Resume-speak infects the world of mercenaries.

I’m reading about mercenaries (I’m sorry – “Private military companies”) and something that keeps making me laugh is the horrible Corporatese these companies use to describe what they do. Here’s how Xe (then Blackwater) described itself a few years ago:

We are not simply a “private security company.” We are a turnkey solution provider for 4th generation warfare. We assist with the development of national and global security plans, train, equip and deploy public safety and military warriors, build combat live-fire indoor/outdoor ranges, MOUT facilities and shoot houses, create ground and aviation operations and logistics support packages, develop and execute canine solutions for patrol and explosive detection, and can design and build facilities both domestically and in austere environments abroad.

Develop and execute canine solutions.


Does anybody read this stuff before they publish it? Can you work for Xe if you have a sense of the ridiculous? Do they make you take some kind of test before they hire you?




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The anti-feminist nightmare that is the sassy girl sidekick

OKAY, INTERNET. I have to complain about something that’s been bothering me about movies.


I like girl characters. I like action movies! I like girl characters IN my action movies. Unfortunately, many of the girl characters you see in action movies are of the dreaded SASSY GIRL SIDEKICK variety. I think the SGS is sort of the action version of the manic pixie dream girl.

Sassy Girl Sidekicks do things like slap the antagonist across the face and then spit at him without fear of reprisal. This is how we know they’re sassy, you guys. Obvs.

The problem I have with the SGS type of character is that they’re presented as being strong and tough, girl-power-minded chicks. But really that’s total bullshit and it’s all a barrel of anti-feminist weirdness, because when a woman slaps a man with a kind of smug “Hmmmm?!? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT????” attitude, that’s really a person who believes herself to be protected from being smacked back by her femaleness… which is not girl-powery at all. Or if a girl is captured by pirates and spits at the lead pirate and then glares in pouty fashion, that’s also because she believes that her being-female protects her. This isn’t feminism, it’s dressed-up Victorian sexism about the women being so delicate and in need of protection, and it’s stupid.

Also, more terribly, it’s super dull.

A character who’s flouncing around pouting cutely and slapping people and not really being afraid, because she knows that men will always protect her=snorefest.

A character who’s captured by pirates and knows that she’s on her own and is so pissed off she still spits in the guy’s face even though she knows nobody will protect her and that little act of defiance could lead to her death=okay, I’m paying attention.

I find this to be a particular problem in period pieces set in eras wherein women didn’t even have the vote or the right to hold property in their own name… and yet, somehow, they are often written to be all HUZZAH I AM WEARING PANTALOONS AND STOWING AWAY ON SHIPS, NOW I AM HARANGUING THE HERO IN A WAY THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE FLIRTATIOUS.

So I guess what I’m saying is: stop doing that. If you don’t mind. People who have to listen to me complain, like my husband, will thank you.

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Vroom vroom!

I love the Fast and the Furious franchise. I have seen all of them in the theater. I love them in a way that isn’t ironic. I just think they are AWESOME, even though I have no interest in cars, street racing, Paul Walker, etc. My favorites are the ones with Vin Diesel (although I also like Tokyo Drift), because the model of the movies is basically that Vin Diesel grumbles something and then punches a guy and then there’s some running, and then there’s a car chase.

The newest installment looks amazing (by my standards, which are not that high and basically require the inclusion of Vin Diesel, fast cutting, and some explosions):

The part where Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson fight is the best. It’s very “I am too musclebound to raise my arms!” “Me too!” “Graaarrrrrr!!!!!!”

Excellent. (I also love the final THELMA AND LOUISE moment. Obviously.)

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Socially awkward penguin – late to the party

I am normally pretty much the kind of person who likes to look at ur Internet memes. Even when I think they’re stupid, I still like to look at them. So it’s surprising to me that I have been totally unfamiliar with the work of SOCIALLY AWKWARD PENGUIN.

So many of these describe my life, as a devotee to the awkward lifestyle. It’s really uncanny. Awkward handshakes? Yes. Awkward conversations? Yes. Awkward bathroom moments? YES! There is a lady who works in my hallway at work, and she’s the sweetest person. And very chatty! And she likes to talk to you in the bathroom.

While you’re peeing!

And I’m never sure what to do. “Hey! Yes. My weekend was fine. How was yours?” (OH GOD I AM PEEING THIS IS SO AWKWARD!!!!!)

So sometimes when I go into the bathroom to pee and she’s there, I turn back. Which is awkward. Because there aren’t that many good excuses for backing out of a bathroom. Something like “Gosh, is that my phone?” is pretty much it. After that you start to get into insanity.

“I just realized I don’t really have to pee that badly! I’m going to go drink more. BRB.”

Ahhh. Awkward.

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What you think a movie is about vs. reality

Recently I have had a couple of instances of re-watching an old movie and discovering that the old movie isn’t about what I thought it was about.

I think that what happens is, I see a movie, it goes into my brain, time passes, and my brain builds a beat sheet for the story – you know, “The first act of this movie is about X, and then the second act is about Y…” – and because there’s no evidence to the contrary, I quietly walk around believing that my imaginary outline for that movie is accurate.

But it invariably, upon rewatching, turns out to be TOTALLY WRONG. For example. You know An Officer and a Gentleman?

I thought that that movie was about the touching father-son relationship between Louis Gosset Jr and Richard Gere. I thought it was about Richard Gere DOING HARD THINGS and BECOMING A MAN. I though that the sequence where Louis Gossett Jr. makes Richard Gere do situps in a puddle and says “Quit, Mayonnaise! QUIT! I WANT YOUR CADET HAT!” is the climax, and then Richard Gere sobs “I got nowhere else to go!” and Louis Gosset Jr. glowers at him and says “Well. Hit the showers, MAYONNAISE.” but basically forgives him for being a douche… And then later they fight again about the friend leaving the Navy and then Louis Gossett Jr. snarls “MEET ME IN THE BLIMP HANGAR!” and they do kung fu and then Louis Gossett Jr. sells him his first salute, and Richard Gere goes off into his future as an officer, the better for having know that dude.

No! That’s wrong. The movie is almost entirely about Richard Gere making out in a kind of grim, 70s way with Debra Winger, who is NINETEEN, and also some girl pretends to be pregnant and then some guy kills himself. Louis Gossett Jr and Richard Gere’s difficulties turning himself into an honorable man are just the B story! THIS MOVIE IS A ROMANTIC DRAMA, YOU GUYS. Ech.

Another example is EXECUTIVE DECISION. What’s EXECUTIVE DECISION about? It’s an action movie where Steven Seagal gets sucked out of a hatch in the first fifteen minutes and then Kurt Russell has to pilot a 747 to safety, right?


NO. In fact the first 45 minutes of this movie are about how Steven Seagal is an inexplicably old and tubby SF operator and there is some nerve gas (“NERVE GAS: THE DIRTY BOMB OF THE MID-NINETIES.”) and a hijacking. And at minute 43, Steven Seagal heroically sacrifices himself to save America and everything it stands for.

What is going on?!? Now I am afraid to rewatch other 90s action favorites. What if, say, UNDER SIEGE isn’t awesome?

Nope… still amazing. (Steven Segal’s hair! The best. I know this is the Navy, but dude.)

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Mothers be crazy

My friend S. shared this article on Facebook just now: The Mommy Fight-Site: Welcome to the DC Urban Moms Message Board.

Do you have a kid? Do you think you may ever have a kid? Are you a woman, or do you know any? Do you like horrifying/funny things? Then you should read it.

That article is about a DC parenting board specifically, but everything she mentions will apply to basically ALL parenting forums. Because, you see, all parenting boards/mailing lists/discussion groups are two things:

1) Actually mothering boards/mailing lists/discussion groups, because men have better things to do with their time.
2) Bat. Shit.

There is something about having a baby that makes you totally insane. But only if you’re a girl! I don’t know why this is, even though I’ve thought about it a LOT and also consider myself a feminist and am pretty aware of my own crazy and can see it happening in others.

My working theories about why having a baby makes women more crazy than it makes men are as follows. Any or all or none of these could be at play (I often think up these theories late at night or while driving. I am not a scientist. This is not scientific advice.):

*Women will often end up doing the bulk of the parenting research. (“Which car seat should we get?” “…I don’t know. Does it matter?” “SIGH FINE I WILL DO IT ALL MYSELF!!!!” “…are you angry at me? WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!?!?!?”)

*Still-pervasive sexism means that women, often for the first time, have true authority in their lives, but only over this one, kid-related area. And they will defend it to the death. DON’T TELL ME NOT TO FEED MY KID RAW EGG YOLKS! I HAVE DONE MY RESEARCH* BY GOOGLING PEOPLE WHO AGREE WITH ME.

*Men feel that it’s not cool to be heavily defined by their dad-dom?

*Women exclude their male mates from a lot of parenting discussions. Eventually, the men give up and get into woodworking.

*Parenting experts – doctors, teachers – tend to address women as the ultimate decision-maker in a family. Many times doctors have addressed me, as though I know more than Husband Guy (which is almost never true – Husband Guy reads a LOT of science blogs.)

*The CRAZY GENE is located on the X chromosome?

It’s such a mystery! All of the other writers I know in my office building are dudes –

(I don’t know. Writing as a profession is totally open to the ladies – I don’t think there’s any institutional effort to keep women out. Maybe it’s the pitching- I think it’s easier to pitch if you can convey a general sense of confidence. And girls do often get socialized out of that (“Thinks she’s better than everyone….”) by about six years of age, whereas men often get better and better at sounding like they know what they’re talking about, until finally they’re adults who refuse to pull over and ask for directions**.)

Most of them have kids, but I periodically notice that I am much crazier about being a mom than they are about being dads. Like I will say: “Hey, how did you pick a preschool for your kid?” and they will squint and say “Um, my wife visited some places or whatever? I don’t know.”

Conversely, they might say something like “Hey, does your husband get resentful when you don’t get home until late?” (my husband stays home with our kid, their wives stay home with theirs) and I squint and say “…no.” because I don’t really get home late, do you know how much guilt I have about being THE WORKING PARENT and ABANDONING MY HUSBAND AND CHILD?!?



PS, here is a blog by a lady who’s a HIGHLY PAID PROFESSIONAL SCREENWRITER. All of it is worth reading, but this post about her terrible pitching experience is particularly good.

PPS, here is the trailer for a new documentary about BAD WRITING! Let’s all watch it and cringe in recognition together:

*Whenever you see or hear a mom employ this phrase, you are about to hear something about vaccines, the Weston A. Price foundation, or colloidal silver.

**Men drive like THIS, women drive like THIS!

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Why I am starting this-here new blog

For several years, I’ve been happily (and sporadically) blogging at OLD BLOG, Girl on Girl Action. But now I am changing to NEW BLOG.

Why? WELL. So a while back, my beloved uncle John died. He was a hilarious, brilliant guy, and his too-early death was a total drag.

Also, while we were at a memorial dinner for him, something terrible happened.

My uncle’s cousin was there, and at some point during the dinner, somebody mentioned that “Elana has a blog” and the cousin said “Oh yes?” and then somebody mentioned the title, “Girl on Girl Action”, and then he said “But how will I find it?”

And then somebody said “You should just google “girl on girl action”” and then an entire room full of people said “NO WAIT.”

And then he looked confused and said “But why not?!?” and then


It was a really “…” moment in my life. And even at the time I thought “Oh man, I should totally change the name of my blog”. It just, you know… took me many months to actually get around to it.

Anyway, new blog! It’s better and more desirable than old blog.

(You may be wondering something like “why did you name your blog after a slang term for ladies doin’ it with ladies, if you didn’t want to have to explain it to the uninitiated?”

BECAUSE I DIDN’T REALIZE HOW… you know… I don’t know! I never know these things! I just thought it was funny. Because I’m an idiot. This stuff happens to me all the time.

I have probably already told you these stories, but they were on OLD blog. So here you go:

1. Once I bought a shirt with a number on the front. And I thought nothing of it until I realized that a weird statistical cluster of men kept smirking at me whenever I wore it, and saying things like “That’s my lucky number!” and then I finally realized that the number was 69, and… and YOU KNOW.

2. Once I met a girl who was wearing a shirt with two cartoon characters floating in space. And I said “I like your shirt with two cartoon characters floating in space! Is it a 2001: SPACE ODYSSEY reference?” and she looked at me like there was something wrong with me and said “Um, they’re doing it.” and I realized that this was true and said “Oh.” PS THIS HAPPENED WHEN I WAS 28.

3. Once, before we got married, Husband Guy and I were driving somewhere. And a car pulled up next to us, and it had one of those hand-gesture stickers on it – like so – and I said “What does that mean?” and there was a very long silence and I looked over and he looked back at me incredulously and said “Do you seriously not know?” and I said “Is it some kind of “Eastside” reference? and he said “…no.” and I said “Come on, explain!” and he said “I don’t want to.” but finally he explained and then I was TOTALLY SCANDALIZED THAT YOU CAN JUST DRIVE AROUND WITH THAT ON YOUR CAR, what if your MOM asks you about it?

Basically, this kind of being-a-moron is a theme in my life. But NO MORE!

(I hope.))

(Is that right? I get confused about parentheses.)

Anyway… new blog. Also I could pretend that I’m totally going to update it much more frequently than I did old blog, but that would be, you know… a well-meaning lie.

Happy 2011! May this be your year!

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