Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Jul 18, 2013

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. We'll start at 2 as usual. No polls today -- we'll free for all and talk about whatever you want.

I will, however, note that the Emmy nominations were released today, and for the first time, a show produced and "broadcast" entirely on the Internet was nominated for the traditionally television awards show. So does this mean I finally need to watch House of Cards?

Okay! It is 2! I fear that my belated posting of the chat, combined with the lack of guided topics, combined with general July lethary, may cause this to be a silent chat. We all must work together to defeat that possibility. Lurkers, today would be an excellent time to chime in.

yes! kevin spacey and robin penn are both deliciously evil.

Kevin Spacey, I can easily see playing evil. (In fact, he often comes across as evil to me even when his characters are not supposed to be.) Robin Wright Penn? Maybe.

Nah, no need to watch House of Cards. But you should totally check out Orange is the New Black, which hopefully gets all the Emmys next year! I binged on it the last few days (thanks, All-Star Break!) and it is fantastic. It's just simply entertaining and of course puts so many different kind of women in the forefront, but it also subtly discusses conditions in prisons today in a much more realistic way than Oz ever did. I wasn't expecting much, but kind of can't watch to watch it again. Oh, and the fourth season of Arrested Development was robbed - it's not a just world when Jessica Walters and Will Arnett aren't nominated!

"Orange is the New Black" is going to be my vacation binge in August. Or this weekend, if the temperature continues to feel like Satan's oven. (Which I originally typed as "Stan's oven, which might, come to think of it, have been a better phrase).

I'm going to Comic Con today! Obviously, I'm not too concerned with any of the panels and am old and require sleep or I wouldn't be here to talk to you lovely people today. So I've never been. Anyone out there gone before? Am I right to be half terrified, half excited? Anything I should look out for, other than everything? I also got on the list for a VIP Geek and Sundry party tonight. I have no idea what that is, but it's free, so I'm going.

Ooh! The Geek & Sundry VIP party sounds promising. Wil Wheaton will be there, I bet, along with Felicia Day and her ilk.

I like this "Don't Miss" list, but mostly because it jives with some things I personall watch and/or follow. (Dexter cast, etc).


But now I shall open this up to the floor for general advice and words of encouragement.

This site continues to both soothe and alarm me. I love it, but can never shake the feeling that I'm observing a lot of mental disorders in action.

Do you or any of the chatters have an idea for a good beauty website to get some hair ideas? I need to transition from my long hair to something more sleek and professional that screams "promote me". Rudimentary googling gets me websites geared towards more bridal or fancy up-dos, looking for everyday cuts here.

My own hair regimen is: "Wash it. Put it in a bun while still wet." So I have no ideas. But other chatters might. I also might suggest Googline images of actresses you like who appear in shows of the CSI or Good Wife ilk -- or really anything else where the characters are professionals. Especially if there's someone you've ever been told you look like.

So, I started reading Divergent (as recommended here and elewhere). I am about 80 pages in and I am finding it really stupid. Also, I find it very YA, which I know it is a YA book, but I have read several YA books and none of them seem to try as hard as this one to be so "cool." The whole idea about one faction that all they do is jump off buildings and trains and be "cool" is stupid as well. Does it get better? I bought the first two books, after hearing rave reviews. Should I keep going or stop now?

Um...It doesn't really get "better," which is to say that the tone and plotting is pretty consistent throughout, so if you don't like it now, you're probably not going to fall in love. I would probably finish it anyway, if I were you. Because you've already bought it, and maybe you will end up liking it, and you can probably finish it in a few hours, and then when the movie comes out (it's in the works) you can roll your eyes about how you already read the book.

What are really, really COLD movies to watch? Like, set in Antartica? Besides Day After Tomorrow - I've already watched that twice in the past 8 days.

Excellent question. Fargo. Miracle. Big Miracle (it's not a sequel -- one is about hockey; the other is about whales). Mighty Ducks. Mystery, Alaska. Doctor Zhivago.


What are you in the mood for?

If I buy her book, will that help her feel better and write more posts, or discourage her from posting so she just writes books?

I don't know. But you should buy the book because she worked for free for a long time and she deserves to be paid for delighting you.

Do they have a history of coverizing mass murderers? I didn't read the article or story, but I'm talking about it. So their plan worked.

They have a history of covering a wide, swooping range of topics. I haven't checked, but I wouldn't be surprised if they'd written profiles of Jeffrey Dahmer or the like. And really, it's the picture that has people so upset, much more than the content -- which, if you read it, doesn't say much more than any other profile on Dzhokhar to come out in the past few months.

The blurring of the media lines allows a Netflix series to be eligible for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awards. But do web-connected TVs mean that YouTube videos are also eligible?

Good question. I don't know. I do know that I haven't seen anything on YouTube yet that I would recommend as deserving of a nomination.

I just went to look up the story I thought I remembered seeing about Sunday being a record "unfriending" day on Facebook because of polarizing comments about the Zimmerman verdict, thinking it was an interesting concept for the chat. I discovered that the story was an Onion-type fake! Which is also interesting for purposes of the chat, just in a different way.

You know what? I would have totally believed this story to be true. I've come close to a few unfriendings, but have held myself back, trying to practice what I preach about not getting stuck in cultural silos.

I need to find something to watch this summer--either on cable or preferably netflix/hulu. I hardly ever watch TV unless I am working out, so I want to explore some new shows this summer since I am relegated to working out inside with this heat. Any suggestions for a good series?

Guidance, please! What shows do you already like?

Sorry, I don't mean to lurk. But when you say "we'll...talk about whatever you want" my mind defaults to "so, my kid said the funniest thing yesterday..." which is not such a great group topic. I suspect that many chatters are similarly restraining themselves about topics that have personal relevence only.

It's amazing how many "personal relevence only" topics end up blowing up the chat as everyone is interested in them.

really? i was done after the first episode. i couldn't suspend reality enough to believe that federal inmates can wander around any part of the prison at any point...including into a guard's office to place a phone call??! and aren't escorted by a guard when they move from building to building. and don't go through a pat down every.single.time the leave the dining hall (ok, i realize at this point i sound like i've done serious time....)

Oh, you can't let things like logic get in the way of enjoying a show. You really can't.

So, you and me, we're friends on Facebook. Since you're pretty internet sophisticated, I'm assuming you filter your friends into lists so that you only see posts from people you actually know. I know this, but you keep me on the straight and narrow as a new parent. I always think, "Will Monica Hesse think I'm lame if she sees 20 pictures of my baby in a row as my only posts?" I still post pictures, but try to do it within reason!

I am your WWMD! (Which doesn't work so well, since it just looks like a mistyping of Weapons of Mass Destruction, but you know).

Actually, I don't filter. I like to see everybody. I try not to comment much on people I don't know at all. They might find that weird.

If Neatness Counts, go buy some of those hair clips and other hair toys that weren't around when I had long hair back in the 60s. Buy plainish ones to help you keep your transitional hair in place. It will make a good impression professionally.


Maybe it's just me but I really find it sad that the mystery/thriller had good reviews but only sold 1500 copies before she was outed. It must be so hard for new writer to get attention when established authors get all the glory - sometimes undeservedly so. *cough (patterson) cough* What are your thoughts now that you are a published author? Thanks!

I'm actually working on an article about this, so hopefully I'll have more and better thoughts next week. But: I've read Rowling's new book. It is good. It is a fine example of this genre, which is a genre I do read and am not unfamiliar with. If I did not know it was by JK Rowling, I wouldn't have thought it was fantastically amazing, or deserving of millions of dollars. I would have thought that the author relied too much on dialogue, that her characters were stock, and that the final plot twist made a negative amount of sense.


Which is to say -- I'm not sure whether I want to think harder about why it didn't get more attention before the author was revealed, or if I want to think harder about why it's selling such a bonanza now.


The publishing world is really weird. My own book has gotten really terrific reviews in the UK, but won't be published in the US. It's just a weird, weird industry.

Apparently my Pinterest feed was intended for another chatter today:.

Oh lovely!

I agree with you, OP, but I didn't hate it. Got book 2. Abandoned that one. (I can count on one hand the number of books I've given up on without even pretending I'll get back to them one day.) I'd say finish the first one if that's the kind of thing that eats at you, but contrary to what Dan Savage believes, it doesn't always get better.

Agreed. Second books are often a disappointment. It was my biggest worry in writing a sequel to my book (which I've just turned in). I couldn't help but think that the only series I've ever read that actually improved as books went on was Harry Potter.

Oh, so jealous! Especially because there's supposed to be a panel for The X-Files, since it premiered 20 years ago this year (and now I feel old). I would be both terrified and excited too, but I think the important thing would probably be just to soak it all in and let everything just wash over you. Have fun and write back with your experiences next week!

Yes, the X-Files reunion was part of the link that I sent. It is obviously imperative.

Applies to all geek conventions: BEWARE OF THE INFAMOUS CON CRUD! You will be tightly packed into crowded rooms filled with thousands and thousands of people who won't be eating well or sleeping well (gotta wake up early to stake out a good place on that afternoon Game of Thrones panel!), and many of whom have a more cavalier approach toward hygiene than the modern world generally dictates, especially if they're sleeping 4+ to a hotel room like many cost-conscious young nerdlings do (guilty as charged). This is a sure-fire recipe for MASS SICKNESS of the runny-nose, sneezing, feel-like-garbage variety within 1-3 days of con's end. Your job is to prevent this at all costs. Wash your hands frequently (maybe even carry a bottle of hand sanitizer), eat three balanced meals - or two with healthy snacks you can fit into your bag or pockets - per day, and keep getting that sleep you require. Take care of yourself, and make sure your only souvenirs are what you pick up in the dealer's room!


Buy the book! And follow her on Twitter - she's been responding to requests from her publisher to "promote the book" by posting countless hastily-drawn drawings of spiders.

How can this make you want to do anything but buy the book?

Thanks for the answer. I kind of assumed that was the case. Maybe with the heat I have been cranky every time this past week I have read it, so I will try to read it with a more open mind. It might also be that I just finished Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies which is a big subject matter switch and I keep wondering when Anne Boleyn is going to show up.

Maybe in book three? Now we all have something to look forward to.

"I love it, but can never shake the feeling that I'm observing a lot of mental disorders in action." But that's the point! I have a family member with OCD who looooooves that site, and finds it incredibly soothing in the way other people find pictures of baby animals soothing.

Really? Fascinating!

These may seem obvious, but since s/he said s/he barely watches TV... Game of Thrones, Homeland, The Killing (first season better than current season), Modern Family & reruns of Big Bang Theory on TBS (beacuse, you know, after GoT, Killing & Homeland, you need a mental break), Downton Abbey, Sherlock (PBS Masterpiece Mystery version)...

I support all of these, many of which are available online, except for Big Bang Theory, which I just cannot get behind at all.

So I am expecting a baby girl next month and we haven't settled on a name for her yet, but I was kind of interested in knowing what the name of the British royal baby would be to see if that is inspiring somehow. But that royal baby just isn't born yet! I am exhausted from checking all the time! It's going to be girl, right?

Everyone thinks so. Everyone is basing this off of one cryptic syllable uttered by Kate several months ago, and off of their own hopes. (This is the first time in royal history that a girl would automatically be heir apparent rather than heir presumptive, which means she would get to be queen even if her parents' next child was a boy.)

Smilla's Sense of Snow


My rule is if I'm focusing on some point of logic, then the show isn't well written enough to get me to watch. I gave up on some CW-ish fairy tale based show my friends had recommended because the evil queen gives the princess some speech about the local honeycrisp apples when the apples she's holding are clearly red delicious. If I'm burning my energy worrying about the qualifications of the set decorators and prop department, these characters are not nearly compelling enough.

Some honeycrisp apples are bright red. I agree the shape would be hard to mistake, I'm just saying...

Going to Illinois next week.

Ooh, where?

Netflix has the first season of Copper. Crimes and cops in post-Civil War NYC. Six Feet Under was an older HBO show that I really liked for its quirkiness. I also liked the show Doc Martin which was on PBS for several years.

Thanks -- posting for a few more suggestions. Six Feet Under ran back in my broke college student pre-cable days, so I've still never seen it. I'm hoarding for a rainy day.

Interesting, because I didn't see the story, but I'm in the middle of a self-imposed 1 week break from Facebook following being so depressed by seeing some of my friends and family's responses to the Trayvon verdict ("Horray, We WON! These whiners need to STFU!") Is it better to KNOW you are surrounded by jerks or be ignorant? PS Break from Facebook has been BETTER than I imagined! Considering making it permanent. Trend?

I know lots of folks who aren't on Facebook anymore. Not enough to say it's a trend, but it's something I've noticed among the cool kids and younger generation.

Just for the record, while I would like to visit some conventions if only for the sociology factor, the varying hygiene standards (I have never read a geek guide that didn't start by *reminding* people to shower) is almost single-handedly the reason I don't go.

How much worse can it be, really, than the Metro in this 100 degree heat? Don't answer that.

Thanks for the advice so far. Sorry, not an X Files fan. All I really want to see are the Community and Archer panels. I don't see the appeal in standing in line from 5 am on to see some people talk, when it'll be posted on Youtube anyway. I'm not quite nerdy enough, I guess. And yes, I have vitamins, hand sanitizer, chick fila purell wipes, and good snacks. I slept till 10 today and am eating leftover pizza to save money. I'll get over there eventually!

Could you maybe go to the Hannibal panel for me? I think I'm supposed to live in a world where I go on lots of double dates with Hugh Dancy and Claire Danes, so if you want to make him aware of that, that would be great.

"Eight Below" is literally set in Antarctica. It's about a group of huskies which were left behind in Antarctica, and then their ultimate rescue. You'll be a little moist-eyed at the end. There's also the silly fun of "Snow Dogs" (with Cuba Gooding Jr.).


and then out into the country near Decatur to visit the little country churchyard where half my ancestors are buried.

Oh, you're just a hop, skip and a jump from my hometown of Normal. Eat some Steak 'n' Shake.

Thanks for taking my question. It's interesting you said that about the book. I loved the Harry Potter series. Read her Casual Vacancy and found it good. But agreed with your comment about too much dialogue and stock characters. The thing that struck me was how preachy it was on poverty and the social safety net b/c I knew her background from all the Harry Potter attention. And I come from a global public health point of view. :)

Interesting -- my comment about the dialogue and stock characters was actually meant only for Cuckoo's Calling, the brand new murder mystery. I didn't notice those problems in Casual Vacancy...though I did think it had its own problems.

If you like documentaries, any of the Ken Burns series (Civil War, Dust Bowl, Prohibition, Baseball) or Frontline episodes. Both should be available at video.pbs.org


What about Wheel of Time? Haven't finished it yet (decided to start at the beginning again now that the last book -- #14! -- is done), but IMO it started to improve with #3 and got better and better for a few books. The first one didn't suck me in the way the later ones did. (Of course, around 9 or 10 it really started to plod.)

A series I've never read, but will take your word for it.

I haven't started this one yet myself (I'm planning a binge), but if it helps the OP, I saw an article the other day that outlined a bunch of ways in which the show's portrayal of prison is pretty realistic. I'm trying to find it for you before the chat ends. (I thought it was on Slate, but their search function isn't very user-friendly.)

Excellent, thanks.

is the most inaccurate fruit name ever chosen. OK, it's red, but delicious? It's powdery mush.

It is the worst of the apples. Granny Smith comes in second, but at least those can be used for baking. Except that apple pies are the worst of the pies.

Since you mentioned it, what are some of your favorites in the mystery/thriller genre? I like those types of books, but wish some were a little more challenging, with more witty/intelligent dialogue and jokes/references that you need a brain to understand. But, still light enough to read at the beach or on a plane.

Start with Laura Lippman. She's divine. I like her standalone's better than her Tess Monaghan series. Also, do you read Harlan Coben? Tell No One is his best known work, but most of them are engaging and readable, even while being preposterously twisty. And Val McDermid is a grand Scottish writer. Start with A Place of Execution.

And Caleb Carr. He's only written a few, but The Alienist is one of my favorite books of all time.

Just checked it out. I think it's somewhat stupid. Most pictures are of things either taken apart or emptied and all the pieces/contents neatly laid out. Ok, it's nice and the pictures have good symmetry, etc. However, I want to see useful things organized neatly. Show me a cabinet of pots/pans organized neatly. A wall in a hobby room/work room with tools, etc organized neatly. Maybe an office desk. Give me ideas how to make my stuff more organized.

I think that's not exactly the point of the site, but the point is taken nonetheless.

I know I don't belong there, because I'm not sure I'd recognize Hugh Dancy if I ran into him. I think he was the guy who died on the Big C. Right?

Also in Hysteria and The Jane Austen Book Club.

Worth reading just for this sentence: "if beliefs are inviolable rights, nobody has the right to challenge our right to believe that Fred Phelps believes that his mother is now gay." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/18/pink-mass-westboro-baptist-church-gay-satanists_n_3616642.html

Oh, I can't wait.

Powdery mush? What? Only if the apple is 3 years old maybe. They are crisp and very delicious!

Noooooo. One would only think this if Red Delicious were the only apples one had ever had in one's life. Darling, let us introduce you to the Pink Lady.

Not any more. They've been tomato'd. They're now big and spherical and not tart. I used to love them, now I don't bother any more.

What a travesty.

They were totally Red Delicious, and I also basically gave up on Once Upon a Time then. Also, when I confirmed that Honeycrisp have only been around since the '90s, and the show claimed they were some heirloom variety. Why wouldn't you just call them red delicious? It's nice to be around my own kind here.

These things are important, and we are here to help.

Ok, pre-ordered the book. Was looking for an excuse. Happy Birthday to me!

Wait, what? Which book? What did I miss?

OK, you midwesterner you, where do you stand on rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a delicious pie, especially if paired with strawberry. However, Father Cupcake makes a delectable rhubarb sauce, which is poured on vanilla ice cream, and this is the best way of all to eat rhubarb.

Shame on me -- it wasn't Slate, it was the Post's very own Wonkblog!

You are forgiven, especially because you actually returned with the link.

As someone who has attended the Jackson County (Ohio) Apple Festival for most of his life, I'd like to recommend the Fuji as an awesome apple for just plain eating. Crunchy, tart and juicy, just the way an apple should be.

Thank you. Where I'm from, we have the Corn Festival.

Publishing-world type here: 1500 copies is a respectable number for a genre novel by a first-time author, doubly so considering that "Galbraith" wasn't able to work the usual bookstore readings/interviews publicity circuit that most writers use to attract new fans. And let's consider Rowling's own media-friendly "personal narrative": the struggling single mother with a dream, writing on scraps of paper and napkins in a coffee shop. The Harry Potter books would have sold like hot cakes no matter who the author was, but the fact that she was an "underdog" like Harry himself was just so golden. Contrast that with Galbraith: If you read the original author bio, Rowling and her publishers were deliberately trying to make the background to the novel as UNINTERESTING as possible: the pet project of a retired military policeman who doesn't want any fuss or attention, thank you very much. The first author is Oprah-worthy; the second author is the type who leads writing courses for veterans at the Royal Hospital.

All of these are excellent points.

Did you read Carolyn Hax's latest column featuring a letter from someone who refuses to have a cell-phone, GPS, or any of an array of other techie toys -- just a home computer with Internet connection for research and email? It wasn't my letter, but it could've been I was surprised at the outrage in a follow-up letter that Hax ran. My feeling is that as long as I make it a point to be punctual, and look up maps (either online or in road atlases) of where I'm going beforehand (in case I don't know how to get there), it's not really anyone else's place to hassle me.

I did see that. And you as though you're behaving just fine. I think the problem arises when someone is deliberately several steps behind technology (refuses to have email, for example) and then expects special treatment regarding social activites. i.e. forcing you to hand deliver a written invitation for a party that everyone else was emailed about. These demands would be acceptable from a grandma, but are less charming when the recipient is 25.

I bet you think carob tastes like chocolate, too.

My tastebuds are still scarred from the carob-covered peanuts that passed as junkfood in my house growing up.

You have retained your midwestern credentials. My mother used to make that same sauce with the rhubarb that grew in our back yard. And I am always happy to remember that I got the very last piece of the very last strawberry-rhubarb pie my dad made before he died.

You sound like you have a wonderful family. (Invite me for dinner).

March of the Penguins


(We're over 3, but I'll keep going for 15 or 20 more minutes).

So, try this one out. I've been watching Siberia - which is a drama/sci-fi show about a reality show that is filmed like it's a real reality show. Weird things happen and the contestants (actors) are questioning if they are on a fake reality show. With me so far? The part in all of this where the inconsistent logic finally gets me has nothing to do with the premise of a fake fake reality show. No, it's when the "contestants" are eating roasted deer that they hunted out in the wild and THEIR HANDS AND FACE ARE ALL GREASY! Venison is extremely lean and usually needs fat added to it so that it doesn't dry out. Sigh. Aliens, monsters, etc. I can accept. Fatty deer meat, not so much.


If the gender pairings work out, I think that you and the Red Delicious / Once Upon a Time viewer should be matched on a date, post haste.

day after tomorrow w/ Jake Gyllenhall. Soooo cold!

Wait, isn't that the movie the OP said s/he had already watched twice in the past week?

Apple is one of the few fillings that makes a standard pastry pie crust bearable. Everything else is vastly better as a crisp. Apple is at least decent. Of course, graham cracker crusts (and all the pies that go in them) are better than pastry crusts, but that still doesn't make apple the "worst" of pies.

Cherry pie is better in a standard pastry crust than apple is. So is peach. So is blueberry. I could go all day. Want another? Blueberry-hyphen-peach.

Do you think that, because she is The Best-Selling Author In The Universe, she gets away with little to no editing from her publishers? That's assuming, of course, that UK publishers have editors any more, the way U.S. editors don't. (They pretend they do but they're really just book agents.)

Maybe. But you know, anyone who is a real writer and who genuinely wants to get better at their craft would welcome editing suggestions. I love a good edit. It's like a trip to the spa.

You should totally watch it. If you don't have Netflix, you can come to my place. I have guacamole and a big loveable black lab that thinks he's a lapdog. But I live in Richmond, so may be a little far for you...

Oh man. It's tempting. But I also have guacamole and a loveable black shepherd who thinks she's a cat, so it's pretty much a toss up.

Did a cover with Charlie Manson (1970s murderer of Hollywood types). However, he looked very skeevy, while the Boston Bomber child looked more like a boy band member. That may have been what so discomforts people--a monster should look evil, not like one of the Jonas Brothers.

But isn't it so much more disturbing to have him look like a regular kid?

sorry. I came in late. I should've just slipped in the back row and kept my mouth shut and then acted like I'd been here all the time.

I just wanted to make sure that people didn't think that The Day After Tomorrow was some transformative epic that all of us should watch on daily basis.

Do you think JK Rowling's new mystery novel would have eventually reached a tipping point and become a best seller if she hadn't been outed as the author? I loved The Casual Vacancy, and was really dismayed to see all of the reviews complaining that it wasn't Harry Potter. I'm in the middle of this one now, and loving it. So far I don't think I've seen anything that would have tipped me off that she was the author, or that the author was a woman, or anything but a good writer. I'd like to think that people would have read it and enjoyed it and that reviews and word of mouth would have eventually pushed it up the charts. Part of me is sad that she'll never know for sure, and part of me is just glad I heard about it, because I was halfway reading three books none of which were holding my attention, and it turned out what I wanted was a good old fashioned noir mystery.

I do find it really interesting that Rowling wanted to try this experiment. It must be very hard for her, at this point in her career, to get any feedback that is genuine and uninfluenced by her name. I can imagine being very curious about whether the book I'd just written was actually any good.


But I agree with your last sentence -- for its faults, I still did read Cuckoo's Calling in a 24 hour span, and that was only half because I had to race through it for work.

I have spicy guacamole and a loveable short haired collie who thinks he's a lap dog. I'm pretty happy.

Everybody wins!

And now I'll log off. July 18 and still no royal baby, so I'll sign off with God Save the Duchess, and hope that we have a princely arrival soon. I don't think I can read another speculative tabloid story on whether the baby will be named Alexandra or Isabella.

See you 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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