Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Jul 31, 2014

Hi Everyone -- the Internet awaits us; let's get started at 2.

Afternoon, everyone, and thanks for stopping by.

I'm sorry for bailing last week. I know that I've had to several times this summer, and that nebulousness of this chat has become a source of frustration. I promise you, it is not because I have forgotten, or am flaking at the last minute, or have neglected to account for a longstanding vacations or absences. It is because I've repeatedly been called away for last-minute work assignments (most recently, this one), and have found myself on a plane when we're supposed to be chatting. Please forgive me, and bear with me. I know it's frustrating. Don't give up.

We'll get started at 2.

This week, as a launching point, a few instances in which a little more context could have changed people's opinions on a certain situation.

First: Teenage Breanna Mitchell posted a smiling selfie of her visiting Auschwitz, with the tagline "Selfie in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp."

It received exactly the kind of blowback you might expect something like this to, with people calling it self-absorbed, dis-respectful, clueless and uncouth.

[Please pause, to take a minute to gauge your thoughts].

Now, whatever your thoughts were -- do they change when you read that Mitchell had always enjoyed studying World War II with her father, that they'd dreamed of visiting sites together, but that he unexpectedly died before they could make that dream a reality? The Auschwitz photo was taken a year after his death.


This image went viral last week:

The backstory traveling with it was that a bride accidentally sent a text message to a wrong number, which included directions for where and when the couples' planned wedding photos would take place. The wrong number responded with, "We Still Coming." (Click link for full explanation).


Except, it didn't happen that way. What really happened was that the wedding party, while traveling to several different photo sites in Detroit, happened upon a group of musicians filming a video. The musicians spontaneously joined in the fun; it was a mutual crashing of events.


How does this context change -- or does it -- your read of the situation?

Well, the backstory does help some, but I still find the entire concept to be in horribly poor taste. I see no way that her individual story should allow her to post a picture that just looks frivolous in a place that saw so much suffering. The smiley face emoticon says a lot to me about the feel of the post. And I cannot get past her user name being "Princess Breanna." I'm sure I should discount that, but it does figure in. I'm sorry but there are some places that are so hallowed and consecrated by their history that you do not have the right to post a smiling selfie without expecting backlash.

Your response echoes a lot of people's, I think -- that the username and a few other clues made it easy to read the girl as being spoiled and/or clueless.

So the world was once again abuzz with flying sharks. There were many moments of disbelief. There were nearly that many cameos. But a huge shout out for Ian Zierling's #ridingtheshark at the end. Not sure yet how this relates to jumping the shark, but it should definitely be a thing. Carry on

The reason that #ridingtheshark works so well is that it's a rejoinder to "jumping the shark." It's a way for Ziering to say, "Yeah, my career was a washed-up shark jump, but so what -- I embraced it by starring in this atrocious movie and now I'm hip again."

#Ridingtheshark should become the new phrase for when people have embraced their own camp. William Shatner is a master of #ridingtheshark.

I always seem to lose line breaks on questions submitted for the chat. It turns longer questions into a giant block of text that's hard to read. Is there something on my end that can fix that?

It's not your fault, it happens with everyone. If submissions look too long and blocky, I try to insert paragraph breaks where I think they make sense.

How should I handle it when I know the correct pronunciation for a word, but the popular (near-universal) pronunciation is wrong? The two examples that I run into are forte and patently. I've had people correct me by asking if I meant "for-tay". I get similar reactions or weird looks when I pronounce patently as "pay-tent-lee". Additionally, I hate correcting the grammar or pronunciation of others (I figure we all make mistakes and there are tons of words I read in print but have no idea how to pronounce - macadam threw me for years). So, should I just give in to the popular, incorrect usage, or should I continue to use the correct pronunciations - inviting awkward conversations where I sound like a fancy-pants grammar nazi.

Well..."pay-tent-lee" is a fine pronunciation, but chiefly a British one. Americans -- including American dictionaries -- offer "pa-tent-lee" as a perfectly acceptable pronunciation. So I don't think it's a matter of you being right and everyone else being wrong. You're just choosing different pronunciations, and yours is more unique stateside.


But as to your general question: Carry on using whichever pronunciation you like. If you choose the more obscure, "correct" pronunciation, and if you get weird looks for doing so, then respond to them with a smile and say, "I know -- I'm just a word freak and I like using original pronunciations."


It's a way of letting you be right, but in a way in which you seem charmingly eccentric rather than condescending and pedantic. That work? Other suggestions?

The post released the 30 Most Beautiful People In Washington recently. Is anyone else reacting with a slight "ICK" to this? And yes, I admit I clicked through all of them.

"And yes, I admit I clicked through all of them."


This explains so much of the Internet.

Thanks for your story on the "immigration debate" with these children. I can't believe the rhetoric and political posturing around the issue... as if it was an actual issue. I'm admittedly pretty far left on immigration; however, I don't care what side of the political spectrum people are on, they should be ashamed if they're equating these children to the adults coming for any number of reasons. If we can't find sympathy in our hearts, and a place in our country, for children that are truly refugees fleeing unspeakable horrors then we might as well tear down the Statue of Liberty.

Thanks for your post. I will say that the people I met in Syracuse, from both sides of the issue, seemed to be thinking through the meaning of this center in a real and thoughtful way. The people who didn't want the center were not heartless, and were compassionate people. They were just dealing with something impacting them that they had never expected would impact them.

I think things would have gone a lot better if her photo caption had mentioned the significance for her instead of just "yay selfie!!" Something like "RIP Dad, I wish you could have been on this trip with me"

True. However, at the time she posted the selfie, she had a small amount of followers and used Twitter mostly, one presumes, as a way to communicate with people who already knew her. It wouldn't be out of question for her to assume that her friends would already know the significance of the photo and wouldn't need the backstory.


Which brings up a whole other tangle: Should every tweet be written in a way that explains inside jokes and references to the outside world? Is it okay to make references that you assume your followers will understand -- with the knowledge that they could be retweeted and misunderstoood by the larger public?

Knowing the backstory, if anything, makes me less inclined to give her a break. Rather than being just ignorant/clueless, she posted that fully aware of the back story to her environment. I have no problem with people wanting to document & share "I was here" in the way the article seems to claim was her intent, but using the 'selfie' title & the blushy emoji just makes a mockery of the place and it's history. "princess breanna" (ugh gag) knows better if she's studied and talked to survivors.


Just curious: have any of you visited any concentration camps? Father Cupcake and I visited Dachau several years ago, and a friend and I went to Auschwitz in college. In both instances -- long before Twitter or selfies -- we found ourselves wanting to document the experience of visiting, but unsure of the right way to do it. As a result, I have some photos of my Dad standing in front of the crematorium at Dachau. He looks as somber and respectful as one could look in those circumstances, but it still made both of us uncomfortable and we weren't sure whether taking photos of each other had been appropriate at all.

Learning she enjoyed studying WWII with her deceased father actually makes it worse. How can you study WWII in any kind of way and NOT know that taking a smiling selfie at Auschwitz is just....awful. She's either a terrible student, or stunningly shallow. That, or its likely the story about her father (not the death, but that she liked studying WWII with him) was made up after the fact to try and excuse such stunning stupidity by resort to pity. Or maybe I'm just cynical.

She's also 17. And while most 17-year-olds would probably know this was in poor taste, I don't think all of them would.

I feel your pain, fellow fancy-pants Grammar Nazi. The correct way to handle this is to preface your explanation by saying in a Cliff-Clavin-from-"Cheers" voice, "Little-known fact there, Normie..."

But then you probably would have to explain "By the way, that was a Cliff Clavin impression. By the way, Cliff Clavin was a character from 'Cheers.' By the way..."

A friend and I have this discussion constantly. Friend: (e-mails me article) This is garbage! Why do they post this stuff? Me: Uh, because people like you are giving them multiple hit counts by doing exactly this?

This morning I found myself clicking through a photo quiz called, "Campus, Country Club, or Prison?"

Does the camp have a no photo policy? A gift shop that sells junk and trinkets? I think the photo may have been in poor taste but where do we draw the line and police how people should think and act at these sacred places? Should I yell at the school group at the Holocaust Museum who seem a little too happy to be out of the classroom for a day and not giving proper deference to the sober topic?

Interesting questions. I'm posting here for others to ring in on.

The original fake "backstory" is gross and condescending. What's the joke there to which readers are responding? "Look at these uptight preppy white people who had their social norms shaken up by these wacky transgressive black people, and loved it anyway?" The real story makes me smile because it shows kindness and respect on both sides, as well as the beauty of living and interacting with others in a city environment. Here, you had two groups making art at the same time in the same space, and what happened instead? The musicians improved the wedding photos; the wedding improved the music video.

Ding ding ding.

The bad grammar of the fake explanation is especially gross, right?

Sometime in the last 18 months or so, I think you made some recommendations of favorite authors. I have lost the link, but there was an author you recommended I wanted to check out. It was possibly a female mystery writer. Any idea what I'm talking about? If not, any recommendations you'd make? I've already ordered your book from amazon. I'm going to the beach in a week and am looking for some new reading. Thanks!

I recommended Tana French -- is that who you're remembering? She writes very lyrical mysteries all set in Dublin and featuring various detectives from the same unit. Her first was "In the Woods." I think I've also recommended mystery writers Sophie Hanna, Val McDermid and Laura Lippman before.


And speaking of: Anyone else read J.K. Rowling's second novel as Robert Galbraith, "The Silkworm"?

We still coming. Maybe not be the chatters you expect, though.

Wait, where does it say the chat started at 11? Are the fates against this chat even more than they're usually against this chat?

OK, for the Auschwitz photo I think the outrage is definitely overboard with the full context. Even before the context the outrage was a little out of hand. People can hold their own feelings about the site, and there should be some modicum of respect given to the area (say at a minimum people shouldn't be racing around hotting and hollering). However, as this shows any number of people can find happiness in a horrible situation (or simply a sight stained by one) for any number of reasons. In some sense your prejudices don't apply to me. With the second photo what a shame no one reached out to the wedding party to find out the real story. The real story is *far* better than the fake story.

I'm reminded of the video that made rounds several years ago, "Dancing at Auschwitz," in which a family, which included the grandfather who had been a concentration camp survivor, staged a dance to "I Will Survive" in front of several Auschwitz locations.

Some people found the dance incredibly moving and inspirational, mostly because of the personal connection the grandfather had to the location. Some people still found it in very poor taste.

Harry doesn't age... And looks a bit cartoonish, like Aladdin.

I assume you're referring to these, the new Harry Potter covers that were just released.

Admittedly, I'm not a big fan. Not because Harry doesn't age, but because they just seem so pointless. The last Potter book came out just six years ago -- it's not like generations have passed since then and graphic design sensibilities have radically been overhauled. These new covers are similar in tone and artistic sensibility to the original ones -- what's the point of a redo?

I've been to Auschwitz. I don't care whether or not her father died, that photograph is unbelievably crass and offensive. I think she should have been removed from the site immediately and made to write a letter of apology to be posted at the entrance gate.

Which part bothered you the most? The existence of the photo at all? The caption? The emoticon?

I look at the inappropriate selfie you have in your intro and I'm reminded of a time long, long ago when I entered Junior High School. They gave us a booklet that was titled "Rights and Responsibilities." It was very balanced in pointing out the rights we had but also the balancing responsibilities that went with them. I feel like we have lost that in modern society. If you have the right to do something (such as post a selfie from basically anywhere) then you just do it. We don't think of the responsibility to those that may have suffered incomprehensible harm at the location. We don't have the right to do everything!

Or sometimes, we have the right, but we should know better anyway?

I thought the blowback was excessive and unwarranted even without knowing the context of the Auschwitz photo. I personally would not take a smiley selfie at a concentration camp out of respect for the history of the place, but that doesn't mean that someone who chooses to do so is self-absorbed and deserves to be piled on by web denizens. There are likely group photos taken every minute and the camp and I can't imagine every one is somber.


but I just wanted to say that I love "Awkward" and I am so delighted you found it. The end.

I'm very much looking forward to the resuming of the fourth season in September.

Here's one for you. Rumor has it... maybe you've heard... is that harassment was pronounced HAIR-is-ment on TV to avoid the talking heads from saying, well, another word for a donkey. Am I buying this? Seems a little extreme

The Brits still pronounce it this way, yes?

Auschwitz selfie: Knowing the background makes it seems a lot less tone deaf...but it still seems a little tone deaf. I suspect more so to older generations and less so to younger generations, for whom selfies are the norm. We still coming: It doesn't really change the way I felt about it. A group of unknown, uninvited strangers saying they're going to crash your wedding pictures is a little creepy, but since we were given the end result first, my feelings were more, "Yay! Look how everyone is being all fun-locing and spontaneous! We CAN all just get along!". When I read the real backstory - same feelings.


As a Polish immigrant with relatives who survived WWII and least one uncle who was murdered in Auschwitz, I don't mind the smiling photo of the girl. I do mind the caption, which makes the experience of the visit seem trite. Using the term "selfie" together with "Auschwitz Concentration Camp" is superficial and wrong. The smiling/blushing emoji is just bizarre and actually offensive. The backstory makes no difference, except I suppose, to determine intent, which makes sometimes makes all the difference.

The specific word "selfie" seems to be a sticking point with many people, since it's a word typically associated with lighthearted behavior. I think that if it had been replaced with, "Photograph of me" -- which means exactly the same thing -- it would have seemed less galling.

I give her a break. The list of things I did when I was a teenager and then thought "Wow... THAT was inappropriate" years later would be long indeed.

For all of us.

I was there when I was 17 with a group of 20 other 17-year-olds. We were not giggling. Most of us didn't even take pictures (we all had cameras, back in the day, not cell phones.) We were too busy feeling sick and horrified. "Princess Breanna" should have been escorted out and barred from returning. She is horrible.


I thought it was a tribute to Slim Pickins ride on the bomb at the end of Dr Strangelove. Or am I giving Sharknado 2 too much credit (if such a thing is possible)?

Probably was. I still prefer my interpretation.

The real story is funny and the photos are still great. The article doesn't explain how the photo and "we still comin" line went viral? Did some anonymous wit invent the story and related fake text and hope they were picked up by reddit, etc?

Presumably. Which is what irks me about it. The original story was great. The fake story played on stereotypes and assumed everyone would find the stereotypes amusing. (And worse, it looks like a lot of people did.)

I may be late to the party on this, but what is the deal with all these sites that stream new movies for free? There are tons of them. It has to be illegal (isn't it?), but they haven't been shut down. Or maybe it's not illegal (yet) because you aren't downloading, just streaming. The new Tom Cruise Movie, Hunger Games, The Hobbit movies. I watched them all while researching this subject. There are sites for tv shows too. All the latest shows. How long can it last?

Which sites in particular are you talking about? Yes, many of them are illegal, but some aren't.

It was Tana French! Awesome, thanks! And haven't read the second Robert Galbraith book yet. Any good? I enjoyed the first one.

Ehhhh. It was all right. I also enjoyed the first one. I'll probably read the third one when it comes out. But that will be because JK Rowling wrote it, primarily.

*raises hand* I have. Jewish, but no Holocaust victims in my family history. I did not take any selfies, although I did take some photos of the bunks and other structures. I saw some local German teens on a school tour at the same time, and some were behaving along the same lines as this girl. I don't like it, but I get it. They're kids. Kids sometimes react strangely and inappropriately to the sight of tragedy. I can find moments of equivalent idiocy in my own teenage years, where my reaction to negative stimuli was WAY too focused on, "But how am *I* feeling right now?" rather than somber reflection. It's narcissism, but not so bad that she won't grow out of it.

I would guess that after this experience, she's grown out of a lot of it already.

It used to be that if a teenager did something kinda stupid or inappropriate, at most the whole school and her extended family knew about it. MAYBE she became the "one girl from [insert nearby town name]". Now, the entire internet can come down on their heads. So glad email wasn't a thing until I was into college.


Some concentration camps DO have gift shops, actually, although their offerings are mostly along the lines of historical books and maps. When I visited Sachsenhausen in Germany, I was most thrown off by the presence of a CONCESSIONS STAND immediately outside the gate. How weird must it be to be that guy, explaining what you do for a living to people at parties?

On the one hand, you imagine that visitors would get hungry or thirsty after spending several hours touring a historical site. On the other hand, it seems that when you are viewing a place whose history is so horrible, the least one could do is say, "So I'll be hungry for a few hours. So what?"


In Washington, DC, most of the Smithsonian museums have cafes or cafeterias in the building. The one exception I'm aware of is the Holocaust Museum. It does have a cafeteria nearby, but not on the premises -- you have to walk outside and through a small courtyard to get to it. I've always assumed that was intentional, and out of respect.

Hermione's hair is BUSHY, not gently waved like Emma's. Hermione has buck teeth. Really, people, how difficult could it have been to perm Emma's hair, and Daniel's too, since a salient factor in the book is that Harry's hair is so out of control that it won't hide his scar.

Sometimes an attempt to make characters look exactly as we think they should ends up being distracting, though. Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson both got across the spirit of those characters, which was more important than hewing specifically to every detail.

It's just like when I went with a friend on her hunt for one of her long-gone distant relative's tombstone in upstate New York. She's a huge history and geneology buff so there she was, beaming and clapping her hands, in the middle of a cemetery. Now the smiling selfies at the World Trade Center Memorial...I wanted to throttle them.

Posting and a few more that don't seem to require response.

Ugh. Knowing it made it seem a lot more tone-deaf, to me.

The Auschwitz selfie is just a naive kid being a little clueless. I am over it. Someone somewhere posted a bunch of pictures of people smiling at the spot JFK was shot, Little Bighorn, Gettysburg, etc. She isn't the only one smiling at places where awful stuff happened. I was more disturbed by the casual use of the "N" word by the girl and her friends on her twitter account. They call each other "my ni**a". Pretty sad.

Is taking a smiling picture at Auschwitz different from taking one at The Peach Orchard at Gettysburg? People said the number of dead were so numerous that one could walk across the field stepping only on bodies. I am aware the circumstances of Gettysburg and Auschwitz were different... but is one more somber or hallowed than the other?

Time and distance certainly have something to do with it. The Holocaust is still an event that exists in some people's living memory -- a dwindling number of people, to be sure -- and in the memory of children whose parents were impacted by World War II. I'm sure people will have a different relationship with WWII sites in 50 years.

I visited Dachau when I was 17 (before cell phones). I felt the need to document the "I was here" aspect of the visit because I was moved by what I saw and learned. However, I didn't feel right posing for a picture or taking a picture of a crematorium or other building in which people died. So I took a couple of pictures of some memorial statuary. I felt it was a good balance. In re: Breanna, I do think the problem is really the caption and the emoji. The article you linked to did intrigue me. She is not the only one who has taken a selfie like this, but she is getting all of the attention. I think it is important to ask why. The caption? The way she looks? Her youth?


May I just say that I've been loving the new Weird Al videos from "Mandatory Fun"? I think they're his best work in years. Particularly, "Word Crimes," "Tacky," "Foil," and "Mission Statement." Just brilliant. I thought his marketing strategy was very good: releasing one video per day for eight days, using College Humor and Funny or Die for his platform. Really inspired.

It's nice to see Weird Al get some love. He was the original viral video, really. And now everyone does what he does, but faster, and cheaper. (And now I'm having memories of playing 'Amish Paradise' for my grandma and having to explain so many levels of it: "See, Grandma, there was this song called Gangster Paradise, and, and...")

OK, you get a pass for that migraine because it's as if you had been hit by a bus; notifying us would be the last thing you'd think of. But when you get called away on assignment, can't it be noted on washingtonpost.com?

Yes, it should be, and I'll try to be better about that.

Or, as you say, a discreetly placed cafe or stand somewhere out of sight. Jeez, people, this is not that hard.

Presumably, the guy who runs the stand outside of the concentration camp gates is not at all affiliated with the museum. He's just a guy trying to make a living, and he doesn't want his stand to be discreet -- he wants it to be the only place visitors see where they can get a cup of coffee.

I learned from September 11 that one should give others a wide berth for methods of grieving, particularly in public. I think that lesson applies here. Perhaps she's thinking of her father? Perhaps she's thinking about how those who built the camps lost the war? Perhaps she knows grandkids of survivors? Faulting a 17 year old for not having the reaction you want seems incredibly narrow and judgmental to me

Thanks, I like these thoughts.

How do people have the energy for all of this outrage. Regardless of what anyone thinks about the appropriateness of the selfie; who cares? Here is a person none of us will ever meet; we won't even meet a single person that knows her. How on earth could somebody on this chat, on the wider internet, anywhere other than her immediate family and friends possibly find the energy to care at all about this? I have enough frustration and stress in my real life that I can't even imagine adding getting upset about the behavior of some other person's kids; particularly when exactly zero harm is done. She didn't sell drugs, she didn't get a DUI, she took a picture. Relax people.


Yes, on one hand, I WAS thirsty (and a little lightheaded) afterward, and so bought a bottle of water, so it was necessary. On the other hand, that specific problem could have been solved by the simple presence of a free water fountain, which would have been far less jarring. Thanks, Germans, and your weird bias against all forms of water that aren't mineral water.

Public water fountains are really hard to find in most of Europe. So is ice.

I think people are overlooking an important part of the story. Princess Brianna could have stayed home, watched reality TV, and tweeted all day every day like most American teenagers (stereotypically) do. She was a little clueless and tonedeaf perhaps with the selfie caption, but she made the effort and possibly spent money to travel all the way there, after spending her childhood studying WWII with her father. She probably knows more about WWII and Holocaust than most people do. People are overreacting.

And a few more responses:

People that are all indignant over this need to need to calm down a bit. In a list of things to get worked up about, this one is near the bottom of the list. I'm much more offended by the existence of FaceBook.

Every day I thank the universe that I did all my stupid teenage stuff before the Internet was around and a million strangers could judge my mistakes in public. Perhaps she didn't make the best decision about the picture, but a 17-year old girl has lost her father--he won't see her mature, get her first real job, have children.. *That's* the real tragedy here.

Oh, I don't mind those, and I'm a lifelong New Yorker. Smiling selfies on GROUND ZERO, yes, that would have been icky. But I've been heartened to see the rise of One World Trade Center, because to me, it feels like a rebirth over the ashes. Have not been to the new memorial yet, but I can understand why somebody would smile at being at a place of beauty where there once stood something that looked like it was straight from hell.

Emma's hair didn't bother me, but Daniel's did, since Harry's hair and the exposure of his scar was mentioned so often in the books. I agree about not trying too hard to match up to the books, but Harry's hair seemed worth trying for. A bad haircut and a little gel, what's so hard about that?

Then again, his hair was appropriately bushy and wild in "Goblet of Fire," and it was just a disaster.

Didn't Orlando Bloom's recent sparring partner say something about how Anne Frank would've been a Belieber after visitng the Anne Frank Museum? I'm not sure if it's actually relevant to the selfie discussion other than reiterate the point that Beiber sucks and while he is used to global scrutiny for everything he says/does Princess Breanna is not and should probably be given a pass this time.

He did say that.

I always thought that the irony of the Bieber/Anne Frank outrage was that, while it was a stupid and coarse thing to write, Justin Bieber was probably right: Anne Frank loved popular culture, movies and music. She was a young teenager, and she probably *would* have been a "Belieber."

long ago, before selfies were the big THING, I was an exchange student in Germany visiting a concentration camp with a group of other exchange students. One of the girls was the kind that always had to be IN the pictures she took of places. She asked me to take a picture of her standing IN the ruins of a gas chamber. I refused. Goes to show - there are people like this everywhere, in all times. The girl could have probably made the situation a lot better by 1) not having to be IN the pic, and 2) not putting the smiley in the tagline!

They are releasing Weird Al's awesome "UHF" on Blu-ray. It holds up well, I think.

Thank you.

Have you seen this? "Vanity Military Selfies Are Spoiling Russia's Attack in Ukraine": http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/07/31/russia-ukraine-selfies-military-attack -- apparently a Russian soldier posted the message "We shelled Ukraine all night long” along with a photo of military equipment. It was soon taken down, but not before screen-grabs had been made.

Oh, dear.

That's because the movies should have been split into two beginning with "Goblet of Fire," which was twice as long and five times as complicated as the previous books.

No, I mean the hair was a disaster. The movie was fine.

I suppose we're just assuming everyone's read them at this point, because those cover illustrations spoil some MAJOR late-story plot points. (Also I don't like them generally.)

Yeah, I see them more as collectors editions for people who have read all of the books 8-10 times, but who will still shell out money for a pretty new boxed set.

Because it's momentary? One clicks on the picture, thinks "Shame on her!" and clicks away. I can have an opinion without being told that I don't have a life.

Interesting point: that everyone has a reaction, but the reactions are over very quickly. (I'd guess, though, that long after commenters have moved on, Breanna is still in the thick of it. Remember -- you forget about your irritation after 30 seconds. But if 5,000 people are 30-seconds worth of irritated, that works out to several days of people emailing Breanna and telling her she's a terrible person).

So I will follow up on the question I asked before (when you hadn't seen the most recent season): worth watching post-show runner switch?

Oh, I think so. There's a character who comes in the fourth season who is just hard to watch. (The actress's fault, not the writers). But I think it's going to be worth continuing.


BTW, I'll go over 15 or 20 minutes, since we missed last week.

I like buying new editions of my favorite book (no, it's not Harry Potter and it's not a mega-famous high-school reading list classic). The smell of the ink, the feel of the fresh pages... all good.

Which book is it?

Regular water is hard to find as well... the restaurants all serve bubble water. Just not as quenching.

It isn't, is it?

"We don't DO ice" became our catchphrase during our three years in the north of England in the 1980s. Hot day, long car trip, stopped at a rest stop which was pretty modern looking, and had soft-drinks fountains, and asked for ice water. Puzzled look: "We don't DO ice." This was before the era of bottled water so I had to buy something sweet to get something even slightly chilled.

I'm amazed that entire continents have tastebud opinions on certain things, i.e.: Ice vs. no ice. Ketchup vs. mayonnaise. Graham crackers vs. digestive biscuits.


What other blatant (yet small) differences am I missing?

I feel bad for Breanna for being named "Breanna." A "Sarah" or a "Katherine" probably would not have received as much hate. "Breanna" is such an excellent "vapid teen" name, like "Heather" in the 1980s.

You know what? I think you're right. Hadn't even occurred to me.

I hate to sound like my mother...well, maybe I don't -- but she'll certainly think twice before doing anything that disrespectful again.

This is true.

I'm reminded of one of last month's New Yorker covers:  and its accompanying explanation:

I hadn't seen -- thanks.

Hey, you could get those same sensations from a new copy of a, ahem, NEW book. I bet Cupcake could think of one. I have a few, too, that I'd be glad to recommend (I know the translator personally, LOL!).

Oh, but buying different editions of your favorite book probably feels like seeing your lifelong best friend again, but with a new haircut or different clothes. It's exciting to see someone you love gussied up in a different way.

Ice cream flavors! Who can ever forget their first horrified reaction to the taste of that British favorite Rum Raisin. Shudder.

It exists in the U.S. too...but I would never, never order it. Unless it was free. Then I'd probably eat it.


Come to think of it, though, I've never even tried it. Totally ordering it next time. Maybe it will be life-changing.

When did this become a word? What else have I missed?

40 years, Rip Van Winkle.

Has the WashPost stopped doing this feature? I found it really informative and it doesn't seem to be popping up in my RSS feeds anymore.

Caitlin Dewey does it every week! Not sure why it no longer pops up for you.

I am on the reflective side and, oh, just a tad judgmental as well. For me, in order to be properly receptive to the opportunity to reflect on loss and sacrifice, it is best NOT to be surrounded by lots of tourists, who give me endless opportunities to be annoyed by being disrespectful, or just generally clueless. Rainy days and late in the evening to full darkness are excellent times to visit our war memorials.

This way, you'll also miss the school crowds, who might be rambunctious or overly chatty, in the way that school crowds tend to get after a full day of monument-seeing.

Rum Raisin is delicious. I can't understand anyone thinking of it as foreign and yucky. It's been available in the U.S. for fifty years, about as long as I have been eating it. And for the record, I'm fourth-generation white-bread midwestern.

There you go.


Thanks for being patient with my absences, chatters, and for contributing so many thoughtful things today. I didn't get a chance to post a lot of responses, because they were all coming quickly.


I'll end this chat with a truly strange-sounding question: Do any of you speak Dutch, or know somebody who does? If so, email me at hessem@washpost.com, and I will reveal the reason for this odd request.


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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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