"What kind of name is Attila Girl? Heck, you can't wage any kind of respectable war; you're just a lowly female.
--Glenn Reynolds


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Miss Attila--who is a Ms in real life--lives in the hills of Southern California with her husband, a herd of deer, and an impressive collection of old magazines. She spends a lot of time cleaning her guns, and is reachable at: littlemissattila@yahoo.com.

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News from The Command Post

If I weren't married
to the funniest man alive
these would be even better:

Everyone's ex-boyfriend should
spoof their site like this:
Little Mr. Mahatma
Isn't it wonderful?

I'm so lucky to know Hip Nerd in real life. Try him for left-of-center excellence.
Hip Nerd's Blog

And my other faves:

A Small Victory
Amish Tech Support

The Bitch Girls
Da Goddess
Damnum Absque Injuria
Dean's World
Desert Cat

Electric Venom
Eleven Day Empire

Hi. I'm Black.
Iberian Notes
Infinite Monkeys
Intel Dump

Jay's Verbosity
John Lemon
The Last Man Dancing

Margi Lowry
No Watermelons Allowed
On the Fritz
Photon Courier
The Protocols of
the Yuppies of Zion

Right Wing News
Kelley's Suburban Blight

The Truth Laid Bear

We Try, Guy
You Big Mouth, You!


The Bear Flag League

Little Miss Attila
Saturday, August 30, 2003  


Margi Lowry quotes the following from Venomous Kate, who granted an interview to David Strain (part of his "Sunday Seven" series) that I only got around to reading tonight. [That lay in the house that Jack built. You were waiting for that, no?]

I think the Blogosphere is going to spend quite some time establishing its relevancy and its niche in the stream of information available to people on a daily basis, and that's going to cause some growing pains. Right now, I think we're already seeing some of those growing pains--there's a definite tension between the bloggers who focus on their personal lives and write quality, eloquent original work on a daily basis, and those who are news-, politics- and war-bloggers with little emphasis on the person behind the blog. I don't know whether this is going to cause a split or if it's just a temporary tension, but it's there and it seems to be growing deeper with proponents on both sides getting increasingly vocal about it.
At some point--if we're not already there--I think we'll see two separate "spheres" that don't overlap much. One will consist of bloggers who view themselves as providing an alternative media, an information service that harnesses the power of the internet and the ability to do rapid fact-checking with instant updates and personal in-depth analysis or op-ed. On the other will be bloggers who see themselves forming a social network to exchange ideas and form friendships, with their blogs focusing on their lives and the similarities of their lives to other people throughout the world and their work consisting of original writing that's shared in a self-published forum.
Right now, both of those styles are considered part of the "blogosphere," and yet when you look at the rankings it's primarily the blogs providing information that are drawing the larger numbers of readers and attention, which means that a huge number of quality, dedicated bloggers aren't getting the attention their blogs merit. The good news is that I think sooner, rather than later, the bloggers who seek to be information sources will indeed become an alternative media and will wind up forming their own little "sphere," which would make room for the folks putting out quality, original writing to get the attention and traffic that they deserve.

I wonder. I've considered dividing my blogroll into two sections: "newsy" blogs, and "social" ones. The problem is deciding exactly where you draw the line. Certainly some sites are clearly at either end of the spectrum, but there are a bunch of 'em in between. (As for me--you will rarely see breaking news here. You may, however, read the occasional commentary that will make you think twice. That is, when I'm not writing about my mother's little dog.)

I certainly have received complaints from my serious readers (um, make that "serious reader") about discussing blogwars. Well. One of these "wars" was grave enough that I felt compelled to comment on it. The other is so frivolous that I felt compelled to comment on it. As far as I'm concerned, the only justified blogwar is a joke war. If you are so serious about the blogosphere that you are threatening other people's jobs, or trying to get their kids taken away . . . do yourself two favors: 1) throw your computer away; 2) get a real hobby. Macrame, masturbation: it matters not.

I regard blogging as a sort of magazine. Certainly that's what I am: a magazine, rather than a newspaper. You will not be well-informed by reading my blog. You may be entertained on occasion, and you may gain an interesting slant on something-or-other. But I'm no substitute for Fox News (or CNN, WorldNetDaily . . . whatever).

And FWIW, even the Big Dogs of News have their own favorite personal topics: Stephen Green posts recipes, and panegyrics to his bride. Glenn of Instapundit fuels the fires of Frank J's faux blogwar with him, and alludes to his own supposed predilection for canine shakes. And if something's funny, James Joyner will link it: he may be serious, but he's no snob. Kate herself manages to braid together the silly, the X-rated, and the policy-related on her site.

Hey. I may be a blogwar whore--I'll stake out a position on anything. But on this larger potential conflict I'm firmly neutral: I want my news and my human interest. There are things I just won't do for traffic, ya know. Surprised, aren't you? Me too. Who knew?

8/30/2003 01:25:00 AM




What herb are you?
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With a tip of the hat to Kelley, who apparently has a thing or two in common with me.

8/30/2003 12:38:00 AM

Friday, August 29, 2003  


So, I was thinking about updating my blogroll, which is chronically behind, when I realized that 2-3 of the blogs I need to add are by illustrious black bloggers. And I was thinking of how ambivalent I am when I see my name--or that of any other female blogger--on a separate "chick bloggers" list on someone's blogroll. I always do a double take, and think, "hey. There's more to me than my boobs, ya know." Then the Voice of Reason takes over and reminds me that I do, indeed, blog about "women's issues," and express a distinctly female point of view. (For example, if you're small-framed, don't assume that a small gun will be right for you. A firearm of substantial weight might actually provide you with a stabler shooting platform. At the same time, make sure that the trigger reach is correct for your hand, which may be smaller than a man's.)

I'm aware, of course, that sexism, racism, and homophobia are all different things: there are subtleties to gender interactions that simply aren't present in dealing with other races (or even ethnicities that one might be bigoted against, like Latinos or Jews). The conventional "women's studies" viewpoint is, "we are the only oppressed group that regularly sleeps with its oppressors." (Years later I realized that once you use the word "oppressed" to describe yourself, you're lost. But that's a different story.)

I can't help it: I wonder if it would be offensive to add black bloggers to my blogroll as a separate category. Will Glenn mind? How about Mr. Bowen from No Watermelons? Will I finally get a respectable amount of hate mail? Or am I providing a public service to those who want to see more entries by people of color? Will people send me links to the best black blogs or blog entries? Will I then branch out into providing links to the finest Japanese or Indian blogs? Will the local Unitarians burn a question mark on my lawn? Who knows?

Guess I'll find out.

But what to do about Infinite Monkeys?--aren't they racially mixed? Hm. I have no idea. My recollection is that at least one or two of them are black. Hence, I've decided that they qualify as "Black Blogs"--that is, "blogs wherein one might find someone representing a possible Black point of view."

Just to be clear: if anyone from any of these blogs objects, I'll vaporize the category. No "separate but equal" treatment from me, thank you very much. At least, not in the Jim Crow sense.

8/29/2003 12:51:00 AM

Tuesday, August 26, 2003  


I'm trying to watch my Tuesday night television crime shows, and it just ain't the same without my spouse. Ah, well. He'll be back soon.

Shows that focus on forensics basically fall into two categories: those that are willing to use the word "semen," and those that are not. I always wonder about those that substitute euphemisms like "biological evidence." At first blush, you'd think that's because there might be small kids watching. But what kind of creature lets his/her/its kids see programs in which women's bodies regularly show up floating nude near the banks of rural rivers, their bodies inhabited by various types of larvae?

Hey . . . where'd everybody go? Was it something I said?

8/26/2003 10:55:00 PM



David Strain asks, "show tunes. What am I missing?" Eventually he concludes, "nothing."

RTWDT.* Now.

* Read The Whole Damned Thing.

8/26/2003 10:43:00 PM

Monday, August 25, 2003  


You hear two sides to one story, and have to wonder which one is closer to the truth. This one could be tough to sort out: would you go with Jen, because of her historical tidbits, or Frank J., for his irreverence, sense of humor, and love of guns?

Tough, tough.

8/25/2003 02:58:00 AM

Sunday, August 24, 2003  


No Watermelons--that anti-melon maestro--explains why you can't neglect energy infrastructure for years and years and then expect to set it all right instantly.

8/24/2003 12:18:00 AM

Saturday, August 23, 2003  


My mother's dog is learning to deal with me. I've been permitted to pet her a few times, and she accepts me more than she accepts most strangers. And when my mother has to leave for a few minutes Sunset seems a little happier if I offer low-voiced reassurances that mom will be back, and isn't she "a good girl" for being so patient.

Sunset Angel needs doggie valium, if you ask me. But I relate to her, and that's a little scary. Always attracted to what's damaged, ya know.

Somehow I got growled/barked at twice when my mother and I tried to look at a quilting calendar together tonight, and all we can think is that the dog's been hit with a few magazines in her day--that's the only explanation that makes sense. (Of course, why is my mother permitted to peruse the calendar alone in peace? Sigh.)

What a neurotic dog--but she does have a sweet little face. Fortunately, my husband would never let me keep her. (Though he's agreed in principle to my getting a nice big dog--a Labrador or a Golden Retriever--after we acquire a child. Better that the child adapt to a dog than a dog adapt to a child. You understand.)

8/23/2003 11:11:00 PM



How could she not, with that sweet little black-brown face. My mother's new dog was mistreated, neglected and eventually sent into my mother's home as a potential "foster dog." Despite the fact that she growls at me--and at other strangers (and freaks out when my mother leaves the room)--I still think she could make a small family happy. Especially one that likes a little solicitious attititude toward those within the compound of the home: she's very willing to bark at strangers/"intruders" at night; this could be good. Maybe they could introduce a new family member every week as "someone she should like." I dunno.

(I secretly want to keep her, but it's impossible. I cannot get a dog this year.)

UPDATE: Hm. Thought I'd posted about the dog right before stumbling off to bed last night/this morning. Must not blog while half-asleep. Weird thing was, I couldn't find this on my site for half the day today--hence, yet another post about the charming/annoying canine my mother brought with her for a visit.

8/23/2003 05:21:00 AM

Friday, August 22, 2003  


My husband just left town, and on the same day my mother showed up, per our arrangement. I was looking forward to seeing her without the spouse around, a "just us girls" sort of visit.

I also thought it would be great to have her here for the first time without a dog, since the dog she had for years had health problems that led to spotting on my carpet. Plus--the noise, the smells. It just seemed that without the little dachsund in her arms, we'd have more freedom. A pity that I felt that way after the little dog died, but I did.

So she pulled up in her car today, reached into the back seat . . . and pulled out another little tiny brown-and-black dog. I thought I was in a Twilight Zone episode.

Whereas the old dog was a placid, elderly little thing, this one is a hyper, feisty little miniature pinscher. Mom is its "foster mother," and the dog may have been abused in the past. This means that every time my mother leaves the room--even to go to the bathroom--the dog whines and barks. It also means that unless my mother and I are close together--or touching--the dog isn't sure if I'm an okay person, and growls and barks at me. Since my mom is sleeping in the dining room/kitchen, this means no midnight snacks for me. I tried sneaking in, but the minute I touched the door to the dining room the growling and barking started: it's as if the dog wants to show my mother that she's doing a good job of protecting her.

Maybe tomorrow night I'll collect some snack food and keep it here in the den--or in the bedroom.

Or, since this dog is actually housebroken, we might find another place for my mother and "Angel Sunset" to sleep. It doesn't have to have hard flooring, but it does have to be a little bit indestructible--this creature is a climber, and leaps around a bit: I've seen it jump multiple feet into the air. (Though the dining room was the easiest to tidy up/dog proof.)

This is the kind of thing that makes me believe in God: there is clearly a Presence out there orchestrating this for his/her/its amusement.

Aaaarrgh. I think I'm getting hungry again.

8/22/2003 04:27:00 AM

Wednesday, August 20, 2003  


Or maybe it's just time for the Carnival of the Vanities, up right now at James' site, Outside the Beltway. He's doing a wonderful job.

8/20/2003 01:50:00 AM



Governor Low-Beam gave a speech today in front of a bunch of syncophants at UCLA who cheered and booed in all the right places.

He essentially said, "I didn't do anything wrong, I promise not to do it again, the evil Republicans are behind this because they want to Defeat the Democratic Process and Grab Power, and at least we didn't have power outages like they did in New York."

I'm not kidding; he actually brought up the East Coast power outages and bragged about how he "kept the lights on in California." But not a word about locking us into 20-25-year contracts that oblige us to pay 200% percent of today's market value for energy until I'm . . . middle-aged.

As for the mess he's spent five years making of the California budget, he promises to appoint a commission that will help him figure out what to do. I wonder if the members of that commission will have the same conflicts of interest as the members of his energy commission--who worked for energy companies that stood to benefit from the sweet deal Davis was cutting them.

What a useless waste of protoplasm. Get him out of the statehouse, and replace him with any fiscally responsible person from any party. I'd happily vote for my mother at this point: she's a math teacher, and--given sufficient motivation--she can balance a checkbook and look for good deals on high-ticket items. She'd do a much better job.

"Defeat the Democratic process," my ass. Let's hide behind the donkey; it'll protect any level of incompetence.

Most of my Democratic friends don't seem to be falling for this, luckily. If you know someone who does, please remind them that Gray Davis only cares about Gray Davis.

Thank you.

8/20/2003 01:24:00 AM

Tuesday, August 19, 2003  


I suspect I’m about to make a few people mad. But they should know by now that I’m not going to censor myself to please them. And that our respective gut feelings about some other bloggers’ characters are starkly at odds.

Here are my observations:

1) A few chapters ago in the “Goddess vs. Serpent” saga, Venomous Kate posted something that documented some of the difficulties encountered by those who are trying to raise kids and be full-time homemakers in this day and age. It was a very subjective post--more like a diary entry than anything else. And it was a little out-of-character for her to post it, since she usually sticks with politics, using tiny little portholes to give us glimpses of her “real life.” I’m sure she regrets opening this large picture window into her most personal feelings. But she did.

I felt there was tremendous merit in the piece, since it was a raw, unprocessed look at some of the fault lines in the traditional system of the woman being a stay-at-home-mom--a lifestyle that’s very easy to romanticize.

The reaction was amazingly beside the point and out of proportion. One blogger actually went so far as to fisk this diary entry, paragraph by paragraph, and conclude that VK has emotional problems--and drinks too much.

The fisking was fabulous, because in it the blogger--Crazy Tracy--essentially gave intellectual answers to what are really emotional questions. It was hard to belive she had ever worked in psychology at all. Though I did believe her when she said she’s a dry alcoholic. There are those who take on a certain zealousness when they give something up. The book Alcoholics Anonymous makes it a point to discourage that attitude in 12-steppers. But they aren’t always successful: I know “recovering alcoholics” who see drunks behind every tree.

Tracy--nice 12-Step work. Page 449:

When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation--some fact of my life--unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

The whole concept of fisking a diary entry is enchanting to me. I want to know what’s next: can I fisk poetry? How about T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”? I mean, can we agree that Prufrock is a just a little self-indulgent in that poem? He has it pretty good, and he should just BUCK UP! How about fisking Edgar Allan Poe? Now that dude was moody, moody, moody. I’ll bet Crazy Tracy could tell him just how crazy he was.

I’d love to fisk the romantics--don’t you think Coleridge was just a bit ungrateful for all his many blessings? And Keats!--there’s a guy who needed to get his feet back on the ground. Not to mention William Butler Yeats. Whine, whine, whine about Ireland all day long. Why don’t you just SHUT UP, AND THROW A GRENADE like a normal Mick?

2) The next chapter, I suppose, occurred when Venomous Kate’s daughter trolled Da Goddess’ web site after her mother was in bed, and said some outrageously rude things.

Kate figured out immediately the next morning what had happened, and offered to give her phone number to Da Goddess--so the child could apologize in person--but this offer was apparently refused.

There is a theory out there--promoted, I believe, by Anton--that Venomous Kate wrote the entry herself. Of course, his theory rests on Joanie’s and Kate’s clocks being perfectly synched up on their respective computers (After all, if they’re even ten minutes off, that’s time for a girl to cross to the computer, find the blogsite of the woman her mother doesn’t like, and attempt to tear into her. Typing goes faster, BTW, when you are using all caps. And it's not like the composition reflects, um, a great deal of thought.)

My problem with the theory is not that it couldn’t suggest Kate had means and opportunity. Sure--it does create the notion of it being physically possible. But where was motive? I guess I heard two possible motives bandied about: a) Venomous Kate was drunk, so she let loose the bile within her and came up with the “my daughter did it” explanation later. And: b) Kate was simply trying to attack Da Goddess, come what may, and decided to hide behind her 12-year-old daughter to do it.

Let’s take the "she was drunk" theory. Having spent some time looking over things I wrote in various journals when I was in my cups (mostly in my hard-drinking 20s), I can tell you for a fact that no one’s writing style changes that drastically when they are loaded. They may produce typos, but they do not fundamentally forget how to spell. They may get wordy, but they don’t forget that it’s a cardinal sin in the blogosphere to “yell” by typing in all caps. And: no matter how fucked-up Kate got, she certainly wouldn’t have forgotten that her IP is traceable in someone’s comment section. There's no way she would have thought she could do that anonymously.

Then there’s the “impersonated her daughter theory.” The one that involves thought and premeditation.

The biggest argument against this one is obvious: this whole incident was embarrassing to Kate. Why would a person put a lot of thought and effort into something that is going to humiliate them? That’s like saying, “see? She worked on that button of the dress just to the point that it would give way and have her gown slide down her body right in the middle of that speech, showing her in her dorky panty-hose before the professional association made up of her peers in her industry.” People don’t usually work hard to embarrass themselves; most of us assume life will do it for us.

3) There’s a lot of talk going on to the effect that social workers don’t work on Saturdays. The implication usually made is that Kate has actually made this up as well.

Well, I’ve known social workers who sometimes work weekends. How can a person categorically state what the policies are in another county, much less another state?

But, again, there is the “motive” question: why would Kate claim there had been a visit from CPS if there hadn’t been? To garner sympathy? After the fuss dies down, she and Da Goddess will very likely both lose traffic, because no one wants to be involved in something like this. The mud splatters everywhere. VK will always be marked as “the woman whose cat fight went beyond the blogosphere.” There’s no motive, because there’s no possible gain.

For instance, I will likely never again darken the door of a blog whose name contains any of the following letters: M, O, X, I, or E. It's not about assigning blame; it's just that it reminds me of something icky that happened.

4) Kate has never made a public announcement as to who she thinks made that phone call. There has been no accusation. She will not even permit speculation (or hints) on her website.

5) It is a rather egregious form of passive-aggressive mocking to call a woman you strongly dislike “Honey” or even “Hon.” It’s unattractive. It's happened a few times during this little saga. (I now expect 75% of hate mail to me to begin "Honey . . .")

6) If you dislike someone, and yet you find yourself able to recite obscure facts about her--like how many martinis she had the night her son got sick--you really need to consider the possibility that you are obsessing about them. And what that says about your own mental health.

That said,

7) If Da Goddess didn't make that phone call personally, she is not responsible for the fact that it was made. We all talk too much on these sites, and the person who takes talk into the realm of action is solely at fault. I do not want to be held liable if I make a remark about doing something to someone with my Ruger .357 and some wacko reads it and actually commits some kind of felony with a firearm.

It's speech, Folks. Try to use it responsibly. But the cure for speech is more speech, and Joanie didn't, to the best of my understanding, have anything to do with filing that false report. There is a difference between intemperate speech and irresponsible action. (Unless, of course, you are in a crowded theatre.)

That’s the truth, as I see it. Out of the blue, blue sky.

8/19/2003 01:56:00 AM

Monday, August 18, 2003  


I've always wondered about how we socialize kids in the country with respect to alcohol. I've always felt that we let it acquire too much of the Thrill of the Forbidden--and give some teenagers a nearly unquenchable thirst. This is, after all, the country that ran the Prohibition experiment.

Here's one perspective on a European solution to the teens-and-alcohol problem.

8/18/2003 10:49:00 PM

Sunday, August 17, 2003  


Last night--Friday night--the Attila-hub and I went out to see James Lipton interview Clint Eastwood for "Inside the Actors' Studio." At the point where an actor's "filmography" is usually announced, Lipton reminded us that Clint has directed and acted in something like 55 films; it was impossible to list them all.

It was at the Geffen Theatre, and we were told they'd open the playhouse doors at 6:30. In reality it was more like 6:55, so we'd been waiting for an hour or so when they let us in. It was hot, but no one complained. They wanted to see Clint.

I was thankful the Hun-spouse is still a member of the television academy; this was one heck of a nice perk. (Even better than the mountain of free videotape/DVDs that rain on us every spring in preparation for the Emmy award voting process.)

The Geffen Theatre is actually the old Westwood Playhouse, across from UCLA. I've been going there since I was a teenager in the 70s. It used to be that the theatre was surrounded--I kid you not--by a furniture store that sold lots of Danish modern pieces. My mother still has a leather chair she bought there in the mid-70s. I have a bookcase--a well-made teak-veneer piece--she got me there in the late 70s. It's still going strong.

I've seen there: several contemporary plays during the Geffen era, including one that starred Valerie Harper. A one-woman play about Virginia Woolf. Another, as I recall, on Gertrude Stein. Vincent Price, I believe, doing a one-man show as Oscar Wilde. Lots of productions over the years, but a lot of one-person shows. It's an intimate little theatre. Made of brick. One really good earthquake, and it's toast. But it's certainly a pretty little venue.

They were taping the Clint interview for television, so there was the usual nonsense about filling every single chair up front--a big hue and cry about "we *must* fill that seat in the third row! It's television!" My husband and I were seated in the second row, but off to audience right (stage left). Just at the angle where we couldn't see Clint's face too much of the time, though he twisted around to acknowledge those of us off to his left every now and again.

The interview took a good three hours, and the AC wasn't working very well at the Geffen. I was glad I'd worn a light blouse. (It wasn't as bad inside the theatre, though, as it had been in the lobby/former furniture store.)

Clint grew up poor. I like that: I like that a guy whose father moved from Sacramento to Pacific Palisades (back when Pac Pal was a small, nothing town) to take a job as a gas station attendent during the Depression eventually became this monstrously successful man.

I also like it that his sets are, apparently, the only quiet ones in the business. His crew members use radios like those employed by the Secret Service, and Clint himself communicates a lot through hand signals. He never says "action," or "cut." Rather, it's "let's start" and "that's enough." He tries to place as few hurdles to a harmonious, serene scene as he can.

I like it that he respects himself enough to really take care of himself. He was born in '29, I believe--which makes him seven years older than my parents. (My mother and father are both, as my dad puts it, "Vintage 1936.") Yet he's holding up better than both of them.

Lipton covered a lot, though to mention every work would have been impossible. (My candidate for "most egregious omission"?--Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Not a word about that one!)

How Clint got into acting.

Where Clint got his first job.

His casting on Rawhide.

Play Misty for Me.

The Dirty Harry series.

His spaghetti Westerns.

Every Which Way But Up. (Lipton: "Whatever possessed you to star opposite a chimpanzee?"
Clint: "it's not that different from working with people. Okay--it's like working with a seven-year old. We could only do one take; the chimp wouldn't do it twice.")

The Unforgiven. (Lipton: "I've only used this word twice before in this entire series. I believe The Unforgiven is a masterpiece.")

The Bridges of Madison County. (Lipton: "Meryl Streep told us that when she worked with you she was only once conscious of your being an actor and a director at the same time. And that was when you were kissing, and she realized you were gesturing directions to the crew behind her back."
Clint: "I've learned to turn the switch on and off again. You have to do that to direct yourself . . . . You only worry about not being objective enough about your own performance.")

They didn't talk about Sondra Locke. And I don't know if I want to read her hatchet job on Clint. Why ruin all my lovely illusions about the man? She's still a shooter, so I'd have to take her perceptions seriously. A pity.

Lipton waxed enthusiastic about the upcoming Clint release Mystic River, which a friend of mine loaned me some time ago. It's now buried, but I guess I'd best go read it. Or maybe wait until the movie is released, and see it first--then read it. Apparently Clint managed, with Mystic River, what he didn't quite achieve in Blood Work. I'm looking forward to it.

Time marches on relentlessly. People like Clint keep growing and changing. He does what he pleases, and some of these movies succeed commercially. Others don't. He claims he doesn't even really know which ones are likely to be hits. (Though he didn't contradict Lipton's assertion that he does "hits" to finance his more independent/artsy films. He just professes not to know which are going to be which. He says he assumed The Unforgiven was destined for obscurity.)

I want to do the same. Write what I like. And assume people will pay for enough of it to make it worth the times they do not.

And I hope/believe I'll still look great in my 70s. Just a different kind of great--that's all.

Hug your spouse today. And your DVD player. Kiss your kids, if you've got 'em. Go do what you do well.

8/17/2003 04:31:00 AM

Tuesday, August 12, 2003  


If you didn't see the Insta-Take on the validity/usefulness of the recall election, do so now. I'll wait.

I'm afraid that when I hear people whining about the recall I always think of the Florida election, and how certain Democrats wanted to change the rules of the game in the middle of a play. In this state we've always been aware of the recall provision, since we've all seen petitions to recall the past several governors--seen 'em, but not signed 'em. So if this possibility bothered us, we would have changed the California Constitution before now.

This should also answer those Chicken Little types who fret that "now that there's one successful recall, you'll be having them every five minutes." If it were that damned easy to do, it would have happened before. It took a monumental level of ineptness in the governor's mansion to make one of these petitions actually succeed. Over a million signatures ain't easy to get.

Fret not. Get some sleep. Vote for Arnold.

8/12/2003 07:34:00 PM



Sweet and fruity, you drink to have fun and love every minute of it!
Congratulations!! You're a strawberry daquiri!!

What Drink Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

At first, I was taken aback. Then it made sense: the quiz isn't "what do you drink?" Rather, it's "what drink are you?" Different questions. I definitely don't drink strawberry daquiris--or any daquiris, for that matter. I drink wine mostly, or beer with some spicy foods. After dinner, it's a Manhattan in the winter, a gin and tonic in the summer, and something with vodka in it (often orange vodka) on special occasions. (Mandarin orange cosmos are a favorite at the moment.)

But I can see why I might be perceived by others as a sort of fruity, fun drink with a bit of a kick. I can see that quite well.

Here's the text that's supposed to go along with the image, but doesn't for whatever reason: "Sweet and fruity, you drink to have fun and love every minute of it!" (Don't get carried away, now: no one loves every minute of anything.")

Goodnight, now. Are you okay to drive?

(Hat tip: Kelley at Suburban Blight.)

8/12/2003 07:04:00 PM

Monday, August 11, 2003  


The lovely Kelley of Suburban Blight is interviewing me. My answers are below, but this is how it works: I post my answers to her questions, and then I make myself available for interviews of my readers. Since I don't have comments yet, you'll have to e-mail me if you want to be interviewed. Then, if you have a blog, you post your answers there. Otherwise, I post the answers. [Yes: I do have a non-blogging readership, and don't want to exclude those people.] If you do blog your answers, you make yourself available to interview your own readers--and so on, and so on.

There will always be five questions. You can't use any question twice, or use someone else's question.

On to my interview by Kelley:

1) You knew this was coming . . . why Little Miss Attila? Explain your name!

My first choice was "Dr. Bitch." (Though I don't have a doctorate.) It started as a warblog, and my pro-invasion views were alienating some people in L.A. I'd go to media events and be treated to harangues against the (potential, at that time) action in the Middle East. People just assumed I was on their side. It was maddening, so of course I used the verbal judo of caricaturing my views as much as possible in the name of my "warblog." ("If you think I'm bloodthirsty, I'll acknowledge that right off the bat, so we can get down to arguing the finer points.") I was also drawing on Rush Limbaugh's frequent reference to "sitting in the Attila the Hun chair" (much as I hate to admit that, 'cause he's being catty toward the blogging community right now).

2) I want to know all about your rock and roll career. Tell us how you came to make music, and where it is all going now.

Well, it's sort of on hold at the moment. I want to take up the guitar, but to get one is a few hundred dollars I don't have. We're just scraping by, and my material desires are, in order: 1. a bookcase; 2. my blog upgrade/redesign and relocation; 3. the guitar. I'd also need lessons. (Unless I knew a guitar teacher who needed proofreading done, in which case barter would work!)

The music thing is just going to take time to develop. In the meantime, I'm thinking of getting back into the "fiction writing" game, which could have a much more immediate payoff. (I may not be able to sing, and as physically inept as I am, guitar playing could go either way. Writing, I can do.)

3) If you were going to be locked in a prison cell and allowed to bring three books along for a 25-year stay, which three books would you take?

The Norton Anthology of Poetry, because it's big and has a little of everything in it;
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare;
A Bible with a good concordance and some juicy historical reference material in the back.

4) What is your favorite beverage, soft or alchoholic?

Soft is mango juice. Alcoholic would have to be a mandarin orange cosmopolitan--goes with every kind of food you'd want to eat.

5) What advice would you give to a new blogger?

* Don't get hung up on who is reading you at first, but do think about your entries in terms of "would I want to read this in someone else's blog?" It's that whole art concept: achieving something universal by means of the specific. Yes--you made black-bean chili for dinner. Very good. But when you post about it, it should either be in a practical way [give the recipe!] or the entry should be something the reader can relate to when she makes her own favorite dish--which happens to be oven-fried chicken.

* This may go without saying, but get a separate e-mail address for your online life. It's essential for people like me--who don't use our real names for our blogging--but a good idea for anyone.

* Reach out to other bloggers, one at a time--and not in a contrived way that makes them feel hounded. People will see your work in three ways: if you e-mail them, if you link to them, or if they see you on someone else's site (as a text link or in a blogroll) and follow. One thing I don't do myself, but that might work, would be to blogroll your favorite blogs and then use your own blog page as a launching platform--that is, while browsing, always go to your own page first, instead of using your computer's bookmarks to check out your "top ten/twenty" for your nightly browse. That way, you'll show up on other people's referral logs, and they'll probably be curious enough to check out your site.

I tended to send e-mail every now and again to the bloggers I admired the most (people like Eugene Volokh and the guys at Oxblog), but only very, very occasionally. Still, they all checked out my site and linked me. I got my first links from Volokh, Oxblog, and Outside the Beltway, all of which I followed religiously at first. (OTB is still a nightly stop.)

* Be patient. This is a labor of love, and at first you're probably blogging for your best friend, your spouse, and your mother. It takes months to build up an audience.

* Try to find something in the news you can riff off of--particularly if there is an online article you can link to (either praising it, or, preferably, savaging it). This will get you hits from Google searches, if nothing else. And if someone feels you "got it right," you'll have a good review by one of your peers. With a lovely link.

* In the beginning, put a password on your sitemeter, and don't display the number of hits. (I still have a password on mine, 'cause it's no one's damned business how many hits I've had.) This is a good policy up to about 1,000 hits. (I'm waiting for the 3,000 mark to make my number public, but I'm compulsive about privacy. I'm almost there, though: time to re-work the sitemeter design.)

* If you can intelligently critique another blogger's take on something--without verbally assaulting them--do so. Link their entry, state your case, and know that they will be by to visit. If they like (or hate) your input enough, they'll link you on their site, and you'll both get extra traffic as a result. In fact, some of my best blog-buddies came from online arguments we've had about this or that.

* Every week I print out my SiteMeter report and place a hard copy in a folder. When I get blue--or feel discouraged--I leaf through to the back and check out the "visits per day" figure. I compare that to my current "visits per day," and feel much better.

Okay--that's it for tonight. Keep those cards and letters coming. Let me know if you want your very own list of five questions from me (see Kelley's page for a normal-length interview with a blogger whose ego isn't out of control [this one happens to be her interview by Laurence, whose name I can finally spell]).

8/11/2003 10:20:00 PM



I want a cute, small, compact purse for summer. In either light-colored leather or maybe straw. Just big enough for keys, phone, my wallet. Light and airy.

I see these all the time, and wonder, of course: Well, where does she keep her carry gun?

Anyone know the answer?

Come on, Ladies: let Attila Girl in on it. You're using the "Mexican carry," aren't you?

8/11/2003 04:27:00 AM



James at Outside the Beltway has a link to an editorial by a guy named Rush Limbaugh, who has some kind of deal on the radio where he sort of blogs out loud. Instead of a "comments" section, he has people just call in and talk to him on the air. But of course, as James and his own commenters point out, there's no way to really link the sources if you do this. Also, this radio blog-thing only happens once a day, and there's no written record of what transpired--just a fleeting moment in time. It's too bad, because this Limbaugh guy seems smart enough: James quotes him commenting on the California governor recall/election, and his perspective on the so-called "circus" aspect seemed sound. (I'd give you the link to the editorial itself, but it's in the L.A. Times, and I'm not in the mood to play their little games. Besides, I forgot/misplaced my user name and password.) James again:

Indeed. Limbaugh should consider starting up a weblog and regularly posting this sort of stuff for all to see. I mean, who listens to radio anymore? Especially in the afternoon, when most people have to be at work?

I'm sure there will be some more constructive criticism for this Limbaugh fellow over at OTB, but I'm also wondering whether he blogs under his own name. I mean--"Rush Limbaugh"? It's so obviously made up.

It's hard to watch someone with real promise piss it all away like that.

8/11/2003 04:05:00 AM



John Lemon has come up with a novel way to acquire political experience as a prelude to running for public office. Damn fool idea might work.

8/11/2003 03:43:00 AM

Sunday, August 10, 2003  


The guys over at Infinite Monkeys are hitting it out of the park. I'll take advantage of the lack of permalinks (ah, the joys of Blogger) to throw out a general link and plug two posts, both under Friday, 8/8:

1) Look under "An Encouraging Trend" to see James' approach to making the Black vote rational, for a change.

2) Check out the post beginning with a link to/quote from Hugh Hewitt for some musings by Ben on why he still isn't abandoning Tom McClintock in the CA Gov race for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ben's point about the car-registration tax is well taken--that has to be a top priority if we're going to turn things around. But I'm still very concerned about splitting the Republican vote. And I think a centrist is the best pick for this particular strange, bifurcated political terrain. Someone who has some common ground with the Democrats in the assembly may make faster progress.

Also, check out Eleven Day Empire's entry "I Was Waiting for This Question" to see Jim savage the argument that "Arnold's just a celebrity, like the Dixie Chicks, and you mean Republicans didn't think they should express their opinions." (Permalink doesn't seem to work here, either. Sigh.)

8/10/2003 01:46:00 AM

Thursday, August 07, 2003  


...With Frank J? He's such a bad boy. But in a good way.

He's dying to blogroll me, but can't admit it to himself quite yet. It's because I'm an older woman, ya know.

8/07/2003 05:03:00 AM



And there is much rejoicing in the Golden State.

I'm pretty sure he's my guy, especially since he's working closely with Riordan (who was my first choice). What's not to like? He's smart, and has a good business head--as well as a wicked sense of humor. And he's got a rapport with a lot of the entertainment people who are normally hostile to Republicans.

He's socially liberal, but (at least somewhat) fiscally conservative. Perfect.

And I'm hoping hoping hoping that his image--his irrepressible machismo--will bring some of our far-right brethren around. That they'll vote for a popular guy despite themselves. What they don't seem to understand is that it's more important for someone to get elected who has a basic grasp of economic fundamentals than to find that perfect, ever-pure candidate who is pro-life . . . and unelectable. (Earth to wing-nuts: what can the governor do to reduce the number of abortions in this state? And aren't most of these actions that a pro-choice governor can take as well, in the name of increasing options for women? The issue has largely--and incorrectly, in my opinion--been taken out of state hands, so it's just not a good reason to keep electable candidates off the ballot. And guns?--Riordan isn't vigorous enough on gun rights, so you gave us Davis, and came within a half-centimeter of giving us Dianne effing Feinstein?)

Andrew Sullivan is ecstatic (quoting his entry here in its entirety):

AH-NULD!: I interrupt my break to say simply: Yay! A pro-gay, pro-choice, hard-ass Republican! An Eagle has landed. Now let him soar.

I must rent Pumping Iron over the weekend, especially since Sully has said that this shows Arnold's wit and street smarts. (There's apparently also a shot of him with a joint after one of his bodybuilding contests.) Do not rent the last copy at my local Blockbuster, or I will do horrible things to you using jujitsu moves I only half-remember.

Brendan Loy is all over the obvious headlines. (Per Insta-whats-his-name.)

But it ain't a circus, folks. No matter what the L.A. Times tells you. The California economy can drag the whole country down, if it's mishandled badly enough--and Guv Low-Beam seems determined to sabotage the recovery if he can.

My only fears? Well, I'm concerned (1) that Davis may rise from the dead, like the vampire he is. And then, (2) there's the crowded Republican field: with four major GOP candidates (Schwarzennegger, Issa, Simon, and McClintock), the vote might get split pretty fine. Of course, (3) with only Loretta Sanchez (maybe) as the lone option for Dems who don't want to go down with Davis' ship, that may give sane Democrats someone to rally behind. Though I know many of them will secretly pull the ballot for Arnold.

Most of all, of course, I'm worried (4) about Pejman's candidacy, and how many votes the Terminator is going to take away from him. Or was it vice versa?

8/07/2003 03:38:00 AM



James DiBenedetto at Eleven-Day Empire had a wonderful post in which he fisked an Ellen Goodman article--yet never got the buzz he deserved. Ms. Goodman was jumping on the "obesity is society's fault" bandwagon (aka the "obesity is the fault of the evil food industry" bandwagon). You've heard all the arguments: with all the advertising for food, and with the constant availability of unhealthy food, one can scarcely help being fat in this culture. The accusation reaches its absurd apogee with those who declare that at some point, McDonald's execs got together in a smoke-filled room (or one that at least contained fatty snacks) and decided that they could not get more market share, period. So they hit on the strategy of "growing" the existing customers, one by one. And making their tummies bigger. And getting them dependent on fast food. Uh-huh.

I do realize that our species is, to some degree, genetically programmed to want to eat. As I understand it, that's helped us to survive in the past. But now, as more and more of us carry extra poundage around, we die earlier because we overeat. It stresses the body systems and makes us prone to cancer and heart disease. It invites diabetes into our lives. It's basically bad news, and probably the largest killer of Americans out there. (Some say second-largest, behind cigarettes.)

Six months ago--or perhaps more--U.S. News and World Report ran a scandalous cover story about the obesity epidemic in this country, but all from the "girls can't help it" perspective. They actually profiled a single mother who is obese, and whose teenage daughter is obese, and discussed in sympathetic terms how tired mom is at the end of the day, and how difficult it is to cook a real meal, and how easy McDonald's makes it to supersize everything when you eat there. Unbelievable. (Explain to me how an obese person is tempted to supersize their meal to get the most bang for their buck. "I'll save money. Better yet, I'll save my family money, because when I die early they'll get the money from my estate. I'll save society money, because after all the extra health care costs I incur, I'll die and the health-care system will be done with me.")

I can throw a chicken salad together inside of 20 minutes. Pasta takes me 30. Most of my recipes take an hour, though that includes some "straightening" time (in which I clear off the dining room table of my horrible clutter). It's the elaborate meals that take two hours. (Or, in the case of soup, stew, or roast chicken, half the day, with plenty of play/work time in between actual tasks.)

A deli chicken grabbed on my last shopping trip reheats in minutes in the microwave, and is a lot faster than any stop at McDonald's. Salad from a bag is five minutes at the outside. Frozen potstickers steam up in 10. And there's the time-honored technique of "generating" leftovers, by cooking enough that you have at least one extra meal when you're done (usually the next day's lunch or a quick supper).

I'm sorry. I hate to be a judgmental witch here, but one of the pivotal tasks in raising a child is to nourish him or her, and if you're relying on fast food you're failing in that basic mission.

I have relatives who are obese. They are obese because of choices they make that have to do with either the sheer quantities of food they consume, or their interesting approach to fat/refined carb/produce/protein balance. No one has put guns to their heads and threatened them with death if they don't overeat.

All you "Center for Science in the Public Interest" types, please look at it this way: what if U.S. News and World Report had run a sympathetic article about an alcoholic mother who was raising her daughter to be alcoholic, and this was presented as nearly inevitable, given the way booze is glamorized in this society--and how available it is. Too tense at the end of the day; have to unwind with several Scotch-and-sodas. All that advertising that makes it so attractive to buy alcohol. And there are so many liquor stores around, how can you help stopping in to get a 12-pack you intend to share with your teenaged daughter?

It's just so hard being a single mother, you know.

In fact it is hard. Really hard. But my mother raised me without resorting to frequent fast-food outings. She found ways to get meals on the table without a lot of fuss or a huge time commitment. She put in the time, and did the work. We were never prudish about fast food--it was fine as an occasional thing. And we did eat out every now and again. (Perhaps once a week, as I recall.) But there was nourishing food around, and we both were encouraged to avail ourselves of it, rather than resorting to junk too much of the time. We were taught that food was a wonderful source of pleasure. And it is.

When irresponsible behavior is presented as unavoidable, it does a disservice to those who are behaving reasonably.

I was raised to believe it was a virtue to clean my plate. And then when I was 12 my grandfather died during heart-bypass surgery. I had already lost my grandmother to numerous strokes (along with too many health problems to name). They were both overweight. I thought, "which is worse: not cleaning your plate, or dying?" I decided I wanted to live. And now I rarely finish what's put in front of me. I still have plenty of stomach to look at, but that's genetics, Kids. No shame there.

Go ahead. Revile me now.

The Eleven-Day Empire posting originally came via Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics as part of the last Carnival of the Vanities.

8/07/2003 01:44:00 AM

Sunday, August 03, 2003  


My post from last Tuesday night, when I couldn't access Blogger, yet still wanted to share my impressions of Siggraph, the computer graphics convention. I know pre-writing these things doesn't, properly speaking, constitute blogging, but if you don't like it--skip the entry.

Every time I see a movie that features high-end computer graphics I think about the late 70s, when we were teenagers and my best buddy used to make movies with Scanman (except he was very young then; Scanboy, perhaps?). The people in our high-school clique would all look at the raw footage together after it was shot at the next party. And along with the unedited movie footage and the random sequences from other parties would be the most boring stuff of all: pictures of green geometric shapes rotating against a black background. Most of us would complain, but a few of the math/computer nerds would be impressed. This, children, was computer graphics.

The craft progressed. In the early 80s it was hard to get plants to look right: a lot of the code used was the same code that made explosions. Landscapes still looked slightly crude and pixilated. In the late 80s the problem was the shininess, the unreal quality of surfaces. Creating realistic human skin was still beyond reach.

Finally, at the end of the decade, ILM--Industrial Light and Magic, Lucas' enterprise in the Bay Area--started hiring every computer graphics person in the universe. My roommate of the time--Mr. Math--confessed to me that he was concerned about the sheer ambition of the project they were working on: a movie featuring over 50 scenes that employed computer graphics. If this didn’t work out, he warned me, it might set the industry back several years. The movie was Terminator 2, and his concerns were, it turns out, unfounded. But a project of this type was uncharted territory back then.

The rest is history: T3 has just been released, and--apparently--ups the ante. Movies about hard, shiny insects had given way to tales about furry creatures that showed the techies had mastered hairy surfaces. In 25 years we went from rotating cubes to women who melt into cyborgian liquid before our eyes.

And, more importantly, several of my friends have figured out how to transmute being Too Smart for Their Own Good into a handsome living. (Do I seem fixated on this? I might well be, having found my own smarts--such as they are--mostly a burden over the years. Note to self: must figure out how to use mind to make money. Preferably not by donating brain to science, as that might involve death.)

Day 2 of Siggraph:
Finally caught up with Professor G., who has been the Holy Grail of this trip. It involved crashing a Georgia Tech party, but Scanman and I were willing to do that. Ain’t too proud to beg, and all that. (It’s worth noting that we had tickets to two other parties. Hot ones.)

The awkward thing about this trip is that for me it’s strictly a personal interest thing, and it’s very nearly so for Scanman, who doesn’t really get clients at these conventions. He stays abreast of the industry, and checks out new toys his company might need at the exhibit booths. But there’s a frivolous quality to it for him. For Mr. Hired Gun and Professor G., however, it’s all deadly serious, and they are really working at this convention. So I haven’t wanted to take up too much of their time. On the other hand, I rarely see them--especially Mr. Georgia Tech. So it was worth being a little bit of a pain, I think. And it was intensely lovely to see him, even for a short time. He’s one of those old friends with whom I can just slip into the conversational groove even after years of little communication. He’ll humor me with little in jokes here and there, and if I slide an in joke his way, he gets it. He’s always firing on all cylinders.

“I’m worried about the pool,” I tell him. “Scanman wants to go swimming.” Scanman is also an arch-nudist.

“That’s fine,” Professor G. told us, and looked over at Scanman. “But don’t pretend that you know me if you do.”

Students of G’s stopped by the table we were sharing with him. Scanman and I got introduced as high school friends, and we were asked--at least once--”has he changed over the years?”

“His life has changed,” I replied, “but he hasn’t. He’s the same person, fundamentally. Very reliable: if you cut him, he’d bleed G.”

“I alway thought that,” came the response.

Mr. Math isn’t here. As Scanman puts it, he’s “IN FUCKING ROME.” (No envy there, kids.) And that’s too bad. Well--not for him, of course.

And I kind of wish I’d gotten pictures of Hired Gun and Professor G. I have one of those wierd cameras that records images on a strange layer of stuff called film. It’s quaint; anyone know what I’m talkin’ bout? No good if I don’t use it, though.

I am truly addicted to the world of blogging; I can’t stand the fact that I don’t know what’s going on with the other bloggers. Two nights away from reading seems like a lot. I cannot decide if this is sick or not.

Editor's Note: Attila Girl came back to L.A. and got a blog fix. So she's fine now--till she needs it again. It's the old lather-rinse-repeat of addiction.

8/03/2003 01:30:00 AM

Saturday, August 02, 2003  


The Weekly Standard envisions Ann Coulter with her own lifestyle magazine. Priceless.

I can't tip my hat, as it's summer and I'm not wearing one these days. So I shall tip my sporty light-yellow bandana, worn headband-style on long drives, to Eve Tushnet.

8/02/2003 02:05:00 AM

Friday, August 01, 2003  


This was written this past Monday at the computer graphics convention. In a perfect world, I'd be able to back-date it 7/28--or 7/29, since it was composed after midnight.

I can’t seem to access the internet from my little motel room. So I’m writing now for publication later.

Back in early July, when I was working for the interior design magazine, a deadline caught up with me--that is, the deadline for me to go to Siggraph (that oddly named computer graphics convention) for free. I called my high school friend, the scanning master, and asked him to go ahead and set me up.

I hadn’t been to one of these conventions since the mid-80s, when it was in Anaheim and I wore fuschia silk to a party at the Disneyland Hotel. [BTW, I’ve written one computer program in my entire life. Okay: maybe two. As I recall, it was the same program in Basic and Assembly--but it’s been a good long time. Neither one of them ever ran; it was just an exercise. I’m here strictly as a groupie--an art groupie, I guess. Also, my friend Professor G. is here from Georgia, and I’d really like to see him.]

Siggraph, man. My friends have been coming here for years: four of ‘em, including my ex, The Mathematician (no other way to put it, though summarizing him in one phrase is nearly impossible: I found myself looking for him almost unconsciously--but he’s out of the country now and simply not here this year). Two of them have often been working for rival computer graphics companies. Occasionally, they’ve worked for companies that competed for clients or personnel, and company secrets have leaked out here and there without being abused. And there’s been very little tension. Considering. The secrets were never betrayed.

One of the guys--Scanman--is famous now as The Nudist on the Late Shift (that is, from the Po Bronson book); he has his own company that specializes in high-end scans of artwork. He has a technical Oscar award. Another is an academician, and delivers papers on rendering and such. Yet a third usually works as a hired gun, generally in the entertainment industry doing special effects for movies. And the fourth guy also founded a company that does a lot of work for commercials and motion pictures--there’s at least one Oscar to their credit as well. I went to high school with these guys, who are actually doing a great job of making a living on their intelligence.

Weird experiences today: driving down to San Diego from L.A. Finding my friend Scanman and going around to see some of the things his colleagues are doing. Wearing gear that featured sensors at the elbow, forearm, hand and upper arm that allowed me to move a robot’s arm around on the screen in a cheap-shit imitation of virtual reality. (Why cheap-shit?--because I had to use a button to grasp objects with, as opposed to the glove doing it. And the screen reality didn’t seem to match up with the actions I was making.) It was still fun.

And then we went to the Big Party. I hadn’t really eaten today, except for half a muffin in the car, a banana, and a Power Bar in the dying light at the San Diego Convention Center. But I figured there’d be food at the party, and that would save me.

I waited in line to get into the party, and we talked to a few guys from--where else?--Atlanta. (Are you Georgians following me around?)

At the party they only had sushi, and I don’t eat fish. So much for party noshing. I sneaked handfuls of the Costco gorp that Scanmaster had with him. And had a few drinks. And we left a bit after 11:00. Nice party, though: I found myself thinking it was like a drug trip, with different music downstairs vs. upstairs, a pool room, vibrating sofas, and a women’s room that had an attendant (something I associate with the 21 Club in Manhattan). I took my hair down from its ponytail, got a little lip gloss from the restroom attendant, and tried to look like I hadn’t spent hours today in the car listening to Dire Straits, calling my friends’ cell phones, and listening to the radio as the reception for the Larry Elder Show on KABC slowly faded to static.

We left because I was worried about my car, still parked at the convention center. And because Mr. Hired Gun was tired. Scanman and I walked him back to his lovely hotel and got my car--and Scanman’s bike. Then he biked back to the local Motel 6, and I drove to mine--a few stops down the freeway.

Motel 6 is a trip in itself. Why is it that Motel 6 is always hopping, even in the smallest little nowhere towns? These places are busy--even during the week. This one is littered with pizza boxes. I always wonder about the other people here, and never understand where they are coming from, or where they’re going. Or why they’re here. (Do I see that it’s strange to wonder? Yes.)

The one I went to in Costa Mesa a few months ago was next-door to a Denny’s, which was lovely: What better place to have breakfast? This one is next to a McDonald’s and a Black Angus. The McDonald’s will be great for breakfast tomorrow: I’ll have an Egg McMuffin.

The couple in the room next door had raucous sex for a while: she was either faking it, or enjoying it a lot. The former, I think. Now they’re fighting, and her voice carries. His doesn’t, so much. So I just hear her side of the argument--just as I heard her when they were humping. She says he doesn’t love her, because otherwise he’d do as she likes. Okay. Fine. (I want to weep with gratitude that my husband and I don’t fight like that.)

Mostly I just miss my husband. The things I like I want to share with him. I at least want to come down here with him sometime so we can look at the sea again together. Convention or no. Other people around or not. Any way would be fine.

Scanman tells me about the time he was in the Bay Area and his wife was entertaining a friend at the house. “Yes, D’s in San Francisco,” she explained.

“You let him go up to the Bay Area just like that?” the friend asked.

“Oh yes,” she replied. “He’s a free-range husband.”

And so’s mine. And I’m a free-range wife. But my spouse is always my first choice to do anything with, when he’s available.

So maybe I’ll lobby for a foray to the convention together, next year--when it will be in L.A. This is, after all, a place where you can watch people create something on a computer, and then see it “printed out” in 3D as a sculpture on an adapted “laser printer” that makes objets d’art. Who can argue with that?

8/01/2003 11:49:00 PM



No Watermelons is linking me! All because of my "me wanna blog war" entry. (Yeah, yeah: you think you want to be involved in a blog war. Then a real one comes along and you just sort of wince. Takes all the glamour right out of it.)

Well--it's a little prim and proper. But nasty, aggressive-yet-calculating, and no-holds-barred. In short, it's the perfect name for me.

It's on my birth certificate; did you know that?

I wonder about "No Watermelons Allowed," though. (And, yes--I know what the acronym stands for.) It just seems unwieldy. And, more significantly, it has a sort of anti-melon ring to it.

Attila Girl likes melon. With a passion. Only thing better is mangoes.

8/01/2003 06:38:00 PM



David is upset about the gay marriage debate, and I can see why: the low-lifes certainly come out of the woodwork at a time like this, and I'm sure hearing people mouth prejudices and hatred is no fun when you're the target.

We're in a transitional time, which makes things awkward all around. (Especially for the President, who has to talk like he's a bit anti-gay while sort of winking at the gay community: he's trying not to inflame the base against him too much, but needs to continue to court the ever-growing class of gay Republicans.)

Let's dispense first with the real fringies: those who feel that homosexuality is a choice, and a sin. And that because of this, those who are in long-term, monogamous relationships should 1) die of AIDS [how are things, Mike Savage? Enjoying your radio career? Oh, wait . . . ]; 2) be subject to arrest [Senator Santorum!] or 3) have no legal way of visiting each other when they are ill in the hospital [this would be anyone who doesn't even believe in gay Civil Unions; shame on them]. Any of these arguments are essentially Christian-Taliban thinking, and don't deserve much of a response. Except, possibly, this: if Jesus Christ were here today, is there any doubt in your mind that he'd be hanging out with hustlers in West Hollywood? (Prostitutes and tax collectors, people: read your Bibles. The Lord hung out with sinners, which is a great comfort to me personally.)

There are three credible arguments against homosexual marriage. The first comes from those who say marriage is a religious institution, and that legalizing gay marriage would irrevocably change it. The second is that allowing gay men/lesbians to wed would place society's stamp of approval on homosexuality. The third is that calling gay civil unions "marriage" would not permit straight couples to go to the head of the line in adoptions, and thereford deprive some adopted kids of the benefits of having parents of both genders.

Marriage as a religious institution. This is just a little bit silly. Haven't we been allowing athiests to get married for . . . I dunno . . . weeks now? Why have we ever let ship captains or justices of the peace marry people, if not to accommodate the deep aversion many people feel toward religion?--and yet they want to get married anyway. So let 'em. And let gays do the same: many of them go to church much more than the dyed-in-the-wool athiests do.

Marriage as a "Housekeeping seal of approval." Same thing, really. There are all kinds of cranks, crooks, assholes, and anti-social people out there whom society still allows to wed. For crying out loud: we have television shows that use, as their premise, people "marrying" others they've known a matter of weeks. It's a sham, and everyone knows it. Yet somehow gay marriage is a threat to the institution of matrimony that the reality shows are not? A gay couple shouldn't get this "seal of approval" that we routinely grant serial killers, whose sick-o groupies think they've fallen in love with them on the basis of news clippings and the gruesomeness of their crimes? Give me a break.

Gay marriage as a guarantee of equality in the adoption line. This is the one that held me back for years, keeping me at the "civil union" level. I honestly do believe that there is generally a shortage of infants to adopt. And I believe that the ideal setup for kids to grow up in includes two parents of different genders (followed by two of the same gender, followed by single parents). So I was willing to live with the semantic distinction of calling gay marriage "civil unions" legally, if only to keep discrimination legal in this one arena.

Of course, as my husband and I wade through the mess of attempting to adopt, I'm discovering that adoption is all about arbitrary discrimination. Social workers get more warm fuzzy feelings toward some couples than toward others, and birthmothers choose one family over another because they see a Labrador in a picture . . . and they've always liked Labradors. It's a horrible, degrading process, placing yourself before a young 20-something social worker who's probably anti-gun and gets to decide if you're fit to be a parent--and just how "fit." There's no hope for it, and retaining the "civil union" label for gay marraige is not going to make any difference one way or the other. Plenty of singles adopt, and plenty of gay couples do. It is, and will always be, a crap shoot.

Given that, there's no reason not to call a trowel and trowel, and use the term "marriage" for gay civil unions.


The fact that gay marriage vs. "civil unions" is largely a semantic distinction cuts both ways. After all, there are tons of gay couples who basically consider themselves married, and refer to their mates as their spouses. They are living the life. Many have had marriage ceremonies--some in churches. The reason this state of affairs is untenable for society is that there are protections and contracts that are part of marriage that are painful, costly, and time-consuming to construct brick-by-brick. (Making wills, trust funds, powers of attorney, and all that.)

There are some in society who will never use the word "marriage" to refer to two men or two women, because to them this is a religious sacrament, and they simply cannot accept the concept of a civil marriage. Fine: sticks and stones . . .

That being the case, what is so horrific about the "civil union" concept, particularly as a transitional legal mechanism to pave the way for gay marriage? After all, a lot of people at the outer edges of this argument either are already using the word "marriage," or simply never will use that word to refer to same-sex couples. So what will really change if the law reads "marriage" vs. "civil union"?

For those whose position is "marriage or nothing," please think carefully about this. Are you essentially trying to force the hard-core opposition to apply a term to your relationship that they never will? Are you afraid that mainstream society will not accept your union for what it is? Is the use of that one word becoming too much of a focus for you? And how would you feel if the civil union status were simply a strategy, a way of getting through the next 5-10 years while society warms up to the idea?

It's a marathon, guys. Not a sprint.

8/01/2003 02:08:00 PM

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