The Washington Post

Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Aug 15, 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.

Guys, I am here. It just got a lot later a lot faster than I thought it would. What should we talk about today?

mika brzezinski tweeted her weight. there are many reactions. if this is one of the highlights of the week on twitter, does that mean its a slow week? or am I a curmudgeon for experiencing intense eye-roll?

Actually, I think this is a huge thing. Celebrity weights, particularly among females, are guarded and secret. (Everyday people weights are guarded and secret too, come to think of it). Most famous people are so much smaller in real life than you would ever expect them to be. At the same time, they have the benefit of stylists and tailors who can make them look thinner than the average woman, shopping off the rack, could ever look. This is why we're left with a bunch of nebulous quotes in publications like US Weekly that say things like, "Angelina looks to be about 112 pounds, says Dr. X, who has never been in the same time zone as Angelina Jolie."


So...I do find this Tweet surprising. And refreshing. Am I alone?

Did you bring us back souvenirs?

I think there's some sand and stuff in the bottom of my suitcase...(Happy to be back! I was on a beach in North Carolina with very warm water and close proxemity to several Dairy Queens. I went surfing and am told there is photographic evidence of this expedition, though I haven't seen it yet).

What is Syrian Electronics? Is this a new subdivision of the Washington Post? Was it alright to place an order of electronics with them and to give them my credit card number?

Probably want to make sure you included your home address, in case they had any followup questions.

For everyone who hadn't been paying attention, the Syrian Electronic Army has been hacking news organizations this week. I would suggest reading this and scrolling down to witness their surreal hack of the BBC Weather Channel's Twitter feed.

And not a single question yet! I'm just a drive-byer, not a poster! Please, let me be a fly on the wall. Somebody start something!

My fault -- it always starts a little slow when I don't get here early enough to post a discussion topic. I was lost in writing a piece and didn't realize the time.

I think more important than tweeting a number was how Mika said that she gained weight and feels better about it. I would really like to see her get a mag cover that flips the script on "read how [FEMALE STAR] lost all that [BABY/BEING FAT/ETC] weight."

And I found myself wanting to know why she felt better about it. Is she eating more food, but healthier? Is she exercising and putting on healthy muscle? Did she realize her previous weight was too low for her frame? Women and body image is a subject that gets talked to death, but usually in very general terms, or in gung-ho happy Glamour articles where starlets say things like, "I eat all the time! I just can't gain weight!"


It's an odd topic, in that we're always talking about it, but never talking about it truthfully.

or was this a slow week in internet/pop culture? jennifer aniston wore something with patterns, someone made a video that a lot of people found tasteless.... *yawn....

Actually, I think there were a lot of interesting Internet related things in the gender sphere we've just been discussing.

For example: What not to do if you are a man looking to launch a site for women.

Or: What not to do if you are a Google looking to advertize a new inbox feature for women.

the white house quoted mean girls, effectively locking up the Plastics vote for at least the next few elections.

That is so fetch!

From last week's discussion, it is interesting how the 50 Shades fad brought more mainstream discussions about spankings and other things. Yet it also brought a backlash, I think, of people who did not want to hear about and discuss these things. I would discuss this but I don't know if people want to hear about it.

We don't. Not here. Thanks.

I spent last week in North Carolina and thought the water was very cold each time I went into the ocean. We also had lots of seaweed and jellyfish to contend with.

Where were you? The guy at our rental company said that the Bogue Banks, where I was, are much warmer than the Outer Banks, because the beach runs east-west instead of north-south, and somehow this means the sun hits it differently. I'm a wimp when it comes to cold water, but this was like bathwater.

Hi Cupcake - I know you aren't really a grammar purist, so what are your thoughts on this: Ugh.

I think it's fantastic. And people who complain that it's polluting language or making things difficult clearly have not been paying attention to the way language has worked for, oh, a milennia. Another chatter wrote in with a great link, so I'll post that next.

Please read for several examples of language migration, and to learn about many words we now embrace that mean exactly the opposite of what they once meant.

To me, the most incredible part of the story was that the Syrian hackers were able to get past the pay-wall in order to place their redirect codes into the international news stories. I'm kinda' delighted to find that something that has caused so much consternation to so many (former) Post readers proved to be a mere speedbump on the digital highway to these guys ("guys" being used as a generic, non-gender-specific term for people -- I understand that there are female hackers out there with mad skillz, although probably not many in non-progressive middle eastern countries...)

How do you know they didn't all buy subscriptions?

This was before your lifetime, Cupcake, but model-turned-actress Cybill Shepherd scandalized(!) people by admitting, at the peak of her stardom (not long after "The Last Picture Show") that she weighed 130 lbs. (she's about 5'8", IIRC). There were those who thought she was at least 20 lbs. overweight, but in fact she was beautiful at that weight.

And the camera really does add 10 pounds, or more. I'm not kidding -- when you meet celebrities in person, your first thought across the board will be, "You. Are. So. Little."

I ran into this issue a couple days ago and wanted to see if it happens to anyone else, or if it's just my neuroses talking. When I get a cute/funny text and see it right away, it feels perfectly adequate if I reply with an "aww" or a "haha." But if I don't see it right away or can't answer right away, I feel increasing pressure as time goes on to reply with a brilliantly witty response, to compensate my texting partner for my making them wait. So if I leave them hanging for 12 hours and then text back "hahah, yes," I assume they are thinking "Really? I waited 12 hours for that??" I think this phenomenon applies to texts more than email, Fb messages, etc. because an immediate reply is not an unrealistic expectation in texting. Is it just me?

I don't think it's just you. For me, the issue is not tech related, but related in all facets of communication. The longer I go not contacting someone, the more guilty I feel about not contacting them, the more I believe that my next contact should be stupendous, the more I feel unworthy to contact them. It's a shame spiral.


Let us now hear from the trenches.

The discussions blowing up in 'feminist' circles around the hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen and the related melt down of that crazypants professor whose name I don't remember. The Harriet Tubman video following on the heels of that was sad exposure of a real blind spot for a lot of people talking about racial and gender equality.

Hugo Schwyzer? Good lord, that was a breathtaking meltdown.

For those who fear sharks, jellyfish are the more likely culprit of what wil ruin beach outings. Sadly, my script for JellyfishNado did not have quite the same appeal as did someone else's script.

Hmm. Worth re-pitching is as "Peanut Butter and Jellyfishnado?"

I do not know who this "Mika" is. I can't be alone. It sounds like a way for her to get more hits on the Google.

Mika Brzezinski. A well-known talk-show host on MSNBC. (Seriously, people if you don't know who someone is, Googling is a -good- thing!)

when you've waited 12+ hours for responding, how about: "awww, that is SO fetch. [emoticon of choice]"

This is absolutely the correct answer.

Soooo, I recently saw the Jimmie Fallon/classroom instruments version of Blurred Lines and fell in love with the song (more the music than the lyrics) and Robin Thicke (very charming on the video). I decided to find the real version on You Tube and was a little shocked at the nudity. I am a Gen Xer and vividly recall the day we finally got cable and the first channel I turned to was 133 - MTV. I know kids don't watch MTV for music videos anymore, so I assume they are going to You Tube like I did. That means any kid with internet access has access to that video. My question is that I thought You Tube had policies against nudity - since if it didn't, it would probably become a porn site. Also - this isn't some homemade video, it is the official music video of the song. So do you know the deal?

I'm going to confess something. I have never seen the official video for Blurred Lines. I guess I must watch it, now that it's been brought up in the chat. (I promise -- I watch everything you guys tell me to watch).

Not for any specific comment, but is XKCD one of the most underrated comics on the interwebs?

I think it gets a lot of recognition...and it's hit or miss for me. But yes, when it's good, it's brilliant.

I'm new here. Who is Cupcake? And also, why?

Oh, welcome!

I am Cupcake. I didn't choose it -- the chatters did -- but never having previously had a nickname, I was excited to get this one. (Web Hostess = Hostess Cupcake = Cupcake).

For me (from the perspective of receiver), I don't need a late reply to be witty so much as I need it be specific. If I text you something vaguely amusing, when you respond 3 days with "lol", I have COMPLEYELY forgotten about the original text at this point, so your laughter is just confusing to me. A response that restate the original text/situation/joke is very helpful.

Your friends are just needling you, randomly laughing at you via text message.

I just don't google every online spokesmodel or newsreader or Celebrity Du Jour. My brain can't accommodate that much useless information, especially when I am looking at pictures of the Obamas on Martha's Vineyard.

Really? I am shocked by this. I am compelled to google every name and reference I do not understand.

Who tries to be sensitive and feminist and all of that -- can you tell me exactly what the Bustle founder did wrong? Am I not reading closely enough?

I think the reaction was a little overblown, but most of it was centered around the fact that the founder's open letter came from what seemed like a fairly unknowledgable place -- insisting that he was doing something that had never been done before, which was recognize that women are interested in a whole bunch of different stuff, like news and business as well as makeup and clothes.

It was a rather 1950s observation, and it let people to wonder about the qualifications of such a person to helm such a site. He also neglected to mention any of the big feminist sites that regularly publish smart commentary, like Jezebel or TheHairpin. So either he was daffy for not realizing they existed, or he was deliberately not mentioning them, which made him a jerk.

Here is my opinion. It is still fine to be a feminist and not live up to the ideals of feminism if that is one's choosing. I think the correct heigh of feminism is not to follow some strict code that one must follow only feminist philosophies throughout life but to state that one has the right to live one's live as one chooses just so long as one also believes that society should respect feminist philosophies and reject sexism. I do not believe in cheating on a partner, yet if one wants to have a partner with a wide age variation or date someone who is of a different social setting (college professor and porn star), if it isn't hurting anyone else, who cares? Feminism should be freeing and not restricting.

I hear what you're saying, and it's fine in theory, but the problem with it in practice is often this:

Society as a whole has deemed women to have an attractiveness expiration date. We fetishize younger models, younger actresses, younger women in general. So men can think to themselves, "Oh, it's just my personal preference that I think 19-year-olds are more attractive than 45-year-olds my own age," but they might not realize how much their personal preferences have been impacted by systemic brainwashing that values youth and certain types of beauty. So the professor's point, before he went off the deep end, was that men should work for themselves to question and challenge these systemic "truths," and value women apart from their age.

Nothing big, just want to ask everyone aboard to wish a fellow longtime chatter luck tonight in US Air Guitar's "Dark Horse Invitational." Winner tonight gets a slot in Saturday's National Finals for a trip to the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland. :)

Finland! Oh, very, very good luck to you.

I wish Robin Thicke would sing this song in another language (preferably Spanish, as I understand a good amount of French). The song is groovy but the lyrics are are on the creepy side. This gives me strong bouts of cognitive dissonance.

You are not the only one who feels this way. Nice tune, creepy lyrics. Perhaps we can replace them with something more appealing, like a Shel Silverstein poem or something.

When you were growing up and you asked your parents what a word meant, was the standard response "go look it up in the dictionary"? That might be the breakdown in whether or not people Google everything!

I didn't get "go look it up in the dictionary," but I did get, "What do you think it means, using context clues?"

In a nutshell, the reaction was bristling at the idea that something women have been doing for ages (AGES, BRO) is new and revolutionary and never-been-done-before when this dude does it? For real, bro? Like it doesn't count until a dude does it?

Yes. This. Which, alone, would by eyeroll-worthy -- but in context, it made people question his abilities as a businessman. Shouldn't someone asking for $6.5 million to launch a start-up have done a whole boatload of research into the market he was preparing to enter? Shouldn't they know -exactly- what else was out there?

Awww! Homemade cat-tree:

And I will watch this once the chat is over!

This does make more sense.

My personal pet peeve -- although we've all been victims of auto correct from time to time -- are people who serially send out completely unintelligable texts and don't bother to read them over before pressing "send." It requires the receiver to text back, "Monkey shins loo tonight? What are you talking about?"

So, yes. If you are texting me, I don't care if you're 12 hours late, but could you do a quick proofread?

Sorry, that just got me very excited. Last week it took us 5 minutes, but my daughter was able to explain what a $50,000 dental guarantee notice on her mouth guard meant

She'll still never remember to put it in at night, and will lose it in the trash at least once a month.

Thank you for the link to the updated dictionary. I literally died while reading it.

Welcome to your ghost!

In order to see videos with nudity (ala JT's tunnel vision) you need to verify your age--usually by signing in with Facebook, Gmail, etc. that has an age associated with your profile.

Posting without verifying.

Oh, I didn't realize that it came from here. I thought that was your Dad's nickname for you!

Oh man, that would have been a lot sweeter. The only nickname I can ever remembering my dad calling me was "Little Maggot," which, if you know my dad, and you know our sense of humor, you would realize was sweet and funny, even though it looks very Child Protective Services-y when I type it out now.

Ha, different kind of mouthguard. Only wears it for sports, and its painted to look like wolves' teeth, so its more a problem of her wearing it around the house and talking to us with it in.

That sounds like not a problem at all. Invite us all over for dinner!

I always knew you were Cupcake but I never realized the Hostess connection in between. Now if I can only figure out why people call me Twinkie.

'Cause you're so sweet, obviously.

Poor Sarah only averaged two comments per hour. I remember when she'd be the biggest draw with Post chatters:

But now it's up to 140, which is quite a lot of comments for a video, which don't tend to be as big of comments draws as articles.

Okay, folks. That's all for today. Sorry for the belated and unprepared start. Much better for me to be late because I'm writing an article than because I'm off in the corner eating Cheez-Its somewhere, though, and now I have to get back to work.


See you next week, same time and place.

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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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