Have you folks noticed that tamales seem to always get a bad rap for being so time consuming and troublesome to make. Last week Mark Bittman in a NY Times article on tortillas noted "Tamales -- steamed packages of corn-husk-wrapped dough -- are more a test of patience than of technique. (They're definitely not a quick weeknight preparation, though. If you're looking for that, make pupusas.)." This is about the upteenith time I have read something like that, and makes me suspect food writers just copy each other on the topic.
Living in Tucson, I make tamales all the time....it goes something like this. Put corn husks in hot water, mix masa (with or without a lipid), put a nice big spoonful of the masa in a husk, add whatever on top of the masa, fold husk over, put in steamer for 45 minutes. Eat...there, was that so difficult and time consuming? Granted, if around Christmas your group makes something like 200 dozen tamales, it is a project. But, you can make a dozen in about 15 minutes of effort. Sheeze! Sorry, rant over.