Saturday, April 30, 2005

Or, a very scruffy Agent Smith

This won't garner any sympathy from people living east of the Rockies, but I landed down in Calgary this evening and felt something I haven't felt in a long time: cold. I know they say living on the West coast makes you soft, and it's true, but it's such a gloriously warm softness! Anyway, I don't mean to disparage my hometown -I still loves my prairies - but coming home from Vancouver is not the same as coming home from Kingston. Which is more accurately a mad dash.

To business now, and last night's musical entertainment. Before I get to the Irish lads, I'll spend a few moments on Kings of Leon, whom in all reviews of these shows seem to be avoided.
Naturally, the brothers' sound isn't best suited for a large arena, a smaller venue obviously being the better choice. That they still managed to kick ass, however, is simply a bonus. "Four Kicks" has never sounded better. And kudos to the band for playing "Soft." If the audience had any idea about the subject matter of what they were listening to, the applause may have been a tad more... disgusted. Oh, and lead singer Caleb Followill looked a lot like Elrond from Lord of the Rings. Just thought I'd mention that.

And U2. It would be pointless to expound on how great these guys are, because "kick-ass" has only so many permutations. I will say that I've never seen a crowd go so insane, so consistently. I'd normally pick out some highlights of the show, but there honestly was never a low point, or even a "I could take it or leave it" point.

The lads were up to eleven the entire night, and even the new stuff sounded just as good as the old. Thankfully, Achtung Baby! got the lion's share of older material representation. Also, two encores, eight songs: how cool is that? Very cool is what.

If I have one complaint, it's that they didn't play "Stay." Weather aside, leaving Vancouver was extremely tough for another special reason, and had Bono played that song I may have simply submitted to the lyrics, and told folks here, "blame him."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Grove St. Families fo' life

Each summer I try and come up with a small laundry list of things that make each day feel like more than just 8 hours of work buffered by television and sleep. Last summer's list went something like this:

1. Learn Japanese
2. Write a screenplay

Well, despite the best of intentions, the first one went nowhere. (Though I did eat a lot of sushi this year, so at least that's something.) The second item I was more pleased with. I devoted a lot of time to studying the art of screenwriting, and yes, despite the wealth of crap flooding cinemas, there are some vestiges of creativity to the practice.

I got about 50 pages into a feature-length screenplay, when I hit that famous impasse writers often arrive at. So I decided that maybe it was best to refocus on a smaller scale project. It was then I recalled a conversation I had with a former roommate about how CSI sucks so bad (that's right, deal with it) and what could be done, and thus began work on a television project. Which is where this summer's list begins:

1. Finish off the teleplay. As most of it is written, the majority of this time will be editing and re-editing it to a slick product I can be proud of - plus, of course, potential viewers. I'm sure a lot of summer bloggage will be spent on this, so I won't dwell on it too much now.

2. Play guitar every day. I'm now in my fourth year of playing this thing, and despite having no teaching, I know I'm making some sort of progress. I just recently learned all the songs off Jack Johnson's last album, which on a scale of technical proficiency going to 10, 10 being Hendrix, ranks about a 4. Among the songs I want to learn: Joel Plaskett's "Absentminded Melody" and Elliott Smith's "Memory Lane." Download the latter for evidence of the mad skills of that late legend. (He's an 8.)

3. Learn harmonica. I always gravitate towards songs that have some element of harmonica, and because I can't sing to save my life, this would help up my stage presence when I play guitar in front of crowd someday. I'm not talking about John Popper-levels of playing, just some simple interludes like in Ryan Adams' "Desire" or the Shins' "Pink Bullets." That there's some sexy harmonica.

4. Read more. I've already got Roddy Doyle and Jared Diamond on deck, but I've been hearing good things about this new Johnathan Safran Foer book, and also I want to check out some Malcolm Gladwell. Plus, I always like to sneak in a classic-ish sort of novel, and this time round I'm angling for some Graham Greene. And of course, if you haven't pre-ordered the new H.Po book, then you haven't discovered the full potential of the internet.

5. Start some regular form of exercise. I'm partial to jogging, mostly because it allows me to incorporate my love of music into an otherwise torturous experience. This will be one of the toughest items on the list, so I'll have to start off easy. I'll see if I can just first last the length of a Hives album, or one Mars Volta song (roughly 26 minutes).

Ok, this list is starting to get out of hand. I'm not unforgiving about this kind of thing anyway, I just want to make sure I don't spend all my time on the couch violently annexing all the gangland territories of San Andreas. Oh wait... I already did that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

E molte grazie a Signora Sambuca

And now begins the four-month stretch of blog posts where I strain to include some law-related rumination or irrelevant factoid. Thankfully, events of the last two days have made this an easy one. In a miracle of coordination, a total of twenty second year law students made the scenic trek up to Whistler for the first annual "Banefest." (Baners, of course this name is open to reconsideration, but you must agree it has a sort of lackadaisical charm).

Over just 24 hours, the visit allowed us time in the Village, plenty of lounging time around the pool, and some even made time for snowboarding and hiking. Almost everyone from the group made it, including the newest addition to the family, "Baby Bane." (Alright, maybe I shouldn't be the one naming things.)

The small town of Whistler draws comparisons to Banff, but it proved a thousand times more entertaining than that locale (really, it's got one good street). For myself, the place actually reminded me more of Cordoba, Spain, which marked the last time I could be in sweltering 27 degree weather but still look up and see snow-capped mountains.

Naturally, the festivities devolved into nighttime debauchery, including a gentlemen's game of cards. Unfortunately, those gentlemen were nowhere to be found, so us drunken lot played on amidst many shouts of "misdeal" and "shooters!" The winner was tough to call, but the ultimate title went to a hearty German known as Herr Jagermeister.

Hopefully the Banefest tradition continues to next year. Vegas anyone?

Saturday, April 23, 2005

That Sam Waterston is so dreamy

It still hasn't hit me yet, but one year is over. In the spirit of my December post, I wanted to compile a further list of my patented Reflections upon a First Year at Law School. As per Nigel Tufnel's advice, I wanted to give it that extra little push over the cliff, so I've now given eleven thoughts.

Before that, I want to give a special thanks to all those in small group Bane for simply being awesome (that means I want you to post comments folks!), and if any non-Bane folk are reading this, well you're cool too. Here's hoping the next two years are just as fun and fast. Without further ado:

1. Maintaining a regular, non-law reading book is critical. A good novel offers a break from cases, which are more like bad stories themselves, where the main character always dies, and the denouement is unmercifully drawn out.

2. After taking Real Property, playing Monopoly has forever changed. Scanning the game's instructions offers no clue as to whether an easement is allowed over your opponent's Park Place property.

3. Lawyer jokes take on an entirely new meaning. Your laugh is now composed of one third humour, one third guilt, and most frighteningly, one third pride.

4. You realize now that on Law & Order, when Jack McCoy says "Smith vee Jones," he's totally doing it wrong. Meanwhile, your love of Jack McCoy has increased ten fold.

5. You are now not only angry when you fail to secure a wireless internet connection in class, but you also begin to wonder who you can sue.

6. You realize that your reliance upon Condensed Annotated Notes was immense, and wonder where the hell they were during your undergraduate years.

7. Wine & cheeses are an excellent opportunity to make useful contacts and develop your networking skills. They also allow you to expand your collection of silver stainless steel law firm coffee thermoses. Seven and counting!

8. You develop a sort of intra-red vision, much like the one seen in the Terminator films. However, instead of being alerted to the presence of John or Sarah Connor, you are alerted to Tortious! or Criminal! conduct.

9. You understand that lawyers' propensity for spending long hours in an office building is inured during your law school years, when students fear to leave the law building for extended periods of time, vulnerable to other campus life.

10. When a friendly conversation with acquaintances turns to law, you secretly begin to think about how much you could be charging this person. But then you reconsider, and get a warm feeling that you're simply doing it pro bono.

11. If nothing else, your law school education has given you plenty of fodder for the sitcom about lawyers that you're writing, and plan to sell to major television networks!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Like dinner


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Say it ain't soeth

I recommend that when studying for a Legal Institutions exam you don't have your TV tuned to Question Period from the House of Commons. Reading about the functionality of the legislative and executive branches of the country seems to take on an unintended ironic twist in light of reality. It's like watching the pointless bickering of the Apprentice's boardroom scenes, only without the ability to see someone get fired. (Hair quality? About the same.)

CBC is also asking people what they want to hear from Paul Martin when he takes to the airwaves tonight (mercifully not during The O.C.) I'm expecting the man to weigh in on such heavy matters as, what is Julie Cooper going to do with that gun? Is Caleb in danger? And what songs will Death Cab play when they take the stage at the Bait Shop? (I predict something off of The Photo Album.) Sponsorship scandal? The real scandal, fellow Canadians, is Ryan toying with Marissa's heart so!

Alright, enough talk of oversexed teens. Check out Rolling Stone's latest interview with Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, and perhaps the most embarrassing headline of the magazine's history. Also notable, Rivers and I apparently wrote a similar essay about Angelo from Shakespeare's Measure for Measure for our English classes. Methinks plagiarism's afoot!

Post O.C. Update: 3 DC4C songs, only 1 from Photo Album. My bad. But I do love how Bloc Party was the choice of the evil party DJ.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Thus making England Dagobagh

The Property beast is slain. Let us never speak of it again. I just hope it's not pulling one of those famous false crisis/false dawn acts common to movie screen villains.

Anyway, one exam left, but I'm going to take a much needed break from even thinking about tests for now. On that note, a lot of new music has found it's way onto my computer lately (completely legitimately, of course) worth mentioning.

This new White Stripes song "Blue Orchid" is pretty good - Jack is definitely turned up to eleven on that one. I hear word that this new album, Get Behind Me Satan, is supposed to be better than Elephant. That's a mighty claim, as that album was full of ass-kickery. Anyway, it's times like this when I miss my electric guitar gathering dust back in Calgary, so I can pick it up and do bad approximations of Stripes songs. Patience, Ruby, I'm home soon.

From across the pond, this new Gorillaz album, Demon Days, is actually quite good. By all accounts their little cartoon gimmick should have been tired by now, but somehow it works. The album really sounds a lot like the last Blur album, the excellent Think Tank, only with a lot more bass and Funky Homosapiens. Highlights are "DARE" and "Dirty Harry," proving that although sequels in the film world rarely work, in music they're not so cursed.

As for another British band, I have less faith in Oasis' upcoming album. The band has been stuck in a rut lately, that kind where you suck musically. Still consistent, however, are Noel Gallagher's precious rantings. I recall a few years back when he said that all music reviews were such airy, fairy concoctions that the screenwriters of the Lord of the Rings films did nothing more than paste several of them together. (Yes, that's dumb for several obvious reasons.) Well just recently, in keeping with his classic cinematic mixed metaphors, he compared the United States to the Death Star.

And I suppose destroying that star would cause some sort of champagne supernova? Nice try Noel, I'm not walking into that one.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Werewolves are partial to poetry readings

Tonight's episode of the Jack Bauer Power Hour was noticeably missing a disclaimer. No, not the same one presented by Kiefer Sutherland that acknowledged the grossly stereotypical view of Muslims on the show. Rather, tonight's episode would have benefited from a similarly Kieferized statement that lawyers, in real life, are not as evil as portrayed in the show. (Stay with me here).

Faced with thousands already dead by meltdown, the President shot out of the sky, and a nuclear warhead stolen off a truck (apparently convoys carrying weapons of mass destruction are guarded with the same strength as an ice cream truck, and just as identifiable) a lawyer from out of nowhere stands up for the rights of a obvious terrorist. Sure, he may have secrets to save the country, but wipe your feet before you trample the Constitution!

Now, I'm as big a fan of the Constitution as anyone, (I own all its records, including the early basement tapes before John A. left the band) but I would think that there's an argument in such an extreme case (and only such a case, ahem Patriot Act) to let the government question a suspect to their heart's (and fist's) desire, and deal with any lawsuit later. Compare the outcomes: punitive damages for an individual or a post apocalyptic world where, conceivably, Kevin Costner is delivering your mail. Shudder.

Sub question: how does a lawyer working for such an obviously pro bono organization drive a Jaguar?

Anyway, I'm half joking, because the show is sort of a joke itself. In a country that in real life conducted a mass dragnet and arrested 10,000 fugitives, on TV they cannot catch one. This only heightens my suspicion that Marwan, the terrorist with the wacky ringtone, is indeed, Dracula. Every single time he manages to elude the police - and do I detect the faint sound of bats? Further evidence from tonight's episode: he was spotted at a night club. I've seen both Blade (crap) and Blade II (woot!), and I know that vampires love their raves.

Even scarier about that dragnet was that it only represented 1% of American fugitives. Yup, that's right, there are 1 million scofflaws in the U.S. I suppose the upside is that on any given manhunt, you have as good a chance of picking up any number of criminals. Two jailbirds, one stone, as they say.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Freddy v. Jason will no doubt be appealed

Like the weekend's calm weather and the forecast rain, the last three days of studying has been the eye of a storm. Now, if only the Scorpions were here I would ask them a question: when this hurricane does arrive, who will be the one rocking the other - me, or the exam?

As those rock legends are not handy, (and thus, I can only assume, living the high life with their millions) I will have to do my best and give this test a pummeling. I've run through a "battery" of practice tests this weekend, (pardon the Torts pun, but feel free to excoriate me) so I'm looking forward at least to an interesting fact pattern.

Lucky students in 2002 got to assess the tortious liability when a young Jason Voorhees visited B.C.'s pristine Crystal Lake late at night and drowned. Worse, his parents got to the hospital just in time to see a stretcher wheeled by when "the sheet covering it caught on something and slipped off to reveal Jason's pale, lifeless body."

Good luck tomorrow Bane.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Atwood's got nothing on Denning

In honour of studying for Torts, and also because I like to make procrastination as creative as possible, (and thus make myself believe it isn't such) I thought I'd relate my favorite cases from this last year. As I've said before, despite being almost morally reprehensible from every angle, Torts sure does make for a fun read.

Accordingly, I present the top three torts as I've seen them. True, I've embellished the facts a little, but that's only because we pick our judges for their reason, not their evocative phrasing. Ahem:

3. Halushka v. University of Saskatchewan
Halushka, armed with a thirst for knowledge, enrols at the august institution in question and looks forward to a successful life ahead. Soon, however, student loans catch up with him, and he is falling behind in class. He needs money, and one day on campus, he spots an ad, offering $50 to take part in a medical test. Excited, he signs up, looking to be richer and healthier. What he didn't read up on, was that the test was for an experimental anaesthetic, never before tested on humans. He goes into coma.

When he emerges from the prolonged slumber, he squints at the bright light, but his eyes soon focus on the room around him, the nurses beside him, and... the fifty dollar bill lying on his chest.

2. School Division of Assiniboine v. Hoffer
Rube Goldberg would be proud. Father and son, perhaps longing to reconnect after an absentee upbringing, head out to play on a snowy afternoon. They bring Rosebud, the family toboggan, and have fun on the gentle slopes of the nearby park. But soon, fun turns to challenge, and an insatiable need for more speed. On one fateful run, the toboggan veers uncontrollably to the left, heading for a building - the local school. Father tries his best to regain handling, but soon they collide with a metal pipe emerging from the building.

They escape relatively unscathed, but little do they know, their collision sets off a chain reaction (part Fight Club, part Final Destination and part Donnie Darko), causing a gas leak inside the school. Over the weekend, it fills with highly flammable natural gas, and at some point, maybe when a lonesome janitor flicks on a light to see if he'll have company for once, a spark lights a massive explosion the likes of which the little town has never seen. Father and son grow apart.

1. Weiss v. YMCA
Meet Weiss, a delivery man in a hurry. He enters the local YMCA through its sparkling clean glass doors, shooting a longing glance to the receptionist at the main desk. Although not recorded in the facts, there is no doubt a latent sexual tension between the two - but on this particular day, Weiss has a very important package, he's double parked, and has no time for romantic trivialities. He delivers the package, and heading out, having no time to talk, he marches with confidence and speed.

Unlike the chivalric Orpheus of ancient myth, he doesn't look back, but his fate is no less damned. The receptionist watches lovingly from her desk as Weiss walks directly through the glass doors. Glass shatters like the romance that would never be.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Yippee kiyay etc.

Two exams down, three to go. To mark such progress last December, I employed a filmic metaphor that some of you, or maybe it was me, described as nerdy. This time round I figured I'd put forth a more muscular metaphor befitting the present circumstances.

To that end, if these exams were the Die Hard Trilogy, we would be around the point in Die Hard 2 where Bruce Willis, seeking access to a communications tower, is lured into an ambush by vicious terrorists (including a before-his-fame Robert Patrick, disguised as a painter). Much like the forces that John McClane faced in that instance, the Criminal Law exam was equally trying. But, if I may draw a further parallel to that scene, I feel that, weighted down by the "debris" of pressure, I grabbed the "gun" of knowledge and - as the exam bore down on me on the "moving sidewalk" of time - shot the test in the "kneecaps" of failure... Screw you that was an awesome scene.

As I've said before, Criminal Law is the subject I find most interesting, and I was looking forward to this exam somewhat. For you longtime readers, or fellow UBCers, you may recall that I was the only one (that I know) in an entire Criminal class who convicted a woman of abducting a youth, albeit momentarily, on the December exam. Hey, when someone asks me for an impromptu photo shoot in the woods, I get suspicious.

Well this time around, not only did we get to outline the strength of a case against two accused brothers, but we got to play judge and sentence one of them to punishment. This particular man assaulted another with brass knuckles while in a dissociative state, and then proceeded to hijack a car. From what I gather, most people assigned him a minimal sentence, two years or less, to be served conditionally in a treatment facility. Not me. Oh no, not me. Once again securing my notoriety as a "hangin' judge," I sentenced the accused to a term of seven years and imposed a $2000 fine on his ass. Suck on that, Donald "automaton" Johnstone.

Whatever the outcome of that may be, and it may not be pretty, I am simply glad this exam is over. Now I can put away my Criminal Code and never look at it again during my entire career as a lawyer. Really, when will any of those sections become relevant again?

Of course, this elation is only momentary, as I must study forthwith, particularly Property Law. If I may return to my metaphor for a moment, (of course I can, what are you going to do, comment?) I would point out that the Property test would be in the Trilogy about when John McClane gets the pummeling of a lifetime from the colossal German terrorist, Targo, on the tanker. As those of you who are studying for this upcoming test, try to tell me that's not at least half true.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Your silence is acceptance

A quick post to wish all those in small group Bane a good luck on tomorrow's contracts exam, and the rest of exams over the next two weeks.

Please note: this well-wishing is subject to an exclusion of liability clause, which, should an air of wellness or similarly decent results fail to materialize, precludes any action against the wisher-of-well. Moreover, there is an implied force majeure clause which, in the event of a rattling air-conditioner or similarly frustrating event, denies the payment of any sort of quantum meruit for any sub-standard performance delivered up to the event.

Nerdery aside, knock 'em dead Bane.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Law school inside joke #374

I should be reviewing notes, but I'm reviewing concerts. Last night was a great triple bill at the Commodore, and I wanted to get my thoughts down before the ringing in my ears stops and I can once again hear those siren's voices beckoning me to the books.

Maybe it's the overt sexuality of their lyrics, or the fact that the lead singer looks uncannily like legendary axe-man Nigel Tufnel, but Louis XIV is perhaps the closest I will get to seeing Spinal Tap live in concert. For anyone that knows me, this is a dream of mine. (People request hits at concerts, I request "Stonehenge.") They look and sound British, so it's easy to forget these guys are from San Diego - clearly outside the indie boundaries of the O.C. Hearing them tear into the first five notes of "Finding Out True Love is Blind" was a truly amazing moment, guaranteeing that I will see these guys when they hit town again.

Next, the four lads from Northern Albion, the Futureheads. As this region is generally considered the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, I always picture its denizens as having an impeccable work ethic. Accordingly, the band did not disappoint. Each band member truly plays his heart out - even when lead singer Barry Hyde broke three string in one song, he still managed to pull off a great song. I don't think I would be denying them a compliment if I called them a veritable assembly line of rock. For me, the set highlight coincided with the album highlight, when, on "Hounds of Love," they sing in unison the hilariously cruel line, "take your shoes off / and I will throooooooow them in lake!" Whatever floats your boat in England.

Finally, Hot Hot Heat took the stage to a rapturous crowd. Their set featured a solid mix of new stuff and old stuff. A great aspect about these guys is that every song sounds like a hit single, so there's little chance of disappointing. There were a few technical difficulties with a mic early on, but things came together for their best songs, "Oh Goddammit," "Bandages," and the best track on the new album, "Middle of Nowhere." To boot, Singer Steve Bays also displayed the most assured microphone swinging I've seen since Robert Goulet played Bart's Casino. (Poor, poor Milhouse.)

The set became doubly interesting when the "tide" came in and a wash of crowd surfers managed to land on stage. The bouncer had his hands full grabbing them one after one and leading them to an exit backstage. Not surprisingly, he tired of the routine, and in order to describe his new attitude, I need only direct you law student readers to recall the facts of Bruce v. Coliseum Management. Yeah... ouch.

Friday, April 08, 2005

A shout out to my Pepys

Two posts, one day. What looks like earnest blogging is, in fact, honed procrastination.

Before I forgot, I just wanted to post a link. As both a blogger and a English Lit grad, I found this to be inimitably cool. 350 years before Stereogum, Wonkette and the like, Samuel Pepys was the best blogger on the scene. (The same scene that notoriously burned down all around him.) Some seriously nostalgic dude took a whole lotta time to put this site together. My bet? He was a law student too.

This just in: Burn!

Before I commence a marathon study session for the day, I thought I would "wax blog," if you will, and describe some recent happenings. This will also spare you, faithful reader, the burden of hearing me drone on about the niceties of legal study. But then, what else do you visit this page for? Anyway...

As it is one of the few decent channels that our basic cable affords us, I tuned into CBC Newsworld yesterday for my daily dose of Hanomansing. The venerable news anchor (who is a law school graduate himself) was joined during this broadcast by the stately Gloria Macarenko. What transpired thereafter was purely bizarre. Thus, I shall do my best to recreate the dialogue in screenplay form. (I'll use last names in the transcript because they are so much more exotic):

[INT. Newsroom. Day. HANOMANSING sits behind anchor desk near a laptop, as MACARENKO stands beside a TV displaying headlines]

MACARENKO: And I want to give our viewers an update on the immense traffic jam in downtown Vancouver. You can even see it outside our studio windows. Earlier this afternoon a cement truck collided with a pedestrian crossing Granville Street.

[shot of police-taped scene, with cement truck and lone backpack laying on the road]

MACARENKO: An ambulance took the pedestrian to the hospital shortly thereafter, and we don't yet know his or her condition -

HANOMANSING [consulting the laptop on the anchor desk]: Hold on Gloria, I'm getting something over the wire here... It appears as if Sesame Street's Cookie Monster is no longer advocating cookies to children, but fruits and vegetables!

[MACARENKO glares]

MACARENKO: Wow, Ian. You're pretty handy with the news on that laptop there.

HANOMANSING: Yes it is quite useful... One might say there was a hint of sarcasm in your voice there.

MACARENKO: Yes, one might.

What the hell?! What nature of quarrel exists between these two? Be it lover or co-worker? Regardless, it was a strange scene. Not only for Ian interrupting a pressing report on a victim's health to talk about, of all things, the Cookie Monster (was Ian even listening to her at all?), but also for that incredibly devious insult Gloria shot back.

On now to a show that is ALL sexual tension, a quick kudos to The O.C. for playing Bloc Party's "Banquet" during last night's episode. According to my iTunes play counter, that song has just edged out Arcade Fire's "Haiti" as my top played song.

Elsewhere, Pitchfork Magazine has been off the mark as of late, giving underwhelming reviews to Beck, Hot Hot Heat and Louis XIV. However, they have somewhat redeemed themselves with the recent British Sea Power review. It's a spot on indication of how good this album is.

I was disappointed with this band's last album, The Decline of British Sea Power, as the title proved less clever and more apt than I would have hoped. But this new disc, Open Season, functions nicely as solid piece of Brit-rock. I would venture to compare them to New Order unplugged (that is, if New Order unplugged their computers and plugged back in more electric guitars.) Check out the tracks "North Hanging Rock" and "To Get to Sleep." They might not be the most unique-sounding band, but I'd go to one of their shows just to see them wearing World War I uniforms for no discernible reason.

Lastly, for those on the same sinking study ship as me, this may be a useful diversion.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

We chase ambulances because we love

Today saw studying on multiple fronts. First, the law library, in the heart of the concrete bunker that is the Curtis Building. One cannot stay there for too long, as the general dreariness begins to eat away at what little resolve you had before going in. I'm not entirely convinced that the shelter-like building isn't a relic from the Western hemisphere's embarrassing fear of constant, imminent nuclear threat. What I do know is that when those nukes fly over our gloriously unprotected skies, I'll be in the library.

Moreover, study space is hard to come by here, as there are many visiting occupants that aren't even studying law. Some past student "cleverly" dubbed them SNAILS, or Students Not Actually In Law School. I, on the other hand, would venture a more telling acronym that I leave to your worthy minds to piece together: Ancillary Students Surreptitiously Hectoring Our Legal Education Studies.

From there, the studying moved once again to the neighbourhood cafe. It was here I attempted to write - but succeeded at failing - a practice Property exam. In an effort to replicate the actual settings of the exam, I put away all of my notes save for the Land Title Act. This is akin to a knight, preparing for battle, removing all of his armour, and in place of a sword, he holds... the Land Title Act. Parry, thrust, interpret! (Speaking of parry and thrust, check out the comments section of the previous entry for an ongoing debate of the musical variety. En garde Thomas!)

This time around, I studied while listening to Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. Morose listening perhaps, but to listen to anything more upbeat with Property would be, in effect, lying about the subject matter itself. Because so much of Property deals with transfers of land, and because many of those transfers come about via wills, it means there is the underlying and overbearing presence of death.

But are we, as potential lawyers, that class of citizen renowned for its compassion and amity, given time to grieve? No. Our orders are just to divvy up the goods and ride outta town. Sniff. May you rest in peace Lord Barnard of Vane v. Lord Barnard... though you did leave your castle in quite a mess for those children you hated.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Hence the expression, "Cost does matter"

Say what you will about the current state of financial compensation for victims of tortious acts, but at least we don't live in the age of King Alfred. I'll let that one sink in for a moment... Lobbyists for tort reform would point out that the judicial system often hands out arbitrary and exorbitant amounts of money for conceivably minor injuries. This is mostly the case in America, where judges prefer non-pecuniary damages (a.k.a. happy-feely damages) in the millions of dollars. Canadian judges tend to avoid such high rewards almost categorically, but there is a similar pressure to reform the system. Not so with King Alfie.

A simple google search will tell you he was a renowned monarch who ruled Anglo-Saxon England from 871-899. That's enough history. Case law, on the other hand, will tell you what ingenious system ol' Al had for doling out damages for personal injury: he priced body parts! From a 1978 Canadian case concerning recovery of losses:

"This was the ancient 'bot,' or tariff system, which prevailed in the days of King Alfred, when a thumb was worth 30 shillings."

You can imagine what kind of mess this left at early Anglo-Saxon supermarkets, where they had to deposit quarters to take a shopping cart and quarters weren't invented yet.

This lovely bit of anecdotal evidence was in a bit of Torts reading I had to do for tomorrow. I made sure to highlight it. This is indicative of perhaps the biggest change I've gone through since starting law school. Not that I now read before class, but that I use a highlighter. I've never been what you call a "highlighting man." Perhaps its a leftover mentality from my years in English Lit, but I always made sure never to mark up a page. My feeling was two-fold: first, if this is a novel I really like, when I read it again in years to come, I don't want to be reminded of how this narrator signifies the prevailing economic conditions of the blah blah blah. Second, conceited though this may sound, I felt that when I write in the pages of a book, I want it to be my book, and my story. I fully intend to write the Great (Country Where I Reside) Book when I'm older, so don't scoff. (I have the title already.)

Speaking of titles, I heard via the web that the Dandy Warhols' new album is out in September, bearing perhaps the coolest album title in recent memory: Odditorium, or The Warlords of Mars. There is something fascinatingly arrogant about a double title, and I think the Dandy's have earned it. I would argue that the band is on a similar trajectory to R.E.M. They've made albums so far in the same vein as that legendary group, procuring melodies by unconventional means and carving out a distinctive sound. They haven't yet made their Automatic for the People, but the Dandy's last album - Welcome to the Monkey House - sure made a good Green.

I don't draw the comparison between the two bands lightly, I just hope Courtney Taylor-Taylor (yes, that is his name... and yes, he is a he) has the foresight to lay off the music when they get eleven albums in. For proof of the Dandy's sonic greatness, check out the tracks "Good Morning," "Cool Scene" and "I am Sound."

Blimey, enough music/law/history talk for one blog. My fingers ache from typing, and these precious babies are worth a lot!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

"Far & Away" anyone?

First off, I understand the plight of modern day farmers, especially in these wintry economic times. However, at the risk of sounding heartless, I seriously do not appreciate the modification of standard time to suit Betsy the Cow, when Ryan the Law Student needs every precious hour he can get to study for his exams. What's wrong with it being dark outside? I prefer illumination of the mind, if you will.

That aside, I spent several hours of our newfound daylight (minus one) in a Starbucks. I devoted the time to Criminal Law, hands down the most interesting subject you take in first year. It is, at once, a vindication that the things you see on Law & Order are indeed based on reality, and also an impressive glimpse into the world of criminal jurisprudence that the media often generalizes. It also is home to the phrase "intoxication akin to automatism," a criminal defence that really rolls off the tongue. I just like saying it.

Anywho, during my time at the 'Bucks, I wrote a "practice" criminal exam, which is notable for its hilarity. It concerned ne'er-do-well Will Templeton, a "small time Vancouver crook." In a Rube Goldberg-like series of events, he was forced to take a hostage to pay off loan shark debts, but then ran into a police officer and, frightened by his past history of police abuse, ran to his apartment, downed a bottle of rum, attempted to burn his hostage-taking mask and bat (described by Will as being a "good idea" at the time) at which point the fire spread and forced an elderly woman to jump from her second story window, breaking her legs. Oh Will.

For the record, he gets off on the attempted hostage taking (lacking the actus reus proving that he went beyond mere preparation of the crime), but is guilty of arson causing bodily harm. Furthermore, at the risk of being disbarred, I would point out that, according to the fact pattern, the offence took place on April 1st, 2001, and thus the accused has the defence of "April Fools!" I haven't looked it up, but I'm sure there's some statutory provision that if an offence should fall before noon on this traditional holiday, the accused is excused and the victim will be forced to laugh in response.

Not to disappoint my musically savvy readers, background music for this caffeinated study session was provided by Broken Social Scene and their indispensable 2002 album, You Forgot it in People. It truly has a distinct Canadian sound. Check out the track "Cause = Time," which is eerily close to the finest Tragically Hip song ever committed to soundwaves, "Escape is at Hand for the Travellin' Man."

Focus turns to Property Law now, which no one in the history of legal study will ever construe as "fun" or even "mildly interesting." It is a detestable subject, made arcane by a litany of meaningless terms and archaic rules. Unlike Criminal Law, it produces gag-inducing phrases, like "bona fide purchaser for value without notice." There is so much red tape associated with acquiring any kind of property. Whatever happened to the days of racing on horseback across a plain, and planting a flag on property to show it's yours... then being shot in defence of that property, but miraculously being brought back to life in the arms of Nicole Kidman?

Friday, April 01, 2005

You should have seen the look on your face

While it's not a half-hour comedy in primetime television, I have had some creative output broadcast in a form other than this blog. UBC's own Legal Eye recently featured the inaugural "Joel Bakan Constitutional Law Poetry Contest." Two footnotes: yes, that is the same Joel Bakan responsible for the documentary The Corporation (he is a professor at the law school here) and second, the contest was markedly missing both a definitive winner and any sort of prize.

Nonetheless, a little ditty I wrote is featured alongside some other poetical works, which I will reproduce here. In all its iambic pentametry, I present to you, faithful reader, the first (as far as I can tell) constitutional love sonnet:

From John A. to Connie

Whereas, this humble man enacts desire,
To corporeally unite and sire
One dominion with thee. This preamble
Is but a missive, a lonely gamble
From one whose heart has oft been rescinded.
Yet with thine love it may be amended,
For a division of powers cannot
Befall an obsession so justly wrought.
Repeal thy dress, and lay with me, entrenched
In passion substantive and lust unquenched.
Against thy body politic, enshrine
We might, this challenged section sixty-nine.
Interpret without ambiguity
Love codified, to perpetuity.
For its form, I credit Spenser, for its crude content, John Donne, and its nerdiness - that's all me, baby. When these terms are thrown at you constantly in Legal Institutions class, you do the best you can with them. (And for those curious, section 69 of the Constitution is far less lascivious than I have portrayed: it simply mandates that the province of Quebec has a legislature. A steamy legislature no doubt!!)

As for my comment about a TV show in primetime, I'm hoping this is not so far off. My Team Awesome partner (a.k.a. "the Baron") brought to my attention a new addition to our law library, The Screenwriter's Legal Guide. I've skimmed through it, and will certainly purchase it. This is precisely what I need going into the summer as I finish off the screenplay. It would be a shame to send it out and lose ownership, so with this book and the culmination of my first year knowledge (limited though it may be) I will seek to protect it.

Alright, I can't lie. It is April Fool's after all. Section 69 of the Constitution doesn't deal with Quebec's legislature, but Ontario's! Boy I got you good!