Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Oct 17, 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.

Welcome back from furlough, everyone. I assume you've all been glued to the pandacam?

We'll get started at 2, with whatever you want to talk about.

So while furloughed, I got to hang out with the author of Game of Thrones. Not a here's my book to sign hang out, but an actual meal, two actually but one was a group meal. Also saw one of the best panel discussion ever with him, Gardner Dozier, and Howard Waldrop discussing their lives, fandom, and careers. I even got a Gold Dragon from him as a thank you for all of my help. How was your weekend?

Ooh, so were you at New York's Comic Con? Do tell us: how many times did someone pester him about the release date of his next book?


My weekend was excellent. I did a cross-country roadtrip to pick up a new car and finished a book (writing one, not reading one). For those of you who were nice enough to read my first novel, STRAY, the sequel now has a release date, FYI. Here's the link to and description of BURN.


What did everyone else do? Highlights and lowlights, please.

Anything but the furlough. Please.

I've already failed this request. Forgive us.

Dear Ms. Hesse: I can't find the fashion chat so I thought perhaps you might help. Can I wear bone-colored pumps through the fall and winter seasons or are they strictly for spring and summer. Thank you!

You can wear them. (Right?)

Oh mistress of the web...I know this has been touched on in the past, but could your followers and my fellow readers provide some edification on the better online dating sites? I've tried OKCupid but all I seem to get are very creepy requests for one night hook ups and zero responses to initial emails. I'm a girl reaching out to guys and have had my male friends read over my profiles, help pic photos, etc and so on. But I've also been told that since I'm single and in my late 30s, no one will ever want to date me ever again. Because I'm toast. (For the record, I flicked that person in the forehead and went back to my beer.)

Egads. I'm flicking that person, remotely, on your behalf. As always with online dating questions, I'll throw it out to you guys. With the caveat that different sites likely attract different personalities, and what worked well for one person might not work at all for someone else.

THIS is what the pressure of Washington DC does to people

The stenographer had a rather mild flipout, all things considered. She didn't throw anything, or punch anyone. I mean really, compared to the behavior of Congress over the past three weeks, it was a very civil flipout.

As far as I understand it, a lot of the Constitution's writers were Freemasons, but did they consider themselves a god or godlike? My knowledge of Freemasons is limited to Dan Brown, the National Treasure movies, and the Stonecutters episode of the Simpsons.

Are there any Freemasons on this chat who would like to take today as an opportunity to share all of your secrets and shed some light on this stenographer's public display? We're all anonymous here.

Yes. Anything off-white. Which I suppose would include white shoes that got dirty.

We have spoken. (Please don't trust me for fashion advice; my primary criteria for buying clothing is whether or not its on the clearance rack.)

Go someplace more specific to your interests, like Single Book-Lovers or Jewish Singles or maybe Environmental Guerrillas.

I've heard this before, and don't doubt that it has merit. But I'm still saddened by the idea of closing oneself off to all of the non-Jewish book-haters out there.

I've done the con assistant thing before for free and absolutely loved it, so I'm not making fun of OP at all (lucky you, OP!!), BUT I just want to say that this story shows that the definitive mark of success for a fantasy author is that you can successfully tip people with the money that you invented.


The first rule of Freemasons is that you don't talk about Freemasons.

I always *knew* that Brad Pitt participated in this chat.

I am not in the market, but if I were, I'd try one of the sites for book lovers. Or whatever the equivalent might be for your personal passion (sports, travel, etc.). I'm sure there are other niche ones out there. Right away, you would find candidates with which you share a common interest.


That big eye will see you and you'll be struck by lightning.

Can the big eye organize lightning strikes? Or can it only, like, cry on you a lot?

Actually he was at Capclave in Gaithersburg MD this weekend. I only heard "the question" asked once. Most fans know that that question leads to the death of another Stark. He reiterated that he will announce his finish on his blog, but make no predictions. I learned that there are two porn parodies of Game of Thrones and he is honored by them.

Who wouldn't be?

Not a Freemason, but my understanding of the organization is that one of the big requirements for joining is that you MUST believe in a higher deity. Thinking that about yourself would get you kicked out for sure.

That's my understanding, too. Which is an understanding that is also built entirely on Dan Brown novels.

Your primary criterion. Unless you have more than one. I was raised never to pass a clearance rack by, too, and I gradually realized that the cost-benefit ratio of those purchases was never what I had expected, because I was getting great deals on clothes just as they went totally out of style.

You guys. With the grammar. I have already explained. My tiny fingers are typing very fast in order to deal with all of your brilliance. I am going to make spelling and grammar errors in the process. I recognize them almost immediately after they happen. We -all- recognized them almost immediately after they happen. This is a chat filled with precisely the kind of people trained to recognize spelling and grammar errors. You do not need to point them out. You are not helping me. You are just being a weenie.

No book-lover wants to spend time with a book-hater. Maybe a book-indifferent date, but someone who actively hates what you love? Books are more important than, say, one of you loving and the other hating Italian food.

I disagree. I think being a book-lover is really about being a learning-lover, or maybe someone who values imagination. I could see a book lover being very happy with someone who didn't read a lot but who, say, liked to visit museums. Or build fairy castles in a garage. Or any number of other exercises that would flex creative muscle the way reading does.

A friend posted the following on Facebook: Take a book title. Add one word to ruin it. Go. By the time the thing had run its course, there were over 800 altered book titles. (Examples include: Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret Thatcher; James and the Giant Peach Bellini; The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Waist). It was really addictive and a lot of fun.

I loved this thread. We could also morph it into a Before and After thread, which could lead to some of the most epic books in the history of books, i.e. "Ender's Game of Thrones." Aaaiiiiieeee!

I enjoyed your article about Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, but I've never even heard of her Alice books. I'm a 33 year old woman, so I seem to be in the right demographic. I told two friends (who are just a little younger than me and are also from the DC area), and they didn't know about the books either. One of them immediately stated that "it must be a Midwest thing." What do you think?

Intriguing. When I interviewed Phyllis, I actually told her that her books felt a little Midwestern to me. But as an adult, I've met plenty of women who grew up reading the books on the East Coast, so I don't really think it's a Midwest thing. You should read them, even now. Start with Agony of Alice and Alice in Rapture, Sort Of. I reread Alice in Rapture while writing my article and I still thought it was great.

I took my 9 year old to see Rick Riordan - sponsored by Politics and Prose and held at Wilson High. It was awesome! He is a terrific speaker (a former teacher), and he really knows his audience. The first bunch of kids got either orange "Camp Half-Blood" t-shirts or purple "Camp Jupiter" t-shirts. One of the most interesting things he did was show the cover art for Percy Jackson from a bunch of other countries - really different from the American version. No wonder he's a YA rock star!

Whoa, we had a lot of amazing fantasy writers in DC this weekend.

Prairie Home Companion had a brilliant skit years ago about combination Broadway shows for mixed marriages. Cats! on a Hot Tin Roof, etc. Including bits of song and dialogue.


Everyone knows you ask Hax about shoes!

I do have good shoes, though. You can ask Carolyn; she'll verify.

Cat is railroad station master, "Station Master Tama (Wakayama Electric Railway)": AND In the quirky town that inspired Cicely on the '90s TV series "Northern Exposure," "Mayor of Alaskan Town Is a Cat":

Thank you.

Your thoughts on Lindhof quitting Twitter? Mine is that I still think the Lost finale sucked.

I didn't follow Lindhof and have no particular feelings. Except that it's frequently interesting to watch celebrities quit, and then rejoin, and then quit, and then rejoin. They get addicted to the immediate feedback and head-pats from fans.

Do we get a discount on our taxes for the days the Federal government was shut down? Also, is it me, or have the pandas put on some weight?

Baby panda is definitely more roly poly than he was pre-shutdown.

Try Meetup.com. Join groups that suit your interests and meet like-minded souls while doing things you enjoy, or join the numerous singles groups in your area.


Great, now we have something else to blame on the Govt Shutdown -- panda body self-image issues....

Pandas want to be roly-poly. They aspire to it.

Soooo, I'm guessing you've seen the blowback from Emily Yoffe's rather misguided article that purports to be about alcohol safety but is instead rather apologist.</a> Some of my favorite replies: Here and here.

I suppose my question is, does Prudie really thing no one is telling women not to get drunk? Because, IMNSHO, that's typically the first and sometimes only thing that gets said! We spend a mere15ish years talking about how perhaps since other crimes that happen to you while you are drunk are still crimes against you, and that crimes you commit while drunk (like driving and hitting someone) are still your fault, but here's Prude being "brave" enough to tell it like it was in 1955, as though her point of view is not the dominant paradigm all this talk is rebutting. We still have this collective gasket blow when someone suggests that a rape victim is a victim, pure and simple, just as if mugged instead, and a drunk rapist is still a rapist much like a drunken bar fighter still gets booked for assault.

This is a much bigger issue than I have the time to type out a thoughtful response to. I'll just say that I think I see what Prudie is trying to say, and I also see why it's coming across badly.

I was kind of astounded to find out that Tortilla Coast is a place for movers-n-shakers. I always thought it was a quick lunch spot or place for staffers/interns to do happy hour before hopping on the metro. I've never ever been impressed by the place. I would have thought the big guys preferred to rub elbows someplace without drink specials on the windows.

Lawmakers like pitchers of margaritas just as much as the next crew.

While I'm glad that the federal employees won't be losing any money for the shutdown, what with the back-pay and all, can I add that I'm a little peeved that the shutdown now amounts to a 2 week paid vacation for all of the furloughed government employees -- or are they going to have to make up the work, say by actually working on their flex Fridays until they account for the all the compensated time?

Why would they? They didn't choose to be out of work. These were circumstances entirely beyond their control. I can be jealous of someone else's two-week vacation (and, in fact, I think that's a normal human response) without wanting to get punitive about how they should "account" for their time.


Say that it wasn't a shutdown that forced people out of work. Say that it was something like, I don't know, an office fire. Their building caught on fire, and they had to evacuate for several days while the mess was cleaned up. Would you still feel that when they came back, they should have to work weekends or whatnot, because they got "lucky?" with a fire?

And also...I don't know what you mean by "actually working" on their flex Fridays. Only a small percentage of government workers get flex Fridays at all. And those who do only get them because they're working much longer days the rest of the week. It's not like they just randomly get a vacation day once a week.

I'm 32 and I'm really sad about the end of the Alice books. Alice and Elizabeth and Pamela started off as my pals and now they're like my little sisters. They got a little more Afternoon Special towards the end, but I'll never forget when Alice and Patrick first kissed. Or did more outside at UChicago's campus, incidentally where I took my engagement photos. Anyway, Alice is the best.


O mighty Web Hostess, I have been waiting a week, A WHOLE WEEK, to share with the class this most glorious of videos:


I've had some luck with OkCupid (as a woman aged 37-38), but I also have girlfriends between 35 and 40 who've had luck on Match and EHarmony. And - SERIOUSLY - any "friend" telling you you're toast is no friend at all!!

On this, we are all agreed.

"pass by a clearance rack." JUST SAYIN'.

I'm laughing, but not in a mean way.

I don't know anything about dating sites, but I think this should headline your profile. At least, it made me think you would be a cool person to hang out with.


Punch line is pretty good, though.


1st: Prudence points out that the binge-drinking culture harms both males and females. Everyone would be wise to moderate their drinking. 2nd: Let's be honest - there is still a double-standard. Men get a pass for drunken behavior and women get blamed. None of this means we shouldn't aggresively go after criminals, it just points out that it's a good idea to not drink until you are past the point of good judgement and can't protect yourself.

Yes, but "there's still a double standard" seems to me like it would be more of a call to change that double standard, rather than to sigh and say, "Oh, alas, there is a double standard, but I suppose we must work within it."

This is to the woman who had guy friends look over her profile: Do her guy friends know any guys they could recommend she date? Or do people only date people they meet online these days?

In the romantic comedy version of this, starring Katherine Heigl, she would actually end up falling for one of the guy friends.

I'm also glad everyone's back to work and getting back pay, but I'm especially glad because now I don't have to read upteen posts each from my federally-employed friends on Facebook complaining about it! I did enjoy the ones who threatened - "I'm going to post something like this [article link] every day until it's over!" I especially enjoyed it when they suddenly stopped doing that ... last week.

Also gone are the umpteen posts from certain have-it-both-ways friends who would post a screed about how the government does nothing and they want it shut down forever...and then follow it up with a post demanding that the World War II memorial be reopened.

Today's touchyfeely articles in the Post have left me totally cracking up at my desk. Each one almost reads like an Onion article... "Federal workers happy to be at work." Next thing you know we'll see articles like... "Tea Partier spends social security check at bar cursing Obamacare."

It would be fairly difficult to get a bunch of people to say, "I'm not at all happy to be back at work; I'd rather be on vacation for another month." Even if that's how some of us feel sometimes.

My husband has NEVER been a book person - doesn't read very fast so he gets frustrated. I, on the other hand, am an avid reader. We have been happily married for almost 20 years. Jes sayin'.


I understand that it is not government employees' fault that they were out of work, so it does seem fair to give them back pay. On the other hand, it is not exactly right that they should receive what amounts to a windfall for not working for two weeks. My solution was that any furloughed government employee who wants back pay for the shutdown needs to complete 8 hours of community service. That's it. Give a little back to the community.


I just watched this. Really, I have no words.

Shut the front door!

But I just want the world to know I am listening to Barry White in my Office. And It. Is. Glorious.

How could it not be?

Seems as though the crucial criterion is whether the non-book reader has any problem with the book-reader's book-reading.

I believe you mean "criteritiactiion."

Back in 2001 I worked as a committee staffer with offices in the Hart Building, when it was closed due to the anthrax attacked I got a nearly 6 week "vacation" before they were able to find office space for low level, sub-committee staffers. Nobody (that I know of) demanded that we somehow "make-up" for that time, although having to get the deep nose swab/massive antibiotics probably made up for it. I was talking to a friend this morning who's husband does maintenance work for Border Patrol here on the northern border where I live now. While the BP agents weren't furloughed, her husband was and he will be working extra hard to catch up on fixing everything that got broken and neglected in the last two weeks and the last two weeks of anxiety and wondering when he might get back to work and get paid was no vacation. Rant ended.

Rant posted.

WTF do people think we are already doing? I serve the public as a career because I like feeling like I'm giving to the community every single day. And yeah, I also volunteer with my church, but I am so sick of people not counting PUBLIC SERVICE as a career as a contribution to the community. Good grief.


You seem to think that every furloughed worker was a GS-14 who had no mortgage payments. There were people borrowing from their parents and selling their cars to make ends meet for the last two weeks. Shame on you.

And posting.

...she would probably end up with the guy she flicked in the forehead. Don't be Katherine Heigl!

So true. So true we could probably stamp that phrase on a rubber bracelent. Don't Be Katherine Heigl.

Do come back next week. See you next Thursday! GSTQ

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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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