Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Oct 24, 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.

Good gravy, is anyone still here? I got completely buried in a story and didn't even look at the time. Let's see how we do in the next half hour, hmm? (Don't leave).

Cupcake, you there?


I know what a sports enthusiast you are, so you will appreciate this: I see breaking news about "Brett Favre" posted above this discussion. I panicked, fearing "oh, no, the old guy has died or been hospitalized or something terrible." I see the news is that he may once again un-retired and return to football. Question: How many times may a person retire before they are not allowed to un-retire?

What happens here? Do people think they will be able to successfully sit at home, and then end up getting bored? I would never get bored in retirement. I would be such a good retired person.

To the person who suggested the "add a word, ruin the book title" game, thank you! I shared the idea just before turning in a draft of my first chapter to my advisor (I’m the one who wrote in about dissertation fear a while ago—hurray, I’m on track to graduate!), and I've never had a Facebook thread rack up so many comments. It went strong for an entire weekend. Friends came out of the woodwork to play and like complete strangers' posts, and one of them even threw together cover illustrations for her favorites.

The titles were fantastic, by the way, everything from wordplay (Jane Eyre Force One, Lo Mein Kampf, Bleak House Party, Invisible Manhood) to modern-day allusions (The Gospel According to Mark Zuckerberg, Stephen King’s Carrie Underwood, The Joy of Cooking Meth, Kafka on the Jersey Shore, Frog and Toad are Facebook Friends) to politically incorrect (Animal Factory Farm; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Laborer) to plain funny (A Brief History of Timesheets, The Sperm Count of Monte Cristo, Nineteen Eighty Four-Year-Olds).

It really was social networking at its best. Anyway, thanks again for the idea, and if there are other fun low-key verbal/math puzzles that work well with lots of people, please do share. I might do this to celebrate every time I finish a draft!

Le Mein Kampf. Lo Mein Kampf!!

Can we talk about Prince George's adorable chubby cheeks?

Also the glorious baby gowns apparently still favored by the royal English. Prince George could be being baptized; he could also be getting married. With that costume, who knows?

They can un-retire as many times as they feel like being a fool, or at least looking like one.

Do you look like a fool, if you keep unretiring? Do you look like you're trying to drum up attention, or that you merely didn't realize how much you'd still miss being in the game? I think we can all agree that everybody only gets one Safeway cake at office retirement party, even if they come back to work and re-retire again.

I always thought I'd be really good at being retired, but I'm working from home today and am pretty disappointed at the tv offerings. So I may not be as good as I thought.

No, no, you would figure it out. I would take a bunch of classes. (Sidenote: Last night I took one of those extensive personality tests, and it told me that my personality enjoys taking classes more than any other personality enjoys doing anything at all).

Please help! My wedding anniversary is coming up soon. My wife will inevitably post a schmaltzy "I'm married to the bestest husband evar" message on Facebook, for all the world to see (we have many friends in common, as you might expect). It fits with her Facebook style, which is to post quite frequently about anything, no matter how personal. I have the opposite style, posting maybe once a month (but reading frequently). Internet etiquette being what it is, am I obligated to post a similarly schmaltzy response to her post? In person, I'd reciprocate immediately and vocally, in part because the people in the room are close to us. But online it would be entirely out of character for me, since I rarely feel the need to declare anything that personal so widely and publicly. I just think it's no one else's business how much we love each other (that we love each other is unquestioned, which seems to me the point of celebrating an anniversary). But that's also why I don't want to disappoint her and leave her hanging unanswered in the ether. What's the best way to handle this?

Oh, please don't. Your wife should know you well enough by now not to expect this, right? And you're correct that it would seem out of character. In order to not leave her hanging, can you merely go the Patrick Swayze-in-Ghost route, and post a succinct "Ditto" at the bottom of her lovey-dovey post? Presumably you have an activity planned for the two of you in private, and presumably your wife will then Facebook about that ("Bestest husband took me out to dinner and theater last night"), so you will still get to appear as a devoted spouse to her friend group.

In the Post's flurry of coverage about Millennials and D.C., I noticed that we didn't get an article from my favorite Post staffer - you! Did I miss it? If not, do you have a take on this whole thing? I've been surprised by how negative everyone is in the comments sections and other chats (the Food guys really took a beating yesterday, which was frustrating to watch!). Have you all in the newsroom had a pow-wow on how all this has gone over, and if so, what's everyone's take? That may not have been coherent at all. In short, I'm just curious to hear your always amusing and insightful opinion on this whole thing - both the Millennial phenomenon and the backlash the coverage has gotten.

Ah, I don't think I have any smart thoughts, which is why I didn't contribute anything to the coverage. It's really hard to talk about "Millennials," en masse, and I suspect we won't really figure out the impact of the generation until decades down the line. I was born on the cusp of the Millennial generation, so can never figure out if I'm an insider or outsider.

Cupcake, have you read the final Divergent series book? I blitz read the first 2 a couple of weekends ago, and then today read reviews on Amazon of the final one. A bit distressed at the comments. Lots of spoilers, but the main issue seems to be that the final installment is poorly crafted and betrays the basic compact between a reader and author: that an author is free to do whatever the characters and story need, but they need to do it well and do justice to it. FWIW, I didn't even buy all the Harry Potter books until I read the last one. It's an issue of series that sometimes the last one completely changes your perspective on the whole and then you can't bear to go back and you are left feeling like the floor dropped out and you want to just curl up in a ball. I'd just appreciate a trusted opinion!

I'll read it eventually, probably next month when I emerge from a few projects. "Divergent" was great. "Insurgent" dropped precipitously in quality and cooled my interest in the trilogy as a whole. If "Allegient" is more of the latter than the former...ehhhhh.

You owe us an hour, you know.

So long as you all keep submitting posts and I'm not just typing to myself.

"The Hardy Boys and The Mystery of The Enchanted Silver Mein Kampf"

Not buying this one.

No matter how much you miss being in the game, presumably you retired because you were no longer at the top of it, and perhaps this had been conveyed to you. Can you think of a single Favre-like person who has not made a fool of himself by un-retiring? In sports, that is.

But that's what's sort of admirable, when you think about it. You must know you're not at the top of the game, and so at that point, what you care about isn't how you'll look playing it, but rather that you'll have fun doing it.

(Speaking of un-retirement: I wish Helen Fielding had let Bridget Jones be. That is all.)

Ooh, which personality test did you take? I love those things more than I care to admit. Way too much of my sense of self is based on my Myers-Briggs results...

Oh, this was Myers-Briggs. Which I'd taken several times before, but I was reading up on it again.

"should" is the operative word here. I bet we're going to see a tearful letter to Carolyn Hax about how all my friends think my husband doesn't love me because I whined to them about his not posting a schmaltzy response to my Facebook post on our anniversary.

Since this couple seems like they enjoy being around each other and have good communication, I'm assuming husband will talk to her in person. "I didn't post anything on Facebook, but I wanted you to know FEELINGS FEELINGS FEELINGS." And all will be well.

We have so many retirements at work, we put up a fake one "Jack is not retiring, but he'd still like to be taken out to lunch."

It's like the un-baby shower, for those who choose to remain childless but want some equity after years of shelling out for onesies.

I, too, would be an excellent retired person. A chance to check off more of the BBC's 100 books every one should read, to make my quilt tops into actual quilts, to watch all the movies I have been wishing I could see, to volunteer for Literacy, take classes for fun? Sounds like heaven!

Learn Spanish, finally teach dog not to fear tin foil, grocery shop and go to gym during off-hours? Honestly, who has time to work?

Nope. A couple of times a year, I reference my husband in a post (our anniversary, his birthday), but that's about it. He's rarely on FB, so I don't expect any reciprocation. He's also requested that I not post anything about him; he's very private and doesn't like that. So if your wife understands you, she'll be okay with that.


Given the large number of millenials that are having a hard time finding jobs, I really believe that we are missing out on a great opportunity to implement some sort of large public works project (think WPA style) to update our technology infrastructure throughout the country. Can you imagine paying millenials a couple bucks to help people configure their wi-fi or teach people how to use a mouse or computer? There has to be something we can do with them other than having them lurking in their parents' basement, right?

Have you ever heard of NCCC? Fantastic volunteer program for youths ages 18-24. Housing, health insurance, stipend provided.

That was our situation, too. We handled it like this: She wrote her "Best husband in the whole world" schtik while I signed into my account. We then switched chairs and she wrote my response ("Thanks to the very bestest wife a man could ask"). It was hilarious watching which friends could spot the prank. This, of course, is not recommended for all couples...


Preempt! Post something (in your own style, not schmaltzy) right before you go to bed so she's greeted with billions of comments when she awakens. She will love it, even if you do something as simple as posting a pic from your wedding or reception and saying, "X years ago today, here's what [Wifey - be sure to tag her!] and I were doing."

Be sure to weigh the calculations. If it will make her 47 happy but make you 73 uncomfortable, it's not really worth it.

The point is how the team does, though, not how much fun you're having doing it. I'd like to know how Brett's teammates really deep down feel about his attempted return.

Sure, but a coach is already going to be looking out for what's good for the team. He's not going to be playing a crap player, and it's his choice whether to sign said player to begin with or not. So I'm not sure that the "what's going to be best for the team" calculations need to enter into an individual's decision to return.

Micheal Jordan did manage to win three straight championships after he un-retired. The first time. Even after he un-retired the second time, he did manage to hold his own pretty well.

But now nobody will buy his Chicago mansion so he can downsize to Florida.

I still have his baseball card.

Of course.

Well, Favre for one. How about Michael Jordon, George Foreman. There are others. And for the record, Favre was asked. He said no.


My federal agency was inundated by a tsunami of MBTI and I came home from an overseas post just as the wave crashed and I nearly drowned. It was like "what's your sign?" before every meeting or introduction. It was used and abused beyond endurance. Seriously, I knew someone whose boss made her re-take MBTI because she didn't come out the type he thought she was. When people ask me what type I am, I say I'm the type that doesn't like to be pinned down.

I think that means you're an INTP.

You and me, both, Monica! Well, to a certain degree. Some of the reviews/press I've read have been quite harsh. At the same time, I really enjoyed Fielding's interview that I heard on NPR. She pointed this out: "...thing going on with idea of the woman in her 50s, that she should somehow be staring morbidly at a lake, or knitting, and have a tight grey perm and a shopping trolley. Whereas in fact, what I see around me is it's the same — women are still looking good, still dating if they're single, still feel the same inside ... there shouldn't be this outdated notion of 'a woman of a certain age,' which in itself is a patronizing thing to say, and never applied to men." 1

Oh, I completely agree with the sentiment. It's just the execution. I would have liked to see Bridget grow as a character, instead of what happened in this book, which was Fielding creating a circumstance that left her retreading her same ditzy dating mishaps as in the previous two books, but this time as a 51-year-old. I want her to be looking good and dating. But it would be nice if she were doing it as a grownup.

Who else has done the "Which State should you live in" test? It told me I should be in Maine! Unfortunately it does not ask about cold tolerance....if we were using that as some type of yardstick, I'd be quite a bit further south than Maine!!


Yes, and peeps older than 24 can serve as team leaders! It's never too late, people... best time I ever had in my life.

Excellent! Where all did you end up traveling in your stint?

OK, I haven't read the books in question, but a FB friend posted yesterday about her huuuuggge disappointment in that third book of whatever trilogy you guys were talking about. She said it was just awful. Trust the one-star Amazon reviews.

Some three-book series should actually be two-book series. Some two-book series should actually be one book (But not mine. Mine should definitely be two books. Buy my sequel in February).

during the furlough, I thought I would get all these amazing projects done, but wegmans, costco, laundry, dinner, and kid-stuff took up most of that time. I did sneak in a matinee, and a nice long walk, but it was mostly the mundane. I wonder if retirement will be the same.

Hopefully after awhile you would settle into a routine wherein laundry and shopping wouldn't take over your day. And hopefully, by retirement, the kids will have moved out.

Yesterday, the food chat was full of misspelled millennials, and today it's this one. Help a retired lady out here, youngsters, and use both n's the way the good lord intended.

Huh-uh. This chat is a zone of safety where you are allowed to misspell words without judgment. Come, ye clumsy typers, into the sanctuary of safety.

For us non-essential Feds, the shutdown was a Practice Retirement. In my case, since my wife works at home, It Did Not Go Well.

Who annoyed whom?

If Fielding wants to tell the story of a 51-year-old living and dating, great! Do it with a new character. I've been through two books of Bridget's wacky mishaps. I just want her to be living happily with Mark.

Maybe you can just play the "change the title" game with this book, then, and pretend you're reading "Gidget Jones."

I had read both Divergent and Insurgent. II had almost forgotten about it. I think the way i think is part of the problem. The author knows that there is some subset of people who will forget about the series so they feel they need to rush instead of taking time to put out a quality work.

Not necessarily, if a series is compelling enough. Look at how long George RR Martin's fans will/have waitied in between his novels.

I was a furloghed fed. I got to be a stay at home dad for 3 weeks. I had been a stay at home dad for 6 months before I began my fed job. I so wish my wife and I could afford for me to stay home with the kids. the household ran better, we ate better food, the house was clean, and my wife and I had a much better relationship.


Thank you for pointing this out. I am all about the cost-benefit ratio.

As am I -- and in this particular instance, I think we have managed to squeeze in a good deal of chat in a shamefully small period of time. Thanks for not giving up on me, even when I wasn't around at 2. I shall remember next week, but just in case, can someone who follows me on Twitter remind me? We all need to help each other here, people.



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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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