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Jul 10, 2014

Hi Everyone -- It's the third chat in a row I'll be doing from on the road, this one on a work trip in Grand Rapids. Let's brave questionable Internet and start at 2!

Afternoon, everyone. Thanks for stopping by. We'll get started at 2. I'm writing from a coffee shop that closes at three, so I'll need to scoot a few minutes early.


Many of you might have already read about the Manassas sexting case, involving a 17-year-old boy, his 15-year-old girlfriend, her angry mother, and the police who want photograph the 17-year-olds private areas as part of their investigation. Tom Jackman's initial story is here, the police statement is here.

I'm sure you have many thoughts.

And on a completely different note, this has been around for awhile but off my radar screen: Pretty Girls Making Ugly Faces. In which women liberate themselves from the mandatory hot selfie, and instead look as horrifying as possible. A simple concept that I find really delightful. (See this link for someone's take on the curated top 30)

It is an interesting concept, but I looked through the top 30 and most of them are just making themselves look fat by scrunching up their necks so they seem to have very full cheeks and double or triple chins. If the word "thinspiration" is bad, this is 10x worse.

I noticed that too, but it didn't bother me for this reason: Most of these girls appear to know that the most stereotypically "attractive" way to take a photograph is to turn your head at a slight angle, tuck your chin down, and take the photo from an overhead shot. That's what they've all done in their "pretty" photos. For their "ugly" photos, they're doing exactly the opposite, and also crossing their eyes, baring their teeth, scrunching up their noses, etc. The goal to me didn't seem to be "look fat," it seemed to be, "Do everything you're not 'supposed' to do in a picture if you want people to think you're hot."

Can we PLEASE talk about this? Why hasn't the girl been charged herself? Is it porny for the police to take a picture of the boy? And as always, a reminder to be REAL careful of what you send around electronically.

I don't know if "porny" is the right word, but it certainly seems...questionable.

So, the Mayans may have been right, yet just a few years off. Some suggested the Mayans were predicting a new world, not the end of the world, and that they were predicting when the Earth's magnetic field will flip again. I read today that scientists are finding the magnetic field has been weakening over the last six months and that the flip may be beginning. OK, so it may take a few years or so. Still, let's hear it for the Mayans!

Oh, good for the Mayans. Now, be honest with me and please don't make fun when I ask: If the Earth's magnetic field flips, what practical application does that have for all of us living on the planet? Anything? Seasonal change? DO WE ALL GET TO START WALKING UPSIDE DOWN?

I love #30 in the curated list. Babies are the experts at making ugly faces. We forget how by the time we grow up. (At least, how to do it on purpose.)

I am bummed out about all the hubbub over the World Cup because it just reminds me that nobody I know is as excited as I am about the Quidditch World Cup on Pottermore or wants to talk about it with me. Or about the amazing detail that certain news sites are reporting Rita Skeeter's typically nasty rumors about the supposedly failing Potter marriage (Harry has a new scratch on his face! Could... GINNY... be responsible?) as an actual new development in Rowling's Wizarding Universe, indicating that we've reached a downright postmodern level of gossip blogging.

You were aware, I assume, of the Quidditch conference taking place over two days in Washington, DC last weekend?

How can it be acceptable ? If these were just eye crosses and baring teeth, then fine. But to so thoroughly extol the message that fatter is ugly is repugnant.

Huh. I really didn't get the impression that these women were fat-shaming. I saw the project as a commentary on the beauty standards imposed on women in photography. Maybe I thought that because I spent time on the full site, in which there are multiple examples of smokin' plus-sized women also demonstrating their "pretty" faces and "ugly" faces.


But that's why I post stuff -- it's interesting to see everyone's different reads. Others?

15 year old girls sexts a 17 year old boy. 17 year old boy returns the favor. Who gets charged? Both because they are both minors and both sexted? Of course not, only the male gets charged.

Caveat: I'm not familiar with the age of consent laws in Virginia. A quick, unreliable Google search appears to say that there's a "close age exception" for teens between the ages of 15 and 17, but I could be wrong.

Maybe all the compasses will start pointing south.

Does this mean Santa will relocate to a different pole?

If the mangetic poles flip, the only changes will be that your magnets will point in a different direction. Oh, and everything electrical will probably stop functioning properly.

Cool, so basically, Poltergeist?

I don't know what the rules are in VA, but my sister-in-law is a criminal defense attorney with the Brooklyn Legal Aide Society. She says that the rules for kiddie porn are so strict, that even though the prosecutors are legally required to give them access to all the evidence, they can't have their own copies. In other words, the prosecutor's office and/or police can't make copies of the evidence so that they can gve it to the defense which is required before you can prosecute/convict/jail anyone for producing or distributing kiddie porn. Only one copy can exist. They have to go visit the evidence rather than getting a copy of the evidence sent to them.

Wow, fascinating. 

I WAS NOT. I approve of this highly, having attended a nerd university which currently has a thriving Quidditch team but not an actual football team. And yet all the Potterites I know are surprisingly... blase about this.

I, too, went to such a college. 

I bring you QuidCon.

The bummer is that organizers appear to really be distancing themselves from Harry Potter origins, trying to get Quidditch validated as a real sport, instead of just a nerd activity.

Which is a little absurd, because if I'm going to be running around on a broomstick while dodging heavy balls, at least I want to be in a Ravenclaw costume.

This may be a dumb question, but I am serious. Aren't there police sketch artists who are able to sketch what people look like based on assumptions, such as what a missing person would look like today? Couldn't a sketch artist draw a picture of what something looks like grown before it grows?

Wait, are you suggesting a sketch artist be brought in to asses the sexting situation?

I...do not thnk it works like that. Not based on my understanding of male biology.

What kind of coffee shop closes at 3 in the afternoon?

One in rural Michigan that caters to a lunch crowd.

I think pervy fits better.

It doesn't seem pervy, either. It just seems totally absurd.

I've been torturing my little brother with the occasional frightening selfie-text for several months now. I'm so happy to know I'm part of a greater sisterhood.

Hopefully you send the texts in the middle of the night and from a variety of private numbers.

I can't understand how the judge and prosectuors think this is anyway acceptable. It seems like a rape to me. Forcing a male to become erect and then take a picture. ugh How well would it go if a judge ordered a female minor to become eroused and then have her genitalia photographed. That would not happen.

Mostly, I'm just not sure what they expect to prove from the photos. As far as I can tell, the 17-year-old isn't denying that he sent the photos, right? Do they think he has an evil sexting twin?

I would think that predicting the size and shape after an erection would be extremely difficult if not impossible. Especially to be able to verify that the sketch matched the photo.

Yes. This.

One that opens at 5 a.m.

Midwesterners are early-rising, industrious people.

Nooooooooo! Jocks aren't allowed to co-opt the few nerd sports we have and make them require pro-grade athletic ability and coordination! This is why House Gryffindor needs to be reigned in.

What, besides Quidditch, would be considered a "nerd sport?"

Willing to consider that this is just because I'm a thin woman who easily takes awkward photos, but I don't see it as fat-shaming. We all have angles that make us look flattering and unflattering in photos, no matter what weight. These women aren't playing off "fat = bad," they're playing off memories of being caught unprepared by a camera when they were slouching and scrunched up instead of poised and upright.

Thanks. (I'm willing to consider that I share your perspective because I'm also pretty small person who has never met a friendly camera.)

Is it me, or have we been discussing more sexually related topics lately? Right when I think we've covered everything, something new arrives.

We, us on the chat? Or we, society?



Monica, we probably should have told you this years ago, but there is no Santa Clause. By the way, stop thanking Santa. That ficitonal guy never paid a penny for any of those gifts.

Well. Of course there is no Santa Clause.

Santa Claus is totally real, though.

A couple of the pics in the top 30 list definitely didn't look like the same person in both shots. One of the ugly pictures had thinning hair and looked like a guy. I think I'll do a different version - pretty girl (insert pic of self at 22) / ugly face (insert pic of self in middle age). That'll frighten the children.

Wear sunscreen, kids.

LARPing, laser tag, anything involving a video game console. ALSO: My elementary school used to play an amazing game in gym class where one player would stand in the middle and guard a trove of beanbags, and the rest of us would have to run in and try to steal them without getting tagged. It was called "Smaug's Jewels."

Your gym teacher was a LOTR fan, eh?

They're also playing off the male exhortation to "Smile!" which triggers seething semi-homicidal rage in the females it's addressed to. These selfies are a way of telling that kind of guy to eff off.

Yes, this, exactly.

croquet? badmitton? bocce?

I thought those were just leisure-class sports.

This sounds worst than directing a porn movie. "OK, a little more...Move the camera a bit to the left...And, action!"

No joke, I don't think we give models enough credit for the fact that their job is difficult. It's hard to look good in pictures.

I will be spending a week lolling at the beach soon and I need book suggestions. You and the chatters here seem to have tastes similar to mine (loved Ender's Game; didn't love the last two in the Divergent series). Any suggestions? Thanks.

Do you every like mysteries? I downloaded Tana French's first novel ("In the Woods") when I had a few days off last week, and ended up liking the writing so much that I read two more of her books in one four-day period of time.

Also, it's probably time for everyone to re-read The Giver, right? Movie comes out August 15!

Hello Monica--Question (mostly non-ironic): How do you or how would you describe your job with the Post on your resume?

I'm not answering until I know for sure whether you're applying for jobs on my behalf.

math team, chess team, debate. OK, those are "activities" not sports, but our math team had the best record in the school. Many, many years ago, soccer was a nerd sport (because even back then, the nerd knew you could get hurt playing football), but it is way too main stream now.

Okay, I support the concept of a math team as much as the next person, but I really think that in order for something to be a "sport," then performing it has to leave you at least somewhat out of breath.

I believe this is a case of topics getting mixed. I was not referring to the pretty models looking ugly. I was referring to the close-up in Manassas.

Oh. Dear.

I THOUGHT so, which seemed strange, so I Googled to see if it was A Thing at other schools. Apparently it IS A Thing. http://schoolrocks.org/smaugjew_pe.htm I had totally blanked out this change-up: "Modification #2: Everyone has to crabwalk."

 "Modification #2: Everyone has to crabwalk."

This needs to become a meme of some kind, but I'm not sure how.

I wasn't paying close attention, as I am not interested in quidditch or even know how to spell it. Yet didn't I hear on the radio that a university just dropped it as an intra-mural sport? Is that something bad?

It means the kids these days are getting too old for Harry Potter?

All I know is, I am glad I don't live in Manassas. I would hate to be on the jury in that case.


My college (St. John's College) plays croquet. Also, Spartan Madball (the rules of which I never really learned).

It probly just involves reenacting the battle scenes from 300.

The gym teacher in Porky's wanted to use a sketch artist to find the boy who was peeking (and more) into the girls locker room. Uh oh. A reference to a 30 year old movie may be lost on this younger crowd.

Eh, that's what Google was invented for.

Spartan Madball Coach: Tonight, we dine in HELL! CUT TO: (Spartan Madball Team, out for a group dinner at Applebee's.)


Rebecca by Dauphe Du Maurier. The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart. Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. That one series about the 1940s nurse who travels back in time to Scotland in the 1700s (blanking on the name). Also, the Temeraire series, which is an alternate history of the Napoleonic Wars with dragons (enormously entertaining).

Posting! (Before you go reading Mists of Avalon, though, go read the transcript from last week in which we discussed the revelation that Zimmer Bradley's daughter says she was molested and abused by her mother.)

Have you seen the insanely hilarious web site DuffelBlog? It's like The Onion for the military. "Spartan-Worshipping Marine Throws Defective 8-year-old Son off Cliff."


I think that coming up with nerd sports is itself a nerd sport.

When the chat gets meta -- and when the barista starts giving me dirty looks because she wants to clean my table -- it's time to log off.

Next week I should be back at my desk and able to go for the full 60. See you then!

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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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