Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Mais la qualitee, c'est encroyable!

I made a brief aside a few posts back about the star of the latest Batman film, Cillian Murphy's glasses. It seems I'm not the only one who's been trying to track these down. Several people have found this blog by googling any combination of "scarecrow," "batman" and "kickass glasses." (Not to mention an inordinate amount of people googling, and apparently ogling, "Gloria Macarenko.")

Like my last bit of haute couture investigation, I'm happy to report that I've found the item in question. (For anyone looking, the frames are an Alain Mikli design, model number A0304. You're welcome.) The discovery was a culmination of savvy sleuthing, but not without a touch of serendipity.

My first inclination was to phone up my buddy Cillian and just ask what glasses he wore. This, of course, was hampered by the simple fact that Mr. Murphy and I are not buddies. Anyway, after much scouring of the internets, I luckily caught sight of a friend of a friend who happened to be wearing a similar pair, and the rest is history. Having since tried them on, I do indeed find them to be an appropriate mixture of dapper and distinctive, without falling into the “Elton John” chasm of ostentation. The only downside is le prix. I walked away from the purchase with the realization that I have rather… expensive taste.

What does this mean? First, that studying to be a lawyer is the least I can do to subsidize this portentous spending. I certainly hope, however, that it's not the other way around, and that studying law and discussing large, punitive settlements has somehow subconsciously made me think I can afford these things.

I've never pursued law as simply a pay cheque, which I think is the healthiest way to approach any job. I would to hate to turn into the alternative.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

May the torts be with you

Just under halfway through the summer and I can already feel things ramping up towards the next year of law. In the coming week, I'll be putting together some cover letters and a new-fangled resume by which to dazzle my prospective employers. In addition, I'll be helping compile some orientation information for first year law students. Lastly, I'm going to get to work early on next year's Law Revue.

The big question for second year law: is this the year that we, as law students, turn evil? At times, I feel the inexorable pull like a young Anakin Skylawyer, if you will, to this "dark side" of billable hours and shameless litigation. (I'm not particularly ashamed of this otherwise dated Star Wars reference, because they're all the rage again.)

Thankfully, the schedule I've worked up isn't too focused on any one area of law, and to boot I'll have fridays off. That leaves me plenty of time on the weekends for non-law pursuits, such as my screenplay and my music. I recently bought a harmonica, so I'm trying to get some decent noises out of it. I've been using three songs as sort of a reference, Ryan Adams' "Desire," Bob Dylan's "4th Time Around" and the Shins' "Pink Bullets." Of course, I just nabbed this new B.R.M.C. album, and it's a veritable acoustic guitar/harmonica goldmine! Highly recommended for anyone needing a particularly Dylanic or Cash-esque sounding album.

Also, any UBCers looking to get involved in next year's Law Revue drop me a line. I'll make sure you get embarrassed good.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Irish zombies? Well that's easy

Decisions to make:

Indulge my affection for all things zombie, and see Romero's Land of the Dead this weekend? Or, respect my aversion to all things Leguizamo and simply tend to my season 1 24 DVD? I guess the deciding factor is that the flick features a cameo from two of the funniest Brits around (after David and Gareth of course), men no stranger to the art of the undead. (But of course, Ryan, the answer is always zombies!)

After just finishing Malcolm Gladwell's Blink (an author who, by the way, out-music-geeked me - who the hell is this Kenna dude that he spends a whole chapter on?) I'm now deciding between poor Roddy Doyle, who has been shuffled down my reading pile since Christmas, or this Edward P. Jones book The Known World I'm eager to get to. Hmm, a book about slavery later in the summer could be a good lead-in to my fall human rights class, so I'll opt for skull-cracking Irish immigrants for now.

Now on to enjoy the weekend. I'll leave you with this, representing the confluence of my love for Spinal Tap and hilarious Oasis interviews.

(Et pour la personne qui ecrit en francais au dessous, keep 'em coming! Or you, mi amigo abogado, escriba algo en espanol!)

Monday, June 20, 2005

You got a D+

Fancy that, actual law-related items on a law blog. I've spent some time tentatively planning out next year's schedule, and I thought I'd share my choices for any who'd like to buddy up to me in class next year.

I hope this course is as cool as it sounds. I imagine the syllabus is split up into such sections as Bloody Daggers, Fingerprints, Paper Trails and Smoking Guns. You discuss the relative advantages between the D’Onofrian style of evidence-gathering, i.e. investigating the underlying psychology of a situation, versus the Bruckheimerian mode, whereby crime is solved by zooming into things really, really far.

Sample exam question:
If the glove don’t fit, you must _______:
a) Acquit
b) Tailor it
c) Flee down the expressway

Commercial Transactions
The name of this class sounds deceptively simple, which makes me think it's going to be incredibly hard. Take the short, simple-sounding word "law," for example.

Sample exam question:
If Sam buys three apples for four dollars, and sells them to Janey for one dollar, how many years in prison for violation of anti-dumping laws is Sam liable to serve? Show your work.

I haven't seen the documentary The Corporation, but I assume the film - written by UBC Professor Joel Bakan - had nothing but praise for these commercial entitites. As such, I wanted to enrol in this class and share the happiness.

Sample exam question:
Choose the non-evil corporate prefix from the list below:
a) Mc-
b) Wal-
c) Star-
d) Mom &-

Another required course, but probably not so bad to learn. I think most Canadians take for granted the fact that we have a constitution, or conveniently overlook it when it doesn't suit their agenda.

Sample exam question:
If a treasure-map were inscribed on the back of the Canadian Constitution, how bad would the resultant film be?
a) Very bad
b) Craptacular
c) Sub-
d) What
Variety calls "an enjoyable romp!"

International Law
I imagine if there were an Indiana Jones for the lawyer set, he would study this instead of archaeology. I’ve been told there is really no such thing as an international lawyer, it’s just merely a facet of the work typically involved in corporate law. Dammit, I was seriously going to look into this Indiana Jones-type occupational deficiency.

Sample exam question:
If a plane crashes on the U.S.-Canadian border, where do you bury the survivors?
a) They're survivors, you don't bury them
b) Under piles of legal bills as they use your lawerly services to try, but ultimately fail, to get compensation
c) The answer is b)

Intellectual Property
This is the "hip" subject in law. Naturally, I downloaded it months ago.

Sample exam question:
Intellectual property law has been described by experts as:
a) A critical new field of law
b) Necessary in the modern age of globalization
c) A lucrative opportunity for enterprising lawyers
d) An enjoyable romp!

Because, of life's two certainties, I'll opt for this one sooner. I suppose this class teaches us how lawyer bills charge you GST, PST and LST, the Lawyerly Sticking-it-to-you Tax.

Sample exam question:
What kind of candy is best offered to Revenue Canada to avoid an audit?
a) Peppermints
b) Werther’s Original
c) Uncle Sam’s Money-coated Dollarcandies

Advanced Criminal Procedure
One of the crown jewels of my tentative schedule. Criminal Law has some of the best cases to read, and it's the closest I'll get to being Sherlock Holmes. Granted, I'm working with evidence that's already been discovered, criminals who've already been apprehended, but no one can take away my pipe and hat.

Sample exam question:
For each police detective, indicate whether the individual is a good cop or bad cop:
a) Beverly Hills Cop
b) Kindergarten Cop
c) Beverly Hills Cop III (featuring George Lucas)
d) Cop and a Half

Conflict of Laws
I’m taking this one on the advice of a professor, which sounded like an interesting look into how jurisdictions solve hazy questions of what law applies where. Or, alternatively, who blames who when a chainsaw-wielding maniac covered in blood traipses across a national border. I don't know about you, but I saw through red paint
all the time.

Sample exam question:
Q: What is this course called in the United States?
Conflict? What Conflict? You train with an elite covert squad aimed at violently supplanting local legal custom with American-style heroics.

International Law Problems
With luck, this will be my seminar. It investigates human rights issues, legal conflicts between nations, and I'll have to come up with a song and dance presentation instead of a final exam.

Sample paper topic:
In twelve pages, describe why John Grisham is a terrible writer. To begin your paper, attach twelve pages of any Grisham novel.

Friday, June 17, 2005

"Come hither." "Baa."

Loose ends before I relax for the weekend:

Now I’m really sad to miss the Vancouver Beck show. Joining Beck on stage will be guys named D-Fuse, Bunzo and Ryan, the World’s Greatest Dancer (guilty!). To boot, there will be dining tables and full course meals “will be had.”

Still sadder, Rolling Stone dropped the ball with the much-delayed Eels review.

Does Entertainment Weekly read my site? George Michael for Prime Minister! He can’t be any more awkward than Stephen Harper.

Speaking of Arrested Development, I was always curious to see how much money the Bluth family had to waste on segways and the Aztec Tomb. Strangely missing from the list of TV's richest Dads: father/actor Tobias Funke. Although hilariously at the bottom: Tony "eh oh, oh eh!" Danza.

Read Guns, Germs and Steel. If Jared Diamond played Civilization, you’d swear he had the cheats on he’d be so good. Rather, he just offers compelling explanations as to why human societies distributed power the way they have today. A big reason (among others)? Someone, somewhere, romanced a sheep.

From the 24 file: a movie is being planned? I may finally have to break my streak of no movie bathroom breaks (going strong since Batman in 1989!). Also: Hell's Kitchen's Gordon Ramsay, Jack Bauer, same person?

Anyone watching their share of crap reality TV, compare Gordon’s trademark “Button it!” to Jack’s “Dammit!” It's the same!

Back to Batman: simply an incredible movie. Sure I want the new Batmobile, but I really want Scarecrow's glasses. Such chic villainy!

Another hilarious interview where Noel Gallagher discusses his brother Mabel, how Oasis go through drummers like they were Spinal Tap, and reading War & Peace on stage.

Now that Nike lets you customize your own shoe, how long until Adidas follows suit and let’s us recreate the Team Zissou shoe down to the finest detail?

Finally, UBCers: what law classes are you taking this fall? Dish!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Laughter: 1799 - 1998

The thrill of my previous fleeting internet fame having worn off, today, with the help of the Toronto Star, I was able to enjoy fleeting publicized fame on a national scale.

Following up on a post on Stereogum, culture reporter Dana Brown wrote a spot-on expose of the "Indie Yuppie," a class of citizen to whom High Fidelity serves as a quasi-religious reference point, and who have been enjoying a Killers backlash far longer than most. The article was a pretty spot-on glimpse of the macchiato-swilling, O.C.-watching, iPod-toting music geek, aptly and shamelessly represented by yours truly. To read the full thing, go here (though you may have to register with them for free.)

My love of The O.C. was mentioned (nay, trumpeted) - it's just a shame that 24 doesn't regularly flaunt its indie music affection. Though, I have been watching season 1 of 24 on DVD and - keen I-Y that I am - I did espy an early and rare song by Doves, "Darker," available on their collection of b-sides, Lost Sides. (It's featured in the episode where Kim is rescued by the heroin addict with a heart of gold). Jack Bauer, you closet yupster!

Overall I was proud to be featured in the Star, a daily staple of mine during my undergrad years in Kingston. That is to say, between Romantic Lit class and Macroeconomics, I hit the crossword section pretty hard. The paper is also home to a pretty damn good comics section, featuring the likes of Sherman's Lagoon and the irresistable Get Fuzzy. (The National Post, on the other hand, has two daily obituaries, one for lives lived and the other for comedy. Seriously, who finds Betty funny?)

Friday, June 10, 2005

Quoth the raven: "Holla!"

Music stuff first: while I lamented the summer slate of album releases, there are albums from the last few months that still deserve attention:

New Order’s Waiting for the Sirens' Call. Sure, it’s cool to say indie bands of today sound like New Order, but it’s just better to actually listen to the Brits, especially when they are making better records than their self-appointed progeny. “Guilt is a Useless Emotion," apart from being awesomely titled, is the best track on it.

Kathleen Edwards’ Back to Me is sort of like if Ryan Adams, with his alt-country inclinations and un-country language, hooked up with Sarah Harmer, with her amazing voice (quite simply the best in Canada. Emily and Leslie, you get honourable mention.) I would even point out a physical resemblance between Harmer and Edwards, but I can’t see her face on the album cover because her... back is to me… Ah! You got me Kathleen!

With the Decemberist’s Picaresque, you officially have no reason to complain that there aren’t any nine minute sea chantees to be heard on the radio. If Samuel Taylor Coleridge were in a band, he would play music like this. And in what group would the macabre stylings of Edgar Allan Poe be most suited? That one’s easy.

For films, however, there is at least one summer release worth looking forward to: Batman Begins. I really don’t see how this could turn out bad. You’ve got Christopher Nolan, who’s first two films are minor classics: Insomnia, (how this film got overlooked for awards is beyond me) and Memento (which I still believe would make a great weekly television drama. “Previously on Memento: That’s odd, I can’t remember!”)

Plus the film has a great supporting cast: Gary Oldman, who thankfully needed work, and Morgan Freeman, who could quite honestly narrate a hemorrhoids commercial and still melt the heart of even the hardest of misanthropes. Best of all, however, is zombie killer Cillian Murphy, who plays the Scarecrow. If he’s anything like Dorothy’s friend, he mercifully won’t have the cognitive capacity to formulate awful puns like previous Bat-villains. Murphy’s always struck me as sort of a Irish Cary Elwes: charming as a good guy, strangely creepy as a villain, and woefully underutilized as an actor.

At the same time, I discount other possibly entertaining films, like Fantastic Four, because of more contentious casting choices. Jessica Alba as an astronaut? It looks more like she’s a member of a teenage girl-band who hitched a ride aboard an international space station – which sadly, is all too believable in our modern world.

And Tom Cruise’s recent public appearances have me more worried that he’s giving away spoilers from his upcoming film than sacrificing his mental health. I don’t know how War of the Worlds ends, but if aliens are defeated by the universal power of love, I’m going to puke.

One Bat-caveat: if Bruce Wayne jumps on any couches and pumps his fists in Gotham, I give up.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

See Spot evade the law

Say what you will about the artistic decline - or persistent nadir - of Oasis, the, ahem, "biggest band in the world," but the Gallagher brothers consistently make for some of the best music press. (C'mon, Liam has a point. Bono can be a humanitarian, but he can also be a nerd.) Someone get these boys a reality show. Possible titles? Wank You Very Much, or Liam n' Noel: Chaotic.

One of Noel's favorite bands, (if that counts for anything these days... no? Well, one of my fave bands... still no? Tough crowd.) Black Rebel Motorcycle Club doesn't release Howl until August 23, an interminable and highly rock-deficient wait. My Morning Jacket is also putting out their new disc a few weeks after that. (Lead singer Jim James was the one providing the incredible harmonies on Bright Eyes' "At the Bottom of Everything.")

In the meantime I suppose I will have to fill the iPod with some H.Po and the Half-Blood Prince on tape. (Or apparently not.) I sincerely hope author J.K. Rowling doesn't jerk the audience around with another phony "death" like the last novel. Hey, if a character simply falls through a "door of darkness" or some equally contrived nonsense, I won't exactly be surprised when they return in the final book. If there's one thing I've learned from Criminal Law class, the actus reus of any murder demands a body. Naturally, any children's book worth it's weight should be able to withstand legal scrutiny.

If there's another thing I've learned from law school (but this is it, just the two), it's that when a volleyed telephone hits someone, it's battery, not assault. Fight the system Russell!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Is Jack Nicholson still running Gitmo?

I suppose this blog had to earn the "law" portion of its name at some point this summer, and that's finally happened as I've begun to narrow the choices for my second year law classes. Naturally, I'm leaning heavily towards International Law classes. Plus, I have a feeling this Professional Responsibility course will be pretty packed this semester, so I thought I'd focus elsewhere.

Mostly, I'm looking forward to a seminar class on International Human Rights. I suppose I'm tired of reading so much disheartening press on the subject, and you can only laugh with Jon Stewart so much before you begin to identify with his hidden disgust.

Speaking of international delinquincy: Psst, CTU! Jack Bauer's been spotted in Canada. Kiefer Sutherland, a.k.a. "JB," a.k.a. "The Keef," recently collected his star on Canada's Walk of Fame. (Ever wonder why there's no Canadian spin-off of 24? Well, nobody wants to watch a CSIS agent sit around for 20 hours.) As far as I'm concerned, Keef's getting it for Dark City and 24, and less so because of Flatliners and Young Guns (I and II).

But question: where's the star for Brampton-native Michael Cera, who plays George Michael, the funniest character on Arrested Development? Barring any bathroom infidelities, this is one George Michael we can be proud of.

And speaking of non-sequiturs, the drab outlook on this summer's spate of album releases has been upgraded thanks to this new Maximo Park album. This is one seriously no-frills, kick-ass good time. What first sounds like a lazy Futureheads ripoff (which would still have more b.p.m. than a Killers album) actually grows into an inspired, standout album. I still can't decide if the spoken word track is lame or not, but due to the sheer awesomeness of tracks like "Apply Some Pressure," and "Signal & Sign," I'm willing to forgive.

Now, if we can only speed up the release for Broken Social Scene's new album. Hey Jack, since you're up here and all...

Friday, June 03, 2005

I bet Bush plays Civilization a lot

It was just over a year ago that my hometown Calgary Flames lost the Stanley Cup final to a team that comedian Lewis Black noted was “from a state without any naturally occurring ice.” There’s obviously no hockey news to report this year, but that didn’t stop a group of savvy journalists from making some.

Using state-of-the-art simulations with advanced A.I. technology (viz. EA’s NHL Hockey 2005 for Playstation 2), scientists (viz. nerds) recreated this year’s entire season, including a thrilling Stanley Cup final. Turns out my adopted hometown’s Vancouver Canucks take Lord Stanley’s trophy over the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game seven nail-biter. OK, I can buy Toronto blowing a great playoff chance, but the Flames lose to Phoenix? C’mon, last year was a fluke but we’re not that bad.

Thus, in the spirit of incredibly accurate hypotheticals, I looked to some of my own games to see what other simulations I’ve executed, and what they tell us about a world that could have been…

In 1994, the NFL’s Madden All-Stars triumph over the Denver Broncos in a 323-121 rout. The game features an inordinate amount of onside kicks and Hail Mary’s against a defence incapable of detecting any emerging pattern. Says a robotic rendering of John Madden, “What a play!”

The 1992, the All-Stars West NHL team defeated the fledgling San Jose Sharks 146-6. With goals coming an average of every four seconds, the winning team plays without a goalie, but with a preternatural knowledge of the opposing goalie’s systemic weakness on the short-side.

In the early 1990s, the city of Los Santos is ravaged from above by a machine gun-wielding maniac wearing a jetpack. Other reported disturbances include a motorcyclist repeatedly speeding the wrong way on freeways, and a monster truck being driven off the top of the city’s tallest skyscraper. Says Madden: “What a play!”

In 1945, outside Carentan, France, American Sergeant Matt Baker negligently directs his supporting squadron to advance through fog, a error with multiple, fatal consequences. Before he can reach a vital “checkpoint,” Baker fails to keep his own life bar above red, and advancing forces triumph over the Allies to win World War II.

Circa 1000 A.D., an aggressive settlement plan by a European civilization foolishly sends a single settler across the Atlantic aboard a trireme, only to meet a quick demise on the South American continent by a phalanx of vicious Aztecs – dashing the hopes of a self-sufficient colony.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Rhymes with Rene Descartes

Been sampling this great new Coldplay album. I think the appropriate expression is, “Cor blimey!” Naturally, my favorite song is the R.E.M.-esque “The Hardest Part.” R.E.M.'s Peter Buck pretty much patented the jangly, arpeggio approach to guitar playing, which means Jonny Buckland is liable for some kind of infringement for his playing on this song.

Hmmm, R.E.M. has a Berry and Buck, Coldplay has a Berryman and Buckland. Coincidence, or recipe for success? Someone look up The Edge’s real name. Bucky O’Berryson? Figures.

The Coldplay tune only loses a few points for its chorus, embarrassingly rhyming the word “part” with… “part.” It must have been a late night with Apple when he wrote that tune. Let’s hope baby Banana doesn’t hinder the next album even more. (Note: never accept a fruit basket from Chris Martin. You’re getting way more than you signed on for.)

Elsewhere on the Britannia beat, this new Oasis album does not suck as previously expected. Maybe the stupid album title was simply necessary: Don’t Believe the Truth, with the “Truth” being the fact that Oasis have consistently sold fewer albums since Morning Glory, and that they just try way too hard. I'm a big fan of this “Mucky Fingers” tune, and it's probably no coincidence that Noel (the brains/songwriter/gentler persona of the operation) does the vocals.

Oh, and what’s this disturbing news, Mr. Hansen and Mr. White? Tours for Beck and the Stripes in Vancouver (while I’m not there) but none in Calgary? I’m sorry Beck, was that not a cowboy hat you wore to hide your Devil’s Haircut? And Jack, what would Loretta say? You can’t just promote the cowboy aesthetic without actually visiting its birthplace. That would be downright phony. If there’s one thing we in the music-loving community won’t stand, it’s a phony. None. No way.

Certainly none on this summer’s guilty televised pleasure, Canadian Idol. Ben Dullroney is still slathered in his Man Tan, and his co-host is eerily looking more and more like Jim Carrey. Gotta love that Farley Flex, though. The man dresses in sofa upholstery, and delivers the best line of the show:

“You’ve got it all, except the ability to sing well. You’re going to Toronto!”