Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Non Papa, une Stella Artois? Ah, bien sur, bien sur

Cette blog sera completement en français, pour célébrer la naissance de ma nouvelle amie, Kloe. J’espère que sa mère fait bien. Je ne l’ai pas vue depuis Angleterre, il y’a deux années. Je visiterai le Québec bientôt!

Alors, dans autres nouvelles françaises, j’ai vu le film Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles. C’était très, très bien, mais il faut payer attention parce que, comme avec les mystères, il y’a beaucoup de noms et scénarios. C’est plus sombre que le dernier film de Jean-Pierre Jeunet, (pas Alien IV, mais le Destin Fabuleux d’Amélie Poulain), mais pour un film de la Premiere Guerre Mondiale, il va être prevu.

Je devrais quitter pendant que je suis en avant, je n’ai pas utilisé mon français dans beacoups d’années. À ceux qui parle français naturalement, je suis desolé si je suis incorrect!

And, perhaps one of the most important links I can include.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

"The worst of times? No way, it was the best of times, dog"

Having almost finished this year up, I thought I'd jump into the fray and, like every other publication, offer a look back at some of the best in current media. Yet, rather than just limit myself to favourite movies, albums or book, I've decided to limit myself even further and highlight only the best movie moments, the most moving song lyrics or musical parts, and the best passages/articles from some reading. (I chose this over a worst-of list, which would have been too easy to write. Van Helsuck anyone?) Without further ado, the best in:

The difference between what Bill Murray says in his "mutiny" speech and what Willem Dafoe hears, in The Life Aquatic. Priceless.

Kip and Napoleon forgetting the power crystals in Napoleon Dynamite.

Simon Pegg slipping on the "wet" grocery store floor in Shaun of the Dead.

Natalie Portman tugging her ear after the doomed archery game in Garden State.

Bob and Patrick feeling each others' mustaches in Spongebob Squarepants.

The following exchange from an episode of Arrested Development:

Gob Bluth: Michael, do you still have that publicist? Because I need her to spin something.
Michael Bluth: Why, what do you need her to spin?

The extended treatment of the word "blue" in Bright Eyes' "True Blue," navigating it past the realm of annoying to actually quite brilliant.

The sustain when Jeff Tweedy of Wilco sings, "When the devil came / He was not red / He was chrooooooooooome / And he said / Come with me" on "Hell is Chrome." (I feel like Nigel Tufnel here: "Listen to the sustain on this one. You can go and 'ave a bite and, waaaaaaah, you'll still be 'earin' that one!")

The drunk guy yelling, "it sounds so GOOD!" at the 0:27 mark in Pearl Jam's "Black" on Live at Benaroya Hall.

The drunken swagger of the last verse on Kings of Leon's "So Long, Slow Nights":
"Rise and shine / All you gold diggin' mothers / Aw, you too good to tangle / With the poor, poor boys."

The guitar solo on Elliott Smith's "Pretty (Ugly Before)."

The French verse on "Haiti" by the Arcade Fire. Beautiful, just beautiful.

Howlin' Pelle Almqvist's gloriously superfluous scream at the 2:25 mark of "A Little More for Little You" by the Hives.

And my favourite, incomprehensible lyric of the year: "Combat salacious removal," from Interpol's "Length of Love." Whatever, Paul.

Dave Eggers' novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity. The whole, damn, confounding, self-aware, brilliant thing.

Most anything on McSweeney's, but special props to "Develop Your Lateral Thinking," and "Maxim Does the Classics."

Reading about the hell and triumph Elliott Smith went through before he died in the December issue of Spin magazine. He was impervious to the damn drugs.

Samantha Bee's recurring column, "Would You Mind if I Told You How We Do It it Canada?" in America: The Book.

Reconciling my hatred for Pitchfork magazine and actually learning to accept their critiques from a disinterested perspective.

Finally, to toot my own horn and say the moment when I read over a scene from my own teleplay (a comedy) and actually laughed. This sounds conceited, but it is absolutely important for a writer to achieve this. If you don't laugh, chances are no one else will. If you think this is still conceited, recall a favourite filmic moment from 1998's Rushmore:

"I wrote a hit play, what did you do?"

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Where X = a + 3b

Long time no blog. Merry Xmas everyone on this unduly warm holiday in Calgary. The big man was good this year, and Santa helped too. Among the bounty a pirate would be jealous of, much needed guitar strings and guitar picks; zombie related dvds, books concerning Irish American rebels, and weapons, epidemics & alloys. And a visit from that wiley covert spy, Solid Snake, heralding the slow decline of decent marks in law school. Ah, Playstation, you shall be the end of me!

I'll keep this blog short, get back to enjoying the day, maybe catch the 8th run of Christmas Story on TBS, clog the ol' arteries with some industrial-strentgh egg nog (as it should be) and savour some good reading before it reverts once again to long-winded exhortations on all things law-related. Come to think of it, Santa is guilty of so much actionable trespass it's not even funny the amount of damages he will incur. Not even his elves (viz. accomplices) can whittle him an excuse.

Below is my new "car," a Mini. Ahem.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

George Lucas, you can just stop writing

Sneaky little Irishman. While I've been waiting patiently for five years, Roddy Doyle secretly releases his follow up to one of my fave books, A Star Called Henry, and doesn't have the decency to pick up the telephone and tell me. Sheesh. This book, Oh, Play That Thing, is the second in a planned trilogy, and continues on from when thirteen year old Irish rebel, Henry Smart, moves to America. It's not very often that I look forward to a book like I do a film or album, so it was all the more distressing to find that it's been out for four months. (The first book was released during that literary period when all things impoverished and Irish were quite the rage. Doyle's book just happened to be much cooler than the aforelinked.)

It got me thinking about other authors who've been dragging their heels lately:

Discounting his forays into kids lit and mini-mystery, Michael Chabon has yet to up the ante from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

Umberto Eco needs to put out another novel matching the calibre of his early works. (Though, I suspect this delay has more to do with his Italian translator trying to create words to match Eco's inventions.)

Oh, and Charles Dickens. This lazy bum needs to give this whole "I'm dead" act a rest and finish up his Edwin Drood tale. It's not like we watch the first 100 minutes of The Usual Suspects and then just stop the DVD, now do we?

Then there is the short story I couldn't finish in my grade 11 creative writing class, and surreptitiously added "End of Part One" for a coda. Shall the haunting mystery of The Train Car ever be solved? God, I hope not. That was some awful, adolescent writing I wrote.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

And a blimey new year!

I shouldn't be surprised, but Calgary is experiencing unseasonably warm weather. Nor should I complain, but this puts a damper on the whole "let's brag about Vancouver weather" shtick I had planned for my return. Alas.

The first few days back have been filled with Christmas errandry (I think I may have just invented this word but it sounds like it should be real) and far too much Grand Theft Auto on the Playstation. As much as I like studying the law, there's nothing like committing hordes of unlawful acts in a video game setting. And adding jetpacks to the mix is an unexpected plus.

Not much else to report at the moment, the call to relax is too strong. So I'll take this opportunity to say happy holidays to all my friends around the world. At last tally, some of you were in Japan teaching English, Ontario learning English, England relearning English ('appy 'olidays Sean). Some of you are in Vancouver slogging through law school with me, and those still in school in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia I feel for you too, and those that are in the working world, merry Christmas, save me a job for when I get there!

Miss you all, (this means I expect comments people! And yes, you can post without being a member.)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Linda Richman would be proud

Time to pack. First, must dust off all of the warm, winter clothing, gloves and toques that found no use here. I kid, I kid. No dust could possibly accumulate as they were carefully boxed up and stored long ago.

The final exam of the semester is tomorrow, the beast known as Criminal Law. I've reached that point, somewhere between, "I've studied to the best of my abilities" and "Please, make it stop. Please, I'm begging you." And, as I sit through this calm before the storm (the storm being the year-end boozin' after the exam) I thought I'd compile some thoughts on the last four months. Here they are.

Reflections on a first semester completed at law school:

1. It takes time and dedication, but if you work at it daily, and persevere, you can become a truly seasoned, respectable, foosball player.
2. Bringing your laptop into class is a good way of staying on top of a multitude of notes, and makes for easy reference to cases thereafter. But the moment you sign onto messenger all hope goes out the window.
3. Any lecture, no matter how boring the subject matter, can be made bearable if the professor has a British accent and a fervent dislike for notary publics.
4. A baby of tender age is unable to enter into a formal contract. Yes, even if you put a pen in its hand and make it look like it's going to sign.
5. There is no end to the string of hypothetical questions that can be asked during a lecture, only an end to my patience.
6. The subject of Law & Literature concerns neither law nor literature. Discuss.
7. When you get sushi for lunch, request two packets of soy sauce from the cashier, as one clearly isn't going to do the trick.
8. If you miss a lecture, you can rely on the goodwill of your classmates to furnish you with the missing notes. You will never look at these notes again.
9. Being a law student on campus gives you a certain amount of cachet. However, this does not work when you are still younger than many undergraduates.
10. You wanted ten? I've been studying non-stop for weeks and am completely drained. You should be happy I came up with nine.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Henry V. Ryan (2004) Supreme Court of Canada

Blogging for a breather. I'm just past the halfway point of first year law exams, which, to draw a comparison, would be right around where Sam and Frodo get captured by Faramir in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (That analogy is clearly not helpful because it first suggests I'm in a cornered position in these exams, and second, that I'm a big nerd.)

Frankly I don't understand the point of making some of these exams closed book, in an hour long time period no less. I know I'd respect a client who walked into a law firm with a complex set of issues and said, "I need your help, but I'm timing you and I don't want you peeking in any of those books behind you."

"Certainly," the dashing, young lawyer replied, "let me just call in the judge and have your action dismissed right now. That'll just make the whole thing easier for the both of us."

A court reporter, appearing from nowhere, then transcribes the word, "zing!"

Of course, I shouldn't complain, the tougher exams are yet to come, and I'm home for the holidays in less than a week! It's easy to forget it's that time of year in this city, what with the sun and warmth and greenness and all. (Please divert your hatred to the comment area below.)

Alright, that's enough of a break, once more unto the breach, dear friends! Clearly, Shakespeare can't save me now.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Fiat banum, ruat coelum

Not much for this post, as tomorrow begins the battle royale that is first year exams. Legal Institutions is up first, (political science masquerading as a law subject), followed by Property (are you aware how easy it is to defraud the land title system?), next comes Torts (see below), then Contracts (eh, I got nothin' against contracts) and lastly Criminal (wow, they even thought of murder in space!). One week it's all over.

Just want to wish good luck to all in Bane, the rootin' tootin-est first year law small group around! Seriously, lame adjectives aside, best of luck folks.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Next stop, Hell is Chrome

Watched the 60 minutes interview with our man Dylan tonight. I hope I'm that cool when I'm 63, though I can't say I'll aspire to the leather pants. Really Bob, leather pants? Of course Ed Bradley out-geezered him by wearing that stupid earring. Now, if Andy Rooney had done the interview, that would be a sight to see: crotchety vs. freewheelin'!

I am interested in picking up Dylan's book. I read a few excerpts online and it's certainly got some style. I confess to only discovering Dylan recently, just before his last album. This has me worried.

When I gain interest in a band, it's usually at that point where they begin their steady artistic decline. With REM it was "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," still one of my favorite albums, but since then Mr. Stipe just hasn't been feeling it. With Pearl Jam, same thing. Apres "Yield" it has been none too shining, albeit still interesting. It's like I have some voodoo curse that dooms bands the moment I take a listen. Get back, I'll only hurt you!

Of course, since I jumped on the Wilco and Beck buses, they've only gotten better, so maybe I'm just being paranoid. (You better hope so, Interpol. You better not start sucking.)

Saturday, December 04, 2004

"Street's wet, you can tell by the sound of the cars..."

A lyric from one of my favorite Elliott Smith songs - Clementine - and never more true than in this city. As much of my day during this time of the school year is spent inside my basement apartment (incidentally, a basement on a hill for you Smith fans keeping track) this is a surefire way of detecting whether you should venture outside.

Today was more of the same: lengths of studying interrupted by brief respites of whatever was on TV. I had to settle for American college football, and boy, is that a brain numbing exercise. I'll tell you what is the biggest loss of the current missing NHL season, it's the dearth of informed and intelligent commentary.

On CBC, in addition to the relatively exhilarating play-by-play, you can always count on each commentator to know illustrative stories about EACH player. It's like the network has spies that follow these guys around. I don't know how they do it, but it adds to the game and I admire it. No such luck with American broadcasting. The talk breaks down something like this:

PHIL (because someone is always named Phil): That's number 44, Rusty McDonald, who sure runs for a lot of yards.

BOB: You used to have a dog named Rusty, didn't you Phil?

PHIL: I sure did, Bob. And although he's long dead, he never ran as much as this Rusty did. That's a lot of yards.

Actually I wish it was that interesting. I don't know why I've wasted so much of this blog on sports, because I'm not a sports fanatic in the least, but when you're inside due to rain, and can't leave if you wanted because of all the studying you have to do, crappy commentary like this just makes things worse.

On a brighter note, it's exactly one month until my birthday! For anyone needing ideas, I like diamonds. Expensive, marketable diamonds.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Where Isn't Waldo?

Wishing I had ribald stories of a debaucherous Friday night to relate, but will have to settle for law talk. I was deep in studying the law of torts (you hurt me, now pay me) and I realized precisely why people hate lawyers. Forget the centuries of good that lawyers have achieved in helping create the civilized society we have today, no, people react to the image of the shady television lawyer stationed in front of his stack of books promising to get you compensation for falling on someone's icy sidewalk.

These 1-800 lawyers give us a bad rap, but I can see why they exist. Lawyers, after all, are still people with creative urges. Torts satisfy this urge.

Just the other day in class, we were presented with a set of facts, (punches were thrown, insults were delivered, and someone was named Escamillo) and we were asked to determine who could be liable for a tort. There are so many possibilities for an action that I like to call these situations, if you will, a "smorgastort." And, like kids in a candy store, our class managed to come up with so many liabilities that our professor, a man with a venerable experience in the subject, was visibly overwhelmed. (He may have rubbed his eyes in a Jon Stewart-like fashion and exclaimed, "Whaaaa?" but I cannot accurately recall.)

Torts is the subject where lawyers can get the most creative, and as a result, they see possibilities for litigation in everything - hidden lawsuits where there may have been none before. Fact patterns become 3d paintings concealing not a spaceship or purty rabbit, but litigation (which may or may not be represented by a dollar sign.)

I confess to this impulse to find fault as well. (It is also sort of a satisfaction after being compeletely unable time and time again to see those damn 3d images. I unfocussed my eyes dammit!) Of course, we can still go overboard, imputing negligent behaviour where there may be none, sort of like doing a Where's Waldo cartoon but first dressing everyone up in striped shirts and toques.

That said, I really have no intention of practicing in the law of torts. International law is my bag, baby, and I plan to see that through. (Also, I'm no good in front of a TV camera and 1-800 SXY-LWYR is taken.)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

And no interest till 2009

Getting down to the wire, which means that demon procrastination is coming up with more clever disguises by the day. (On Thursday, thy demon's name is Trump.) So far I've discovered the best way to study to become a lawyer, is to act like a juror. I completely sequester myself in a room free from outside influence: no tv, no internet, no music, and any furnishings I would be apt to steal as a juror are my own.

I do miss the music though. I normally work with something in the background, but the system breaks down when you're reading about the postal rule in contracts and you just want to listen to the Postal Service. I read some great interview with Jack White in Q magazine (best. magazine. ever.) a while back, and he said he thought the key to producing greatness was depriving yourself of everything around you. Turn it all off and watch the results. Too bad Jack, Elephant had just made it back into my regular rotation and then you had to go spouting aphorisms.

Looking forward to the new year though. Wow, 2005. I always liked the odd numbered years more. Somehow more futuristic, less menacing. (Orwell sorta doomed the evens for the next little while.) Seriously though, the odd numbers snagged most of the sexy curves, while two and four are standing in front of the mirror asking six and eight if this equation makes them look fat.

But back to time. I'll always remember what my brother said about new years, "hey, in 2005, that means the Brick won't make you pay till 2008! The future is here!" Always thinking ahead, and so shall I. Studying, we duel at dawn.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

On having not caught 22

Ah, December. A beautiful month sullied only by the appearance of excruciatingly painful final exams. I still find it hard to get used to this whole "no snow" thing here in Vancouver. I mean, I can see it on the North Shore mountains, it just never makes it past those North Van houses (typical, hoarding snow like they do wealth.) It is almost as if the snow is beckoning me back home, over the mountains. Nice try, my frozen friend, but I'll manage with these warm climes at least for the next little while.

On that note, it is only two weeks until I touch down in cowtown for the holidays. It will be nice to relax (pending, of course, a law memo, a feminism paper, and a complete draft of a future television show). I haven't done any Christmas shopping for the family yet, but if history is any guide, that can be accomplished in one fell swoop at the ol' Future Shop. Ah, engineers: technical gadgetry shall be thine Achilles Heel.

I'm looking forward to doing some actual reading over the holidays, and not just cases upon cases. Maybe I'll finish Catch-22, which heretofore I've only been reading in segments at Kingston laundromats for the past 3 years (oh, how I love my basement apartment washer and dryer, don't ever change!). I'm positive that'll be the funniest book I've ever read, when I actually finish it.

To be talking about Christmas is just plain weird, though. It only struck me recently, that exactly one year ago, I hadn't even written the successful LSAT exam that would eventually take me to law school. (The incredibly unsuccessful one still being fresh in my mind at that point.) Now here I am, and everyone's freaking out about whether they'll stay in law school. I guess you just can't win as a lawyer... unless you win your case and get a share of those sweet, sweet punitive damages.