March 31, 2006

Gin and Tonic #4

I rarely have more than three drinks—even the weak ones I make myself with no more than a single ounce of booze in 'em.

And yet, in my internal cartography, the land beyond three cocktails is labeled "here there be monsters."

I guess I'm about to find out how accurate that is.

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Three Job Interviews

. . . within as many weeks.

And the weird thing is, these appear to be real jobs, as opposed to that sort of thing wherein the company interviews a bunch of people so they can say they did it, before they promote from within, move people around, and finally hire a 22-year-old editorial assistant for ten cents a day or whatever.

I mean, I'm hearing from the hiring managers, and they want to talk to me in person. Strange.

I guess things are finally looking up to the point that former English majors might get a piece of the pie. Cool: I like pie.

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If I Had More Than 200,000 Laurels,

I would rest on them.

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I Want My Husband To Do Things Around the House.

Unless he's going to do them incorrectly, by which I mean diverging from how I would do them in any particular, no matter how minute.

And I reserve the right to tell him endlessly how incorrect his approach is. After he's completed the task at hand.

(More from the "wow; I really am a witch" series. Fortunately, I know I'm a witch, and keep my mouth shut lest my witchiness manifest itself externally.)

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Harrell with a Cause.

This is a good point: 40% of the Iraqi population is under 18. And it doesn't matter where you stand on the U.S. invasion of Iraq: the children had nothing to do with either that or the dictatorship that preceded it.

My lefty friends, especially, will want to be aware that the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation is no wingnut group (hey: no one's perfect). And their War Kids Relief program is a good way to show that Americans of all stripes care about engaging at-risk youth—no matter where they reside.

Dig into your pockets, boys and girls.

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The staff job possibilities are multiplying: Last week I went in for a "test day" as a bizarre way to interview for one magazine; yesterday, I took a test via e-mail for a second publishing house; and today I'll be getting up very early to interview at yet a third.

Something will pop soon. Let it be one that either has 1) interesting subject matter, or 2) a semi-humane commute. Or both!

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March 30, 2006

So. Is It Me?

Or is Harrell getting almost tart these days?

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March 29, 2006

What's the Favorite Whiskey of Baby Seals?

Same as mine, oddly enough.

Rightwing Duck has more.

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March 28, 2006

Immigration. Again.

Dafydd has a short summary on the problem of illegal immigration.

The main problem WRT illegal immigration is that no one will budge an inch on either side: the free-market types won't concede that border control is a good idea in this day and age, and the border-control types won't admit that we depend on large numbers of immigrants to run most of the border states.

The problem can only be solved if the border is controlled, but legal immigration would have to be liberalized tremendously, and the extreme bureaucratic nature of applying for residency/citizenship would need to be likewise streamlined, so that legal immigration would become a realistic option for poor people in foreign countries.

In a world wherein it seems like a better bet to pay off a coyote and risk your life, versus entering this country through the front door, something is seriously wrong with our system.

And, no: I don't really want to pay $10 for a bag of lettuce. I really don't. We're writers in this house: our incomes are really unreliable.

And I'm not good at construction, so forcing the local contractors to hire citizens helps me not at all. Except that it decreases the likelihood that we'll ever be able to remodel—even if we're flush again—and strict controls on employers would mean that a lot of people in my neighborhood wouldn't be able to afford their gardeners any more, increasing the devastation during wildfires.

The problem needs to be attacked from both angles, but each side only sees through its accustomed prism.

UPDATE, 3/29: This would appear to buttress the notion that the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants pay taxes—and suggest that many do not take benefits out of the system. I understand that some people's observations are going to differ, but I'd really like to get an idea what the big picture is—beyond anecdotes. ('Cause we all like to extrapolate from our own experiences, and that doesn't appear to give us much clarity on this issue.)

Gotta run.

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Hymers and the Baptist Tabernacle

Those who have concerns about the tactics of Bob Hymers, or any of the cults he's presided over (Maranatha Chapel, Open Door Community Churches [House Churchs], Fundamentalist Army, and the current Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle) should check out the Hymers Warners Yahoo Group.

It's a good place to get your questions answered, and learn some of the troublesome issues that have led others to flee Hymers' "churches."

Be aware, however, that Hymers' minions do check that site regularly, so if you want to join it, please create a separate confidential identity for yourself (including an unrecognizeable yahoo/gmail email address) if you're afraid of being found or identified by your current/former "brethren." Also, be prepared to explain to former Cult members why you are interested in getting answers: keep in mind that they are accustomed to deception and manipulation from Hymers and those who work for him, and presume (correctly, I believe) that Hymers will be monitoring the site through proxies.

This all may seem a bit cloak-and-dagger, but those who have emerged from the R.L. Hymers Cult(s) know how litigation-happy he can be—and that he is not above other forms of harrassment and intimidation.

Quite the man of God. Sigh.

The man has twin sons. Please pray that they will be able to break free of their father's influence someday to live rich, full lives. One always worries about the second generation in any cult: after all, the parents chose that life. Cult children were born into it.

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The WaPo Blogger Position

Insty recently posted a sort of roundup of possible House Bloggers for the Washington Post.

And now Jeff Percifield has thrown his hat in the ring:

I know you'll pop wood when you read my trenchant political analysis of terrorism's pop culture non sequiturs, the root causes of Katie Couric, the protocols of the elders of challah, the Cybill Shepherd trainwreck, as well my tedious obsession with all things Gaddafi.

Unlike that other guy, I haven't left a paper trail due to my extreme laziness. As for my colorful resume of institutionalizations, it's all the fault of irresponsible doctors who gave me generous prescriptions for medications like crack, E, & Special K to treat various sports injuries.

Well, I think that answers any concerns I had. Let's see what the Post says about this exciting possibility.

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Charles Krauthammer

On Francis Fukuyama and the war in Iraq:

"The undertaking [establishing democracy in Iraq] is enormous, ambitious and arrogant. It may yet fail."

For Fukuyama to assert that I characterized it as "a virtually unqualified success" is simply breathtaking. My argument then, as now, was the necessity of this undertaking, never its ensured success. And it was necessary because, as I said, there is not a single, remotely plausible, alternative strategy for attacking the root causes of Sept. 11: "The cauldron of political oppression, religious intolerance, and social ruin in the Arab-Islamic world -- oppression transmuted and deflected by regimes with no legitimacy into virulent, murderous anti-Americanism."

Fukuyama's book is proof of this proposition about the lack of the plausible alternative. The alternative he proposes for the challenges of Sept. 11 -- new international institutions, new forms of foreign aid and sundry other forms of "soft power" -- is a mush of bureaucratic make-work in the face of a raging fire. Even Berman, his sympathetic reviewer, concludes that "neither his old arguments nor his new ones offer much insight into this, the most important problem of all -- the problem of murderous ideologies and how to combat them."

Plus, Fukuyama apparently made shit up for America at the Crossroads, which is rather bad form.

Via Insty, who remarks, "not that his history of being wrong about, well, pretty much everything has hurt Fukuyama's career so far."

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Muslim Moderates

. . . need more publicity, since the work they do is so critical. Pass it on.

Via Insty.

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Imagine How Thrilled I Am.

People whom I supposedly have a few points of agreement with can be just as childish, shallow and stupid as the silliest people in Hollywood.

I'm just about to burst with pride.

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March 27, 2006

Mission Accomplished.

The goth-niece leaves tomorrow out of Burbank; we're hoping to show her the famous Warner Brothers water tower on the way to the airport. It's been a stunningly successful trip. We've shown her:

• Hollywood, including Mann's Chinese Theater and the Kodak complex;
• Brentwood, including the B-wood Country Mart where Nicole Simpson ate her last meal;
• the Sunset Strip, including the Viper Room;
• Venice Beach;
• the bluffs above Santa Monica Beach;
• a real Mexican restaurant;
• the view from the observatory at Griffith Park (her uncle took her to see that, and she was impressed, coming as she does from the flat reaches of the Upper Midwest);
• the Wiltern Theater, where Dir en Grey was playing.

Not that there isn't plenty to show her when she comes back. We'll do a road trip perhaps, next time, and she can see the coastal route and Big Sur—or maybe even the large dinosaurs in the middle of the desert that appeared in Pee-Wee's Playhouse or whatever it was. (The dinosaurs are too far, I tell her. They are truly in the middle of nowhere; we'd need to be driving to Phoenix or somewhere like that. And of course I'd rather show her Yosemite, but maybe that's just me.)

And all I want to do for the next week or so is sleep. Can I get a witness?

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Another Memorial Today.

But the happy kind: when people die in their nineties (and sometimes eighties; perhaps even seventies) it's easier for most of us to let go.

There was weeping, and it was certainly an emotional time for the children and grandchildren of my great-aunt. But it was easier for the great-grandkids and cousins to bear death under such circumstances—after someone has lived a rich, full life.

The great-great granddaughter was too young to comment on the matter, but I'm given to understand that she wanted to be fed and changed after the service. Perhaps there's a message in that.

I was told my great-aunt is having the best times of her life these days, and once more envied the faith that makes such assertions possible. Let's just say I see through the glass very, very darkly and hope one day to glimpse the reality face-to-face.

Goodbye, RoseMary Goodwin.

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Reynolds' Nixon Moment.

"I've never been a knitter."

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Percifield's Getting Testy Again.

In a letter addressed to the "Christian Peacemaker Losers," he declares:

If an American or British soldier had been killed wasting his time on you, I would have finished you off myself. It's too bad the Islamonutters snuffed that one dude, but, you know, shit happens, especially if you go around sticking your head in septic tanks.

Read the whole thing. It's a freakin' work of art. Right up there with his infamous statement that gays who obsess over marriage while ignoring Islamofascism might have to "give head, and not in a good way" under an upcoming Caliphate.

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March 26, 2006


I really thought they were going to leave you-know-who entirely indisposed all season. Did someone lose their nerve? I thought this latest season would be about AJ, but we're stuck with his dad's point of view. Along for the ride, as usual.

And I still like the dream sequences, so there.

Kev-Infinity. It took me a while. Sheesh: I'm getting slow in middle age.

And: To what degree does the desire to watch The Sopranos betray not just our wistfulness about not being able to act on our animal desires, but genuine fear that we've lost track of those desires, and don't even really know what they are any more?

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To: Spike Lee

From: Joy Whittemore

Re: Inside Man

NYPD detectives aren't going to be assigned to bank robberies. That's a Federal thing, my man.

I know where you can get yourself a superb fact-checker. She works cheap, and she has experience looking at scripts. FYI.

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March 25, 2006

We're Allowed to Talk, I Guess.

The government has decided that bloggers are still allowed to engage in political speech. Advocacy groups (comprising, of course, private citizens) will still have their political speech rationed.

But it appears that the cancer isn't spreading too fast; Hackbarth has a summary.

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Harrell's Looking Forward

. . . to seeing American Gun.

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Via Insty.

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Here You Go, Yolanda.

I adapted the expression about a servile womb not breeding free men from the closing stanza of this poem:

Advice to Young Ladies

A.U.C. 334: about this date
For a sexual misdemeanor, which she denied,
The vestal virgin Postumia was tried.
Livy records it among affairs of state.

They let her off: it seems she was perfectly pure;
The charge arose because some thought her talk
Too witty for a young girl, her eyes, her walk
Too lively, her clothes too smart to be demure.

The Pontifex Maximus, summing up the case,
Warned her in future to abstain from jokes,
To wear less modish and more pious frocks.
She left the court reprieved, but in disgrace.

What then? With her the annalist is less
Concerned than what the men achieved that year:
Plots, quarrels, crimes, with oratory to spare!
I see Postumia with her dowdy dress,

Stiff mouth and listless step; I see her strive
To give dull answers. She had to knuckle down.
A vestal virgin who scandalized that town
Had fair trial, then they buried her alive.

Alive, bricked up in suffocating dark,
A ration of bread, a pitcher if she was dry,
Preserved the body they did not wish to die
Until her mind was quenched to the last spark.

How many the black maw has swallowed in its time!
Spirited girls who would not know their place;
Talented girls who found that the disgrace
Of being a woman made genius a crime;

How many others, who would not kiss the rod
Domestic bullying broke or public shame?
Pagan or Christian, it was much the same:
Husbands, St. Paul declared, rank next to God.

Livy and Paul, it may be, never knew
That Rome was doomed; each spoke of her with pride.
Tacitus, writing after both had died,
Showed that whole fabric rotten through and through.

Historians spend their lives and lavish ink
Explaining how great commonwealths collapse
From great defects of policy—perhaps
The cause is sometimes simpler than they think.

It may not seem so grave an act to break
Postumia's spirit as Galileo's, to gag
Hypatia as crush Socrates, or drag
Joan as Giordano Bruno to the stake.

Can we be sure? Have more states perished, then,
For having shackled the inquiring mind,
Than those who, in their folly not less blind,
Trusted the servile womb to breed free men?

—A.D. Hope

More thoughts on the current pertinence of the poem here, and another site reproduces it with footnotes to explain the historical references.

When I was young I always assumed the poem was written by a woman, because men were too busy thinking of new ways to oppress us. Wrong.

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March 24, 2006

O the Things I Have To Tell You!

Last night we took the niece to a Dir en Grey concert. Very fun. Very strange.

Now, however, it's off to work, in the hopes that I'll be back in time to take the niece to Hollywood.

She wants to see Palm trees. And the Hollywood sign. I tell her it's difficult to avoid either.

She wants to see the ocean. No problem, I reply: that's a given.

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March 23, 2006

Won't Work at Maggie's Farm No More

Hm. Went in for my "audition day," and this doesn't look the the solution to my income problems. The person who attracted me to the company is leaving, and most of the rest of the crew there are barely out of diapers, which means (1) the company very likely can't afford me, and (2) no one has enough experience to see how great I am. Also: (3) if I were to get on-staff there, I'd be reporting to some 20-something. No thanks.

And then there's the fact that no one wanted to either talk to me about their supposed staff opening, or give me real feedback on what I was doing.

I may work freelance for them, but they'd have to make me a sweet offer before I'd be willing to consider settling down there. The thing I imagined was the biggest stumbling block—the commute—was actually the easiest element in the whole day.

I'm going to invoice them for today's work and move on to the next possibility.

It's very easy for me to tell my husband that we shouldn't act out of desperation, and even though we're a bit broke he shouldn't take any gigs that make him uncomfortable. It's quite another to enforce that rule for myself.

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March 21, 2006

Funeral for a Friend

Tonight was the first memorial for Roger Borden; the second will be held in Texas, so he can be buried next to the son he lost to drugs and alcohol years ago.

I made myself look at him, though he was difficult to recognize. It wasn't just the baldness: his face was thin and gaunt. He'd obviously lost a lot of weight from the chemo. And Roger was a bit vain about his looks, so that must have been especially painful. I do know he showed up at a few AA meetings after he lost his hair, but I'm not sure they saw the full destruction I witnessed today.

As another friend remarked, it made it easier to let go in a way: because that was clearly not Roger in the coffin. The guy we know had left the premises.

What a good guy. What a talented, brilliant man. He touched so many people's lives, and left the world a better place than he found it.

The minister who gave the service mentioned the idea that we would all eventually be summed up in one of these cards they hand out with a photo, some dates, and a quotation of some sort. These cards that tell us so very little. She suggested that in Roger's case, perhaps the card should have been shaped like a little black book. (No. I don't know how many ex-girlfriends of his were at the service, and since I sport a wedding band he never hit on me. But I sat next to one of his lady friends during the service.)

I do feel better. It's nice to laugh about it. It's nice to hope everyone's right about the existence of an afterlife—a heaven where Roger can get everyone together to record CDs and set up websites and have business meetings, as he did in DA.

This is serious. Life is serious. I'd best remember that, and do my best to follow his example: laugh a lot, commit to projects, follow through, and treat people well.

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Write Enough

. . . tells the story of the the Viet Minh attack that was the beginning of the end for the French in Vietnam:

The French viewed their position in a flat valley surrounded by hills as an offensive base. From there they would venture out and cut the Viet Minh supply lines, preempting an attack on Laos. As a result of this outlook, the garrison never outposted the hills. They'd be attacking and, besides, it was impossible for the Vietnamese to haul any significant artillery up there.

Unaware of French opinion, the Vietnameses went ahead and hauled heavy artillery up onto the hills along with daunting amounts of anti-aircraft guns. On March 13, they let loose a barrage, followed by a human wave attack that engulfed a French strongpoint manned by crack Foreign Legionnaires. The fight was on.

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March 20, 2006

Acid Test in Afghanistan

The boys at On Tap discuss the prosection—and possible execution—of a Christian in Afghanistan.

UPDATE, 2/24: Fixed the link to On Tap, where the discussion still rages on. Apparently there was a rally outside the Afghan embassy in D.C. The situation is very dangerous right now.

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O How I Hate It When the "Crunchy Cons" Have a Point.

But the right has got to forge its own brand of conservation that goes a bit beyond giving a few dollars to Ducks Unlimited or the National Wild Turkey Federation now and then.

Big discussion on the Crunchy Con website; I'd start with Goldberg's post here.

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Big Tobacco Is Coming to Get Us!

With tobacco lounges! Eeek! A mouse! A cigarette!

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Three Years in Iraq

. . . have finally inflicted the level of casualties we sustained during the bloodiest month we were in Vietnam.

Which gives the lie to a lot of the comparisons between the two conflicts. Nonetheless, it's not a bad time to send a few bucks to your favorite Iraqi or Afghan charity, or your favorite military support group.

I like Soldiers' Angels, Marine Parents, Operation Iraqi Children, and Spirit of America.

If you have a favorite, leave it in the comments section.

(Via Insty.)

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Goldstein Documents

. . . the latest progressive insight:

“Yes, but how can you prove it’s Monday? And don’t go citing western calendars, either—because those are just evidence of how widespread the western hegemonic meme of dividing the week into 7 days has become . . ."
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March 19, 2006


Two friends of mine yelled at me today: one for a joke I made that—unbeknownst to me—drew blood, and the other for not riding along on an emotional head trip he was taking.

I find myself less willing to do that these days.

And Mr. Can't-Take-a-Joke may find that he has less license for brutality in his jokes with me from here outward. After all, I was simply matching his style of interaction.

I have a headache. I have friends like other people have mice.

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Happy Birthday, Democratic Iraq.

Glenn quotes Strategy Page:

The key to peace in Iraq is not a military problem, the terrorists and Sunni Arab rebels are beaten. The key to peace is political, and the ability of Iraqi factions to work together. Iraqis have paid a lot of attention to Lebanon, looking for answers. Lebanon is split by religious factions (about one third Shia, one third Sunni and one third Christian). Lebanon went through a 15 year civil war (1975-90), and since making peace, the country has prospered (without oil, just the skills of the people), despite interference from Syria. The Lebanese example gives hope, but the payoff is in the performance. The Iraqi politicians have to perform. In the next few months, we'll see if they can.

And adds:

Indeed. The problems are now mostly political, and can only be worked out by politicians. That said, the United States could have done more to dissuade Iran and Syria from interfering. Upside is that Iraqis know this, and if things work out they're likely to remember, to our benefit and the Syrians' and Iranian mullahs' detriment.

It's delicate right now. But I have a lot of respect for the Iraqis, and I think they'll pull this off.

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So. The Sopranos.

The writers thereof are making some wild calls. Taking chances.

I can't get the movie Apt Pupil off my mind. Tell me why.

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Hm. Very interesting.

I wouldn't want to piss off the scientologists. Of course, I wouldn't want to piss off Matt Stone and Trey Parker, either.

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I've Been Up for Over 20 Hours.

I should go to bed, but the true obsessive-compulsive doesn't stop what she's doing merely because it would be the rational thing.

My "audition" for the gig that I'm almost positive I really want is this coming Wednesday. After that, my niece flies into town—that very night.

It feels like I'm about to have No Time for Anything, Ever Again in My Life. But that would be just fine, if I also had those. . . what do they call them? The happy paper thingies. Um. Paychecks!

Actually, the thing to do is set aside that feeling of desperation, and try my best impression of someone prepared to do rational analysis: figure out what hours I'd like to work if I'm going to commute, and how many days a week I'll crash at my mom's place. (She's in the next town over, and has an extra room; quite the resource, huh?)

And, given all that, get a REASONABLE idea of what salary level would compensate me for having to work in El Segundo. I should set that figure higher than it would be for a job in L.A. or Pasadena; that's for sure.

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Drugs or No, He's Still Brilliant.

Harrell, again:

Here’s how I know I’m a hot-shot D.C. insider: If you fly into Reagan on the northern approach late in the day and happen to be sitting on the left side of the plane in a window seat, you get the most amazing view of the District you could ever hope to see. As the plane makes it approach down the center-line of the river and performs its death dive into the Potomac, all the towering marble facades slide by outside your window like so many visions from an era past. I know this. In fact, I specifically changed my seat assignment this morning so I could have a window seat on the left side, just in case the winds are favorable for a north-to-south approach to the airport. Just in case.

I’m pretty sure that makes me a hot-shot D.C. insider.

Shut up. Stop laughing. Seriously. I’ve been there for three weeks.

I saw that view entirely by chance when I flew out to D.C. for CPAC. And then I landed at National and took the Metro to the neighborhood my hotel was in, looking at the map and grinning like an idiot all the way there. ("I'm underneath the Pentagon! Or nearby, anyway! Isn't it wonderful!" I did not say these things out loud, of course, but I saw people edging nerviously away just from the vibe.)

I love that city. Though it is cold; no getting around that.

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March 17, 2006

"My Complication Had Complications."

And my Instalanche had an Instalanche.

(Via . . . good old whatshisface.)

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Harrell on Drugs.

Not that I want to add to Jeff's headaches these days. But it appears that he might be softening his stance on drugs ever-so-slightly. At least, with respect to Mary Jane.

I think a lot of people smoke weed regularly when they're in high school or college, and then stop later on because it's too much of a bother and they're busy. And I still think alchohol is more dangerous than weed, because of the collateral damage it causes: stoned people do not mow people down when they drive.

In no way do I see the coercive effect of the State as the correct instrument for solving the problem of drug addiction.

And I honestly think people can get addicted to damn near anything: shopping, eating, keeping messy files (I have friends who do this), gambling, surfing the internet, watching television, taking warm baths.

I also had a friend who used heroin on a semi-regular basis for a while. Then he stopped. Just like that—no willpower involved; no support group. No nothing.

So I am, and remain, a libertarian on this issue. Legalize hard drugs so we can regulate 'em, tax 'em, and re-funnel enforcement money into treatment programs. And sell Prozac, Wellbutrin, and Ambien over the counter, please. Pretty please.

Don't make me ruin my middle-aged skin with too many hot baths.

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New From Pastor Jack

. . . who isn't a compulsive forwarder, but loved this, for what he calls "The Frozen Chosen." I hope that isn't me; I'll bet it is.

Hymns Of The Lukewarm Church: For God's Frozen People

The LukeWarm Church announces publication of "Church Songs," whose title, according to the editor, was selected because "we didn't want to turn anybody off with threatening words that no one understands anymore like 'worship' or 'hymn.' People in today's society get kind of uncomfortable with too much talk about things like commitment and dedication. They'd much rather have a religion that they can turn on or off at will. Our book seeks to meet that need."

Sample contents:

— A Comfy Mattress Is Our God
— Joyful, Joyful, We Kinda Like Thee
— Above Average is Thy Faithfulness
— Lord, Keep Us Loosely Connected to Your Word
— All Hail the Influence of Jesus' Name
— My Hope is Built on Nothing Much
— Amazing Grace, How Interesting the Sound
— My Faith Looks Around for Thee
— Be Thou My Hobby
— O God, Our Enabler in Ages Past
— Blest Be the Tie That Doesn't Cramp My Style
— Oh, for a Couple of Tongues to Sing
— He's Quite a Bit to Me
— Oh, How I Like Jesus
— I Lay My Inappropriate Behaviors on Jesus
— Pillow of Ages, Fluffed for Me
— I Surrender Some
— Praise God from Whom All Affirmations Flow
— I'm Fairly Certain That My Redeemer Lives
— Self-Esteem to the World! The Lord is Come
— Sit Up, Sit Up for Jesus
— Special, Special, Special
— Spirit of the Living God, Fall Somewhere Near Me
— Stick Nearby, It's Getting Dark Outside
— Take My Life and Let Me Be
— There is Scattered Cloudiness in My Soul Today
— There Shall be Sprinkles of Blessings
— What an Acquaintance We Have in Jesus
— When Peace, Like a Trickle. . .
— When the Saints Go Sneaking In
— Where He Leads Me, I Will Consider Following
— God of Taste, and God of Stories
— Lift Every Voice and Intellectualize

Posted by Attila Girl at 08:21 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Must Be Fun, Living with Me

So, I'm talking to Attila the Hub, and casually remark, "you know all those songs with those easily improved, entirely regrettable lyrics?"

"What are you talking about?" he responds. (This is not an unusual phrase on his lips.)

"Well, you know: so many song lyrics don't really scan properly as poetry, and the singers have to sing them weird. And of course there's always a really obvious edit that would fix the problem."

"And how do you know about the songs?" he enquires.

"Well, you know: because they had some commercial success, and made the songwriters rich and famous. But that doesn't mean they were true creative successes."

He looks at me.

"Okay," I tell him. "I guess I'll go upstairs now."

Posted by Attila Girl at 08:13 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 16, 2006

Too Exhausted to Move

I worked most of the day in Los Angeles at my proofreading job, and then dropped my mother's laundry off (don't ask) at her house near the L.A. airport. We got a bite to eat, and then I came home to finish proofreading the final of the newsletter for my Twelve-Step group. I sent those changes off to the editor, and now I'm (of course) exhausted-but-wired.

It might be time to ingest some carbs and let them work their magic.

When my husband went to bed I told him he was lucky to be only a decent proofreader, as opposed to a really great one. No one has asked him to do it since he escaped from publishing.

So now I need to see how much sleep I'll be able to get before it's time to . . . go back to L.A. and do yet more proofreading. But quickly, because I still have to get to the printer in Culver City tomorrow afternoon in time to pick up the final version of our newsletter, and deliver it to the office. Then I need to go to my DA meeting that night, because we'll be sharing memories of Roger.

Posted by Attila Girl at 11:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 15, 2006

Thanks for All the Notes, Everyone.

Today is a better day. I had a nice little minor row with Attila the Hub. This spring we've been together sixteen years. In fourteen months, we will have been married for a full decade. So I guess, as he put it, we've already "beaten the odds."

It's gratifying that we're learning how to cajole each other out of our bad moods and grumpy moments without it being a manipulative thing, or a way of sweeping all conflicts under the rug. Both of us find the extremes rather tempting, and find it challenging to stay on the balance beam of life. Less so, of course, as we get older.

And it amazes me that we seem to be able to fight fair. Of course, that's one of the essential skills in any relationship, but the formula for "fairness" changes according to who the other person is: there are no abstract rules.

I'm even getting things done around the house, in anticipation of my niece's visit from Chicago next week. The place still looks like a horror show: papers and books everywhere. But it's sllllloooooowwwlllyyy improving.

The niece is coming out for a Dir en Grey concert, and staying for a full week. We're in the process of compiling our L.A.-area "must sees," and I find myself a bit confused, since one feels like one ought to go downtown, yet I get there so rarely in the course of a normal year.

I just don't feel like L.A. has much to do with that city called "Los Angeles." If you know what I mean.

The one non-negotiable cliche is Venice Beach. She does need to see that—and on a weekend, so she can experience the full brunt of the craziness to be found there.

Of course, we're both so overprotective of her that we might come off more like bodyguards than an aunt and uncle—particularly at the concert, which may be a bit punk-ish for our tastes.

How lovely to be an old fogey. I can't think of a better thing to be.

Posted by Attila Girl at 04:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 14, 2006

Goodbye, Roger Borden.

I've been checking my e-mail every five minutes, hoping someone would send me a cheap distraction. A note. A link. A joke. Something to keep me from feeling what I feel tonight. I'm just empty inside.

I suspect plummeting blood sugar is part of what I'm coping with, along with anxieties about this new gig I might or might not get at the end of the month—and a glimmer of hope that I might be able to keep the good client, ditch the bad one, and get the staff position I'm hoping for, which would get the husband and me back into the benefits game. Sponsored health insurance, of course, would a big plus for us right now. And we could also use some kind of steady income: there should never be two freelancers in the same family.

But that was just the beginning of my emotional tailspin: annoying projects—seemingly without end—for my nonprofit volunteer work, the fun symbolism of getting together with Attila the Hub to cash in one of our last few assets . . . and then hearing about Roger Borden's death last night. (I called him Matt Carnation, here. He loved that post, and sent the link to a lot of his friends and relatives.)

He's in his early fifties—was, I suppose, dammit—and succumbed to a liver cancer he told me he'd probably beat. I believed him, because 1) I'm stupid, and 2) my friends aren't alllowed to die. Not that I've heard of anyone who survived liver cancer, but this was going to be the time. I was sure of it.

I'm in a state of rage right now: rage at Roger for dying, rage at myself for not keeping in closer touch, rage at cancer for taking the young, and rage at God for giving us this gift of life, only to snatch it away. I want to shake my fist at the sky and yell out, "what's the freakin' point?"

All of which is irrational, of course, so I start over again, and find that I have an inexplicable fury at myself for being such a child, for being unable to accept that life ends. And fury at my pathetic attitude that I don't really have to grow up until one or both of my parents die. Fury at all the procrastinating I do, at the chances I take of leaving this earth with my dreams unfulfilled. Whatever those were. (I've forgotten. Well, maybe I haven't.)

At least I had some warning the last time someone died on me, though that was a particularly rough one, because the person involved had a stroke, and worked hard to get his life back to normal. He'd just about succeeded when they found the . . . cancer. (See? I almost swore. And I can't, because Dave always thought I was a lady. His mistake, but one wants to be respectful.)

I've been trying to think of solutions. I've considered the option of not getting close to anyone who's older than I am, but 1) it's too late in the day for that, and 2) even people who are younger than I am can die: there's no guarantee at any age.

Then, brainstorming-style, I consider not getting close to anyone. But that doesn't entirely solve my problem, because I'd still die someday. And if all my human affiliations magically vanished, I'd simply die lonely (though perhaps it would make my final years seem a lot longer than they really were).

For a couple of years, I've been trying to operate with a sense of how finite life is, and how precious. I'm even being polite with my parents, whenever feasible, because theoretically they might die someday. And even when it comes to the young and/or tough—people I presume will outlive me—my time with them is still finite, because I'm mortal, too. Kinda.

But I don't much like it. Not for me. Not for anyone with class and verve. Roger was a funny guy, and he didn't get many breaks. At least, it didn't seem that way from where I was sitting. I've known several people in my twelve-step group who buried their children, and I admired most of them for being able to speak of it without crying. I admired Roger because he almost always cried when he mentioned his son.

Roger was special. He did work in our program that will live on for many years. He's a guy who made a difference.

Edna got it right:

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Roger: "For me? Well, as long as you turn it into something productive at some point." I'm pretty sure that would be his take.

So I will try. I'm not promising. Not quite yet.

Posted by Attila Girl at 11:16 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Dutch Courage: Damrak Gin

Bachelor #1 hails from Amsterdam: Damrak is made at one of the world's oldest distilleries, established in 1575.

This is a serious, grownup gin. As a matter of fact, it's so serious that I've concluded it shouldn't be paired with tonic water. Ever. It has an almost bitter quality to it that reminds me of tequila; this could be the perfect gin for a gimlet. It's rich and flavorful—but its bitterness combines with the quinine in the tonic, and the two together can be a bit much. (Yes: I tried. I had to.) Something like a gimlet that has a bit of lime and a slight sweetness would work very well.

And if you're looking for a "sipping gin," this is truly your ticket. It contains a cornucopia of botanicals that buttress the juniper taste and may take me years to fully figure out. Which is lovely: I live for this kind of challenge.

Let's see what others say:

Jim Clarke at Star Chefs concurs, explaining that the Dutch tend to drink their gin chilled and neat, but the orangey notes in Damrak work well for fruity cocktails:

I particularly liked it in Gimlets and Cosmopolitans; as a martini gin it definitely prefers a twist to olives. It was heavier than London Gin with tonic, and mixed somewhat less successfully in some Old School cocktails. For example, I liked a Damrak Negroni but not a Pink Gin.

Yes. It does pair well with citrus, and the idea of using it for a dirty martini makes me shudder. Think sweet, not savory. And put that Angustura away. Thanks.

I stumbled across a Brit review of the KLM airline, which was too amusing not to quote, when it proclaims that the Dutch airline serves "horrible Dutch gin" (not that British tastes are supreme in such matters, of course):

The drinks policy on KLM is firmly adapted to the Dutch tastes - on the rare occasions when you can get on a plane that isn't dry. KLM carry Damrak Gin, which is the Dutch version. Admittedly the Dutch invented Gin in the 15th century, however Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray - or even Gordon's for that matter - is an improvement. Alas, not for KLM, and the airline continues to serve Damrak.

Arrogant Limeys. They think the world revolves around them, you know.

Get your own bottle.

This is the first in my "Gin Palace" series, for which I'll be reviewing . . . gin. I'm actively fielding requests for other brands that readers would like previews of. (I'll also be looking at whiskeys on occasion, and a few red wines—because I'm super and splendid, and a bit of a lush.)

Darrell, I'm still looking for Cascade Mountain Gin. I'll check one more place, and then buy it online if need be.

Oh, and—everyone should send me money to finance this important public works project. Thanks.

Posted by Attila Girl at 01:52 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 13, 2006

The Irish Conspiracy

. . . as seen through the eyes of hard-drinking Texan Jews.

Posted by Attila Girl at 02:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Big Love

I did like the Big Love premiere, and not just because I think Bill Paxton's cute and Tom Hanks is a sharp producer. I'm not the only one.

It's essentially a nonviolent (so far, though that could easily change) version of The Sopranos: a guy lives half in the shadows, and half in Suburbia, and gets bounced like a pinball between his nuclear family and his extended family and his secrets and the modern world and the forces of darkness. Except that Bill is a good deal more likeable as a character vs. Tony Soprano.

It's all good.

I'm sorry some Mormons are upset, but the show does make the sharp division clear between mainstream Mormonism and the various polygamous cults that are tied to that church's roots. In fact, most people who study counter-cultures agree that the majority of the polygamous sects live elsewhere in the West, rather than in Utah. The show only needs to be set in Salt Lake City in order to create tension between cultists and mainstream Mormons.

In real life, of course, they'd live in New Mexico or Arizona, but we need to see Respectable Mormons recoiling from polygamy, and I imagine that we will. (At least, the first episode sets such a situation up.)

The show also captures the real moral problem in these sects: the "marriages" of young girls who haven't yet reached the age of consent to grown men.

I would love to see prosecutions for polygamy strictly confined to sects that prey on young women. That would, as I see it, be a much better use of law-enforcement dollars.

My husband's line on polygamous quasi-Mormon sects: "three wives, but no coffee? No thanks." Of course, I get the impression that he thinks one wife is an awful lot sometimes. Of course, he is, um, taking the graduate course in marriage.

Posted by Attila Girl at 01:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 12, 2006

Just a Few Hours.

That's the real reason I don't watch "enough television." When I get hooked, I really get hooked. And when my husband and I get hooked together, it's ugly.

I love this picture: there's so much in it. The symbolism is so layered. And nearly everyone is looking over his/her shoulder. Wonder why.


The video of the trailer is at the official site, here.

Posted by Attila Girl at 06:53 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Is Gin in Fashion Again?

Then maybe I'd best switch to vodka. If only I didn't like gin better.

Darrell's talked me into running reviews for gin, whiskey, and red wine. With a little luck the distillers and wineries will start sending me stuff on their own. Then if I can't quite make money off of blogging, I can at least get the consoluation perk of all publishing underlings: a few freebies here and there.

How funny, then, to see the gin Darrell thinks I should try (Cascade Mountain Gin) reviewed on the same page with one that had previously caught my eye (Hendrick's).

Cascade is first, and Darrell's handling fundraising to reimburse me for the cost. You know, this could turn into a fun little project.

Posted by Attila Girl at 02:53 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

She's Still Something

. . . of an enigma, no?

Posted by Attila Girl at 02:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 11, 2006

Good News, Bad News

1) I have sadly decided that I will not be driving up to the San Francisco Bay Area tomorrow, after all. There's just too much that needs to be done around here—particularly with the imminent threat of employment in the air, and my niece coming by at the end of the month. (It takes a while for all the systems to be in place when one is trying to spoil young relatives.)

2) There will therefore be time to finish painting my bathroom.

3) Very little, if any of the time saved by staying home will go into my blog.

4) I fully intend to figure out how to live-blog my next road trip, whether via cell phone or by stopping off at hotspots along the way.

So you have that going for you.

Posted by Attila Girl at 10:39 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 10, 2006

Enough with the Fucking Books!

I'd like everyone to please stop writing until I catch up. I can't even think about Glenn Reynolds' An Army of Davids; I'm still working (to my shame) on The Singularity is Near, which—by the way—has way too many pages in it. Way. Too. Many. My background may also be a bit light for it in the following arenas:

1. Biology. (I took human physiology in high school, because I couldn't relate to the creatures that inhabit tidepools; it was all about my species back then.)

2. Mathematics. (I never learned the mutliplication tables, because whenever my mother or stepmother pulled out the flash cards, I found myself looking at the numerals, and wondering how architecturally stable they would be if they were buildings, or how they would dance if they were people. Apparently, these were the wrong things to focus on, and it held me back just a little bit with higher math.)

3. Computers. (I spent my 20s hanging out with computer programmers, but their concerns were a good deal less interesting to me than who was sleeping with whom, and whether they were going to break up soon, and who made the best omelet, and what shape the ideal teapot would be, and why William Butler Yeats is so underappreciated as a poet. I regret the error.)

Bye the bye, Tigerhawk has a cute review of Army of Davids, in which he calls it "romantic."

Hat tip: . . . wait for it . . . Instapundit.

Posted by Attila Girl at 01:48 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 09, 2006

Iran All Night

Let's all just step back, shall we?

If I called Secretary Rice to ask her what the game plan is, would she tell me? She shouldn't, of course.

Posted by Attila Girl at 03:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

DPW Caves.

This bothers me, because it just isn't right. But no one consulted me, and the consensus out there seems to be that it's okay to have a British company running our ports—as long as there aren't any sand niggers involved. Sigh. What a defeat for liberal ideals.

Now. Is there an American company out there that can even do this? Anyone? Bueller?

Posted by Attila Girl at 12:34 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 08, 2006

"Keep America's Ports in American Hands."

Are there any legislators out there with anything between their ears? Morons, indeed.

Lewis' signature line reminds me of Archie Bunker's complaint that it was hard to get "American food, like hamburgers and spaghetti."

Memo to the GOP: you're slow-dancing with Chuck Schumer. Isn't there some kind of clue in there that emotion has trumped analysis?

UPDATE: Sean points out this article, in which former CIA officer Larry Johnson expresses concerns about how existing DPW ports are being run:

"When you look at three of the top world ports for smuggling, counterfeit and contraband activity, those are, by my count, Hong Kong, Dubai and Panama. Dubai Ports World controls two of the three" Johnson said, referring to Dubai and Hong Kong.

Of course, my understanding is that the same command strucuture will remain in place at P&O: the only difference is that dark-skinned people who well might be Muslims will be sitting in a boardroom, half a world away, providing oversight to P&O.

And if there are two "wild West-style" ports being run at present by DPW, how many others are they running with very little contraband going through? (As I recall, there are 21 others.)

Kenton E. Kelly—aka Dennis the Peasant—wrote a scathing commentary in Reason Online about how the hysteria over the DPW port deal does not make us look very good among pro-Western factions in the Middle East. Not at all. We are pissing off people whose help we need badly.

The rough draft for that article ran as a blog post that later got pulled off his site (which is fair enough; after all, he'd sold the piece to Reason Online). But the original gets quoted a fair amount by The Lounsbury—another curmudgeon in Dennis' mold—right here, with some brilliant commentary and amplification.

(In general, the best information about the DPW Ports deal is being covered very well both at Dennis the Peasant and at Lounsbury's place.

Posted by Attila Girl at 07:45 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Lazy Would Be a Step Up.

Attila the Hub has started to make little jokes about me being indolent. These jokes make me want to take a nap.

Of course, when I think about napping I spend hours wrestling with guilt, catching up on chores, and wringing my hands about whether it'll screw up my sleep cycles (more than they already are screwed up at any given point). Then I have to read for an hour before there's any chance that "drowsy" will cross the line into "sleepy." And I set an alarm, to make sure I won't sleep too late.

When my husband wants to nap, he goes into the bedroom and lies down. Grrrrr.

Posted by Attila Girl at 06:41 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Sure. Spoil My Day in the Sun Snow.

Hm. I'm starting to think I need to get some more RAM into this machine, ASAP. I wrote a brilliant post—okay: it was stuffy, quasi-literary, and rather dull—over at The American Mind, and Sean's MT wouldn't take it.

I mean, my overwrought prose is safe in a Word file, but I need to fix this problem. The difficulty is definitely here, rather than at Sean's website, because I'm experiencing similar incidents with other interactive sites, and my relationship with my e-mail program has turned downright quarrelsome. (It has always reserved the right to decide that my password is somehow wrong, but it's doing this more and more often. In fact, I think it's determined to make me its punk.)

The computer is just . . . well, it's pale, and ill, a shadow of its former self. I know you guys try to discourage me from putting medications into it through the CD-Rom drive, but I thought a few iron pills might pep it up a bit. Or I could just stick some raisins in there . . .

Posted by Attila Girl at 01:11 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

My Private Wisconsin

Over the next week I'll be dividing my time between this blog and Sean's digs over at The American Mind. Sean will out of his snowy element for a week between the mesas in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona.

He'll be enjoying something called baseball. I gather it involves grown men standing around in a field, playing with balls and sticks and being watched by other grown men who drink beer. As I understand it, this is all followed by more drinking of beer, supplanted (in Sean's case) by the consumption of margaritas, just to break things up.

I'll be driving up to the Bay Area on Sunday, and I'm hoping to get you all a little coastal photoblogging action. So with some luck both blogs will be filled with pretty pictures from warm places.

Enjoy. And make sure to meet me over at The American Mind when you have the chance.

Posted by Attila Girl at 12:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 07, 2006

Beautiful Atrocities

. . . offers some sage fashion advice to Cindy Sheehan, on the occasion of her latest arrest:

Shoes: Ever hear of pumps? A lady will put up with a little sciatica as long as she looks fabulous, & you'll have all the lesbians fighting over you when they throw you in the pit!

That does it. He's my only fashion consultant from here on out.

Posted by Attila Girl at 01:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GOP Congresscritters

. . . apparently want to "get serious" about blogging. We'll see about that.

In related news, Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report may be one of us. Don't tell anyone in the Industry, though: I'm sure the man has bills to pay.

I hope he does know the secret handshake, though: he was incredible on Strangers with Candy, one of the best TV shows ever made.

(Via Insty.)

Posted by Attila Girl at 12:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 06, 2006

So. Washer-Dryers.

I've been doing my mother's laundry since October. (I pick it up, then drop it off the next time I see her.)

Now that she has the second mortgage in place, she thinks it's time to get a washer and dryer. Oddly enough, I'm being really supportive of this idea.

It looks like this will be a splurge: she'd really like to get a state-of-the-art European-style front-loader, and I think it's justified since it'll be a big energy saver. Besides, she lives simply in most ways.

So: thoughts on those water-wise washers? It needs to be big enough to handle queen-size comforters. Other than that, we just want a good deal, and something sooper-dooper energy efficient.

(Yes, I'll drop by the Consumer Reports website before I head out to take her shopping.)

Posted by Attila Girl at 11:13 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


I liked the Simpsons back when they were pure, Man. Before they sold out. I'm talking the Tracy Ullman days, Man. When they got their own show, it all turned to shit.

Hat tip: Georgie Girl, of the Capers Club.

Posted by Attila Girl at 10:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Okay; I'm Out of the Game for Awhile.

Clients to feed. Sorry.

You can always check out my blogroll, and let me know which addresses therein are obsolete. (I haven't pruned it in a while.)

Or, you know. Read an ook-bay.

Posted by Attila Girl at 01:11 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

I Was Naughty and Ditched the Oscars.

Because I have work to do tomorrow, and because—let's face it—there's too much of them these days.

However, PJ Media covered it. So I was able to read their entries over and kind of glean the highlights: which dresses showed off the most cleavage, how offensive the political commentary was. You know.

Posted by Attila Girl at 01:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 05, 2006

Who Moved My Civil War?

Reynolds, on that Iraqi Civil War that really should be on its way, somewhere over the rainbow: "The press had better hope we win this war, because if we don't, a lot of people will blame the media."

Yup. Head over there: he's got good handful of links on media attempts to manufacture a juicy, delicious civil war, and quotes Greyhawk at The Mudville Gazette on the media's bad faith:

There are no requirements for media outlets to acknowledge that they are printing unverified claims made by "other parties" in the war as confirmed "news"—as was the case in the aftermath of the Shrine bombing (See here and here). But consumers of those reports should be aware of their flaws.

It's worth going over there as well: Greyhawk provides specifics from General Casey's press conference on mosque bombings and militia attacks, and then quotes the way these segments were misrepresented in The New York Times and the Washington Post. Pretty amazing stuff.

Posted by Attila Girl at 12:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Spirited Discussion Today

With Zeke regarding the old Cuba vs. China issue. It's interesting that Zeke and I approach the issue completely differently: he suspects that the reason we're engaging China is because it's such a ridiculously big market, and because it provides us cheap goods that sell like hotcakes.

I say that we might be attempting constructive engagement with Cuba if the noose were just a bit looser around its people's necks, and if the Cuban population in Florida didn't feel quite so strongly about punishing Castro's regime.

I also point out that the State Department's policies toward China have to reflect a friendliness no one quite feels, since we need China's help to keep North Korea in line. Not to mention making nice-nice with the Chinese directly, lest our vaguely competitive relationship turn into something chillier.

As we talk it emerges that Zeke feels commercial interests control the State Department, and it strikes me as an odd idea: State is run by career bureaucrats, for the most part. Some policy is made in the executive branch, but even that doesn't change with the winds to the degree people seem to imagine. Things like blockades are determined by politicians, rather than companies.

"Prove that I lie."

Posted by Attila Girl at 01:04 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 04, 2006

I Tried the Talking Clock Function

. . . on the system in my Mac. The idea is, it announces the time every hour on the hour, so you have an awareness of time as it goes by.

After all, Attila the Hub uses it. So it must be good. His announces the time in a Lurch voice.

I try for something softer. I think perhaps a female voice is a good idea. No. But the whole concept doesn't work for me: when the computer tells me it's thus-and-such time, I get furious and defensive. I think it's accusing me of being a slacker. I find myself asking it who wanted to know?—and, what the fuck are you doing that's so freaking productive?

I explain to it that I work hard, and don't appreciate its nagging.

So what I'd like to know is what can be done about my computer's personality disorders. I like it, but I just feel it needs . . . well, Prozac. How do I do that? Can I just sprinkle it into the CD drive or something?

I mean, it's a good computer. I just think it might be time for an intervention, and an SSRI.

I want to help.

Posted by Attila Girl at 11:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

So, I'm Eating Greek Food at Lunch

. . . with Hog Beatty and his friend, Zeke. Hog was at this restaurant last weekend with another buddy of his, and today we sit outside near the Venice "boardwalk" (no, it does not contain boards). It's a beautiful day by the beach.

The waitress, Mona, remembers Hog and calls him by name. We order, and she comes up to chat with us a bit. I ask her what part of England she's from, and she fills us in on her background, her upcoming travel plans, and what it's like to be an emigre in the States. She doesn't spare the eye contact with Hog. She goes back inside the restaurant.

"You should come here more often," I tell Hog, who still appears oblivious.

"What? You mean, so I can get in Mona's good graces."

"'Good graces' isn't how I'd put it," Zeke remarks.

Mona comes back out and chats with us some more, confiding that she's going to be working a lot of late shifts this week so she can fly back home. Then she excuses herself to go to another table.

"It's like money in the bank," I remark to Hog, and Zeke smiles. Hog appears to think we're making it up, but his antennae are up now, and when Mona shows up to collect the check and chat a bit more she holds the eye contact a bit longer.

"We're going for a short walk along the boardwalk," Zeke informs her.

"I envy you," she tells us. "It's lovely along the beach."

"What time did you say you leave work?" Hog asks.


"I'll be here," he tells her, as Zeke and I grin into our water glasses.

Hog may start out slow, but he certainly catches up in a hurry.

Zeke is married, with a child. I'm married, with a mortgage. We're having fun watching the kids play the game—never mind that Hog is older than both of us. He's divorced, and free, and getting hit on by a waitress from Nottiingham. And, you know: hitting back.

We walk along the boardwalk just up to muscle beach, wander back, and get into Zeke's Honda. We take Hog back to his apartment and tell him to rest up.

'Cause, you know. It might be a long night.

Posted by Attila Girl at 11:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What a Great Evening.

Dinner tonight with Darleen Click and her charming husband, a photographer/bass player who likes a lot of the same classic rock music I love to crank when I'm driving.

"Drums and bass," I tell him. "No one appreciates either one enough. But there's no rock and roll without either one."

The occasion? Well, I forgot to return Darleen's camera last summer when she left it at my house, and she knows I love good Mexican food—so she wanted to share her family's favorite Mexican place with me. My own husband has a badass deadline, so I bore my guilt and went out for excellent food, fun music, margaritas, and terrific conversation. And, uh, to finally return that camera.

Needless to say, with Darleen's excellent law-enforcement contacts, I got plenty of story ideas, but I'm not sharing them with any of you, lest you steal them and execute them imperfectly. (The former is bad enough, but the latter is entirely unacceptable.)

What amazes me is this: one assumes a lot of the writers out there on the web—bloggers, especially—cannot be as engaging in real life as they are online.

Of course, most of 'em are. It turns out that the world is full of smart people. I mean, smart like X-Acto blades.

Having an online presence can be like panning for gold: it isn't until things get shaken up a bit that you realize whom you like and trust.

Not that this didn't happen to me in high school: I have a core group of friends now whom I've held onto for better than 30 years. But to have it happen all over again, to find people who walk in real life like they talk online, is frosting on the cake.

Thank you, Darleen. (Green corn tamales in a few months, and maybe Attila the Hub will be able to make it! Can't wait.)


Posted by Attila Girl at 10:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Jeff Attempts

. . . some straight talk with Sean Hannity.

Posted by Attila Girl at 12:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 03, 2006

A Little Tag-Team Action:

Hitchens and Goldstein tackle Francis Fukuyama. Contains some good challenges for my lefty readers (and I know you're out there: I can seeee you).

The Hitchens excerpt is relatively short; read it if you dare.

Posted by Attila Girl at 04:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm Not Really a Size Whore,

but this is impressive.

Posted by Attila Girl at 11:25 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

March 02, 2006

I Went with My Mother Today

. . . to serve a three-day notice on one of her tenants.

That's the very hardest part of property management. It's probably just as well that I went with her.

She's doing the right thing, but even when someone's trying to game the system a bit it tears one's heart out when anyone falls on hard times. Particularly when they're used to a healthy income. In the best possible universe all our incomes would chart out into a nice, consistent upward trajectory. Almost no one I know has experienced this: instead, it's fat times and lean times and fat again and lean again. And suddenly there we are, practicing the same economies we did in our twenties. The ones we thought we'd left behind for good: Clipping coupons. Cooking from scratch. Ordering just a beverage or an appetizer when we feel we must go out with others. Nothing too onerous, but stuff we thought we'd outgrown.

There's no comfort to be found in this process. I drove her there, I met the tenant, I shook his hand. And I kept my mouth shut.

Snark is for blogging. Not real life.

My mother depends on this income. So, fuck. It's gotta be done. Also: fuck.

Posted by Attila Girl at 09:22 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

So. What Is My Relationship with the Computer

. . . doing for my attention-span problem? Helping it, I'm beginning to suspect.

Posted by Attila Girl at 09:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A Tale of Two Clients

Most publishers who contemplate some sort of long-term relationship want a test project, which I don't mind doing. Of course, the tests that are strictly copyediting/proofreading can be annoying: particularly the one that was heavy on the foreign words and phrases, but didn't provide a Wester's 10 (the standard paper edition used in most publications right now [online is 11, and also respected]). And the sub-standard dictionary provided didn't contain the particular foreign phrases used. Other than that, it was an open-book test. Want to verify that the accents are right? Well, tough, Girl: you should have majored in French. Not English.

I sometimes wish the industry would just standardize those tests, and license people, so I don't need to go through the motion of acing their tests. Can't someone simply certify me as God's gift to detail?

Mostly these tests take a lot of time, and are graded by people who firmly believe that copyediting is an objective art. It isn't. Even proofreading isn't a completely objective process.

Client #1 sends me a couple of test stories, including one that needs to be cut. This is good thinking, of course: copy-fitting is one of the most delicate tasks an editor needs to perform: it's easy to cut the essentials out by mistake.

So, so far so good.

Then the client's wrangler asks if I have an example of a story I've edited, and I have to say, no: I can't imagine any author agreeing to let one of the line editors take manuscripts of his/her stories home as work samples (or galleys, even). And I've signed a confidentiality agreement for most clients. Even when I haven't, it's never occurred to me to take proprietary information home with me. (Charts with printer's impositions, sure: I do have a reference folder with some industry-wide information. But that's no one's company secret.)

I tell them "no," and hope that the question was an ethics test of some sort. Surely it was a trick question. I invite them to send me another story, something really "tough," to make up for my being too discreet to steal in-house material.

Then client #2 calls, and wants some help with the direction a particularly long project is going in. I read the stuff that is forwarded to me, and of course it's fantastic. I know what's going on: it's hard not to get lost in the woods when you've got a monster project in front of you. And there are times any writer could swear it all sucks, big time.

But one has to keep on going. I tell him it's great material. I can edit it, sure, but it's compelling work and the final project will be something special. And I'm utterly sincere in this.

Never mind that I'm an incredible prose stylist—if I do say so myself. This particular client is a terrific storyteller. I come home and ask my husband, "who the fuck am I to advise so-and-so on such-and-such?"

"He's paying you to do that," points out Attila the Hub. So he is. And I realize that I'm a very lucky woman indeed: working with people whose projects I genuinely believe in—who represent quality—is a privilege.

So, yes: I suspect I'll be acing this test, and working with Client #1. Because they're doing something extraordinary, and I know it. And they'll sense that I know it.

It's not something most people can fake. At least—I can't.

Posted by Attila Girl at 08:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Double Hawkins Poll . . .

This time, his readers take on

The Best Moments in American History

and The Worst Moments in American History.

Posted by Attila Girl at 08:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 01, 2006

Catholic Town!

Coming soon, to a warm, humid environment near you.

Hm. I think utopian communities are interesting, but I tend to have mixed emotions about those based on religious beliefs.

For some reason this particular project bothers me, probably because I think some of the best conversations going on right now are between the orthodox of various monothistic religions—in particular, within the various strains of Christianity (including Roman Catholicism) and between Christianity and Judaism. No interaction means no healthy exchange of ideas.

Via Laurence, who suggests that "more good than bad will come of it." I'm still ambivalent, of course. And, naturally, I would never live in such a place.

Posted by Attila Girl at 10:27 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

One Definition of a "Good Aunt"

One who's seen 4-5 acts over the past 25 years at L.A.'s Wiltern Theatre, and can help you figure out which seats will be the best when you go there for a rock concert this spring.

Yeah. I got niece points. They're good to have.

Posted by Attila Girl at 08:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Oh, Those Crunchy Cons

Yeah. I like the Birkenstocks and granola, but that Puritanical (or "quasi-Amish") streak in Crunchy Town drives me nuts, especially when its denizens start putting down individual choices. If I wanted to live in a cultural straitjacket, I'd move to Berkeley, wouldn't I?

Cam Edwards is even more skeptical than I am, and takes on Caleb Stegall over his bizarre notion that Childcare Is Generally a Bad Thing.

Cam imagines that the issue might be a teensy bit more complicated than that.

Posted by Attila Girl at 08:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Strategy Page's checklist for determining when we're getting ready to bomb Iran (despite its lower density of Brown People vs. neighboring states).

My favorite? Number 7, "increased delivery of Pizza to Pentagon."

Posted by Attila Girl at 07:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Survey: Readers of Political Blogs

Blogads is once more sponsoring several surveys of niches within the blogosphere, and would like your responses to a few questions if you regard yourself as a reader of "political blogs."

I guess my being chosen to send readers over indicates that I'm considered a political weblog, rather than "politics + Joy's angst + household hints." That's all to the good.

Should you decide to take the survey have at it, and make sure to use "Little Miss Attila" as your answer to question #23.

Remember: more responses means sharper marketing of blogads. This translates into Actual Revenue for your favorite sites, and more Bitchin' Free Content you can read on company time. Everyone goes away happy.

Posted by Attila Girl at 07:12 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Malkin, on the Port Deal

Just as some people throw out the word "racist" too easily, others throw out the "how dare you call me a racist?" rejoinder as if it were a rhetorical molecule. Next thing you know, we're talking past each other again.

The UAE is our "friend," we are told, and to question that assertion, we are scolded, is to engage in reckless prejudice and life-threatening insult. Yes, well, some friends are more equal than others. To instinctively trust a longtime, stalwart Western democracy more than an Arab newcomer with a mixed record on combating terror, international crime, and Islamic extremism is not "Islamophobia." It's self-preservationist in a time of war.

We are at war, aren't we?

Yes. We are at war. That's why it's important for us to bank on our brains, and employ honest risk assessments, rather than using our "instincts."

The underlying argument—the one people aren't talking about much—has to do with how to spread classical liberalism, economic opportunity, and—yes, dammit—the best Western of values.

Is it better to partially engage, as we do with China, and co-opt potential opponents—and yet end up with dirty hands? Or do we apply the hardline stance we use in Cuba? Obviously, each situation is different: China is not Cuba, and neither is perfectly analogous to any Middle Eastern state.

But philosophically I lean toward engagement, as opposed to something that appears to flirt dangerously with "fuck you, you dirty Arab; come back when your entire society is perfect, and your track record squeaky clean (which, of course, ours in the U.S. is not)."

Most people who are intimately familiar with the UAE are supportive of this deal, and feel that the progress there is tremendous. But even if the UAE were as shady as Malkin asserts, isn't there an old saying about keeping one's friends close and one's enemies closer?

Color me yet-to-be-convinced that this is an awful idea. Though I'm still listening.

(Via Hackbarth, who likewise is still saying, "show me the security risks.")

Posted by Attila Girl at 04:10 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

I Should Fire My Housekeeper.

But I can't.

Posted by Attila Girl at 12:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

How to Protest the 55 mph Speed Limit

Via Reynolds, An Extraordinary Act of Civil Obedience.

My first reaction: what assholes.

My second reaction: a system that depends upon rule-breaking is fundamentally broken. If we are relied upon to break the rules, the rules should be changed. (See "immigration, illegal," and "drugs, war on.") So, yeah: it had to be done.

Posted by Attila Girl at 10:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

They Must, You Know,

clank when he walks.

Posted by Attila Girl at 01:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Europe, Slip Sliding Away . . .

Douglas Murray, in The Times:

Holland — with its disproportionately high Muslim population — is the canary in the mine. Its once open society is closing, and Europe is closing slowly behind it. It looks, from Holland, like the twilight of liberalism — not the “liberalism” that is actually libertarianism, but the liberalism that is freedom. Not least freedom of expression.

All across Europe, debate on Islam is being stopped. Italy’s greatest living writer, Oriana Fallaci, soon comes up for trial in her home country, and in Britain the government seems intent on pushing through laws that would make truths about Islam and the conduct of its followers impossible to voice.

Those of us who write and talk on Islam thus get caught between those on our own side who are increasingly keen to prosecute and increasing numbers of militants threatening murder. In this situation, not only is free speech being shut down, but our nation’s security is being compromised.

Since the assassinations of Fortuyn and, in 2004, the film maker Theo van Gogh, numerous public figures in Holland have received death threats and routine intimidation. The heroic Somali-born Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her equally outspoken colleague Geert Wilders live under constant police protection, often forced to sleep on army bases. Even university professors are under protection.

Europe is shuffling into darkness. It is proving incapable of standing up to its enemies, and in an effort to accommodate the peripheral rights of a minority is failing to protect the most basic rights of its own people.

The governments of Europe have been tricked into believing that criticism of a belief is the same thing as criticism of a race.

My emphasis.

I've been hoping that the apparant solar eclipse in Europe is something else—perhaps an optical illusion of some sort. But it's hard to keep that hope alive when people have to engage in cloak-and-dagger behavior to talk openly about Islam at all.

Off in the distance, I hear Anne Frank screaming at me from her grave.

Via Reynolds, who adds:

People talk about Eurabia, but what's really happened is that Europe has become Weimarized, with governments and institutions too morally and intellectually weak to stand up for the principles they pretend to embody. And we know what that led to last time . . . .
Posted by Attila Girl at 12:12 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

About Joy W. McCann: I've been interviewed for Le Monde and mentioned on Fox News. I once did a segment for CNN on "Women and Guns," and this blog is periodically featured on the New York Times' blog list. My writing here has been quoted in California Lawyer. I've appeared on The Glenn and Helen Show. Oh—and Tammy Bruce once bought me breakfast.
My writing has appeared in
The Noise, Handguns, Sports Afield, The American Spectator, and (it's a long story) L.A. Parent. This is my main blog, though I'm also an alumnus of Dean's World, and I help out on the weekends at Right Wing News.
My political philosophy is quite simple: I'm a classical liberal. In our Orwellian times, that makes me a conservative, though one of a decidedly libertarian bent.

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I fear neither death nor pain." —Eowyn, Tolkien's
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