August 25, 2004

Just One More Turn . . .

Uh, so my boyfriend came home with this last Friday, and . . . um . . . .

Posted by Ilyka at 09:56 AM | Comments (7)

August 19, 2004


I haven't died, I've just been dealing with academia, which always makes me wish I had died. Now if you're one of those people who just loooooooves college, I must respectfully request that you save it for another blog. No, really: Stop talking.

But now I'm not getting in until spring so my time is my own for the fall, mostly, and now that the stressful part's over--or at least delayed--I feel pretty damn good.

And it's raining. Let me explain what that means to me: It means I woke up this morning refreshingly not dripping in sweat. It means I went out for my morning coffee and smoke and it wasn't hot out. It means mean Mr. Sun has taken a vacation day and thank God for that because--with apologies to people who yearn for him and don't see him often enough--here in Dallas I see him way . . . too . . . often. I just need my space, Sun Guy, all right? And by the way, I think maybe we should see other people. Those clouds overhead, for example. I think the one in the northwest has his eye on me.

Oh my. I just realized I could bake to my heart's content today in relative comfort . . . so, ah, goodbye.

What, you need stuff to read? Fine: Register for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and read about Jim Peacock's brush with fame (and if you're feeling sweethearted, email me the text of the article while you're at it).

Or read a delicious tale of coworker smackdown. I love when people bitch about their jobs. I get this from childhood, since "traffic" and "you would not believe what that #&!@ at work tried to pull today" were two favorite topics of conversation around the dinner table. Now as a child, this bored me; but once I had my own ultra-glamorous first job?--suddenly these stories became absolutely fascinating.

Rob longs for the start of football season, hates what's on television, and mourns the Olympics of yesteryear. Personally, I never had much idealism about the games; how could I, what with the eastern bloc always marking down the U.S. athletes and the U.S. always marking down the eastern bloc participants? It was all grudgematch, all the time, so far as I was concerned.

But I have watched some of the Olympics this year, and I normally always will make sure I catch some of the summer games . . . for the gymnastics. Shut up, I love that stuff.

I won't make any friends saying this, but I normally root against the U.S. women's and for the U.S. men's team. I just seldom see a U.S. women's team (women? They're girls) with any artistic interpretation to rival the competitors from other countries, and in women's gymnastics I think you need a little flair like that. You can't just bank on a Kerry Scruggs clone breaking her ankle every time. The men can get by on strength alone, but not the women.

Finally, this blog has again gone apolitical and is likely to stay that way for the near future, for reasons which one of these days I may get around to articulating clearly, but don't bet on it. In the meantime, this sort of hints at my problem . . . sort of. (Hey, and it gets bonus points for mocking that assclown Bennett. Yeah, Jim, that Bennett.) Sour as it is to say, I lately have this reaction when reading political blogs*:

My former editor Henry Copeland predicts the political blogs won't die after the election -- and he offers solid, grim evidence -- but I'd rather they die than continue on as lame copies of the shrill, humorless and worthless American Monopoly Daily Op-Ed Column Left / Column Right pages sitting in driveways throughout the country right now.
I have this reaction all too often anymore, which is partly why today's agenda is going to be heavy on the domesticity, light on the blogging. And of course you can always blame the rain. The glorious, wonderful, sunblocking RAIN.

UPDATE: Some other links: (1) No more Blogspot for the Food Whore, hooray! (2) the scariest aspect of this story is that after feeling the slip and the lurch and after being taken to the wrong floor, he got back on the same elevator; (3) Allison requests your participation in some butt exercises. (I just realized that Allison and I are practically neighbors. Scary, but in a cool way.)

PRAISE THE LORD UPDATE: The boyfriend made it into the Master's program at UT-Dallas. Now, when he argues with me, I might have to actually listen to his ass. (Congratulations, honey.)

*Except when I'm reading your political blog. Then I absolutely love-love-love it! Your political blog is freakin' awesome!

Posted by Ilyka at 08:14 PM | Comments (2)

August 13, 2004

Humanity: What Was the Point Again?

People kill me. I was just reading a recipe for a sort of spinach souffle deal, right? Here are the principal ingredients--relax, it's a short list:

  • fresh spinach, 20 ounces
  • eggs, 3
  • cheddar cheese, 3/4 cup
  • butter
  • milk
  • breadcrumbs

    And flour and seasonings, blah blah blah . . . anyway, it's an online recipe. And the average rating by other members of this online community is 4 stars out of 5, so not bad, right?

    So I thought to myself, hey, I know, let's read some reviews and see if anyone's tried it and has any suggestions, because I'm thinking some mushrooms and garlic could really work in this thing, round it out a little bit; but seeing as how I have never made this dish before, I don't want to fuck with the formula too much and risk screwing the whole thing up. So let's see what other amateur cooks out there have to say about the adaptability of this dish.

    (Helpful hint: In the preceding two sentences, all the words following "but" are vital to understanding my eventual point.)

    I started reading the reviews. There are over 100 of them, so I was just skimming to see if anyone else had tried throwing in extra veggies--ordinary, flavor-enhancing, why-they're-practically-condiments veggies like, say, mushrooms or garlic--when I hit the inevitable one-star review. Inevitable, because nothing can ever be perfect in this world, and it's damn sure nothing can ever be perfect on the internet. Someone's always gotta come along and screw up the five-star rating. So I was not surprised to see a review posted by someone rating the recipe 1 star out of 5.

    But this particular one-star reviewer did it with a special . . . ah, not style . . . not grace . . . what's that word I want?

    Oh, right: GALL. Before I reproduce the review in its entirety here, may I invite you to review the aforementioned list of main ingredients?

    Thank you. And now, presenting the one-star review of sheer, unmitigated gall:

    I used 6 oz. of fresh spinach, egg replacer instead of eggs, fat free milk instead of whole milk, swiss cheese instead of cheddar,. I left out the salt,and flour. and used just a sprinkling of dried parsley and added some dried dill. I did not use any butter or margarine. Instead of bread crumbs, I used crushed Ritz(cracked pepper ritz crackers). Instead of layering it, I just mixed everything together except the crackers..those I put on top. I sprayed the pan with Pam. It was delicious. The only drawback some might find is that the bottom of the dish is a little watery but that was not a problem for me. I absolutely loved it!
    She loved it, but she gave it one star--well, there's dumb for you. That's just the stupidity icing on the great cake of imbecility here.

    But what I love is how she left no stone unturned in her quest to make something that was almost completely, but not entirely, unlike the original recipe.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:36 PM | Comments (7)
  • August 12, 2004

    The Complete and Utter Failure to Get It

    So this is actually a better way to spend $144 billion? You're kidding me, right? We spend a ton of dough locking down our entryways, funding agricultural subsidies in Afghanistan--because we don't spend enough on agricultural subsidies in this country--throwing 100,000 more police officers onto our streets, and basically doing far more to restrict domestic freedom than could ever be done by any so-called Patriot Act? This is better?

    This is better than deposing a guy who shoved dissidents feet-first through a plastic shredder? This is better than trying to get democracy's foot in the door of a region that produces little but poverty, oppression, fanaticism, and resentment? This is the sane person's alternative? This is supposed to be an improvement?

    This is an improvement from the point of view of a man who asserts the photograph of a U.S. Marshal pointing an automatic weapon in the face of a refugee child "warmed [his] heart." This is an improvement from the point of view of a woman who believes the Branch Davidians "blew themselves up" (or did they?) and deserved to die for belonging to a religious cult. This is an improvement for those who think our best hope for national security lies in entrusting more money and more power to the very people who bungled the job in the first place. This is an improvement in the minds of people who hate freedom--not in the minds of people who love it.

    My father is very fond of sports analogies. I am not. But even I can grasp that you have two basic strategies in this conflict: You can focus on defense, or you can focus on offense. Ideally, you spruce up both. But you know, it's funny, I'm partial to the offense. I'm partial to the idea of rattling a few cages, shaking things up a bit, making a few dictators feel a little more nervous and a lot less secure.

    I'm not nearly as partial to the idea of having more police on the streets. We have a lot of police on the streets now, and I don't know about where you live, but where I live most of them spend their time busting people for driving singly-occupied vehicles in the HOV lane and pulling over drivers for not wearing seat belts. Now you could argue--and I'll bet more than a few police officers would--that it'd help to relax enforcement on dumb laws like that, and leave policemen more time for "real" police work, but the point is, we have enough laws. We have enough rules. We have enough checkpoints. We have enough procedures.

    What we don't have is someone with the balls to say, "Hey, there! Yeah, you seven Middle Eastern guys 'bout to get on that plane there . . . you mind coming over here so we can take a better look at you?" We didn't have it on September 11, and we don't have it now, and odds are we aren't ever going to have it, because ultimately no one's willing to stand up and be the asshole, and when on rare occasions someone is willing to risk being the asshole, we waste not one minute crucifying her.

    So I'll settle for results like this:

    But in the middle of all that wariness I continue to hear the news and hear about IPs arresting hundreds of terrorists who entered the country through Iran and Syria and re arresting thousands of criminals who were set free by Saddam before March 2003 to disturb our peaceful days to come. And also I hear the news of many other countries helping with what ever they can with rebuilding Iraq and that’s not a jock or a lie, because I saw with my own eyes the warehouse where the equipments and tools and materials sent to Iraq for rebuilding it by those countries, an unbelievable stock of every thing, thousands of police cars, hundreds of army vehicles thousands of sealed containers, electricity transformers and many thing I don’t know what is it and it was by a coincidence when I had to visit the warehouse for some business actually to supply them with employees with different qualifications hundreds of them with the condition that they should be Iraqis, because these countries are trying to solve unemployment problem as well. I even told my friend who was with me in that visit “if all Iraqis knew about the things stocked and happening here they will stop complaining and they will have enough patience to wait for the better days to come.

    “Yes it’s a matter of patience and hard working no more” that’s what I told my self after all, and before I finish my wards to my self, I found my car in front of my office and look to my watch to find it was a thirty minutes and pull my brief case heading to work charged up to continue building Iraq & Iraqis.

    Because it makes more sense to me than trying to turn America into one big panic room, okay? Because if what we did amounts to "pissing away" $144 billion, I'd rather piss it away on people who might yet do something great with it than piss it away buying the Coast Guard new tracking equipment.

    You know, I don't recall nearly so much bitching about the costs of this little operation--and last I looked, peace never really did make it to Kosovo. But gosh, at least we had real "international cooperation" for that one, didn't we? So I guess it's cute to piss away money when all the cool kids are begging us to do it. Is that the trick to this line of reasoning? Does the international community operate on roughly the same dynamic as high school? Because if that's how things work in the world, it's no wonder I don't understand any of it.

    I hated high school.

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:32 AM | Comments (3)

    August 11, 2004

    What We Need More of Is Science

    Actor Ed Harris offers guidance in the direction of future research efforts; fellow thespian Christian Bale rebuts.

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:24 PM | Comments (4)

    Confessions of a Lazy News Reader

    Apologies for posting on the most boring, done-to-death subject in the known universe--bias in the media--but I think I've finally shaken out of my head where I stand on the whole deal:

    I want some attempt at objectivity back, damnit. I'm tired of doing my own legwork. If I have to read six competing sources just to sift the facts from the opinion, just to find out the who-what-when-where-why-and-how instead of the who-mighta, who-shoulda, who-coulda . . . then for what, exactly, are we paying journalists?

    Oh, I know we're not paying them much*, but see, no one's paying me anything just to figure out what the hell's going on here, and [something] - [nothing] = [something], so where's all that something going?

    When the whole bias-in-the-media thing became a case of the dueling bestsellers awhile back, some people suggested that maybe news consumers should just accept that bias exists; let the biases of reporters out of the closet, let the public choose their sources according to their own slants, let the consumers put their critical thinking caps back on for a minute and sort it all out, because bias can't ever truly be masked and objectivity never really existed anyway. Let's just accept it, embrace it, and move on.

    You know what that sounds like to me? That sounds like a tailor-made excuse for journalists not performing up to standard.

    You think about it with regard to any other profession, now. Do we let attorneys openly display bias? Or more specifically: Do we let public defenders flaunt bias? What kind of piss-poor public defender would you be, in fact, if you told your boss "I can't take this one, the guy's obviously guilty," or "Sorry, I don't defend Republicans" every time you were assigned a case?

    My uncle is a criminal defense attorney. We always used to ask him if he got many guilty clients. He'd answer, yes, most of them. You ever get any guilty ones off the hook? Yes, many of them. Okay . . . how do you do that and, uh, sleep at night?

    Then my uncle would reply that his job was to ensure his client received a fair trial, that the foundation of our country's legal system was its assertion of the right of every citizen a fair trial, that he believed this was important enough to make his job worth doing to the best of his ability, and besides, some of his clients were innocent. (No patriotic music played while he was saying all this, but wouldn't it be hysterical if it had?)

    That's really the only professional answer to give, isn't it? You tuck in your feelings and just do your job as well as you can. It seems so obvious I'm embarrassed I ever asked my uncle dumb questions like that.

    You don't get to display your prejudices openly, to wear your politics on your sleeve, as a caterer, a nurse, a customer service representative, a licensed contractor (imagine: "I'm sorry, I can't help you with that addition; I don't work with Democrats"), a massage therapist--no one else gets away with this nonsense. Everyone else learns to suck it up and do their jobs.

    And I know what you're thinking--that it's not an exact analogy, that it isn't as though the New York Times will only sell papers to card-carrying liberals, or as if FOX News found a way only to broadcast to Republicans (not that I think non-Republicans would mind if they did).

    That said, is it so much to ask that you cheer for Kerry on your own time?**--Or that you start defining your "own time" the way most of the rest of us do, with the knowledge that anything you do publicly has the potential to reflect on your profession as a whole?

    Could you do your job with a modicum of professionalism? Some of us are starting to really pine for the days when you at least tried to fake it.

    UPDATE: Then again, the pursuit of objectivity does seem to require at least a nodding acquaintance with the world outside one's own coterie, and we all know how difficult that can be to attain some days, huh? (Link via Kesher Talk. Read Judith's letter to ABC News; had I voted for Gore in 2000, I'd be writing a similar missive myself.)

    *Am I the only one who is driven mad by misspellings in url's? Starting saleries? Celeries? What?

    **See also here; relevant paragraph about 11 down from the start. (Which is another complaint I have about the news recently--I simply don't have four hours in which to read every piece all the way through to the interesting bits, which are increasingly buried deep in the article. If that makes me a McNews type, so be it.) Anyway, both links via a terrible awful biased (but nonjournalist) site that you should never read under any circumstances because doing so could turn you into a racist and/or Zionist oppressor.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:37 PM | Comments (1)

    August 10, 2004

    Clinical Impression:

    It's nice, when you're feeling foul and grumpy, to stumble on bits like this:

    Funk legend Rick James—best known for the 1981 hit “Super Freak” before his life tailspun into a living nightmare of wild sex parties, expensive drugs and shooting whoever he felt like—died Friday of Rick James-related illnesses.
    Rick James-related illnesses. I can't find that one in the medical dictionary, which proves only that doctors don't know half as much as they think they do, because you can't tell me that shouldn't be the official diagnosis. You just can't.
    Posted by Ilyka at 02:07 AM | Comments (3)

    August 09, 2004

    And Another Random Thing

    Would the Coen brothers even have careers if you issued a judicial order prohibiting them from making fun of people who talk funny?

    Sorry, but it's just that I've recently decided I kind of hate these guys. Part of it stems from trying a couple weeks ago to watch one of theirs I'd never got around to seeing: Raising Arizona.

    You know, I used to work for Maricopa County. And you could get way, way, way out in the farthest reaches of it, the parts where people really do try to live in the desert in tin trailers because they can't afford anything better, and yet never hear a single person speak the way people speak in that movie.

    Hell, I'm not entirely convinced you can find people in West Texas who speak the way people speak in that movie, though I suppose you might could . . . .

    And call me nitpicky, but the Valley of the Sun is not exactly known for having "twisters" (which people there would call "tornadoes," anyway). Dear heaven, no wonder some folks up north hated Fargo, 'cause you just know for months after that movie came out tourists were begging the natives, "say 'Yah sure, you betcha!' for us!" just one more &%#$ time.

    Today, I think, is "To Hell with Elitism" day around here. I'm going to celebrate it by being extra nice to people with low-rent accents. And when I say "nice," I mean genuinely, honestly nice, not "condescending to the poor slobs who don't know what an embarrassment their very existences are, who don't realize that they are infecting the neighborhood with their trashiness, who don't realize how lucky they are to share the planet with marvelous, sophisticated, erudite me."

    And if you come near me with a bottle of vintage wine, I'm going to club you over the head with a bottle of the champagne of beers. And as the blood and beer run down your cheeks, I'll lean in real close and whisper, "Got quite a boo-kay on 'er, don't she?" I might even say it in a Raising Arizona accent.

    It's just the kind of mood I'm in today.

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:16 PM | Comments (7)

    A Quote for No Particular Reason

    From a favorite book:

    The nurse pulled up her sleeve and swabbed a spot clean on her left arm. Francie saw the white doctor coming towards her with the cruelly-poised needle. He loomed larger and larger until he seemed to blend into a great needle. She closed her eyes waiting to die. Nothing happened, she felt nothing. She opened her eyes slowly, hardly daring to hope that it was all over. She found to her agony, that the doctor was still there, poised needle and all. He was staring at her arm in distaste. Francie looked too. She saw a small white area on a dirty dark brown arm. She heard the doctor talking to the nurse.

    "Filth, filth, filth, from morning to night. I know they're poor but they could wash. Water is free and soap is cheap. Just look at that arm, nurse.

    The nurse looked and clucked in horror. Francie stood there with the hot flamepoints of shame burning her face . . . .

    The nurse was a Williamsburg girl. You could tell that by her accent. The child of poor Polish immigrants, she had been ambitious, worked days in a sweatshop and gone to school at night. Somehow she had gotten her training. She hoped some day to marry a doctor. She didn't want anyone to know she had come from the slums.

    . . .

    [Francie] looked at the nurse. To Francie, all women were mamas like her own mother and Aunt Sissy and Aunt Evy. She thought the nurse might say something like:

    "Maybe this little girl's mother works and didn't have time to wash her good this morning," or, "You know how it is, Doctor, children will play in dirt." But what the nurse actually said was, "I know. Isn't it terrible? I sympathize with you, Doctor. There is no excuse for these people living in filth.

    A person who pulls himself up from a low environment via the boot-strap route has two choices. Having risen above his environment, he can forget it; or, he can rise above it and never forget it and keep compassion and understanding in his heart for those he has left behind him in the cruel up climb. The nurse had chosen the forgetting way. Yet, as she stood there, she knew that years later she would be haunted by the sorrow in the face of that starveling child and that she would wish bitterly that she had said a comforting word then and done something towards the saving of her immortal soul. She had the knowledge that she was small but she lacked the courage to be otherwise.

    Yeah, there's a reason, even a particular one, why I thought of this, but I'm too bummed out at the moment to mention it, so make of it what you will.

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:27 PM | TrackBack

    August 07, 2004

    No, YOU Tell ME

    I continue to have nothing of consequence to say, making this as fine a time as any to punt to a commenter.

    Seems one Daniel in Medford--a commenter of whom I'm most fond, I should add, because while I can't remember what post it was on or, indeed, what in fact he said about it, I have this lingering impression that the guy once said something fairly intelligent and thought-provoking in the comments so hey, go Daniel--anyway, Daniel wants to know, what's one thing women should "have to" do in a relationship. Because, you know, I said men should have to kill bugs, all the bugs, always, period end.

    So I want the men to tell me, what's the nonnegotiable? What's one thing that by God a woman should always, always do in a relationship? Is this as foolish as asking y'all to define centrists? Whatever, I need an update opportunity, this one fell in my lap (after a reminder by this gal), and I'm taking it.

    Tell me what a woman's gotta do. Come on, be a sport, I don't ask this sort of thing every day, you know I don't. And I'll probably be fairly sorry I asked this time, too.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:42 AM | Comments (28)

    August 04, 2004

    The Big Fat Nothing

    I could bore you with a not-very-interesting story explaining why I've been neglecting this blog, or I could send you off a couple other places. I don't know about you, but I vote the latter:

  • This is exactly how I am about bugs. A recurring argument between my boyfriend and me goes something like, "Why do I have to be the one to kill it? It's in your apartment," which is inevitably met with "Because you're the man and killing bugs is the man's job." Seriously, men?--It really is. You can protest that all you want; you can yack about how this proves that when women say "feminism" they really mean "all the fun parts with none of the increased responsibility," but just as you're working yourself up into high dudgeon you might just notice, in the periphery of your vision, your woman quietly packing her bags and leaving in search of a man who will just kill the damned bug already and spare her the lecture.

  • This is the version of the SAT I should have taken, provided my first choice--substituting the Paul Anka Band Entrance Examination--was deemed unacceptable.

  • There is an update to the story about the shysters who ripped off $30,000 from a charity; you know, those shysters, the ones who ripped off $30,000 from a charity that was sending toys to Iraqi children? The ones who, if there is a Hell, have surely by now been voted Most Likely to Burn Within It Forever by its lesser and greater demon residents? Well, there's an update, and it involves the magic L-word: Lawyers. Thank goodness.

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:13 PM | Comments (7)