Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Moreover, that's the hourly rate

It has returned: the the airborne occurrence I can only describe as "New City Smell." I first detected this breezy fragrance upon my move to Vancouver, a mix of salt water and abundant pine that a French parfumerie might deign to call "Nouveau Pacifique." A trip to Halifax will also produce the same result - even Toronto, though there it is more of a smoggy musk. However, since that first week of classes in September, the smell has worn off. No doubt its return is due to the re-leaf-ification of the city's vast florae, and the warm spring air wafting in the salty ocean smell, but the result is great... Wow, what a stupid blog entry that was - but it's what crossed my mind as I crossed campus. If you still think it's stupid, well, as the French say, "screw vous."

In non-nasal news, I think I have discovered the ideal playlist for studying case law. (Or perhaps just tort law, as there's really no appropriate listening music when you read over a sexual assault case in criminal law.)

At 68 songs, it consists of Elliott Smith's From a Basement on the Hill, Feist's Let it Die, M. Ward's Transfiguration of Vincent, Jack Johnson's In Between Dreams, Stars' Set Yourself on Fire, and Louis XIV's early tune "Love-Stricken Felony" thrown in on account of its understated awesomeness. Taken together, the albums offer a subdued mix, full of interesting interplay, but consistent enough to not disturb the reading: Johnson's unbridled hippie enthusiasm is balanced by Smith's pathos; Feist's stripped-down sultry voice (mp3) is complemented by Star's orchestration (visit here and scroll down for Stars mp3s), and M. Ward (who, I swear, sounds like Louis Armstrong in his 20s) envelopes the whole mix in a hazy acoustic ether.

That said, to fully enjoy the entire playlist, you'll have to have quite the pile of reading. A chapter on Pure Economic Loss, say, will take you through about 26 songs. But add a confusing chapter on the Rule of Perpetuities and you might make it.

As you can see, it takes incentive such as good music to get through all these readings. Despite what you may have heard, legal writing is not, I repeat, NOT, an ebullient art, dabbling in humour and witty anecdotes. Sadly, I must report it is rather dry, and lengthy to the point of boring. I know I am breaking your heart as I tell you this, but, as a future lawyer, I have your best interests in mind. Now... that'll be 300 dollars.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Maybe I'll just play a free-form jazz odyssey

Today while on an excellent excursion to downtown Vancouver, I made the first trip Tim Horton's in over seven months. Tim's is something of a white whale here in the ocean city, where first mate Starbuck rules the seas. (Ok, enough Moby-Dicking around.) Thus far, I've only seen one of the coffee shops, buried in an underground mall downtown. Yet, there are no shortage of Tim's commercials on TV here, suggesting that the populace is regularly confused during primetime and that Tim's marketing department is much too eager, advertising without a point of sale. (I picked up that last term from watching the Apprentice. Thanks big D.)

Also while downtown I purchased Beck's Guero. (Stereogum described it as Beckcellent, but I've always preferred the superlative Becktacular.) I had downloaded the leaked tracks back in January, so it's a testament to the Beckzilirating (No? Too much?) nature of the album that it warranted a purchase. The best part, most of the mixes have changed from the versions I had (the Michael Jackson vibe on "Scarecrow" stands out a lot more), and it also featured some wholly new tunes, "Broken Drum" being the best. Just go buy it. I shill for thee!

Plus it features some great artwork by a Canuck, Marcel Dzama. (Link goes to his gallery, for you art buffs out there).

Lastly, a big congrats to my buddy from Queen's, recently gettin' hitched! Guess I'll have to brush up on my vocal skills when I sing that heartwrenching solo at the wedding. Oops, did I spoil the surprise?

Oh, and this is long overdue. It's a lengthy read, but if you like your humour highbrow, you'll enjoy. It also coins a term we had all long suspected, "hobbosexual."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Ron & Hermione are totally hooking up

Another long weekend come and gone. Unless I have established travel plans, long weekends never seem to be much fun for me. When I worked at a golf club years ago - dutifully washing the woods and irons of Calgary's elite and elderly - the holiday meant CJAY 92 played their "Lost Classic Long Weekend," to which I would retort, after every song, "that should have stayed lost." Seriously crappy music, but we had a rule never to change the radio station. (I do remember one great song, Zeppelin's "Over the Hills and Far Away," the first 1 minute and 28 seconds of which I specifically credit as the primary reason for taking up guitar.)

This past long weekend has been no exception. If case law was music, then most of the Common Law is that same lame rock from the late 70s and early 80s. Except for Criminal Law - I'd pay to see that stuff in concert. "Rock on, R. v. Sorrel and Bondett!"

That's right, as exams draw nearer, much of this weekend was spent poring over old notes, and realizing just how much we have to know. Even when class notes are condensed, font size is reduced to a cataract-inducing 8 point, and every unnecessary piece of punctuation is removed, the package averages about 50 pages. Sure the exams are open book, but how does that help when the book rivals the length of War & Peace, and the content resembles Finnegan's Wake?

A brief and welcome respite was granted on Sunday, however, when I joined a family for Easter dinner. Not only was the food great, but being surrounded by over fifty of my friend's relatives - many of Scottish upbringing - in a house whose architecture resembles something out of Harry Potter, was just surreal. Really, I felt like I was eating at Ron Weasley's house. As an unabashed H.Po fanboy, this was awesome. Shutup.

Anyway, at least the weekend's end ends in top fashion. The Jack Bauer Power Hour looks to be a doozy tonight. I know Marwan still has tricks up his sleeve, but I'm still not convinced the whole day - train crash, political abduction, nuclear disaster - wasn't all engineered by Tony Almeida in a cupid-like bid to reunite him with his ex-wife. Hey, there's still 10 hours left, I could be right.

Post 24 Update: Ok, so my Tony/Cupid angle hasn't panned out... yet. But I did spot a commercial for UPS featuring J. Walter Weatherman, Arrested Development's resident one-armed problem solver. Question: why does UPS now call themselves Brown? UPS is already an abbreviation!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Soy Bomb was less of a jerk

I've seen Joel Plaskett play three times live now, each in a tiny venue that either has (Kingston's Grad Club) or could (Vancouver's Media Club) double as someone's house. My feeling is that if the idiots at Joel's label marketed his albums properly, he could be filling venues ten times the size. Yet at the same time, the intimate setting suits his act just fine.

The great thing about seeing Joel live is that he offers commentary for his songs, oftentimes right in the middle of them. ("Chris Martin eat your heart out.") Opener Peter Elkas came up on stage to play a few songs with Joel, and was first asked to play some guitar solos and then jokingly asked to stop because he was "too good." Like Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Joel is a hilarious entertainer, my favorite line of the night being:

"How much did they charge you for this show, ten dollars? You paid twelve?? Peter Elkas we're rich!!"

There was, of course, the standard issue concert-going jerk in attendance. See Thom's blog for a full account of this. Let's just say we can all stand a little chatter during a show, but this guy actually told entire stories (with full-body actions) to uninterested members of the fairer sex, while standing in the front row no less.

Before the show, we stopped at Guu with Garlic, a remarkable Japanese izakaya restaurant on Robson Street whose food is best described as tapas. Cheap, delicious, and - when the waiter forgets who's been waiting an hour and seats you almost immediately - even better!

The night also featured a stop at the Virgin Records store downtown, which was notable for a very strange occurence. I waited about ten minutes for a guy to finish at the listening station for the new Basement Jaxx album. While I browsed, I kept looking over, and he seemed to be really into it, making me want to listen to it all the more. When he finally left and I took the headphones, there was nothing, not even static. Apparently the headphones were dead, and there was a now-visible sign indicating how the station was out of order. What music from beyond the grave haunted that man for so long? And can I download a copy?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Any chance Napoleon won that battle?

No sooner do I discover and rave about the band Louis XIV then I find myself in possession of a ticket to a show they're playing. Even better, they're on a bill with two other equally amazing bands, The Futureheads and B.C.'s own Hot Hot Heat. I've managed to unearth Louis XIV's earlier albums and EPs too, and I'm certain they'll put on a good show. Any downloaders out there, check out "Illegal Tender." Tell me if I'm wrong, but there's something positively Gilbert and Sullivan about that song, notwithstanding its ass-kickery. If the band's original name was supposed to be the Pirates of Penzance, it wouldn't surprise me.

As for the British laddies, those who watch the O.C. with the same frequency as I do will recall hearing the Futureheads shamelessly blared over the opening scenes of last week's episode - "Meantime" was the tune. And those who didn't hear Hot Hot Heat's first album might currently be inclined to say they sound like the Killers, when if fact it's the other way around. All in all, it should be great. Or, to quote a friend of mine, it'll be Hot Hot Neat! (Ouais, c'est vrai AM, et si tu veux le réfuter, tu devrais commencer un blog de ton propre!)

Yet tomorrow night, is of course, the Joel Plaskett show. I'm aiming to get a few choice photographs of the Lankster himself. I'll also get some shots of opener Pete Elkas, a musician who I played roadie to for all of 2 minutes a year ago. At Joel's Kingston show, Elkas was also the opener and he asked me to hold his guitar while he put away some equipment. As any roadie would do, I acted like I could care less.

To cap off this amazing trifecta of aural pleasure, it's just over a month till I see U2 and Kings of Leon in town. It's my last night in Vancouver before I head home for the summer. It'll be tough to leave this city even for four months, but it should be a great send off. Here's hoping that they play "Stay."

Elsewhere, it's a four day weekend here, and most people have vacated the premises, heading back home. This leaves me alone with only the Canadian Justices themselves. Really, who can be lonely when you've got loudmouth Denning over there in the corner!

As for studying, two subjects are particularly frightening. Contracts has gotten quite difficult of late, and Property... Property shall be my Waterloo. I think to ease myself into this study-fest occupying the next several weeks, I'll start with the others, Torts, Legal Institutions and Criminal Law. Though, I suppose if I really wanted to study Criminal Law I could just fire up the ol' PS2, pop in some Grand Theft Auto and truly get into the mind of a criminal. That's all kinds of illegal!

Monday, March 21, 2005

George Costanza would have appreciated the gesture

Having finished my Law & Economics essay, there is now officially nothing standing between me and the end of first year law except the most painful exams in history. (And I count the Spanish Inquisition.) The paper I wrote is a overview of the modern music market, and the sheer idiocy of record companies who pursue legal action against file sharers. Hopefully it also marks the last time I have to summon explanations of the twin demons of Supply and Demand to life in essay form. May ye now rest in peace.

Speaking of downloading, I checked out the new "it" band Louis XIV solely on the basis of their name and my love of all things French. Great stuff. I don't listen to much Bowie, but I can hear the influence. And critics note the T.Rex influences, but that's always been a band I hear people reference, but no one can ever tell me a hit song of theirs - other than the 30 seconds they hear on a Mitsubishi commercial. Hmmm, perhaps all these people just work for Mitsubishi and employ a very convoluted viral marketing campaign.

Speaking of marketing campaigns, it appears as if my linking to a certain eBay auction a few posts back has accounted for over 500 hits and 4 legitimate bids on - I kid you not - a jar of air. Two things are puzzling here: the first whether those bidders realize they are overpaying for not one but two items, both the jar and air. Second, that this site could have directed half a thousand hits in just a few days. Maybe I've underestimated the cultural value of this blog, and the power of word-of-mouth, but 500? Who reads this stuff? Which lurker dare post a comment!? Anyway, if that number is representative of who visits here, thank you, I guess.

Lastly, a heartfelt congrats to the other half of Team Awesome on the arrival of a brand new baby girl. I understand that you didn't want to take my name suggestion - Moot is more of a boy's name anyway - but couldn't the delivery have been held off for ten more hours? I was so close to winning the Bane baby pool! (Flashbacks to my losses in several Amazing Race pools. Stupid Megan & Heidi. Looks CAN kill... your chances!)

Friday, March 18, 2005

Thunderdome is but a distant memory

Today witnessed one of the most fun events the law school has hosted, the annual Trike Race. Dubbed "Trike Rider 2005," the rules are simple: in relay style with a team of four, chug a beer, pedal a tricycle 50 meters, and all the while dodge the fury of hundreds of law students getting the last vestiges of tortious conduct out of their system before graduation - that is to say, dodge waterballoons.

Before I get to the abysmal performance of my team, let it be said that there is no cool way to ride a tricycle. Nor, come to think of it, is there any way. What remains then, is a sort of "sidesaddle" technique. Feminine perhaps, but then so are the streamers emerging from the pink handles.

So, already at a disadvantage, the "Road Warriors" stumbled out of the gate. I have to hand it to our team leader, unsurprisingly dubbed "Mad Max," for being first. Not only did he get to try and figure out the best way to pedal, but during those tense moments he also got the first wave of balloon attacks from an impatient crowd. Quite the soaking I must say.

I, either by divine intervention or the foresight of Gore-tex scientists, came away relatively unscathed. If there was any consolation to losing, it's that we weren't forced to race in later heats and endure the volleys again. Good times though, the best moment being when that poor, poor soul fell down mid-race and witnessed a torrent of water not scene since Starr Jones' last cannonball. (That's right, I'm not above a Starr Jones joke.)

Though the fun had to end, which leaves us now with two weeks of classes left. Time sure flies when you're having fun, or alternatively as we now know, when you're consulting a high-priced lawyer. In just over three weeks, exams begin. Time for some more Spanish: Ay chihuahua!

On the bright side, I got tickets to the Joel Plaskett show in town next Friday. He's playing a solo show with another great Canadian guitarist, Peter Elkas. This will be the first time I've seen him perform without his backing band, The Emergency, but I hope he still keeps his honky-tonk cover of R. Kelly's "Ignition" remix in the repertoire. That there's gold.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Es bueno, muchacho?

This post will be more random than most. Not that others have any sort of consistency, but I used up my unifying odyssey theme for the year.

I'm pressing ahead with this Law & Economics paper, on the topic of "illegal" file sharing and its underlying economic principles. I like to think I'm well versed in both subjects. I read over the leading Canadian case on the subject, which, last March, held that downloading is legal in the country, and suggested a successful case against sharing downloaded files would be nearly impossible. The ruling continues Canada's legal streak as pretty damn forward thinking and mindful of our founding constitutional values (Ahem U.S.A.) The case also marks the only time that someone named von Finckenstein (the judge in the case) would be considered cool by adolescents.

I'm also trying to finish off this massive tome that is Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I happened upon this passage today, which I thought was quotable:

"To young men of a studious mind, who did not desire to go into the Church or the Law, magic was very appealing, particularly since Strange had triumphed on the battlefields of Europe. It is, after all, many centuries since clergymen distinguished themselves on the field of war, and lawyers never have."

I laughed. Anywho, you can get sense from this passage the style that Clarke was aiming for in her book, the late 19th century parlance where the word "queer" could be used without fear of subsequent giggling, Nouns were capitalized, and they spelled words like connexion and surprize with reckless abandon.

Pitchfork Magazine also posted a great article on the macrocosmic impact of R.E.M. over the last 15 years. As the band is one of my all-time favorites, a lot of it struck home. I'm sure most people like certain albums for no other reason than they represented a critical point in their life. Stipe & Co. have made a career out of doing that for people as this article evidences. Kudos to Pitchfork for identifying New Adventures in Hi-Fi as the band's best work. That album is criminally underrated. (I'm looking for the relevant section in the Criminal Code for that one... there it is again, murder in space!).

As wonderful as the warm, salty air is here in Vancouver, I would encourage anyone to check out this. Golden Palace should be contacting you any time now B.

This Friday sees me and three of my fellow law chums participate in the annual UBC Law Trike race. We need some sort of team name. It can either incorporate Bane, our small group name, or something about the law - or if we were really cool, it can incorporate neither. Submissions welcome. (Please note Team Awesome has been awarded hall of fame status and cannot be reused.)

Y finalmente, yo dije mi amigo Oscar que yo escibiria algo en Espanol para el, asi aqui esto es, muchacho.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

"You have chosen... awesomely!"

And can I get an advance on my lawyerly stipend? That's common knowledge, right?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

I'll concede that Indy's Crusade was somewhat cooler

Those who spent time with me in England two years ago will remember that those four months were really less about taking English courses in a castle than searching for a most prized jacket I had seen Hugh Grant wear in the movie About a Boy. It took some time, but at a store on Regent Street one rainy London day I found my Holy Grail, and have been wearing it lovingly ever since.

Well, there is a new textilian mistress in town, and I must have her. This time, it's a jacket I espied, worn by Beck in a Filter magazine spread. Thus began an obsession that has seen me employ some sleuthing techniques that have paid off surprisingly well.

Now, Filter is commendable for using the bare minimum of advertisements in their publication, and even then they only advertise new albums. However, this also means they are less concerned about the sharing the fashion displayed in their magazine, which threw a wrench into the early stages of my search. What I did glean from those glossy pages, nevertheless, was the name of the photographer.

Autumn de Wilde
, on top of having an unassailably cool name, is also apparently known for stealing the souls of great musicians. Among the photography on his website are shots of Eels, Elliott Smith, Death Cab and the Flaming Lips. It was on this site where I found a link to a clothing designer he rather fancies.

The search narrowing, I was able to find the jacket on the designer's fall 2004 collection. Now I at least knew that the jacket actually existed outside of Beck's closet, and wasn't the machination of his own twisted fashion sense. From there, I ran a search to see where such clothing was sold. Fearing that only those denizens of Los Angeles and New York, who already unfairly get advance showing of movies, would have access to the jacket, I was relieved to see it was available at a store in Vancouver!

Motherland Clothing on Main Street is a cool store, not only for it's propagandic-U.S.S.R. design aesthetic. There, on a hanger near the front, was the jacket. Even better, it fit perfectly. The only downside to the whole affair, however, was the small tag emerging from the sleeve, displaying the price.

It is here this crusade is held in check, as those riches so often associated with lawyers have failed to materialize. Thus, for the time being, the jacket is on hold, while I flex those negotiating muscles with a force more frightful than lawyers (the 'rents.) So for now, I simply pine away, awaiting this new Holy Grail.

Hmm, now I sorta have the urge to watch that third Indy movie. It features a tank versus a horse. How awesome is that?!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Something tells me it's NSFW

The reviews have come pouring in... Alright, just one... And from a publication whose readership undoubtedly ranks far below that of even Guns & Ammo Weekly, or Horse & Hound. Nevertheless, last month's Law Revue gets a write-up in the latest issue of UBC Law's The Legal Eye, a paper with a mission statement of "keeping tabs on UBC Law and beyond." (As always, "beyond" neither bleeds nor leads, so it's cut.)

We turn to page 2 for an excerpt:

"Apparently the directors were told that it would be futile to even try and put on a show this year; however, I think that the new creative talent at school this year more than made up for that which was lost ... the cast and crew of this year's Law Revue put on a great performance. I'm already waiting for next year's show."

Good praise, and proof for the naysayers (see me, below) that didn't think it would turn out well. I would have preferred some juiciers adjectives, like "incandescent!" or "electrifying!" but hey, what can you do?

Tonight sees another wine and cheese function for the law school, where we get to hob-knob with Vancouver's elite law firms. The title is somewhat of a misnomer however, as the wine is not free, but made up for with the appearance of sushi. I have been told I've been developing something of an addiction to sushi as of late. I prefer to think of me as more akin to Jared of Subway fame, only as spokesman for the Japanese delicacy. Hmm, then again, I may develop a cultural backlash and subsequently languish in obscurity. Scratch that. I just likes my sushi!

The countdown to end of classes continues. Just one essay to finish before the end, a Law & Economics paper. I feel I owe to myself to do somewhat well, as I have a degree in one of the subjects. That's right, I already have a law degree, I'm just doing this the second time for kicks. The paper's topic needs to stem for a current legal issue, and incorporate economic theories. Any ideas?

Lastly, I thought I'd put up another in the continuing series of tabbing music that no one else cares to. This time 'round, the song is Eels' "I'm Going to Stop Pretending I Didn't Break Your Heart," (which is most definitely a nod to Wilco's fantastic song and film "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.")

With capo on 1, it's verse: Emin, G, F#min, C x 3, then Emin, G, F#min, C, D, Emin. This little instrumental mystery was solved by none other than Thomas, fellow UBC Lawyer and constant purveyor of interesting websites and blogs. But try as you might, Thom, I still won't click on when you send it to me in class.

Friday, March 04, 2005

I'm a solid lights man, myself

As expected, Team Awesome trounced the unfortunately-named Team Champion in this week's moot. Though, I must admit, this has somewhat less to do with the sheer eponymous awesometude of my co-counsel and I, but the fact that our judges openly admitted they could hardly find a reason to side with a loud, obnoxious industrial company over a cute pair of landowners. Counting my successful prosecution of a gym bag thief on a grade 6 courtroom field trip mock trial, I'm 2 and 0 in my legal career. Look out Jack McCoy!

Arguing in front of a judge is something else though. You have so much planned out, but then you get interrupted with a question out of the blue. Our judges would try and throw us off by asking us if we knew the facts of the case. Really, now that I think of it, they were no different than average hecklers one might encounter at a comedy club. Though in all fairness, the material I had to work with was pretty weak. "What's the deal, with narrow statutory interpretation? I mean, c'mon?!"

This was just one of the cool parts of this, the best week I've had thus far in Vancouver. Trips to West Vancouver and Jericho Beach, walks around downtown - all in all very cool.

And not to disappoint those looking for my unsolicited musical advice, I also snagged online the upcoming Eels CD, "Blinking Lights and Other Revelations." If you're a fan of the band, it's pretty much the best thing they've done. Lead singer E explained the title of the album in a posting on his site that I thought was pretty cool:

"There are two kinds of Christmas people. Those who like their Christmas lights to stay on solid and those who like them to blink. As a kid, I always had a thing for sitting in the dark and watching the lights blink on and off at random ... In the end, what we have are these little great moments. They come and they go. That's as good as it gets. But still, isn't that great?"

Among the 33 tracks, highlights are "The Other Shoe," "Things the Grandchildren Should Know," and the instant Eels classic, "Whatever Happened to Soy Bomb?" (For guitarists, it's capo 5, Amin, A/C, C, F, Amin, G).