July 30, 2005

Eulogy for a Superhero

Superman had bad EMTs
Who plumb forgot their ABCs
Didn't get him intubated
(No wonder he wasn't resuscitated)
Was it his health plan?--We don't know
But I suspect an HMO

Posted by Ilyka at 03:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 29, 2005

Freaking the Norms

Here's a thought: If "freaking out" the "normal people" is really your "whole intent," how 'bout coming up with something that doesn't have an expiration date ending in "1972" stamped on it?

Creativity is dead.

Here, have a vocabulary word:

Main Entry: de·sen·si·tize
Pronunciation: (")dE-'sen(t)-s&-"tIz
Function: transitive verb
1 : to make (a sensitized or hypersensitive individual) insensitive or nonreactive to a sensitizing agent
2 : to make emotionally insensitive or callous; specifically : to extinguish an emotional response (as of fear, anxiety, or guilt) to stimuli that formerly induced it
Now let me use it in a sentence:

I grew up in the 70s, so I'm pretty desensitized to floppy titties on parade by now.

Here are some things you could do instead that would definitely "freak out" the "normal people":

  • Bathe
  • That money you had saved up for the sex change? Invest it in petrochemical companies instead.
  • There are these things? Called jobs?
  • Exercise. Dancing the Spiral Dance every Esbat does not count.
  • Vote Republican

    That last one would really blow my mind. You could consider me freaked for life.

    But me and the other normals, we are just a teensy bit bored with the boobage.

    CREDIT UPDATE: Whoops, almost left that off--via Maladjusted.

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:01 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack
  • Well I Mean Obviously, HELLO

    "I was in band! I played the phallic TRUMPET! Surely that means I want to ride the SKIN TRUMPET!"

    You all just . . . just go read that. I've got to quit shaking with laughter long enough to get back to work.

    (Thanks for costing me money by tempting me into goofing off, Jim. Hey, why don't you just link another of those penguin games while you're about your deviltry, huh?)

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Unbreak My Heart

    Remember this?

    No mas.


    Posted by Ilyka at 07:16 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    I'm Whatever the Type Is That Forgets a Lot

    Was reminded of the Myers-Briggs tests by this, so I took a version for, what, the 46th time in my life? The 47th?

    I forget.

    Anyway, I'm only writing down what type it said because that way, the next time I fail to remember my Myers-Briggs designation, I can just look it up here.

    . . . if I remember, um, that I blogged it.

    (Oh gads. Have I done this before already? Now I'm too frightened to search it because, really, how embarrassing.)

    Partly I forget because I don't think these things have that much practical value. That's also why this part of my description cracked me up:

    ". . . most at home in the real world of solid objects that can be made and manipulated, and of real-life events that can be experienced in the here and now . . ."

    --and of course, internet personality tests are neither.

    Once I'd finished the damn thing I remembered that for the last 6 or 7 years I've come out this same way, ISTP--but I don't think I did always. Can you morph on these things a little? I think the first time I took one it came out INTP.

    If I remember correctly.

    Anyway, as I was asking the boyfriend in chat tonight, I'm not sure I buy it because supposedly this type is "the artisan," ooooh, and come on: What the hell do I craft? Lasagnas? Okay, I do make nice lasagnas, but it's not like an original recipe or anything. And I guess I do Civilization III maps and, uh, Sim houses.

    It's hardly the same as knitting you all cozy Argyle socks for winter, though, now is it?

    Do not even think of calling this site a "craft." Unless you mean like a seventh-grade, first-wood-shop-class kind of craft. In that case, yes. It is certainly craft-like, and mind the splinters.

    I think if this test is right I'm like the laziest possible version of ISTP ever.

    And the most forgetful.

    UPDATE (because my personality type is SUPER-IMPORTANT to you, the reader): This is a better description. The negative parts are all true, and I mean definitely and in spades:

    "equally difficult to understand in their need for personal space, which in turn has an impact on their relationships with others." Yes. You're occupying way too much of it.

    "they tend to become . . . inflexible . . . when someone seems to be threatening their lifestyle" Inflexible's a nice word. It beats "psychopathic."

    "communication also tends to be a key issue, since they generally express themselves non-verbally" I throw things a lot.

    "this can result in their being seen as thick-skinned or tasteless" Or as "stupid, self-loathing skank(s)," whatever.

    "they know they can get away with much smaller safety margins than other types" And if my time on the LBJ freeway is any indication, I certainly did.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:09 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

    At Long Last

    "Also, I wanted to tell you that my son has peed on me nine times since Monday."

    I have been in such suspense over this, you have no idea--but all's well that ends well. And I don't think I've ever been so happy for another human being--sorry, human beings!--I'm not personally acquainted with. It feels weird, but in a good way.

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:37 AM | Comments (3)

    Links Out

    My goodness, but you people have been productive lately.

  • Jim calls it a rant, but I think his anecdotes about his personal experiences working in union shops, and the lessons he learned about what unions can (will) or cannot (will not) do for American workers can't be dismissed as mere ranting. This is, frankly, sad--because unions used to serve some good purpose, and there have been times I've wished clerical workers had one. But ultimately there's no real worker protection--just discount tickets to local theme parks. Ugh.

  • Susan B. has a troll in the comments here. Now I admit, he isn't likely to dislodge Calli from the very top of the Troll Hall of Fame--blaming a woman's blogging about politics, aka "things that barely affect [her]," for her husband's recent death, is quite a showstopper; but castigating a woman for shooting a poisonous snake that was threatening her sister is also pretty low. Definitely a contender.

  • Judith Weiss wants contributions for a blogburst. Excerpt: "The theme will be the relation of Tisha B'Av to the destruction of Temple Mount archeological relics under the authorization of the Muslim authority in charge of the Mount, and the relationship of those topics to the ongoing propaganda attempts to erase Jewish history." I would be so in over my head on this one, I don't even dare try--years of Mormon, ah, doctrine, koff koff hack, have left me pretty theologically retarded, and I'm not up to speed on the Temple Mount destruction (but I am perusing the links at KT, and you should, too). If you want to help out, though, let Judith know.

  • Janette calls dibs on nominating Condoleezza Rice as an "iconic woman." Meaning no, I mean zero, offense to Janette, but not me--I find her recent diplomatic efforts very embarrassing.

  • The end of Solotude? Nooooooooooooo!

  • On the other hand, I think Kate's back in the game. Those hiatuses can grow on you, but in her case I'd rather they didn't.

  • Lastly and very definitely not leastly, Margi has a question: "Do you think of “blogging” as a new revolution in news gathering or just a new way to write a diary? Or something else altogether or something in between?" I gave my answer; now it's your turn.

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
  • You Have a Right to Health Care

    Jeepers, it's not about the right to food, guys, it's about the right to die.

    Oh, and abortion. Don't forget abortion. I'm pretty sure if you feed this fella, millions of women will be forced to give birth against their wishes. Because of, uh, the Christian Right or something. Do they have a Christian Right in Britain? Well, we can lend them ours.

    Anyway: Protect abortion and the right to die--starve old middle-aged guys.

    One down; so many more to go.

    (Via protein wisdom.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


    I haven't opened my virtual mouth on this one because the one time I even thought about doing it, I just squandered the opportunity and instead used it to call Hugh Hewitt a meathead. I am full of style and grace--or rather, I should never be let out in public; no, not even via the internet.

    Baldilocks, however, has been all over it--now even with a little something cheering.

    So that's where you oughtta be if you haven't been following reactions there already. And remember: It isn't nice to call people meatheads without seeing the CT scans first.

    Posted by Ilyka at 12:35 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    July 28, 2005


    I've been doing this two years today. That's two years down the drain, gone forever.

    Will you be very disappointed if I don't create a slide show to mark the occasion?

    I think I'll also maintain my policy of not giving blogging advice, and not reposting old stuff. That last is as much in my interests as yours, because I can't stand to look at it. Seriously. Some people look back over their annual output and feel pleased at the improvements they've made along the way.

    I look back and shriek, because I'm actually getting worse at this the longer I do it. At the rate I'm, ha ha, progressing, I figure maybe three more years, tops, and I'll be reduced to posting Mariah Carey lyrics.


    I am going to violate my not-writing-about-What-I've-Learned policy, though, because that at least I can keep short. It amounts to this:

    I don't know how not to suck, but I do know that if you go into this with the goal of making people like you, you've already set yourself up for a no-win. See, the people who refuse to like you will think of you as hypersensitive, and the people who do like you will nonetheless think of you as a toady. You'll get stuck between "Oh, she freaks out at the least little criticism," and "Oh, you can get her to say any damn nice thing about you for the price of a link." Then, there's a good chance you'll kind of despise yourself.

    (Unless you really are a toady, of course--in which case, keep on toadyin'.)

    That's really all I've got out of it--that sometimes I have to grit my teeth and say what I want rather than what will please. This is harder for me to do than you probably know. Don't get me wrong--I don't think of myself as some great Wielder of Truth here. I don't kid myself. It's just a dumb blog, and not a very successful one at that. But sometimes I have to kick myself into writing something I know is only going to earn me, yes, more kicking.

    Some system.

    Anyway, thanks a lot to all of you who've been here since back when and even those of you who haven't--the ones who leave me cheerful comments on even the stupidest stuff I come up with, you I love especially. That's the other thing I guess I've learnt from blogging:

    Most people out there are vastly nicer than I am.

    And that can be kind of encouraging and inspiring to me, actually.

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:56 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    Verbs That Must Die

    "Infantilize." We used to say instead that we babied a person--but that just didn't sound educated enough. Now we infantilize someone.

    Stop it before I give you beatings about the head with a copy of this.

    Remember, kids: You don't sound smarter by esteeming the Latinate word over the English one. You just sound more pretentious--not that using a serial-killer-style byline for yourself wasn't doing that already.

    Don't nobody argue with me about this one, either--this constitutes my firm and final opinion. You may, however, suggest your own please-kill-'ems in the comments.

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

    Great Moments in Fantasy Role-Playing, I Mean Lit-er-ah-CHOOR

    Oh, but it's cute when you do it to AmeriKKKa:

    If a kid wrote a passage of skinhead literature, he'd be sent to the shrink, possibly kicked out of school, and his parents would be getting a call from social services. Same goes for any social outcast that gave the slightest indication of violent fantasies, much less actually turning in a paper full of them. A kid who wrote a paper role-playing as a soldier in the desert blowing away every Muslim in his path certainly wouldn't be given an award. The passage "I hate the Iraqi People" wouldn't be allowed to stand.
    But we do, right? Hate the Iraqi people, I mean. That's why we stuffed 400,000 of them into mass graves and all. I mean we did that, even if "we" didn't "actually" do that, because, see, we used to support Saddam Hussein so it's like we did it. We did it before we didn't do it. Also, oil. And Gitmo. And Abu Ghraib. And see here: The only reason we haven't matched "our" previous 400,000 body count in those two places is because . . . I mean, we're working on it? Look, Saddam's gonna be a tough act to follow. We should put him back in charge, actually, so Iraq can be a sovereign nation again. Anyway, we deserve it, all of it, just for living in a filthy police state run by BushCo.

    But you knew all that already, right?

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Pissy Little Work Post II

    Do you know I've had people email me to ask how to get into medical transcription? It's true. As if this were something I'd be doing intentionally.

    There's some P.J. O'Rourke bit, I believe in Eat the Rich (but I'm too pressed for time to look it up), in which he explains the whole guns-and-butter economic, uh, thingie, using John Grisham and Courtney Love. The idea is, you start by assuming that Courtney Love can write trite, hacky legal fiction too, only, not as quickly as Grisham can; likewise, Grisham can write trite, hacky pop songs too, only not as quickly as Love can. And you end by concluding (after you actually, gasp, do some math--but it's very basic), that even though Love can do Grisham's thang and Grisham can do Love's thang, it's actually best, if you wish to maximize the quantity of both bad fiction and bad music, to let them each do their own hacky things, the ones they're, ah, best at.

    Don't ask me why you'd want to maximize output by either of these people. Just keep the general principle in mind for a minute here.

    I used to work a few places where this principle was understood and practiced. Sometimes this worked to my disadvantage--like when I worked at McDonald's and wanted to learn to work the kitchen. Management's reasoning was, "Why should we take a perfectly competent drive-thru worker, put her back in the kitchen where we can expect her to be perfectly incompetent for at least the first few shifts, and put Jorge, a perfectly competent grill cook, in the drive-thru, where he'll be perfectly incompetent for at least the first few shifts--and likely more, because Jorge no habla ingles?"

    My argument was simple. Basically it amounted to: "Because if you DON'T get me out of this #$@* drive-thru VERY, VERY SOON I am going to come to work WITH A GUN. I might aim OUT the window at the customers, or I might not. It depends."

    You have to loathe people a lot to beg to be closer to the grease and the grime, but believe me, after a year and a half of order taking--that's a year and a half of bitches begging me to change out their Happy Meal toys to appease Bratty and Snotty; a year and a half of assholes trying to cadge extra Monopoly pieces; a year and a half of halfwits wanting to know why we didn't serve onion rings--I really, really loathed people. Going home smelling of hamburger grease seemed a small price to pay.

    But okay, management had a point: In terms of benefit to the employer, taking me out of the drive-thru was stupid.

    This concept of keeping people in the jobs they're best at, so easily grasped by--for crying out loud!--people whose idea of higher education was Hamburger University, is still viewed with mistrust by my present employer.

    My present employer is all, "Wait--so, you say you hate typing acute care?*"


    "Why come?"

    "Because I'm not very good at it most of the time, and even when I am, it literally bores me to sleep to transcribe."

    "Well, but we're really backed up on acute care right now, so . . . ."

    So you know what happens? They start routing me discharge summaries (a horror I've already complained about here before) and preoperative history & physicals and consultation notes. And I type them, poorly at worst, disinterestedly at best, half-asleep the whole time. And I don't really make much dent in the backlog. I know, go figure.

    Meanwhile the ER starts backing up, as ERs are wont to do--particularly at night, which is when I work.

    So the next morning, while I'm asleep, a panicked email goes out to the team from the supervisor begging for help and overtime on the backlogged ER reports. In that email, the supervisor will claim complete ignorance of any possible cause of said backlog. It is for all practical purposes a magic backlog, able to appear out of thin air.

    Later, when I sign in that night, I will have a dozen emails waiting for me from transcriptionists who have no idea what Dr. So-and-So-of-the-ER is saying, and could someone please send them a sample? And they're so sorry, only, they normally work acute care and are only transcribing ER reports to "help with the backlog."

    That would be, yes, the backlog that could have been relieved, possibly even avoided altogether, by letting the ER people transcribe ER and letting the acute care people transcribe acute care, the way God intended.

    Really, it sounds so simple put like that.

    I don't know. I shouldn't complain--I'm lucky there even IS emergency transcription anymore, since I gather a lot of places are going to this point-and-click sort of system where the doctor just fills in the damn report himself.

    But do you have any idea how boring it is to transcribe a list of every conceivable risk associated with carpal tunnel surgery? I suppose I should make note of them, seeing as how it's what I'm destined for if I don't get the hell out of this line of work shortly. But every risk. Can't just say the patient gave informed, written consent, no. And maybe there's even some legal reason--hello there, HIPAA! And fuck you very much, William Jefferson Clinton--why every single risk has to be dictated, but there just is not enough coffee in the world to keep me awake through them.

    It all brings up a very valid question:

    If I'm going to be stuck doing work I'm not qualified to do, why am I not trying my hand at hacky legal thrillers?

    UPDATE ONE: And must all specialists be imported from India?--Oh, oh, I know, I know, how insensitive of me. And I must be the only person in America with this rancid cultural insensitivity, because heaven knows I hear nothing but love coming from people who call technical support for help with their PCs only to speak with the staff in Calcutta, am I right? If you think being instructed to "rrrrreee-boot jur Vwin-doze" is fun times, you should see what that accent does to phrases like "Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder."

    UPDATE TWO: I should be fair and point out that it is actually not my immediate supervisor who sticks me with this crap--it's the supervisors covering for her. I know this because when my immediate supervisor's on duty, this doesn't happen. I love my immediate supervisor, honest. But some of the rest of the bunch haven't the brains God gave a paramecium.

    UPDATE THREE: Did I have an email just now (the following day) requesting a sample transcription for an ER physician? Did that email come from a transcriptionist who normally works acute care but was "only helping out with the [ER] backlog?" Have I made a horrible vocational error? Would pounding railroad spikes into my eyeballs be a more productive use of my time? Is it poor professional form to "Dean scream" at a computer monitor if I do so in the privacy of my own home?

    *This is like, the regular hospital stuff--people who get admitted overnight for observation, people who get admitted to the hospital period--versus emergency medical, your basic emergency room visits, which is the stuff I actually don't suck at.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:36 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    July 27, 2005

    Clasificando el Correo Loco

    "I wouldn't trust Ricky Martin to properly sort my fucking mail, let alone take on the role of Arab ambassador in mercurially complex social polemics on a world stage."

    And alas, another celebrity suffers the delusions of competence. Will it never end?

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Hey Hey Hey

    There was a Cotillion yesterday. Ilyka was laid low by a migraine and missed it.

    What's your excuse?


    Fistful of Fortnights

    My Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

    Who Tends the Fires

    Or dance your shoes off at Cotillion HQ--

    The Cotillion

    --now no longer on Blogspot, hooray!

    I'll be one of the hostesses next week, incidentally, so try to be kind. Meanwhile, go check out the delightful and varied presentations by e-Claire, Sadie, Beth, and Denita. (Note to the boyfriend: I think you'll enjoy the Stones theme Beth did up this week.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    July 25, 2005

    As We Limp Along Through the Valley of Mediocrity

    Pretentious title for a nothing post right there. But hey, cheer up. I found you something: Cassandra the Inimitable examines what seems to be a fairly silly-sounding study about sex and submission. Go read that, 'cause heaven knows the well done run dry over here.

    I admit I giggled at this part:

    I get the impression a lot of these "studies" are driven by a feminist agenda.
    I just have a feeling that feminists might not like this study any better than Cassandra does. A Technorati search and a brief tour of a few feminist blogs didn't turn up any mention of the study, but I think it'd be an odd feminist indeed who'd cheer a study that essentially concludes, "See?--The broads like it when they're under your thumb (er, pelvis)." It's like anything else--some do, some don't.
    Posted by Ilyka at 04:46 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    July 21, 2005

    The Kids Are All Right

    I know what she means about "Generation Repeat," believe me. It's an accurate moniker, and I feel terrible for the kids today who'll be stuck with it.

    I only take issue with two points, really. First:

    We never stole from other decades. You didn't see us suddenly showing up for prom in flapper outfits or hanging out at the arcade with a pack of cigarettes rolled up our t-shirt sleeve.
    Oh, no? Sure, there's no cigarette pack tucked into a rolled-up sleeve, but that's only because Setzer eschewed sleeves entirely for most of the 80s, the better to torment us with the nauseating worm-white glare reflecting off his hideously wizened deltoids. But the look of the group harked back to what decade? The genre of music played had last been popular when, now?

    We didn't just strip-mine the 50s, either. Say! Whose face is that on the cover of Dramarama's 1985 release Cinéma Vérité?

    The Sedgwick look was all over the 80s. It's who Siouxsie Sioux is aping in this photo:

    Doubt me? I give you again La Sedgwick:

    Name nearly any fashion trend of the 1980s, and odds are it first appeared in the 1960s. Miniskirts? Check. Big hair? Check. Day-Glo? Check. Kohl eyeliner, geometric patterns, an absolutely raging love affair with black and white--check, check, check.

    Let's face it: We ripped off everything we could get our greedy little hands on. What didn't come from the 60s came from the 40s (crimped hair, shoulder pads) or the 50s (denim jackets, skinny ties). We ripped off everything, adding a few new things along the way. Unfortunately, few of those new things were actually any good. Anyone want to bring back fingerless gloves? Leg warmers? Yes, that's what I thought.

    Oh, but we had original movies and music, right? It's not like every 80s band cited the Velvet Underground as an influence or borrowed heavily from them in style. It's not like the album Rolling Stone named as numero uno for the decade took its cover art from the 1950s. It's not like one of the best-selling soundtracks of the era took all its music from the 1960s.

    The 1980s were one big love letter to the 50s and 60s. So I definitely think you've got to count us guilty on charges of ripping off decades gone by.

    The second thing:

    Stop buying into the whole "retro is cool" thing and they'll stop throwing our leftovers at you.
    Can we cut the kids a break here? First of all, kids are never an important demographic to the powers that be--because kids don't have any money. What money they do have comes partly from minimum-wage, part-time jobs, or . . . mom and dad.

    Not only that, but we've done our level best as a society to rob kids of any freedoms we enjoyed growing up. Kids used to have time to make up their own goofy senses of style, develop their own taste in music, pick out their own movies, because we used to give kids more than 5 minutes at a time away from mom and dad. Kids used to walk to school by themselves. Get dropped off at the mall by themselves. Go out to concerts by themselves. Hang out in the park by themselves.

    I never see teenagers walking around by themselves anymore, and I spent easily half my teenage years doing exactly that. Now? Never. Can't remember the last time I did see 'em. Even if they are out and about on their own, they're tied to home with cell phones. We never give them a moment's idleness. We never let them become independent.

    To top it all off, when something new does blow in, we mock it mercilessly. Emo music? Hahaha! Hip-hop? Hahaha! Jailhouse fashion? Pull your pants up, young man, and get a job--and take that do-rag off your head while you're at it. No, you may not grow dreadlocks.

    Plus, thanks to that 80s concept of greed being good, we own everything. And everything we own, we're consolidating. We're putting the squeeze on the little guy, the independent guy, every chance we get. So who's really to blame here?

    You know what we've become? Baby boomers. We won't shove the hell off the stage and let kids have a chance to define the culture. We won't let go. We still think of ourselves as the stylemakers. We're in that 35-50 demographic, that categorically-no-longer-hip demographic, and we still won't shut up!

    I mean it: I think if I were a teenager today I'd murder us.

    If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, think back for a minute. Were you ever disgusted by the incessant nostalgia? The Big Chill. Happy Days. The secular canonization of John Lennon and all the rest of the Beatles. Aretha Franklin guesting on Murphy Brown. Hell, just the fact that Murphy Brown, starring 60s B-lister Candice Bergen, was on the air in the first place. I grew up thinking, These people will never die. They'll never go away. I will be hearing James Brown's "I Feel Good" in every movie soundtrack for the rest of my life.

    You know why I like P.J. O'Rourke so much? Because he knew who to blame, and it wasn't the Kids in America:

    But I suspect it's my generation, the forty-year-olds, who are dragging this mummified decade back into public and presenting it to everyone in the cheerful gift wrap of nostalgia. Are we psychotic amnesiacs, maybe?
    Please, let's not be like that ourselves. Please. It's not the kids' faults they're borrowing everything from episodes of Behind the Music--we gave them Behind the Music. How old do you suppose the executive producer of that execrable Dukes of Hazzard movie is? Given the dates in his filmography--there are no projects listed before 1992--I'd have to guess he's one of us too.

    We're stifling the kids these days. We snoop through their LiveJournals and drive them to parentally-sanctioned events and just generally bother the daylights out of them. How and when are they supposed to come up with anything new when we're constantly popping up to cram our tired old crap down their throats?

    No. I, too, feel bad for Generation Repeat, but I can't fairly blame them. We're the ones who refuse to grow up and get off the stage.

    Posted by Ilyka at 12:44 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

    July 20, 2005

    What Did I Win?

    Silent Running today reminds me of Chris Rock checking the mailbox for his O.J. prize*.

    Everybody "Hey look at all them black people too happy talkin’ about 'Look what we won! We won, we won!" Hey - what we won? I ain’t get nothin’ yet! Every day Nat X look in his mailbox – nothin’ in there. Where my O.J. prize?
    I know what some of you are thinking: Oh, lighten up. The boys, they like a little cheesecake now and then. What's your man-hatin' problem anyway, bitch?

    Nothing. I'm just asking:

    What'd I win?

    See, if the title of the post was "When the West Wins, Some of Us Get Boners," I wouldn't have this problem. I'd be fine with that. But that's not the title. The title is, "When the West Wins, We ALL Win!"

    You see?

    I'd just like to know what I've won before I run check the mailbox. Don't want to get my hopes up too much in case it turns out to be strictly Crackerjack.

    *Go on, say it:

    "But Ilyka, everything reminds you of something Chris Rock once said."

    Well, yes. Pretty much.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:35 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    July 19, 2005

    Cotillion and Coffee

    Some things were just meant to go together. Take your next cup with any of these witty women:

    Annika's Journal, where a medieval theme rules the day.

    Dr. Sanity, who bids you hop aboard the carousel.

    My Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, where coffee is being served in the library.

    Girl on the Right, who has stars in her eyes this week.

    As usual, the shebang is also available in its entirety at The Cotillion hub site.

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Miles Away From Shore

    That's where I want to be--I'm tired of seeing Pauly's mug everywhere I go on the web. Can't we get him a drug problem? Convert him to Scientology? Marry him to Mariah Carey? Something, anything, besides . . . podcasting. Ech, I feel dirty just typing the word.

    I mean, Belushi's dead, but Shore's alive. Does that not seem wrong to you?

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:30 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Philosophy Is a Glob of K-Y on a Glove Religion

    Or so it seems to be for this poor bastard, anyway.

    Well, folks, there it is. Three rectal exams into my third year, and I have already proven that the Mind cannot be separated from the Body. Give me two more days to discover the cure for the common cold, and in one week I'm sure I'll have explained why I can't find a nice, good-looking, single Jewish girl. That is, if I have time to spare when I'm not washing my hands excessively.
    This is not a new blog, but it is a new blog to me, and thus I am pleased to announce that I love it like crazy. The next time I don't know what to do with myself I am going to go get lost in its archives--which, thank goodness, go all the way back to 2003. Yes! If this were like only his fourth post or something I'd be stuck spending the next few days waiting breathlessly for updates, but no, there are actual archives to wander about. Awesome. Terrific. Marvelous.

    Though, ah, hopefully they aren't all about rectal exams.

    I didn't even quote you anywhere near the funniest part of that post. You will want to read the whole thing--just maybe not over lunch.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    And Yes, She Knows There's a Log in Her Eye

    A neat, pithy response to that whole "you judged! You judged! Judger! I'm gonna tell Jesus you judged!" business always handed out so liberally (and nonjudgmentally!) to Christians:

    I want to remember that there is a hell, not so I can declare that people less holy than I am will go there, but because I want to make sure I don't go there myself. And in order to do that, I have to know the difference between Godly and ungodly behavior.
    Her observation about the difference between judgment and discernment is excellent.

    I have to remember to read Some Have Hats more often.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:05 AM | TrackBack

    July 18, 2005

    Hit It

    Hit it hard. Oh, yeah. Doesn't that feel good?

    Here's why I think you should take a sec to give Meryl your lunch money: Because she's my friend and I asked you to and come on, what more reason do you idiots need?

    Fine. It's like this: Not only is Meryl a fun person, she's a fun read--when she's, um, not being an educational read, or a poignant read, or an angry read, or an hysterical read, or a scornful read.

    Best of all, she manages to avoid everything about blogging that I loathe--Meryl does not rely on gimmicks. It's all original material. It must be exhausting work sometimes, but she does it. No quizzes. No catchphrases (okay, a few catchphrases--but none of that "heh-indeed" business).

    Drop her a fiver or more. Would it kill you?

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    July 16, 2005

    And Curse Sir Walter Raleigh, He Was Such a Stupid Git

    I love the internet, I do--but until it gets up to speed and starts performing the ordinary (but touching) actions of another actual human being, one I could send out to go pick up the coffee I should have bought the other day at the store but didn't, one who'd only complain a little bit about being sent on a dumb errand like that . . . what good is the internet, really?

    Exhausted. I have hours of work ahead of me. I need that coffee. I know, I should just grow the hell up and schedule a regular shipment from some online retailer who offers fair-trade shade-grown organic because . . . uh, well, the Amazon, you know, and support for indigenous peoples, right, and like pesticides, they're all toxins, whereas coffee is completely a health food.

    I would drink coffee ground exclusively from DDT-soaked beans harvested by six year-old slave children right now. I don't care.

    So tired.

    Of course this dreck is all you get on a Friday. It's what you get for only reading blogs while on the clock, you bums.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:58 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

    July 14, 2005


    In terms of thoroughness and accountability, you can't fault Molly Ivins' recent correction:

    This is a horror. In a column written June 28, I asserted that more Iraqis (civilians) had now been killed in this war than had been killed by Saddam Hussein over his 24-year rule. WRONG. Really, really wrong.

    . . .

    Ha! I could hardly have been more wrong, no matter how you count Saddam's killing of civilians. According to Human Rights Watch, Hussein killed several hundred thousand of his fellow citizens. The massacre of the Kurdish Barzani tribe in 1983 killed at least 8,000; the infamous gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja killed 5,000 in 1988; and seized documents from Iraqi security organizations show 182,000 were murdered during the Anfal ethnic cleansing campaign against Kurds, also in 1988.

    Good for her, but I'm more interested in what it says that she'd write a thing like that in the first place. How does one reach the point of "[asserting] that more Iraqis (civilians) had now been killed in this war than had been killed by Saddam Hussein over his 24-year rule?"

    Well, first, you have to have "heard it somewhere." And that's not difficult--Google "more Iraqis killed occupation" and the second result (at this writing) is an article from the CBC:

    Nearly 100,000 more Iraqis have died during the American-led occupation than would have been expected otherwise.
    If you recall how games of "telephone" work, it's easy to see how "than would have been expected otherwise" could eventually turn into "than were killed while Saddam was in power." (There may also be sources available which assert that directly; I admit I'm too lazy right now to look.)

    The CBC is citing the Johns Hopkins study published in Lancet, regarding which I'd recommend Fred Kaplan's treatment in Slate if you haven't read it already; particularly:

    That difference—the number of "extra" deaths in the post-invasion period—signifies the war's toll. That number is 98,000. But read the passage that cites the calculation more fully:

    We estimate there were 98,000 extra deaths (95% CI 8000-194 000) during the post-war period.

    Readers who are accustomed to perusing statistical documents know what the set of numbers in the parentheses means. For the other 99.9 percent of you, I'll spell it out in plain English—which, disturbingly, the study never does. It means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused deaths totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000. (The number cited in plain language—98,000—is roughly at the halfway point in this absurdly vast range.)

    This isn't an estimate. It's a dart board.

    Imagine reading a poll reporting that George W. Bush will win somewhere between 4 percent and 96 percent of the votes in this Tuesday's election. You would say that this is a useless poll and that something must have gone terribly wrong with the sampling. The same is true of the Lancet article: It's a useless study; something went terribly wrong with the sampling.

    (An explanation of the "95% CI 8000 - 194 000" notation used in the study may be found here. "CI" is "confidence interval.")

    So it's difficult to count dead Iraqis, as even Kaplan admits, and, well, what with all the numbers floating around I guess you could pick a set that favored your side and whip out a line like "I think we have alienated our allies and have killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein ever did."

    (I know I keep interrupting myself, and that must be very annoying for you the reader, and for that I am sorry, but boy, is that last column a cornucopia of laughs. This bit's taken the early lead as my favorite:

    The latest and most idiotic statement yet comes from Karl Rove, who is not, actually, an objective observer. He is George Bush's hatchet man.
    That's so objective of you to observe, Ms. Ivins! And you have to love that she felt the need to explain who Karl Rove is [in totally objective terms, of course]. You know, in case her readers didn't know already.)

    To think that we've killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein ever did, though, you must first believe that our military's not only capable of that (and in terms of firepower, it is) but that it's willing to do that, directly or indirectly, on purpose or by accident. You have to believe that hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians are acceptable to our military. You have to have very little contact with anyone actually serving in the military to believe that, or your distrust of them has to be so great that it counteracts anything servicemen and women actually tell you about how war is conducted.

    I don't know which of those it was for Ms. Ivins. I just know her set of underlying beliefs informed what she wrote, and that she held those beliefs strongly enough that they overrode any thoughts of verifying beforehand what she wrote, and that she holds a radically different view of this country and its armed forces than I do, and that I think my beliefs approximate reality better than hers do.

    Good on her for correcting the error. But no wonder I don't read her.

    (Via Tim Blair.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    July 12, 2005

    If It's Tuesday

    It must be Cotillion time. This week's hostesses:

    Feisty Repartee

    Sissy Willis

    Villainous Company

    Pay 'em all a visit--they're worth your time, and not just for this week's efforts. You greedy types, however, may just want to read the whole thing here.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    July 11, 2005

    Brief Holiday

    Crazy boyfriend bought spur-of-the-moment tickets to come see me (bless you, Southwest Airlines). Gets in tomorrow. Blogging will be light.

    And naturally the carpet needs vacuuming and the bathroom needs cleaning and the cat box, we're just not discussing the cat box. No.

    Meanwhile enjoy the hard work of others. Some things I've been meaning to link to and haven't:

  • Geek Empire backs me up on my theory that the biggest security leaks come from within. Security's his line of work, so he ought to know.

  • Cassandra has an eloquent defense of the womanly arts:

    My Mother and my Mother-in-law are both homemakers. They both work hard. They have always worked hard. If you do the job right, it is time-consuming and difficult work. Scrubbing floors and toilets is not what I would call a hoot and a half. Cleaning a dirty oven is not exactly a yuck-fest. Laundry and ironing are not fun. My mother hand-irons all my Dad's shirts, and they always look beautiful. She does the painting when their house needs it every few years. And all the gardening for their enormous yard. She is in her seventies.
  • From the traditional to the progressive: Ms. Lauren has a request:
    I know there must be some dudes out there that blog, but I can’t think of any. If you can think of any blogs written by people with external gonads, please leave them in the comments.
    I think the problem may be that men just aren't wired for dialogue, for the open communication style of the internet. The dudes, you know, they tend to be more visual, less verbal. I'm frankly not surprised that most of them prefer gazing at porn to maintaining weblogs. But if you find any, Ms. Lauren, let me know! It's not like I'm sexist or anything.
    Posted by Ilyka at 04:42 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack
  • July 08, 2005

    The Price of Scare Quotes

    Meanwhile, Meryl is angry. I was merely going to leave her a comment about her post, but then Haloscan flubbed up and wouldn't let me, or maybe I offended it somehow (no, I swear I did not call Haloscan a skank but, oh, aren't you just some funny, funny people for suggesting it) . . . and then I thought, I really oughtta just link it.

    Because she's right:

    I feel terribly for our British friends. But I maintain that Al Qaeda has been directly influenced by the world's refusal to call palestinian terrorism what it is: Terrorism. Bombings in Israel have been shown to work, especially in the area of public relations. Yasser Arafat, mass murderer of Jews, was fêted the world over and actually won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Europeans are secretly (openly, now) dealing with Hamas. They refuse to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

    As long as the world allows certain groups to use terror as a weapon and go unpunished for it, any group that wishes to do the same will continue to do so.

    Until the world recognizes all terror for what it is—and that includes terrorism in Iraq, and especially terrorism in Israel—the terror groups will keep bombing civilians.

    Let's stop ignoring the T-word, and call a terrorist a terrorist, and a terror attack a terror attack—no matter where it occurs.

    This is what the current favorite terror euphemisms--"insurgent," "militant," "activist"--do: They help us devalue suffering. They make it bearable. They make it "okay." They turn blood and body parts and missing fathers, mothers, and children into "just another" bombing. Just another day in Israel. Just another day overseas. Just another day in "that part" of the world. What? Oh, it's okay, dear, it's nothing, just another explosion, yeah, Israel or somewhere--I don't know, you ask me, that whole part of the world's a mess anyhow.

    It is not okay. Remember that the next time the news crawl mentions a deadly attack by Hamas militants. Remember how you felt when.

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:00 PM | Comments (3)

    Think of London

    I'll probably replace, temporarily, the link to "Any Soldier" in the sidebar today with a link to a charitable organization that can help with the tragedy overseas. (If you have any suggestions or recommendations of your own, please feel free to email me with them.)

    Beyond that, I don't much know what to do or say, save for noting that it's horrible.

    Or I could just echo Jonathan Pearce of Samizdata:

    No doubt much ink is going to be spilled in the next few days about the ramifications, the likely political fallout, the civil liberties implications, and all the other stuff we scribble about. All I want to add now is my condolences to those who have lost loved ones or been injured in these terrible attacks. And spare a thought for the doctors, nurses and other emergency workers dealing with the human wreckage caused by these scum.
    Posted by Ilyka at 12:33 PM

    You Know, I Think You've Made Your Point

    Yes, yes, all right, that's enough now. I get it: I'm a stupid, self-loathing little skank.

    Say! Did you know small groups of words--like, say, stupid, self-loathing little skank--remain perfectly readable even through the strike tag? Which, granted, does usually signify a correction or retraction; only, traditionally, what's being corrected or retracted isn't something quite so inflammatory as, uh, stupid, self-loathing little skank.

    See, people tend to dislike having their sites linked just below descriptions like that. Did you know that? Did you know I'm already very tired of seeing that link, from that post, among my referrers?

    Remove it, please. You've had a thorough--a very thorough--apology from me, one I'd be more than happy to publish if it came to that, which naturally I hope it does not. I'm also relatively certain I'd remember it if I had called you any names, but . . . ah . . . um . . . er, no. No, I definitely didn't. Not once. Not ever.

    So altogether, I don't think I'm asking for anything excessive here. Just, you know, remove the link, and then I'll remove this, and that'll be that. Thanks.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:03 AM

    July 05, 2005

    Get Your Shoes On

    --you're going to the Cotillion, honey. Dance in the main ballroom

    This Week's Cotillion

    . . . or with any of these charming hostesses:

    The Anchoress Online

    Little Miss Attila

    Reasoned Audacity

    Steal the Bandwagon

    For those of you not quite clear on how it works: With over 45 members of the Cotillion, now, the selected posts for the week are divvied up among 4-5 Cotillion hostesses; that is, if you visit The Anchoress you'll be reading different selections than if you visit Steal the Bandwagon.

    In theory, all Cotillion "dances," or collections of posts, wind up at the hub site, though I'm only seeing two hostesses who have cross-posted their efforts there as of this writing. (Ahem.)

    Your best bet, then, is to just waltz around and enjoy the company.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Love Letter

    July 4, 2005

    My darling--

    To answer your question: Yes, I did receive your last letter. It arrived at my residence Tuesday last.

    My delay in replying may, I fear, be taken as an indication that (notwithstanding your apology, which I do note in said letter) I remain deeply wounded by several remarks in your epistle prior.

    Beloved, know you not how my heart aches for you? How it leaps with joy at the very thought of you? How it trembles with fear at the thought of losing you?--Then why question my fealty, my devotion, my allegiance? Whence this distrust and uneasiness on your part?

    Indeed, have I ever in the course of our love--a course which has seldom run smooth, alas--given you reason to doubt my intentions? For perhaps what grieves me most is to see your beautiful eyes cloud over with wariness, fear, and doubt. My fairest angel! I cannot bear to see you in such distress and to sense--nay, to know--that you suspect me of causing it!

    Let us consider the very nature of love--its purest essence, as given voice in its most glorified expression. Is it not, in fact, akin to a prayer? For that is how my hours are spent in sweet torment, my love: praying. Praying fervently, desperately, unceasingly for you to change.

    What folly it is to equate Purest Love with unconditional adoration, my sweet! When a mere child, even a brute animal--when even an untrained puppy is capable of such crude emotion as mere acceptance--how then can it be of any value? It cannot be, my love; it cannot. I will not offer you such meager, worm-ridden fruit when my love drives me upward, to the highest boughs, in search of that exquisite reward: The most perfect You that can be envisioned by man or by God, on earth or in heaven.

    Heed me, dearest!--I note your faults only that you may work to eliminate them. I note your failures only that you may surpass them in victory. I note ever and always your deficiencies, that you may make up such shortcomings with the aid of the bounty of my love for you.

    You weep bitter tears when I say that you are grown fat, though it is but my love's dream to see you slender. You rail at me when I say that you must talk less and listen more, though it is but my love's dream to find you demure. You despair when I say that your hair has lost its luster, though it is but my love's dream to see it shine as of old.

    Do not be foolish and fickle, my love--though I fear that also is a shortcoming you too often exhibit (please work on that). Do not be swayed by the flatterers and the sycophants, nor by the deceivers who claim that their highest expression of love for you can be found at last in that ultimate sacrifice which is Death. Oh, how I shake with rage at their chicanery! For what good can a man be to you dead, my darling? Of what use, to what end?

    Who would tell you when you err, who would guide you out of folly, who would correct you--who would, eventually and after much labor, perfect you, were I to lay down my life? Can it fairly be said that there is anyone so enamored of you as to suffer your weaknesses and foibles hour upon hour, day upon day, night upon night?

    Nay, these scoundrels would have you believe that their unsophisticated, cowardly (yes, cowardly! For it is a coward who fears to speak the truth, even when it is unkind), dog-like acceptance of who you are now, versus who you can become under my (I fancy) skillful tutelage--these shallow fools would convince you that their crude embrace of you in your present shabby state, clung to even at the moment their pitiful lives reach ignoble ends . . . is love.

    That they claim theirs is a better love, a purer love, a more worthy love than my own infuriates me no end. Indeed often, too often, I am kept awake nights by it, though as you know. I do require my rest if I am to be most effective in curing you of your many wretched habits. Such is my life's work; know always that is my only dream, my highest endeavor. In fact, I wonder that you do not praise and admire my efforts oftener (please work on that).

    I am weary now, after this evening which I have regrettably been forced to spend--again--repairing the defects in your reasoning, an activity which, though exceedingly tiresome for me, I nonetheless revel in performing, for only thus can I say with truthfulness and joy overflowing my heart:

    I love you!

    Yours ever,


    P.S. In my haste to reassure you of my love, I had nearly forgotten to beseech you, please, to cease dressing in colors that do not suit your complexion. It is vexing to me that such beauty as you have should be clothed unflatteringly in colors that bring up the bile in those members of the public unfortunate enough to come upon you wearing them. Please work on that.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:41 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    Well, That Was Different

    I'd just finished getting dressed after a nice hot bath when there was a knock at the door. Odd. You wouldn't think people would be out soliciting on the Fourth, would you?

    I looked out the peephole and saw a smiling, sweating, elderly gentleman, wearing a yarmulke and some sort of black, robe-like garment over a round white collar. Over this ensemble hung a Star of David, handsomely crafted in silver and turquoise.

    It's true you can't be too careful with strangers, I thought to myself, but this fellow doesn't look like he'd give me any trouble. Poor man must be dying of thirst out in this heat under all that clothing. I'd better at least let him in and get him a glass of water.

    "Top o' the evening t'ye, lassie!" he fairly roared when I opened the door. "And a fine Fourth O' July to you and yours as well."

    "Come in," I urged, "you look like you're halfway to heat stroke."

    "Hotter than the devil's own hindquarters it is, aye," he agreed as he bumbled through the doorway. He lowered his voice as though to share a secret with me, and asked with a wink, "Ye wouldna be against sharin' a wee nip with a poor old man like meself, now, would ye, dearie?"

    "I've only got a few fingers of peach-flavored vodka in the freezer," I apologized. "I have a bottle of cabernet, too, but I'm afraid I can't get you a glass of that as I seem to have misplaced my corkscrew. Would you care for a vodka tonic, er--"

    "Begorrah!" he shouted. "What in Hades have I done wi' me manners? 'Tis that I was so anxious to escape the heat, you see, that I've clean forgot to give ye my card," he continued, presenting me with a sweat-dampened business card that read:

    Congregation Beth El Fatima
    "Ye Are the Light of the World"
    xxxs S. Church Street
    Las Cruces, NM 88xxx
    Tel. (xxx) xxx-xxxx

    "Blessed Rabbi . . . ." I murmured, confused.

    "Aye, lassie. Be a good child and fix us a drink, now, and we'll chat a spell."

    I tucked the card absentmindedly in my back pocket as I entered the kitchen, exiting shortly afterwards with two vodka tonics and presenting him with the weaker of the two (I thought I had smelled whiskey on his breath when he greeted me. That's all I need, I'd thought, a drunk Rabbi in my living room).

    After taking a sip--more accurately, a gulp--he sighed approvingly. "She's no Bushmill's," he noted a bit sadly, "but she'll do, aye, she'll do. A humble Rabbi like meself can't be complaining, now, can he?"

    "That's a beautiful Star of David," I complimented him, still a little thrown by his mixed-up attire, but wishing to be polite.

    "Indeed it is!" he cried, beaming. "Indeed it is. A fine work of art, crafted entirely by artisans of the Jicarilla Apache Nation." His pronunciation of Jicarilla was flawless. "Still mostly a heathen lot, you understand, but we're making great strides there. Aye, great strides."

    "Is yours a reform congregation, then, Fa--er, Rabbi?" I asked.

    "Reform congregation!" he bellowed, slamming down his glass with such force it made me wince. "Reform! Miss, I'd no more have aught to do wi' Reform Judaism than I'd have to do wi' the bloody Papists!"

    "Rabbi O'Shaughnessy," I scolded him, "I'll have you know that I was confirmed in the Catholic Church two years ago." Boy, was I starting to be glad I'd slipped an extra half-ounce into my vodka tonic.

    "Oh, there, lassie, I meant no offense," he said soothingly. "Tis only that I prefer a bit more orthodoxy in religion than the Reform branch can offer. That," he added with a reflective sip of his drink, "that, and I'm bloody tired of being addressed as 'Father' where'er I go."

    "Well, the robes--" I began, only to be silenced by another outburst.

    "Aye, the robes!" he thundered. "Canna God's children see past the outward appearance? Has He not warned us of the folly of concerning ourself wi' such matters? Does Matthew 6:28 not ask, 'And why take ye thought for rainment?' Is not the lesson then--"

    "Fa--Rabbi," I interjected desperately, "Matthew's a book in the New Testament."

    "And are ye presuming to explain the Torah to me, then, miss? Thought you'd show up an old Rabbi, did you? Och, you're a spitfire, ye are, an' prone to pride as well. That's one o' yer seven deadlies, ye know." He shook his head and made a "tsk-tsk" noise at me.

    "But the Torah and the New Testament are two different things, Father--"

    "RABBI!" he shouted, enraged and enpurpled. I was starting to think it had been unwise of me to put any vodka in his drink.

    "Rabbi," I corrected myself, not wanting to upset him further. "I mean, if you look to the Torah and to the New Testament for guidance, aren't you sort of . . . I mean . . . aren't you . . . ."

    "Don't say it," he warned.


    "I've had it up to me eyeballs wi' being called Christian," he practically spat. "Me, one of the goyim! Why, 'tis to laugh, 'tis. No, the Temple Beth El Fatima is as Jewish as they come--an' a fair bit more Jewish than some synagogues I could mention, were I of a mind to engage in idle gossip, which I am not," he concluded with another belt of his drink (though I thought I heard him mumble "Temple Emanu-El" under his breath just before he swallowed it).

    "But to the purpose of me visit, now," he said more gently. "I've come today, Miss, to offer you the chance for everlasting life and salvation in the kingdom of Heaven."

    "Oh, you're sweet, Rabbi," I said, smiling, "but I've already changed religions once, you know. I think I'm about at the limit. I don't quite trust people who hop from one to the next, do you? They always seem a little flaky to me."

    I'll be damned if I could figure out why, but the Rabbi's expression of shock at my (I thought) innocuous response was unmistakeable.

    "Lassie!" he whispered, staring bug-eyed at me. "Lassie, are ye tellin' me . . . can ye be tellin' me, then, that ye've ne'er heard the Good News?"

    "The--the Good--the what?" Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn't have had any of that vodka either.

    "Is it that yer no better than a plain heathen, miss? Do ye not know--'An' God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son'--"

    "Now look here," I interrupted, getting cross. "Believing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God is Christian. What are you trying to pull here? Christian. It means 'follower of Christ.' As in, not a Jew. You can wear all the Stars of David you like, Rabbi, just as I could observe hijab and call myself a Muslim, but as long as I'm believing in the divinity of Christ--"

    "There, there now, don't be so literal-minded, lassie," he urged me. "Ye'll get nowhere bein' like that. Besides," he added, "ye haven't attended rabbinical school, now, have ye?"

    "No, but--"

    "And yet you'll presume to debate theology with a graduate of Lebanon Baptist Seminary!" he crowed. "Well, then! That's settled. Ye're clearly out of yer league here, miss." He shook his glass at me. "Now ye wouldn't be havin' a bit more o' that vodka handy, would ye?"

    "I'm afraid I don't, Rabbi," I said coldly, moving to the door. "Now if you don't mind, I'd like you to go. I'll keep your card handy, of course, but I've got errands to run and you can't stay."

    "Sure, sure," he agreed, rising. "Can I put you down for a donation before I take me leave?"

    "What?--No!" I spluttered at him, before my curiosity overcame me and I asked, "A donation for what?"

    He winked at me and answered, "For remodeling o' the sacristy, lassie. She's been needin' repairs for a spell now, but the rains this last spring--"

    "You," I scowled at him, "are either insane, or a scam artist. Temple Beth El Fatima! Honestly!"

    "Peace be with you," he smiled, making the sign of the Cross as I shut the door against him.

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:45 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    July 04, 2005

    Paranoia, the Destroyer (of Workouts)

    I think I'm leaving off comments on this one. I don't need some well-meaning halfwit to show up and lecture me about how I shouldn't feel this way and it's really all my problem.

    It is not my problem.

    Fucking hell, some days I hate being female.

    So I have this sort-of routine set up where I try to do 30 minutes of cardiovascular and 20-30 minutes of strength training Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays I just do 45 minutes on the treadmill. I say it's a sort-of routine because it doesn't always come off quite like that.

    Today, for example.

    I'm real near the end of my 30 minutes on the treadmill when some beefy middle-aged guy who isn't a regular, and looks it, puts his key in the lock of the workout room at my complex. I'm not thrilled about this because I'm an antisocial bitch and so far I've had the room to myself, other than a nice elderly woman who was there for the first five minutes watching some overblown drama on Lifetime--but at least, I figure, I'm halfway done already. I won't have to put up with him for long.

    But his key doesn't work.

    I deliberately keep my eyes on the television. I'm not getting off the treadmill and letting him in. Do you know why? Because my attitude about that sort of thing is too fucking bad.

    I mean, how do I know the guy lives here? How do I know he's not a rapist?

    Go on, laugh--but it's not funny. The workout room is technically in the public view in the sense that it's near the office, but the office is closed today for the holiday. And while the main fitness area has windows people can see into, the restrooms are tucked down a hallway off to the side, a hallway with no windows, and if someone dragged you back there . . . .

    It's not funny! They put locks on these things for a reason: To ensure that only people who are supposed to be able to get in can get in.

    Your key doesn't work? Well, ain't that a shame, Cletus.

    So I don't get off the treadmill, but this jackass keeps trying to unlock the door for at least three minutes, ensuring I get to feel really uncomfortable about not letting him in. As I said, however, I'm an antisocial bitch. I can live with being uncomfortable. Hell, I feel uncomfortable around people most of the time. It's my default state. I'm used to it.

    Then he wanders off and I think, oh, thank goodness.

    Then he comes back.

    Tries his key for a couple more minutes. I'm not even enjoying Designer Finals anymore. DAMN it.

    Wanders off again. Returns with one of the residents he has dragged from the pool.

    Who proceeds to let the guy in with his key.

    Do you know why security in this country is a farce and a joke? Do you know why we could seal the borders tomorrow and people who wanted to get into the U.S. would still be able to? Because some friendly, good-natured, gullible jackass can always be counted on to let them in.

    "Sure, stranger! Lemme just get my key here--boy, these locks, huh? Real aggravatin'. I dunno why they put 'em in. Seems like it's all just a big hassle, Mr. . . ."

    "Bin Laden."

    "[click] Well there ya go, Mr. Bin Laden, she's open. Come on in! I hope you enjoy your stay and I hope you'll permit me to welcome you to the U.S. of A."

    "Thank you. Death to the infidel!"

    "Oh, izzat how you say howdy where you're from? Well all right then--death to the infidel! Ha, ha! Boy, you Brazilians sure are a fun buncha folks."

    It's useless. Useless. You could lock everything up tomorrow, it wouldn't matter. Some yokel who thinks it's "mean" to leave someone locked out will fuck it all up in an instant.

    I don't care if I'm mean. I've said so before and I'm standing by it. I didn't like the vibe on this guy when he was outside trying to get in; I liked the vibe on him even less when he did get in.

    Something was just off--maybe the way he went straight for the lat pull-down machine without any warm-up whatsoever. Maybe the way he did only a handful of reps on that before moving to another machine. Maybe the way he seemed to prefer machines that were between me and the door.

    I'm not the kind who sits around puzzling why I get bad vibes when I get them. I don't sit there beating myself up for having them, either. Sure! Maybe I'm paranoid. Maybe the guy just hadn't used the workout room in awhile and they'd changed the locks since the last time, and thus his key no longer worked. Maybe he only dallied at the machines because he really is out of shape and lacks stamina. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But the worst that can come of me being paranoid is that some guy I don't know thinks I have a hostility problem, and see, I already know I have a hostility problem, so big fucking deal.

    No, I'm not one to chastise myself for not being more friendly to strangers. I'm one to just walk out.

    Furious, and feeling like I need to run this anger off all over again.

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:54 PM

    Technical Difficulties

    I don't know what the heck's going on, either. Be patient. And quit laughing!

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:59 PM

    July 03, 2005


    So when I lived in the Phoenix area my ex-fiance and I used to head out to Ricardo's whenever we had a cold, and actually pretty often when we perfectly healthy.

    I think by now the effects of capsaicin on mucous membranes are pretty common knowledge, so we'll dispense with why it was so helpful when you had a cold. I'll just mention that good salsa is both cheaper and more nutritious than most over-the-counter decongestants, and we can move on with this.

    We always suspected Ricardo's was owned by Mormons, but this was in those dark times before the internet when you couldn't just trot home and look that up, so I'm not sure--but Ricardo's didn't have a liquor license. That was the down side. It's a little odd munching on chips and salsa and washing them down with a coke.

    But there were up sides, like the food.

    What made me Ricardo's bitch for life was the green chile tamale, an entire $4.95 with rice and beans, and maybe $1.00 extra to have it covered in green chile sauce and melted cheese.

    Then I moved to Dallas and never tasted anything so delicious again, except maybe the grape leaves at Hedary's--maybe.

    It's occurred to me that it might be helpful to tell you what tamales are, although then again, maybe not. I never know if I'm being condescending if I suddenly go all Wikipedia on you people, i.e., "a tamale is . . . ." Yes, yes--we know, Ilyka, shut up. My relatives in New York tell me they have Mexican food there now. I mean besides Taco Bell. So maybe this is not news to you; however:

    Basically to make a tamale you take corn dough, masa harina, and whip it up with lard or shortening (note: lard's great for biscuits, rice, and pastry, but for this I prefer shortening), and then pat it out into a 3/8"-inch-thick rectangle about 4" x 6", and spoon a little filling down the center (pork is popular, though the variety I'm talking about here is vegetarian, just green chile).

    Then, you sort of package it all up so the filling's in the center, and you wrap it in a corn husk and steam it until it's all cooked through.

    Now I know the way I just described it makes it sound like mere stuffed cornbread, but tamale devotees know that it is anything BUT stuffed cornbread. The trashiest of the white trash can make you stuffed cornbread, but good tamales are an art.

    As someone who's tried and so far failed to make them properly at home, I can tell you: They're simple in concept, easy to screw up in execution. If your masa harina is poor quality, they taste stale. If you don't get just the right balance of fat and harina, they come out too greasy or too crumbly. If you don't steam them long enough, they are doughy in the center. If you steam them too long, they toughen. If you overhandle the dough, they are too dense. If you don't work the dough enough, they won't hold together. And so on.

    It is really easy to make bad tamales, is my point. And Dallas restaurants know all about bad tamales.

    A Dallas tamale is maybe an inch in diameter--oh, never mind the dimensions and the details; a Dallas tamale looks like the end result of a week of constipation, basically. Dallas tamales are tiny and bullet-like and tough as nails. The pork-to-dough ratio is nauseating; it is like they tried out for the taquito team, didn't make it, and decided to call themselves tamales instead. They are inevitably served with red chile if you're lucky, and chili con carne if you are not. (Dallas does not acknowledge the existence of salsa verde, even though you can buy tomatillos in any supermarket there. But no, your average Dallas chef would rather take those innocent tomatillos and saute them with bok choy and linguine, and open a fusion restaurant.)

    You know how the explanation Tolkien gave for the origin of the Orcs was that Melkor perverted a bunch of elves and then bred them, being unable to create any life of his own? That is the Dallas tamale, right there. It is the Orc of the tamale kingdom. It is sad. I gave up ever ordering tamales in Dallas because even to look at one made me cry.

    Anyway, the other day I saw a dozen tamales labeled "green chile" in the frozen section of the Albertson's, and naturally I tried to convince myself that they could not possibly be any good, that it would be foolish to buy them, and besides, hadn't the tamale broken my heart enough in the last decade? Then I threw them in the cart anyhow.

    It turns out they are good.

    They are not Dallas tamales.

    They are joyous, fluffy little creations with just enough hot to offset the bland masa, even without sauce and cheese on top.

    I will never live anyplace that does not have green chile tamales again.

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


    An American Housewife unexpectedly lost her husband this last week.

    Please do what you can. As Beth says,

    Obviously, money won’t bring back her husband, but maybe we can give her one less thing to worry about.
    Carol, I am so sorry. I don't know you well but I have recently been enjoying your weblog immensely, and . . . I just can't imagine how painful this is. Please know that people are thinking of and praying for you.
    Posted by Ilyka at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    You Pick (I Picked Last Time)

    This ought to work about as well as my begging for comments ever does--that is, poorly--but it's like this: I look over the past week, and I have really posted nothing of consequence, nothing of interest, nothing . . . Cotillion-worthy.

    Some of you email me links now and then. Well, this is your golden opportunity: Pick a subject, general or specific, that you'd like me to write about. Make sure it's at least vaguely political or current events-ish because, you know, it would be poor form for me to submit something about what detergent I use or how my diabetic cat is doing (fine, actually).

    I don't want to drag down the group, is the thing. So make it good. You don't have to provide a link--a simple "what do you think about x" or "I'd really like to see you give the business to y" would do.

    And please: No Pandagon links. We've tilled that fertile soil enough lately, I think.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:17 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    July 02, 2005

    I Miss It Already

    Oh Dallas Morning News, you were the best paper EVER (requires registration BugMeNot).

    Just . . . not quite in the way you think you were.

    "GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING" UPDATE: Pink-handled branding irons!

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:14 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    Why I Am Not a Radical

    Basically, because I read about something like this and my most radical thought is, "Or, we could use the day to celebrate the historic founding of a country that will one day, 229 years hence, permit a bunch of fun-killers to co-opt it for their own moronic purposes without putting them in jail or stoning them to death or anything."

    Well, one woman's fun is another woman's poison. Remember, though, the next time you want to mock ol' Red-State Bubba, with his pickup and his 30-pack of Budweiser, for using the Fourth to blow off his right thumb with illegal fireworks, that we have our idiots, and you have yours. You go right on ahead and keep yours.

    (Via Maladjusted.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:20 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    One of Those

    I don't mean to sound even dumber than usual, but do you ever have days you wish you could just break up with yourself?

    "I'm sorry. It's just not working out. I care about you, I want you to be happy, but I think maybe I don't have what it takes to make you happy."

    "It's not you; it's me. I'm just not emotionally ready for this level of commitment."

    "I know you have feelings for me, and I have feelings for you too, but they're not the right kind of feelings."

    "I want you to know, whatever happens, I hope we can still be friends." (Said right before changing the locks and the phone number.)

    "One day we'll look back on this moment, realize it was the right decision, and have a good laugh over how close we nearly came to wrecking each other's lives."

    Feel free to suggest your own. Oh, and first person to go all concerned and sympathetic on me, I ban from the blog. I'm just not ready for that level of commitment right now, okay? I need my space.

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:28 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    Well Doesn't That Blow All

    Caltech Girl says Petsmart is axing Iams and Eukanuba.

    Terrific. I'm still waiting for the first Las Cruces store to open up, and now they're not even gonna carry the only stuff that doesn't turn my longhair cat into a puke factory.

    As for Science Diet, I haven't met the animal yet that will eat it willingly. I know, it's like I just issued an invitation for six people to leave me comments about how much their beloved pets adore Science Diet. Well, bite me. My cats won't touch the stuff, and it costs a fortune besides.

    Guess it's off to Wal-mart. Last I checked, they carry Iams.

    Petsmart, you stupid pricks.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:23 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

    Immigration: Screw You for Trying to Do It Right

    You have a better one-line description of current immigration law? Because after reading this, I don't:

    I have done my research, contacted several immigration attorneys and got the same answer. For my aunt to stay, she will have to immediately go back to Korea and then wait for a minimum of 10 years (as long as 12) while she is processed. She's 61 now. To wait that long will mean she will be unable to enjoy what our country has to offer, she will be unable to see her young nephew grow. I have to tell you, March was the first time in 23 years that my mom and aunt had seen one another. I had never, ever met her. It was 30 years since my dad had seen her last. To wait another 10 years would be torture. She is independent. Would not get social security as she never worked here, and would not be dependent upon the resources of the state. She simply wants to spend her later years with her sister.

    . . .

    The failure of immigration in the country is that for those wanting to come to America legally, the process is so time consuming and difficult that it makes it an impossibiity. . . . Meanwhile, we are overrun with illegal immigrants that our country chooses to largely ignore because afterall "undocumented individuals have rights too" WTF? They get to trample my rights as a citizen because they are minorities. I got news for ya! I have been a minority all my life. I have never asked for a handout, never asked for a break, never asked for a group right that I wasn't already entitled to under the Constitution. What I ask for is fairness. The system is not fair.

    No. It isn't. And when you look at what it takes to get here legally, it's not hard to figure why so many don't bother with the formalities. I'd be swimming the Rio Grande myself if I were stuck in Mexico with little work and less pay. I'm not kidding. I might blame the current system we got, but I'm not blaming the people who'd rather try to beat it than starve.

    When the system grants amnesty to those who provide cheap labor, but penalizes a 61 year-old woman and her family for wanting to dot all the i's and cross all the t's--for wanting to do it right--something's backwards.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:54 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    July 01, 2005

    Hot Town, Summer in the City

    I'm now indebted to Erica for pointing me to this Ask Metafilter page about cheap options for cooling an apartment in the summer.

    From the sounds of it, the person asking is living in an older building in maybe New York or Chicago, so the poor guy's dealing with a different kind of heat than I am. On the other hand, it has been 100 degrees or more here for the last week. That qualifies as pretty damn hot, even if it isn't as muggy as a bathouse full of fat gay men, to leech an apt simile off of Andrea. Weaning myself off my fanatic air conditioning dependence might be a good idea at least in the evenings here, though, when it cools off pretty nicely (hooray for elevation!).

    That reminds me, Dr. Alice asked me how I was liking Las Cruces (some others have asked it as well; it's as if you care or something). I haven't posted about it because what I do here mostly is launch whiny tirades, and when it comes to my new habitat, I got no complaints, see? So New Mexico-wise, there's nothing to launch a whiny tirade about. I could gripe about the speed limit for the entire state*, barring the interstates, appearing to have been set at 35 miles per hour, but you know something? This is a little town, with little traffic, and it turns out that if I don't have to fight 700 pissy Dallasites to get where I'm going, doing 35 miles an hour isn't a bit rough at all, even if back in Dallas they shoot people for driving that slow, or at least accuse them of being from Arkansas.

    So basically it's beautiful here and I love it. Really.

    Foodwise (oh, you knew that was coming) I have become hooked on this and one of these weekends I mean to see about whipping up a batch. I'm a fan neither of stews nor of chili, but this stuff is heaven in a bowl.

    *The boyfriend and I visited Albuquerque once--he's from there originally--and it was that way there, too. Ditto Santa Fe. So I'm guessing it's like that in most NM cities, but correct me if I'm wrong.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:28 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack