"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
Monday, March 29, 2004  


My husband believes this is it: that this season will be the last of The Sopranos. After this, it'll be over. I'm starting to see one possible twist that could resolve some of the sub-plots, so he's probably right. There are lots of confrontations. Lots of, as the spouse would say, "big moments." They are headed toward an indictment or a murder, and murder is more likely. At this point, the interesting bets have to do with who might do the killing, and why? There would be a lot of suspects.

We decided against watching Deadwood, partly out of a feeling that we didn't want to be indentured servants to HBO. Of course, before The Sopranos we were still watching The X Files. Right up to the bitter end. So we had to play catch-up on our mob series. I suppose we might do that again if this wild West thing gets incredible buzz. But frankly, who wants to take their head out of New Jersey on a Sunday night after watchin' Tony and the guys? Not me.

Still, in a "I really believe in the tooth fairy" way, I can imagine the Sopranos producers changing the whole ball game in some profound fashion, and giving us one more season in which the characters would have to cope with these changes.

Let's face it: I want one more season after this. After the climax, I want the denuement.

3/29/2004 10:50:00 PM



Think how confusing it'll be when it's time to move the archives to the new site, and I have entries from both the old and the "nu" blog for several days. I can't help it: I'm excited about the new blog, and sentimental about the old one.

Ah, well. If you want to see what I've been up to in Munuvia, check it out here. I'll send out an official notification circa week's end, but if you want to update your bookmarks, now's as good a time as any.

3/29/2004 10:43:00 PM



Kelley has hit on a novel idea for making extra money:

I know I'd be an awesome ghost to have around. I'm starting a cottage industry, in fact. I am offering a special on post-mortem haunting services this week. For three easy payments of $79.99, you'll get the full Spectre package in the event of my untimely demise. The Spectre package includes three dreams in which I make a meaningful cameo appearance, three months of "Kelley noises from the Beyond" (intermittent sounds of keyboard use, mournful sighs, and a clanking chain of Diet Coke cans), as well as one full-bore spectral appearance . . .

Don't sell too hard, though: you don't want anyone to hurry you along.

3/29/2004 03:15:00 AM

Sunday, March 28, 2004  


I have new digs all ready, courtesy of Pixy Misa at Ambient Irony, who is getting a bunch of us set up with Moveable Type. I need to make a few test entries there before officially moving. When my main posts are there rather than here, I'll post the announcement here and e-mail as many of you who have me blogrolled as I can remember (and certainly all the Alliance members and Bear Flag Leaguers--along with James, Kelley, Venomous Kate, and all the other folks on my own blogroll).

Timetable: probably somewhere between three days and a week, depending on how much time I get to spend on it. I happen to be terrible at moving, though I hope an electronic move will be easier than a physical one: less stuff to schlep around.

This is unbelievably thrilling, guys and gals: I'll have comments at the new site, and all that other grown-up stuff!

3/28/2004 02:08:00 PM



Lileks summarizes the waste of time known as the 9/11 hearings, and concludes:

And I bring this up . . . why? Because I want to blame the Clinton administration? Look: to me that’s ancient history. That’s Flintstone time. If it weren’t for these hearings I wouldn’t give a tin fig for who didn’t do what when and where. September Eleventh was the bright red gash that separated the Now from the La-la Then, and we’ve been living in the hot spiky Now ever since. I am interested in the Now and the What Next. I don’t have much patience for people who believe that the salvation of Western Civilization depends on hiking the marginal tax rates to pre-2002 levels. But if you want to play Eight Years vs. Eight Months, fine. Just remember that before 9/11, the skies over Afghanistan were clear. After 9/11, they thrummed with the sound of B-52s until the job was done.

No small distinction.

Which pretty much says it all. But for the love of God, go read his entire fisking of the Clarke book/testimony, and of the media coverage pertaining thereto: much illumination to be had.

Via Stephen Green.

3/28/2004 03:13:00 AM

Saturday, March 27, 2004  


From my cousin in Indiana:

In light of the Madrid bombing, France has raised its terror alert level from "run" to "hide."

The only two higher levels in France are "surrender" and "collaboration."

3/27/2004 11:52:00 AM



As far as I can tell, Lair has changed his personal symbol over at Amish Tech Support from a Star of David to a kitten playing with a ball--and without a word of explanation. I hope it wasn't because a bunch of us were chortling over the unfortunate death of a certain Hamas founder under that very same Star of David last week.

I suspect it's because, like a cat, he likes to toy with his prey before finally dispatching it.

I might have voted for a loaf of fresh-baked bread, or a pepper plant. But then, I'm allergic to cats.

3/27/2004 02:58:00 AM



This morning I got up to an urgent message from my mother, who "had" to talk to me immediately. Nothing noteworthy in that. The second message--after she'd tried my cell phone, with no luck--told me that my aunt's house in Walnut Creek had burned down in the middle of the night last night. My aunt is fine, but at least one pet (her dog) died in the blaze.

The house was a midcentury artifact, with an open floorplan, huge windows, a prefab oh-so-sixties fireplace, lots of wood, and a nice deck. It's where we held the majority of Christmases before I left home--and a lot of Thanksgivings, as well. In the past ten years I'd been avoiding it due to dust and pet dander--both of which I'm allergic to. But losing it is a blow.

In an odd, twisted way I almost would have preferred to hear that a family member (not my aunt, just an abstract family member) had died, because I have a psychological "folder" for that type of information. I don't have a place to put people's houses burning down in the middle of the night when there is no fucking earthquake, and no fucking wildfire nearby.

Told by those on the front lines (my mother, my cousin) that there really wasn't anything I could do from Southern California, I spent the day surfing my own emotions. In the past several hours I've been half-convinced that if I had the right name in my Rolodex I could simply call someone up (God, the Devil) and make a deal: if I just made good this-or-that bad thing I did, or changed my ways, or jumped through some hoops, I could roll back the clock and bring back my aunt's house.

The spouse tells me I'm halfway to acceptance, that wanting to bargain the event away is part of the grieving process.

The current theory is that when she got up and smoked a cigarette in the middle of the night, that she failed to extinguish it properly, and one of the pets knocked the ashtray into a wastepaper basket. It's worth noting that she also lost a great deal of time trying to rouse neighbors to call 911, since the landline had gone out by the time she attempted to call. Next-door neighbor deaf as a post without his hearing aid, no response at the second door. I think the third time was the charm, but by then the fire had progressed that much more. And it took the fire department eight more minutes to get there.

The smoke detector saved her life.

Moral of the story: check the batteries on your smoke detectors, and charge your cell phone in the same room where you sleep. Hold fire drills at least once a year. And hug your pets.

3/27/2004 01:35:00 AM



We are lucky to have this sort of young person fighting for our country. Damned lucky.

3/27/2004 12:32:00 AM

Thursday, March 25, 2004  


Frank J. has drawn his own map to peace in the Middle East.

(And if you can't take a joke . . .)

3/25/2004 03:26:00 PM



This story from Scotland is the naked face of gun control, and one of the most depressing things I've read in a long time.

Carl Lindsay, 25, answered a knock at his door in Salford, Greater Manchester, to find four men armed with a gun.

When the gang tried to rob him he grabbed a samurai sword and stabbed one of them, 37-year-old Stephen Swindells, four times. Mr Swindells, of Salford, was later found collapsed in an alley and died in hospital.

Lindsay, of Walkden, was found guilty of manslaughter following a three-week trial at Manchester Crown Court. He was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.

After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Sam Haworth said: “Four men, including the victim, had set out purposefully to rob Carl Lindsay and this intent ultimately led to Stephen Swindells’ death. “I believe the sentences passed today reflect the severity of the circumstances.”

Emphasis mine. I think I need to go puke now.

3/25/2004 03:19:00 PM



Some in the media are attempting to fix the "eight years vs. eight months" problem by either moving a lot of terrorist attacks to later dates, or retroactively starting GW's presidency sooner.

Via James.

3/25/2004 12:34:00 AM

Monday, March 22, 2004  


A lot of people are shocked. I'm not. Not really.

More here. There are also links to it at Little Green Footballs. Thanks to my friend the Bay Area Book Merchant for the heads up.

3/22/2004 02:05:00 AM


DING, DONG . . .

For those of you who haven't heard, the founder/leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, died in an Israeli air strike. Life is good.

For details, see The Command Post--as always.

3/22/2004 01:32:00 AM



Smash went to an anti-war rally this past weekend, and produced an amazing series of posts about it. Start here. Long, but well worth it.

And to think I was once one of these feeble-minded campus radicals. I'm truly ashamed.

3/22/2004 01:21:00 AM

Sunday, March 21, 2004  


I do love Nicholas Cage. And there he was tonight, on my very own big-screen TV.

The premise of Matchstick Men is actually rather fascinating, given the conventional wisdom that "con men play on our greed and fears." What if, sometime, someone who was the victim of a scam used it as an opportunity to get in touch with his or her true needs? What if the con became a springboard for something else entirely? "Do I dare disturb the universe? In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."

It's a lovely idea, and it was nicely developed. Unfortunately, I lost my objectivity about halfway through the movie, due to the filmmakers blundering onto a hot button and provoking some emotional turbulence. After that I could only get back into the movie with my head--not my heart. I tried to tell myself that it was because of this-or-that plot contrivance on the part of the screenwriter, but I knew deep down it wasn't so.

Afterward: "One of my stupid headaches," I told my husband. "But it was a lovely film."

Rent the movie, unless you have weird father-daughter issues and don't want to feel like someone has been playing pingpong inside you.

3/21/2004 12:58:00 AM



Oh, wait. I'm wrong. It couldn't.

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

Kelley and I wear the same outfits every day--we e-mail each other in the morning to check--and we take all the same quizzes on Saturday nights.

3/21/2004 12:54:00 AM



. . . I needed to take a quiz?

incredibly jewish
You're incredibly Jewish!

How Jewish are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

They want I should keep taking these quizzes, each more misleading than the last?

Vey's mir.

Hat tip: Kelley.

"Lucky Christian," it is.

3/21/2004 12:38:00 AM



. . . with Love. Courteney, that is.

At least, she's writing poetry to Cobain's widow.

3/21/2004 12:27:00 AM

Saturday, March 20, 2004  


Details are still sketchy on the battle in Pakistan.

What I'd give for some "inbeds" now. It looks like the so-called "high-value target" may not be the person we thought it was. Of course, now I've got the taste of blood in my mouth: I don't care if it's some Chechen loser. I want to go over there right now and kill him with my Glock.

You say this guy is only a car insurance salesman? Fine. I'll do him anyway, just for practice . . . (excuse me: my American hyper-aggression is showing).

3/20/2004 11:05:00 PM



The Command Post is the place to be right now, as Michele Catalano offers damned-near wall-to-wall coverage of the confrontation in Pakistan. Whether we get the "high-value target" or not, we certainly have the viper's nest, and we've already taken out 50-100 of their best-trained, best-equipped troops. They are surrounded and out-gunned.

Al Qaeda is dying, and this is true even if a few VIPs slip through the net.

And happy birthday, BTW, to the Command Post; congratulations to Laurence and Michele--Laurence for creating CP, and Michele for the talent and passion she they brings to the enterprise. And their home blogs are two of my favorites, as well.

It's all good.

UPDATE: Okay, I blew it: Laurence is doing support work at Command Post (though probably more of it than he's willing to admit), and Michele/Alan are the founders. This comes from my not getting out enough in the "blogosphere." Command Post is the best, but let's face it: I'm the blogging equivalent of a nerdly girl wearing a jumper and plastic-framed glasses. If it isn't a Bear Flag League site--or James Joyner--I probably don't go there like I ought. When nerdly girls do get out, they make social gaffes.

I need to go now and bury my nose in a book; it's what I do best.

3/20/2004 01:55:00 AM

Friday, March 19, 2004  


we were talking about Mexican food. What's good, what isn't. What's authentic. As with so many other things, I'll have to fall back on classic definitions: I can't quite define authentic Mexican food, but I know it when I see it.

As far as TexMex is concerned, I think it's worth noting that Real Civilization, by my lights, begins in Texas. Driving across the country from Rhode Island/Maryland (along the 40, or the old "Route 66"), I realized I was home and all was well when I no longer had to ask for Tabasco with my eggs, and where Huevos Rancheros was well-made and always on the menu.

Salsa and chilis, Baby. Yum.

Life is so good here. I'm so lucky to live in the Southwest I could just scream.

3/19/2004 02:06:00 AM

Thursday, March 18, 2004  


What's your favorite nickname for John Kerry?

- Senator Flapjack, which I know I got from another blogger--if only I could remember who. I love this one, because it alludes to that silly photo of him cooking flapjacks, but also provides a nice visual for his "flipflop" behavior.

- Senator Flipflop. Might be a more direct way to make that same point.

- John F-ing Kerry. Busts his chops over the "potty mouth" problem. (I won't use it, though--way too much of a potty mouth myself.) I believe IMAO was midwife to this one.

- Senator Flounder. More flip-flop imagery--this time one of a fish out of water.

- Jean Kerie, pronounced with a very Fraaanch accent, stress on the second syllable of the last name and an exuberent roll on the "r." That came from Al Rantel of KABC here in Los Angeles.

- Hanoi John.

- Senator Hair.

- "Hey, Frenchie!" Gets the point across.

- Senator Ketchup.

Please e-mail all your suggestions to me. I'll post the best ones. Or vote for your favorites from among this original batch.

And, please, liberal friends. If you're going to talk trash about GW, please adhere to some minimal standards. I had a friend write me a note in which he called the president a "fartface." Surely you on the left can do better. (Maybe not: I did have to write all your anti-Bush zeugmas for you.)

Let's see what you got. All of you.

3/18/2004 12:52:00 AM

Wednesday, March 17, 2004  


Click here for an opportunity to help villagers in remote parts of Afghanistan. There's a Special Forces operation going on right now, and if buying shoes for the kids and shawls for the women will help win people over, it's a good thing to do. Heck, it's the right thing to do anyway.

Hearts and minds, Folks. This time, for real.

3/17/2004 11:59:00 PM



Not easy being perfect, huh?

I know I'm late on this, but what the hell.

Let's all cross our i's and dot our t's, now . . .

Thanks to Eeyore for the image.

3/17/2004 11:50:00 PM



Did some of us overreact to the election in Spain? Maybe.

Yes, it's democracy in action. No, we don't have to like it. Yes, a lot of voters who decided to "change horses in midstream" were reacting to their feelings about possible dishonesty in the ruling party. No, the terrorists may not appreciate that nuance.

Yes, it does decrease the safety in other Western countries--in particular, those who have stood with G.W. Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq. And given that, this issue is of some interest to a lot of us, even if Spanish elections aren't necessarily "our business" in the strictest sense.

But here's something to remember. For most of a decade the U.S. endured terrorist attacks all over the world, at bases and embassies, and even--once--in New York City. These incidents were largely treated as criminal matters, and not taken that seriously. Bin Laden and his circle decided we were a paper tiger after all, and would never retaliate, no matter how we were provoked.

Things are different now: even if Bin Laden is alive, the areas of the world he and his cronies can hide out in are shrinking. There is no safe harbor any more. No communication is safe from interception, and the Al Qaeda supply lines are continually threatened. Even the pipeline of cash is dwindling.

Al Qaeda has learned that we are no paper tiger. And I think Britain, our "indulgent older brother" is probably seen somewhat in the same light--as a power to be reckoned with. The people that endured the bombing of London without blinking. The next Big Dramatic Attack, as I see it, will not be on the U.S. or the U.K.

The Spaniards, rightly or wrongly, were perceived as "the weak link" in the alliance. Al Qaeda planners will turn now to the "next weakest link." I think these scumbags will next attack the Poles or the Italians. Probably the Italians.

We must defeat them. We must look under every rock and destroy the last traces of Islamo-fascism, before their next attack if at all possible. We can't let innocent people remain vulnerable to this. That is all.

3/17/2004 12:30:00 AM

Tuesday, March 16, 2004  


What a courageous young man. What a tragedy.

I couldn't bring myself to read the whole thing, but I went and read a little, and skimmed the comments. And cried like a baby--especially when I saw his picture.

Via Smash.

3/16/2004 01:16:00 AM



To me and to Little Mr. Mahatma.

Oh, Mr. Mahatma--I've learned so much in the past year. Like how capturing one despot tends to adjust the attitudes of others with nuclear designs . . . [cough, cough].

They say it's your blogversary
It's my blogversary too, yeah
They say it's your blogversary
We're gonna have a good time
They say it's your blogversary
Happy blogversary to you . . .

(Hey! He's my childhood sweetheart. Ya gotta indulge us.)

3/16/2004 12:58:00 AM

Sunday, March 14, 2004  


Must brush up on my Spanish (or, to be more precise, learn some).

You're One Hundred Years of Solitude!

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Lonely and struggling, you've been around for a very long time.
Conflict has filled most of your life and torn apart nearly everyone you know. Yet there
is something majestic and even epic about your presence in the world. You love life all
the more for having seen its decimation. After all, it takes a village.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Via Kelley.

3/14/2004 08:49:00 PM



In what John of Iberian Notes calls "a victory for appeasement," the Spanish have voted their existing government out of power and elected the Socialists. Who will have to make alliances with the Communists, European-style, in order to rule.

I weep for Spain. They aren't any safer now--rather, less so. And I weep for their economy. Tough days are ahead.

This puts most democracies at risk in the weeks leading up to their elections. Possibly including us this fall. But the Americans and the British will never fold, never appease. Never falter. Never fall.

3/14/2004 07:04:00 PM



The Hard Right said it existed, and they were right. Our intrepid reporter pieced this together from scraps in a trash bin in the Castro.


6:00 a.m. Gym.

8:00 a.m. Breakfast: egg white omelet with fontina and mustard greens; Hawaiian coffee.

9:00 a.m. Hair appointment.

10:00 a.m. Shopping, preferably at Barney's or Prada.

12:00 p.m. Brunch: sauteed chicken breast; mimosas.

2:00 p.m. (1) Assume complete control of the U.S. Federal, state, and local government as well as all world governments; (2) Destroy all heterosexual marriages; (3) Replace all school counselors in grades K-12 with pedophiles; (4) Bulldoze all houses of worship; (5) Secure total control of the internet and all mass media; (6) Be fabulous.

2:30 p.m. Mud mask; nap to prevent facial wrinkles from the stresses of world domination.

4:00 p.m. Cocktails (apple martini).

6:00 p.m. Light dinner: butternut-squash soup, salad with romaine, radicchio, arugula, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. White wine.

8:00 p.m. Theatre.

10:30 p.m. Do a little dance; make a little love. Get down tonight.

(Many thanks to the little elf-man for the heads up.)

3/14/2004 06:21:00 PM



James quotes the WSJ, and provides his own commentary on how quickly Emily's List, MoveOn, and other organizations have become a "shadow Democratic Party" intent on attacking the president and influencing the election. The only difference? All these "soft money" groups are harder to track and less accountable.

Campaign finance reform was never going to work. Every time we try to make things better, we just make them worse: the most we can ever hope for is not keeping money out of politics but rather tracking who that money comes from, where it goes, and how it's spent.

3/14/2004 04:01:00 PM



I had brunch with a few of the Bear Flag League people yesterday, and it was great. Quite a brain trust, if you want to know the truth. We had, around the table,

* Xrlq, of Orange, undisputed Web King of the group;
* The Right Thinker from the left beach (aka Breakers), a sweet man with a terrific mind and strong opinions;
* Ninjababe, full of observations about people's foibles--and sporting remarkable blue eyes;
* Ith from Absinthe and Cookies who is, in person, the perfect lady;
* Baldilocks--as brilliant in person as she is on her blog (but much better looking);
* Mike, Master of None, who is actually the master of quite a lot;
* Patterico, slender and intense;
* BoiFromTroy, who does not carry a large wooden horse on wheels behind him on a string, thank goodness (I'd worried about that);
* Justin ("on staff" at CalBlog), the ultimate sharp young man about town in a place like LA;
* Justene, Queen of CalBlog--sans chickens (and our hostess for the event--not an easy task);
* Madeleine, from The Twins Tell the Truth, who represented the unofficial Bear Flag Junior League, and will clearly grow up into a poised and accomplished young woman.

We did end up talking about guns and abortion, without bloodshed.

I remain happy that we didn't debate gay marriage in the buffet area, which would have led to food fights for sure.

A good time was had by all, and we must do it again sometime soon. Mike posted the first pictures, right here.

3/14/2004 01:12:00 AM

Thursday, March 11, 2004  


is my first blogger brunch. I'll be meeting Justene, Baldilocks, Xrlq and others. Wish me luck.

3/11/2004 11:49:00 PM



Laurence is concerned about the recent news that some Palestinians aren't getting enough to eat. Money graph:

If terrorists insist on smuggling guns and explosives, capture and eat them. People are made of meat, you know. As for cannibalism being non-halal and anti-Islam, well, you keep claiming terrorism violates Islamic law, too. Bend a little more, Habib.

Call him cold if you like, but there's no one funnier. (Okay. One guy who's funnier--the one I married.)

3/11/2004 11:44:00 PM



My heart aches: John of Iberian Notes is all over it. Start here, where he discusses local theories, and work your way back to the bombing itself.

3/11/2004 11:11:00 PM

Sunday, March 07, 2004  


Scanman--our favorite Techno-Nudist--came by today, bless his heart. His company is moving into new digs and his life is in chaos, and he still spent the afternoon taking pictures of us. We took him out for Thai food at the end, but we still owe him one (more) favor.

Late in the day his wife called on his cell phone to inform him that she would either 1) be home late, or 2) be home in the morning, or 3) be calling him for bail money at some point. And I thought I was a wild girl.

We had about ten staged "scenes" we wanted to get documented, and because Scanman is thorough there were probably hundreds of actual frames; these got downloaded onto Sir Naked's laptop computer as we went along. I changed my clothes maybe a dozen times.

The whole concept is abhorrent: we STAGED PICTURES for our adoption album! We should burn in hell, trying to take advantage of some teenage girl this way. But, hey--we just haven't been getting people to take pictures of the two of us over the years, and I didn't want to compile an album of hiking and sightseeing that consisted of shots of me (taken by him), and shots of him (taken by me). It's too lame. So I guess I'd rather be successful than color within the lines.

The moral of the story?--collar tourists in every city you visit and entrust them with your camera for just a moment. It's worth it, in case--God forbid--you can't make babies on your own and have to prove your bona fides as a nice couple some day.

It'll be a clean, zenlike album, too: no pictures of stuffed bears and pastel gingham backgrounds for us. Clean text, large pictures when we can get 'em, and as uncluttered a layout as I can manage.

3/07/2004 12:18:00 AM

Saturday, March 06, 2004  


Kate SDA points out the contradiction in a lot of liberals' positions on science vs. religion. Roughly speaking, it's that when Christians lobby to block funding for stem-cell research so that we can save the lives of largely middle-aged or senior Westerners, this is a bad thing. But that if Europeans (or "enlightened" Americans) discourage the distribution of genetically modified food that will actually feed the hungry in Africa, and save the lives of children and young adults, this is a good thing.

For God's sake, read the whole thing. Right now.

3/06/2004 03:04:00 AM



Tomorrow an old friend is coming by, digital camera in hand, to take a few pictures of Attila the Hub and me. These will go into the "adoption" album we need to create. It's a marketing piece to convince young birthmothers that WE ARE THE ONES to raise their children for them.

I was chagrined to see entire pages in others' albums devoted to "Our Beach House" or "Our Family's Ranch, which has been in [the wife's] family since the 1800s."

"We take nice vacations, too! We could show a picture of us playing Blackjack at an Indian casino," I suggested to the husband--but his cooler head prevailed. Instead we'll have pictures of us picking fruit from the tree in our yard, "hiking" (that can be staged in another area of the yard), practicing Tai Chi and playing Scrabble.

And then there is the "leave behind"--a plastic sleeve containing, on one side, a picture of the two of us with our "stats" (why do they need to know the color of our eyes, BTW, and why can't they just look at the picture to get that data?), and on the other, a "dear birthmother" letter.

I'll be writing a few drafts of the "dear birthmother" letter over the next 2-3 weeks, and will probably post a few here. Here's one approach:

Dear Birthmother,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this emotionally turbulent time in your life. Thank you so much for your unselfish decision to make an adoption plan.

In addition to the $2000 you'll be receiving from us for prenatal care, how about an extra $1000, cash, under the table? Neither of our social workers need to know.


Attila Girl and Attila the Hub

Hey. That was a lot shorter than any of the sample letters I read. One doesn't want to be too wordy, ya know.

3/06/2004 01:37:00 AM

Tuesday, March 02, 2004  



For those of you who are playing catch-up, I'll be going back and saying a thing or two about the winners over the next few weeks. I thought I'd start with the "smallest" film--the one that actually got me to think.

As I'm sure you're aware, Monster gives us the story of Aileen Wuornos, the hitchhiking lesbian prostitute serial killer who preyed on middle-aged men along Florida's highways in the 80s.

I'm glad I hadn't been too familiar with Charlize Theron's work before seeing this: it would be easy to get hung up on how complete and eerie her transformation was. The physical part-- getting made up to look like you're not wearing make up, the prosthetic teeth, the extra 30 pounds--was the least of it. I've known a few wanna-be hip street people, and Theron had the walk and the talk. She had it. She seemed to know what it was like to have nothing in life but your ability to swagger.

I've also heard Monster described as a love story. It's anything but--more like a need story. The filmmakers endeaver to give us the missing link, tell us why Wuornos became the only documented true serial killer among women. We know part of it came from a hatred of men, because she suffered at their hands. Screenwriter Patty Jenkins--who also directed the film--tells us Wuornos needed her girlfriend, Selby Wall, desperately and would do anything to hang on to her. The greed that comes from co-dependent love gives us our answer: these two cling to each other life rats on a liferaft, and it's horrifying to watch. I cried the first time the two women make out in an alley. Desire should never be like that, an act of desperation. It's horrifying to watch--and I'm bisexual.

Christine Ricci plays Selby, the baby dyke whose initial sweetness eventually gives way to a selfish neediness. In this interpretation of Wuornos' life, her first victim was a rapist who probably deserved what he got, and his demise shows Wuornos one way she can continue to satisfy her lover's demands.

There's a fine line between explaining something and justifying it. My husband and I argued about this: I felt that Jenkins walked right up to that line, displaying the conditions of life that made Wuornos desperate without excusing her actions (other than the first homicide, which looks justified as it's filmed). Attila the Hub thought she crossed it, and that the message was, ultimately: "you can't judge someone else's circumstances without walking in their shoes." And, certainly, Bruce Dern, as Wuornos' friend Thomas, says something very like that in the course of the film. But he's talking about Vietnam and prostitution--not murder. I felt that the intent there was to establish the characters and their worldviews, rather than to preach tolerance of this kind of evil.

I'd say that the final editorial statement on Wuornos' life is contained in the title. Ultimately Jenkins makes it clear what side of the line she stands on. And what she feels Aileen Wuornos was.

Aileen Wuornos was executed a few years ago. She asked that the authorities stop delaying. She wanted to die.

Jenkins tells you why.

3/02/2004 11:20:00 PM



There's a proposition in this state--Proposition 56--that's on the ballot today. It changes the percentage of votes required to pass new tax laws from 65% to 55% in the state legislature. The practical effect of the law will be to make it very easy for Democrats to raise taxes, because they won't have to talk any Republicans over to their point of view to do it. It undoes a lot of the taxpayer protections built into Proposition 13.

That's fine, at least in theory.

What isn't fine is that the Democrats have been lying about what this new proposition really is. There is apparently a provision in it to the effect that each state budget must pass on time, or legislators don't get paid until it does. And this provision is being presented on television ads as the meat of the bill--using the slogan "budget accountability, legislative responsibility."

It gets better. We got a mailing a few days ago from a "citizens group" that gave its recommendations: George W. Bush, Kaloogian, and a host of other conservatives. It slid in a few of its own liberal candidates, and endorsed Proposition 56. There was an elephant logo on the flyer. One of the slimiest things I've ever seen: if you look in the fine print, it states that it isn't representative of any political party, but the intent was clearly to deceive. (And it's isn't aimed at the person with his/her ear to the ground. It's meant to catch the Republican who is working lots of hours and not too focused on politics right now. I'm just hoping that this person looks at Bush's name on their list of recommendations, and realizes that he's not up for re-election until this fall: they're simply trying to use his name to lend some cachet to their slimy little piece of literature.)

I hope this karma comes back to these people, with interest.

3/02/2004 10:58:00 AM



If you are committed to putting the yummiest food on the table in the shortest amount of time possible, you'll buy deli ravioli every now and again, and keep it in the the freezer (or even the fridge--it stays fresh for a few weeks there). It's a little more special than plain pasta (though a lot more expensive, granted), and it breaks up the monotony of cheaper methods of "cheating." Family members who've started glaring at you with beady eyes every time you serve spaghetti or penne or egg noodles with any of the same several sauces will be mollified by eating ravioli every month or two.

And here's the beauty: it can be served with very little in the way of sauce. When I'm eating alone, I often just drizzle it with a little olive oil. That's a bit spartan for my spouse, so last time I cooked up little pillows for Attila the Hub I returned the ravioli to the pan, and then threw a small amount of specialty ketchup (onion ketchup, to be exact) onto it. The small amounts of water still clinging to the pasta diluted the sauce a little, and the flavors of the chicken/cheese filling still dominated.

Unlike a lot of things I do with pasta, this doesn't require a separate pan for creating/heating up a sauce.

Menu angst: Serve the raviolis with whatever light, simple sauce they cry out for; an alfredo might work, if you don't care about going to hell. Start with a lovely salad--baby greens are fine, though "chops" are so in they're almost mandatory these days. Crusty bread has a place, as does orzo or rice--but none of these are mandatory. If you're feeling generous, throw another vegetable in there--unless the ravioli in question is stuffed with pumpkin or sweet potato. I'd recommend carrots (cooked in oil and maple syrup or with brown sugar and butter). Or green beans with a kiss of lemon peel, butter and sage.

And pass a plate of cookies for dessert.

Notes: Trader Joe's actually has a shelf-stable dry mini-ravioli made with cheese, but I still prefer to get normal-size deli pillows with a little chicken in them as well. But these might save fridge/freezer space.

TJ's also carries something called "Greek triangles," which are ravioli with a little feta and some black olives. These are wonderful, and would be great served alongside dolmades--or even mock moussaka. With white wine (possibly including retsina for weird people like me who like it) you'd have a wonderful little Mediterranean meal ready in minutes.

Deli-case ravioli goes for about $3.50-$4.00 a package. It doesn't compare well with plain old spaghetti (or most other pastas) on a cost basis, but you're getting high-quality protein, with just enough carbohydrate to make it okay to skip the bread or rice course (at least for a simple family meal). This will feed two adults, and possibly a young child as well, if there's been a small salad.

3/02/2004 02:47:00 AM

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