Sunday, July 31, 2005

Which, for the record, weighs a lot

I'm entertaining the idea of making the "switch," the jump from a PC to a Mac, which is something like converting religions nowadays. I'm not really finicky about how things work, just that they do. For several months, I've had to endure some sort of scan disk operation that insists on running everytime I start my laptop. Only when it reaches 99% completion, some "unspecified error" occurs and things go on as if everything's fine, until the next startup.

So I'm hoping a new iBook will speed things up, or at least that it weighs less than a sack full of doorknobs. Plus, students get some sweet iPod deal, so I'm taking suggestions on what to engrave on the back. Any particularly apt aphorisms, or David Brent quotes? Submit in the comments section below. Aidez-moi!

I've noticed that at law school, the percentage of students using Macs is staggering. Is this just a lawyer's natural inclination to speak in terms incompatible with the masses, or simply because they don't appreciate the hazy civil rights issues now involved with Microsoft?

Whatever the case, I'm hoping the wireless modem embedded in the Mac is a bit faster than my current external one. It's one of the reverse realities of law school that keeners are the ones who arrive last to class: unable to secure a wireless connection, they have no choice but to sit and listen uninterrupted to the always thrilling discourse.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The tribe has deliberated

Alright, I know I often discuss the show 24 with a sometimes childlike giddiness, and well, this won’t help. Jack Bauer action figures! But where's the Tony Almeida model with removable soul patch?

The Law Firm is a show that will certainly never have action figures. I admit I continued watching this crass reality program because it’s not every day you see a TV show about precisely the same things you study in school. (I’m still waiting for the reality show where economists compete to find the optimum NAIRU curve and control inflation!)

Among the several frightening aspects of this show: you can expect a lot of post-production dubbing from Donald Trump on the Apprentice, because the man can never get his lines right on camera. But in The Law Firm, it’s particularly unsettling to note that all the post-sync is for lines where the boss is discussing the ethics and care needed when dealing with clients. It's as if the notion was an afterthought only the studio editor caught.

Elsewhere, isn't there some sort of conflict of interest with contestants vying for prize money? Can these lawyers really have their client's best interests in mind, or is the endless talk about "winning" a case just like a tribal ceremony to them? Note the show's tagline: Real People. Real Consequences. One Winner. You're the loser if you guessed that person was the client.

Oh, and what's with the attorney who looks exactly like Ryan Atwood from The O.C.?

Ah, but maybe I'm just wasting my breath on the show. Heck, when the site has its own handy legal glossary, maybe I'm wasting time in law school.

So back to music: in a truly rare and fascinating interview, Pitchfork gets Ryan Adams to dish on his next two albums coming out before 2007, the Patsy Cline-esque September, and the concept album 29 written when he was in the hospital nursing a broken wrist. (His site used to have an mp3 of the tune "Shadowlands" where you could hear the exact moment when he plummeted from stage and broke the wrist. Points if you find it.)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pride & Prejudice & Fighter Jets

I’ve always admired Roger Ebert as a critic not so much for his record at recognizing good movies, (note him dropping the ball with early Peter Jackson) but the fact that he is a damn good essayist. Love or hate him, it’s hard to argue with the logic in his reviews, and when he's funny, he's hilarious.

To wit, check out this excerpt from his review of the latest film Stealth, the smart, coming-of-age tale no doubt adapted from a Jane Austen novel:

"The meeting [of terrorists] is in a skyscraper that is still under construction. Computer simulations show that if it falls over, it will kill a lot of people on the ground. Amazing what computers can do these days."

Not since Marty DiBergi recited the sad, critical reception of each Spinal Tap album have I laughed this much at a critique. ("This ponderous, pretentious collection of rock psalms is enough to prompt the question, 'What day did the Lord create Spinal Tap, and couldn’t he have rested that day too?'")

One film that will definitely be amazing is Scorsese's new documentary on Bob Dylan, No Direction Home. The newly released trailer is any fan's dream, and shows the mostly reticent - or incomprehensible - singer in some pretty funny situations: "They're booing me! I can't stand it!" If it's anything like the classic Wilco documentary, I'm in.

After plotting out my fall and winter schedules, I notice I have 17 and 14 hours of classes per week respectively. This leaves an abundance of time, any suggestions for filling it? I plan to get a head start on Law Revue - I'd like to be able to issue some sort of guarantee, like, "if you don't laugh, you get your money back!" But I've learned that a guarantee to a lawyer is like carrion to a vulture.

I’ve also been scanning the new hockey schedule looking for any possible Vancouver-Calgary matchups I can attend. I’m sure some friendly Cowtown fandom will be tolerated. It’ll simply be good to watch some hockey instead of enduring more terrible FOX coverage of the NFL. CBC had their reasons for ditching Chris Cuthbert, but he’s still better than Madden. Please tell me he won’t be filling in:

"He really turned that breakaway from something, into something new!"

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

You have the right to remain snooty

Naturally, Almost Famous is one of my all time favorite movies, and one line from that movie just keeps getting funnier:

Dennis Hope: If you think Mick Jagger will still be doing the rock star thing at age fifty, well, then, you are sorely mistaken.


According to the band, the title of the new album refers to their "fascination with the scientific theory about the origin of the universe." But for anyone who’s actually considered the lyrics to a song like "Stray Cat Blues," it’s a safe guess that, after the rock n’ roll connotations of the title, Mick is going after a third entendre.

Like your British rock stars younger/less salacious? Torr has some great British Sea Power tunes up. Like your bands more salacious...?

A Harry Potter thought for you. (The novel, by the way, is much more satisfying than the last novel, and the death in this one was actually a death, with a body, and I do believe the phrase "like a rag doll" was used.) What I realized as I was reading, however, is despite how magically trained all these students will no doubt be, they are absolutely scholastically retarded in every other area.

Consider everything that you have learned in school from age eleven onwards. All the math, calculus, social studies, science, politics (and if you’re from Calgary, square dancing) – none of these kids have learned that. Sure, Harry could make a car fly, but he wouldn’t be able to calculate the tip at a restaurant. He would be lucky to just read the menu.

Now for my next book. Anyone who read Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and wanted to visit the picturesque region may want to reconsider after reading Stephen Clarke’s satire A Year in the Merde. Very drĂ´le.

Speaking of France, I guess when Dick Wolf can’t find room on TV schedules for another Law & Order, he just tries another time zone. The mot on the rue is that France is getting its own version of Criminal Intent. I would wager the only Frenchman who could match D’Onofrio for hulking stature is Depardieu. And since Vince bases his character on Sherlock Holmes, does this mean the French detective will be based on Holmes’ Gallic counterpart?

The kicker, of course, is that France uses a civil, rather than common law, based on the Napoleonic Code. So I guess this means no more "Battle of the Authorities" sparring matches often glorified by Jack McCoy.

Objection your honour! En francais!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Ugly found, Good, Bad, still at large

Saw Bob Dylan in fine form last night. Apropos cowboy hat? Check. Glitter-lined black tux? Check. Amazing rendition of the rarely-performed “Don’t Think Twice?” Bonus! And say what you will about a 64-year old man in a sparkling Western outfit, at least he’s got some style (and wears his hat the right way).

Dylan’s shows, while packed, never sell out, and a smaller venue would probably have better acoustics. One might ask why he even comes to Calgary on every tour, when most large acts skip over the hapless prairies for Vancouver’s hipness. Apparently the story is that Bob “just likes to look at the mountains.” Well who doesn’t really?

My folk/blues lust satisfied, I found I was in need of some good jazz, so I recently bought a compilation of Miles Davis recordings. It contains a few tracks from Kind of Blue and ‘Round About Midnight, but what makes it purchase-worthy is the track “It Never Entered my Mind” which is frankly one of the best pieces of music I believe I’ve ever heard.

Elsewhere, I think it’s rather amazing the speed at which London police are cracking down on last Thursday’s attacks. Certainly London’s famed Panopticon experiment has paid off. I recall reading that this is London’s first terrorist attack, but that’s not exactly true.

Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, a novel about a guy who wanted to blow up the Greenwich Observatory, was based on the real account of French anarchist Martial Bordin. His bomb also prematurely detonated in 1894, but he didn’t have the luxury of escape, as investigators found half of him on the pathway to the observatory. It’s worth a read, as Conrad is an amazing novelist, a claim made more evident when you realize that the adjective-laden English is his third language, after Dutch and French. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wrote with his left hand just for kicks.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

David Copperfield: Full Throttle

Second round of registration is over, certainly not made any easier by virtue of being online. I think the only way registering manually could prove more difficult is if the person who took my written course selections then waved it in front of me for five minutes and said, "Please wait while I process your request."

If I were to ask him how long he intended to wave that paper arrogantly in front of my face, he would ignore me. Then, if I tried to grab that paper back, I would be sent out of the room. Upon trying to re-enter, I would be told the room was "busy" and that I should come back at "non-peak" hours. I'd have to try a few more times, and only after drawing attention to myself for cursing under my breath so much, would I finally get in and register.

Anyway, here's the final tally (with no Friday classes!): in the fall I've got Advanced Criminal Procedure, Corporations, International Law, Secured Transactions and Taxation. In the spring I have Commercial Transactions, Charter, Intellectual Property, International Law Problems and finally, Evidence the entire year. This is the Achilles heel of the whole deal, as it gives me some 8:30 a.m. classes during the week, but you can't win them all. (Except the cases I'll try in court. Zing!)

Anyway, here's some random links I've been meaning to blog:

The French trailer for Roman Polanski's adaptation of Oliver Twist is online. Unfortunately, the trailer is dubbed until the English version comes out, but was it necessary to also dub the punch that Oliver receives with the worst sound effect ever? Polanski is probably the last person who should be handling the tale of an abused child, but I'll give a fair shot to anyone who has a go at Dickens. David Lean's classic will probably still be the definitive treatment of Dickens over time, but it might be a close call, closer, at least, than if McG attempted to direct.

McSweeney's has been on a roll with some great pieces these last few weeks. Here's been my favorite, a must read for any enterprising journalists out there. Now with Fridays off, maybe I can make good on my promise and have something published on the site.

Torr has a few tracks from the upcoming My Morning Jacket album Z available. Anyone who likes their bands unclassifiable should check them out. It comes out this fall, along with the Dandy Warhols' excellent Odditorium or Warlords of Mars album. Try and find the song "Easy" online, it's classic Dandy.

But back to law, everyone happy with their schedules? Cast your ballots for study buddy.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Perpendiculars, maybe

Alright this will be my last Potter-themed post for some time. I'm splitting reading duties between the Jones book and this new H.Po, which sort of loses it's standing as a "children's" novel when you use the word "enumerate" on the first page. I only learned what that word meant studying discrimination cases in first year law school.

As for the rest of the book, so far, so good. I don't know if reviews have picked up on this, because I've avoided them thus far, but the book certainly has a post-9/11 bent. When a book begins with a Prime Minister dealing with attacks in London and encourages being suspicious of those around you, I can't be faulted for drawing parallels.

Regardless of its significance or popularity, I like the Potter books because. as one who studied at a castle, I mildly identify with him. (That, and from my birth, I've had this burning scar and been referred to as The Boy Who Lived.) Herstmonceux Castle was home to some of the best times I had in undergrad.

Interestingly, UBC law school, like others, offers the castle as an exchange alternative. Naturally I'd recommend it for anyone who likes travelling England and not immediately averse to Renaissance fairs.

Furthermore, I'd offer the same sage advice I learned whilst abroad: avoid the venison sausages, (and unless you like a culinary texture approaching leather, avoid sausages entirely), there's a reason it's called a moat and not a pool, and finally, don't take too long in British showers. English bathroom lights are on a motion sensor/timer and while cleanliness is next to godliness, too much is next to blindness.

I did briefly consider doing another exchange while at law school, perhaps some Antipodean institution, or a Scandinavian university, but as one who recently lived/survived in Kingston, Vancouver is like a vacation in itself.

(Any of you castle folks read this blog? Besides you AB, I know you read this religiously).

Sunday, July 17, 2005

500 lawsuits from beyond the grave

If Hillary Clinton really wanted the youth vote, she'd stay away from GTA. For those that have played San Andreas, the little display of carnal affection in question has to probably be the most positive thing about the game. The story is about settling vendettas in the most ruthless, graphic and, let's be honest, fun ways - so I find it difficult to understand how politicians could overlook the other parts of the game:

Using helicopters to raze beachgoers? Suitable.
Badly pixellated FOX-style sexuality? I do declare, I am appalled!

Speaking of FOX, only in a higher regard, the season premiere of Arrested Development is on September 14. Incidentally, that's the same day a newly Johnny Cashified Black Rebel Motorcycle Club plays in Seattle. Once again, the great arbiter that is VHS may have to solve this conflict of interest. Along with Franz Ferdinand playing the Orpheum in October, this year's concert schedule is looking pretty solid.

Now we'll just have to see how the social calendar for the first month of law school plays out. A highlight is always the law boat cruise, which is just begging for someone to take literally the joke, "What are 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?"

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Tuesdays are cheap trial night

Saturday a.m., as of right now this Harry Potter book is circling closer to my doorstep. No doubt the postal worker will be somewhat reluctant to hand it over, "Certainly this book isn't for you?" To which I will proudly retort, "I'm a law student, thank you ... yes it is."

The book has actually become quite a legal hot topic. Last week's breach featured hilariously on The Daily Show, where Jon Stewart discussed the injunction handed down by the B.C. Supreme Court, or what he calls, the "least busy court in the world!"

I'm sort of confused myself. Consider the Air India trial: nearly 20 years late, taking over 2 years, at a cost of $130 million. But when children display the temerity to want to read, we put lawyers immediately into action and bar those kids from even reading one word. The cost of this trial? Insignificant compared to the free advertising.

The segment reminded me of our field trip to the downtown courthouse in our first month at law school. Organizers gave us fresh-faced law students a schedule of all the hearings that day. It was sort of like going to a movie theatre and deciding what to see: "Hmm, we have manslaughter at 1:30, but I'm not really in the mood for that. Oh, here we have a traffic violation at 2:00, that's a bit more lighthearted fare. Ooh, I liked this accused's last trial, and he's basically playing the same loser."

Actually, no trial proves that exciting to watch. For every star witness, there is a wealth of discovery motions, and endless pre-trial rigamarole. Murder trials are not all bloody knives and theatrical prosecutors. In fact, most trials are like watching golf. As you sit in on one, you wonder how these "professionals" are paid so much, and any time you go to speak you're shushed into the background.

Hey, that metaphor turned out pretty well. I was just looking for a half-decent segway to link to this latest awesome Tiger Woods commercial.

What's that I hear? Doorbell!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Like the Neverending Story, but good

First round of law registration is out of the way. I nabbed most of my important classes (International, Charter, Tax, Corporations, my International seminar) with no problem, except Evidence in the spring filled up rather fast. Anyone feel like slogging through the 8:30 a.m. Evidence classes with me all year?

With Harry Potter now "leaked," (thanks to keen Vancouverites) I suppose no plunder is too nerdy for a pirate. I suspect those that Entertainment Weekly describes as “rogue Canadians” more closely resemble soccer moms who, on their way to pick up some Capri Sun and Dunkaroos for the kids (do they still have those?), noticed the book and innocently picked it up. I’ve heard reports that the book is on BitTorrent sites, but how does that even work? Is it an mp3 of a child reading the book?

Chapter 1. Harry awoke to a de... deef... mom how do you say that word? Deh-fun-ing. What does it mean?
(Delete from playlist.)

My copy arrives on Saturday, banking on the notion that since postal workers are angry already, making them deliver heavy bundles on a weekend morning can’t do much more harm. This gives me only a few days to finish The Known World, a novel which deserves a place in the tiny pantheon of Books You Don’t Want to End. Like A Fine Balance or East of Eden, Jones’ book has such a compelling array of storylines that each could go on forever and I doubt I’d mind.

But enough of literature - sort of. Last night, I did miss the yell-fest that is Hell’s Kitchen, (summer guilty pleasure #1) but I was surprised to find that National Geographic aired the first part of Guns, Germs and Steel: the Documentary. I’m now convinced that Jared Diamond is one of the coolest scholars around. Aside from looking like a bald Dustin Hoffman and tanned like a motherfocker, the guy clearly looks like he’s having a ball spending most of his time in the jungle of New Guinea.

That said, if there’s one thing off about the series, it’s that it basically deifies Diamond for “solving” the question of how human societies evolved in the ways that they have. Narrator Peter Coyote lauds Diamond in, come to think of it, almost the exact same way he describes the functions of the Brita water filter, a commercial Coyote previously narrated: “A clear, refreshing take…”

In my opinion, Diamond was nothing but modest in how he used common sense to describe what he did: societies are the result of their environment, plain and simple. The man didn’t discover some ancient Rosetta-stone, he just observed that planting a seed is a tad more effective than getting all sweaty for a less-than-nutritious animal. One method allows you to feed a government and army, the other gives you cries of, “mammoth again?”

I’m not sure when the next episode of GGS is on, but in the meantime I’m going to view my nouvelle DVD, A Very Long Engagement. Any French-loving cinephile (and really, who doesn’t like the French) will appreciate the incredible recreation of WWI-era Paris.

And dude, c'mon, a soldier lobs a grenade into a plane from the ground. That’s so Die Hard.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Does Die Hard have this technology?

Props must go to fellow UBCer Thom for the ensuing, a frightening display of how both advanced and pointless technology has become.

Hey, I don't look half bad with long hair.

Now, if that panda could juggle...

It's a tad disconcerting to see how American coverage of last Thursday's London attacks has quickly dissipated. It began late Thursday when a strangely trivial headline showed up amongst the London-related ones, and then by the weekend most coverage was dedicated to Hurricane Dennis. Maybe it's me, but when a weather phenomenon actually has a season, it can be dealt with in a less sensationalized way, especially when there are more pressing matters at hand. (But glad my friends are safe.)

Luckily, however, the CNN program Showbiz Tonight bravely pushed ahead with a broadcast, and focused on the overlooked victims of Thursday's attacks, Hollywood. My favorite moment was when the Editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone magazine was interviewed by an insanely naive anchor:

Anchor: Will the attacks affect the message of Live 8 from last week?
RS: Uh, this affects everything.

Naturally the BBC is the best place to get ongoing information, but even the CBC is doing its colonial part, and still delivering info on a regular basis. Of course, even that could change in Canada on Monday if rumours of an impending hockey deal are true.

Game on.... guardedly!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

In Russia, flies swat you!

Adding to the list of reasons why I long to be in Vancouver this summer: Ryan Adams is playing the Commodore in August. Any chance that, since he's releasing 3 albums this year, he'll tour 3 times? Anyone who's in town, I urge you to go see his show... and secretly record it for me.

Calgary, not to be outdone on the concert scene, has arranged quite a musical tableau for itself during our Stampede. Headliners include showstoppers like... Kalan Porter and Shania's Twin. (I wish I made typos on this blog.) Sigh. Maybe Hootie could play. (I kid, people, seriously.)

Speaking of Olympic cities, here's hoping Paris gets the nod for the 2012 games. If my tentative law career trajectory holds, by then I'll have been practicing law in London for a few years and then the games are just a hop, skip and a chunnel away. I'm not rooting for London's bid. As if that city isn't expensive enough, I can't imagine making everything Olympic themed would drive prices down. Plus, I'll take any opportunity to spend time in France and further master the language, although you can do that most anywhere these days.

New York, which clearly won't win when its citizens don't even want it, shouldn't be surprised. You don't go up against other world class cities and expect to run off with it. The Big Apple should have waited until they were competing in a less impressive field. The secret, see, is to wait until Antigonish, Nova Scotia competes and then pounce!

And poor Moscow. For starters, nobody equates summer with Russia. Although, apparently Moscow has the same climate as Calgary, as they are geographically similar and rest on the same latitude. I suppose that means Muscovites are currently cleaning up from record floods, battling millions of mosquitos and wondering where the sun went.

Well, I think at least we know who has the better music scene... Russia.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

I read Harry Potter for the articles

File this under annoying: I'm missing perhaps three of the most important albums I own. R.E.M.'s New Adventures in Hi-Fi, Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Dave Matthews Band's Before These Crowded Streets. Each of those albums represents the band in peak form, and all three have mysteriously disappeared from my CD cases.

If this be the work of thieves, then let me be the first to say, kudos artful dodger, on thy keen taste! "E-Bow the Letter" is the finest thing Stipe has ever written, sonic mishmash has never sounded so great on Yankee, and Streets finds Dave at his most Miles Davis-ish. But dammit I want them back. Thief, why couldn't you have taken the very first album that I bought? You'd be doing both of us a huge favour.

I'll be making room shortly on the right sidebar for the new H.Po book, but in the meantime, McSweeney's has published the hilarious Things You Can Tell about the Plot of the Next Harry Potter Book just by Looking at the Cover Art.

Of course, the article refers to the regular cover for the book, and not the "adult" version. I like the thinking behind that: I read children's novels, and I judge books by their cover.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

War & Peace & Vampires

First, a kudos to my hermano for giving this site a certain je ne sais quoi. I was getting tired of the default Denver Bronco paint scheme, so I mixed things up a bit, and added racing stripes which I think are pretty sharp.

I spent some of my lazy long weekend finishing a book, Oh, Play That Thing. The Onion's review is pretty smack on - the book is disappointing. I was a little wary of the premise from the get go: Irish rebel Henry Smart flees for America and by chance, becomes a hitman/manager for then rising star, Louis Armstrong.

As anyone who has ever read Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles can attest, music is boring on the page. Interview with the Vampire was a great historical-fiction narrative with, like any good novel should have, a slice of vampirism (it also made a damn good film). But, in some misguided attempt to be hip, Rice set the follow up novel, The Vampire Lestat, in modern day where the titular character actually joins a rock band. If you think nu-metal bands are lame, imagine reading a book about one.

I'm beginning to wonder if second year law reading is at all like first year. When you study Criminal or Tort law, there's a good chance you'll get to read about blunderous robbers or accidental amputations. However, I have a feeling Corporations or Taxation might have decidedly less juicy cases.

I guess the sentencing aspect of those cases is where it's at. Guilty of fraud? I sentence you to ten months in jail, and one season of mediocre reality TV!