Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Feb 07, 2013

Note to readers: Due to deadlines, Monica moved this week's chat to Thursday, February 7 at 2 p.m. ET. She will resume her regular chat time, Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET, next week. Thank you!

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, on this unexpected Thursday. I expect our numbers to be small, and I expect them to be even weenier when I confess that I haven't prepared any discussion topics.  The deadline story that I postponed the chat for yesterday has spilled over to today as well. I'm taking a brief respite with all y'all, and then back into the burrow.


Please tell me what's going on online, or find other amusing ways to distract us all. We'll cut out a bit early, unless something life-changing comes up, as it does so often in this chat.

So I'm in San Diego, where the former LAPD office who shot cops in LA has come to hide. We're close to the action and are sheltering in place. Please, dear lord, entertain me. Also, don't tell my mother. She will freak.

Oh, but you will be fine. You will obviously be completely fine. Everyone is looking out for you. All of us, and everywhere else in the country.

I'm dying to know what you think about the woman in Fairfax who is trying to ban "Beloved" from AP English classes. I am a fervent hater of the book banning movement, it goes against everything I believe in to limit intellectual pursuits, but I'm curious what you think. Also, what made the WaPo cover this particular story? I understand that there are lots of controversial, banned-books types of stories in the region -- why this one for news coverage??

As the daughter of an English professor and the granddaughter of a librarian, I am not the right person to ask. "Book banning" was a nonsense phrase in my house. It just would not make sense.

I am in Boston, so if you don't hear from me next week, assume that I have been buried in the apocalyptic Blizzard of the Century that is looming on the horizon.

Do you want us to all follow you on Twitter so that if you bleet out, "Help me. Buried in my house," someone in the area can come and save you before it gets too dire?

Wait, I feel like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day". If you are here, then it must be Wednesday, yet I have Wednesday yesterday, and now here it is, Wednesday again.

It is true. The good news is that at the end of this chat, we will all think that we have two and a half days left of work before the weekend, but then we will remember that we have only one and a half.

So if your just going to put your commercial online. And all of the online media will link to it. And all of the old-school media will show it. Do we even need to Super Bowl anymore?

I just wonder how long it will be until we just call it the Ad Bowl and settle in for three straight hours of commercials.

I recently-ish started dating a guy that my family knows through mutual friends. My older sister took it upon herself to send the guy a (private- thank god) FB message saying "Thanks for making my sister so happy". I found out from the guy (who didn't care) and was immediately mortified. I called my sister to let her know I thought it was inappropriate and she disagreed and got feisty with me. What do you think? I'm real close to getting over it, but every time I think about it, I internally cringe. Yikes.

Does your sister have an independent relationship with this guy, separate of you? Were they Facebook friends already? Was there anything else in the message? All of these things could gain points in her favor, and right now she needs them, as I am inclined to agree with you. BUT. No harm, no foul, and the fact that your boyfriend didn't get worked up about it speaks well in his favor. So maybe your sister did -you- a favor by giving him a test. The test is called, "How Well do You Deal With My Nutty Family?"

Does Rep. Raul Labrador in fact like or dislike "2 Broke Girls". A friend of mine works on the show, and we wish to know his stand on this critical issue.

You know, maybe we're all making too much of this. Maybe the staffer just appreciates female comedians doing shows about female friendships. No?

Votes please. Who is cuter in the latest UTube video - the baby girl rocking to gangnam styles or her older sister totally cracking up?

This video? But I do not think we can have any more Psy videos, yes? Psy is over. Psy was completely and officially over when he made Oppa Pistachio Style for the Super Bowl.

The best part of that story is that the woman says she just wants people to have a choice for what their kids read, but the school system already has a rule that anyone can opt out of books. Why does she need it banned for all?

Anyone know what happens when a parent has a kid opt out of a book? Are they assigned an alternate text that has been approved as having equal literary value, or of teaching similar themes?

At least you'll probably be picking up some figuratively homeless Celebritology chatters, since this was our old time slot.

Someone suggested a permanent move to Thursday, since Wednesday is so full already with Reliable Source and Sietsema. Thoughts? Boos? Yays?

Oh, never mind. Someone mistook a random businessman in a hotel for the LA shooter. I found this on LAist and not any of the San Diego newspapers. Sigh. I miss you, WaPo.

We are so, so glad you are safe.

Great name for a pet canine!

Yeah, if this guy owns any dog other than a lab, he's in so much trouble with the AKC.

On fb, my aunt reposted (and my grandmother liked) a rant incorrectly attributed to a well-known celebrity. I love them both dearly, but they are firmly entrenched in their extreme views, and so I decided not to point out that celebrity didn't say that. Because even the politest "oops, wrong person!" would likely have started something I did NOT want to start. But do you think there is obligation in cases like this to correct false information before it is reposted yet again?

I do. But I know it's hard, because, as you point out, crazy people cannot be un-crazied with the introduction of facts. I still think, if at all possible, that you want to try to un-detonate explosive material -- just because the other people who forward it might not be as entrenched in their views as your aunt and grandmother are. They might be persuaded by accuracy.

I was not quick enough on the last button when watching that ad with my 2 year old son.

Eh, at two, he probably doesn't understand. He just thinks its dancing.

A few friends of mine and I have been venturing into the world of online dating in DC and it is just...depressing. We are all women, range in ages, colors, size, and interests and have all found the experience to be overwhelming in how few people contact us or what we think are decent dates that lead nowhere. Now when we are out and about (separately, together, other variations), we do get compliments/hit on/phone numbers and some dates, so is just online dating or the area. I've only ever dated here (moved in here while in long term relationship) so I can't compare, but others say it is impossible (guys and girls/straight and gay). Also, why do 90% of the male profiles focus on their addiction to extreme sports? I do marathons and rock climb and I swear there are always more than women than men, but these guys are all ultra marathoners who insist their partner keep up with them. very few people can do that plus rescue puppies out of a burning building. On the flip side, what do guys see routinely in profiles that bother them? So were are the guys who like girls in their 30s who are normal and like a good beer with a burger?

Honestly, I wonder if the guys posting that potential girlfriends must be able to keep up with them in extreme sports are writing in code. It's their way of saying they want women who are physically fit, and they think this is a better way to attract that body type than to just say, "Please fit these specifications. Thanks."

They were NOT FB friends until the day after our first date. She didn't even know his last name and had to stalk him through the mutual friend. It was all insanity. I wasn't even FB friends with him until last week. I think you're right about the nutty family test though. I will use that as my mantra.

Now I'm laughing. With you. Not at you. This would happen in my family.

How about the controversy over the Anne of Green Gables cover featuring a seductive, busty blond?


I used this myself in High School to avoid re-reading and regurgitating Wuthering Heights or some such. Instead I happily re-read something by Jane Austen.

But did you just say, "I've read this before. Let me read something different?" Or did a parent have to send a note saying, "This book depicts extremely unhealthy romantic relationships, and I'm not having it for my daughter?"

I never understood the argument for banning books. Are these parents trying to shelter their children from potentially distressing content forever, or ensure that all the horrors of the world are dumped on them at once upon becoming a legal adult? The adults I know who were raised in this kind of protective bubble often seem to have a problem with anything outside their comfort level, to the extent where they're refusing to read certain news articles or listen to acquaintances share stories of their traumatic experiences because it unsettles them too much. They've never been encouraged to try intellectually and emotionally processing a situation like that through the eyes of the victim, and so to them, it's just this awful thing that's too much of a bummer for anyone to want to hear.

I'm just posting a few of these. I think this over-generalizes a lot, but it does raise some interesting things to think about.

Moving to Thursday would give me a chat to look forward to on Thursdays. But part of me enjoys the Sietsema-Reliable Source-Hesse on Wednesdays. Perks up the middle of the week. I am NO help, am I?

None of you are any help. None at all.

My Thursdays are so boring now! It would be excellent if you moved to that time.

Actually, more of you are like this. I might re-raise this question next week when there are more of you, and then, if response remains the same, talk to the chat producers about a possible switch.

So there was a girl in CO a week or two ago who had been taken by a strange man (she was 17 or so I think). The news said she put something on FB to say she was in trouble. My question is, if you can post something to FB you must have your phone on you - why wouldn't you just call 911? (thankfully, she was found safe)

Did she post it from a mobile device? Or did she oddly have access to a laptop but not a phone? Or maybe she was trying to send out a silent alert to as many people as possible, and she thought that making a 911 call would force her to speak out loud?

RE: the aunt/grandmother and the false info, send them a private message with whatever backup you can find, Snopes, etc. But yeah, not worth starting a battle on the feed of a post.

I was going to suggest a private message, but ultimately decided against it. Reason being, if the OP already knows that Aunt and Grandma are going to ignore whatever she says, then saying something to them in private doesn't really help The People Who Can Still Be Saved. Better to post a public correction, where some people might see and appreciate it.

YES, YES, YES!!! (Did I stress that enough?) Thursday afternoon is in desperate need of some WaPo chat love and no one would be a better option than you. Only you, Monica, can save us from Thursday afternoon office life doldrums.

Well, when you put it that way.

Yes, banning books is bad. But deciding what books to study is a choice. Do parents have no say? I don't mean individually, but collectively. What should be done if a high-school starts teaching, say, 50 Shades of Grey? What would Nana Librarian say to that?

I would so, so love to see how a good English teacher would find a way to teach 50 Shades of Grey, or some other similarly awful novel. It would all be about what not to do, of course, but still.


Speaking of: I saw a Law & Order episode on rerun the other day that was based off of 50 Shades of Grey. In it, the young hottie who purported to have written the book was just a cover for the frumpy English professor who secretly wrote it. I liked this plot line.

Wait! What?? Link please! If you're going to give me a debilitating aneurysm during a chat, I'd like to see the horror with my own eyes...

Just be careful, and look through your fingers.

Your problem is "girls in their 30s." A female in her 30s is a woman. You may need to rethink your identity.

Eh, this bothers me not at all. Girls, gals, ladies, women -- I think you can have a lot of self-respect and maturity and still choose any one of these labels with which to identify yourself.

I am trying, and failing, to think of something uber-clever to say on a friend's FB page for her birthday. Anxiety and flop-sweat are starting to set in.

Answer: Do not put anything on her public page. That's what all of her Facebook friends will be doing, and most of them will only be doing it because Facebook reminded them that it was her birthday. Half of them will be people like her dentist, who don't even really know her. Send her a private email instead. Say, "Remembering that it was your birthday made me think of that time we went to Philadelphia/met that weird lifeguard/ate a whole box of cookies/etc." So much more meaningful.

I'm sure the issue was exactly keeping it quiet. I'd text, post, etc. like mad if I had a smart phone in my hands and hide it as long as possible from the bad guy(s).


I understand that women who love pain read the 50 Shades trilogy. The real pain was in reading it, correct?

Correct. The pain was mostly in the heart, or, if you are an aspiring writer, due to the steam coming out of your ears.

Are you sticking with it? I gave it 2 and a half episodes but even Kevin Bacon being cool can't save it. The Americans, on the other hand, is excellent and I don't even really like Keri Russell.

I cannot watch any more of The Following. And I love those kind of shows. Give me a Criminal Minds any day. The Following is for failed English majors. This guy is supposed to be a Poe scholar, but his references would not get him a C on a high school exam. It's not bad serial killing. It's bad literary knowledge.

How far along are you in proofreading your novel and is there any more word on long you are going to torture us before it is finally released?

Right now it will be released in June. But (BUT!) it is being released in the UK. So you will have to be willing to buy it from Amazon.co.uk and have it sent to your house. Which will not be a problem, because it will make you feel British and Downton-Abbey-ish.

I was knocked over by an ad for a book or something that purported to "improve on Jane Austen" by setting Pride & Prejudice among American teenagers. It popped up on my Facebook page so I can't go back & find it, but JEEZ PEOPLE.

"Improve on?" No. "Capitalize on?" Yes.

I can't answer all of Virginia's questions but as a straight guy on these sites, here's my take. I would suggest she make her profile unique to her with specific info and some humor (incredibly absent in dating profiles). 90% of the profiles I see say the same thing (and get skipped) -- "I love to live life! I am thankful for my friends and family! I like to have fun! I have a great sense of humor and am looking for someone with a great sense of humor!" The first 3 sentences are useless because that describes everyone. The sense of humor comment is not very useful either -- everyone HAS one. The key is to find someone with one that meshes with yours. Don't make your entire profile an exercise in sarcastic snark but let me SEE some of your great sense of humor. And specifics, my God people, specifics! Saying you like movies or books or food doesn't help me get to know you. Name 5-10 movies/books/restaurants you like. Lastly, the pictures. It's 2013, it can't be that hard to find a few decent pictures of yourself. Most pictures I see suffer from at least one of: blurry, red-eye, really blurry, a sweeping landscape with the woman being teeny-tiny in the corner (or not in it at all), group shots without labeling who you are, and pictures of your dog. That's great you like dogs, I do too...but a picture of just your dog (ie the woman is not in the photo) doesn't help me decide if I want to contact you.

I'm just posting this as one man's reference point.

FWIW, I have very limited experience with dating sites and haven't been on one in years. All I remember, which supports your tip for specificity, was that my tag line was "You killed my father."

Obviously, all of the correct responses began with "Prepare to die." Obviously, the people who thought I was mentally deranged instead of quoting an amazing movie would have been a bad match for me on a date.

Me Likely.


If you really want to use the FB wall, I like to image search for "Happy Birthday (Insert Name Here) and find the absolute worst thing out there and post that with my greeting.... Like this...

Oh, I so hope we are friends on Facebook.

I'm a high school librarian. In my county, if a text is to be taught to an entire class, it goes through a little mini-committee of people (another teacher, a parent, someone else) to determine if it is a good fit. In the school library, we don't have that requirement because the onus is on the student and his/her family to determine what is right for them. You can always close a library book. And I'm looking forward to reading YOUR book. Will it be challenged?

I hope so! (But probably not.)

Nah, I think the bottom line is that dating in itself just stinks. No matter whether you are in Anchorage, Kansas City or DC, it can be a depressing, frustrating and soul sucking activity.


I was wrong... THIS is the best one for you.

We should all post this to our dating sites. Obviously.

I started yesterday, after a lifetime of writing plays. Random observation: playwriting is a sprint, and novel writing is a marathon.

Sooner or later, both become a crying fest.

Did you see the helpful article on how men can appropriately approach and talk to women they don't know. It was funny and stressed that at no point should a guy suggest that a woman smile. Quote "She knows what face she's wearing and she's wearing it for a reason."

Ooh, I didn't. But I will look for it.

I have a Facebook question that I do not expect people to answer for certainty because only one person can answer that. Yet I am wondering what people speculate is the most likely answer: The person I went to the high school prom with and have not seen since high school friended me and has started writing privately with me---nothing romantic, more facts and updates on how the day is going---ever since the same day this -ex added "in a relationship" as a new status. Do you think: a.) this person wants me to notice and wants to rub it in, b.) this person is questioning the new relationship and is testing it against me, or c.) this is just coincidence and the person really just wants to catch up and have someone to write to?

What if the ex thinks he is in a relationship....WITH YOU?

I just got a "save the date" for someone's wedding in my email. I'm 99% sure I don't know these people. Do I reply?

Yes. It's the kind thing to do. Also, they might invite you anyway, and then you get free cake.

(Unless the 1 percent of you who thinks you might know them has a good reason to think so).

I seem to recall that another Jane Austen novel was made into a movie set among contemporary American high school students, but can't recall which one. Can you or the chatters help me out here, Cupcake?

"Clueless," Emma.

Wait. Will it be available ONLY in England?

Only in English book stores, but you should be able to order from English sites and get it sent to America. It is complicated, it has to do with rights, my agent and I are trying to get it brought to America, where it will not be banned.

http://jezebel.com/5981581/how-to-talk-to-a-woman-without-being-a-creep Sorry, should've included it in my original post.


1st thought: Gross!!!! 2nd thought: Wait...Gilbert... 3rd thought: Okay, yeah, I'd probably read this.


And now I'm going to cut off, a bit early as forewarned. Got to get back to non-chatting work, but I'll see you next week, on Wednesday for now.

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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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