December 31, 2005

For Dinner I Am Having Blueberry Pie

$4.99 for a Marie Callender's at the store is not too shabby. It's baking now. I will wash it down with some fine cham-pag-nuh:

And will you look at this refrigerator? It is so seldom this full of this many fine healthy things that I was forced to photograph it:

This is going to be a damn good New Year, that's what. I hope yours is too. (I have started on the brandy, so you may expect me to wish you that roughly 63 more times before it hits midnight here in the MST.)

P.S. That container on the middle shelf, far right? It is not Linda Blair's pea soup from The Exorcist; it is green chile sauce. Obviously, it tastes 40,000 times better than it looks, or it wouldn't be there.

Posted by Ilyka at 09:02 PM | Comments (2)

Damn Technology

All right: What batteries do you use in your digital camera? What batteries should I use? If your answer reads anything like this, I swear I will ban you from the site. Any solution that even hints at soldering is automatically out because, remember: Your hostess is retarded. Nothing flammable should ever be brought anywhere near her, and just shut up about the cigarettes already.

Battery recommendations appreciated. NO SOLDERING. NO HOBBY SHOPS.

Posted by Ilyka at 06:17 PM | Comments (9)

Swap Meet Louie*

Your tax dollars hard at work, protecting the country from knockoff Prada.

I know I'm sleeping better tonight.

*Because who can resist Sir Mix-A-Lot rhymes, right?

Posted by Ilyka at 04:23 PM | Comments (1)

It's the Little Things That Set Me Off

The backstory: Some Townhall columnist wrote a piece mocking political blogs by observing that:

Some bloggers also offer superb commentary, but most babble, buzz and blurt like caffeinated adolescents competing for the Ritalin generation's inevitable senior superlative: Most Obsessive-Compulsive.

Obsessive-compulsive? I don't know where she's getting that. It isn't as though I ever had a furious little fellow link the same blog post of mine every day for a week, just to emphasize how much he disagreed with it.

Anyway, Q & O says she's kind of right, kind of wrong--something about a broad brush and not all blogs being political, blah blah, and hey, what about all those other blogs that make up the 14,000,000 estimated blogs out there:

If, as comScore Media Metrix reports in their August 2005 study, the blogosphere is broken into 7 nonexclusive blog groups (political, hipster lifestyle, tech, blogs authored by women, media, personal and business are the categories in order of descending popularity) then the portion of blogs which give Parker heartburn are very small indeed.

Who are these comScore Media Metrices, and how do I hit them? I never realized my sex autocategorized me into a group that could be listed with "political, hipster lifestyle, tech . . . ." in, apparently, all seriousness. You can go into market research now even if you failed beginning Sesame Street, I guess, because one of these things is definitely not like the others.

I suppose their asses are partially covered by the "nonexclusive" modifier, i.e., a weblog could be dedicated to the hipster lifestyle (is this really a sizeable genre? Please kill me) and authored by a woman; but a weblog could also be a chronicle of tech industry trends and authored by a man, yet I am not seeing "blogs authored by men" listed in comScore's seven nonexclusive blog groups.

And why would it be? Blogs authored by men are the default, the norm, right? Any deviation from the norm must necessarily be noted and labeled appropriately.

So you can be famous and on teevee like Ariana Huffington and Michelle Malkin--two examples of "blogs authored by women" that comScore provides--but, having been found guilty of the offense of vagina possession, it's into the women-authored category they both go--together. Hope you like sharing a cell, girls. Next time, try to pee standing up.

I wonder if what we're going to see in the next few years is a clash between women who enjoy this distinction because it means they get to have fabulous conferences about it, and women like me who'd rather we just dispensed with the distinction entirely. So you got a pussy! And you write a blog. How very wonderful for you. I really do not know how you do it, what with all that menstruation to get done every month.

You can go share a category with this, this, and this. They all have so much in common--like, you know, girl parts and stuff.

And that trumps everything. It's what you get for deviating from the norm.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:43 PM | Comments (7)

December 30, 2005

An Update to the Smoking Post

I really need to get out and do some errands but a recent comment reminded me that I should correct something in that damn smoking post:

The author of the book I bought myself does NOT say cigarette smoking is merely a habit; on the contrary, he goes to great lengths to dispel the idea that it's only a habit. He definitely considers it nicotine addiction. Actually, this might be the best way to explain it:

recipe for becoming an asshole smoker

Carr would actually label the pink circle "brainwashing;" I just prefer an Ed Wood reference. His point is that the addiction is certainly part of the problem, but it's not that big a part of it, because smokers can sleep through the night without waking to feed that addiction; therefore, "I could never go eight hours without a cigarette" is bunk. Smokers regularly go eight hours without a cigarette, easily.

So obviously the worst part of the problem is right up there in your stupid, stupid mind. This surprises me about as much as finding out that eating too much can make you fat--and yet, I am definitely having some light-bulb moments reading this book. I do not hate this book and I haven't thrown it against a wall yet. That is good.

I may write more when I've finished it. In the meantime, I thought I should correct my mistake in the original post. And no, I really don't know WHAT I was thinking when I wrote that. That post was apparently authored by my stupid, stupid mind.

Posted by Ilyka at 06:36 PM | Comments (0)

Happy New Year, Let's Get Wasted

I don't mean to be a huge fun-killer, but I thought maybe some of you might be interested in some of the recent discussions on addicts and addiction over at Hog on Ice.

How Addicts Spread Joy at Christmas

Book Report

ManCamp Again Already (Did I really just type "ManCamp" on my weblog? Shit, I think I did.)

The Smoker is Still King

Keep in mind: Some of these posts don't get around to the addiction stuff until after the important stuff, like food, has been reported on. If you think I'm being sarcastic about the food being important, you probably only just found this blog today. I am not being sarcastic. Food is very important.

You might like these posts. I should emphasize "might." Chances are, if you are or were an addict, you're not going to enjoy them so much. That's because they're written by and for people who've had to put up with addicts and, well, those people aren't always too sympathetic to the struggles of the addicted.

Is that because they're hardhearted judgmental assholes? Sometimes it is; most of the time, it isn't. Most of the time, it's because they've had their sympathy exhausted by all the crap that goes with having an addict in your life--the late-night phone calls from jails and hospitals, the stealing, the lying, the lending-and-borrowing-and-getting-stiffed . . . having an addict around is like trying to live your life in the middle of a blender set permanently to "Whip." Good luck getting your bearings in that environment.

"But the addict didn't do all those bad things! His disease did them." Fine, I don't disagree; but what do you see when you look at an addict? What do your eyes tell your brain? What impression registers?

Here's what you don't see: You don't see a big black curtain labeled "opiate addiction." You don't see bilious gas forming the word "alcholism." You see a person. If the person you see does not want to get well--and can we be honest? Some addicts DON'T want to get well--it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between the disease and its victim.

Your eyes don't see a disease. Your eyes see a person. When you bail someone out of jail for posession, you don't see it as bailing out a disease, even though, in a way, that's just what you're doing. You see it as bailing out a human being--a human being who woke you from a sound sleep, agitated you beyond belief, and cost you money to boot.

That is a damn difficult thing to get past and forgive, especially when it happens over and over again. And bad behavior by persons in the grip of addiction is definitely something that happens over and over again, as many times as they can get away with it, until they've sucked you dry and have to find someone fresh to leech off of.

So these aren't posts designed to make the addicted feel better. I'm sorry--no, wait. I'm not sorry. Drug addicts already have a wealth of resources available to make them feel better, to help get them well. Yet I can't tell you how many times I've transcribed reports on addicts who flat-out tell the doctor that no, they're fine, thanks, not really interested in pursuing rehabilitation at this time.

The doctor shoves a bunch of pamphlets and brochures into the addict's hands anyway, because he has to. It's his job.

But it's not MY job. My job is to be happy and productive in spite of addicts, alcoholics, and other troubled, dependent people. My job is not to get down in the muck with them, because that accomplishes nothing and helps no one--including, and perhaps especially, the addict.

New Year's Eve can be a time of pain and anguish for people with addicted loved ones. Instead of a time to tip back a glass or two of champagne and enjoy the company of friends and family, it's a time to eye the telephone warily: Please don't ring, please don't be my sister/cousin/father-in-law calling from the emergency room/jail/the dealer's. It's a time to jump at every knock on the door: Oh no, please don't be Barney/Thelma/Pedro/Ana, quick, hide the booze, hide the silver, hide my purse, hide my wallet, hide ME.

It's people tormented by the addicted who might enjoy these posts. And you know something? You should enjoy them.

You're not the problem. You deserve a happy New Year and a happy life.

Posted by Ilyka at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2005

Things I Sometimes Miss About Dallas

This is probably going to be a pretty short list.

I feel bad running down Dallas all the time. For some people it's home. And some people really love it. And it's not the worst place on earth, by any means.

But it's not a place I could ever drum up much affection for. I tried, believe me. I lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for 11 years. You can't say I didn't give it a chance.

For all I bash it, though, there are some aspects of life there I get a little sentimental about. Now that my boyfriend's moving here, my only connection to it will be that my parents and brother are still there. I figure that makes this as good a time as any to remember the positives:

1. Samuel C. Jackson's Super Bowl party

You remember Samuel C. Jackson? He threw the best parties. He had a little house out in Garland and we'd head out there for Labor Day or Fourth of July, lugging a cooler of cheap beer (hey, that's all anybody else was bringing), some chips and dip, and maybe a bottle of wine for SCJ as a thank-you.

But the Super Bowl parties were the big ones. Samuel C. Jackson worked as a waiter at various upscale--really upscale--restaurants in the area. He could assemble a pretty diverse crowd that way, and this was his genius: He knew who'd get along together. The guy was a master host.

You know how some parties, everyone segregates into cliques of 3-4 people? And there's no mixing or mingling among cliques? At all? Samuel C. Jackson's parties weren't like this. He could get the technical writer talking to the sommelier talking to the housewife talking to the tattoo artist . . . he knew which people would get on with each other, regardless of class or background.

One Labor Day we ended up talking to some fellow from Quebec part of the night. Now, if you'd told me beforehand that I'd be talking to some guy from Quebec that night, I'd probably have snorted, then launched into my Celine Dion impression. But it was actually a very pleasant conversation. We refrained from saying "Ha ha, Quebec," and he refrained from saying "Ha ha, Texas."

Samuel C. Jackson also made the best Jello shots you ever had. He did each tray of them a little differently from the others, and every time we'd start on a new tray of them, he'd explain what he'd done with this particular batch:

"So that last tray, I used up the rest of the Citron, 'cause I think that blends really nice with the lime, right, so you get these little fuckers that don't taste strong, but they are. So it's kind of a stealth buzz. But these guys . . . these guys are grape and cherry, I think--is it cherry or strawberry, Mac?--yeah, cherry, with Everclear. So watch out, because I put a fuckload of booze in there. Might burn a little going down."

To most people, Jello shots are Jello shots. To Samuel C. Jackson, they were an art.

Yes. I will definitely miss the Super Bowl party this year.

2. Driving faster than 35 miles per hour.

I really hope this one is mostly self-explanatory.

Dallas people drive super-fast and super-stupid. Nearly every person in Dallas thinks he or she is a good driver. Nearly every one of them is wrong--spectacularly wrong.

I've probably added years to my life just by not driving the Dallas freeways anymore, but driving is no longer as fun, either. I even kind of miss the Mixmaster.

Wait. No. I don't.

3. Two airports.

Now I don't even have ONE airport. I gotta drive 50 miles to El Paso to get on a plane.

4. KRNB, one-oh-five-DOT-seven, and WRR, classical 101.

If want classical music now I have to listen to the NPR station. And (1) they play mostly terrible short pieces and (2) they talk endlessly and very, very slowly after each one. It's not worth it. I basically never listen to classical anymore.

Plus, WRR would broadcast the Dallas city council meetings every Wednesday afternoon. This was fun to listen to in the way that listening to something that makes you want to scream can be kind of fun, in a cathartic way.

As for KRNB, I can get two hip-hop stations where I live now, which is a bonus, but I have no more classic soul/R & B. I miss 105.7 in the worst way.

5. "More restaurants per capita . . . ."

This is one of those annoying little facts that every person in Dallas can recite in his sleep. It's said to shut you up when you complain about all the chain restaurants, and Dallas is awash in chain restaurants.

Luckily it is also awash in every other kind of restaurant. Russian, Greek, Lebanese, Ethiopian, Indian, Italian, French, Thai, Vietnamese, Jewish, Moroccan, German, Polish, Japanese--you can find something to eat there; you just can't use the restaurant reviews in the Dallas Morning News to find it. For some reason that stupid fucking paper, which I do NOT miss, would only really give thumbs-up to expensive nouvelle cuisine restaurants. Thank you, Dallas Morning News, for breaking the news that The Mansion on Turtle Creek serves flawless food. I actually already knew that, but I wasn't looking to drop $200 over brunch, you class-obsessed little poseurs.

I miss this place and this place particularly.

6. St. Thomas Aquinas and All Saints parishes.

I was baptized in the first but wound up mostly attending the second (it was closer to where I lived). St. Thomas Aquinas is worth looking at if you're into old-school church architecture, though it's not actually that terribly old; I believe it was originally built in the 1950s. The priest there gives the best homilies and the choir is fabulous, if you're into that sort of thing, which I am.

As for All Saints, I loved its stained glass mural, which you can just barely make out at the top center of its web page. I WISH I could find a larger image of it, because it has to be seen to be believed. It's attempting to show, I think, that Jesus loves everyone, people of all cultures--but that attempt goes a little . . . I mean, it's kind of . . . look, one of these days I'll have to see if I have an old bulletin lying around that I can scan the image from for you.

For right now, all I can tell you is that some of the people Jesus loves include a fellow down at the left whom I immediately nicknamed "Bob from Accounting," and a hazy group of space aliens in the upper right. Yes, ALIENS. Close Encounters of the Third Kind sorts of aliens. I don't think the artist was trying to depict aliens--I think they were meant to suggest people so far in the background that you can't see them properly--but they happen to look exactly like aliens. Peace be with you, whichever galaxy you hail from.

The whole decorating scheme at All Saints is 1970s: Orange velour-covered pews. Naugahyde kneelers (these are very comfy!). I loved it. It's kitschy in the extreme.

So that's what all I miss. On the other hand, I have sunshine every day here. I can see stars at night. I can see mountains. I can enjoy a daytime sky of blazing bright blue dotted with ridiculous puffy clouds and a nighttime sky of intense indigo dotted with constellations. I can shiver in briskly cold breezes every night. All this AND tamales. My cup runneth over.

No. I'm not too broken up about leaving Dallas.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:21 PM | Comments (11)

Sassing Back the Search Engines

To the three apparently discrete entities searching for "Avon World Sales Leader:"

You got the wrong blog. I'm more of a Mary Kay person, actually.

To the person at the Equal Opportunities Commission searching for "Dirty Hernandez:"

That wasn't me either. I would never use that term and I'm rather sorry someone here did, even if it is apparently just the name of an alcoholic beverage.

I'm particularly sorry that I'm the second result for that search. Watch it, Jim! You're on fuckin' notice.

Finally, I am not a business, I don't employ anybody, and you clearly need more work to do if you've got time to sit around the office Googling "Dirty Hernandez."

To the person in Maryland searching for "Ilyka Damen:"

Well, yeah, that's me, but do I know you? I don't think I know anybody in Maryland--no, wait, maybe. Oh dear.

Anyway, it's creeping me out, though I'm not sure why. You'd think, given that I started a blog, that it would make me happy to see someone's actually interested in finding it; but it doesn't, and it's just further evidence that I'm probably not really cut out for this sort of thing.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:01 PM | Comments (3)

Ith the Ambitious

As predicted, everyone hates me for the "seven things" thing:

HUGE DISCLAIMER: I never do these tag things. Ever ever! The only reason Im doing it is because Ilyka started blogging again, which made me very happy, which made me think she needed the positive reinforcement of playing along with her evil twistedness -- just this once.

I'm sorry! I'll never do this to anybody again, not least because it's turning this site into a damn LiveJournal.

Ith is of a creative temperament, and it shows:

Seven Things To Do Before I Die
1: Attend a Viennese Ball, maybe even in Vienna, complete with fancy dress. Escort optional, since Im a realist and not totally in a fantasy world here.

Hey, never say die! Anyway, that's definitely not an item I'm seeing pop up on every third list. A Viennese ball? That would sound so pretty to me if only I didn't have two left feet. (I forgot to include "dance" on my seven things I cannot do.)

I also liked:

Seven Things I Cannot Do
1: Knit (I can crochet)
2: Play a musical instrument.
3: Stop a Nuclear Reactor from melting down.

. . . because it's important to know your limitations in life. Anyway, more whimsy here. Enjoy.

Posted by Ilyka at 01:43 PM | Comments (1)

December 28, 2005

How to Eject an Agoraphobe from the House

1. Live next door.

2. Have this dog who "normally" lives with your mom "because it's kinda mean to keep one in an apartment, you know?" (Note: Yes, I do and yes, I think dogs need a real house with a real yard to play in.)

3. Have Mom bring the dog over for a "holiday visit" with you, his "real mom." [Cough.]

4. When the dog freaks out at his unfamiliar surroundings and begins whining in the most heartbreaking yet thoroughly nerve-scraping way, DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO APPEASE HIM, on the grounds that "he'll get over it, eventually."

5. Repeat for hours and hours.

Actually, I lied. This isn't how to get an agoraphobe out of the house. This is how to make a dog-murderer out of an animal lover.

I know, I know: It's not puppy's fault. But you can't hear puppy, and I can. This NOISE. My GOD. I would trade this dog for a set of colicky 9-month-old quintuplets so fast, puppy wouldn't even get in a goodbye yelp.

I'm going to kill this bitch. The owner, I mean, not the dog.

Well . . .

. . . no. Definitely just the owner.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:48 PM | Comments (2)

Best 'Seven Things' Thing

Meryl indulges in a little creative counting, and a truckload of attitude:

Seven Things To Do Before I Die
1. Find Ilyka and smack her upside the head for tagging me with this particular meme
2. Visit Israel during Christmas season (so I can be in a place that mostly ignores it; I will be nowhere near Bethlehem on that trip)
3. Visit Israel during Passover
Screw it, Im tired of this.

Eh, it was worth my getting knocked upside the head. Maybe it'll bash some sense into me.

But probably not.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:28 PM | Comments (4)

Tech Jocks

I like geeks. I like coders. I like engineers. I like technical writers. I even like testers, and come on, nobody likes testers.

But I hate tech jocks.

Tech jocks aren't very bright. In days of yore they'd have been middle managers at Radio Shack. Or Sears. Or Braniff. Or Chrysler.

But then someone, somewhere, gave them idea to go into "the IT industry."

Now we all suffer. Sweet merciful heaven, how we suffer.

It is left as an exercise for the reader to guess some of the ways in which this page depresses me to the bone. Go on, guess. I would list them myself, but every time I look at the page title--not even the page itself, you understand; the page title, currently taunting me from another Firefox tab--I lose all will to live.

I'm going to try to go back to school this spring. I'll get a degree in CS, simply because that's what I'm closest to having a degree in.

But I don't think I'll ever work in software development again. Who would? Oh, right: Guys who believe that all you need to know is "time is money." Guys who write statements like "Energy and Attitude it [sic] the key to Success." And MEAN them.

You know what the problem is? Geeks can't beat anybody up. If they could, they'd have weeded these bozos out of "The .COM Market!!!!" twenty years ago, back when it might have done some good.

Now we all suffer.

(Sort-of-inside-joke note to Hubris: Did you notice he's even doing gun fingas? Except not in a cool way. Holy banality, please kill me this instant.)

Posted by Ilyka at 03:58 AM | Comments (10)

December 27, 2005

I Have a Confession to Make

Sometimes my brothers and sisters in Christ annoy me.

A lot.

I knew I'd have occasion at some point to lift this picture from Zendo Deb. I just didn't think it'd be this soon.

Here's a big favor I think we could all do for the Lord: Quit arguing that Intelligent Design is science.

It isn't.

You can't convince people it is. Because it isn't.

And, bonus, it bolsters the working theory some people have that Christians are irretrievably stupid. This does not seem to me much of a strategy for doing our part to help Him gather a people unto Himself from nation to nation, you know?

The funny thing is, I think people who agitate to have Intelligent Design taught alongside evolution think they're doing just that--helping to spread the Word. I have the same reaction to this as I do to people who think we should tax the daylights out of everybody in order to aid the poor:

What are YOU doing to help the poor? No--I mean you personally?

Me, I'm not doing as much as I need to. But I'm also not out there arguing that the government should be able to take more of your money, in order to provide all that aid I'm not giving myself. I may be sinful, but by gum, at least I'm consistent, and I'm not compounding my sin by stealing from you to cover for it.

That's why I don't like people trying to shove ID into science curricula. It's a cop-out. It's a dodge to relieve oneself of the burden of setting a good Christian example, by attempting to institutionalize the conversion process.

And if you're worried that learning about evolution might lead someone away from God, I'd like to know what kind of faith that person had to begin with, if it's shaken so easily.

I think sometimes people forget that faith is not supposed to be easy. It's supposed to be hard. I have days I look longingly at my copy of Why I Am Not a Christian and think, "Oh Bertrand, Bertrand, why ever did I forsake thee?" Then I remember that Russell was a miserable, cranky old socialist, and I'm okay again.

I guess I'm more philosophically aligned on this issue with a commenter at Ace's named Michael:

Despite the efforts of Augustine, C.S. Lewis, and others I suppose, I don't think anyone has accepted Christianity on the basis of a rational "argument" in the classical sense.

Typically, atheists want to "debate" religion, as if the outcome depends on who has the best rational "argument." Their (rather naive) assumption is that left-brain-dominant linear thinking is the only way of "knowing" the truth, because that is all they know.

Unfortunately, many stupid Christians attempt to engage them at this level. It doesn't work.

Right. And if God could be reasoned into easily-verified existence, who'd need faith?

Anyway, people for whom this subject is something of a passion (no pun intended, I swear) may enjoy the discussion here. Be warned: Lively, but long.

UPDATE: I neglected to mention that my husband* totally kicks ass in that thread. I insist he put his feet up and allow me to fetch him a tasty beverage this minute. That's his only flaw, you know: He's so driven, he sometimes works too hard.

*You remember the wedding, of course.

Posted by Ilyka at 11:43 PM | Comments (6)

He Figured He Was a Grown Man

So says the mother of one of the teenaged suspects in the murder of reservist Paul Berkley, explaining that she'd never approved of her young son's affair with Paul's wife, Monique:

Christine Canty told the newspaper that she had been bickering with her son about his affair with Monique Berkley for the better part of a year.

She didnt sit right with me from the moment I met her, she told the paper. It bothered me because she was older, and I wondered why she was hanging out with my son. He figured he was a grown man and could do what he wanted.

. . .

This year, Andrew Canty told his mother that he and Monique Berkley had begun a sexual relationship, Christine Canty told The News & Observer. He allegedly moved in with her in April, a few months after her husband shipped out.

Andrew Canty's age is reported as 18 currently, though I don't know if he was a minor when he began this affair or not. If he was, I can think of a number of things mom could have done to call a halt to this, including calling Child Protective Services and notifying Paul Berkley of his wife's infidelity.

You'd think a man might deserve to know if his wife's moving a little underage booty into his home while he's away, wouldn't you? But no, let's leave these decisions up to a mere boy who figured he was a grown man. Ain't none of our business anyhow.

(Via Little Miss Attila.)

Posted by Ilyka at 06:24 PM | Comments (1)

December 26, 2005

This is What it Amounts To

Periodically, in someone else's comments, some wag will bring up my promise to blog as a dude and wonder whatever became of that, not that I blame them for asking. It's a fair thing to wonder.

Here's what became of it: I forgot, when I said that, that I am lazy. Blogging as a dude and really trying to make a go of it, plus really trying to disguise myself effectively, would unfortunately require this thing called EFFORT.

No small amount of effort, either. First of all, as some of you already know from comments I've left with you, I have a fairly distinctive IP address that identifies me as being from, well, where I'm from--at least roughly; sometimes it gets the city wrong. But the "wrong city" it uses most often just happens to be one of the few cities that people outside New Mexico recognize as being from New Mexico. Obviously, it'd be a little too coincidental if suddenly there were some center-right male blogger running around leaving comments at some of the blogs I frequent with that same IP address.

Therefore, if I wanted to get my guy blogger any kind of reputation at all, I'd have to have him comment places using another IP address.

Well, there are certainly proxies available for that, though many of the free ones will not process POST commands in an effort to thwart spammers. Still, it could be done.

The thing with a proxy, though, is that you only have to forget to use it once to get busted--and I am, in addition to being lazy, extremely scatterbrained, so I'd definitely mess it up at least once. At least. I'm thinking of how many people suspected who Article III Groupie really was, because of just those kinds of errors.

The story of Article III Groupie brings up another problem, one I had not considered originally, but which became more important to me the more I thought about it:

I realized that I always found it horrifically offensive when a male blogger pretended to be a chick. Remember this guy? Or how about this guy? I can't stand either of 'em. To pretend to be a chick means you think you know how chicks are. To pretend to be a chick means you reduce being a chick to a set of mannerisms that you can don and remove at will, like a masquerade costume. It's demeaning to actual women.

Well, the same holds in reverse: To be pretend to be a man means you think you know how men are. To pretend to be a man means you reduce being a man to a set of mannerisms that you can don and remove at will, like a masquerade costume.

It's demeaning to actual men, don't you think? I think now that it's a very arrogant, ignorant, presumptuous thing to do, to pretend to be someone of the opposite sex, with obvious exceptions being made for the stage, for literature, or for any other medium in which it is clear to the audience that the work is fiction.

But to do it as a con, as a ha-ha-fooled-you sort of prank, no. I don't think I like it.

The final problem I had with blogging as a man was that what I thought I wanted to do with that project was write about politics, politics minus so-called "women's issues."

I forgot the part where I'm really not interested in writing about politics at all anymore. I don't believe anyone's ever been convinced of a thing through argument, and that's what political blogs mostly facilitate: argument. You can call it "debate" or "discussion" if you prefer, but it all eventually degenerates into argument, at least in the absence of a heavy-handed comments moderator. And of course, if your comments moderator is too heavy-handed, you wind up killing all debate and discussion entirely. You get an echo chamber.

I'm not trying to insult people who run political blogs. If that's your thing, great. I probably even read it--certainly if you're on my blogroll, I read you. It's cool if that's your thing. I respect it, honest.

But it is not my thing, and here's why: If I blog about politics, some of my readers understandably begin treating my blog as a political blog, behaving as though they were in a political climate, one in which things can be debated and discussed. Unfortunately, some of them then bring that very same "free to question, nitpick, and argue" attitude over to my personal posts, like they're on fuckin' Crossfire or something.

And guess what? My personal shit is not up for debate, you assmonkeys. Most people get this, but it's just stunning to me how many people don't. It ought to be easily determined with a quick quiz:

Q: Is this post about anyone in Washington, D.C.; Baghdad, Iraq; or any political leader or event anywhere in the world?

( ) YES--feel free to argue.
( ) NO--if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

Anyway, this is how it's going to be from here on out:

1. Meryl's blog is designated a "No Israel-bashing Zone." This blog? This blog is designated a "No Feminism-bashing Zone."

2. Pay attention, because this is important: I will decide what is feminism-bashing and what isn't. Don't be shocked if I decide to give miles of leeway to people I like, and virtually no leeway at all to people I loathe. If I think you're a creep and you fem-bash, even in a way that I secretly agree with, the part where I think you're a creep is going to trump my secret agreement with your expressed sentiments. (I intend this, incidentally, as incentive for people not to be creeps.)

3. Is that fair? NO. But this blog does not exist to be fair to you. If it's justice you're after, go troll a forum. Maybe if you kiss up to the administrator enough you'll get promoted to moderator, and then you can dish out all the justice you like.

4. Or, you could run your own blog, and be as fair or as unfair to people as you please. Don't bother tracking me back, by the way--I've never been happier since disabling trackbacks. Trackbacks are the devil's tools and disabling them is God's work, people.

5. That said, if you're afraid I won't notice what you wrote, and you honestly think I'd like to read it, feel free to email me with a link. The address is up top at the left under "Got Something On Your Mind, Sparky?"

Context is everything. I'm a big believer in that. I make a concerted effort to adjust my behavior to my host's expectations on any blog at which I comment. I know Andrea doesn't want to hear from me when I disagree with her, so guess how I handle that?--I don't comment when I disagree with her. I know some of the guys at Ace of Spades like to indulge in a little chick-bashing now and then, so guess how I handle that?--I join in, or I bash the guys a little back. I know the commenters at Feministe are more liberal than I am, so guess how I handle that?--I phrase things more deferentially there than I might in a group of right-wingers, because I'm the outsider, the uninvited guest, and they're the regulars, the invited and the welcomed.

Here is what I do not do, figuratively speaking: I don't go to strip clubs to complain about all the shocking nudity, and I don't go to church to complain about all the God-talk. I adjust to my surroundings.

And so help me, so will people here, or they'll be o-u-t OUT. Dissent, crushed, with a twist of lemon and a dash of bitters.

This may not be a feminist blog per se, but it is certainly a blog by a feminist. I am through being fair and patient and understanding towards anyone who refuses to grasp that.

ADJUST.

Posted by Ilyka at 06:39 PM | Comments (8)

Before I Break All Your Kind Links

You can get to this page with just http://ilyka.mu.nu/ now. Are you happy? By cracky, you'd better be happy.

I'll delete main.html sometime this week probably, just to warn you.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:42 PM

The 'Seven Things' Thing

Sigh. From Lauren:

Seven Things To Do Before I Die
1. Get stupid undergraduate degree so stupid people can lay off my stupid ass about my being so stupid, the stupid yuppie bastards.
2. Visit Russia and Eastern Europe, particularly Poland, and I'm not just saying that to make up for insulting Polish people earlier, either. It's a long story. I just want to go. When I was little you couldn't go; now you can go; I'd like to go. The end.
3. Learn Spanish, properly this time. This Spanglish ain't cutting it no mas.
4. Own a really fast car, and learn to drive it properly--preferably somewhere where it can be driven properly, if we haven't set the speed limits to 25 mph (or whatever that works out to in km/h) by then, you know, to save the ozone layer.
5. Go completely balls-out blonde. I mean bleached. Actually, I'd settle for just getting that done before it's all gray. I've had highlights, but that's not the same. Anyway, I certainly wouldn't maintain it, but to have it just once would be fun.
6. Pay my mom back. This is a long story and we're not getting into it here, so don't ask.
7. Tell someone who's really being an asshole in public that they're really being an asshole. In public. And say it without flinching, without remorse.

Seven Things I Cannot Do
1. Tread water. This is very embarrassing because no one ever believes me, so they try to teach me, and we waste 15 or 20 minutes, and how does it always end? "Wow. You really can't tread water." No kidding. Take comfort, o mine enemies: I am easily drowned.
2. Play pool. This is another one that people need to quit trying to teach me.
3. Wink.
4. Live in harmony with nature. Nature has a really nasty insect problem, have you noticed? Fuck nature.
5. Tolerate the smell of bananas. Oh man, I don't even like typing that.
6. Lauren can knit, but says she can't crochet. I'm the opposite: I can crochet, but all I can do with knitting needles is stab myself repeatedly.
7. Pull-ups.

I'm going to put the following back to "Seven Things That Attract Me to My Mate," which is another version I've seen out there, instead of "Seven Things That Attract Me to Blogging," only because I'm not sure I'm attracted to blogging so much as addicted to it. I keep trying to quit it and it keeps finding me. Often I literally hate it, and one of these days I mean to quit it for good. Anyway:

Seven Things That Attract Me to My Mate
1. He calms me down. I don't know how obvious it is to you, the reader, that I'm kind of a spaz, but I'm kind of a spaz.
2. For every nine jokes I make, he'll make one. But his one will be better than all of my nine put together.
3. The things he's insecure about are not the things I'm insecure about, and vice versa. We complement each other well that way.
4. His eyes. They're gorgeous.
5. You don't want to know this one, and I'm not going to tell you.
6. He's taller than I am.
7. And at least 100 times nicer, kinder, and more generous than I am, too.

Seven Things I Say Most Often
1. Yeah, the f-word. And too much Valley Girl speak, i.e., items 2-4:
2. Seriously.
3. Totally.
4. Completely.
5. I'm not kidding.
6. You have no idea.
7. This is terrible, but: "You cocksucking asshole motherfucker." This is, like, my worst cuss save for one. Believe it or not, 95% of the time it is said to inanimate objects. If I accidentally spill cat litter on the bathroom floor, I will address the spilled litter as "you cocksucking asshole motherfucker," not caring that it can't suck cock, doesn't have an asshole, and isn't fucking anyone's mother.

Seven Books That I Love
1. A Tree Goes in Brooklyn.
2. What Do You Care What Other People Think?
3. All the Anne books.
4. All P.J. O'Rourke, but especially Eat the Rich and Holidays in Hell.
5. The Essential Ellison.
6. Rock This--and you, you just shut up. Right now. I know it's basically a transcription of his comedy routines. I don't care. How's your novel coming, anyway? You ever make it through National Novel Writing Month? Mmm, that's what I thought.
7. Bright Lights, Big City. Am I the only one who kind of likes Tad Allagash better than the protagonist? Not all the time, but some of the time? And am I the only one who thinks "Tad Allagash" is the best character name ever devised by an author? Try changing it and seeing if it still fits the character--it doesn't (Tad Rubinski? Tad Petersen? Tad Sharif?). He could only be called Tad Allagash. ". . . drugs to be hoovered, dances to be danced, women to be Rubinskied"--oh hell, no. It's just so wrong.

Seven Movies That I Watch Over and Over Again
I just want to echo Lauren here because I don't like movies much either. And we all know what the first one's gonna be anyway.
1. Urban Cowboy. You think that's bad? It gets worse.
2. Saturday Night Fever. Look, I don't know what my thing with early Travolta is either. I just know it beats recent Travolta. And oddly enough, I never did have a crush on him--not when he was Barbarino, not when he was Tony Manero, not when he was Buford Uwen Davis, and, uh, certainly not now. I honestly don't know what my thing is with the dumb Travolta movies. Also, shut up.
3. Office Space.
4. Victor/Victoria. I used to use this as a dating suitability test: If you could watch this movie with me and admit (1) that it's totally hysterical, (2) that not all musicals suck, and (3) that it's not a damn chick flick, you passed.
5. Wow, I'm already having difficulty--no, wait! Team America.
6. Somewhere in Time SHUT UP, I know it's . . . look, this is why I'm not really your go-to person for film recommendations, okay?
7. That Star Trek movie, the one with the whales? Was it the fourth or the fifth one? Anyway, I loved that. Also, shut up. Again. I can't believe I have to keep saying that.

Seven Songs I Play Over and Over Again
1. "I Can Understand It," Bobby Womack.
2. "Ain't That a Kick in the Head," Dean Martin.
3. "Nothing Was Exchanged," Jules Shear.
4. "Fairground," Simply Red, and holy shit, I can't even tell you to shut up about that because I don't think I can shut up about that. That's just terrible. I should be very ashamed. And I am! Well, it does get worse.
5. "Why," Andy Gibb.
6. "Nice Work if You Can Get It," Frank Sinatra.
7. "Come and Get Your Love," Redbone.

WELL. That was exquisitely embarrassing. Why are these memes always so nosy?

And I guess now I have to pick on other people. Holler if you've done this already, and if you want to be cruel to someone, suggest an alternate for yourself. Bonus points if you pass the buck to someone you despise, and you tell me who it is in email.

Seven people to pass this on to (who will now never speak to me again):
1. Kenneth
2. Rob.
3. Margi.
4. Helen.
5. Meryl.
6. Ith.
7. Beth.

UPDATE: Rob's is up. Some of his choices have me going, "Damn, I forgot that one"--like asking what's for lunch a lot. The stupid thing is that I live by myself and work from home, and I still ask this. Daily. Out loud. Hello, Crazy Cat-Lady Land, here I come!

Rob was a true gentleman and didn't tag anybody, so you don't have to be afraid to go look. I also like what he did with the mutable category of "Seven Things That Attract Me to . . . ." In Rob's case this became "Seven People You'd Like to Have for Your Birthday Dinner"--not as part of the menu, you understand, but to have dine with you. Coolness.

UPDATE II: Here is Margi's. I got a movie recommendation from this, PLUS I love her birthday dinner guest list, PLUS she included a book I had at first put on, but then took off--The Great Gatsby. I can scarcely believe I bumped F. Scott Fitzgerald for Chris Rock. No wonder F. Scott drank.

Remember, kids: Writing doesn't pay. Unless you're Stephen King, and then it pays bunches; but, also, you're Stephen King.

UPDATE III: Helen begins hers by noting that she "fucking hate[s] memes." To which I can only add: I know, and so do I, and why did I torture everyone like this? Honestly, I have no idea, but I'm leaning towards "because I'm an imbecile."

Unsurprisingly, Helen reads better books than I do, has been more places than anyone else has, and definitely watches better movies than I do (not that this last is particularly difficult). The girl has got some culture! And I love that she blew off the seven songs with the explanation that she's "a mood chick," because really, if I'm being truthful, that's exactly how I am. It's true that the songs I listed tend to come up more often than most others, but that doesn't mean I play them every day, or all the time--and certainly not all together. I have to be in the mood for things, and many songs I love will bore me to tears if I'm not in the mood for them right at that moment.

Fun stuff. Go see.

Posted by Ilyka at 05:43 AM | Comments (10)

December 25, 2005

Impossible Wish for 2006

A dumb game some friends and I played years ago: Name your impossible wish for the new year. This has to be something that hasn't a chance in hell of coming true. Here's mine:

That no parents anywhere on the planet name their daughter "Sierra."

"But what about Ciara?" comes the anguished wail from hundreds of thousands of mostly stupid people. Well, I'll tell you: You can use "Ciara," if you're Irish. But then you have to pronounce it as in Irish: KEE-ar-a.

The other thing you should know about "Ciara:" It's already the name of a dimestore perfume. Are you trying to ensure your daughter grows up to be a streetwalker? Honestly, just name her "Jean Nate" and be done with it.

"But 'Sierra'--"

--is the name of a North American mountain range. Please leave it that way, you pretentious ass. Though, now I think of it, "Sierra" also sounds like it could be a discount brand of cigarettes. In fact, for all I know, it is.

"New Sierra Lights: High on taste--low on price! Now available in menthol and new 120s 'luxury lights.'"

So, no. Mamas, don't let your babies be christened "Sierra."

Posted by Ilyka at 11:14 PM | Comments (7)

Please All, Please None

What is this?

Do you get it? I don't get it. I first saw all those lovely pastel hues this morning while I was still half-awake and for a second, I panicked:

"Shit, it's already Easter?"

Please do not take this to be one of those tiresome "War on Christmas" posts. It is not. Not for one minute do I expect Google to do the logo up all red and green and jingle-bell-hell, complete with a disembodied Santa head forming one of the O's. That would be terrible.

But you know what would have been nice?--If they'd woven in several holiday symbols. A menorah, a Kwanzaa . . . thing? Okay, I admit it: I'm ignorant on the symbols of Kwanzaa. But let's say Google isn't and they wanted to put that in there plus maybe also, if it's not too much trouble, a little something for Christmas. I guess they can just leave the teensy-tiny red and green package already included way down at the bottom right. Anything more might be oppressive.

An enormous discussion about holiday diversity, for want of a better term, erupted in the comments here several weeks ago. I'll focus here on one point I made there: Christmas advocates--wait, let me explain that choice of term.

I don't actually want to say "Christians" here because some of the worst offenders, some of the most "Christmas! In your FACE!" loudmouths, are more properly what I'd call "Christmas secularists." Because the holiday has no religious meaning to them, they assume it has no religious meaning to anyone else--but by gum, it's a moneymaker, isn't it? And who doesn't love lights and tinsel and parties and carols and . . . so we should make an enormous big deal over this Christmas thing, and drag the whole season out for two solid months.

This dingbat below, who dumped a menorah from a mall's holiday display on the grounds that no religious symbols should be represented at the mall, yet kept the "holiday tree" on the grounds that it wasn't a religious symbol, is perfectly representative of what I'm talking about:

"As for the tree, it's not religiously affiliated," Dunn said. "It's just holiday decor that's become part of the decor this time of year. Our focus is on Santa Claus, which has no religious affiliation."

(Via Meryl.) Now, I could be here all day ticking off the ways in which that statement is stupid. But just quickly: "Santa"--that means what again? No one exactly refers to him as "Jolly old Rabbi Nick," do they?

(By the way, the menorah was eventually put back. To which I hope your only reaction is, "GOOD." It ought never have been removed.)

So I don't actually want to say "Christians," even though some Christians are implicated here as well, because some other Christians, including a few prominent ones, are appalled by what's happened to the holiday. It's become a monster. It's become so commercialized and secularized that there are people arguing in all seriousness that it's only a "holiday tree." And, again, it's just too omnipresent in this country and lasts way too long. Christians and Christmas secularists do not need to commandeer fully one-sixth of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Remember when it was only 12 days? Neither do I. It's been this two-month extravaganza ever since I can remember. Can't stuff the kid's room full of worthless crap if you don't start that shopping nice and early! If it weren't for that inconvenient pagan holiday, I honestly believe the stores would start decorating for Christmas some time after Labor Day.

No wonder people get disgusted. No wonder there's some pushback to make this time of year more inclusive.

On the other hand, whoever designed that logo has forgotten a teaching from Aesop's fables: Please all, and you will please none. For fear of saying the wrong thing, it says nothing at all, except perhaps that there's some winter holiday going on that is best symbolized by Easter egg colors. Which, last I looked, there isn't.

Be inclusive, by all means--but don't become so neutral as to become meaningless.

TANGENTIAL UPDATE: I have to get this off my chest, because it's been bugging me for some time now:

If you're one of those people who rants endlessly about the ostensible war on Christianity, please do Christianity a favor, and shut your bossy piehole already.

I know you think you're helping, but you're not helping. Please convert to Buddhism immediately; someone needs to keep an eye on Richard Gere. Thank you.

Posted by Ilyka at 11:58 AM | Comments (4)

December 24, 2005

The Dickens You Say

A Christmas Carol

Just click it. And then go tell a certain naysayer what you think of his assessment that "Cracked was for pussies."

Then again, don't. Why ruin a perfectly pleasant day? To hell with that pussy.

Posted by Ilyka at 03:52 PM | Comments (4)

This is Why, if I Ever Marry, I Will Elope

Was reading The Food Whore today and this phrase jumped out at me: "Money dance."

Money dance?! But yes, apparently:

The "money dance" originated as a custom in Poland, and is a popular tradition found celebrated in the weddings of today. It takes place sometime after the first dance and is usually announced by the DJ. It is customary for the best man to begin dancing with the bride, pinning money onto her gown or putting it into a satin bag carried by the bride, especially for the money dance. A newer rendition of this money dance includes bridesmaids and other ladies dancing with the groom, pinning money on his lapel.

Okay, a little tacky, but what do you expect? They're Polacks (man, please nobody get on my ass about that, I am only kidding, I LOVE YOU, POLAND!).

However, another site describes the vulgar turn this custom has taken over here:

We're aware of an Italian wedding where the newlyweds walked away with a clean $1,200. While you lick your chops after hearing this, be advi$ed that we are not trying to influence your decision on whether or not to have a Money Dance at your wedding reception. We'll just give you $ome background information on it to help you make another of your deci$ions.

Some couples hesitate because they feel like it isn't done very often. Get real!! We estimate that the Money Dance is done at well over half of all the wedding receptions around here, running the gamut from the ones held in the modest KC halls, through the large reception halls, and all the way to those in hotel and country-club ballrooms.

You say some of your guests might be offended? Who? Grumpy old Uncle Louie and tight-as-a-shrimp's-tail Aunt Bess, who is so cheap she flips the paperboy for double or nothing? Get with it . . . all of your guests have seen the Money Dance at so many wedding receptions that now it's just part of the landscape, like the popcorn machine in the lobby at the movies.

In other words, as usual, no one stood up and screamed, "Are you fucking kidding me?" the first time a happy couple pulled this con, so now we're all desensitized to it, and that's a good enough reason to beg away, bride and groom!

Lovely.

And imagine--grumpy old Uncle Louie, spending his pension money on a tux and on a gift for your bridely ass, not wanting to pony up just to dance with you. That cheap bastard! Get with it, grumpy old Uncle Louie!

Personally, I'm feeling a wave of affection for grumpy old Uncle Louie just now. C'mere, Louie. I'll buy you a beer. We can talk about how everything's gone to hell since the Korean War.

What in blazes is wrong with this country? You know who gets paid money to dance with you?--A STRIPPER. That's what you want everyone to be reminded of on your wedding day?

"Look how beautiful she is, Henry. Why, she just glides across the floor--oh, she's turning around! She's rubbing his crotch with her ass! That ought to be worth another twenty, at least. Well, she and Bob should have next month's mortgage payment before too long, way things are going."

Money dance. A money dance. Because you didn't aggravate the piss out of everyone already by making them get dressed up in uncomfortable clothes to sit through your epic-length vows that you wrote yourself to make them more "personally meaningful." Money dance.

But there's a silver lining to this money dance custom: Sometimes it doesn't come off quite as planned.

Thank goodness.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:53 PM | Comments (2)

On Smoking

Let's get the disclaimer out of the way:

Smoking cigarettes is a filthy, disgusting, unhealthy habit, and you should never take it up, because you're playing Russian roulette when you do: You don't know, until you start--or rather, until the first time you try to quit--whether you'll be one of those people who drops it relatively easily, or one of those people who quits when they die, after their family has decided to discontinue the ventilator.

And, as I've said before--even if it doesn't kill you, it robs you of the full enjoyment of life long before then. It's the part where you're still smoking and still alive, but just barely, that people don't consider often enough.

Including me.

I bought a book on quitting recently. I can't tell you how many times I've done this--wait, yes I can. I have done it exactly once before. I bought a book titled If Only I Could Quit. It was a selection of quitting stories by ex-smokers.

Oughtta be hella motivational, right? Just imagine: All those ex-smokers.

Wrong. Turned out everyone who shared his or her quitting story began the story with a lengthy reminisce of how fun it had been back when he or she had started.

I do not know if all smokers are sentimentalists, but I know I am. Every time I'd turn the page to the next story, I'd get through maybe two paragraphs before thinking, "Man! I really want a cigarette! The way she talks about that first sweet drag--GodDAMN! I totally remember that! Let's see if I can find it again!"

These people . . . I don't think they had set out deliberately to romanticize smoking. But that was nonetheless just what they had done. Free advice: Don't describe in detail the almost sexual thrill you used to get from sneaking a pack of Kools out of Dad's carton, while you're trying to coax me to quit. Imagine a book on dieting written that way:

"I knew I couldn't afford the 786 calories in that slice of chocolate cheesecake, knew it in my bones. And yet--the rich marbleized swirls, the waiter's assurance that it had all been made in-house, with European dark chocolate, the invitingly crunchy, yet moist, graham-cracker crust . . . oh, I thought, it can't hurt to try it just this once.

"That was my downfall."

There is a damn reason diet books don't focus on helping you relive your most gluttonous moments: It is because this is not helpful to dieting in the least. So why anyone thought a book about quitting smoking should contain page after page of rapturous, glowing descriptions of the almost unbearable pleasures of lighting up, I have no idea. Maybe R.J. Reynolds actually published it, and I just never noticed. Those dirty, sneaking bastards.

I'm skeptical of this book I bought recently because I already gather from the reviews that its premise is that smoking is a habit, not an addiction, and that once you free your mind from the brainwashing of "it's an addiction," and accept that it is merely a habit, your ass will follow.

I'm not saying the author's categorically wrong about that; I'm just saying, if that's so, it is in my case one HELL of a habit. I mean, I first tried to quit when I was 19. I'd been smoking regularly for about 2-1/2 years at that point. And you know how long I made it without a cigarette, that first time out?

Nineteen hours. As many hours as I was old in years.

And the thing is, I didn't go into that quitting attempt thinking, "Oh no, oh no, I'm addicted." If anything, I went into it with the opposite attitude. I went into it with the brass balls (and naivete) of youth. I went into it thinking, "Well, I've done this for a couple years now, but shit!--I don't want to be like those old people smokers. I better quit now, while it's easy."

Ho, ho! Anyway, I got my ass handed to me. I literally shook for the better part of that day. I thought only drunks trying to lay off the sauce got the shakes. I thought a lot of things that turned out not to be true for me--among them, that cigarette smoking was just a habit that I could retrain myself out of fairly easily.

You might remember the National Quit Smoking Day slogan, something about how if you could quit for one day, you could quit forever. I'd like to stand up right now, brothers and sisters, and testify to you that the folks behind National Quit Smoking Day need to drop dead--because, honestly, did no one in the American Lung Association stop to think about the effect that slogan might have on people who couldn't go one day?

I'll tell you how I interpreted it at 19: I interpreted it as, "Wow, you're so fucked. You couldn't even quit for a day. Might as well smoke while you can."

So like I say: If it's just a habit, it is one motherfucker of a habit. We'll see if this book is helpful or not.

UPDATE: More here, including a correction to an obvious error in this post.

Posted by Ilyka at 03:06 AM | Comments (8)

December 23, 2005

Not to be Missed

I am forever recommending Kesher Talk to people--just did so in an email this week, in fact--but here I have occasion to do so again: Judith Weiss' Munich Massacre series, or, everything you thought you knew about the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic games, plus a wealth of things you probably didn't.

I'm an ignorant moron about most things, especially about historical events (I was all of three in 1972), and by now I'm pretty used to feeling stupid. That many years, that much dumbness--I've reached a comfort zone with it. But even my protective layers of sweet, cushioning ignorance weren't enough to spare me the embarrassment of realizing how much I'd simply never known about this. To take just one mortifying example: I honestly didn't know the International Olympic Committee has never done anything to acknowledge or memorialize the slain athletes.

Nothing. Eleven athletes murdered at an event meant to bring the world together peacefully--and nothing.

There's a wealth of material available online about Munich now, thanks to Judith and all the other bloggers who participated in her 2002 blogburst on the subject. You can start at the homepage, and read as much or as little as you're able. You'll learn things, things you wouldn't learn from Steven Spielberg. Much of it is frankly heartbreaking.

Highly recommended.

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

Let Your Boone's So Shine

". . . do not be ashamed and hide it in a paper bag."

Has to be read to be believed, and don't come crying to me if you laugh so hard you herniate yourself.

Thank you, Hubris!

Posted by Ilyka at 08:11 PM | Comments (3)

Foodstuffs

You're going to be sick of holiday food eventually, so when you get around to craving something different, if you love Indian food as much as I do, check out Indian-Recipe.net, which I found through a commenter's recommendation at The Kosher Blog.

And what exactly was I doing at The Kosher Blog? Bookmarking this gorgeous saag paneer recipe, that's what. It's got that air of authenticity without requiring half a produce market's worth of ingredients, making it just what I was looking for. Saag paneer recipes tend to hit that so-complex, you-might-as-well-just-eat-out point all too often, but this one I think I could handle. Simple, but not simplistic.

Anyway, delicious stuff. Enjoy!

Posted by Ilyka at 05:27 PM | Comments (3)

December 22, 2005

A Short Preliminary Review of a Present I Bought Myself Recently

That would be Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. I bought this after having been alerted to it by Andrea, but also, subconsciously at least, to annoy the brother of a friend of mine, who sees red at the mention of Truss's other book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, because his own grammar and style guide didn't sell nearly as well. He'll probably never know I did this, and would only think me stupid if he did know, but nonetheless, I take perverse satisfaction in it: Ha, ha--I bought a book by that whore, Lynne Truss.

Okay, it's probably not a good idea to start this review off by calling Lynne Truss a whore, even if I'm only kidding. So much for my manners.

Anyway, good stuff so far. She wanders a bit; I did not really need to know the 200-500-year evolution of spitting conventions in polite society, as I figure the disappearance of the word "spittoon" tells me all I need to know about that and, besides, it's just gross.

Still, the book is worth the purchase price for the section headed "Why am I the One Doing This?" alone, because that sums up my complaint with the way people behave (or rather, don't behave) perfectly: The onus for achieving politeness is now on the person who values politeness the most, and not on each person equally. When it comes to manners, I am a collectivist: Everyone should behave. In my dream world that sentence continues, ". . . or it's off to the gulag with you." Have you noticed we don't live in my dream world? I have.

But leaving it up to the one lone holdout who's fed to the teeth with rudeness results in that one lone holdout becoming the aggrieved, the picked-on and, in the eyes of the rude, the actual offender. It's now considered rude to ask people to please quit being rude.

"What do you care if I'm talking on my cell phone? I'm not bothering you." (I'll be the judge of what bothers me, thanks.) "Oh, well like I'm so sorry I didn't hold the door open for you, Your Highness." (I'm not asking you to hold it open for me, but was slamming it into my face strictly necessary?) "Maybe if you ever have children, which I doubt, because who would ever want to reproduce with you, you'll understand better how difficult it is to get them to behave"--this always being uttered after the speaker's offspring has subjected you to continual torment, maybe kicking the back of your seat for half the flight, or shrieking for 30 solid minutes just below the frequency only dogs can hear, or ramming their kiddie cart into your calves in the store, with not one word of reproval offered by the parent. Okay! Children are difficult. I get this. But you expect me to apologize to you when you, the parent, make no attempt whatsoever to correct them? Wow. Fuck you.

Which is a whole other section of the book: "The Universal Eff-Off Reflex." I haven't got to that part yet, but the title is already making me itch. Can we . . . do something about Eff, f'n, f**k, etc.? I am all in favor of polite fictions but these are stupid fictions. There's a difference. Whenever I see "Eff you," or "So-and-so is on f'n fire today," or "I guess that means the rest of us are f**ked," I immediately substitute "fuck"--and so does everyone else, and that's the entire point of this business: It permits the writer to say "fuck" without incurring the social penalties associated with saying "fuck."

And yet everyone who reads these shorthands is automatically substituting the real word mentally, so what exactly are we accomplishing with this? I don't get it. I know I have sometimes tried to reign in my cussing habits by using "freakin'" or even "frigging," but these are at least entirely different words. If I write "freakin'," chances are you read it as "freakin'," and then think "what a geek she is, I can't believe she said 'freakin',' how Mormon is that?" But at least you can pronounce "freakin'" in ordinary speech, whereas I defy anyone to pronounce "f**k" in a way that doesn't sound exactly like "fuck." "Eff," while it can be pronounced in a way that does not sound like "fuck," nonetheless makes it too clear that "fuck" is what was intended, because what other word is universal enough to be referred to by only its starting letter? We don't write "G" or "Gee" for "goodbye" because--"G?" That could be anything. But Eff--oh, we know what that one is, all right.

Either say "fuck" or don't. It can be a fun exercise to try not to use it, especially now that everyone does. You find you have to rewrite sentences entirely. I wish anyone well who attempts it; it's not that easy to do anymore. But if you're sufficiently enraged to say "Eff" you're sufficiently enraged to just say "fuck."

I'm sure someone will make the point that maybe, in a book on manners, you shouldn't say "fuck." Well, obviously. My point is only that "Eff" is a lousy substitution. Besides, if you're going to talk about how awful it is that everyone gets told to fuck off all the time anymore, pretending that they're not actually saying what they're saying, which is, again, just for review, fuck off, seems silly. It's like writing a book about cancer that never once uses the word "cancer," instead littering the text with euphemisms like "the big 'C'."

Other than the use of Eff, though, so far so good. More later, maybe.

UPDATE: It grieves me to be so rude towards a book about manners, but this was ultimately disappointing.

In the author's defense, that could just be my pathological hatred of cell phones talking: You show tolerance for cell phones, I lose all tolerance for you. Truss says hearing people talk on their cell phones "humanizes them." That only reminded me, yet again, that I don't really like humanity.

I used to live across from some neighbors who had their washer and dryer repossessed. They began hanging all their laundry out to dry on clotheslines strung across their back patio.

It totally humanized them to me; I'm just not sure that was a good thing. Do I need to know that my neighbor prefers briefs to boxers? Do I need to be able to estimate his wife's bra size? Look at the way the cups catch the wind! That's got to be at least a 38C, don't you think?

A little humanity goes a long way.

Anyway, I'm forced to remember the criticism leveled at Eats, Shoots & Leaves by the grammarian mentioned above: He said he understood that it wasn't intended as a style manual, but only as a rant against bad grammar. The problem, he said, was that there were better rants available. And then, in a moment of stunning vanity, he linked "better rants" to his own book.

And here it is. Because if Eats, Shoots & Leaves is as tepid and disjointed as Talk to the Hand, my friend's brother is probably right.

Posted by Ilyka at 03:22 PM | Comments (7)

December 17, 2005

I'm Like to Kill

Hands up: Who has a relative who has, this year or in years past, done his or her level best to ruin this so-called Season of Joy?

Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

CLARIFICATION: As much as I'd like to describe the specific incident that prompted me to post this, I cannot. But let's just say this goes way, way, way beyond a touch of Scroogeness. I not only don't mind a touch of Scroogeness, I indulge in it often myself.

No, this is more like one of those moments when you think to yourself, "Okay, I'm a little dumb sometimes. Of course I am. I'm not perfect. But am I as dumb as this person, this person to whom I'm ostensibly related by blood? In fact, has anyone ever verified this? How do I know we're really related? Someone should run a DNA test--right after I run her dumb bitch ass over with a truck."

This is way beyond mere Christmas carol fatigue. Way beyond.

Posted by Ilyka at 01:55 AM | Comments (6)

December 10, 2005

It's Around This Time of Year That I Actually Start to Miss You People

And by "this time of year," I mean, "when I'm drunk." How 'bout that eggnog, huh? Give it up, everyone! Woot!

But also, Christmas. I received this as an early Christmas present; what more could a girl want? Well, a video card that'd do it justice, for one. But there, let's not be nitpicky.

I'd like to tell you all about the gameplay, but I can't. I can't because mostly what I do with this game is load 'er up and then stare at the main menu while the theme plays. The theme is (and you will right-click and choose "Save As," or Pixy will kill you) this.

Nice stuff, no?

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukah! Peace on earth, good will to men.

Want some eggnog?

Posted by Ilyka at 02:18 AM | Comments (14)