December 27, 2004

South Asia Earthquake

As much for my benefit and reference as yours, a short links collection:

Donations (US):

  • AmeriCares

  • American Red Cross (select "International Response Fund" from the list box to earmark donation for earthquake relief)

  • Care USA

    Donations (International):

  • Oxfam


  • Red Cross Red Crescent

    Donations (Religious Charities):

  • Christian Aid

  • American Jewish World Service

  • Catholic Relief

  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

  • International Orthodox Christian Charities

  • Islamic Relief


  • ReliefWeb has a by-country breakdown of relief efforts via the UN Office for Coordination of Human Affairs

  • The Command Post, naturally, with many more charity links

  • Tim Blair

  • Simon World hasn't got anything on this just yet, but keep checking. Simon's great for turning up links to pieces others miss.

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:57 PM | Comments (0)
  • December 22, 2004


    I'll return after the holidays, I think.

    (Image from The Fractal Farm.

    UPDATE 12/24/2004: So far, Jim has compared the fractal image to some junk found between his toes--gaaahhh!--and Helen has compared it to, I think, arterial plaque deposits. So if anyone else has anything to add . . .? Because we still have a few body parts to go with this.

    (Lousy fractal haters.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:58 PM | Comments (8)

    December 16, 2004

    Even When You Think I'm Not Working for You, I'm Working for You

    I do and do and do for you kids . . . I linked the explanation about my dumb pseudonym and my puerile "about me" stuff over at the left. You don't want to know how long it took me. I don't even want to know how long it took me, but I have no choice in the matter.

    And now to the kitchen. I'm trying something called Spicy Orange Beef. Feel free to make dirty remarks about the name of the recipe in the comments, or don't.

    (More food-related dirty talk in the comments here. Much thanks to Cassandra for tracking me back on that post, because the thing about Cassandra is that she be bad. Seriously, devastatingly, Defcon 1 kind of bad. If you aren't keeping Villainous Company, you're missing out.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:39 PM | Comments (4)

    December 15, 2004

    All the World Owes Me Some Tail

    Michele touches on just one reason I don't read weblogs like Hog on Ice: It's the generalizing, stupid.

    The only thing I could add is that sometimes I think there were mamas out there who did their jobs a little too well when it came to filling a boy's head with self-esteem. I think about going back in time and having a little talking-to with them:

    Me: Mrs. H?

    Mrs. H: Yes, dear?

    Me: I wanted to talk to you about little Stevie.

    Mrs. H: Oh, I do hope he hasn't been in any trouble--

    Me: No, no. Well, not really. Not yet. It's just, I gather you've spent a lot of hours taking really good care of him--

    Mrs. H: Why, thank you. I try my best--

    Me: --and that's great, really, but see, he's got hold of this idea that he's the most precious amazing wonderful awesome adorable little guy--

    Mrs. H: Isn't he, though?

    Me: Well, with all due respect, Mrs. H, he is to you. The problem is what happens when he grows up.

    Mrs. H: When little Stevie becomes a man, at least I'll know I did my level best to teach him self-esteem.

    Me: Self-esteem, yeah--see, that's what I'm here to talk about. There's . . . there's self-esteem that comes from good works and good character development, and then there's . . . listen, Mrs. H., I have to level with you: You may be giving little Stevie some unrealistic expectations about the world of adulthood.

    Mrs. H: Unrealistic?

    Me: Apparently little Stevie grows up so assured of his innate wonderfulness that he, ah, he can't . . . he can't understand why women aren't lining up to show him the love, if you know what I mean.

    Mrs. H: They aren't?

    Me: Apparently not, Mrs. H. I'm sorry.

    Mrs. H: Why, my poor baby!

    Me: Mrs. H, I feel for you, I do, but frankly, that poor baby of yours grows up to be a bitter old asshole.

    Life isn't fair. Love is even less so. You can either work with what you've got or blame what you don't got on 50-odd percent of the world's population.

    Which is more practical?

    UPDATE 12/15/2004: This excerpt from an email today from the boyfriend is too good not to share:

    Actually, the only reason I was reading the comments was because I saw that Michelle [with ONE 'l', honey!--ed.] had shut them down. So, obviously, I was curious as to why. And what do I see, the second to last post is my girlfriend saying "I'll let the site owner be the judge of that." And I think, that's my girl, getting too rowdy and closing the bar early.
    I am not sentimental and I do not watch the Lifetime channel and I do not "aww" at much, but I totally "aww'd" at that. And people wonder why I stick to him like Press 'n Seal.
    Posted by Ilyka at 12:31 AM | Comments (6)

    December 12, 2004

    Now, Now, Everyone Chill

    My excuse for the preceding post?

    You guessed it:


    I know: What an un-ladylike thing to say.

    I should take that prior post down, really, but then I'd lose some hysterical comments, like Hubris wondering if he's too butch. Hubris?--DEFINITELY.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:53 AM | Comments (5)

    December 10, 2004

    Screw This

    And people wonder why I periodically abandon the blog for weeks on end. That's in reference to comment numero uno, incidentally, not the post itself (which I quite liked).

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:30 PM | Comments (15)

    Later: Teflon Don

    (The original version of this post is in the extended entry.)

    I asked last night for a thought or two about this remark by Instapundit:

    Should we have more armor? Beats me. Are people who are using this issue as a way of unfairly portraying Rumsfeld as a heartless murderer of American troops way off-base? Yes. Absolutely.
    I received initially only one comment; luckily, it came from my brother. He and I do not agree much politically, but we have our moments, and this was one of them*. He said in part:
    Is the fact that soldiers are complaining that they don't have the armor somehow inadmissable as evidence they don't have the armor? And isn't that a HELL of a lot more important than the issue of Public Perception Of Donald Rumsfeld?
    Well, you'd think.

    I understand that part of the underlying objection to "unfairly portraying Rumsfeld as a heartless murderer" no doubt arises from reporter Lee Pitts' "setting up" of one of the soldiers from the unit with which he was embedded to ask the question in the first place. If you read the email from Pitts to an unnamed reporter friend, it's clear Pitts delights in his success at helping to, you know, Fight the Power:

    I just had one of my best days as a journalist today. As luck would have it, our journey North was delayed just long enough see I could attend a visit today here by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.

    . . .

    The great part was that after the event was over the throng of national media following Rumsfeld- The New York Times, AP, all the major networks -- swarmed to the two soldiers I brought from the unit I am embedded with. Out of the 1,000 or so troops at the event there were only a handful of guys from my unit b/c the rest were too busy prepping for our trip north. The national media asked if they were the guys with the armor problem and then stuck cameras in their faces.

    I do not want my media composed of activisits; I want it composed of reporters. If you're fortunate to be able to attend a meeting in which Rumsfeld will take questions only from soldiers, don't coach the soldiers. As others have noted, Rumsfeld himself did nothing to pre-screen the questions; the soldiers were not provided with a list of no-no's beforehand; the floor, in other words, was open--to soldiers. That is, the floor was open to the very people to whom a Secretary of Defense should be most accountable.

    I'm all for that. I just happen to prefer Tim Blair's take to that flippant "beats me" from Instapundit (emphasis mine):

    This doesn't invalidate the question; not at all. It's just interesting to learn that the question was "worked on" in advance.
    It's a difference in weighting criteria. In the Instapundit quote, the greater weight is to the unfair portrayal of Rumsfeld.

    That's the part I have a problem with. When you say, "I support the troops," you should mean it wholeheartedly--even, and especially, when the people in charge of those troops make mistakes. Otherwise, what you're really saying is, "I support the administration." Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course; to me, it's only a problem when support for the administration outweighs support for the troops.

    (We interrupt this post to issue a Note for the Daft: I am not suggesting Instapundit doesn't support the troops.)

    Boy, the great thing about editing a previously-posted entry is that you reap the benefit of comments posted as you're drafting it. From Craig in the comments:

    Rumsfeld may be responsible for this. So could whoever bought unarmoured Humvees in the first place, or whichever Congressmen participated in choosing which acquisitions program to fund, or whomever. Placing blame on Rumsfeld before we determine fully the reasons behind the problem is partisan hackery, even if Rumsfeld otherwise entirely deserves being fired (and there are very good arguments that he does).
    Craig is correct: Placing blame on Rumsfeld before we determine the reasons for the problem is partisan hackery. So is exonerating him before the facts are in place. Rumsfeld's job is Secretary of Defense, not Secretary of Commerce. If we're going to demand answers about any of this, we're going to have to demand them from Rumsfeld.

    At the risk of alienating what readership I've built up over time, let's face it: The right half of blogdom tends to give Rumsfeld a pass much of the time**. Because we dig him, right? The way he snaps at reporters, puts them in their places without ever quite losing his cool . . . yes, we love that.

    But let's take Rumsfeld off his pedestal once in awhile. "Plays well on TV" does not equal "is best qualified for the position he holds." I think we'd do well to remember that distinction. I'm seeing more cheerleading than investigating in some conservative weblogs, and that's why, I think, I'm so often put off by blogger triumphalism. Weblogs make useful fact-checking tools, but only if their authors are willing to address facts that don't fit the talking points. When you weight the issue of Rumsfeld's image more heavily than the issue of soldiers' armor, you've shown me you are either unable or unwilling to do that.

    *Uh, except for the name-calling bits. I ain't calling anybody names here. I am all about the issues, maaaaan.

    **Though not always, and not uniformly: One military wife who's long questioned Rumsfeld's ability as Secretary of Defense, Kate of Electric Venom, instituted an entire category devoted to Rumsfeld missteps. When she heals up further from a recent illness, I hope she'll have something to say about this one.

    . . . buuuuut, I probably won't, and it'll wind up deleted. Que sera, sera. Anyway:

    Should we have more armor? Beats me. Are people who are using this issue as a way of unfairly portraying Rumsfeld as a heartless murderer of American troops way off-base? Yes. Absolutely.
    I figured I'd throw this one open to you fine people in the meantime.

    I know, I know: I could just leave this in draft mode and spare myself the embarrassment when I delete it later, but you know what happens with me and draft mode?--I forget about the post and it just sits there. I think I've got one like that from six months ago kicking around here somewhere. I'm very organized that way. It's a serious obstacle in my quest to become a Superpundit.

    UPDATE 12/10/2004: You people really would rather talk mac-n-cheese, wouldn't you?

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:26 PM | Comments (8)

    December 09, 2004

    Administrative Notice

    Generally, when there's an asterisk in the title and that asterisk refers to a disclaimer at the end of the post, it means the post was a joke.

    Hey, I never promised you good jokes.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:51 PM | Comments (7)

    Hamill + Fawcett = Bertinelli

    Look, nothing I say to describe this can possibly do The Feathered-Back Hair Site justice; you just run along now and check it out for yourself. Personally, I'm going to be stuck there for hours, reliving the horror.

    People wonder why I hate to go to the salon . . . well, look at what I grew up with and tell me you wouldn't be rendered permanently terrified of hairstylists by it.

    The best part? My hair refused to do any of this stuff. It would not feather, it would not form the triangle, it would not even lie in sausage rolls . . . but that never stopped those sadistic curling-iron-wielding witches from trying to make it do all those things. Oh, no. Not them.

    (Via pitcherlady.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:27 AM | Comments (5)

    Two Thumbs Up

    I love it, I love it, I love it: Let a lefty write a novel shot through with tirades against, say, nuclear power, and he's a "concerned activist-novelist." Let Michael Crichton write, well, anything anymore, and he's "a right-wing noodge:"

    For Crichton's fans, this has got to be heartbreaking: The boy-novelist who engineered a tyrannosaurus in Jurassic Park and mysterious pathogens from outer space in The Andromeda Strain has become a political pamphleteer, a right-wing noodge.
    Some people go for the meat, some people go for the bones, but I go first always for the nitpick: What is this "boy novelist" business? Crichton is my father's age: 62. That's a 6 in the tens place followed by a 2 in the ones place for those of you playing at home. The numberphobic might also think of it as "born one year after Pearl Harbor, currently seven years into enjoying the senior citizens' discount, now only three years away from becoming eligible to receive Social Security."

    I suppose the guy could have meant that Crichton started out a "boy novelist," back in the days of Andromeda Strain, but frankly, by the time a fellow's quitting medical school, I've usually stopped calling him a "boy" anything. (Besides, the sentence doesn't read that way.) Does this mean one of these days I can finally get around to savaging "precocious wunderkind Stephen King?" Cripes, I know baby boomers fear the aging process like no generation before or since, but come ON.

    And please, somebody call me when guys who spend their off hours bending spoons with their minds, having their "entities" exorcised by new-age gurus, and hiking in the desert to commune with cacti are "right wing." I know Rod Dreher had his precious "crunchy conservatives" catchphrase all set to go for just this sort of situation, but I think it's stretching the label out worse than a pair of John Kerry's bike shorts on Mike Moore to call Crichton "right wing."

    Boy, you write one little novel revealing the cruel, terrible truth that given half a chance, women can be just as abusive to their male subordinates as men can be to their female underlings, and the book critics piss down the back of your neck for the rest of your life.

    Curtis claims he's been reading Crichton since he was 13, so surely--surely--he must have figured out at some point that Crichton's favorite theme is people getting in over their heads with the latest technology. I believe the general literary concept is hubris. Apparently, this was just fine with Curtis so long as Crichton stuck to dumb stuff like space virii, pissed-off gorillas, and whatever the hell the monster turned out to be in Sphere; I admit I don't remember, probably because trying to finish that book induced narcolepsy. All A-okay with Curtis, but . . . killer nano-swarms? Ruthless businessmen? Bureaucracy that can't decide whether to police air travel or promote it? Ecoterrorists? Anything remotely plausible or topical?--Who asked that wingnut to start writing about this wacky stuff? Come to think of it, who let him near a word processor in the first place?

    The worst part is, critiquing Crichton isn't exactly rocket science. The manual for that activity has been in existence for over 20 years; you just run down the checklist. Two-dimensional characterization, lately improved but still weak: Check. A tendency, markedly pronounced in later books, to write in anticipation of a screen adaptation: Check. Occasional clunky, shoot-I-done-wrote-myself-into-a-corner endings: Check. Killed the mathematician in Jurassic Park, resurrected him unbelievably in The Lost World, and permitted Jeff Goldblum to portray him in the movie: Oh, check.

    You would think, wouldn't you, that if you worked at Slate and the editor said, "Here, go beat up on Michael Crichton's latest," that your reaction would be, "Sweet, something I can phone in for a change." Wouldn't you? Or perhaps you have a better work ethic than I do. Perhaps you would resolve to aim a little higher. Perhaps you'd ultimately decide to pursue the supah-fresh "attack the politics" angle that no one ever wore out to threadbare back when Disclosure came out.

    So that's my review of Slate's review: Love it. If I were Crichton I'd frame that shit. Then I'd laugh all the way to my agent's, all the way to the producer's, all the way to the bank, all the way to the spoon-bender's, all the way to the Brugh Joy conference, all the way to my acupuncturist's . . . .

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:41 AM | Comments (3)

    Because I Want ON This Taking-the-Weblog-Awards-Seriously Train, That's Why*

    House rules, effective immediately:

    I find out any of you goofs voted for any blog making any reference within its title to the word "pajamas"--and this includes the British-spelling variant "pyjamas" and such nonwords as "pajamasphere"--and you're off the site, okay? Do the right thing and confess it here and now so I can ban you forever. I mean it: This definitely goes on your permanent record.

    It took me a year or two to tire of "blogosphere" and perhaps half a year to start wincing at "hat tip," but what has been done to a word once devotedly wed to an innocent and comfy article of clothing, by a bunch of uninspired duckspeaking drool-spoolers, in less than three months, is unbearable.

    See also: brownshirts. So: Al Gore makes one of his typically weak-brewed, wholly unintentional ha-ha's, and your first thought is to work it into your blog title? For real? You know there are Livejournalers out there who have more dignity than that?

    (Sure, my blog has a very stupid title, but it's a very stupid title that I didn't have to read Instapowerjournal-or-whatever-lawyer-is-King-Blog-this-week to come up with.)

    So . . . just . . . please. Enough. No more clothing, at least, because at this point anything could send me over the edge; were Lileks to renew his unsuccessful bid to get "spats nod" into popular use, I could actually snap.

    *Not really; just trying to see if I could exceed the level of hysteria exhibited by some of the other participants. I don't think I succeeded . . . it needs just a few more italics, maybe even more bold.

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:17 AM | Comments (8)

    December 08, 2004

    Junk Food of Patriots

    My boyfriend won't eat this stuff. I have to make it when he's not around, which only makes it that much more difficult for me not to consume the entire box in one sitting.

    Still, though . . . sometimes I wonder how he can call himself an American.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:20 AM | Comments (26)

    December 07, 2004

    Beyond American Bandstand*

    From this choice thread at Protein Wisdom:

    Once, [bloggers] were rock and roll. Now we’re Yanni.
    I can never remember if that's better or worse than being John Tesh.

    I'm pretty sure it's better than being David Hasselhoff, but not by much. Hey, at least Hasselhoff helped end the Cold War.

    The deliciousness of that comment appearing in a thread that begins with Jeff and Allah consoling each other through their shared bitterness at not being endorsed by Meryl Yourish is . . . yeah, well, you know. You can't make this shit up.

    We don't care about these contests, except when we do, which is 99% of the time. Look at me, all pissed off about being in the 5000-6750 category because the Ecosystem uses an old link for me. I don't care, really? Except when I do, which is perhaps not all the time but is still way too much of it.

    Anyway. Divas.


    Posted by Ilyka at 11:43 PM | Comments (21)

    The Prefix I Wish Would Die

    This piece, a thorough rebuttal to the New York Times editorial in defense of Kofi "Oil for Food" Annan, has made the rounds pretty well already, and I really don't have anything to add to it other than a nitpick at the Times because . . . well, because they're the Times, of course. It's this sentence (emphasis mine):

    But before the call for his scalp gains more political momentum, it is important to disentangle the mélange of charges swirling around.
    What the hell is so wrong with this word that the NYT was compelled to turn it into the unwieldy and just plain ugly "disentangle?" Did this begin with the (equally wrong, in my view) mainstreaming of "disenfranchise?"

    Whatever; I wish it would simply stop. You've got your dis- prefix, which negates or removes from. and then you've got these jokers who want to make the meaning even harder to parse by throwing the dis- in front of an en- prefix, which empowers or adds to. It's not just bad language, it's bad math, a sort of verbal -1 + (+1) that leaves you with 0.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:56 AM | Comments (4)

    December 06, 2004

    Fine, Fine, We Can Talk About It A Little

    You know, that thing? That thing I said we weren't going to talk about? I think readers should vote Yourish in it. She makes the offer one can't refuse:

    My fellow bloggers: Endorse me to your readers, and get your blog linked in the right-hand column. Right there.
    I am with Rob about not taking blogs, and blog contests, too seriously; what I like about Meryl is that she has the knack of taking things seriously in a completely unserious way. Or do I have that backwards?

    Oh, and there's also the part where I am an unregenerate link whore.

    In any case, you have to love this zinger aimed at the competition:

    Patterico thinks he's got the upper hand. He's putting out vicious lies, like saying that Michael Totten is a cross-dresser. Of course that isn't true. Michael Totten is simply a terrible dresser.
    So vote Yourish. Travel photos are nice and all, but they'll never rival pictures of Gracie and Tig.
    Posted by Ilyka at 10:29 PM | Comments (0)

    This Here Internet

    Things I've been enjoying on it lately:

  • "How do you expect to run a successful business if you aren't willing to work for people?"

  • 'Tis the season: Just when you think you've seen every variation of Advent calendars, along comes Dr. Scott and his Comic Book Cover Advent Calendar.

  • More Advent calendar fun: Michele brings you the 24 Days of Xanax.

  • Make sure you always get your news from REAL journalists, like the ones at the BBC.

  • Photos from Libya.

  • The terrifying, miraculous saga of the arrival of Batman: "Being prepped for emerg. C-Sec - severe HELLP. Pls tell Internet." Start at that post and scroll up, or follow it from the beginning at A Little Pregnant.

  • And then there's that other Batman, of course.

  • Mirlitons, Microsoft, Movies. I don't know if Rob was actually trying for alliteration within the post, but it's cool how it worked out that way.

  • A blogiversary. Happy Blogiversary, Firas.

  • I do not know why there is still The Onion when there is the far funnier Hubris to enjoy instead.

  • A book quiz with 64 possible outcomes: "It's better than a Choose Your Own Adventure book!" Muchas gracias a la Queen of 70s Schlock Music.

  • ". . . the fraternity of the dead, the equality of the grave, and liberty from this vale of tears we call life." Even if I didn't love this post--and I do, bunches--I would have to link it anyway, because if "priapic expatriate writers" doesn't nail (pun intended, ho ho) Henry Miller and his set, I don't know what phrase does.

  • And when things finally do break down the way Simon says, how long before the first I'm-too-clever-for-my-shirt pundit dubs it "Chinanomics?" No, don't answer that. It was rhetorical.

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:28 AM | Comments (4)
  • December 05, 2004


    We're not talking about it. You know, that thing? We're not talking about it and I'm not telling you who I vote for in it and as for my fury over the refusal of the Ecosystem to recognize a nine-month-old URL change, we are definitely not talking about that. At all. Don't email me, don't ask. Most of all, never underestimate my ability to ignore things I don't feel like paying attention to, because when it comes to that ability I'm telling you, I got the power.

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:40 PM | Comments (2)

    December 02, 2004

    Theme Music!

    If you have a weblog you must have theme music. Obviously.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:21 PM | Comments (4)

    Those Were Different Times

    Last week or two ago, I forget exactly, Tim Blair had a thread going that invited people to share what insane, safety-last activities they had enjoyed as kids that they would never let their own kids do nowadays. If you like reading a good comment thread, I highly recommend it.

    Now the divine Miss Margi has up a similar post, an email forward from her sister that begins "According to today’s regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, or even maybe the early 70’s probably shouldn’t have survived."

    Some of the changes I understand. I can see why parents try to drive the kids to and from school anymore; no parent wants their child to be the subject of an Amber alert. I think it sucks for the kids--they'll never know the thrill of stealing a perfect red carnation from the mean neighbor's yard on the way to school*--but I get it. I'm not going to lecture a parent that he or she is "coddling" his or her kid because . . . well, because my general policy is not to lecture parents at all. They're doing something I know nothing about.

    But one of the things on Margi's list reminded me of something that bothers the living daylights out of me, something about which I will lecture anyway. This item:

    We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.
    First of all, that's the damn truth. I didn't even have that many friends but because I loved riding my bicycle so much, I kept in pretty good shape as a kid.

    But that's not the only thing that's different now. The other difference is the concept of the kids' menu. I say "the concept of" because it's not so much the menu itself I take issue with. It's the underlying concept that the food should appeal to the kid. In other words, Mikey should like it! Hey Mikey!

    Some restaurants had kids' menus when I was growing up; most did not. It didn't matter much either way, because unless we were on vacation or on a long road trip, my family didn't eat out. I think we used to get McDonald's at most--at most--four times a year. Happy meals? A happy meal was one in which McDonald's got my father's hamburger order correct.**

    Now I can't go into ANY food establishment without tripping over a family of kids munching chicken fingers. From the kids' menu. Served with fries. Not a single speck of green anywhere on the plate. And sometimes you'll hear a chlidless friend dining with the family (who may or may not be me) say something like, "Wow . . . uh . . . ha, ha . . . he sure does like the chicken fingers," and then you'll hear the mother give this real tired sigh as she replies, "Oh, that's the only thing Tyler will eat," as though Tyler were in imminent danger of dying from malnutrition and not, you know, a regular butterball.

    Oh! Oh! I know what you're going to say: McDonald's wasn't exactly health food either. Therefore, please refer to the part where I say we visited McDonald's no more than four times a year, number one. Number two, that leaves at the least 361 other days of the year when you betcha we had home-cooked meals. Now mind, my brother and I were extremely irritating children in the picky-eater sense, and my mother worked, and she often ran out of patience trying to get us to eat our vegetables and believe me, if you'd known how my brother and I were you'd have held her blameless for that too . . . so a lot of nights vegetables were carrots, which aren't green either, but which had the distinction of being the only vegetables my brother and I didn't automatically regurgitate right there at the table. You can't blame a hardworking mother for not wanting to clean up puke every night.

    But if I'd tried to tell my mom I wanted chicken fingers for dinner every time we went out for a meal, she'd have about fell over dead.

    "No. You have to have a vegetable."

    "But it doesn't come with vegetables!"

    "So order something that does."


    "They don't have carrots!"

    "Then I guess you're going off the Peter Cottontail diet for tonight because you ARE having a vegetable."

    If I'd pushed it much beyond that, I'd have risked coming under threat of something that not one single parent out there ever, ever, I mean EVER does anymore:

    I would have risked being taken out to the car.

    For the duration of the meal.

    Which the rest of my family would merrily eat inside the nice cozy restaurant without me.

    You understand? NO DINNER. Now you all know I like my edibles way too much to risk going without them like that. Trust me when I say I was no different as a child.

    Now I swear if one of you jokers tries to leave me a comment that you DO SO take your kids out to the car, or at least threaten them with it, I am going to go all bitchy barren-old-maid on your ass because NO, you do NOT. How do I know? Because I haven't heard a parent threaten to take his sainted angel out to the car in literally decades. It's the same old story: If you say parents have gone soft nowadays, instantly six parents pipe up with, "Not me! Not me!"

    Oh YES you. It's just like when you complain about bad drivers to your coworkers--not me, not me, I'm a good driver! Sure y'are, Joey. That's why you nearly got us all killed last time we let you drive us to lunch. Pull the other one.

    Where was I? Right: Yelling at imaginary guys named Joe. I'm starting to see what all my English teachers were on about with the stick-to-the-thesis thing.

    My point, I think, was that sure we had Hostess and Dolly Madison snacks up the wazoo--mine is the generation that led the race to perform experiments on Twinkies, remember--and that's leaving out all the home-baked goodies piled on top of those (which if you grew up Mormon as I did, you saw, and consumed, more than a few of) . . . we had full-fat everything and whole-wheat soy-protein organic NOTHING.

    But playing was something you did outside. And what you wanted for dinner had nothing to do with what you were actually going to get for dinner. I might have wanted hot dogs and french fries for dinner every night (and because my father loves those kinds of meals himself, I probably got them more often than most kids my age did) but I certainly knew better than to think I'd get them every night.

    That's all I have to say about that. We don't have a generation of fat kids because McDonald's because Globalization because Bush because Additives because Play Dates at Chuck-E-Cheese because Soccer Practice Ran Late because . . . we have a generation of fat kids because they're all eating chicken fingers and playing XBox.

    Now either you all get together and kick the kids out of doors for an hour or you're going out to the car without dinner. Because I SAID.

    *To put in one's hair, of course, if one was a girl. If one was a boy, one stole carnations just to piss that old guy off.

    **Plain. No condiments. A happy meal was free of this exchange: Is that ketchup? Sonofabitch, those jerks put ketchup on it! Didn't I say plain? Honey, didn't I tell them I wanted it plain? Yes, dear, I heard you. Maybe you can scrape it off. I guess I have to, but it's--say, do we have any hamburger buns in the breadbox? Dear, please. Well why not? I could warm it up in the oven and--by then your hamburger will be cold. Well, it's already ruined. So don't make it worse. But whadda they think "plain" means? Doesn't "plain" mean no ketchup? Those jerks! I know, dear. I know. We're never going there again. I mean it. This is the last time. [Sound of Ilyka sobbing.]

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:36 PM | Comments (6)

    December 01, 2004

    And I Want a White Picket Fence And Someone Lend Me 2.3 Kids, STAT

    UPDATE, December 29, 2005:

    Is there an Avon conference going on today or something?--I am getting search hits from all over for "Avon World Sales Leader." Anyway, that's this woman's mother. Avon and world sales are two things I have absolutely nothing to do with, and the phrase comes up in this post only incidentally, in an excerpt from one of Dooce's posts.

    You people are like a damn swarm today with this Avon business. You're scaring me, frankly.

    There was a time I could cherish the contrast between the suburbs and the city, a time when I could appreciate each nearly equally-- and that time is passing real, real, real super-fast. We can thank my most favorite class of humanity, the perpetually sanctimonious, for that:

    Suburban life is a perverted response to the perceived problems of the city, where urban unpredictability and diversity are supplanted by the Olive Garden and visits to the biggest mall in the country. Suburbanites drive downtown for work--occupying jobs that rightfully should go to city dwellers--but then they and their earnings hightail it out before sundown, presumably when the human sacrifices begins. They may return in the evening every once in the while for a showing of Riverdance, but only with the car windows rolled all the way up.
    That's merely one paragraph plucked from a mountain of idiocy and man, people, you know I hate to fisk. I don't even like using the word fisk. It's jargon, and I'm against jargon on principle; also the activity itself is overdone. Still, it's seriously hard for me to get even nine words into this, into this one paragraph, without wanting to tell the author to just grow up already.

    In other words, to hell with it. Let's fisk.

    Suburban life is a perverted response to the perceived problems of the city

    The perceived problems, not the real, tangible problems, which either don't exist or are all the fault of suburbia, you decide. Anyway, an experiment: Next time someone holds you up outside a downtown dance club with a 12-gauge--as happened once to a guy I dated--try just changing your perception about it.

    (Incidentally, seeing as how the author of the article is dead convinced that suburbanites flee the cities out of an irrational fear of the black man--don't make me quote you that part, you're grown, you can read it yourself--would I be out of line to note that the holdup victim in this instance was black himself? Would it be out of line to note that he hailed from the suburbs? Or would the author just call that guy an Uncle Tom and me a Klan apologist?--Who knows? I do know that none of this helps solve the real, tangible problems of large urban centers, like for instance the real, tangible problem that YOU COULD GET MUGGED DOWN THERE.)

    And that's just one problem I "perceive" about life in the big city. We haven't even got to the minor annoyances like shitty road quality, traffic jams, urine in all manner of places urine is simply not supposed to be--I didn't even get to things like tiny apartments that cost more than a 4-bedroom house in the suburbs, did I?

    You know, it is f-i-n-e fine with me if you don't consider these things "problems." Feel free to alter your perceptions about them, honest. If you choose to see them as part of the charm and grit of the city, if you believe with all your heart that they give the place drama and vividness and color and flair, it is totally cool with me that you take that view. It's that view that keeps New Jersey in its place as the eternal butt of jokes by New Yorkers, which is right and just.

    But screw you for making the leap from your love of grit and grime to my hatred of black people. The one does not imply the other.

    where urban unpredictability and diversity

    Your unpredictability and diversity is my missed train and eight different encounters with guys who need a couple bucks for "a bus ticket." (You know, and I give those guys the couple bucks, even when they're asking for it right outside the liquor store, so don't start on me with the heartless-Rethuglicans thing.) What I'm trying to say is for a lot of people, the "unpredictability" and the "diversity" get old after awhile.

    If the author had put even a spark of thought into this piece, she'd have realized that the suburbs versus the city is just the same old story, same old song and dance--only she's singing the wrong song and she's got two left feet. The story of the exodus to the suburbs is the story of getting old.

    You know who starts to miss the feel of grass beneath their feet, the smell of exhaust fume-free air in their nostrils, the contentment of having more than 512 square feet to call home? OLD PEOPLE, you dingbat. I don't mean seniors. Maybe I should just say "older." No, let's tell the truth here for a minute: People my age, okay? People my age have either got a couple kids already or are about to, and weirdly enough it does start to occur to them that maybe they should bring up the tots elsewhere--somewhere Crazy Freddie can't sidle up to them to see if they can spare a buck or two "for the bus." Somewhere Mommy and Daddy can afford to put away that buck or two for college later on. Somewhere Mommy won't have to explain what "XXX triple penetration hardcore!" means until Johnny's at least 10 and can find out on the internet his own self--in the privacy of his own room, not at the public library PC three seats down from Drunk Bob.

    In fact, let's see what Dooce had to say about why she and her husband moved from LA to Utah:

    . . . I present to you the following reasons why Jon and Heather need to move back to Utah: -Heather wants to have a baby and if there ever were a place on earth where people know how to have babies that place would be colonized by Mormons. - Chuck needs a backyard and the average price of a backyard in Los Angeles is $480,000. - Jon and I are down to our last couple dollars and a gallon of milk in Utah costs less than a couple dollars. - My mother, the Avon World Sales Leader, lives in Utah and can give us free shampoo. - They have weather in Utah.
    I know Her Dooceness is more liberal than I am--by miles--but those look suspiciously like the reasons my parents bailed out of New Jersey way back when. Plus, I've read her list over six times now, and I still can't find anything about fearing unpredictability or diversity. What's up with that?

    Oh hell, I didn't even make it to the end of the first sentence and look how I've rambled on. Can we skip the part about the Olive Garden? I hate the Olive Garden, for what it's worth, but I think I hate the law that all good progressives must equate a love of Olive Garden with Republicanism (and thus, evil) even more. That did get signed into law, didn't it? It must have, because they all do it. Can't you pick on Chili's for a change? Applebee's--yeah okay, I see you got some people on that one already. Never mind.

    Suburbanites drive downtown for work--occupying jobs that rightfully should go to city dwellers
    Because . . . because . . . what? Why? The hell? Because you live there, so . . . so . . . so businesses should give you preferential treatment in hiring or the government should automatically issue you a nearby job or--I mean what exactly is going on here? Because it certainly isn't actual thought.

    This is one you could attack from so many angles it's impossible to just pick one. If you say businesses should make more effort to hire locals, well, sorry, but that's discrimination, number one; number two, given two candidates of equal merit, but with one of them down the street and the other 20 miles away--look, I know who I'm hiring for that one, because now I can really justify making him work nights and weekends, and he better never be late with the excuse that he was stuck in traffic; number three (and I think I mentioned this already) but why? Why should those jobs go "rightfully" to city-dwellers?

    And how much do you think taking the nose ring out before you get to the interview might aid your hireability there, Miz City-Dweller? Businesses are notorious for loathing unpredictability, and whether they admit it or not, their view on diversity is that there is no "diversity" in "TEAM." Try actually "thinking outside the box" in a corporate environment sometime and be amazed by how much business respects diversity of viewpoint. Maybe these are the kinds of things those squares in suburbia have already figured out?

    (Hands up who's grateful I didn't try to dissect the entire article? That's what I thought.)

    but then they and their earnings hightail it out before sundown, presumably when the human sacrifices begins [sic].
    The human sacrifices, and the perceived muggings. Hey, but don't discount the appeal of human sacrifice to suburbanites. If you could work out free parking for it, I'm sure at least a few of us would show up.
    They may return in the evening every once in the while for a showing of Riverdance, but only with the car windows rolled all the way up.
    It keeps the urine out, okay?

    Look, my grandmother raised three children in a one-bedroom apartment near 144th and Washington--she lived and worked in Manhattan, and not the nicest part of it, for a long time. She loves the city. No one loves that city more.

    And yet I've never gone there with her, even once, when the first thing she said to me upon entering her beloved city wasn't "Make sure your door is locked. Is your window up?--Roll the window up."

    Because why? Because people who've really lived in the big cities--versus spoilt arty shitheads who move to them in search of vicarious thrills they couldn't find in the suburbs--don't kid themselves about how big cities are. They're noisy, they're dirty, and they're dangerous. They are no less loved for that, but the flaws are real, not perceptual. Papering over those flaws with euphemisms like "unpredictability" and "diversity" only invites one to take this author for a peabrained moonbat--which she is.

    And if you won't take my word for that, and you have some migraine medication nearby, why, just read the rest of the article. Maybe then you can see how I could get so much mileage out of one particularly bad paragraph.

    (I almost forgot: This aneurysm brought on by Swirlspice--not that there's anything wrong with that. Applebee's article link pilfered from Esmay.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:51 PM | Comments (11)