June 30, 2004

No Bloggage

I'm sorry, but I cannot blog today. I cannot blog because I'm blind. I'm blind because I just rolled my eyes so violently they plumb fell out my damn head.

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." Well, if that isn't leftism in a nutshell. It's enough to make you want to throw her down Lileks' staircase*, isn't it?

*Scroll down to the sentence beginning "A minor political note . . . ", O Ye Lazy Readers!

Posted by Ilyka at 08:16 PM | Comments (6)

June 29, 2004

Combating the Threat of Preschooler Oppression

Do any of you recall how you felt after the Oklahoma City bombing? Specifically, do you recall how you felt realizing the day care center had been:

". . . blown out of the building. It was gone[.]"
Do you recall how you felt when Timothy McVeigh referred to the 19 dead children as "collateral damage?" When he showed no remorse at all?

What if no one--or very few--had shown any remorse? What if the outpouring of sympathy, blood, and donations hadn't occurred? What if the news coverage had implied that what happened to the children in that day care had been . . . oh, perhaps not quite deserved . . . but understandable?

What if? What would you think of the world, of its values, of its ideology, of its core? What would you say had gone wrong? And where? And how? Wouldn't you eventually conclude that the world had turned, somewhere along the line, from loving life to loving death?

To me, it comes down to this:

One thing that is absent from the funeral: The cries of revenge on Afik's killers. Complaints that the government isn't protecting the townspeople, yes. Prayers for peace and protection, yes. And statements of determination.

But no cries of revenge. There is no cult of death in Israel. Jews are taught to revere life. Islamists think that's a weakness. I think it's one of our strengths.

Palestinian terrorists can fire a rocket into a nursery, but that's okay--they only kill Jews. Only occupiers. Only settlers. Only oppressors (and don't you wish Gere would just stick to the Dalai Lama?). So no worries, right?

I mean, one four year-old, big whoop. What about the hundreds of Palestinian children, etc., etc. Well, for starters, the Palestinian children should not be brought up like this; nothing could be more abusive than instilling in children a love of hatred, violence, nihilism, and death. But this is not being perpetrated against them by Israel.

Sderot is not a settlement and a nursery is not a military installation; even Al-Jazeera has managed to correct its earlier labeling of Sderot as a settlement--at least in some places, though not others. I expect the Palestinian Media Center to follow suit about half past . . . never.

Even if you could wave a wand and abolish Jew hatred in the world, I am not certain it would prevent atrocities like this. The Palestinians demonstrate little ability to cherish their own children; thus I am not convinced they could ever be made to care about Israeli ones.

But they can start proving me wrong about this any day now. It's an issue about which I'd be delighted to be proven wrong.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:22 PM | Comments (1)


A fine roundup of reactions from Iraqi bloggers to their newfound sovereignty. Definitely worth taking a few minutes from your busy day to read, and frankly if I were Michele I'd be tempted to leave that post at the top all week.

I caught myself grinning like a maniac several times yesterday, usually whenever the news mentioned the transfer of power. I felt pride. Sure, I had nothing to do with it, but on the other hand, I'm fortunate enough to have been born a citizen of a country that ousted a psychotic dictator, and if I can't be happy about that, what exactly can I be happy about?

Say what you will about Bush, the early handoff was a brilliant, possibly life-saving maneuver. Look, I didn't like a lot of things Clinton did (for one thing, I'll never figure out why Ashcroft is so reviled while only the barest lip service is paid to the freedoms trampled on by Janet Reno), but people, if Bubba had pulled this off I'd have to give him a standing ovation.

Of course, someone always has to piss on the parade, and if you view the trackbacks to Michele's post it shouldn't be too hard to determine the biggest pisser of them all. Someone start a weblog that's like Kryptonite to crazy, huh?

Posted by Ilyka at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2004

More Truth Than Parody III

While I dash around trying to get myself and this apartment cleaned up, permit me to refer you to "Media Upset Over Early Iraq Handover:"

"Sonofabitch," said ABC News anchorman Sam Donaldson. "Here I had a two-part expose all ready on how everything that has been done in Iraq has been totally wrong, complete with unscientific graphs and everything, and now that's in danger of being scrapped entirely. This just really chaps my ass."
Includes a nice dig at my least-favorite news "personality" ever. You want to drive me into a hypertensive episode? Put the Today show on. Really, that's all it takes.
Posted by Ilyka at 05:17 PM | Comments (1)


You know why Americans are so out of shape? Americans are so out of shape because just when they finally decide that's it, it's time to pursue fitness with all the enthusiasm previously directed in pursuit of potato skins, some other American updates his blog with a post that's all like, "Hey, check this out" and long story short this is why I'm sitting here with my cross-trainers on not exercising a damn thing.

By the way, I'm aware that this weblog has gone all diary on people and I'm equally aware some of you don't like that (although if you'd been paying attention you'd have noticed that it sort of leaned that way from the very beginning). Anyway, I'm not without sympathy for you complainer types, so here's $0.35. I recommend you call someone who cares collect (they care, right? So they should accept the charges) and insert the coinage elsewhere, if you take my meaning.

UPDATE: Okay, this guy is good:

I walk to the back and through the rear door, which opens into a small patio packed to standing room only. A hundred people are crammed like sardines into a forty foot square prison, smoking and drinking and trying like bastards to secure what limited elbow room their allotment will provide.

You have to laugh. You really do. The best laid plans of ecetera ecetera. Here's a completely empty bar, which the only hundred people in a position to use it aren't allowed, because of a hundred other people who would never step foot in this place because they're at home right now doing crunches, making to-do lists and filing next year's taxes. And here we are, all cramped into a little smoking death camp, in case one of them might walk through the door and want a non-threatening smoke-free environment to themselves. Look, non-smokers, I don't want you to get cancer anymore than you do. But, no, really? Go. Fuck. Yourselves. You couldn't have given us like 10% of the bars? You needed them all? Do you even drink, you pious shits?

This is why I am against socialism in all its forms, blah-de-de-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah, I think by now we all know the script. And by the way, what he's describing is exactly what happened in Dallas a while back, which is why your girl drinks solely in Addison now.

UPDATE SQUARED, 06/29/2004: In reading the comments to the "Throwdown" post, I find I am not the only person to experience a strange . . . affection for? Bond with? Attachment to? . . . Groktor. Well, at least I'm not alone. There's something about the simple statement "Groktor Seeks Eights" that I just find endlessly hilarious, but then I've been known to get stuck on dumb little things like that.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:31 PM | Comments (2)

June 27, 2004

Your "Heh, Indeed" Moment of the Week

Best Google search string ever to bring me a visitor: "Enough with the beheadings." I'm just gonna filch a phrase off of Helen and say "Damn straight, skippy."

Posted by Ilyka at 04:13 AM | Comments (0)

Snap, Crackle, Pop

Ever had a cube of ice suddenly crack on you?

Ever had a cube of ice suddenly crack on you while you're stirring it?

Ever had a cube of ice suddenly crack on you while you're stirring it in a glass of tomato juice*?

My kitchen counter looks like a chunk of C4 just realized it coulda had a V8--so it did. And never mind my shirt.

This is what I get for not having any Spray-n-Wash in the house.

*Tomato juice, Ketel One Bloody Mary, whatever.

Posted by Ilyka at 04:07 AM | Comments (1)

Ripe for Captioning

This picture here, I mean.

Off the top of my head: "Well, yeah, maybe you can still see my blackheads, dude, but I can't; so like, how do I even know they really exist? Because reality is like, subjective, man, so--aw dude, you mention that Neutrogena shit one more time . . . ."

Posted by Ilyka at 12:25 AM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2004

Inevitable, Really

'Cause you know it ain't over 'til you've got the t-shirt.

(Background and context: Here; also here; and as always, Google is your friend.)

I can't decide whether or not to say anything more about this. On the one hand, nothing I said would be very nice (but is it ever?) and would be of limited interest; on the other, well, sometimes I just can't keep my damn mouth shut. We'll see.

UPDATE: I'm afraid the devil on one shoulder done whupped ass on the angel on the other. Click the extended entry for extreme rudeness (but don't say you weren't warned):

Transexuals truly desire
To become of the sex they admire
The web looked like fun
For a quick "practice run,"
Without surgeries drastic and dire

Posted by Ilyka at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

Lines I Wish I'd Written


It's been right there all this time, begging to be used, and now someone's beat me to it. Damn, damn, and triple-damn.

RUNNER-UP: "Sugartastic Dick Flex." I don't know, it's just kind of got a ring to it.

Posted by Ilyka at 04:27 AM | Comments (0)

Me for Benevolent Dictator

I don't think you people have given this idea the consideration it deserves, really I don't. If you'll recall, I promised two things under my kind of fascism: The eradication of cell phones, and the death penalty for oafs who are cruel to animals.

We might have to rethink the cell phone thing; I don't know. Maybe we could fund designated cell phone zones throughout the nation by raiding the coffers of the DEA (which, under my dictatorship, we are of course abolishing). That way things like this wouldn't happen ever again.

Anyway, even if you love your cell phone with an all-consuming passion, I still think you should consider making me your (utterly benevolent and rather soft-hearted) dictator. Because you know what I'd do to guys like this (link via Dean's World)?

First, I'd hold an essay contest.

The 100 best essayists (as selected by a panel of me, myself, and I--look, it's a dictatorship) on the topic, "What I Think We Should Do to Heartless Shitbags Who Pitch Kittens Out of Moving Vehicles," would then each have a day to spend alone with said shitbag, a whole 24 hours in which to carry out their plans as described in their essays.

Of course, they'd also be free to improvise, just so long as they left him alive for the next day's winner. That'd be the only rule.

No cameras. No guards. No ACLU.

And then, at the end of 100 days, I'd kill him myself. How? I dunno, but I'll tell you this: I'd have had 100 days in which to think about it and steal ideas from my predecessors, so you better believe I'd come up with something good.

Now doesn't that sound nice?

Posted by Ilyka at 04:02 AM | Comments (4)

June 25, 2004


It's Friday night. Ilyka has to work until midnight, but she's allowed periodic "breaks" and stuff, plus everyone knows nothing really fun happens until past midnight anyway. What should she do?

(1) The dishes and the laundry.

(2) Try to establish more dialogue internationale down at the bar.

(3) (I was going to put something about the Sims here, but you know something? I really can't take anymore Sims at the moment.)

(4) Write those thank-you notes she's always saying she's "too busy" to write, even though she's never too busy to write 4000-word blog entries several times a week when she feels like it, that bitch.

(5) Buy a four-pack of Wexford's and hang out on the internet getting steadily more depressed by humanity until she just wants to die.

Vote. Or make suggestions.

Posted by Ilyka at 11:52 PM | Comments (1)

The Grass is Not Either Always Greener

Sometimes it's scorched earth on the other side of that there fence.

Those of you who remember this post will remember that I once said, ah, uncharitable things about my boyfriend's taste in documentaries. And about his politics. And about his grasp of foreign policy.

Worse, when he got feisty with other weblog authors who I respect enormously, I told him if he didn't pipe down I was going to ban him from commenting here ever again.

Anyway, I'm linking this as an example to my boyfriend of just how much worse I could have made that for him.

Don't date someone who blogs, people. Just don't. It's so much easier.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:36 PM | Comments (2)

Fact-Checking the Caped Crusader

Via CrabAppleLane, a physician critiques the practice of medicine in Batman comics. I wonder what watching a rerun of ER with this guy is like?

As Batman watches, the patient’s heart stops. “No” says Batman, and hits the wall in frustration. (“Wham!” says the wall).

In one of my favorite butchered medical clichés, the doctor runs in and says: “Oh my God, he’s red-lined.” No, he’s flat-lined. Red-lining is something you do to a very fast car or motorcycle. There’s a big difference.

And in the previous issue it's even better--the cardiac monitor isn't hooked up to the patient anywhere at all, but it's still providing tracings. Did some kid misplace his Etch-a-Sketch, or what?

By the way, if you read weblogs regularly and ever get bored or stuck in a rut with them, you could do a lot worse than to visit CrabAppleLane and raid Rob's Blog of the Day. He just finds terrific stuff. Bonus: You get to read Rob, who's nailed the reason I cannot stand listening to ESPN radio when they burble on about the NBA's latest fresh-out-of-high-school recruit:

The spotlight, the stardom, the attention, the adulation, and the microscope are too much for almost anyone. That said, don’t look to me for sympathy if it all goes awry. My sympathy is reserved for the kids who have to wash cars to put themselves through college or have to take a second job to feed their family and pay the mortgage.
Posted by Ilyka at 10:21 PM | Comments (2)

Suicide's Only Painless If You Do It Right

Look, I know this is insensitive of me, and I know some of you might take this a little personally, but honestly, I mean it in the kindest way:

You would-be suicides who pop like 40 pills of this medication and 30 pills of that medication and then wind up in the hospital?

Yeah, you people . . . listen, could you maybe look the damn drugs up on the internet first and make sure they're actually going to kill you? Because otherwise the ER folks are just going to shove 50 grams of charcoal down your gut and you really won't like that; nor will you like it if you wind up with some debilitating chronic condition for the rest of your life because, baby, if you think you're depressed now, try living with hepatic encephalopathy.

(In all seriousness, if you're actually thinking of killing yourself, for heaven's sake call a hotline.)

And now not in all seriousness, let's do remember that anything worth doing is worth doing right. Right? Right!

ADDENDUM: Confidential to the would-be suicide who inspired this post: Not only do you not know which prescription drugs to take to off yourself, you don't even know where the other nonprescription drugs you're taking come from.

Which I guess is why you flipped off the sweet Asian-American physician who attended you, and told him your drug addiction was all his fault because "his country" supplies "all the drugs" in the U.S. Now honey, I typed that tox screen, so let's review:

Opium comes from Afghanistan;

Cocaine comes from Bolivia;

Methamphetamine comes from Missouri;

And THC comes from--well, okay, the best stuff comes from Thailand. But something tells me you're not smoking the best stuff. So, Mexico.

Really, I think I can be forgiven for muttering "Better luck next time" as I finished this report.

Posted by Ilyka at 03:29 AM | Comments (5)

Simon Says Reach More Readers

Have you recently acquired your very own weblog? Are you saddened and frustrated by the dearth of readers? Are you cursing yourself for not having acquired your weblog back in the days when N.Z. Bear used to host the New Weblog Showcase?

There, there, lil' blogger. Fear not. If your blog is less than three months old you may pimp it via Simon's new and improved New Weblog Showcase Blog.

And pimp it you should. I know of what I speak. I won the N.Z. Bear contest once long ago and then promptly alienated all the people who voted for me by writing about nothing but feminism for the next two months! It was awesome, dude!

So don't do like I did. Earn readers the proper way. The Simon way. You'll be glad you did.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:28 AM | Comments (3)

Enjoy Me While it Lasts

. . . because September is just around the corner.

Man, if the terrorists do anything to screw up that release date, I am gonna be so pissed.

(There, does that make this a political post? No? Oh, well.)

Posted by Ilyka at 02:19 AM | Comments (2)

June 24, 2004

Best Post Title Ever

Phil Dennison wonders, "Has anyone seen my Frisbees?"

(You must click the link in his post to get it, but please establish that you're not prone to nausea first.)

You know what I think will happen? I think 50 or 100 years from now people will look back at this awful trend towards monster boobage and think what we think now when we read about women cinching themselves into ever-tighter corsets, or men wearing powdered wigs, or leg-o-mutton sleeves, or handlebar mustaches:

"They actually thought that looked good? Seriously?"

Or at least that's what I hope. And I'd prefer if we reached that point sooner rather than later, say in five years instead of 50. Or tomorrow. Tomorrow looks good for me, how 'bout yourself?

Posted by Ilyka at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

Desperate Gets You Desperate

From my dating days I learned only one hard-and-fast rule:

Don't be desperate.

But of course, when you're dating, you're breaking that rule all the time. Of course you're desperate! You haven't had any in . . . how long, exactly? Who wouldn't be desperate under those circumstances? It's utterly natural to be desperate!

So you can't keep that rule perfectly, or even sometimes at all. So you do the next best thing:

Don't act desperate.

And you probably don't keep that one very well, either--but at least it's possible to keep it some of the time. At least it's achievable.

Really, I wasn't going to blog anything today. I have a million bajillion things to do, and with the boyfriend gone I naturally assumed I'd get most of them done, and instead they're just piling up like crazy.

But someone's always gotta bait me on the battle of the sexes. Thanks, Jim! Love you too!

Jim's linked a piece by BigWig (of Siflay Hraka) on whether men should make any attempt to scrub themselves up in order to ketch a woman. I mean, that's roughly what it's about, anyway. It's actually a sort of cross-blog dialogue amongst BigWig, Andrew Sullivan, and a female friend of Eugene Volokh's. If I'm reading everyone correctly--and as we all know by now there's no guarantee of that around here--the positions are:

Andrew Sullivan: When women demand better appearances from straight men, they'll get them--but not until.

Eugene Volokh's friend: Most single men who can't get a date are dateless for a reason: They aren't willing to do what it takes to get one.

BigWig: Single men who can't get dates can't do so because they lack the confidence to tell women to go hang.

I agree and disagree with every single one of these people, naturally. Why pin myself down if I don't have to?

BigWig takes an amusing, vaguely chest-thumping tone about the whole thing:

Paying [straight men] to watch [Queer Eye for the Straight Guy] would help. Handing out free beer and hot wings would also be a excellent choice. But, once they're assembled, the group's reaction to the typical "Woman brings in fab five to makeover her man" plot on QE might prove edifying, for it will be along the lines of "Bitch. He should f*cking dump her."

And he would too, if he wasn't so damn pussy-whipped.

And that woman might be every bit as much the better for it--but ah, let's not go there just yet, because I agree later on with BigWig here:

Clothes, teeth, physique and symmetrical features are part of what makes a person appealing, but by far the biggest asset when it comes to attracting the opposite sex is one's mental attitude. To the extent that they think about it all, and they don't think about it a lot--it's a woman's issue, like curtains and cellulite--most straight men are confident they're sexy. It doesn't matter how much evidence there is to the contrary. Blame testosterone, or willful blindness if you like, but that mental attitude is why women end up dating men one step up from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. It doesn't matter whether gay men or even other women think he's sexy. What matters is whether he thinks he is--a quality that most straight men have in spades.
BigWig is absolutely right on that score: Attitude, particularly an attitude of confidence, is everything when it comes to sexy--at least for most women I know.

Really, I think the same can be said in reverse, too. I have known women who aren't great-looking, who are just sort of hanging out in that limbo between "plain" and "kinda cute when she does her hair like that," but they don't have any trouble at all getting dates. When men approach them, they are courteous, cheerful, and friendly--even if right at that moment they don't feel any of those things. They aren't out to hand the guy his nuts, nor are they simpering doormats. They're right in the sweet spot: Friendly and approachable but not giving it away. In other words, we're right back to the chief rule that applies equally to both sexes:

Don't act desperate.

More BigWig. This is excellent, too:

Men that don't have this innate confidence end up humiliating themselves eventually, either on something like Queer Eye, or in front of a parade of women who discover that they don't really care for men who twist themselves into knots trying to please them.
Incidentally, this is precisely why I was arguing with the South African's position that American men are effeminate because American women want them that way. Because in my experience, American women absolutely do not want a doormat (any more than most American men do).

Have any of you ever dated a truly spineless person? Is it not the saddest thing in the world? I'll tell you a quick story about one (and you guys who know who I'm talking about--shut up, because you know I still think he's one of the most decent human beings on the planet).

About 10 years ago or so--erp, more actually--I made arrangements to meet a fellow I had been corresponding with via BBS. I had an enormous crush on him sight unseen. We got along famously.

In other words, this should have been a "gimme."

We met at a bar by ASU and he said, "You must be Ilyka."

"Yes--hi! Don?"

"Yeah. Wow, it's great to meet you! You're probably thinking, 'Ugh, he doesn't look anywhere near as good as I expected' . . . ."

Men, women, eunuchs, hermaphrodites, friends and neighbors: This is the sentence you should cut off your tongues before uttering, ever.

Seriously. At least if he'd been about to say that, and had instead suddenly flicked open a switchblade and cut his tongue off in front of me, I'd have had to admire his spirit.

Instead I was utterly flummoxed, embarrassed, off-balance--and horrified. Honestly, I have to punt to Chris Rock* to explain it (and apologies to anyone who's offended by the f-word):

A woman knows if she's going to fuck you within the first five minutes of meeting you. Women know right away. Women know on the handshake. As they grip your hand, if they like you, they're thinking, "I'm going to fuck him. I hope he doesn't say anything stupid."
"I hope he doesn't say anything stupid." EXACTLY. Now he's wrong about the first five minutes; it takes me at least 12. But maybe I'm just slow that way. My point is this:

There was nothing wrong with this guy. He was tall, lean, attractively dressed. He smelled good. He had beautiful eyes. Maybe I'm an exception here, but possibly even sexier than any of that, he had a sterling command of the English language. He had good grammar! I enjoyed corresponding with him! We had similar interests and tastes!

This was a gimme. The man went and hosed a gimme. There was nothing wrong with him and if he'd just not--as a friend of mine likes to say--"laid his ass down on the doorstep and invited me to stamp 'WELCOME' on it"--if he'd just not said anything stupid . . .

. . . well, I probably still wouldn't have banged him that night. But eventually? Who knows? My point is, I'll never know because he had to go and say something stupid, and it changed the way I viewed him immediately and irrevocably.

Confidence matters enormously to a woman. Don't act desperate.

So I'm with BigWig on that score. Here's where I think he goes wrong:

So, for those men who, in the words of Volokh's female friend

...don't listen, and won't; they won't get a real job; they're boring but don't want to acknowledge it or do anything about it.

Keep on keeping on, fellas. Don't pay any attention to a woman who wants you to change before she will condescend to accompany you about town.

I'm with the spirit of those remarks, but not in this context. In this context I think BigWig has missed the point of Volokh's unnamed correspondent, which is this:

There is always room for improvement and if you're not getting any romantic action, chances are you could use some.

Again, that goes for both sexes. A woman who doesn't take care of herself, doesn't expand her horizons, doesn't do anything but go to work and go home and eat raw cookie dough in front of the Lifetime channel, has no one to blame for her datelessness but herself.

Women at least sort of get this. I've had periods in my life like that. Had about a six-month stretch where my weekly "hot date" was rushing home Wednesday nights to cook up a box of Stove-Top stuffing and scarfing the entire pot down while watching "Melrose Place."

(Did I say I've never watched soap operas? Oh, well, it doesn't count if they're on at night and star Andrew Shue.)

But here's the thing: I was in the process of ending a TERRIBLE relationship and didn't care if I never dated another creature on earth again. So I didn't exactly sit there on those nights wondering, why doesn't anyone ever ask me out?

I knew damn well why no one was asking me out, and I didn't care. That's not what I'm talking about and that's not what Volokh's female friend is talking about. We're talking about guys who do the male equivalent of this and then whine that they can't get a date and it's so unfair because they're such nice guys.

Hey, I was a nice person, too! I just wasn't very bang-able at the time.

Are you starting to get the picture? Here's a hint: Economics. Supply and demand. There is simply very little demand for men who:

. . . don't listen, and won't; they won't get a real job; they're boring but don't want to acknowlege it or do anything about it.
Anymore than you could expect there to be much demand for women who shuffle indifferently through life and only perk up at the mention of Melrose Place.

Now here's why I think BigWig went wrong: BigWig is assuming the men this woman is talking about are just like he and his single friends were.

Dude, I guarantee you they aren't.

Perhaps it's only my experience, but I've found this general rule of thumb applicable in most situations:

A guy who says he is or was "hideous," usually isn't.

A guy who says he is or was "nice," usually isn't.

BigWig's saying, "Hey, me and my friends weren't any great shakes and look how well we did! And we didn't do it by changing to please women, either! So don't none of y'all change a thing!"

That's great advice if you want a bunch of sad-sack losers to feel better about themselves, but it's shitty advice if you want them to score.

You don't get self-esteem by looking at your fat ass in the mirror and thinking, "Some lucky woman's gonna be all over this someday."

You get self-esteem through self-improvement. You start with an innate belief in yourself--and yes, you must have this even if you really are a fat, dateless loser at the moment; personally the only way I've found to acquire it if you haven't got it is to fake it and act as if you have it already, but your mileage may vary.

But you start with your innate belief in yourself and then you EXERCISE it, same way you'd exercise anything else you wanted to develop. In other words, you build confidence the same way you build muscles. You start with what you've got and you deliberately apply stress to it to make it grow.

That means you get out of the house. That means you read some books you mightn't ordinarily read. That means maybe once in awhile you pass up watching the game with your buds in order to do something to improve yourself. If you wanted to develop a six-pack, you'd take game night off to work at the gym. If you wanted to improve your speaking ability, you'd take game night off to take a speech class. If you wanted to improve your ability at anything else in your life, you would make a few sacrifices in order to get it done.

And I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but dating is exactly the same way. You want to improve your chances, you got to do a little work.

Or you could just keep doing the same things that aren't and haven't been working, and complain about it.

What a rather . . . bitchy thing to do.

UPDATE: ALTERNATE CHICK-SCORING METHODS: Or, if you still insist that things like working out, broadening your interests, and trying to match your shirt to your trousers are such a hassle and such pussy things to do, you could always just do what the gent described in this post does. I'm not saying that'll score you a quality chick, and odds are good you'll have to get a restraining order against her eventually, but if spineless headcases are your thing, why not go on and give it a whirl? Beats trying to get the hot wing sauce out of your neckties, right? Lemme know how the court case comes out in the end!

*Incidentally, possibly the best dating advice I could give to single men out there is, buy this book. Buy it, read it, live it. Because everything the man says about relations between the sexes is true. Except for the five-minute thing. I'm telling you--12. At least 12.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:17 PM | Comments (4)

Evil, Wicked, Iniquitous

Oh my word this is just so WRONG.

(Background info here (and a dozen or so other places on the web, if not more), and I found the above teaser post by reading this one. Hey, and someone remind me to put Ryan on the blogroll.)

I'm going to die. If I do not find out all the details of this virtual Payday bar of internet nuttiness, I am just going to up and die. Me, the chick who never watched soap operas. Pathetic!

UPDATE 06/25/2004: Read the comment thread (yes, the comment thread; it isn't my fault there's no linking by individual comment there) and say it with me: Gotcha! (Ya twisted ass freak!) Also, Layne makes it onto the pages of Ha'aretz (that's "her" Friendster photo on the left there). Not bad for an imaginary woman.

Posted by Ilyka at 12:07 AM | Comments (3)

June 23, 2004

Okay, That's . . . Interesting

I don't expect you to believe me, but somewhere out there on the internet, I totally share a blogroll with Noam Chomsky.

(No, I'm not telling you where it is. Do your own research.)


I'd say something about strange bedfellows, but look at that mug and tell me you'd want to reference it with anything about beds if you were me. Hell, even if you weren't.

Posted by Ilyka at 09:58 PM | Comments (1)

Making the Data Fit

"Iraqis Consider Hostage Killings Against Islam," reads the headline from Xinhua Online.

Oh good, I think. Some acknowledgement of the depravity. Good, finally. Maybe they can start signing Jim's petition.

You'd think by now I'd know better:

"Slaughtering the Korean hostage is something intended to offend Islam, which resents such savage acts," said Sheikh Mohamed Ali Baqir from Kadhumiyah region in central Baghdad.

"The beneficiaries of such vicious acts are the occupying forces, for the Americans could justify their prolonged stay in Iraq," said Saad Jameel, a local journalist.

"Americans can tell the world public opinion that the coalition forces are necessary in Iraq, and they can lobby more countries to join the anti-terror campaign," said Jameel.

"We should understand the gist of it to be able to realize who stands behind such actions," he added.

In my freshman Physics lab we had one experiment that would not come out right, no matter what we did. The equipment was old; the special low-friction mat had acquired enough nicks and scratches to become a high-friction surface; other apparatuses (apparati?) weren't working up to spec either. Now take a table like mine, at which two people clearly cared about getting the lab done right and two people clearly didn't care at all, at which the two people who cared about getting it right couldn't stand each other and bickered nonstop about how to proceed even on days the equipment was working, and you can see the inevitable end to it all:

At seven minutes to end of lab we trudged over to the one table that had successfully run the experiment and attained the "correct" results, and we copied their data. Then we altered it just a bit to make it look, you know, original.

Then we turned it in and left.

Kind of like the other six tables who hadn't got theirs right either did. In other words, kind of like all students but four did.

Now it's one thing to do that in a freshman Physics lab, particularly if you aren't majoring in Physics anyway and don't care if you're ever allowed near a particle accelerator in your life. I was one of the argumentative ones who initially cared about getting the experiment right, but in the end I just didn't care that much.

(Neither did the teaching assistant, who had to have noticed how in the last 15 minutes the one "good" table was being swamped with visitors from the seven "bad" tables.)

It's one thing to fudge data in a freshman Physics lab. It's a whole other thing to structure your world view, your cultural outlook, so that no matter what the data, the inevitable--the only--conclusion drawn is Americans Bad.

Got radicals kidnapping noncombatants off your streets? Americans Bad. Got foreigners bailing out on you, taking their money with them when they go? Americans Bad. Got a religion, often state-sponsored in your neck of the woods, that's suffering a little public relations crisis just lately? Americans Bad.

(Feel free to substitute "Jews" anywhere you see "Americans," by the way--they certainly do. With impunity.)

The important thing is to reach the right conclusion, to vault your hypothesis straight past theory and into immutable stone-etched law: Americans Bad.

Above all you should certainly avoid looking at things like unemployment and health care and civil liberties and literacy and . . . and you know something? Maybe just don't look at the data at all. Because it's a foregone conclusion: Americans Bad.

Isn't it?

Posted by Ilyka at 09:24 PM | Comments (3)

June 22, 2004


The last of the interminable "About Me" series which began here. Most recent edition here.

57.···I have four cats. None of them were purchased. They just all came and found me. I'm really trying to keep it to four, because four is about three cats too many, and I don't want to turn into one of those people who up and dies and suddenly it's in the paper that there were like 104 cats found gnawing the body to bones. Besides, cats are territorial and they don't do the small group thing well, and they do the large group thing even worse.

58.···If we were under my kind of fascism, you really wouldn't like it, because cruelty to animals would be punishable by death. That includes leaving your cat out overnight when it's 40 degrees out. I have a neighbor downstairs who does that and I've been trying to lure his cat away to come live with me, where we can plot the death of that sonofabitch in warmth and comfort.

59.···Even though I'm against cruelty to animals, I still eat meat. My thing is, it's okay to kill things that are tasty, but you don't have to be cruel about it. When I had more money, I used to give some to these guys, because that's essentially their position too.

60.···I used to give money to PETA, but those people are just insane.

61.···One reason why I get upset when some conservatives start going overboard blasting liberals is because in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "Hey, now, I used to be like that." And I did. I remember listening to some socialist tool on NPR explain how everything was really just grand in Nicaragua and anyone who said otherwise was just an American propagandist, and I remember believing every word. Fervently.

62.···I will never write a celebrity a fan letter, because I used to always sort of want to write one to Joe Strummer, but I didn't because I think there's something cringeing and pathetic about fan letters. And now he's dead. I figure if I couldn't be bothered to write him one, no one else should ever get one from me either.

63.···I've always wanted to be old. Whatever age I've been, I've always wanted to be older than that. Right now I'd give anything to be 60, because I figure at 60 you really don't have to take any shit from anyone, and plus you can retire in about 10 more years. Not five--forget five. Not unless you want to live on cat food, anyway.

64.···I'm never updating this, and I'm never doing anything remotely like it again, and I'm betting you're grateful that's the case, too.

Posted by Ilyka at 11:03 PM | Comments (4)

No Actually As a Matter of Fact I Am NOT Done

He really annoyed me, that guy in the post below. At one point I had to break it down for him:

"See, for about the last 10 years or so, more in some cases, Americans have had access to this little thing called the internet. We're not as cloistered, nor as ignorant, as you think."

I know Americans kind of do this with other countries, or rather I'm at least guilty of it--where like the U.K. is still "England" and furthermore, it's Victorian England, even though the last Victorians have all been dead for about 100 years now. You get this stereotype of a nation and if you don't check yourself you tend to operate on those assumptions born out of your stereotype. So while intellectually I know Victorian England is no more, part of my unconscious is still drifting along doing this free-association game: U.K., let's see . . . Proper. Polite. Tea Drinkers. Secret Compartments. Drawing Rooms. Carriages. Street Urchins. Top Hats.

But memo to visitors and immigrants to these United States:

Welcome. We're happy to have you.

Now in between gorging on McDonald's, ravaging Wal-mart, shooting up our schools, auctioning our family members on Ebay (hey, Unca Bob's up to $3.50 already!), and zoning out on American Idol, we sometimes find a moment or two in which to pay attention to your crazy foreign asses.

So like when you tell me South Africa looks like Southern California in places and I reply yes, that's what I've heard (and read, like in this book for example), maybe you could not argue with me and insist that I really think it's more like the Australian Outback and that I'd probably be shocked to realize South Africans have television.

Copy and paste that paragraph and put it in your Fodor's.


Posted by Ilyka at 10:41 PM | Comments (3)

Get Your Talk On

(Uh, you people like really long entries, right? No? Gee. That's too bad.)

So my boyfriend's up visiting his parents this week and I'm on my own and didn't feel like cooking last night, so I went out to a bar and grill I frequent, where I know the bartenders and I know they'll make sure my food comes out the way I want it and, bonus, will "forget" half my drink order, because I am a mad flash tipper.

(Let that be a lesson to you 15-percenters out there: TIP. Tiiiiiiiip. It ends up saving you money in the long run.)

One of the things I had forgotten, one of the annoyances I lost in gaining a boyfriend, is what a magnet I am for troubled people, particularly troubled drunks.

Troubled talkative drunks.

They love me. They want me to lend them my ears while they tell Mama Ilyka all about it.

Last night it was a gentleman from South Africa who wanted to tell me about how he "fought the Negro in the bush" before "doing the chicken run" and emigrating here. Apparently he's been a U.S. citizen now for the last five years.

I have never met anyone with less of a clue about how Americans are, never met anyone more determined to tell all and sundry how Americans are, never met such an argumentative son of a bitch in all my life.

All I can say is I hope he's not typical.

I squeeze into one of the few remaining seats, a corner one, and am greeted by the bartenders, the female Glimmer Twins with similar-sounding names who I'll just call Vicki and Nicki with the understanding that these are not their real names, etc. I love these girls to death. It's nice to see them. Is my man arriving later? asks Nicki. No, he's out of town this week.

"Oooh, Vicki! Hey! You hear that?"


"She's on her own this week! Man's gone!"


"So what are you going to do, huh?" Nicki asks me.

"Whatever I want," I say, grinning. It's all nonsense anyway and she knows it as well as I do. I am a well-behaved woman and even if I weren't what prospects do I have these days anyway?

As soon as I think that I hear the gentleman on the other side of the corner say, "'Scuse me, love." Vicki bounces over to attend to him, chirping, "What's up?"

"This tab . . . I don't think it's quoit roight, see."

Hmm. Some Anglospheric flavor, but what? It's not U.K.; I am certain of that, but I don't think it's Australian either, though of this I am less certain. I have to generalize and say that to me, an Australian accent sounds more or less as if you "Texasized" a British accent. This sounds more like a "Georgia-fied" British accent. Where the hell's he from, anyway?

But I'm not going to actually ask because every time I ask someone where he's from, when it's obvious this isn't the person's country of origin--and especially when I ask it of people who say "shedule" for "schedule"--I get exactly the reaction I'd get if asked permission to pick the guy's nose for him. I have learned my lesson. I can keep my mouth shut. I can keep my curiosity in check for at least, uh, 10 minutes? I think I can hold out for that long. Maybe if he talks more I'll guess it.

It turns out the fellow's tab is correct and it's for a much smaller amount than ever he dreamed so in that case if Vicki would be so kind, may he have another pint please?

Vicki snatches up his glass, calls over her shoulder, "What're you drinking, hon?"

"Budweiser," he replies, "but it doesn't matter. You haven't got anything good on tap anyway."

Oh here we go with the beer thing, I am thinking. Stupid Brits-or-cousins-of with their precious beer issues.

Meanwhile I am staring across the bar at a tap labeled "Bass Ale," adjacent to another labeled "Guinness." What's this guy's definition of a good beer, anyway? He should--they all should, these foreigners who visit American chain bars and drink them clean out of Budweiser while bitching about it the entire time--he should do what any self-respecting beer snob does, and hie himself to a quality liquor store or even Central Market and pick up a case of whatever it is those fools drink over there. Pimms? I have no idea . . . and he can leave the bottles to sit out on the counter and warm up to "cellar temperature" and feel right at home. But of course, he can't do that as cheaply as he can sit up here at the tail end of happy hour and bitch about drinking Budweiser.

We Americans, we seduce you, we exploit your sense of thrift, we lure you into drinking terrible beer with our cheap, cheap prices. You will be assimilated, you limey tightwads.

Now I am playing an electronic trivia game so I'm no longer looking at Mr. Goodbeer, praise Jesus; but slowly I become aware that he is looking at me.

Am I getting The Eye? I haven't had The Eye in so long, I've forgotten what it looks like. I go most places with the boyfriend; no one's really rude enough to try to give me The Eye under those circumstances. The Eye, really? Geez, this guy must be in his cups for sure then. I haven't any makeup on beyond powder and lipstick, my hair's knotted up in a clumsy chignon, and while I certainly used to have some claim to smoking fineness, no lie, I am sad to report that these days I am distinctly chubby. This fellow's too old for me, somewhere in his 50s, but he's tanned and fit and has a fine head of silver hair, lots of it, and I'm sure he could pick up an aerobicized 40-something woman with no trouble. So he can't really be giving me The Eye.

I sneak a glance out of the corner of my own eye.

It is definitely The Eye. Gahhhh! I can only imagine the thought process: "Here now, that fat bird in the corner looks a bit of all right."

Great. A failed beer snob with his beer goggles on. Vicki and Nicki are down the other end of the bar doing their faux lesbian act, towel-slapping each other's behinds and tickling each other. They're not stupid; the clientele in here is mostly male and their antics bring in the tips, the tips which none of the customers who gawk at this display realize go, in Nicki's case, right home to her boyfriend, and in Vicki's case, right toward clothes and hair products and makeup so she can procure a boyfriend herself.

But this means I have no out at the moment. I don't know the people on the other side of me well, except that one of them sometimes beats me at trivia while other times I hand him his ass at it, which is what I'm trying to do right now, actually, so no more worrying about The Eye 'cause it's eyes on the screen time. Next question!

Cripes. I have no idea who wrote "Ain't Misbehavin'." I will be lucky to get 200 points on this one.

One of the other televisions is showing some sports highlights show. I glance up at it during a break in the trivia game. Baseball. Blecch. I'm without interest in sports until football season now that basketball's over. Not a baseball fan. Not a soccer fan either, which is what they show next.

"Boring, isn't it?"

Shit. Here we go. The chat-up. "I don't really watch baseball," I say tersely. "Nor soccer."

"I don't care for soccer myself."

"Really?" I ask before I can stop myself. I am surprised and I have just shown my surprise in the tone of my voice, meaning I've betrayed an interest in Where He's From, which is not good, because now he's going to tease me with it, because in my experience, that is what the vaguely-English-accented love above all else to do. Bait the American!

"I like American football. The NFL."

Not Australian. I'm sure of that now. Too bad. I wouldn't mind hearing about Australian football.

"I prefer that myself. I like that and basketball, but neither is going on right now."

"Basketball's very different."

"Yes," I respond, but I'm thinking, what's your point? I know those are two different sports but those are the two I like and you're the asshole who started this conversation so could you at least hold up your end of it? How long have I been talking to him now . . . not even a minute? Fine. I'm going to hold out for another nine at least and then I'm asking this bastard where the hell he's from.

I hope it's not New Zealand. I don't know anything about that country.

Which will make it harder for me to make fun of.

Seven minutes. Close enough.

"So if it's not too personal a question, would you mind telling me where you're from originally?"

BAM! Did he stiffen up right on cue or what? It's amazing. It's Pavlovian. This has to be some genetic reflex triggered right from the brain stem for these people.

"Actually, that's a very personal question."

I've had it with this geezer, though sadly this will not be the first time I think that tonight. I roll my eyes. "You people," I snort. "Annnny-time you ask people with British-sounding accents where they're from, y'all freak out like I asked you for a DNA sample or something." I laugh, shake my head, and go back to trivia.

I've made him mad now. Good. He's keeping it in check but I can still hear the anger beneath the even tones of his voice as he says, "Well, it is a personal question."

Snort again. "No it isn't."

"Then tell me where you're from." My goodness, they always do this too! As though it's like payback or something . . . see how it feels to be asked where you're from?

This is how it feels: Must be Monday. Why don't they get it? Americans ask each other where they're from all the time. I have adapted, I have assimilated, and I sound as Texan as I want to anymore, but I could put on my best New York accent and go out somewhere and if fewer than six people inquired about where I was from, or at least offered, "You're from back East, 'sat right?" I'd about fall over dead.

I smile pleasantly and answer, "Originally, New Jersey; but I grew up in California, then Arizona, and for the last 10 years I've been in Texas."

He is crestfallen. She answered and it doesn't seem to have bothered her a bit, damn her.

Also, now the only fair thing to do is tell me where he's from.

"Well," he begins, looking down at the bar top, "I'm from South Africa. And you Americans, you don't like South Africans."

Say what?!

"No, no," I protest. "That's not--"

"Oh, it's quite all right. Really. Americans don't like South Africans. I understand."

"No you don't," I insist. "It's ridiculous to make a statement like that. We don't--"

"No, you do. You don't like South Africans." He twists his mouth up as though something is stuck in his throat, something distasteful.

"You don't like us," he continues, his mouth working furiously, "because of apartheid."

An hour later I have made no progress convincing this fellow that the only person who's still stuck on apartheid is him. But by now, I'm beginning to figure out why.

It seems he was for it. He's too guarded to say so directly; just keeps repeating "I served my time in the bush, I fought to keep the Negroes out, but time and history and the U.S., particularly, were against us, and we lost, and I, like so many of my countrymen, I took the chicken run, and came here, and now I'm an American, too. So that's that." And here his chin goes up and he takes a swallow of beer and stares directly ahead of himself, and takes a drag of his cigarette, and you can tell he is thinking himself the very model of stiff upper-lippedness. The last bastion of White Civilization has made his stand and fought the good fight but come a-cropper in the end, alas, but he will still stand tall, he still has his dignity, and that's the thing, isn't it?

Criminy, I think to myself, this guy has real delusions of Churchill.

Also, he's a bigot.

"Look, I believe you. I never said you weren't an American," the guy to the left of me retorts. He is visibly irritated. He is arguing with the South African--the South African who is now an American, and don't you forget it!--and even though he's a polite little guy I can see he is starting to get to the place I've been since this whole conversation began, a little place I like to call My God But You're Obstinate.

He brought this on himself, of course, by interrupting a reminiscence by the South African Who is Now An American of--what else?--My Time in the Bush, to ask, "So have your views on the whole thing, that situation--have they changed any since then?"

The guy stares at him for a moment.


We don't really know what to say to this, this fellow to my left and I. We have an entire silent, telepathic conversation in a shared glance at each other: You want to say something to him? No, you? Erm. Uh, no? Yeah, me neither.

I mean what the hell do you say?

The South African adds, "You Americans--and I shouldn't say that, because I'm an American now, too--but you Americans, you wouldn't understand. Americans have never had to defend themselves on their own territory as we did."

"Uh, hold on a second," the guy to my left says, laughing, "we sort of had some people who were here first called Native Americans . . . ."

"That was hundreds of years ago. You wouldn't know what it's like to do that in your lifetime."

"Okay, but listen, maybe in your case--"

"You don't know anything at all about my case, mate."

And on it goes. I'm in the middle watching this ping-pong match.

"You don't really think I'm an American, do you? Just some South African. Americans don't like South Africans. But I'm telling you: I am an American."

"Look, I believe you. I never said you weren't an American."

I have a sudden and surprising thought: But he isn't. Not really.

I am wholly displeased to find myself thinking this, and yet there is an element of truth to it I cannot deny. He doesn't get it. He doesn't get any of it. He doesn't get the first thing about us.

Later this South African guy will leave and the fellow to my left and I will be chatting about the encounter and he will nail the problem perfectly:

"He's not an American. He's a naturalized citizen."

Exactly, I agree. He has the papers, but he ain't got the heart.

Nor the spirit.

"I shouldn't say this really, but . . . ."

"Nah, go ahead."

The South African exhales cigarette smoke. "American men," he begins, "American men are very . . . effeminate."

"Really? Relative to what?"

"You don't believe me," he smiles, "but it's true. American women seek out men they can dominate. And as a result . . . as a result, American men are very effeminate."

"Look, that's bullshit," I say flatly. "I have gay friends, right? If I want to hang out with an effeminate man, I know who to call. That doesn't mean I want to date them."

"I'm not talking about poofters--"

"Ha! Nancy boys?"

"--but American men are very effeminate."

I have figured out this guy's argument strategy: sheer bloodymindedness. He just repeats his statements until you give up in exhaustion. He brings nothing new to the table; just repeats himself. So I just roll my eyes at him now. "Whatever."

He knows he's got me, too, because he's grinning openly now. "And I'll tell you something," he continues, "American women are very . . . ."

"Oh, let me help you out," I sneer. "Very pushy?"


"Very demanding? Very aggressive? Very . . . emasculating?"

(Because you know, I've never heard any of THIS before, and certainly not from South African immigrants.)

"No, you're just very forward. Very direct."

"And we like effeminate men, don't forget that."

"Well, you see, I'm an American now. So I should try to be more sensitive, I suppose. But it's a very different . . . ." He seems stuck for the word.

"Culture?" I offer.

"Yes. A very different culture. You see, in South Africa, men are more like men, and women are more like women."

How spectacularly unhelpful, I think, can we have a few more circular definitions of that sort?

"There's more separation between the two," he adds.

"You mean women tend to hang out with other women while men hang out with other men? Like socially?"

He is staring directly at me now. "Let me put it this way," he says slowly, "this conversation we're having, you and I, it wouldn't happen in South Africa."

"Because in South Africa, you see, a woman alone, a woman at a bar," he continues, "well, if I were talking to a woman at a bar such as I am talking to you right now, it would be apparent to me, and to everyone else, that I was soliciting a whore."

"Wait . . . why? You mean no other kind of woman would be out by herself?" I ask incredulously.

"Precisely." He shakes his head.

"But I shouldn't say things like that anymore. I'm an American now."

I make a mental note to myself to try to find out if there's any truth to what he is saying, or if South Africa was like this even 30, 40, 50 years ago, because the more I am talking to this guy the more it seems to me as though someone has thawed a prehistoric creature out of an ice block somewhere and dropped him into the heart of Dallas, Texas, 2004, and my God, no wonder the beast is having difficulty acclimating to his environment

Then again, he could be making shit up. He could be making all of it up, or at least most of it, because heaven knows honesty is the about the last thing people bring with them into bars.

Also, I think on some level this guy thinks he is doing a little shock and awe routine on me. I am supposed to be shocked by the barbarity of his past life but in awe of his uber-manliness, and I think the end result is supposed to be that I go home with him tonight.

Clueless. The man is clueless about absolutely everything.

Then again, maybe it's partly my fault, because while I'm certainly not hot for this guy I do nonetheless maintain a little pity in my heart for him, so to cheer him up I buy him a pint.

"You're very sweet. Thank you."

"No problem. Enjoy your watery pseudolager!"

He makes a face, an embarrassed face. "I shouldn't have said that. Really, I like this beer, actually. It's quite good."

I grin at that. "You lie like a dog."

"It is important," he says stiffly, "to maintain civility."

"That's nice," I say, "but you should know that most Americans are perfectly aware that their beer is shit."

"It's just that we sort of like it that way," I add. Which is true for me at least. I went through my micro-brew phase; I still love a Guinness once in awhile, and my favorite beer splurge is a four-pack of 16-ounce Wexford Cream Ale, cans with the little widget inside just like Guinness does, a sort of vanilla version of Guinness, but I don't buy them all that often because boy, do they pack a wallop and one will have me loopy, two will have me buzzed, and by three I'm dead drunk.

I like some "good" beer, sure. But I like my shit beer too, which is why tonight I'm drinking pints of Miller Lite.

Besides, they're only $1.50 during happy hour.

He is jovial halfway through the pint I've bought him. "I like you."

"Thanks," I answer. "Say, I don't even know your name."

"I'm Tom," he says, which is not his real name, etc. He extends his hand and I shake it and tell him my name, and then he wants to know my last name too.

Geez. Now who's asking personal questions? But what the hell, I tell him.

"Ah, Italian," he pronounces.

"No. Spanish with a Portuguese spelling."

"That explains your intelligence. The Spanish and the Portuguese are very intelligent."

"Not lately they aren't," I snort. "What've they done for the last 500 years anyhow?"

"The Spanish and the Portuguese are very intelligent," he repeats. Such a broken record. He is determined to compliment me and he does not care that it's the stupidest compliment in the world, especially because I'm not even that much Spanish, which I tell him. The word "Irish" is uttered and provokes an immediate reaction:

"The Irish! Who can stand the bloody Irish?"

I give him a dirty look. "I can." He hath messed up and yea verily, he shall know it. And he does know it. He looks away, embarrassed, and offers his own last name which I can only render as Thwuquowieoe.



"What the hell kind of name is that?"


"A-ha. Vikings."

"That's right," he smiles. "Say. Why don't you come sit over here by me, love?"

Gah! That was out of left field. "I don't think that would be a very good idea," I tell him.

He's actually leering at me now. Ilyka, I think to myself, Ilyka, honey, you were a damn fool to buy this freak a beer. You know that, right? A damn fool. Stoopid with two o's. Why didn't you just buy a load of dynamite and soak the fuse in gasoline and flick live cigarette ash onto it.

The leering grin widens. He nods and says, "You're prudent, you are. You're extremely cautious around us . . . Vikings."

"What with all the raping and the pillaging, yes and anyway I have a boyfriend as you no doubt heard me say when I came in and, ah, hey, excuse me a minute! Be right back!"

And I am off that stool in a single bound and the door of the ladies' room has never looked more like the door to sanctuary than it does this very minute.

I actually didn't even dawdle in the restroom for once, but I see I was gone long enough because he's cleared out when I get back, and in fact Vicki has already wiped down his place at the bar.

"Vicki?" I say.

"What up?"

"Um, I know I tabbed out already, but could I please have one more pint and I will pay you cash for it because, like, I need it after dealing with the South African bush fighter all evening?"

The guy to my left is still here and he turns to me immediately and with a grave look on his face and in his best South African accent he intones, "I served my time in the bush where I fought the Negro but I'm an American now . . . ."

I am convulsing with laughter and so is Vicki and so, for that matter, is the guy I've been trying to beat at trivia, who is on the other side of the guy to my left, even though he's only heard bits and pieces of the whole business throughout the evening; but then again when someone goes on about the same subject for seemingly hours, even a person not seated nearby is likely to catch at least an instance or seven or thirteen of it.

"Man," the guy to my left says now in his normal voice, "was that guy an asshole."

Posted by Ilyka at 05:30 PM | Comments (6)

June 18, 2004

Administrative Notice

The Journalspace webmail account some of you have been using to contact me has made it onto all the usual spam lists, so if you wouldn't mind making use of the address listed at left instead . . . thanks.

Posted by Ilyka at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

Echo Chamber

I'd like to second this emotion. Also this, this, and (particularly) this.

Rest in peace, Paul Johnson, Jr. May your killers never know another moment's.

UPDATE: You people who brought to my attention "ersatz Ranger" Micah Wright . . . well, I kind of want to kick you for that, because a quick perusal of his forum (free registration required) has really added to my overall disgust level:

Enough with the beheadings and start with the "smearing with their own shit/flashlight rapings/black hood wearing/weird handcuff poses" to rub in America's faces just how offensive this shit is when it's not being done to brown people.

These guys need a press secretary and BAD.

Yes. You know, that's just what I was thinking: Get me Marketing, STAT!

Jesus wept.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:47 PM | Comments (4)

Deconstructing Layne

The things that happen, blogwise, when you take a coupla weeks off: Apparently the weblog I've referred to as "the codependent lesbian train-wreck blog" was, ah, fictional.

And it's also no more. Some fawning Canuck groupie snagged the domain once it lapsed.

There are several sites that have roundups on the whole affair, but frankly, none of them sum it up very coherently; discerning what definitely did occur from what may have occurred requires lengthy forays through +300-length comment threads. Who has time for that?

Oh, wait: I do. At the expense of, let's see: laundry, kitchen prep work, vacuuming, mail-checking, showering . . . .

I'm bad that way. I love detective stories, number one. Number two, so help me, I totally miss that blog.

For the uninitiated who are still with me and who care, "Plain Layne" was, ostensibly, a personal blog written by a 27 year-old Minnesotan woman who worked in information technology for a company enigmatically nicknamed "Minicorp."

Describing it beyond that is difficult, but the phrase "soap opera" comes to mind. You'd read it to find out what happened next, and people, something always happened next. Usually involving lesbians.

Which made it slightly creepy at times, because I'd be sitting there by my nonlesbian self reading it, and hear the sounds of the boyfriend getting restless on the couch (the sighing, that's a big clue), and finally the question: "What're you reading?"

"Codependent lesbian train wreck blog."


"It's this blog, by this girl, and like she's really messed up, and she has a lot of affairs with women, except that I'm not really certain she's actually gay because apparently she was raped a few years back and I think maybe that's put her off men now, so--"

"Listen, what'd you want to do tonight?"

And that's when I'd realize, I'm sitting here reading about codependent lesbians while my boyfriend sits driven by the desperation of boredom to reread The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers for the 17th time and like, what does that say about me?

My boyfriend was always pretty tolerant of the whole thing, though. I think he figured women gotta have their soaps. Now I always disagreed with that notion. I do not, never have, and never will watch soap operas. But you know something, I think it's just that I don't really like television, period. In other words, it's the medium I object to, not the content. Codependent lesbian train wrecks are fine by me, provided you don't cut to commercials in the middle of them.

Oh, and lose the big hair and the cheesy dialogue, too.

Anyway, it seems Plain Layne had one other thing in common with daytime drama: She was likely a work of fiction, and possibly the reincarnation of another blogger formerly outed as a fake, Acanit. I'm fairly convinced of that much now, though I didn't particularly want to be. I just wanted my damn train wrecks without having to screw my life up so much that I'd get to see them up close and personal. Can't a girl with a stable, boring life get herself a vicarious train wreck anymore?

No. No, she can't. She can't because there's always some asshole has to make it his duty to Shine a Light in Dark Places! and Speak the Truth! and Raise the Tough Questions! and Demand an Investigation!

Props to you, ya jerk. I don't care what your motivations were, I don't care that this was an unintended consequence of your actions, I don't care that you're undoubtedly right about the whole thing. I care about the result. And the result is one less well-written weblog out there, five days after you Shared Your Concerns. Slice it and dice it anyway you like--that's the result. There's no getting around that.

It wasn't exactly a creative act, but it certainly qualifies as a destructive one. That's what all writers aspire to, right?

And you know, I never read Plain Layne thinking, "Oh boy oh boy I sure hope Layne's a real live human girl who looks just like her photos 'cause I'd really like to get me some of that" (although this was often an attitude Norton accused male commenters on Layne's site of having, and can you say "projection?"), so why the hell should I care if it's made up? Obviously, I don't. But I do care that it's gone.

I guess starting an entire blog for the primary purpose of tearing down the work of yet another blog authoress (and hey! How do you know she's real?) just wasn't satisfying enough.

You see why I take these vacations from weblogging? You see why some days it's like, "Who needs this shit?" Because for every solid creative effort out there you got like, what, 200,000 crapblogs, and too many of those are just devoted to crapping on each other.

Which I guess you could say is what I'm starting to do here. So I'll stop.

Hasta la pasta, Layne, and I mean that even if you are a balding Polish male techie with lefty politics and a fertile imagination and a serious lack of actual, versus pretend, nookie in your life. Because I have to grant you this: At least you're one up on Norton.

See, you can write.

Posted by Ilyka at 08:47 PM

June 11, 2004

Excuses, Excuses

So, ah, for my birthday my boyfriend bought me the only Sims expansion I didn't already own and uh . . . .

The lack of updates around here is nothing unusual; I take mini-breaks all the time. But this week I haven't even been reading other weblogs, and that is unusual for me. Are we all behaving out there? I don't want to see any nonsense, now.

Anyway, I figure I'll burn out on this dumb game eventually and then freak out because my visits are down to 30 a day and then maybe we'll see some posting activity again. Maybe.

Posted by Ilyka at 06:39 PM | Comments (6)

June 04, 2004

Job Loss

The only thing I know for certain in this life is that losing one's job is hell.

Helen went through the wringer last year and is thankfully now on the upswing with a vengeance and a sweet karmic payoff. Jim just lost his this week, but is remarkably sanguine about it on the surface.

Still, if you've been there, or even if you haven't, would it kill you to say a few kind words to the guy? Thanks.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:25 PM | Comments (2)

Some Heads Are Gonna Roll

Another CIA resignation:

The CIA spy chief in charge of clandestine operations overseas announced his resignation Friday, the news coming a day after the agency's director announced he would leave next month.

James Pavitt, a 31-year veteran of the leading U.S. spy agency, has served as Deputy Director for Operations (DDO) of the CIA for nearly five years, longer than anyone in a generation.

The DDO is responsible for the collection of foreign intelligence. The role will now be filled by Mr. Pavitt's assistant, Stephen Kappes.

I'd say "better late than never," except this is awfully late. And of course it has nothing to do with Tenet:

The two resignations are not linked, though, the CIA insists. In a statement, the agency says that Mr. Pavitt decided last month to retire and that his decision is unrelated to Mr. Tenet's decision.
But still I'm reminded of a verse from Elvis Costello's "Hand in Hand:"

No don't ask me to apologize
I won't ask you to forgive me
If I'm gonna go down and out
You're gonna come with me

And beyond that I'm too busy to say much about this, so feel free to insert standard blogger "Heh/Indeed"-style commentary here.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:02 PM | Comments (1)

June 03, 2004

I Want to Take Her With Me to Central Market

Snagged from Dr. Alice, it's Diary of a Food Whore. Read it and prepare to fall in internet-love like I just did:

I got a last minute panic call for a picnic luncheon so I had to buy approximately 10 cases of Coke products this morning. Which, of course, brought all sorts of stares in my direction.

So I am at the check-out line and two mocha-holding, Louis Voutton purse - sporting snobs were standing behind me in their workout leotards buying their bottled waters and croissant. The were eyeing me as I treated myself by ripping into my new bag of Kookaburra Liquorice (Licorice from Austrailia is THE BEST) and one of them said, "I really will never understand mothers who feed their children soda pop like it's water. The other friend then said, "Oh, I agree. I mean, how much Coke should one family buy in a day?"

I shit you not.

I was in pretty good spirits after gnoshing in my chewey licorice so I was going to ignore it but instead I turned, smiled and said, "Yeah. I hate jobless housewives who have nothing better to do than spy in people carts and pass judgement on things they know nothing about. You spilled mocha on your shirt, by the way."

See, now I never think of great responses like that when I most need them. And when I most need them is pretty much every time I visit what I'm coming to think of as the local YuppieMart.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:26 PM | Comments (2)

June 02, 2004

Looks Like I Picked the Wrong Week to Quit Sniffing Glue

My NT installation on my work machine got hosed somehow last night. I don't know whether part of the drive went bad or if it was somehow affected by the massive storms we had here last night, but suffice to say, I have an unexpected--and unwanted--night off tonight. And maybe tomorrow night, too. It depends on whether the new CPU they're shipping me out "by noon tomorrow" really gets here, uh, by noon tomorrow. Because it's technically the company's property, I can't just bum an NT CD from a friend and tinker with it myself, which actually, now that I think of it, is probably for the best anyway.

Instead, they'll ship me a whole new (refurbished, actually) CPU. Weird how business is done nowadays, huh?

I initially thought this meant you'd see more blogging from me this week, but then it occurred to me that thanks to this mishap, I won't be taking this Saturday night off to celebrate my birthday after all. So maybe we'll go out tonight instead.

Besides, I see everyone's favorite topic has resurfaced, and you'll pardon me if dinner and a movie sounds like only 30,000 times more fun than participating in the discussion of it. I have nothing to say about it that I haven't said already, or that hasn't been said better by others, except to note that remarks like these, from the comments to this rebuttal by Daniel Drezner:

Lauren, I hope you spend many nights alone.

I wouldn't date you if your boyfriend paid.

Ever thought of getting a decent disposition? You might want to try learning something from Asian women.


I ignore completely just about everything that western women have to say. I intend to continue to do so. They have nothing to say that is worth listening to.
I correct the females in their behavior, but it's only a thing that can be successful if we all do it, it won't help us, but maybe our children can find decent mates
. . . go a long way towards explaining why I think feminism still matters. Because personally, I do not wish to raise a daughter in a world where such views are prevalent, or given serious consideration.

My hat's off to both Trish Wilson and Ms. Lauren for sticking to rational argument in the face of remarks like those above--which is not to imply that such is atypical behavior for either of them. As for the objection made by several of Drezner's readers that inviting "conservatives" to "feel free to leave" Feministe is offensive, I suggest more conservative bloggers ensure they are without sin before casting the first stone, particularly if they're carrying the blogad for RightWingStuff with the tagline, "Back-handing the Left Into Submission." Really makes a person with opposing viewpoints feel about as welcome as . . . why, as a conservative being invited to "feel free to leave."

Posted by Ilyka at 11:04 PM | Comments (4)

June 01, 2004

I'll Stick With "Every Sperm is Sacred," Thanks

Sometimes I don't know what I was thinking with this whole conversion-to-Catholicism thing. Particularly, I'm disgusted by the Church's inability to produce a version of the Bible that even approaches the King James version; but then again, at least I didn't go Anglican and have to read butchery like this.

(Via Tim Blair. Oh, and don't miss this gem in the comments.)

UPDATE: Those of you who are as obsessive about these things as I am may wish to read the extended entry for an almost-but-not-quite-as-bad rendition of the 23rd Psalm (contrasted with the King James version), courtesy of the New American Bible. See why buying a Catholic Bible isn't high on my to-do list?

From the NAB:

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name.

Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.

You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.

From the KJV:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:51 PM | Comments (6)