Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Waning Curacao

I swear there's something in the air that just changes when you pass the halfway point of a trip. It's kind of like the moon. Before I took astronomy I wouldn't have known there was such a thing as waxing gibbous and waning gibbous, and when you look at those moons in the sky, one or two days on either side of the full moon, they are the same, but reversed: maybe you can't immediately pinpoint it, but something is different. As of today we are thirteen days in to our adventure with nine days to go, and I feel a shift in mood, energy level, desires, satisfaction, thirst(literal and figurative), and just general state of mind. Also, I think the time starts to pass differently -- again -- as we pass the halfway point.

I am sick today. A fever and headache -- early signs of dengue fever, so I'll keep pretending it's that until it's clear that it's not. Oh wait, that's probably already the case. Anyway, six or seven people have been sick already; we have a hospital run every couple of days. Flu, dehydration, antibiotics...our professor from the Netherlands asked today, "What's wrong with you Americans, always getting sick everywhere you go?" My response: We eat preservatives in all our food and our bodies are flummoxed whenever we arrive in any other place in the world, it seems. Then again, we tend to find eggshells in the scrambled eggs here from time to time, and one girl said she found a piece of glass in her food at some restaurant downtown, so who knows?

I feel like we have to be more studious for the last half of our trip, and I wish it were the other way around. I wish they had thrown us in and scared us and then had it lighten up. I feel like I've done a lot of fun stuff, but now there are a lot of studious things scheduled for the next eight days. Yesterday we visited the central bank of Curacao, kind of like the Netherlands Antilles Federal Reserve, and heard some lectures and international banking transaction information, then had snacks. It was a cool building. As we were walking in, I pretended we were there to ask for a bailout. Just for the U.S. in general.

The fireworks began popping up last night. Tonight we will attend a celebration on the beach with drinks, live reggae music, and more fireworks. Apparently there will be fireworks all over the island tonight. And drunk people.

We have New Year's Day off, and then this Sunday will be our only other remaining full day off. There are stil a bunch of activities to squeeze in. And we are starting to think about the final exams! But first, we must do our part to ring in the new year. I'll be in 2009 an hour before the East Coast...see you there.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Conquering Curacao

Well, we've come to the halfway point of my 22-day journey. These last few days have been spectacular. First of all there was Christmas, and we had a two-day vacay including Boxing Day. Our holiday included nice meals, a party buffet dinner on Christmas Day at the Hilton including live music and festivities, some good Christmas cheer (including the liquid cheer), and a Friday morning hike up the mountain in Christoffelpark, the national park here on Curacao.

The hike was good -- we had to go early in the morning so as not to sweat to death. It was a group of seven of us in two cars including one of the students from here who goes to the Netherlands Antilles university. He said that when he left in the morning his wife had asked who is going on the hike, and he had said, "Oh, such and such students, plus the American professor." Then he realized that sounded so cinematic-adventure like, a la Indiana Jones or Jurassic Park. So, all through the national park that day we pretended the group project was going to go drastically awry at any second , particularly when one member of the group split off, then another ... one member of the hike also pretended her cuts from the rocks were velociraptor scratches.

Saturday we had a day of class again, interrupting our holidaze (ha). However, once afternoon came I was back on the beach although we had a bit of rain that day. Eight of us went downtwon for dinner that evening and had another chance to watch the moving bridge. I refer of course to the Queen Emma Bridge, which is (so they say) the world's largest floating pedestrian bridge. Willemstad is on both sides of the harbor, so you have to walk across the bridge, or take a ferry when the bridge swings open to let the ships pass. Watching the bridge open and close is half the fun of living in Curacao. It moves to the side on these little boat/barge things. Picture a needle on a dial going from vertical all the way to one side. As we watched it that night one of the other girls and I marvelled about how I went 30 years of life without knowing this cool little place with its UNESCO-noted brightly colored buildings and its waterfront and its moving bridge even existed and she said it made her think, yeah, it makes you wonder how many other things in the world we just don't know about? (I'm helping you all out by alleviating your ignorance and putting Curacao and Willemstad on your radars now.)

Yesterday, on what was the best adventure yet of this trip and one of my best adventures ever, actually, we went to Klein Curacao. Those familiar with German (or Mozart) will recognize that klein means small, and, indeed, Klein Curacao is a little tiny island that is part of Curacao but is unihabited. Uninhabited! I couldn't get over how awesome that was. I've never been on an uninhabited island (unless you count Alcatraz -- but this is totally different). We got up before dawn and rode a boat for two hours to get there, watching our civilized and suddenly large-seeming island of inhabited Curacao fade into the distance. The boat rocked in the waves (those poor seasick people) as we watched flying fish leaping about the vast, dark blue sea that stretched for miles around us. Finally we arrived at our slab of land that the nine of us friends have decided to conquer. We decided it will be our new nation state and we gave ourselves various jobs and cabinet posts. Among other things, I think I'm the permanent poet laureate.

The company that runs the boat trip has a(n uninhabited) shack there where they keep snorkels and a bit of indoor plumbing, and where we had breakfast and later a huge fantastic barbecue lunch on picnic benches. We swam, sunbathed, snorkeled (snorkeling rules), slathered on ridiculous amounts of sunscreen and still turned many colors, rode an inflatable banana boat, and just basically gazed at the endlessly beautiful water. We also walked around the little island and checked out an abandoned lighthouse (dilapidated floorboards and all), a couple of shipwrecks, and a whole lot of trash, mostly plastic bottles and shoes, that has washed up from the rough waves on the south side. (We decided that's the ghetto of our new civilization, and will promptly assign someone to clean it up.)

Now it's back to going to classes three days in a row again: such a hard life.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Obama's pecs

So, our little university here is, well, little! It actually reminds me of a smaller, more dilapidated GCC (= Glendale Community College, in Arizona, which was somewhat of a "Grade 13" for my high school. Even I took a random summer class there, during college, to supplement my illustrious university education, which took place out of state. I fulfilled some random general requirement.) This University of the Netherlands Antilles (UNA) is not a sprawling campus with grassy knolls and such. Just cement walkways, a little patio-like coffee/snack area, stuff like that. There is a small gymnasium, and yesterday we had a barbecue and basketball game versus some high school students from the International School here. They won.

I am getting attacked by mosquitoes! I wasn't at first, but today while I had breakfast a mosquito apparently did too, courtesy of my leg. I was totally blowing off the whole mosquito thing, relieved that I'm not traveling in a malaria risk area this time, only to find out there's been an outbreak of Dengue fever! ARGH. So, I have to bust out the insect repellent after all, and hope it's in time. We're going to go hiking in the national park this Friday, which will be their main opportunity to feast on me. We get days off for Christmas and Boxing Day aka Second Christmas. (Note to Canadian etc audience: this is a novelty for me.)

Well, that's just a brief update. We checked out the downtown Otrobanda area happy hour last night, which was actually from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Hey, who's to say only early evening hours can be happy? Ten guilders gets you a cup to be filled free for an hour. Ten guilders is, like, six dollars. Happy, indeed. We all got silly and ended up at a bar in the fort with an awesome singer who took requests. Good times.

Working hard (kind of) and playing hard -- I totally need my Christmas vacation!

p.s. No, I don't have anything to say about B.O.'s buff bod, although I, too, can go topless on the beach here if I'm so inclined. Just wanted to see if that title would generate more hits. Ha!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Vaster and vaster

Well, here I am. In Curacao! I know what you're thinking right now; you're thinking, "Where on earth is that?" This is even better than when I went to Honduras. For those who falter in geography double Jeopardy: Curacao Map. Yeah, have a look. Little island, eh? It was kind of trippy when we were landing in Aruba. (I stopped there first. Go on back to the map again if you need to, I'll wait.) I gazed out the plane window and just saw all this water. Sparkling and vast. And oh, looky there, a tiny little bit of land. It's so crazy. I'm just on this little bit of land. I *really* trip out at people who've lived there for their entire lives. Now, I like islands, and I like hanging out on them, unless there are cockroaches, but here I've seen hundreds of lizards and nary a roach (knock on wood), so this one would be flawless except for the fact that it really trips me out to be on this tiny, remote place!!

Islands are so weird! Not just Long Island. In fact, good ol' Wrong Island never even feels like an island, because you can get out of it via so many roads. And I mean, I realize that, technically, every piece of land is an island. But you know what I mean: island in the sense of what "island" connotes. Is there such a thing as geographic reverse claustrophobia? (Perhaps I just invented it. Hook me up with a DSM!) People with claustrophobia get anxious about being in small, confined spaces, right? I get a bit anxious when I'm confronted with the vastness that surrounds me.

So, our hotel is essentially at the water. Each day I go for my little run along a run path on the beach, gazing at all that vast sparkling. The Hilton and Marriott are down the road and I spend time there, too, for their beaches, spas, gift shops, and the like. Our hotel is sort of minimalist as far as fancy amenities go, but it does have a pool, restaurant with outdoor terrace seating and free breakfast, and a bar with an awesome peacemaking bartender. More later about the fight in which his peacemaking skills were on display.

Among other things since arriving, I have: attended "three weeks worth" of classes (accelerated winter session, of course), seen an old plantation house and slaves' quarters, clambered around rocky shores, drunk a pina colada on the most picturesque beach ever, eaten good food, gone to a dance club on the beach, drunk a lot of Heineken, met fun people, spoken a little Spanish, lounged on a beach chair, swum, walked across the floating bridge, danced...did I mention all that lounging on a Caribbean beach? I LOVE IT.

I'm sad I did not start blogging on the first day. Well, the first day I was stuck in Aruba for a while, but how about the second day? Being stuck in Aruba was all right; I met people also headed here for this program and every time an airline rep sort of ambled over to say, "Oh, your plane leaves maybe in thirty minutes" we knew it was time to go have another beer or two.

There are about fifty students, a mix of Hofstra and U Baltimore students plus one or two each from some other schools thrown in. The professors, of course, are totally cool and mellow. I knew they would be. However there is this little matter of having to do a semester's worth of reading, with glorious ocean views and tropical rum punches all around...

I will try to be a better blogger as the time goes on. Can't believe I'm one-fifth of the way through the trip already!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It is finished

What, you ask, is finished? The longest semester ever, that's what! It really was, too, because Hofstra started school waaaay earlier this year (hello, mid-August? half the professors were thrown for a loop, too) and added a reading day here or there and extended the finals period and and and and ... of course I had a final on the last freaking day of said extended finals period. That would be today. Today, as in, the day before I am getting on a plane to Curacao tomorrow. Yikes! The only way this semester could have been longer for me would be if I had started class at 8 a.m. that Monday morning in August instead of 10 a.m.

But, now it is done. I have made it, Brian has made it (number of irrational stress-induced freak-outs this week: at least 1. this month: um...a handful? this semester: lost count a long time ago), and I'm reasonably certain I could have passed all my finals...maybe...

And so I'll be starting two new classes on Saturday morning! Yes, come Saturday I will be studying international and comparative law at the University of the Netherlands Antilles along with a few dozen other students from Hofstra, the University of Baltimore, and a few other random law schools. Please note that I will also spend my afternoons loooooouuuuunging on a Caribbean beach. My classes are International Arbitration and EU Law. Woo-hoo! Did I mention that Caribbean beach yet?

I even have a new hat to wear on the beach! Thanks to Brian's impeccable taste. *swoon*

If you're lucky, I might even post some pictures here for you all to turn green with envy share the experience.

Merry holidaze, everyone!

Off I go!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The blogger must never rest!

What is this, like, the annual holiday slump? I swear it was just about this time last year I noticed the same thing: my friends' distinct lack of bloggage. Click almost any link over there on the left of my blog and chances are you'll find...a blog that hasn't been updated in weeks. Or maybe months! Obviously, this means I need to link to some better blogs and by better I mean more frequently updated. Meanwhile, I'll put the call out -- again! -- for some interesting Blogs I Should Be Reading But Of Which I've Never Heard. Same rules as last year: no craft blogs, no Mommy blogs. (I mean exclusively Mommy. I'm as delighted reading about my favorite bloggers' children as the other things they write about -- well, unless they cross that absolutely verboten line into bodily functions -- but I'm not interested in blogs that are only for the purpose of swapping parenting tales. You know, the ones with titles like "Things We Learn From My Two-Year-Old's Antics That You Simply Must Incorporate Into Your Newborn's Life.")(Yes the titles are approximately that creative, it seems.)

Unlike last year, I'm emphasizing that I'm looking for people's blogs, about the variety of subjects of their daily lives. Not one-topic blogs, professional people's newsy blogs, etc. Those are fine too, but not what I seek from this plea. I guess I'm looking for amateur bloggers, with better-than-amateur writing. (What I fancy myself and my blogging friends to be, of course!) I find a lot when I cruise through the blogs of expat teachers in Korea, but there are two problems with that method of finding new blogs to read: 1)I really don't want to limit my subject matter to ONLY expat teachers in Korea, although such a blog is of course endlessly fascinating (ha!) and 2)They have tendency to go home after a year and then I'm stuck in my annual quest again.
All right then, blogosphere. Offer yourselves up to me! I'm bored! (Blog bored.) And I'm trying to distract myself from two more finals here, helllloooooo.

As to those friends of mine who have once again slacked off major in the updating department - what gives?

p.s. One week 'til I'm lounging on a Curacao beach!

p.p.s. I do have one other new hobby though: reading any and all online reviews/parodies/blogs about how god-awful Twilight is. Even though I have known forever without reading the books how terrible they were and how crappy the movie would be, I'm still amazed at how TOTALLY terrible they apparently are and how insanely crappy the movie is too -- at least according to the intelligent people's reviews.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Brief update for those who don't know what's going on

So, finals finals finals -- and then, the Caribbean! I feel like I've told everyone, but I'm sure some have missed the news that I am going on Hofstra's winter break study abroad to Curacao where I will take two classes earning four credits in three weeks, studying international and comparative law, but mostly I will just lounge on a Caribbean beach.

First, though, I have to get through Law School Finals V: What, This Again? Here's a summary of how the studying is going:

1. Patent Law -- This is my first exam, today, the 8th. I am totally interested in the subject matter and the philosophy behind it. Unfortunately, I fell behind in the reading for this class back before I came to my senses and dropped from 17 credits down to 14, and I never totally recovered. I have a really good grasp of what I know, but I have this sneaking suspicion I've missed things over the course of the semester that I don't know I've missed. This makes the final, essentially, a crapshoot. We shall see.

2. Lawyers' Ethics -- Tomorrow, the 9th. This class is interesting and the professor, who I swear is Elisabeth Hasselbeck's doppelganger, is pretty straightforward. I feel prepared and I don't really mind getting two finals out of the way two days in a row. But, this class is (retardedly) subject to Hofstra's (retarded) curve, meaning the average grade has to be a B. So, let's say out of the 26 students, 5 got 90 out of 100, 5 got 92 out of 100, 10 got 94 out of 100, 5 got 98 out of 100, and one person got 100%. They couldn't all get As. The prof would basically make 93 into a B, and the 92s would find themselves with B-minuses, the 90s with Cs, and only that 100% would actually get to keep his A+. I am simplifying this a lot, but basically I'm just saying the mandatory curve is stupid. This year they decided to exempt classes with fewer than 25 students. Did I mention Ethics has 26 students? Moving along...

3. International Criminal Law -- Also curved. (I think Patent Law is my only test not curved.) This exam is already started, really, as it is a take-home exam. Don't think that means it's a breeze. It has five questions, suggested length 18 pages. It's due Wednesday the 10th, the day after I have these two exams in a row. I definitely have a lot on my plate right now. I've decided I don't care for take-home exams in the slightest. (I didn't think I would.) I'd rather take it in one three-hour ordeal. Rip off the Band-Aid.

4. Criminal Procedure -- I have a few days off in between my initial triple threat and my last two exams, which are next week. I've done the reading for this class all semester, I totally "get" my professor (Alafair Burke, who is awesome, by the way. She also writes mystery novels), and with the few days to study it shouldn't be too bad. That's a huge class, so the curve isn't quite as evil (although it's still retarded). Just as with Criminal Law first year, a similar subject matter, I find myself entirely more interested in the class than I ever thought I would be. It's weird because I haven't got the slightest desire to work in the criminal justice system (where, as we all know, the people are represented by two separate and equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute...) But it makes sense to me, and is interesting, unlike, say, civil procedure.

5. Trademarks -- Also of ridiculous if random interest to me. This class, taught by Russell Crowe's doppelganger, seems to also mesh with my brain. Last year in Entertainment Law I got a brief glimpse of Trademarks and immediately knew I wanted more. I generally talk about some trademark issue or other a few times a week to Brian or anyone else I can make listen.

My sixth class, Legal Decision Making for Children and Incompetent Adults, has no final. It was a small group class where we were graded on short papers, in-class exercises, and other projects. We actually finished up our last class meeting a couple days before Thanksgiving. I've practically forgotten all about it by now! (ha)

So, wish me luck!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

In the the sea of finals, there are bubbles...

Just wanted to come up for air and say hello ... yup, another week passed without a post ... and, well, don't expect me to get back to anything resembling frequent posting any time soon. Because we have reached that glorious semi-annual event known as EXAMS!

Now, the funny thing about me and law school exams is that I don't really hate them and dread them in the way that many of my cohorts do. In general I don't mind tests, and when I like my classes I don't even mind studying for tests, even tests which determine your entire semester grade based on one intense three-hour performance. But there are some things I hate about finals, such as Hofstra's idiotic curve (mandatory curve, I might add) in most classes. Also I hate when I am feeling a wee bit unprepared for a class here or there and wish I had just one more week to read. But probably the thing I hate most about finals is that they have taken away my holiday season for the last three years!!!

I love Christmas. I love the holiday season. I love Thanksgiving, food, snow, living in the desert and thinking about snow, trees, big dinners with family and friends, Christmas lights, Christmas music, football, sitting on the couch, get-togethers, gift exchanges, sleigh bells, you name it. Unfortunately, ever since 2006 my holiday season thought process has gone something like this:

"Yay! Thanksgiving! Uncle, I'll meet up--CONTRACTS. CIV PRO. CRIM--take the train, we'll get to Grandma's--CONTRACTS!!!!! TORTS. NEGLIGENCE. SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE--mashed potatoes, is the game on? Oh, it's snowing in New England--LEGAL WRITING IS DONE. ERIE. INTERNATIONAL SHOE--gifts for my nephew yet--CIVIL PROCEDURE FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME--what time is my flight? Wrapping paper? HUH?!?!"

You can just substitute second- and third-year classes right on in there, but don't forget to add the insane 30+-page papers you get to write in place of finals during certain upper level classes.

So. Once again this year, for Thanksgiving I gathered with the New England throng. Brian and I headed to cousin Kim and her husband AJ's place in Framingham. They've been married a year now, this was their first Thanksgiving in their recently bought house, and while I enjoyed the cousins, board games, football, and all the delicious food they made, in the back of my head I kept hearing that nagging little voice saying, "You have several cases to read for Patent Law. You really need to review the Model Rules for ethics. Have you even thought about what you're bringing to Criminal Procedure?"

Don't forget that during the holidaze immediately prior to law school I was in Korea having a decidedly unusual life moment, so it's actually been four years since I've had my Thanksgiving of old. I tell you I cannot WAIT for 2009. I swear I'm taking the entire two months off and doing nothing but being festive and Christmasy. Maybe I'll even host a big Thanksgiving meal. Hmmm...that will require knowing where I'm going to live next year...and *that* will require having some sort of job...job...human rights? mediation? global justice? my girl Hillary's State Department? INTERNATIONAL CRIM! TRADEMARKS! LANHAM OBVIOUSNESS 4TH AMENDMENT MODEL RULES!!!!!

Gotta submerge now. It's been nice breathing with you for a minute.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some people who are having a worse day than I am

1. The Long Island Railroad workers who were out on the tracks in the nasty rain this morning wearing slickers and monster galoshes and still piecing together (no pun intended) Sunday's derailment. (There was even a small tent over one part of the track where they were working.)

2. Everyone at Guantanamo.

OK, then, I believe I've put things in proper perspective now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chew on this

I have not done nearly enough this semester to share with you the entertaining cases in my classes! Of which there are many! (Many entertaining cases, and many classes.)

Tonight I read for Trademarks the case of Louis Vuitton Malletier v. Haute Diggity Dog. It seems the latter company made a parody line of cheap dog toys and dog beds and other dog accessories called "Chewy Vuiton." This did not sit well with the fancy-schmancy handbag manufacturer, who sued for trademark infringement.

Well, in short they lost. But that's not the fun part. The case is hilarious because the court throws around a lot of cheesy plays on words, such as saying they have to sniff out the applicable law. I personally liked when one of the customers swore in a deposition, "If I really thought a $10 toy made out of fluff and stuff was an actual Louis Vuitton product, I would be stupid." Indeed.

The high-end plaintiffs try to argue that "Chewy Vuiton" will "dilute" their trademark. Now, dilution is an actual doctrine of trademark law, but it doesn't apply here, because far from lessening the strength of Louis Vuitton's mark, this parody actually depends on people recognizing what Louis Vuitton is and that this ain't it. Chewy Vuiton wouldn't be funny and it wouldn't succeed if it DID dilute, you see.

Nonetheless, Louis Vuitton argues that there is confusion because they make a few ultra high-end pet products, namely leather collars and leashes that range in price from $215 to $1600. However, as the court points out, the Chewy Vuiton products aren't fancy leashes but rather toys to chew that are around $20 and beds made to sleep on or "find other, more creative ways to desecrate." Basically, even with the few pet products Louis Vuitton makes, there is no overlap and no likelihood of confusion.

So, Louis Vuitton loses, and I support that outcome. But this begs one more very important question:

Who the hell would spend $1000 on a freakin' dog leash?!?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!

And can I please meet that person -- I have some high-end student loans I'd like to discuss.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In which Linda tries to distract you from her stance of not being an Obama fan...

Since I have so many people still badgering me about B.O., I thought maybe I'd remind you of some of the other controversial views I hold, in the hopes you will forget all about this whole come-around-to-Obama thing.

  • I totally agree with Tom Cruise about the meds. Anti-depressants are a bunch of crap.
  • I don't believe in sex change operations. You are male or female, and I perceive all this "transgender" and "transsexual" behavior as actually intolerant of the idea that a male/female can be whatever s/he is without someone saying, "Oh, no, that's wrong, you must be the wrong sex." Sex "change" and this "transgender" nonsense are a bunch of crap, too.
  • I don't really care for The Princess Bride. Not a bunch of crap - just totally overrated.
There. Rage on!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New Rules

1. If you choose to go to law school, you should not get upset when someone argues with you.

2. If you post things on your Facebook page, change your Facebook status, or otherwise signal to your hundreds of closest Facebook friends what you think/feel about some issue, you don't get to say, "I didn't want to talk about that issue."

3. If you're Condoleezza Rice, you have forfeited your chance to talk about how proud or inspired you feel about Obama's victory. I mean forfeited, completely lost, done, get the hell out of here. Your only roles in life now are to spend the next four decades repenting for the monstrosities in which you have participated by being in the Bush administration and to SHUT UP, unless you are publicly apologizing for said monstrosities.

That's all for today. We'll start slow. But those are the rules.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Calling all undecided voters

If you truly don't know, today, for whom to cast that vote, I submit to you that you could abide by the Brady Bunch test. Of course everything in life hearkens back to an episode of The Brady Bunch. In this case we consider Marcia and Greg, who both had a claim to the attic bedroom. The fight over it pitted the two factions (boys and girls) against each other and, yes, they did resort to some underhanded trickery trying to get their candidate to win. In the end, of course wise Mike Brady had the answer (duh, as he always does!) and the bedroom went to Greg because he was a year older and -- this is key -- Marcia could have the bedroom when Greg goes off to college.

This clearly applies to our current situation. McCain should have become the president in 2000. Now, he will not get another chance. Whereas Obama, who should have waited until 2012, WILL in fact have another chance. So, McCain should get the White House first, and then Obama can have it later.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Talking the talk

A former relative of mine once told me this story. There was an indigenous person in South America (um, I forget which country) talking to a visiting, well-meaning person from North America. My ex-aunt was big into languages - Spanish things, French things, Portuguese things plus her travels in Brazil - and had studied them forever and got her PhD and whatnot. I think the well-meaning visitor to South America was some language academia friend/colleague of hers. I'm not exactly sure who the indigenous person was. I clearly don't remember all the specifics but you don't need them to get the point.

Anyhow, so the well-meaning person whose native language was English and also spoke Spanish was conversing in English with the indigenous person whose native language was whatever that indigenous people's language is. And the English-speaking, well-meaning visitor asked if the indigenous person wanted them to switch to Spanish, this being (I forget which country) in South American and all. And the indigenous person's reply was that it didn't matter because speaking English or Spanish, it was all the same to him, because those languages were so similar compared to his original language.

This at first seems strange, maybe, but is so linguistically interesting (and sensible). I love language things so I am fascinated by different language families and the similarities in language families, even the entire Indo-European family, let alone the many common words and structures shared by English and the romance languages. And this leads to him saying well, once I'm not speaking my language, your English might as well be Spanish, and vice-versa.

Ready for the point? It's an allegory, of course.

John McCain and Barack Obama are English and Spanish. The indigenous language represents a true peaceful candidate, not B.O., whose claim to anti-war fame is that he opposed the stupidest, most lied-about war ever. Duh, so did any of us who, in fact, have the sense god gave a goose. And yes, I mean I opposed it from the beginning. Before the beginning in fact. I warned you all then that you were a damn fool if you believed Dubya had any possible legitimate reason to invade Iraq.

And now B.O. is all proud of himself for also seeing that. Unfortunately, the dude is not against war. He has said so. And as far as I can tell from listening to him in the debates, one of his first priorities right now is to get his war on in Afghanistan.

Imagine what a truly anti-war candidate might look all-or-nothing talk, no god-guns-and-glory platitudes. Instead of shooting and explosions, how about sending 100,000 able-bodied young men and women to Iraq as teachers, construction workers, civil engineers? How about a mandatory draft/year of service in the Peace Corps? (Or some other volunteer organization?) How about laying down your weapons, and beating them into plowshares?

Wouldn't that be a nice, uh, change?

Meanwhile, though, the military-industrial complex rolls merrily on, the Democrats and Republicans are essentially indistinguishable, and any candidate from -- gasp -- a third party is shunned, mocked, and discouraged. Even in those rare times when everybody is talking about the war, nobody does anything about it. You just keep on living as if war is an inevitable part of life. The only thing inevitable about war is that it brings a lot of death.

You can have your culture wars, your lies about book-banning, your so-called rage. You can have your cries of "elitist" and your suspicions and your pretense that we all suddenly care about universal health care as much as Hillary has for twenty years. (Find some coverage for a 30-year-old grad-student in either candidate's plan, would you?) The closest thing to a wedge issue for me would be torture, which McCain tried to stop before stopping torture was cool. The most important thing we could do in the world would be to stop the violence. Good luck finding someone in the establishment who wants to do that.

I look at my so-called choice between John McCain and Barack Obama and say "What's the difference?" So go ahead, keep speaking in McCain, or switch to Obama. I don't really care: you still haven't spoken to me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I have a wish. It's not, like, my big overriding ultimate wish in this world or anything, but just a little wish. A wishlet, if you will. Here it is: I wish that people would stop eating noisy food in class. Noisy food means anything I can hear. So, it could be chips, pretzels, almonds -- but it can also be a croissant, if you are a nasty loud chewer. Which I experienced in class today, I might add.

I mean - I get as hungry as the next person, but we have ten minute breaks during all our two-hour-plus classes. If you want to eat chips, eat them on the break. When you are next to someone trying to listen to a lecture, the sound of your chip chewing is magnified way beyond what you think it is. I think almonds are even worse than chips. Or any of the small foods that aren't crispy. Where people secret them in their mouths and then you can just kind of hear that gnawing. UGH. This is an absolute rule: if you are not silent, do not eat in class.

That is my wish.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A certain Senator demagogue ...

"What all his critics fail to admit is that he has enormous charm and sex appeal and a characteristic man's man way of talking which dominates everyone around him, so that to a person ignorant of politics, he would seem just wonderful. The result is that it's truly terrifying to watch him work, because you wonder how can this man be stopped? Yet, on the other hand it's possibly not as bad as it seems, for I think a lot of his support is not active enthusiasm for his ideas, methods, etc., but simply the response of ignorant people to his vast and clever charm. The hope there is that when all the showdowns come, his minions may be startled to discover the ideas behind this guy they think is so great. The hope, I believe, is that he remains a reactionary. Just let him pick up a social program, and he'll be dictator, because as a demagogue he is really extraordinary. Even hating him, you have to admire him because he's so good at what he does."
--Norman Mailer, on McCarthy, in 1954

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why John McCain is not in charge of your abortion

Democrats infuriate me sometimes. Republicans do too of course (and more often, to be sure) but today let's focus on the Democrats. One of their unyielding tactics in this so-called culture war of an election is to FREAK OUT at the very notion of casting a vote for McCain because -- and I variously quote -- the ticket is "scary," "an affront to women," and "a slap in the face," and it has "remobilized the religious right."

Let's cut through all the crap. Democrats are using abortion as a wedge issue. Now, this is a really hypocritical thing for Democrats to do, because they famously criticize Republicans for using abortion as a wedge issue. The thinking seems to be, when the Karl Roves of the world mobilize (or "re-mobilize") their base by getting voters out to the polls in all-out-effort to affect abortion policy, that's bad, but apparently when Democrats want to affect abortion policy it is not only OK but it is "crucial!" and "essential!" and "why aren't you terrified?!" to insist that I absolutely, positively must vote for Obama or else McCain is going to take away any power I will ever have to make a choice ever again.

I would say that is "extreme."

It is also misguided, particularly when directed at me, because abortion is not, never has been, and I doubt ever will be my wedge issue. So you're not gaining my vote that way.

But here's the catch: it doesn't MATTER. Let me explain. After all, I've spent $100,000 on this legal education so I might as well put it to good use. The president is not in charge of abortion!

I know what you're going to say, because every foaming-at-the-mouth Obama supporter has already said it to me (and a few of the calm ones have, too): "But the president appoints Supreme Court justices, so (s)he really DOES have the power to overturn Roe v. Wade." Listen carefully:

If McCain got elected, and IF a Supreme Court justice or two died/retired/got sick of the lot of us and fled the country, and even IF McCain's goal was to use a litmus test to select a justice (which it is NOT, but even IF it were), and even IF that litmus test were whether the potential justice thought Roe v. Wade was a flawed decision (which, by the way, a lot of legal scholars agree is true, regardless of their politics), and even IF he nominated someone bound and determined to "end abortion now!" and even IF this person got confirmed by the Senate, and even IF within the next few years all this happened AND a case questioning a law restricting abortion made its way up the court system, and even IF the Supreme Court granted certiorari and even IF the law in question were worded in such a way that in ruling on it Roe v. Wade was overturned in its entirety, and even IF we were suddenly to find ourselves in a Roe v. Wade-less world, you know what would happen next?

At first, nothing. Because the issue would be kicked back to the states! Then, each state legislature would enact the abortion legislation or lack thereof that it saw fit. That is how this country works. Now, let's see, show of hands: who thinks that each state is going to immediately reenact exactly whichever abortion-restricting law was on the books in 1970? Who among you really thinks the last forty years haven't affected the popular consensus/majority will on this issue, let alone who is actually IN the state legislature now to legislate? (Some of whom were probably BORN around the time of Roe v Wade.) What if I were to remind you that early Supreme Court cases about the right to privacy included the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut, which invalidated a Connecticut law that prohibited contraceptives, and the follow-up Eisenstadt v Baird in 1972, which invalidated a Massachusetts law that prohibited contraceptives for unmarried couples? Yeah, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Birth control. Forty years of social change, people.

So if you really want to have a say in abortion laws, you should be talking to your state legislators. Perhaps you can start by finding out who they are.

Friday, October 17, 2008

October shirking

Aaaaaah, and there I was promising to keep up with the blogging during October. Oops. Well, now that we're through the debate perhaps it will be a bit easier. That took a bit of time and a lot of mental space. I volunteered as a media production assistant with the thousands (seriously) of credentialed journalists and broadcast engineers who overtook two giant parking lots outside the arena at Hofstra where the debate was held on Wednesday. Only about two of the student volunteers came from the law school, of course, so over the days of set-up plus all day on the day of I had the privilege of spending hours and hours with undergrads.

Undergrads are all right. I must say that having the debate at Hofstra appears to have inspired them and I have seen qualities such as intelligence, activism, passion, spirit, pride, engagement, and so forth on display in the past week. It's like a whole new Hofstra experience. I'm really proud of my school and how they pulled it off. I think it was a good investment (of millions) to have a debate here and totally worth it. Woot! But back to the 18-year-olds. Good god. Did I really used to sound like that? I imagine I did.

Some are more thoughtful than others; some are more annoying than others. They think they have decided their majors, they think they know what they want to do with their lives, and they think that the former actually matters with respect to the latter. They have all kinds of untested ideas about the world. They think they have a lot of work to do for their classes. (Spare me.) They can't legally drink yet. It is just plain weird to hang out with them.

But the weirdest thing about hanging out with them, apart from the minority who are seniors and actually, say, 21 or 22, is thinking about how FREAKIN' YOUNG they were when Dubya originally usurped the White House. Hello, a lot of them were 12 years old. Or 11. Or TEN! They were not teenagers. Let me repeat this, for full and proper effect: they were 'tweens when the Supreme Court handed the White House to George W. Bush. Their entire lives as thinking people with any chance at legal capacity, or people who have, say, gone through puberty has been with that monster as the so-called "leader" of this land.

Well for Christ's sakes, it's no wonder they think B.O. is a savior. They have NO CLUE what a presidential race even is! Because, really, in 2004 there wasn't one, just a weak and spineless Democratic party that acted like a cross between the adolescent who's in big trouble but secretly wants to be grounded because they need someone to show them what is up and a dog who is good at tricks like rolling over and playing dead -- too good, in fact.

There are many, many reasons I want to vote for McCain, and a few reasons I don't want to. There are many, many reasons I don't want to vote for Obama, and only one reason I do want to (the chance of having Hillary in a cabinet position). But more than anything I want all these people who have never experienced a presidential election before -- no, more than that, they've never really experienced a president -- to try to get their heads around the fact that it's not just the Big Game followed by a Victory Parade. They're not electing the goddamn homecoming king, although it's hard to tell by the way they swoon in the face of Mr. Handsome Popularity.

God I hate George W. Bush's presidency. I am ashamed of (at least 50% of) you for letting it go on so long. How dare you? And then how dare you blame it on McCain? You have only yourselves to blame.

"We all have work,
let no one shirk,
put your shoulder to the wheel."
--random hymn we used to sing in my past life in Arizona

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In which Linda defends Iran

Specifically, some of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's thoughts about Israel. I am so tired of hearing ignorant reaction to and poor translation of Ahmadinejad's comments, and again tonight in the presidential debate we were treated to some fearmongering about "wiping Israel off the map."

The first time I ever heard someone "quote" that statement the one-time ESL teacher (and the critical thinker!) in me said, "I bet that isn't an entirely accurate translation." By all accounts, of course, I am right. Ahmadinejad was talking about a regime he perceives as illegitimate. Why illegitimate? Because "Israel" or perhaps more accurately Occupied Palestine is a so-called nation that displaced Palestinians and has somehow managed to create a popular perception in the U.S. and who knows where else in the world of "Israel good. Arab bad." without much more thought to it than that.

Ahmadinejad and several other Iranian officials have repeatedly explained that no one wants to start a war, blow anyone up, nor massacre a group of people. They have clarified that they don't even want to displace the Israeli population. What do they want? Free elections! A voice for Palestinians! Freeing Palestinian refugees! Is that so much to ask?

They have called for an election in which ALL the residents of that land -- Jewish, Muslim, Christian -- get to vote, and that alone would create a legitimate government there in "Israel"/Palestine. Why don't we allow that to happen? Are we just afraid the Zionist regime will be revealed for the unpopular mistake that it is?

A friend of mine once pondered, if in the face of the holocaust the world felt compelled to give the Jews a nation, why did they have to send Palestinians into exile? Why not do it in Germany? Wasn't it Germany that was responsible? Kick them off their land instead! Yeah, ha ha - but seriously, why not? Because of all this "holy land" nonsense? Once again, as a different friend put it, once you wrap some nonsense in a religious cloak it becomes untouchable.

Well, I'll touch it. I am not for blowing anyone up or wiping any nation off a map in a violent sense. I am 100% for peace. But I won't say that Israel as we know it rightfully exists. I totally get Ahmadinejad's point - his actual point, not some mistranslated one - and I think it's irresponsible of the rest of you to not try to understand it.

Do yourself a favor and watch the documentary Promises.

Monday, October 06, 2008

So far so good

Sportswise, things are going well: my USC Trojans somewhat redeemed themselves over the weekend and the Red Sox won tonight in a thrilling bottom of the ninth. My hopes for a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series are alive and well.

Schoolwise, I'm trying to stay on top of all the mounds of reading, but last week's and this week's Jewish holidays have helped immensely, giving me a few much needed days off for catch-up and catching a breath.

The Jewish holidays always mystify me a little bit. Actually "mystify" is no longer the right word because I totally get it, but I just think it's silly. I refer, of course, to the ides of beginning a day at sundown. Why is that the "beginning" of a day? It's so clearly the late middle. What if I just decided that my football game started in the third quarter, and finished in the first half of next week's game? That makes about as much sense to me. (Although some days, it could help the Trojans considerably.)

So like, last week it was Rosh Hashanah and we had Tuesday and Wednesday off. But that meant if you had Monday evening classes, those were also cancelled, because in Jewish holidayland, Monday is the start of Tuesday, whereas if you had Wednesday evening classes you didn't actually have Wednesday off in its entirety, because you had to go to those. Sorry, 5 p.m., holiday's over! SO WRONG. I myself don't have any Monday or Wednesday evening classes this semester (I have a Tuesday evening class, so I lucked out this Rosh Hash) but I was amused watching friends determine to which day their evening belonged.

I was actually pondering this whole Judaism lifestyle thing the other week with a few classmates. Well, they really just listened more than actually co-pondered. A lot of people say I shouldn't be as annoyed by Judaism as I am by other religions because the Jews are generally more tolerant, intellectual, and so on. Maybe. But that's so macro. I really feel like being a religious Jew, especially orthodox, would seriously cramp my style day-to-day. The whole Sabbath thing is the perfect example. It starts on Friday night, so that's shot, and then Saturday is for "rest" too. Geez, I had it bad enough as a child being bored to tears and not allowed to do anything except church it up ONE day a week, on Sundays, but to lose two days? I mean, Friday night is the good part of Friday! And then Saturday's gone too, until it gets dark. Then again, I don't really know what Jews do on the Sabbath, but I do know there are restrictions, and it's restrictions of which I complain.

The other restriction I pondered, while my classmates looked on in what may have been horror, is the wearing things on the head. (I'm not even bothering with the dress code in general because ugh, but that's a given ugh.) The whole having to put something on your head before you leave the house = major inconvenience. What if I roll out of bed on a lazy Saturday morning (AND turn on a light via switch! ha!) and then want to just throw on sweats and dash around the corner to the neighborhood coffee shop? Well, my Jewish classmate argued, if you had been raised that way you would think nothing of slapping a covering on your head on the way out the door; it would be as natural to you as putting on shoes. But I say shoes serve a purpose! There are rocks, and nails, and dog excrement, and things on the sidewalk. Shoes make sense.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF RELIGIONS (many, many, many of them) MAKING YOU PUT THINGS ON YOUR HEAD? This is my favorite question in life. And no one knows.

Then again, these things aren't as bad as having to pray five times a day facing east and all that. That's a really annoying one. What if you're taking a nap? Also, aren't all the prayers at specified times? What if you go to a movie? Do you have to take prayer time into account when you plan your cinema outing?

So many things I don't understand about religions. And you know, I've even taken World Religion classes before. But they are all big theory and don't tell me about these little interesting details.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Picking up steam

Busy, busy, busy though I may be, I hereby resolve to not shirk my blogging in October as I have been September shirking. And the thing is, you (fair readers) are totally missing out on lots of good stuff because I'm just too darn busy to blog about it. Oh, the injustice!

Among the forty, fifty, sixty hours I spend doing law schooly things I must say I have some great textbooks this semester, beyond the fact that I am just plain interested in my classes. For example there's Patent Law, in which was written maybe my favorite textbook sentence thus far. It was talking about the development of patent law in the world, starting with Europe and into the U.S. (Brief history of patent law: there was none, then hardly any for centuries, then recently a whole bunch.) The book said, "But as the industrial revolution picked up steam (so to speak)..." Ha ha ha ha ha !

Another great one was in my Regulation of Lawyers text for Ethics/Professional Responsibility class. This one was in a Supreme Court case, though, and over the years in law school we law students definitely come to know that some Supreme Court justices pepper their opinions with pithy, snarky, and sometimes quite brilliant lines and that some have magnificent writing skills even if their reasoning is often prejudicial or flawed (ahem, Scalia) and that some just have the most boring, snooze-inducing writing styles known to humankind (I'm looking at you, O'Connor).

Anyway, this one was in a 1988 decision written by Justice Brennan about lawyer advertising, targeting advertising, and print advertisements versus lawyers soliciting in person (i.e., ambulance chasing, like the guy who went to see the girl in traction in the hospital to say he could represent her). In talking about why in-person solicitation by an attorney puts more pressure on someone in a fragile state than an advertisement, even a targeted letter sent to a certain group of people, Brennan writes, "A letter, like a printed advertisement (but unlike a lawyer), can readily be put in a drawer to be considered later."

I shall go through the rest of my day grinning every time I so much as think about putting a lawyer in a drawer to consider him later.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I would never postpone a chance to argue!

I have so much to say, but you wouldn't know it from my lack of bloggage. However, the silence of Linda Without Borders is only due to my incredibly busy, somewhat stressful, definitely over-scheduled, but entirely interesting semester.

So here's the thing. You may or may not know that Hofstra is hosting the third presidential debate, on October 15. At least, it's supposed to be the third debate, assuming this Friday's first debate actually happens.

I still like my boy McCain, but he needs to know that not going to the debate = bad idea. And the main reason is not (as Obama said) so the "American people" can hear from their future leader at this time (blah blah talking heads blah) but because the University of Mississippi has put a lot of effort, time, energy, and resources into organizing it. I know, because I am a volunteer on the presidential debate to be held here at Hofstra. (Part of that crazy busy semester I mentioned.)

This university has put a lot into this. So have the volunteers, the community, the county officials, the local police, and so on. I personally have gone to to e-mail him/the campaign telling them GO TO THE DEBATE, YOU FOOL! and I hope that you will do the same.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

He killed Himself

I can't remember ever being as startled by a headline scrolling across the bottom of the television screen: David Foster Wallace, 46, found dead of an apparent suicide.

The first thing I said aloud: I thought he was above it.

I sit here feeling speechless. I find the LA Times obituary, I scour the internet, I read hundreds of comments on fan sites, and I see that being rendered speechless seems to be the general consensus around the blogosphere. It is as if DFW left this world and took with him all the words worth saying.

And then I think, what kind of wise-beyond-wit comment would he have about a flood of hundreds and hundreds of comments from people who admit therein they have nothing to say?

I feel genuinely sad now. Lump-in-the-throat sad. Part of that comes from a cringing compassion for his wife, who returned home to find he had hanged himself. I think the suicide of someone who is married or in an intimate relationship is horrifying beyond measure. It's so hopeless, whether it says the relationship wasn't reason enough to keep living, or just that you couldn't tell your partner it wasn't.

Part of my lump in the throat comes from the fact that so much of what he wrote was about depression, madness, suicide -- those things are underlying themes as well as major plot points of Infinite Jest -- and he was so smart about them that I thought he would not fall prey to them. I thought he had stared them in the face and, if not conquered them, then rolled up his sleeves and flexed his literary muscles to show they couldn't mess with him, that he was better than any mere demons. I couldn't read his writing any other way.

I was struck by this comment from "seth" on Edward Champion's Reluctant Habits that David Foster Wallace "noticed and spoke of things that most of us need to ignore to keep going."

Part of the sadness comes from a general question often asked of the universe about why brilliant artists have to be crazy. I mean, really?

The first comment I read online, on the blog cosmopolis, noted that his work will now be "read retrospectively with knowledge of his end as if it were ordained." A la Sylvia Plath, John Kennedy Toole, et. al.

But besides authors there are all the crazed composers, and the Vincent Van Goghs, and so on. Why? What madness is this creation? (And what does that say about the very notion of "god" by the way?)

I know I've mentioned before that Amy Ray and Emily Saliers (who together are my favorite musical duo Indigo Girls) have commented on this phenomenon in multiple interviews. They are by all indications very healthy (although who knows, right?); they are careful to take time off between albums and tours, and go running, and plant tomatoes. They have talked cautiously about the myth of the crazy artist in a way that is almost suspicious of their own artistic success, like, wow, I'm creative, what must be wrong with me? I can't say I haven't thought the same thing about myself sometimes, in my more volatile moments. Is it just inevitable? Their song "Caramia" is running through my head: "Some say your genius/ is in your madness/ will you get better/ and then will you leave us?"

But the above paragraph is just musing, speculation, ramblings from someone who doesn't know what to say.

I feel (selfishly?) glad that I read Infinite Jest before he died. Sometime last spring I couldn't believe how much time -- law school time! that is in a whole other dimension than regular earth-time! -- I gave to that book. But it gave back. And of course now I can't imagine it any other way.

I wrote about him a bit on my Literary Supplement although I was often too preoccupied with law school to blog much. I also spent time grappling with whether or not I even liked the book. But his talent? His way with words? His, yes, genius? You've got to experience them.

I do encourage you to read him. After Infinite Jest I moved his essay collections closer to the top of my mental list of Things to Read Soon, although I didn't necessarily imagine getting around to them until after law school. But it's not like his book is something you read and then put away. Brian and I still talk about it, and tell other people about it, and contemplate it.

I feel obliged to end this entry with a DFW quote, but I won't, because that would imply that there's some way to sum up or make sense of such a thing as "Writer David Foster Wallace hanged himself Friday night. He was 46."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Inviting you to calm yourselves

OK, so I've been amused for -- how long now? two weeks? three? My, how the time flies when you're dealing with 17 credits, internships, and so forth -- by all the hysteria about McCain's selection of Sarah Palin. I've been content to smile as friend after friend on Facebook joins groups with names like "I have more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin," and I have dutifully explained why try as they might the Democrats are unable to use Palin to turn the so-called "pro-life/pro-choice" dichotomy into my wedge issue. But now there is something I simply must say.

I find myself really annoyed by all the people who are calling her too right-wing, or evangelical because of all these (so far, false) rumors about her banning books and wanting to teach creationism in schools... all you who are in hysterics about her views on the womb (pun very much intended)... listen up!

I think I've figured out why I shrug off all of this. I was trying to explain to a friend the other day why it's hard to get me too freaked out by someone's religious beliefs. Here's the thing. Everyone is all "oh-my-god-she's-going-to-teach-creationism-abstinence-babies" but I have officially decided today that I'm done with all the faux-outrage about people who want to --gasp!-- impose their ideas on others.

It's crap. You know what? We all want to impose our ideas on others. At least those of us who blog do! Even those of you who pretend you don't want other people to agree with you, you want other people to agree with you that people shouldn't try to get other people to agree with them. Or so you say.

My point: I'm over the outrage about someone wanting to spread their views (in schools, or wherever). Where's the outrage about them holding the offensive views in the first place?

Who cares if crazy Christians and rabid religious right-wingers want people to think like them? That's old news: I grew up around Mormons. How about we call a spade a spade and get mad at what they think?

Why not try to convince her that she's wrong?

I've decided that everyone needs to stop pussyfooting around about the religious nonsense and just admit - like I'm admitting - that you think their religious views are a bunch of hooey. That they are -- gasp! -- wrong. Not, "oh-I'm-so-into-everyone-believe- what-you-want-accepting-tolerance-look-at- liberal-touchy-feely-me."

Here, I'll start:

The world was created in six days: wrong! Whether you're teaching it in public school, Sunday school, or around the damn campfire. Too bad if it's a "religious belief" -- it's wrong!
You are immoral if you wear tank tops. Wrong!
Not letting women drive? Wrong!

See how easy that is?

People can believe whatever they want. They will always be able to think whatever they want. That's the great thing about minds (until they're brainwashed, I guess). But I'm so tired of religion right now. And it's about more than just keeping your religious views out of the public school classroom, the government, and so on. (Which, hello - keep them out! Please! Thank you, U.S. Constitution.) It's about if you say something that is stupid, illogical, hypocritical, or nonsensical, why don't we just call you on it, instead of going out of our way to tell you how much right you have to think that but oh could you just kind of keep that crazy, b.s. to yourself instead of sharing it with any children you might come across?

How about, instead, not believing the crazy b.s. in the first place?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Trees, schmees

So, it's the beginning of another school year, and around this time here at Hofstra School of Law a lot of the student organizations announce their first meetings of the year. In order to publicize the meetings and recruit new members, the organizations usually make law school-wide announcements about their meetings. The most common ways of doing this are an announcement via the in-building network monitors that flash messages, a sign posted on the bulletin boards at the law school entrances, a posting sent to the students who have signed up on the organization's web site, or an announcement in the weekly e-mail sent to everybody by the president of the SBA (which is like a student government association).

Does anyone else find it strange that today I sit studying in the lounge and see that the Environmental Law Society has left 8 1/2 x 11-paper flyers on all the tables all around to announce their first meeting tomorrow?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It doesn't really stay in your stomach 7 years...

You would not believe how often I find gum stuck under the desk (table) in law school. Here are some qualities of someone who sticks their gum under the desk instead of putting it in a proper trash receptacle:
  • lazy
  • messy
  • careless
  • disrespectful
  • short-sighted
  • self-centered
Now, are these the qualities you seek in your lawyer? I think not.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

My last summer without a J.D. is over!

That's right: I have started my third ( = last) year of law school.

I might add that classes started so early this year (August 18th? hello?) that not only did I find it a major inconvenience to have to start school while still watching the Olympics but at least two of my professors have had to cancel a class within the first two weeks because the early start date caught them by surprise too, and they weren't done with their summer plans (variously vacationing in New England and appearing at a book signing. Yeah, my Criminal Procedure teacher also writes mystery novels. I've shelved her at Borders before.)

Hofstra gave the usual blah blah about this calendar bringing us more in line with other law schools, although I happen to know of other law schools that have not in fact started classes and are like, why are you going back to school this early? So there.

Major interruption of my Olympic viewing. Not cool.

But now it's the closing ceremonies, and summer is officially over, and I can safely plunge into the school year. Now that I'm no longer working in a clinic I am happy about school again and excited for my 17 credits. Although that's a lot of credits. My themes this semester are international things, criminal things, and intellectual property things. For some bizarre reason I just adore trademarks. They are so interesting to me. I discovered this last year when I had a chapter on trademarks in my Entertainment Law class, and I like them so much that this semester I registered for the entire Trademarks class. I also have Patent Law. One thing I can tell you already: just like with "impact" (as Julia Sugarbaker would say), do not use "trademark" as a verb.

My oddball class is Ethics. It's required. It's not really philosophical, but more like what is the code of professional responsibility, is such-and-such a conflict of interest, and stuff like that. Maybe I'll throw some of the problems on here for you to discuss. The bummer about that class is that I waited to take it until I could get into Monroe Freedman's class, because he is a brilliant legend, and I was wait-listed for his class the past two semesters. (There are probably
four or so ethics teachers each time around.) But at the last minute he apparently decided he's no longer up for teaching as much, so we have a different teacher. A new woman, barely out of law school herself, who is very young and eager and taught for a year or something at a small law school in North Carolina and who is very - um - enthusiastic about traditional law school success. She has totally bought the package.

Traditional law school success means being on Law Review, being highly ranked in your class (often after memorizing lots of commercial outlines. Law students live and die by their outlines. Well, most of them do. Except for two of us), and getting An Offer from the firm at which you worked your second summer so after you graduate you can make six figures at a big corporate megafirm until you either a)get a job as a law school professor, teaching another generation how to walk your path of misery b)start doing lots of cocaine. LOTS c)throw yourself from the roof of your office building.

There was a time when I thought I wanted those things. (Well, not the last bit.) You know, Law Review and all that. Until I realized how decidedly not fun it is. What can I say, I like fun! When we had the writing competition to get onto Law Review or one of Hofstra's other journals at the end of first year, I took one look at the packet with a hundred pages of material to read, including a fake hypothetical whose facts I was to synthesize with all the relevant law, coming up with a brilliantly written legal memo to earn me a coveted spot cite-checking and editing other legal writing, I thought - ewww. One of my classmates put it best. Re: the writing competition, she said, "This sucks. And the reward is - more of this!" Truer words were never spoken, about that and a lot of law school/lawyerly things.

The interesting thing is, I'm the one who's totally wistful and nostalgic this week as we 3Ls start our final year and realize it's all coming to an end. Blink and you'll miss it, I want to tell the 1Ls. I really like classes, school, and learning. And I really like the learning I've done in law school. Money? It's a worry. It's stressful. But I've been broke forever; not having a megafirm job won't change that. I'm just a little startled to see how many of my cohorts seem to really still think that "success" equals happiness. I thought we all learned that wasn't true in like 1994. Maybe they weren't born yet.

Speaking of not being born yet, here's my emphatic statement about the ages of any and all Chinese gymnasts: Who cares?!

Here's my emphatic statement about B.O.'s text messaging revelation (almost!) of his VP candidate: Can we say "debacle"? Can we also say "more hype from the king of rhetoric and hype"?

Here's my emphatic statement on Beijing: WHY DIDN'T I GO THERE when I had the chance? (While I lived in Korea.) On second thought, let's not dwell. Onward. I adored the Olympics, the spectacle, the shots of the Great Wall and a giant Buddha statue during the fanfare in and out of commercial breaks, the ceremonies, the medals, Shawn Johnson, Lezak, Phelps, diving, volleyball, relays, all of it. I like Olympic games! They are global and fun. That's all I want out of life: global and fun. Once I thought law school could get me on a path that is global and fun; let's see if it happens! Onward, indeed.

"Well, then, save the next little boy!" - In Bruges

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Come Monday...

Today in a fitting end to the summer we totally Brooklyned it up by checking out the scenes in Red Hook and Coney Island. (Turning "Brooklyn" into a verb is troublesome because it looks wrong whether I put one 'n' or two when adding "ed" for the past tense there.)

Red Hook is the location of the new IKEA. (Finally! NYC has IKEA!) We stopped by there but didn't find the futon cover we sought. It was predictably scary, being Saturday; I had soooo wanted to go there weekdays only but it just worked out this way. The real draw in Red Hook were the Latino food vendors gathered around the park, selling tacos, pupusas, enchiladas, juices and horchatas, empanadas, you name it. It's quite the festive atmosphere, with soccer games, picnics, birthday parties, and a mix of ethnicities, ages, families, young singles, etc.

Unfortunately, I am outraged because I guess before this year there were MORE vendors and they sold out of tents but this year they were delayed in starting back up and had to get trucks due to the public health officials getting involved. I'm not sure the details, but I really can't see why they'd have to get those food vendor trucks (ice-cream man style) to sell food. Because now you've got engine noise, pollution, and a waste of gas and lots of their money on gas, and in this fuel economy? There are fewer vendors this year because they can't all afford the trucks. It's utter crap! Get outraged with me! I think it's a conspiracy between NYC officials and oil companies.

We did, however, get to see a soccer game come to an end in dramatic fashion, including one man punching another spectator. We stayed around to watch the next soccer game for a while, then left for Coney Island.

As we arrived on the subway, at the very end of the F line (or as the case may be with today's track work, the G train taking the F's place), I remarked that Coney Island is one of the most famous places in the U.S.A. that I haven't hadn't visited. I was excited to finally see it!

It is all that I thought it would be, and more. It is all that I thought because it had the boardwalk, roller coaster, ferris wheel, cotton candy, pier, boardwalk, sand, water, and loads of sketchy people. It was more because it was fun! And, I daresay, charming.

When I first moved to New York, in fall 2006, and was living my unfortunate incarceration on Long Island, I started hearing about how the famed Coney Island of Americana lore would soon be to nothing, or rather, be replaced by condos and more upscale development. Apparently the amusement park is officially closing at the end of this season. This is an outrage!

Why do we need hotel, resort, water park, restaurants, shopping? Why do we need them inSTEAD of older buildings, the famous roller coaster, Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, random dance party on the pier, and assorted freaks?

Actually people were on the whole decidedly un-freaky. Although there was a little game of "Shoot the Freak," which was basically paintball and for $5 you could buy five shots or something, maybe 30 for $10, I forget the amounts. A dude stood there with the helmet, shield, and knee pads. I've never paintballed a day in my life, but was nonetheless captivated for a moment or two watching Shoot the Freak. There's no particular reason why it was called that, a the guy was just a guy wearing a helmet and probably switched off with the dude taking the money. The great thing about it was that unlike even the shooting the duck or the water into the clowns' mouths for a stuffed animal or whatever this was plunked down in the dirt and weeds between two food stand/drink places. What ingenuity! What entrepreneurship! What low overhead! How can some developer's condos (not Trump, by the way) or whatever possibly replace this?

Other than one multiply pierced guy who was carefully eyeing everyone at pocket level, I really only encountered one sketchball. On the pier (which was brimming with sketchballs whom I didn't precisely encounter) as Brian and I leaned over the side watching a guy a few yards away chucked a can into the water. (Like, a food can, not a pop can.) Then he tossed another. This annoyed me, not the least reason of which was that were trash cans placed regularly along the pier and one was eight feet, maybe, away from him. So I went over and politely told him and the woman with him that I didn't think they needed to throw the cans in the water and I pointed out the trash can a few feet away.

The woman said, in a somewhat apologetic matter, "Oh I didn't know the cans went into the water." The cans were, like, Chef Boyardee or something...they were pouring things on bread for dinner on paper plates. It was pretty sketchtacular. The man, a piece of work, was more spaced out. "What happened?" he asked me. I repeated myself, again pointing to the can, and then he repeated himself, "Wha hap un?"

To give you an idea, this guy was basically Carlos Santana's crack baby. He was around 40 (you'll see next paragraph how I know this) but looked closer to sixty. Wild-eyed, wild-haired, and wild speeched, I can't remember which clothes he was missing, but the ratty ones he had did little for him. The wife was a bit more put together. I went back over to Brian and resumed gazing at the water/beach/amusements.

Soon, dude ambled over and began talking about what I'd said. This was not an easy man to understand. He started out saying he'd been here 33 years, no, make that 37 years...but then he moved on to how he didn't throw the cans -- the wind blew them, and who am I to go talk to his wife, and so on. The last bit was interesting, because I didn't go over to talk to his wife, I just ended up talking to her because he was too drunk to understand me. I think he wanted to start a fight with us but he was too spaced out to do so, so I didn't really fear him much. Within a couple minutes he had started talking to Brian instead of me, which is funny in such a faux-machismo way. I was completely not interested in arguing with him, but it was hard to resist whenever he ended a segment of his rant with "You understand me?!" saying actually, no, I really didn't get all that. Finally, the conversation devolved into this man saying he was going to jump in the water to go get the cans.

The cans, by the way, were long gone at this point. Kind of like this man's mind. However, the four gentlemen next to us were now also involved, because when wild-eyes said (as he did a few times) "What business is it of yours?" and Brian said "It IS our business" the man next to us piped up, "It's our planet!" which is exactly where I was coming from so I knew we were all on the same page.

The crazy man who has spent his life here throwing cans into the sea eventually got his shoes off and was trying to gear up for his jump in, but something finally persuaded him this was a terrible idea. I was pretty amused the whole time. I also told him we were basically ready to leave and might not stay for his little show, but I don't think he heard me. He finally returned to his wife and -- horrors! -- the two small children who materialized from running around to eat dinner off the paper plates with them and then, I might add, threw out trash in the wastebasket. Ahh, hope for the next generation!? Those poor kids...

The four men next to us turned out to be tourists from Atlanta. We chatted for a little while about the pier, craziness, and so on. I like to think I contributed a little something to their New York experience. And it's nice to have some good ol' boys who've got your back in a little pier encounter. Plus, the teenage son's post-encounter imitation of drunk removal of shoes was priceless!

I definitely recommend visiting Coney Island before its "warts and all" feel is made over.

A couple hours later as we strolled back to the subway at the end of our satisfying day, we passed an outdoor bar with tables and chairs in the sand where I heard the strains of Jimmy Buffett's "Come Monday." First of all, who doesn't love a little Jimmy Buffett at the beach? But secondly, I start school on Monday. My third and final year of law school. And that's weird. So who doesn't love a contemplative Jimmy Buffett song for such a moment?

"Yes, it's been quite a summer
Rent-a-cars and westbound trains..."

I just love the wistfulness in that song. And I've been thinking a lot about California lately. But starting my last year of law school this Monday just made the phrase ring in my ears. I even paused on the sidewalk to listen to all of it. Of course, when you pause on the sidewalk between the boardwalk and the subway, you get to not only listen to the end of the Jimmy Buffett song but also see a stray cat roaming around the trash cans (I love the kitty! Hope it got a mouse) and a man relieving himself in the bushes. What was that Jimmy Buffett sang about enjoyin' the scenery...?

Friday, August 15, 2008

...and I feel fine

"Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy." -- George W. Bush

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What part of "I love the Olympics" do you not understand?

I've decided that doing little other than watching the Olympics for a week is a great thing to do in the lead-up to one's final year of law school.

Note I didn't say "nothing other." Last night we went to a movie, and I am pleased to report that I FINALLY saw a summer film that delighted me! After all the over-hyped, overrated, and typical summer junk, here's a "summer movie" that disappointed a lot of people and kind of faded away, but is great. In fact, I'm sure it disappointed some people beCAUSE there is more to it than blowing things up. (Although, some things are blown up.) The movie, which I recommend, is Hancock.

Anyway, if you aren't watching the games of the XXIX Olympiad, you are missing out. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Entertainment and spectacle

What am I totally looking forward to watching? What inspires me and makes me feel enthusiasm, anticipation, and the like? The Olympics! Yeah! Starting tomorrow.

What makes me say ugh, I am not looking forward to you at all, you are not interesting to me, go away? The Republican and Democrat national conventions. Whatever, both parties. Go away.

Meanwhile, many other parties have already held their conventions, but a lot you care about the Green, Libertarian, and Reform parties.

Did I mention that I have to start school soon? Way too soon this year. Apropos of nothing, I learned tonight that Long Island is up there in the top few most popular U.S. places for breast augmentation.

Finally, I have been disappointed by pretty much every movie I've seen this summer. That list includes Sex and the City, Indiana Jones and whatever he's after now, Wall-E, The Dark Knight, and for the love of god Mamma Mia. Oh, summer movies, wherefore art thou summer movies?

By the way, that's a JOKE. I know that Indy was after a crystal skull. Or was that some ridiculous, multiplying, not-even-trying-to-seem-real swarms of large shiny ants?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Emergency is in the eye of the beholder

OK, so I admit that we made some mistakes. Well, a critical one: we looked away from our personal property in Central Park. Yes, Central Park, possibly THE most famously feared site of being mugged, or something. You grow up hearing tales of the dangers of big bad New York City, and while obviously crime is down here I suppose I should hang my head a little to have not been vigilant in Central Park of all places, to have been lulled into a sense of complacency now that I live in the Greatest City in the World. But that's not the point.

I've played softball in a bunch of parks around NYC. Not just Central Park, but also Brooklyn's Prospect Park, two different fields on Rooselvelt Island, and some other random fields around the city. The thing is, there's always an opposing team on the bench when you're in the field, and so there's always someone generally keeping an eye on everyone's stuff, just like any other softball game anywhere. Yesterday, however, the opposing team didn't show up so after some batting practice we just arranged a 4-on-4 scrimmage against ourselves (which, in itself, should impress you with our skill and ingenuity and stalwart..uh..stalwartness? is that a word? why yes it is), as softball was never really meant to be four on four. Anyway: that's not the point either.

Nor is it the point that a suspicious-looking character lurked behind the backstop around our bags, and immediately after the following out we headed over to move our bags, now suddenly aware that with no one on the bench they were quite unattended but it was too late and one guy's bag had already been stolen. I feel quite bad for Rich, and that could be the point of another lament, but it is not the point of this one.

Here's the point: so, after our initial sort of "Oh my god! What do we do?" it just so happened that I called the police on my cell phone. So we called 911 and after establishing that we were in Central Park and no one was hurt but there had been a theft, that's when the fun began.

First, the 911 operator wanted to know where in Central Park. I gave her what I thought was a helpful and specific piece of information, that we were on Softball Field #1 on the Great Lawn. It was, in fact, this info that had led us all there to play softball, so it should definitely be enough for the police to come to us. But not this lady. "No, no, no," she chided me, "first I need to know Central Park East or Central Park West." Well, I said, we're not on a street on either side of the park. We're in the middle of the park. Exasperated, she said, "Well then are you on the east side or the west side of the park?" I was kind of conferring with my fellow softball peoples on the side, like, 'Aren't we just in the middle? She's demanding whether we're on the east or west side of the park?'

After a bit of this, and a lot more typing sounds, I again said that we were on softball field #1 on the Great Lawn. She said, "I need a street." There was no street! We were in the middle of the park! One of my softball friends pointed out we were near the Belvedere Castle, so I mentioned that. Now, seriously, two or three minutes had to have gone by. I suggested that any cop on the Central Park beat would definitely know where to find the softball fields on the Great Lawn -- and I had even told her which field! To which she replied, with a healthy dose of attitude, "Well, no, I need to put it in the computer first."

I would like to think that this requirement to "put it in the computer first" before dispatching the police was only necessary because it was not an emergency, but I have my doubts even about that, based largely on the rest of the call. Let's continue. So, along about now amid her typing she appeared to have moved onto another field on her screen and she said, "OK, so you're on the south field #1?" And I said, well, that's softball field #1. And she said, "What kind of field is it? Soccer fields?" Softball! Baseball, I corrected myself. Whatever it took, geez. So then she's like, "Oh, OK." More typing. Meanwhile, I am trying to explain why I am still on this phone call, why no cop who is probably fifty yards from us has been sent to us, and so on.

Then she asked, "OK, now what borough are you in?"

Really? Really?! You can get hired as a 911 operator in New York City (or, frankly, anywhere), to be called on in an emergency, without knowing that Central Park is in Manhattan? And if so, then who on earth thought that nonsense of pinning us down to a street first was a good idea? Wtf?!?!?! Since I had been silenced by my shock at this question, she loudly said, "Ma'am, hellooooo? I said, what borough are you in? Are you in Manhattan, are you in Brooklyn?" and I just sort of mumbled that we were in Manhattan. Yes, that Central Park. The world-freaking-famous one in Manhattan.

Finally, she said, "Now, what happened?" So I repeated that someone had stolen our friend's bag. I did not add that this thief was probably in New Jersey by now. This is the part where I just gave up on her entirely. Had she even heard me already tell her (five minutes earlier) what had happened? What if i had been mugged/chased/stabbed/what have you? What if someone was having a heart attack? What if for the love of god she could have sent out the description we'd given her ten minutes earlier so cops might have seen the guy on the way to the subway?

But, just when you think there's nothing else she could say to shock me, she apparently got to her description of the suspect field because she asked me, "OK, was he black or Hispanic?" If it had been anyone else I would have thought I couldn't possibly have heard her correctly and I might have started thinking about racial profiling or social justice or something. But I swear I just wanted off this phone call. This useless, ridiculous phone call.

A few minutes later, the cops -- a much smarter lot -- showed up. And then another car, and another, plus then the detectives. I am pleased to report that they asked intelligent questions, were capable people, and made sense. And, as I figured they would, they sure knew their way around Central Park, their beat, and their precincts. Not much hope of recovering the bag, of course, but off they went to the police station with victim and a witness or two (I didn't really observe the guy at all; I'm so terrible at that) and the rest of us went on our merry ways.

Bummer. But, really, lady? Really? Thanks for your help. All 7 minutes and 32 seconds of it. I thought I was in a Saturday Night Live sketch or something. But it was just another real-life day in the Greatest City in the World. Goooooo, homeland security!

Friday, August 01, 2008

"It's about meat"

When we led our "The Books We Should Have Read in High School" book group in L.A., Jodi and I were "in charge" but Joe always came to the meetings and read the books along with us. Likewise, we faithfully attended and read Joe's book group "Contemporary Fiction" (which in the summer became "Trashy Classics" for three months). Well, Jodi and I both wanted to read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle for our group, it definitely being one of those high-schoolish classics you always hear about. Joe wrinkled his nose at the suggestion and said, "Isn't that about meat?" It sounded really funny when he boiled it down to that. So in the whole time leading up to doing The Jungle in book group, we kept laughingly repeating, "It's about meat."

Only, turns out, it really isn't. After a lifetime of hearing about slaughterhouses and muckraking and The Jungle exposing the world to the horrors of making meat, I read it and realized it was about meat for, like, two pages. It WAS about the horrible conditions of slaughterhouses, but mostly for the workers, not to mention the deplorable conditions in which the poor immigrant workers LIVED in Chicago, and the socio-political nightmare under which they suffered, and so on. I did learn that in response to the book's revelation of some of the terrible conditions Congress stepped up, regulated things, made the Food and Drug Administration start making things better meatwise. But are there still problems? Oh my, there are.

Today, life imitates art: 'The Jungle,' Again

Speaking of famous books, apparently JK Rowling wrote another. Or should I say -- as, for example, the Borders newsletter says -- JK Rowling did the introduction, notes, and illustrations, but the book is a collection of fairy tales translated by Hermione Granger from the ancient runes? Puh-leeeze.

It got me to thinking, as I actively avoid the midnight release tonight of Stephanie Meyer's new young adult vampire fantasy book, I'm interested in this new trend of people salivating en masse about a.)wistful young adult fantasy series b.)superhero movies. Specifically, I'm interested in it in the face of the concurrent trend of people refusing to engage in smart entertainment addressing the reality of the world, i.e. the Iraq war and other lies of the Bush administration. From Lions for Lambs to Stop Loss, people (not us) have been staying away from the theaters in droves where Iraq is concerned. Not to mention the crap they give Michael Moore, no matter how often he is proved to be right.

So I'm wondering if those things are related. You know, fantasy and avoiding reality. See what I mean? Does this explain my lack of interest in the fantasy genre? I mean, when it comes to great literature, I totally recognize. The Lord of the Rings? Good stuff. But the obsession with all things fantasy? So not my style. But I love me some politically-themed film. And I love the stuff that calls out the warmongering Bush administration.

Added to my growing list of people I don't care about (which thus far includes JK Rowling, the author on her coattails Stephanie Meyer, and Barack Obama) is Brett Favre. Seriously, can we just stop talking about him? Who cares? Why do they care? It's beyond me.

As for the athlete in the news I do like? Manny Ramirez! Tell me more! No longer a Red Sock, he is off to L.A. I like me some Dodgers, so I'm kind of happy he ended up there. And he really is a good fit for that city. Which I also love. Oh, the dwindling Red Sox. Jason Varitek is practically the only one of my crew left there now! I'm kind of OK with Manny talking trash about Boston too. I mean, how do we know? Maybe it totally sucked to be there and be good and loved by fans. Besides, being easygoing doesn't always go over well in that city, I can tell you. Anyway, I liked seeing him sporting the Dodger blue while I watched the press conference. Go West, young Manny!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Barack Obama and Stephanie Meyer have in common

1. I don't care what music they like.
2. Evil conspiratorial marketing forces are trying to make me care about the music they like.

Well, maybe "evil" is too strong a word. How about useless? Seriously, I spend enough time unsubscribing from all my political newsletters now that they've been overtaken by Obamamania; every senator, MoveOn cause, or any group that ever thought of having Democrat-like leanings has proudly allowed its newsletter to be used as the mouthpiece of Obama and I am sick of seeing B.O.'s name in my inbox, so every time it happens I promptly unsubscribe. (And in the "please tell us why you want to unsubscribe" space I do precisely that.)

But now even my totally apolitical newsletter from a heretofore chill concert venue in Massachusetts -- a newsletter to which I continue to subscribe because they have such great musicians there all the time that I glean information and regularly learn about great new artists -- has gone to the dark side. Tonight's subject line promised that B.O. knows great music when he hears it, and it proceeded to tell me about the Kenyan-American cooperative band Extra Golden. For whom, I might add, B.O. himself apparently "pulled some strings to make sure they got their visas and work permits to play in the states." (So says the newsletter.) I suppose I could refrain from pointing out that if Dubya and his cronies pulled such strings for their friends everyone would be up in a snit about how shady that behavior is ... but when B.O. does it, it is suddenly saintly.

As for Stephanie Meyer, if you don't know who she is, I am jealous of you. She is the author of some silly young adult series about vampires and who knows what all. If I recall correctly, she's a housewife who is or used to be or hangs out with some Mormons or something until she realized she had stories to tell that are dark and yet uplifting about some vampires that take up residence in human brains ... I don't know, none of this is the point. The point is that the latest book in her series-of-young-adult-fantasy-books-whose-covers-are-indistinguishable comes out this Saturday, or, if you're in the desperate retail bookselling business, Friday night at midnight at a party to include games! trivias! wristbands! a chance to win the raffle prize of -- first place in line to buy the book at 12 a.m.

Well, as part of the attempt to make Harry Potter out of a sow's ear, Borders has all kinds of displays promoting the book and the series and the Twilight calendar and included among them is an endcap display of "Stephanie Meyer's playlist." The tunes that inspired her as she wrote the Twilight series ... or so they say. UGH.

I'm surprised no one thought of that for JK Rowling over the years. Or maybe she didn't listen to any music to inspire her as she wrote the HP books because of course we all know she started writing them in a cafe with her young children clamoring for her time/attention/money because had you heard she was a struggling single mother? You must have, it's got to be the most often recited pop culture sob story of the last couple decades, either that or Jewel's homeless-in-a-van-that-made-me-a-poet crap.

See, this is what happens to me when I get this annoyed. Run-on sentences.

But just for good measure, you know who else's opinion means nothing to me? All the middle-aged men in my neighborhood who like to say things to me when I go running. Are you listening, thirtysomething to sixtysomething men of Greenpoint, whether you be smoking, chatting with your friends, up on scaffolding building something, or just generally standing around being useless? Well, listen now: I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU. I'm not going to look at you, I'm not going to return your greetings, and I don't know what on god's green earth inspires you to whistle and shout pleasantries and random "woo-hoos" and "go girls" at me when I run by. Shut up, OK? Why would someone actually stop and respond to you? Double ugh.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

4, 3, 2 ... finally!

At long last I've watched the much-talked about Romanian film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. By all accounts it should have been an Oscar nominee and furthermore I could not FIND a single bad review of it earlier this year as I read about it everywhere, and I tried to go see it at Lincoln Plaza but it was sold out and then I kept trying to go and it just somehow never worked out...but that's been remedied now.

In a nutshell (how we love those) it's a bleak portrayal of how a young woman helps her college roommate procure an illegal abortion in late 1980s communist Romania. I'd heard "gripping," "unflinching" and so on. True, true. I think the best thing about it -- no wait, the two best things about it -- were 1. that it provided dramatic (variously tension-raising, frustrating, infuriating) plot points without lots of big flashing for-lack-of-a-better-word-blockbuster bells and whistles to let you know a dramatic point had been reached, and that kind of made you as a viewer suck in your breath all the more when they happened and 2. that the focus on the friend, and the fall-out on her relationships, makes you consider the intense ramifications of all that happened quite differently than in just focusing on the girl who gets the abortion.

Oh, who am I kidding -- as if there were just two magnificent things about it! And by the way, what you learn about living in that particular regime in the late 80s along makes it worth watching too.

Do yourselves a favor. Really. (Oooh, and you can Netflix, as I did.