Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lawyers & sex

Several months ago, someone sent me this video about lawyers and sex, which was directed by Jason Reitman, who later went on to direct the very very awesome Thank You For Smoking.

Warning: It is probably not safe for work, but you should watch it anyway, when you have a chance.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I ♥ New York New Jersey

I spent the last two days in Newark, New Jersey, and yes, it was all it cracked up to be.

I wound up having to stay in a hotel out by the airport. The weather was lovely, and since I got out of work early yesterday, I would have liked to sit out in the sun, by the pool, to read my book.

Alas, it was an indoor pool. But that didn't stop me.

The hotel gave me a free postcard. It didn't look like the hotel at all.

But that didn't stop me either. While sitting by the pool, I filled out the card to send it to my parents.

I write them the strangest notes. It's a good thing they love me anyway.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Things I learned this weekend

  1. It is possible to get sunburned just by walking from the stadium to the parking lot.

  2. Even if you're not drunk, it is impossible to dance normally on a dance floor where stupid people spill their drinks.

  3. They purportedly have several different types of cologne available in the men's room at Clarendon Ballroom, and none of these made the random drunk guy who grabbed me to dance any more attractive.

  4. Bon Jovi does a surprisingly good cover of Hallelujah.

  5. There is really no reason for me to drive out to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods when Harris Teeter is right here.

  6. It is possible for people to find me from my blog.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What do my ringtones say about me?

I ran across an article entitled "What your ring tone says about you" and started to wonder . . . .

In the past year, for some inexplicable reason, I've downloaded seven ring tones, and use them at various times and for various purposes. So here they are, in alphabetical order, along with my thoughts as to what they might be saying about me:

Weird Al does Bob Dylan better than Bob Dylan

Note how it's all in palindrome.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New toy

To the right, you will see my Twitter badge. It's fun, you should try it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ignorance is not strength. It's just plain ignorance.

Dear Richard Cohen:

Despite your unfounded and baseless allegations to the contrary, Scooter Libby wasn't convicted and sentenced to jail time because of the liberal agenda, or because the masses don't understand the deep and dark mysteries of politics. He knowingly and purposefully lied to a special prosecutor. And perjury, last I checked, is still a crime in this country.

If anyone is to blame for this mess, it's the administration for going through the farce of appointing a special prosecutor in the first place -- presumably to look better to the public -- and then making sure that his quest for answers was misdirected. You know, that same Janus-faced administration that claimed -- with a straight face -- that the leaker was not one of their own.

Your thesis -- that we are best served by those who practice "the dark art of politics" with "the lights off" is not only dangerous, it's stupid. And it's exactly what the administration has urged people to do. Remember the weapons of mass destruction? Remember Abu Ghraib? Or maybe how we're detaining suspected enemy combatants without lawyers or trials or any of a number of constitutional rights?

Imagine how bad it could get if the American public listened to your advice and just closed its eyes -- just buried its collective head in the sand. Maybe then we'd finally embrace that the party is never wrong, and Big Brother is only acting in our best interests. Black is white.

Clearly, we're all silly, crazy, or dangerous -- maybe all three -- for wanting to look behind the curtain. But, at least for now, we still have the right to do so.

Robot Chicken Star Wars . . .

. . . is hilarious. If you haven't seen it yet, click below.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Skewed priorities

Divorce disputes used to be about custody and alimony. But nowadays, it's the fight over the season tickets that causes the most controversy:

A psychologist -- H. Elizabeth King -- accuses her ex-husband, lawyer Charles Center, of breaking their 2002 divorce agreement to divide the four tickets they had shared behind home plate.


The couple hardly looked at each other during a court hearing yesterday. King testified that Center had gone out of his way this year to give her tickets to games that conflicted with her schedule. And she claimed 80% of the tickets he gave her were for day games -- implying he'd done it because he knows she has skin cancer.

I'm convinced that these people are either batshit crazy or complete idiots.

First of all, they should remember that they're fighting over tickets to the Braves. They don't sell out. And their stadium isn't all that special. So, while these tickets are costly -- after all, they're behind home plate -- it's not like they're all that.

More significantly, these bozos have spent more on attorneys' fees than the value of the tickets. That's never a smart idea. All that accomplishes is taking money out of their bank accounts and putting it in the pockets of their lawyers. And thus, stupid people continue to take unreasonable litigating positions. (Not all that different than the case of the $57 million pants, but then again, that's an idiot judge representing himself.)

Still, here's my solution: The judge should order them to have a ticket draft, like reasonable adults.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bonus Pictures from New York

They're from my crappy cameraphone, but they're still interesting.

First, we have the view of the Manhattan skyline from the Weehawken ferry terminal:

Then, we have Times Square, featuring the butt of the Naked Cowboy:


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

No Vacancy

Once again, my travel to New York was not seamless -- flights canceled, so I wound up on the train. And much like this time last year, I had a doozy of a time finding a hotel room within my per diem.

According to The Wall Street Journal, this is now the norm:

High demand and aggressive pricing have pushed the price of many second- and third-tier Manhattan hotels like Sheratons, Hiltons, Radissons and Marriotts over $500 a night for business travelers. Even a Comfort Inn with plastic orchids in the lobby and a pre-paid calling-card vending machine (exact change only) was recently priced at $429.

Ultimately, I found a room for $200. But it's no-frills. As in no alarm clock, no desk/table/chair for me to work in, and no closet. And the bed is not particularly comfortable. And I'm lucky that I'm not sharing a bathroom. And it's a third-floor walk-up.

(Pictures to follow when I get home.)

Oh, and did I mention that it's WAY far away from where I have to be first thing tomorrow morning?

Still, it's not the crappiest place I've ever stayed in. Heck, it's not even the crappiest hotel I've been in in New York. There was one hotel room that had holes in the wall and dirty linens. I walked in the room, took a look around, and went right back downstairs to check out. I then sat in the lobby for an hour, yelling at my travel agent until she found me another room somewhere else.

Update: Here is the picture of the hotel room, taken with my crappy cameraphone:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Forget history. What this town really needs is one more drug store.

I had heard the rumor that Yenching Palace was going to be replaced by a Walgreens, but I never ever thought it would really happen. After all, even if the food was only fair to middling, the place was a landmark:

The three old leather guest books read like a who's who: Mick Jagger, Danny Kaye, George Balanchine. Ann Landers, Jason Robards, James Baldwin, Arthur (that's how he signed it) Garfunkel, famed architect I.M. Pei (whose signature is completely unreadable). Daniel Ellsberg, "Alex" Haig, Lesley Stahl, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. So many ambassadors and senators it's hard to keep track. Even in more recent years, folks like George Will still called for delivery. Anna Chennault, widow of Gen. Claire Lee Chennault -- the leader of the famous Flying Tigers, who fought the Japanese during World War II -- was a stalwart customer and still remains a close Lung family friend.

The most famous and oft-told story about Yenching Palace is how emissaries representing President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev met there to negotiate during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and legend has it that they hammered out the final details, and avoided a war, in the second-to-last booth on the left. In the early 1970s, Henry Kissinger was a regular visitor, Chinese diplomats often his companions. Kissinger, Chow says, used to drink Moutai -- a powerful liqueur popular in China -- and eat the duck.

All that, and it was the place that I first celebrated a longstanding Jewish tradition that had somehow escaped my family -- celebrating Christmas with Chinese food and a movie at the Uptown.

So long, Yenching Palace. Once again, time marches on and another historic place is lost to the mallification of America.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Overheard at my office

This morning, on my way in the front door of my office, I heard the following snippet of a conversation, delivered oh-so-nonchalantly:

"Yeah, but you can't really tell until after you get the autopsy results."

This amuses me, but I can't quite figure out why.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A little research

Check out the Washington Post's fine article on the best buys for a summer bar. Or use their handy chart.

This, of course, has caused me to take stock of my own bar situation.

  • Absente
  • Absolut Citron
  • Absolut Mandarin
  • Absolut Raspberry
  • Absolut Vodka
  • Amaretto
  • Bacardi Coconut
  • Blue Curacao
  • Bombay Dry Gin
  • Jim Beam
  • Jose Cuervo
  • Malibu Mango
  • Midori
  • Myers Dark Rum
  • Ouzo
  • Pineapple Liqueur
  • Pravda Vodka
  • Skyy Vodka
  • Southern Comfort
  • Sour Apple Schnapps
  • Stoli Vanilla
  • Triple Sec
  • Zubrowka Vodka

  • Blue Raspberry Mix
  • Cosmopolitan Mix
  • Grenadine
  • Margarita Mix
  • Rose's Lime Juice
  • Strawberry Daquiri Mix
  • Sour Apple Mix
  • Various Sodas & Juices

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Champagne (2)
  • Chardonnay
  • Malbec
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Grigio (2)
  • Pinot Gris
  • Riesling (4)
  • Rioja
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Semillion
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Sparkling (5)
  • Wild River Red

Hmmm, what more do I need?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

If it wasn't for strange luck, I'd have no luck at all

I have strange luck. This morning, I probably would have called it bad luck. But that's not really accurate.

You see, this morning, I lost $12. Or, to be more precise, it fell out of my pocket somewhere between my apartment and the escalator on the red line at Judiciary Square, mere steps in front of the Firehook where I get my morning tea.

Needless to say, I wasn't amused. I mean, $12 won't break me or cause me to go without food for a week or anything, but it's enough for my morning tea and either lunch or -- as is more typical -- my takeout from Noodles & Company. Or, to put it into a clearer perspective, it's the cost of a baseball ticket (at least until next year).

After that, the day progressed as usual. It didn't really get worse, but it wasn't a fantastic day either. Work is busy. More ups-and-downs with my grandfather. Yadda yadda yadda. And I had to leave early to pick up my dry cleaning.

When I got home, arms filled with dry cleaning, I found a peculiarly large box sitting in front of my door. It was clearly not the Snoopy Snow Cone Machine I bought for $4.74 on ebay for Justin's upcoming birthday. So, I pushed the box out of the way, opened the door, threw the dry cleaning on the couch, and kicked the box into my kitchen.

I looked at it closely -- it was properly addressed to me. So, I grabbed the scissors and opened it up.

Inside, it had one of those fancy gift baskets, wrapped in cellophane, decorated with glittery stuff, and -- most importantly -- filled to the brim with things from the Virginia Lottery.

I had forgotten that, while I was freezing my butt off at Virginia Gold Cup, I visited some of the sponsors' tents -- and one of them was for the lottery, where they were having a drawing for a prize package.

The prize included a t-shirt, umbrella, rain poncho (would have been useful at Gold Cup) pen, paper clip holder, drink coasters, and a tote bag -- all embossed with the Virginia Lottery logo. The basket also contained $50 worth of lottery scratch-offs.

This is particularly funny, as I am not much of a gambler. The occasional friendly poker game, and maybe some blackjack -- with a budget -- if I'm in the proper environment and mindset. My mom, however, enjoys gambling. She plays cards with her girlfriends all the time. She often invites me to go with her, but I decline. This is because when I was a kid, she used to play bingo at the synagogue while I attended Hebrew school across the parking lot. After classes were over, I'd come over and sit with her, and that was, inevitably, when her losing streak would start.

Strange luck, remember?

So, of course, after discovering my prize, the first thing I did was call my parents to tell them of my luck. I then started scratching the tickets.

The first card was a $20 card. I never in my life would have bought a $20 lottery scratch card, but fate put it in front of me. And I won $25.

The rest of the tickets were $1 tickets. I did them five at a time.

The first five -- Nada. Zip. Zilch.

The next five -- two were winners. On the first, I won twice, for $1.00 each. On the second, I won five times, for $1.00 each. Then I lost on the rest.

I then lost three more times in a row, and then won $1.00, then lost again.

So, then I took a break -- during which I talked to I on the phone to tell her the story (since she's the one who brought me to Gold Cup), ate some dinner, and started writing this blog entry.

As I type this, I'm up overall $21 on the day (taking into consideration my $12 loss) -- with fifteen more scratch cards to go.

Update: On $50 worth of tickets, I won a total of $58. Of the 31 tickets -- including the $20 game -- 9 were winners. Of the winning cards, 4 had multiple wins. But alas, only one of the winners had a "multiplier." And, of the $1 cards, only once was the stated prize amount more than the face value of the ticket.

There was no discernible pattern to the 30 $1 cards (which were sequential serial numbers): 5 losing cards, 2 winners, 6 losers, 1 winner, 2 losers, 1 winner, 3 losers, 1 winner, 1 loser, 1 winner, 2 losers, 1 winner, 2 losers, 1 winner, 1 loser.

I learned that lottery scratchers are boring and repetitive -- and ultimately, at the end of the process, I was glad that there were only 31 tickets, and not 50 $1 tickets. But most importantly, I learned that you're only likely to earn back your investment 26.67 percent of the time.

Update #2: I found the original $12 early this morning, and promptly proceeded to spend it on shoe repair and, as originally planned, my morning tea.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My introduction to e-mail

When I left for college in the late summer of 1993, e-mail wasn't something I was really aware of. If they wanted to communicate, people wrote letters, sent postcards, or called each other on the phone. (For the record, I have several shoeboxes of old cards and letters. If any of my old friends from high school ever get famous, they are so screwed.)

But that first year at school, thanks to pressure from some of my computer-savvy (read: geeky or nerdy or dorky, take your pick) friends, I got my first e-mail address, ostensibly to keep in touch with all of my friends who had all gone off to different schools. But back then, if you wanted e-mail through the university, you had to pay for it. I think it was $15 a month. And, since I didn't own a computer, I was only able to access it through the computer lab, during the limited hours in which the lab was open. The whole thing was very inconvenient.

Besides, back then, $15 was a lot of money. (It bought a lot of beer and pizza.) So I opted not to use the university's e-mail system. Instead, I got an account with the Tallahassee Free-Net, which was run by the Leon County Library. You could only access TFN through library computers -- luckily, they had a few on campus -- which were painfully slow and horribly antiquated. In fact, the entire process was painfully awkward compared with what we're used to now. But it was a start.

I signed up for my TFN address in either late 1993 or early 1994, and kept it active for the past fourteen years. Until now. Sadly, the TFN closed down its operations on May 31, 2007.

On its website, the TFN described its history as follows:

Tallahassee Free-Net, Inc. (TFN) was founded in 1992 by two Florida State University (FSU) professors, Dr. Hilbert Levitz, Department of Computer Science, and Dr. Dennis Duke, Director of the FSU Supercomputer Computations Research Institute (SCRI). Both Levitz and Duke had long been fascinated by the potential for change inherent in computer networking. They both had been extensively involved with the development and deployment of the university's local and global networking facilities. This experience set the background for the decision to open some of these facilities, free of charge, to the public with a view to fostering civic engagement, social connectedness, distance education, and economic development.

Early on, The LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library, under the direction of Helen Moeller, joined FSU's SCRI as an operating partner, with SCRI providing technical support and the library providing a central location in the community and experience in organizing community volunteer efforts. Michael Rouse was hired as the Library Freenet Director. Two SCRI employees were assigned to the project. Diane Wood, TFN Acting Executive Director and Randolph Langley, TFN Technical Director who developed the SCRI-Net Command Interpretor software for text-based logins that is still used by TFN as well as by many other systems worldwide. With the phase out of SCRI's support in 1995, TFN employed Emily Ratliff as System Administrator. Emily was succeeded by Noel Davis, TFN's volunteer System Administrator. In 1996, TFN retained David McMurtrey half-time as TFN's Executive Director.

At the time of its formal opening on May 5, 1993, the only people in Tallahassee/Leon County who had Internet connectivity and e-mail accounts were faculty and students at FSU. Very few local residents even knew what the Internet was. Using equipment donated by IBM, followed later by donations from Sun, and DEC, TFN quickly developed into one of the largest civic networks in the world - relative to the size of the community, it was possibly the largest with 38,000 registerd users in 1996.

TFN was the first such community information system in the Southeast and the sixth nationwide. More than an operator of an information system, TFN was an important agent guiding Tallahassee/Leon County into the Information Age. The TFN organization was the prime catalyst in the development of Tallahassee's computer communications infrastructure. As a consequence, Tallahassee/Leon County has an unusually high level of Internet awareness and connectivity. As Figure 1. illustrates, TFN's presence gave the community a significant lead over other communities. Early in 1994 when the rest of the country was just becoming aware of the web, TFN users were enjoying free ppp accounts and were developing their own web pages.

TFN assisted county and state government agencies, schools, and other institutions in planning for their roles in the emerging National Information Infrastructure. It conducted workshops for information suppliers, general users, teacher groups, and state and county government personnel. As a partner in the IRIS project with SCRI, Sprint/Centel, and the Leon County School System, TFN was instrumental in getting every public school in Leon County connected to the Internet, making the County one of the first school systems in the nation to be able to make that claim. Until the schools had their own mail and web servers, TFN provided free accounts to all teachers and students in the County.

With the phase-out of SCRI's support in 1996, Hayes Computer Systems generously donated space and network connections for TFN's servers. In November of 1999, TFN's servers were moved to the LeRoy Collins Public Library. TFN's Internet connections are provided by the Florida Information Resource Network (FIRN).

So, thank you, Tallahassee Free-Net. You were a great -- and free -- bridge into computer technology for me, and probably for numbers of others of my generation.

Why can't more spam be like this?

Date: Fri, 01 Jun 2007 00:36:42 +0000
From: Anonymous Lawyer
Subject: Anonymous Lawyer now in paperback

Shortest spam ever.

My novel, Anonymous Lawyer, is now out in paperback, and available for just $10.40 from Amazon.

Just in time for law school graduation, father's day, and [fill in someone's name]'s birthday. Don't you think [fill in someone's name] would love a copy? I think he would. Not that he didn't love [that thing you got him last year]. But now he already has one of those, and so you may as well get him a book.

Some reviews:

Stocked with up-to-the-minute references, and exposing, as it does, our culture's mania to win at all costs, Anonymous Lawyer has pierced the heart of a moment in our social history."
-- New York Post (four stars)

Jeremy Blachman is a very funny writer."
-- The Wall Street Journal

Blachman skewers his profession with slash-and-burn ferocity. . . . Laugh 'til it hurts."
-- Rocky Mountain News

Lots more reviews: /book.php?text_id=Reviews

NEW! Paperback readers guide with discussion questions: /news.php?id=25

(Want to buy a bunch of copies? Interview me for your website/publication? Host an event and have me sign some? Get some advice about law school? Reply to this e-mail and we'll talk.)

[Fill in someone's name] is so excited you're going to buy him a copy. He thinks you're an awesome [friend/coworker/spouse]. I think you're a pretty awesome [friend/acquaintance/stranger] too.

Okay, the first sentence of this e-mail was a lie. Sorry.

All the best,

Monday, June 04, 2007

News from the gooey marshmallow perspective

I teared up when I read this article about long marriages:

Although some of their peers have traded in spouses and struggled to blend families, mortgaged themselves to divorce lawyers and haggled over who got the kids at Christmas, Joyce and Michael Steier of Bowie have lasted 30 years and raised four children.

"It's a whole mindset," said Joyce, 54, as she sat waiting for the ceremony to begin, Michael's arm around her. "You know that you're committed. Everybody has their ups and downs, but you know that you're going to stay together."

That same attitude has kept Betty and Ray Lankford, 81-year-olds who own a plumbing business on Solomons Island, going during their 62 years of marriage. (Her father predicted it wouldn't last.)

Their only fights, they said, were about the kids.

But they had 10 kids.

So, Ray said, they had an agreement. "Never go to bed mad and always kiss and make up," he said. "And when you get up in the morning, say, 'I love you.' "


Bent and gray-haired, their walkers stowed nearby, Silver Spring residents Edwin and Helen Johnsen gripped each other's hands for support as they faced each other.

Helen wept as Edwin repeated the words he had used in their small wedding ceremony in Savannah, Ga., in 1944, when she was a petite brunette in a white dress with gold trim and he was a young Army lieutenant about to ship off to the South Pacific.

"I, Edwin," he told Helen as she looked into his eyes and the years fell away, "take you to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health."

Then Edwin also began to cry. He patted his wet cheeks briefly and continued.

"I will love you and honor you," he said, "all the days of my life."

I know it made me sad because it reminds me of my grandparents. But it also made me think of my mom -- who has always claimed to be a firm believer in the "never go to bed mad" thing. I guess it works.

(And yes, this is exactly what I meant when I referred to my "gooey marshmallow center.")

Tarot card

Stole this from A Feel Good Production:

You are Temperance

Time. Ages. Transformation. Involuntary change

Temperance is another card of aspiration, but also of much change. It often
represents complex situations. Positively, you can harmonize contrary

Temperance is, on a surface level, about "tempering." The original pouring from cup to cup might have been about cutting wine with water. So this is a card about moderation. There is, however, another angle to the card, that of merging seemingly impossible opposites. Sagittarius, the centaur, merges beast and man into a unique creature. And then there is the bow and arrow, one moving, one stationary, working together to point the way. Temperance may be, at first glance, a warning for you to "temper" your behavior, to cut your wine with water. But it may also be a reminder to that seemingly irreconcilable opposites may not be irreconcilable at all. Belief that fiery red and watery blue cannot be merged may be the only thing standing in the way of blending the two. Change the belief, measure out each with care, and you can create otherworldly violet.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Things on my mind

I'm tired of being Debbie Downer and writing about my grandfather's illness, but it's pretty much all that's on my mind lately. It's pretty near impossible to think about anything else, so it's hard to write about anything else. I'm trying to get back to "normal," -- such as it is -- but circumstances aren't helping.

Today, my mother told me that one of my grandfather's doctors suggested that they just transfer him to a hospice and disconnect his feeding tube.

This is not the news I was expecting -- and I can't imagine that it was any different for the rest of the family. After all, he'd already gotten through the worst -- the head trauma -- when he woke up and started talking. Plus, he's over the latest infection, and his cancer and diabetes are both under control. But the doctors want to give up on him, and it seems mostly due to the fact that he's 83.

I don't get it. If he's willing to fight, why aren't his doctors?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Stories of Summer Associate hijinks, volume 1

Memorial Day marks the start of summer -- and the start of the summer associate stories. This year, I won't have scotch tastings or sailing trips to amuse myself with, so I'll have to live vicariously through others. Like this guy:

Last week a certain New York Office summer associate decided it was appropriate to expense his bar tab from a post-welcome party night out with a few fellow soon-to-be-3Ls. We're sure the boys had a blast, given that the bar bill included several bottles of Cristal. The fearless leader of the group -- you know, the one who actually had the balls to submit the multi-hundred dollar bill for reimbursement -- got a bit of a lecture about judgment and appropriate expenses.

The biggest mistake the boys made, we hear, is that they failed to bring any lawyers with them. Dumb. Always insulate yourselves with an associate or two (or if the bar bill is $900, 20 lawyers) and never, never, never put your credit card down.

(Thanks to Above The Law.)

And to the summer interns: Be forewarned. This is how they reel you in.