but we'll chat until it becomes truly ridiculous.


So. Happy storm survival. And Happy Halloween. (Has anyone come up with any truly inspired costume since last week? My last-minute desperation idea involves raiding the paint samples at Logan Hardware and going as 50 Shades of Gray).

And, in the intersection of the Internet and the storm, I hope you all caught this story of the man whose Twitter feed was responsible for much of the storm-related panic. 


@ComfortablySmug was responsible for, among other things, Tweeting that the New York Stock Exchange floor was sitting under three feet of water. It wasn't. And it turns out that the user, in real life, was a campaign manager for a congressional race. Note the past tense -- as of today, he's not anymore. (Guessing he's also no longer comfortably smug).


Was this, as critics have pointed out, the equivalent of crying "fire" in a crowded theater?

Hi: I've been looking online (including on this site), but have not seen any information about what the Beggar's Night hours are in Montgomery County (specifically, Silver Spring) tonight . . . Can you please help?!?

Wait. Beggar's Night? I have honestly never heard of this term before. Is this what you call Trick or Treating in this part of the world? Have I been doing it wrong? 


If that's what you're looking for, then I'd suggest doing a search for Trick-or-Treating hours in Silver Spring. I bet that comes up with something.



N.B. Wikipedia tells me that Beggars Night "is broadly but not exclusively used in central Ohio, and in many parts of IowaMassachusettsNew Hampshire, and western New York."


Are you from one of those places? My people are from Iowa, and I hadn't heard it.

More a rant than anything else, but just like the elections, Sandy has helped me weed out a few people that I needed to either unfriend or hide from my timeline. Anyone posting how "lame" or "overrated" the storm was got the axe, and the masses who were complaining about not having power were a close second. Are we all that self-absorbed or does social media just bring out the worst in people?

Excellent. I'm glad you found the storm to be a useful weed whacker. Did anyone else witness any truly clueless behavior online?


To answer your (probably rhetorical) question: I don't think social media makes us worse people. But the format is designed for errant thoughts, not deep thoughts, and you're far more likely to find someone whining about the state of their electricity than developing a well thought-out treatise on the meaning of storms (which, let's face it, would also be irritating).

It appears that Lucas has released his kung-fu grip on the Star Wars Action Figure franchise. Web buzz is that fans are unhappy, but personally I'm ecstatic. After Episodes 1-3, my friends and I wanted to put together a fund where everyone could give Lucas $10 for every Star Wars movie he didn't make. Considering he viewed the movies solely as promotional material for the toys, Disney couldn't do any worse. Actual Lucas-approved dialog: "I don't like sand. It's coarse and irritating and it gets everywhere. Everything here is soft and smooth."

I'm really, really hoping for a Luke Skywalker/Princess Mulan crossover opportunity. Also, a Princess Leia doll with a sparkly ballgown and a few dance numbers.

You people in DC actually have regulated hours for trick-or-treating? And you wonder why the rest of us think you've gone too far...

Don't they have them everywhere? They did where I grew up. Not that the police would come out and club you if you strayed outside the lines -- but a pretty typical Halloween experience involved being annoyed with parents if they got home from work later than when the "official hours" had begun.

So, I'm a teacher and off school again. I just want a non-romantic chat room where I can discuss social, economic, and education issues with other folks. Do these no longer exist?

Chatters? Any ideas? I think so much of this has gotten swept into local messageboards and Facebook.

Encourages bullying really???? Come on never and not from Charles Schultz!

Really, if you look back at the whole Peanuts franchise, we would never put up with Peppermint Patty's unnecessary snark these days.

I believe we need to develop some sort of storm etiquette. One of the most frustrating things I found during the storm was the vast number of people who called, supposedly to see how I am doing, and then spent great lengths explaining their worries about impending doom. At least I gave them an outlet which hopefully made them feel better, yet it was getting to be a bit much. I was unable to do the things i needed to do because I was spending so much time listening to people worried about the storm. Today, I am discovering a new storm trend. I am getting nasty and snarky emails from people I did not call who think I did not care how they were doing. I want to propose a new etiquette rule: During a storm, there is no etiquette Please let people do what they have to do and don't judge, There will be plenty of time afterwards to commiserate.

Agreed. I think it's kind to let a few close people (say, anyone that you birthed or who birthed you) know your safety status. But other than that, isn't part of the storm ritual emerging from our cocoons and hearing everyone else's adventure stories?

I didn't realize it was inappropriate to post to Facebook that our power was out. Wow. I agree that people saying the storm was lame were out there, but how is updating your status to indicate you don't have power wrong? Maybe the devil is in the details here, i.e. "Just to let everyone know we are still without power" versus "Damn it, restore my power you stupid power company" but as one who posted versions of the former while our power was out, I fail to see how this was whacking behavior. Beats knowing what someone had for lunch!

I got the impression that it was all in the details. And frankly, if someone unfriended you simply because you you wrote "We are still without power" -- then wouldn't you be -relieved- for that unfriending?

I am looking forward to the new movie "Snow White and the Seven Dwarf Star Wars".

Wookie and the Beast.

And apologies to the trick-or-treaters in Arlington, because my roommates ate all of the candy I had bought during Sandy.

It was to be expected.

I figured with the widespread disasters abounding lately, we could use a little levity. And damnit, I'm SO MAD I didn't come up with this costume first: 

How could any of us seen that costume coming?

My first thought was that it's not like crying "fire." But, I wonder how the other world financial markets reacted, if at all, to this information. There is no such thing as anonymous in this day and age, and words have consequences. I wish people would keep these principles in mind...but then, what would we talk about?

I can't help but wonder what you're hoping to get from posting tweets like that. Attention, yes, but there's the inevitable downfall.

Growing up in northern NJ, I had no idea that Cabbage Night was not something everyone knew.  When I moved to California and brought it up, people were most confused (and some alarmed). But "Beggar's Night"? That's just weird.

I'm mainly confused as to why you would call it "Cabbage Night" when Wikipedia says you could also call it "Mizzy Night" or "Goosing Night."

Having put zero thought into the question until last night, I took stock of my scant store of post-pregnancy clothing and have settled on the following ensemble: Black tights, black skirt, retro black high-heeled shoes, white scarf, black-and-white beret, black-and-white checked wool coat, black t-shirt from ThinkGeek that says "The Book Was Better" I'm going as a black-and-white-movie critic.

Or, you know, anyone with a kicky fashion sense on their way to the office. That outfit sounds adorable.

in my old neighborhood, the emails come out EVERY year right before halloween asking when people go trick or treating. and people answer: if you come to my house any night besides halloween, I will call the police (that was in atlanta, I'm in oregon now)

Who Trick or Treats a night besides Halloween? I understand Cabbage Night. I do not understand putting on a costume, ringing someone's doorbell and asking for candy on, say, November 3.

Can you elaborate? I am a fan of both, but having trouble picturing this. Do you mean...Mulan with a lightsaber? Luke moves somewhere with cherry trees?

Pretty much. Mulan gets a lightsaber, saves everyone, revealed at end to be Luke and Leia's lost triplet, etc. etc.

I quibble with the name of this Tumblr. Obviously, it should be named EliManningLookingAtHisPhoneWhileOtherThingsHappen. 

I really want to thank everyone who reminded me to "Stay Safe!" on Facebook, otherwise I might have hopped in my car and drove to NYC Monday night.

Aww, I think those were just another way of saying "Thinking of you." Which is never a bad sentiment.

Starting to see it now. Okay, I can get behind this...

I still haven't figured out where the lobster from The Little Mermaid is in all of this, but I'm pretty sure he's involved in a zany subplot with Jar Jar Binks.

I always thought the unspoken start time was "dark". (With a exception for really, really little kids, who have early bedtimes and are probably only going to 4 houses anyway.)

My neighborhood is holding a costume contest at 5 pm sharp, which scandalously borders on Hallowafternoon, in my opinion.

Why call it anything other than Halloween?? Nov. 1 is All saints Day (or All Hallowed's Day if you prefer). Therefore, Oct. 31 is All Hallowed's Eve. Hallowe'n. Simple. Why spoil a good thing. Also, that's why you can't move Halloween to a different night or a Saturday. It's Oct. 31, dagnabit.

Yes, but if you had followed our helpful Wikipedia link, you would have seen that Cabbage Night is traditionally held the night before Halloween, on October 30.

For your idea of Princess Leia joining the Disney Princesses. Seems like the perfect symbol of the merger/buyout.

I'm sure the Onion is all over this.

Every once in a while, some "helpful" local politician decides it would be better if everyone went trick-or-treating on the Saturday before or Friday after Halloween instead of (horrors!) a school night. Only the message doesn't get properly disseminated, and people near the jurisdiction border have to/get to deal with it twice.

The smart kids just go twice. Obviously.

I posted that to my friends facebook walls/posts who live in Hoboken, NJ, as a way to say "I hope you make it through this storm okay without huge damage; let us know after the storm that you survived." Cause, you know, not everyone was so fortunate.

Yes, this.

I think too many people were cooped up inside and had nothing better to do than 1) post random thoughts on Twitter/Facebook, and 2) complain about the things their friends posted. Let's all move on and invest in some books and board games as part of our prep for the next storm.

We were experiencing, collectively, a Facebook-wide version of cabin fever.

... was Doorbell Night in Connecticut.

Thank you.

My weirdo family in Iowa do it on the night before! Apparently, some town council member decided this would cut down on pranks (WTH?). The only upshot is that kids are required to actually do a trick in order to earn their treat (tell a joke, do a magic trick, etc.). That's kinda cool...

Yes. My mother, too, made us be prepared to do tricks for the neighbors. Easy when I went as a ballerina. Considerably harder the year I wanted to be "an orphan."

to the west coast. i so miss my old neighborhood on this night. we had a parade and the fire truck and it was a big block party. not sure what to expect over here...but they do let the kids dress up for an end of the day parade at school...

Oh, I hope you find some new traditions in your new neighborhood. Welcome home.

Is this is? I was living in an apt in grad school and I actually got a trick or treater. Just one, though. I didn't have any candy around. I gave him some cough drops and hoped for the best.

...And the child trundled away from your door, another piece of his youth sucked dry like a lemon Ricola.

What sort of back-up plan does WaPo.com have? Or does it say something about me that I've come to rely so heavily on the Gawker sites without realizing that they're really shoestring/fly-by-night operations.

Backup plan? For what? Massive storm, or Death Star invasion?

Of all the analysis out there, this hits the mark perfectly. 

Bronco Bamma is definitely what the President should dress up as for Halloween.

No question, just wanted to say thank you for hosting this chat. Lately, I've been a bit droopy with all sorts of life stuff raining down on me, and this is where I come to escape and breathe and learn about kitty pictures and Korean dancers and what not. Love every single chatter. Yes, I do!!!

You can tell me to "Stay Safe" any time.

I work at home and Facebook is my water cooler because I don't have anyone to talk to during the day. So I sometimes will post just whatever I'm thinking/reading/wondering about. During the storm, I posted things like, "Wow, the wind is really picking up now," and "Something large and heavy just hit the roof." Hopefully I didn't annoy anyone; such was not my intent...

Not I, certainly.

When we lived in GA, Halloween was on a Sunday one year, and a bunch of crazy pastors had a cow about having fun on church day. The kids were told to trick-or-treat on Satuday night instead. And people actually did it! Sheesh.

You know what likely would have gotten that congregation a much bigger influx of new members? An awesome Halloween party.

I guess I'll give "Comfortably Smug" credit for choosing the correct handle. What a tool. There is no need to get into the legality of it, just choosing to do that says all you need to know about a person. Have we really gotten to the point where getting lulz out of a disaster like this is even debatable?


Wow...one of the issues I have with Facebook is the editing. People post "Checking out new local ethnic restaurant!" but not "Going to McDonalds drive-thru because I can't be bothered" when #2 is the more common scenario. But the truth is I don't want to hear about them sitting around doing nothing, either. Maybe I'm just too demanding for this whole social media thing.

You want honesty. But only when things are honestly interesting. It's a pickle.

Yes, I am the original poster, and am a proud Buckeye transplant. Yes, we call it "Beggar's Night" where I come from, and it's apparently a much more organized thing than around here. Each community sets the date & time (usually Halloween, but some communities prefer to do it on a weekend), and those times are prominently disseminated by the local media. As my last job required me to be out of town during this time, I never worried about it. But, I guess I get to set my own hours . . .

Enjoy your new liberation!

Awww! Stay safe, girlfriend! Love ya, mwuah!!!

I really feel the love in this chat today. We all must have been really desperate to talk to, you know, other humans.

When my friend bought her first house, she was so sure that because it was in a family-oriented gated community, she would be inundated by Trick-or-Treaters so she bought ten pounds of candy... all sorts so the kids could have their choice. She was determined to be the best neighbor in the community. Imagine her surprise when the community posted that in order to be safe, there would be a party for the children in the community center and house-to-house visits were prohibited!

That is just terribly sad. Except for the part where your friend got to eat all of the leftover candy.


Personally, I was always jealous of my friend who lived in an apartment building. She could hit, like, 60 doors in the time I could do 10 houses -and- she got to stay dry while doing it.

Wait, I thought all that rain and wind were special effects for the Halloween celebration,

Nah, they were special effects for this chat.

It looks like my Internet has held out almost to the very end of the our, but I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. Hope you all have a spooky and safe (STAY SAFE) Halloween. See you next week.

God Save the Zombie Queen.

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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