Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Fifteen Artists Who Have Influenced You" Meme

The RULES: Fifteen artists who have influenced you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than five minutes. Tag friends (including me, because I am interested in seeing what artists my friends choose). Quickly, and in no particular order. Go!

  1. Vincent Van Gogh
  2. Leo Tolstoy
  3. Virginia Woolf
  4. Amy Ray
  5. Rene Magritte
  6. Voltaire
  7. Erin McKeown
  8. Lucinda Williams
  9. Meryl Streep
  10. Leonardo Da Vinci
  11. Henry David Thoreau
  12. Herman Melville
  13. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  14. Margaret Atwood
  15. John Lennon

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Sometimes I really hate people. Well, that's mean to say "hate." (Rhymes with crate, go figure.) Perhaps I should just say, sometimes people really disgust me. Well, this is one of those times: I'm thinking about this trendy new phenomenon of "crating" dogs. I am not entirely sure who got the bright idea of locking up sentient beings in even smaller spaces than they were previously being locked in, but I would like to slap that person, if I weren't a pacifist.

When dog owners, mostly urban young professionals and young parents that I've seen, but perhaps it's other dog owners too and I just don't know them, start talking about crating their dogs, I feel uneasy. It all comes back to the basic idea of my disgust for people who get pets and then act sort of bewildered that the pets aren't like cute little stuffed animals that can be a cute addition to the decor or can be ignored for weeks at a time. No, real pets have needs and feelings, and they need to eat, drink, play, sleep, MOVE AROUND, walk, run, defecate, and exercise. *yes this includes cats, who need to walk and run and roam free and not be trapped in a few rooms their entire lives* But someone somewhere got the bright idea that when they need to leave home for 12 hours a day (or more) they can stop their dogs from "damaging" things or from "being anxious" or "causing trouble" by safely putting the dog in a crate. Then, they went and made "crate" a verb, which is a sure sign that you have someone doing something insidious and wanting to cover it up with double speak or corporate-like jargon.

After living in New York City and now a densely populated part of Chicago, I have vast amounts of disdain for city dwellers who just HAVE to have a dog even though they do not find it equally mandatory to have room for this dog to roam, exercise, go in a yard, etc. But the crating phenomenon is so not limited to dogs locked up in city apartments. The crating is a typical delusional self-important thing that extends to small towns, suburbia and the like.

And why am I so upset today about the crates? Even more than usual? Why is my blood boiling just as it does when the selfish delusional cruel monstrous cat owners start trying to justify declawing their cats? I'll tell you why. Because in the course of one of my freelance jobs copy editing article title selections for a web site, I have the distinct privilege of coming across actual web searches that people have done. Honest-to-god sentences (or, often, sentence fragments) that people have typed, looking to the internet for answers. Sometimes these are just amusing (e.g. "How to Git Your GED") ([sic], very much [sic]) but other times, like today, they are infuriating. I just came across:

"How to Cure Your Puppy Soiling in a Crate"

Cure? It's not a freakin' disease, but here's an idea genius. If you want to "cure" your puppy from soiling in a crate, maybe you should try not locking it up in the goddamn crate for hours and hours! What a concept, you selfish moronic fools. God I hate people. Don't even get me started on birds in cages. Seriously, don't.

I just get so saddened when I realize that these idiots are the "good" ones, that is to say, the ones who make some semblance of "liking" animals in the first place. God help us. God help all creatures great and small.

Well, then

"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
-- Hermann Goering

Just a little something to think about next time you're busy simultaneously doing the following:
1. Jabbering about how the U.S. must unfailingly support "Israel"
2. Badmouthing every German, Dutch, French, etc. person who was alive during the 1930s/40s but did not personally house Anne Frank in his/her attic
3. Claiming you of course are entirely innocent and righteous with regard to the atrocities perpetrated by Dubya/Cheney/Halliburton et. al.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Oprah for Mayor of Chicago

Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley has announced he will not run again. Oprah Winfrey is ending her beloved daily show this year. Coincidence? I think not!

Here in Chicago, there has been lots of talk for the last 48 hours about Who Will It Be? Who of the many contenders will be the next mayor? Daley has said he won't endorse any candidate to succeed him, but the newscasters of Chicagoland have breathlessly pontificated on which other influential Chicago figures will offer up their opinions. That's when it hit me: Oprah shouldn't just offer up her opinion. She, herself, should be the next mayor!

I had this epiphany yesterday evening. This morning, Thursday, I picked up the Chicago Tribune (of course we get it home delivered! we love our paper!) and naturally the lead story is Daley: "A Daley-less landscape" reads the headline. But above that, in the little top-of-the-page preview of what's in another section complete with smiling Oprah picture, it says "THE FINAL SEASON - she is promising farewell moments, but what is daytime TV going to be like without Oprah?" She's pointing, and in the picture of Daley right below her he is is's like some cross-town anyone listening?

Oprah for Mayor!! Who's with me?

Monday, September 06, 2010

LSAT, Schmell-Sat

Law school really should be harder to get into. Much, much harder. And I'll tell you why I say this. I say this because I was randomly reading the blog today of some twentysomething lawyer who kept mixing up "astronomy" for "astrology."

I could also reiterate here some of the many clueless things uttered over the years by law school classmates of mine, such as "Without spell check I would never have made it out of undergrad!" or, always a classic, "I've never even heard of Liechtenstein." I would not want anyone who utters the above mentioned confusion representing me in a court of law, or anywhere.

A lot of people in the law association/forum/newsletters/blogosphere worlds float the idea that law school admission should be more competitive because soooo many graduating JDs are unemployed thanks to the (scapegoat) recession. It has been big news over the past few years that the Big Law Firms to which many a law student aspires to sell his/her soul have been laying off people left and right, deferring or outright canceling job offers they extended the previous summer to law students entering the final year of school, and finally just ceasing to hire as many people, period. With non-profits and many a government agency also struggling to come up with hiring and operating budgets, freshly graduated JDs are pretty screwed, and lots of people are pessimistic about the profession and how it has operated for so long. The answer, some say, is that law schools need to stop admitting endless numbers of students, which saturates the job market and creates way too much supply for too little demand.

Now, I do agree with this. Law school is a complete and total racket. Law schools charge an ungodly amount for tuition and they basically are the profit makers for their university. They don't cost anywhere near as much to run as, say, a medical school or even many other graduate programs. So, universities love it because they bring in millions from the law school tuition, and the law students pay it because they believe they are becoming educated and credentialed for a promising career. Really, even if they get a law job they are likely to be miserable, but they are also potentially going to be working at McDonald's while owing $100,000+ in student loans. So, many people agree that the situation sucks. Law schools really should cut in half the number of students they admit each year. But they will never do it, because they would be giving away like a billion dollars. It's hard for anyone to say no to a billion dollars, even people who don't consider arguing for things they don't believe in to be an admirable trait.

But why I really think law school should be more competitive is that as with anywhere else I have found myself in life, with the only possible exception being my job in public radio, there was so much mediocrity there! Now, granted, I took the route that many people don't take. I actually never doubted for a second that I would get into law school, and I ended up choosing the lower-ranked school that offered me a full tuition scholarship over the partial scholarship offered by a top 25 school. Many applicants go to the highest ranked law school they can get into, period. Law school applicants live and die by The Rankings. (Another part of the racket; US News plays along, too.) I didn't care that much about The Rankings because I was never interested in getting a job in a law firm, and I knew this way back when I took the LSAT (the law school admissions test). I just wanted to get a formal legal education because I was interested in it and I wanted to use it to strengthen my international humanitarian work and provide background for my potential run for Senate one day. So instead of applying to the five or ten or twenty or however many schools those who have to worry apply to, I applied to two, and then almost as an afterthought after being accosted by them at a law school forum I applied to Hofstra (who waived the application fee) and went there thinking it'd be cool to live in New York and blah blah blah.

So anyway, the point is that yes, while I did foolishly end up spending more time on Long Island than anyone needs to in one lifetime, which accounts for some of the mediocrity I encountered (two words: Jersey Shore), I wasn't thinking about my classmates in particular when I started thinking about this today. I was definitely thinking about the lawyers out there who find spelling among the more difficult things they have to do with their day and who don't know the difference between astrology and astronomy.

Sometimes I wonder if medical school is like this, too, but I tell myself it's not. I tell myself that my doctors really and truly do know things. I'm not sure I want this illusion to be crushed if it isn't in fact truth.

The LSAT will continue to strike terror into the hearts of many, and people will continue to debate whether it should be as important as it is in the admissions process, and so on and so on. I personally enjoyed taking the LSAT (more than I enjoyed many things about law school, actually), but I also think it's the least of the problems with the law school admissions process. If I were a law school admissions committee, I would require a good GPA, letters of rec, and some sort of LSAT score, but I would also put people who had work, volunteer, and travel experience in the yes pile, and 22-year-olds with none of the above who have lived in the same 30-mile radius their entire lives in the no pile. As for the maybe pile? I think I would give them IQ and spelling tests. And maybe for a tie breaker they could point out Liechtenstein on a map and define astrology.

I would rather have a Scalia representing me, no matter how violently I disagree with his politics and his general attitude, than someone who lacks native intelligence. That, it seems, is the essential conundrum of law school and the legal profession: much of the time, you're forced to choose between the idiots and the assholes.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Waylon Jennings and John Lennon Were Cool - Together!

Everyone should be listening to Fresh Air's "Country Music Week" this week on NPR, even if you think "Oh, not me, I don't like country music" or some other such foolish thought. First of all, there's the fact that Fresh Air is one of the best interview shows and best radio shows ever and (much like a Charlie Rose) Terry Gross does awesome interviews that are interesting whether you take some silly stand against the career of the interview subject or not. I don't listen to (much) rap but I would listen to an interview of a rapper on Fresh Air in a heartbeat. Secondly, these are bona fide for real country peoples, not Nashville pop stars, with archived interviews from people like Willie and Waylon, Merle Haggard and George Jones, and the daughters of Charlie Haden singing three-part harmony, and the like. Third, you might learn something - it's good for you!

For example, I learned one of the coolest things ever. I learned that Waylon Jennings and John Lennon were hanging out together "cutting up," as Waylon put it, at the Grammys one year. (I think it was the Grammy Awards. Some music award event like that.) As if that in itself is not awesome enough, Waylon then told John Lennon, "Hey, you're funny! I didn't know you were funny. Thought you were all serious and stuff." Which, admit it, isn't that the same thing you were thinking when you read the line about them "cutting up" together? And John tells Waylon that he didn't know Waylon was so cool either, since everyone in England thought he was just an Outlaw running around shooting people in the studio (based on a legend in which he - jokingly? - brought a shotgun after threatening to shoot the next musician who played pick-up notes. Apparently Waylon hates the pick-up notes.)

Waylon Jennings and John Lennon hanging out together in a mutual admiration society, probably doing shots and just blathering on about life. HOW AWESOME IS THIS TO IMAGINE?! And I never would have known, but for Country Music Week on Fresh Air. Even Waylon told Terry at the end, and you could almost hear the surprise in his voice after a lifetime of repetitive interviews that all asked the same thing, that he had really enjoyed the interview, because she asks "some good questions!" Damn right.