Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ides who?

I'm not really sure what happened to February, but March is just one Admin Law class away. (At three hours on a Wednesday night, it's plodding length will make up for the lack of a leap year.) With no presentations or essays due in March, it's likely to be the least stressful month of all three years.

There are, of course, things to look forward to in March:

Law Revue: The show is always a blast. It's the first year I won't be directly involved, meaning I get to sit in the audience for once. Tradition dictates that out of the two nights of performances, one audience will truly respect all of the hard work and respond with applause and laughter - while the second audience will pour forth a torrent of heckling and general antipathy meant to remind performers that they are law students and not drama majors. I'll book the second night.

The Law School Trike Race: this event is my favourite of the year. It's often said that law school doesn't give you a lot of hands-on practical work, (apart from the awesome, average-boosting Appellate Advocacy course) but there's no better opportunity to parse the fine differences between assault and battery than the boozed-up tricycle race. Last year's race also produced this website's best photograph, and a video of said tortious conduct.

Grad Dinner & Dance: maybe the first dress-up affair for law students where landing an interview/career/future isn't on the line. It'll be one of the last big send-offs, so expect a "what happens in Vegas is protected by client-solicitor privilege" type of mentality.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

More Villa-ny

After looking up Amalfi tags on Flickr I was able to find this picture, and fairly easily located our place for the summer trip. Awesome.

I really hope the tag system I've implemented on this site helps searchers with all their extensive Jack Bauer needs.

Friday, February 23, 2007


E fatto! Più meno di cinque mesi!

To translate, I'm excited. We finalized plans and booked a villa right in the centre of Amalfi - and more imporantly - right near the beach. For a week in July, we have a great base to check out several towns along the Amalfi Coast or just relax. And if the relief work done by Google Earth map experts is correct, any sort of travel around these mountains calls for a lot of relaxation.

To be honest, the trip was partly inspired by an episode of Jamie Oliver's show I saw where he went to the Amalfi coast. I liked the idea of being in a villa where you could cook some of your own meals instead of depending on restaurants all the time.

Of course, the place does come stocked with a healthy supply of food: fresh fruit, olives, wine, prosciutto, among other things and my particular favourite - Nutella. European kids are raised on that stuff and it's an oversight in my opinion that the FDA/CFIA hasn't put the product on more breakfast tables in North America.

It wasn't a dealmaker in and of itself - that was left to the stunning views of the mountains and ocean - but it's nice to know you're taken care of. I was reminded of the various things to look for in signing a property agreement.

As if the next few months of law school weren't going to go by slow enough, now I have this on the horizon. And what a horizon it is!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wishing "Reading Week" wasn't so literal

There's really no excuse for me not to have this Entertainment Law essay done by week's end, so at least I'm off to a good start. Maybe it was a combination of the double digit warm weather, my apartment patio and the London Fog from Starbucks, but I sat down and read one of the larger books I have for my research from start to finish.

I've only ever read one novel in one sitting, Graham Greene's Ministry of Fear, (to this day one of my favorite books) when I was living in England. Actually, the circumstances were much the same - an abundance of time from having only 3 days of classes a week - except I suppose the London fog was real.

This new book is The Screenwriter's Legal Guide, a book my moot partner introduced me to back in first year when he heard I was writing a script. Like most amateur writers, I ignored all external advice, so it wasn't until this essay that I got the book out from the library. Basically the book is gold for research purposes - ironic because the point that's driven home again and again throughout the book is how unprofitable the television sector of the entertainment industry is, and in particular how little money I could expect to make from selling a spec pilot script.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Scenes from "Lost: Canada"

I'm beginning to have a greater understanding of why this film production is taking place at my law school. We often get a lot of people in the building looking for free legal advice, so it's obvious that the characters in this Passengers movie leave the plane crash and think, maybe there's a tort in here somewhere.

I can see how a lawsuit might have come out of this.

Stranger still, all those people standing were in wheelchairs before the crash.

And in case you're wondering: yes, that is the film's star Anne Hathaway holding that 'Hearth Fire' box. Hollywood magic.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Howie Mandel must be estopped

In a few hours I'll begin reading week, likely the last time in my life someone will give me time off work to catch up on Hellboy comics. I won't be able to top last year's experience of visiting New York during the break, but I'm lucky enough to live in a city that has plenty of wonders of its own.

And who knows, I might do some work too. I've got the green light to write my Entertainment Law essay on how I would, hypothetically of course, sell my TV pilot to either Canadian or American broadcasters. I suppose I'm looking for legal obligations and creative considerations that would maybe make one route more attractive for Canadian screenwriters and possibly explain the dearth of original programming in this country. I refuse to count Deal or No Deal Canada on so many levels.

I'm not exactly sure where a lot of the research will come from on this one, but I've been told there are quite a few Entertainment Law journals out there - plus I've always got the "How To" screenwriting books I bought years ago, which up until now have only been of aid in the fraudulent advertising and misrepresentation sections of Contract Law.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Law-Law Land

Yesterday the law school received an email saying that a new film will be shooting inside the Curtis Building this month. It's an Anne Hathaway movie called Passengers, (not the more promising zombie movie I had hoped for) and apparently it's about the stories that follow a plane crash.

My first guess as to what the building would stand in for proved wrong, as apparently the plane wreckage sets are located down at Jericho Beach. Now, I can only surmise that the building is used for nightmarish dream sequences, to give the audiences a strong sense of claustrophobia.

But given the building's newfound appeal (definitely newfound), may I suggest other productions that could work in the law building?

The third season of Lost: the main complaint (not shared by myself) about this current season is that it's all about the Others and that it's all underground. Jack's already been forced to perform medical procedures, why not have him perform contract negotiations or mediate property disputes on behalf of his captors?

The sequel to The Departed: anyone who's seen this fantastic movie knows how insanely ludicrous the proposition of a follow-up is. So, given that a screenwriter could care less about storytelling, why not allow your production designer to pay as little notice to the sets and decoration.

24: I often feel a driving, subconscious countdown to leave the building, so I imagine this will translate well on film. All of President Palmer's scenes from this sixth season take place in his White House bunker - not a stretch for the ol' Curtis building. But producers need to hurry up, if last night's episode was any indication, we won't be needing this set for long.

Scarlett Johansson's Next Film: I could care less what it's about, so long as she's available to sign autographs after 3:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday Reading

The law school's most august publication, The Legal Eye, came out last week, and in it was a nice little article about last month's Guile comedy debate.

I like how the author of the piece preserved some of my more ostentatious quotes:

"As the second speaker in favour of the proposition, 'award-winning blogger and magazine cover boy' Austin began by having the audience visualize Lady Justice - 'that blind woman who hangs outside of courthouses with a scale and sword.' ... He then contrasted the superior precision of fairness (balancing) with the haphazard results of justice ('Lady Justice can't exactly measure out of a pound of flesh, she can't even eyeball it!') ..."

To read the full article from the February issue, go here.

So after reading the papers, time to tend to all the law reading for the upcoming week and prepare for tomorrow's Entertainment Law presentation. Ah, Sundays, so much to do. Of course, you know what song British legend Alan Partridge said really encapsulates the frustration of a Sunday, don't you?

Friday, February 09, 2007

More Little-known Law

From Gray's Law Dictionary:

On the Hilarious History of Habeas Corpus

The term habeas corpus enjoys a lofty stature among jurists, commonly known as the "great writ." It is often trod out as the ultimate item of appeal, when a lawyer questions the legality of his client's imprisonment. Classicists will often relate the literal translation, "you have the body," as an explanation for the term's origin. This is a fair enough translation, but the term's actual conception occurred well after the Roman Empire's demise - 1500s London, to be exact.

Christopher Marlowe is sometimes credited as the "Real Shakespeare," but it was early London playwright Bartleby Cruikshank that might be described as the "Real Marlowe." It was Cruikshank's experiences in London gaols - he being a constant debtor - that gave rise to "Marlowe's" first popular play in 1581, a comedy of errors entitled, "The Forgetful Warden."

The play revolved around Hollis Borden, keeper of Newgate Prison. Borden was the cause of several comedic episodes within the prison because his constantly failing memory meant some prisoners, intended to stay for one night, would often languish in the cells indefinitely.

In one instance, Jenny Prattleswell pleads to Borden for the release of her lover, William. Borden, after finding William dead for want of food, serves up his long-lost and newly imprisoned twin, Hampton. Jenny is oblivious to the swap, attributing William's memory loss to a stay in gaol - Hampton merely happy to be free. Keen audience members, however, recognize that where William was missing his left ear, Hampton misses a right one.

The raucous appeal of the play usually peaked at the end of every act when Borden would, at the behest of the inquiring families, retreat to his prison officials and deliver the refrain:

"Have we his corpse?!"

Thus, the more familiar and Latin-ized term habeas corpus devolved from the Cockney pronunciation of this catchphrase, as the play was performed at the Rose Theatre, frequented with the more slovenly-tongued, lower-income crowds of Southwark.

We, of course, would find this warden's practice repulsive today. However, it seemed quite parodical to denizens of London at the time. It was quite common practice for family members to inquire at local gaols and have the existence of their imprisoned loved ones denied entirely.

Indeed, Alexandre Dumas romanticized this longstanding tradition in 1845 with The Count of Monte Cristo, seemingly offering hope to thousands of families that their relatives might one day return from prison. We know now, of course, that Dumas was doing no such thing, having instead been commissioned by the real Count of Monte Cristo to write the novel as a promotional tool for his many elaborate fêtes.

As for the term's legal inception, it was only when the play's revival nearly 300 years later grew in popularity among the learned - and therefore political - crowd that questions about the legality of this habit started being asked. Member of Parliament Lord Hailsham remarked to the House, "You may, my lords, have seen Shakespeare's recent play 'The Forgetful Warden,' and asked, much like myself - what if we were to produce a corpse!"

Eventually, the sentiment gained momentum and found its way into courts as a useful tool for resourceful lawyers. Stories are often told of barristers of the late 20th century serving the writ in front of Lord Denning - a lover of the theatre - and hearing him reply with another of Borden's famous phrases:

"Jenny Prattleswell but her lover don't 'ear it!"

Where's Doctorlike?

Phew, almost broke the update-at-least-once-a-week streak I've had going on this site since its beginning. (Devoted readers know how important streaks are to me). I have been updating this site recently, only behind the scenes. I've upgraded Blogger's template, giving me a few more organizational options, only in doing so it wiped clean all style elements I had built up.

I've fixed them, as well as added labels to just about every post ever written on this site (this being post #300). That way, when I cease updating this site in 76 days (by D's count), then you can still easily peruse through the site and marvel at how a law student devotes an inordinate amount of posts to Jack Bauer and Harry Potter. (If people still notice display errors with this site in IE, please let me know below.)

I can't say I notice many trends in what I post about. I suppose I write less about music than I did, perhaps having exhausted all goodwill in constantly plugging Ryan Adams' albums. (Is it too late to say how great this Bright Eyes disc is?) I guess it's enough that I'm still updating - it means I'm still very much interested in the law. When I see people negligent with their law blogs, I wonder if med students also blog, and then if they trail off as well, becoming jaded with cadavers, or if they secure resident jobs before their final year and then half-ass brain their surgery classes.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bollywood West

I'm working on a presentation for my Entertainment Law class. Despite my years of avoiding labour law - a subject I find confusing and frightening - here I am writing an outline for "Labour Relations in the Film Industry."

Currently, the union representing Canadian actors and performers is on strike, protesting a lack of "new media" residuals and low wages, meaning that American producers might just have to film that New York-based film in, gulp, New York. Foreign film productions are, of course, the major meal ticket for much of the local film industry. Case in point: offices for the law firm where I'll be working next year appear in the opening scenes of the new Fantastic Four trailer, ostensibly set in NYC.

However, research for this presentation has actually been pretty cool. Collective agreements for film production give a wealth of insights on topics such as: arrangements surrounding butt-doubles, child actors' per diems, and how Andy Millman, infamous background performer, would have earned $19.77 an hour for this.