May 2005 Archives

Golf Hurts


Having received a set of golf clubs for graduation, along with six golf lessons, and wanting to get an early start on the type of high-society loafing I'll be doing once I'm a card-carrying member of the Bar, I took a break from bar studying this afternoon and went out and for my first golf lesson. Today I learned that the human body was not designed to play golf.

My instructor is an unassuming Filipino man who had no qualms about grabbing various parts of my body and shoving them into their proper, unnatural orientations. Despite his smallness, Asianness, and holistic approach to swinging a golf club, I successfully resisted the urge to call him Mr. Miyagi. But there are still five lessons.

This, according to my instructor, is how you make a golf ball go: You stand with your feet apart, your knees just slightly flexed (which is especially hard for me since my knees hyperextend), and your ass out. Your upper body is as straight and as extended as can be. Your left eye is just behind the ball. Once you've oriented your hands and arms in the proper arrangement of V's and triangles, you shift your weight to your right foot and swing your arms up, keeping your left arm straight and allowing your right elbow to bend until it's almost touching your unbent left elbow. Your left shoulder is tucked rather uncomfortably under your chin, which along with everything below your waist has not moved up to this point. Then, without pushing with your right arm, you pull down with your left arm and hope that the flat metal thing finds the little white pimply thing. Assuming the ball is on its way, you end up with your right foot titled and pivoted until your right knee is against your left leg, which really hurts if you have a sprained ankle that positively refuses to heal.

Engaging in the above-described contortions has a small chance of sending a golf ball into vaguely parabolic motion, but it's guaranteed to make your back hurt for the rest of the day. Maybe that's what the beer is for.

I figure my goal is to learn to play well enough to keep up with and lose to partners and clients. Maybe I can just keep score. And drink. Always the drinking.

Hell Week


Yes, studying for the bar is actually harder than law school itself. At least at first.

I know you're all dying to learn about the ins and outs of bar preparation, so here it goes. Essentially, there are two complimentary and oligopolistic bar review programs. One is PMBR, which focuses exclusively on the multistate exam (but repeatedly reminds you that studying for the multistate helps you prepare for the essays), and meets for six days at the beginning of summer and three days at the end. The other is BarBri (founded by a Boalt alum who assuredly made more money with his price-gouged review course than he could have hoped to make as an attorney), a 10-week comprehensive jive that prepares you for the multistate, essay, and performance sections.

The two programs are complimentary, even to the extent that PMBR schedules around BarBri, though both take every opportunity to confuse you by criticizing each other. The funny man on the PMBR video assures you that the multistate is the most important thing, that you can bullshit the essays, and that you absolutely must do 50 multiple choice questions every night. The nice lady at the BarBri lecture says that wasting three hours a night on multiple choice questions is a bad move, that you really need to read the Conviser Mini Reviews, and that the essays are much more important than the multistate (in the case of California, at least, this is true - the multistate accounts for only 35% of your scaled score).

Anyway, most students who take both courses take PMBR the week before BarBri starts, meaning that a good chunk of my friends graduated on May 14th and started PMBR on May 16th. Me, I took a week off to spend time with Meli, pushing PMBR back a week. Which means that I've been going to BarBri (in Berkeley) in the morning and PMBR (at various ghetto-fabulous hotels on Van Ness) at night. My life has been a constant sine wave of caffeine crests and sugar-crash troughs, with the occasional penisy blog post thrown in as I try to lull myself to sleep.

As lousy as this week has been, I'm comforted by the fact that PMBR ends on Saturday, I have Monday off, I have my first golf lesson on Tuesday (hooray! golf!), and this week's spirit-crushing miasma of wrong answers, stimulants, and videotapes is a small price to pay for having spent last week with the wife. Really. Last week rocked.

I had my first day of BarBri yesterday and they spelled out the mechanics of the Bar Exam. Most of the logistical stuff I already knew. Some came as a bit of a surprise.

In addition to the one-day, six-hour, 200-question multiple choice "multistate" exam (covering Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law including Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts), there are two days of essays (one hour each, six total) and "performance" tests (three hours each, two total). These two "state-specific" days cover everything on the multistate plus seven other subjects - Civil Procedure, Community Property, Corporations, Professional Responsibility (rrrrr!), Remedies, Trusts, and Wills.

Here's the kicker: You only need to know California law for three of the subjects - Community Property, Wills (but not Trusts), and Professional Responsibility. Everything else is either Federal Rules or majority rules. Given the fact that law schools don't teach California law, this is good news in terms of preparation, but still seems pretty dumb. Especially with respect to Civil Procedure (where California is one of the few - perhaps the only - state that still has Code Pleading instead of Federal-style Notice Pleading) and Evidence (where the Federal and California Rules differ in at least a few important ways). Rumor has it that starting next year it'll be California Civil Procedure instead of Federal.

I had assumed that the Bar Exam tested your ability to know and understand California law. I guess it's just there to make sure you're smart enough to be a California lawyer (which judging from some of the attorneys I've come across can't be a very high bar).

LOL Penis


Every now and then a news story comes along that, with three short opening paragraphs, makes you forget that you spent half the day being tested on stuff you haven't studied in over two years.

The "suspicious package" that caused Interstate 75 and Daniels Parkway to be shut for more than an hour Monday was not an explosive pipe bomb — but rather wrapped-up plastic foot-long penis.

I'm intrigued. Tell me more.

"Someone took construction-grade plastic, molded it into a penis and wrapped it with duct tape," said Lee County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Charles Ferrante.

Wait for it...

"They wrote 'Happy Father's Day' on the duct tape."

And to think I was going to get my dad a hat.

I can't decide whether my favorite part is paragraph #3, or the fact that the masthead on the website features a prominent, genitalia-like rendition of America's Wang itself.

Office Decor


Side note: I remain open to your futile attempts to convince me that I'm wrong about the new Star Wars movie. Lord knows there's nothing I enjoy more than complaining. But for a change of pace, this is a post about office decorations.

Despite the fact that I'm nearly five months away from my official start date at the old law firm, I've already amassed a nice starting collection of office what-nots. In addition to Owly the Graduation Owl and numerous photos of Meli, the cats, and my more attractive friends, I also have the little placard I picked up in Munich that says "Trinken Sie niemals Wasser, Fische vogeln darin" ("Never drink water, fish fuck in it"). The whereabouts of this placard are currently unknown, which may be God's way of telling me that I should have purchased the sticker of the jelly donut with the cartoon face saying "Ich bin ein Berliner."

There's also the 10" bronze statuette of Justice that my grandparents gave me, which looks like this:

But the current pride of my collection just arrived in the mail today. It's a poster that I first spotted at the Velvet Grill in Alameda, a diner where Meli and I used to eat fattening breakfasts on a weekly basis. Put simply, it's two bananas about to have sex on a bed that's a pie crust, with a cherry watching them. No, really:


This apotheosis of graphic art is presently hanging framed in our bedroom, eagerly awaiting October 17th, when it will move to a cozy little office in Menlo Park and act as the first step in the long road toward getting me fired.

Further Thoughts on Why I Hated It


Apparently Meli and I are in the minority amongst our friends as to the badness of Revenge of the Sith. Since our friends are all intelligent people with fine taste in movies, I began to wonder if I had missed something, if perhaps I was being too hard on the movie, and if I was focusing too much on the dialogue and not enough on the good stuff.

The order of the day with the Star Wars franchise has always been bad dialogue/good story. Harrison Ford's famous on-set outburst - "You can write this shit, George, but you can't say it" - applies throughout the Star Wars saga and was an acceptable flaw since the stories were so engaging. What was so disappointing about Revenge of the Sith was that the story stank as well. And what was really disappointing was that it stunk up other stories in the process of stinking itself up, namely the original movies.

Darth Vader didn't help the Emperor hunt down and kill the Jedi. He shot a bunch of fish in a barrel while the other Jedi were ambushed by the storm troopers they were commanding. Obi-Wan's description of the Emperor's campaign against the Jedi created (at least for me) a sense that as the Republic fell the Jedi scattered throughout the galaxy and were systematically hunted down over some prolonged period of time. Under the facts of Revenge of the Sith, the Jedi were wiped out in a single afternoon. And Anakin was only tangentially involved.

Anakin wasn't seduced by the Dark Side. He crossed over because he wanted to keep his wife from dying and he was mad at the Jedi for not letting him join the Popular Kids Club. Obi-Wan had a tougher time convincing Luke to become a Jedi than Palpatine had convincing Anakin to kill the Jedi. Very disappointing.

As I mentioned in an earlier comment, the scene where Luke asks Leia about her (and his) mother is meaningless now. Leia never knew her actual mother, which was probably a good thing since the engaging, proactive, and intelligent woman that Leia became obviously had nothing to do with her biological mother, who spends this entire movie being pregnant and staring out the window (Meli's observation, not mine).

(Meli adds: Somehow feminism passed Padme by in the 00s when our hunger for strong female characters is at a peak, while Leia was a poster child for Ms. Magazine at the height of the Reagan Era. Also, falling in love was incidental to the story of Leia's life, where it was the quintessential (and only) achievement of Padme's.)

These are just a few of the ways in which Revenge of the Sith gutted the original series. The groundwork for the fall of the Republic that was laid in Episodes I and II was great - a Sith Lord masquerading as a Senator orchestrates a civil war in which he is secretly controlling both sides, creating enough chaos to reduce the Republic to a totalitarian state. Where Lucas dropped the ball was in the characters. Darth Vader was always my favorite movie character growing up - not just my favorite Star Wars character, not just my favorite movie villain, but my favorite character - so I had special expectations when the prequels began and purported to tell the tale of how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader.

Essentially, the prequels are not about the Darth Vader of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and the better parts of Return of the Jedi. Prequel Vader is not the ambitious and ferocious warrior who seeks power for the sake of power and destroys his enemies with ruthless efficiency.

Rather, he's a sniveling sidekick - first to Obi-Wan, then to Palpatine. He's not the Vader who lays waste to the incompetent military leaders in the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back. He's the lapdog who lurks next to Palpatine, hanging his head and keeping quiet, until the Emperor orders him to start defending him from Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi. Prequel Vader has no will of his own. He has no greatness, good or evil. So we don't care that he goes from good to evil (and back to good). These aren't his decisions. He's just being manipulated by his circumstances. Just like Padme. (Meli adds: God knows how she got pregnant, since neither of them could be counted on to make the first move toward having sex.)

So I guess that's why I hated Revenge of the Sith. It wasn't just a poorly acted, poorly written, and poorly executed movie about a bunch of uninteresting characters (with the exception of Palpatine, who as the only shining star of the movie, moreso because of the acting than the writing). It was a crappy movie that sterilized quality characters in other quality films. And that's why I now refuse to acknowledge the prequels as part of the official Star Wars universe. They are, as Sean said and as I quoted before, elaborate (and crappy) fanfiction that happened to be written by George Lucas.

Obi-Wan: You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! It was you who would bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness!
[Anakin frowns severely.]
Obi-Wan: And that's precisely why I'm so upset! Because you were supposed to be really good, and now you're, like, super-evil, don't you see.

Palpatine: We shall change into the first Galactic Empire for a safe and secure society.
[Senate fills with enormous applause.]
Amidala: This is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause.
[Palpatine briefly morphs into Dick Cheney.]

Obi-Wan: The Sith are evil!
Anakin: From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!
Obi-Wain: That doesn't make any sense.
Anakin: I'M CONFLICTED!!!!!!!!!

Anakin: If you're not with me, you're my enemy!
Obi-Wan: Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes.
[Floating Head of George W. Bush appears.]
Floating Head of George W. Bush: Either you're with us, or you're with the terr'ists.
[Floating head of George W. Bush disappears.]

Medical Droid: Medically, she is completely healthy. For reasons we can't explain, we are losing her.
Obi-Wan: She's dying?
Medical Droid: Yes. That's what "losing her" means. She's dying. In fact, she's going to die in a few minutes. Definitely before the end of the movie.
Obi-Wan: Oh.
Medical Droid: We don't know why. She has lost the will to live. Because her hearts is broken. Because her husband turned evil and tried to kill her. And the government has collapsed into tyranny, and it's unclear what's going to happen to her children.
[Obi-Wan frowns furtively.]

Palpatine: I'm going to kill you and take over the galaxy.
Yoda: Not if anything to say about it I have. [Actual line!]
Palpatine: Okay, wait. What?

[Palpatine uses the Force to hurl floating Senate seats at Yoda, causing massive destruction to the Senate Chamber.]
Palpatine: Look! I'm killing you by destroying the Senate Chamber! I'm destroying democracy in a figurative and literal sense! And also destroying you, who defends democracy! Isn't this rad?
Yoda: An idiot, you are.
Palpatine: Oh, and this is also symbolic of how I used the structure of the Republic's government to destroy it, by advancing politically to a point where I had the power to overthrow the Republic without anyone even noticing.
[Yoda does a bunch of flips and gives Palpatine a sarcastic look.]

[Obi-Wan jumps out of the lava flow onto some kind of rock or something, leaving Anakin on a floating piece of metal.]
Obi-Wan: You lose, Anakin. I have the high ground.
Anakin: ...
Obi-Wan: And I mean that both topographically and morally.

Palpatine: Lord Vader, can you hear me?
Darth Vader: Yes, my master. Where is Padmé? Is she safe, is she all right?
Palpatine: I'm afraid she died... it seems in your anger, you killed her.
Darth Vader: I couldn't have! She was alive! I felt her! She was alive! It's impossible! NOOOOOOOOOOO!
Palpatine: Kind of ironic, isn't it?
Palpatine: I mean, the whole point of you joining the Sith was to save her.
Darth Vader: FIRE BAAAAAAAAD!!!!!!

Obi-Wan: Well, we've erased the minds of Artoo and Threepio, created a last-minute bond of loyalty between myself and Senator Organa so it'll make sense when Leia says that I served her father in the Clone wars, and hung onto Anakin's light saber. Looks like we've effectively laid the retroactive groundwork for Episode IV.
Yoda: Good news I have. Your old mentor has found a way to gain immortality through the Force. Waiting for you on Tatooine he is.
Obi-Wan: Great! That gives him plenty of time to teach me how to be a ghost before Darth Vader kills me at the end of A New Hope!
Yoda: Fine ghost a make will you.
Obi-Wan: And that also explains why he didn't disappear when Darth Maul killed him!
Yoda: And why Palpatine's guards were looking for my body when they thought he killed me.
Obi-Wan: No, I think that was just a fuckup.

They Even Made Darth Vader Lame


Yes, this is loaded with spoilers. Stop reading now. Or better yet, read it, and don't see the movie.

I won't say much. I'll point out that it takes a very, very dedicated brand of hamfisted writing/directing to make Sam Jackson and Ewan McGregor look like bad actors. I don't blame George Lucas for Hayden's bad acting - the kid clearly has no talent. His excruciating timing, frozen facial expressions, and awkward gesturing are something right out of a high school play. The kind of play where there weren't enough boys auditioning so even the male leads are unwatchable. Only in this case, there were certainly plenty of boys to choose from, so it's a mystery how this block of wood ended up with one of the most sought-after movie roles of all time.

There are too many bad things about this movie to list, and I'm sure others are doing a more thorough and better job of it elsewhere on the blogosphere. But let me just say that the "Frankenstein's monster" scene, where Darth Vader, in his very first moments as more-machine-now-than-man, breaks free of his (apparently purposeless) wrist and ankle schackles, stumbles two steps forward, raises his fists and screames "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!", was like watching my first-born child being slowly stabbed in the eye with a shard of glass. A shard of glass with, like, poo all over it or something.

So I have a choice. I can either let Darth Vader - always my favorite movie character, ever since I was a wee one - be inexorably ruined in my mind by the cash-in prequels, or I can simply decide that Episodes I-III don't count, that fans of the original films still get to use their imaginations and come up with their own versions of the events leading up to the fall of the Republic and the rise of Darth Vader, and Sean was correct in his assessment that the prequels are nothing more than elaborate fanfiction that happened to be written by George Lucas.

My destiny lies with the latter.

Swift Finality

The laws of time mean nothing in the universe of I Fought the Law. And also, I'm lazy with the strips. Which is why another strip about finals comes after two posts about being done with law school. I'll catch up eventually, and go out with a bang. Or an obscure reference to a television show from the early 90s. We'll have to see.

In the meantime, the graduation photos will probably be more entertaining than the strips. But the strips may have nudity, which the graduation photos have almost none of. But if you look closely at this week's offering you should be able to spot some disk errors, goddamn free Photoshop.



I've posted a dickload of photos from the Boalt graduation festivalities here. Please peruse thoroughly if you ever expect to receive legal advice from me in the future. I have high resolution versions of all the photos if'n you want them.

High points:
- Gavin Newsom's speech. There aren't many things in the world that are boringer than graduation ceremonies (with the possible exception of photos of graduation ceremonies), and having someone as engaging and energetic as Mayor Newsom speak definitely lessened the sting. Gavin Newsom has so much charisma that he could be the Antichrist if he wanted to.
- The speeches by Dean Edley and Professor Harris were also very good. Neither of them made me feel particularly bad about pursuing a legal career that will allow me to pay my bills, but both made me kind of sad to be leaving Boalt.
- The "Nixon's Funeral" Shot. This was the first time my parents have been photographed together since I can't remember when, including my wedding and my college graduation.
- The steel drum band. It actually kind of worked.
- Owly the Graduation Owl, gifted to me by the incomparable Mrs. Lane.
- Seeing Professor Moran on stage. She was visiting at UCLA my 1L year and I had her for Torts. She wrote my transfer recommendation letter after she returned to Boalt.
- Seeing everyone one last time before we all start taking the bar review course together in a week.

Low points:
- My dad missing the pre-graduation dinner because he had to work late (still a latchkey kid after all these years); my mom and grandparents missing the post-graduation lunch because they wanted to get an early start on the drive down south.
- The reading of names being interrupted for a few minutes due to the arrival of the First Lady of Thailand. What, indeed, the hell.
- My FCC paper getting passed over for the Thelen Writing Award; me realizing that I may have had a better shot if I had mentioned some way in which the FCC's indecency campaign hurt minorities.
- Getting passed over for the outstanding female student of color award; finding out I wasn't even a finalist.
- The heavy-handed "This is a story about a woman who went to law school to make a difference" speech by the LLM student representative.

All in all I had a great graduation weekend. And now, the Bar...

I'm Done Being in Law School


I still have to do the black cape and funny hat thing, I have some Lexis points I need to spend, and I left a tupperware full of tomato soup in the BTLJ office, but apart from that, yeah. I'm done with law school.

Nothing else to this post. I just wanted to put something else as the headliner since my last two posts were so unnecessarily negative.

What the Hell?

We just got a big e-mail about the goings-on at this Saturday's Boalt graduation ceremony. Of note:

Once we arrive at the theatre, the faculty will process onto the stage to a recorded version of Pomp & Circumstance. Once the faculty have assembled on stage, the degree candidates will process to a live steel-drum version of P&C.

A what? A steel drum version of Pomp & Circumstance? By steel drum do they mean, like, when they play "Come Dancing" at destination resorts in Jamaica? What the hell?

Because there are so many of you this year, we must seat you in the orchestra pit instead of on the stage (except for the one Ph.D. candidate and the two J.S.D. candidates).

How could there be more students than expected? Don't they accept the same amount every year? Are they telling me that, in 2002, they accepted an inordinately large number of people and I still didn't make the cut? Not even the waitlist even?

There will be a reception at Boalt following the ceremony. Food and drink will be available in the Bordon/Darling Courtyard and the Steinhart Courtyard/donor lobby. Two bands will provide music (a jazz band and a mariachi band).

Oh, God damn it. Among the things I find completely unjustifiable, live bands at receptions are pretty high on the list. Visit Jupiter on any night that one of their many jazz bands is playing and you'll see why. We're not going to the reception because we want to listen to music. We're going there to talk to each other, to introduce our families to our friends, and to say our formal goodbyes. All of this will be rendered extremely difficult, awkward, and perhaps impossible by the inevitable onerously amplified bass of the jazz band.


My only hope is that the jazz and mariachi bands play at the same time, get mad at each other, and end up brawling their way onto Bancroft where their respective fingers are permanently disfigured in a horrible car accident so that they can never ruin another social event by playing what should be background music at a volume loud enough to kill God.

I was looking forward to the reception. Now I'm thinking of moving up my lunch reservation.

Earl Warren Earl Burger


Did you know that...

Chief Justice Earl Warren (a Boalt alum - yeah!) was succeeded by Chief Justice Burger, whose full name was Warren Earl Burger?

Now you know.

Also, Justice Louis Brandeis, a gifted jurist and wise proponent of restraint in a time of unbridled conservative judicial activism, was also a decidedly funny-looking motherfucker:

Finally, SUPREME COURT QUIZ! As Chief Justice, I wrote a disastrous Supreme Court opinion that was instrumental in bringing about the U.S. Civil War. I was appointed by President Andrew Jackson, a known child molester. Who am I?


Big Stupid American Cars


GM and Ford have been given junk ratings by S&P, news which dovetails somewhat with what I'm studying today - Antitrust! Well, not really, maybe, but my professor did end the class with a rant against import quotas. We were discussing international trade regulation in the context of antitrust and merger law, and he concluded by telling us that he thought import quotas were a terrible idea.

A loose paraphrase of what he said was that GM shouldn't be lobbying for import quotas on Japanese cars. If they don't want to get killed by Japanese carmakers, they need to "stop making stupid cars." In Japan they don't say that imposing fuel efficiency standards is "legislating virtue," they recognize that fuel efficiency is what people want in their cars, since it hits them in the pocketbook.

The article linked above actually hits this point:

Ford's financial performance has been heavily dependent on the earnings of its SUVs but sales of midsize and large SUVs have plummeted of late, S&P said.

GM shares fell to a 10-year low in April after the company reported a $1.1 billion loss for the first quarter. Its sales have slumped in recent months, including those of its most profitable sport utility vehicles, as gasoline prices marched higher.

There's also an interesting union issue in there which I don't care as much about since I haven't taken labor law.

Matt's Legal Famousness


(Title verbiage proudly horked from Sean.)


My first (and probably last) legitimate piece of academic publishing is now available on LexisNexis. The citation, for those of you with a Lexis account and nothing better to do, is 20 Berkeley Tech. L.J. 341. The pincite to lesbian dryhumping is 20 Berkeley Tech. L.J. 341, 354.

This article probably won't be cited in the near future since nobody cares about indecency anymore, but hey.

More Peanut Humor from The Onion

This week's Onion has another peanut allergy news brief:

Rapidly Swelling Man May Contain Traces Of Peanuts
PENSACOLA, FL—Lance Kiser, the host at the Erewan Thai restaurant, informed fellow employees Monday that the bloated, choking man at table four may contain trace amounts of peanuts. "Warning: The dark-haired businessman who very suddenly began experiencing shortness of breath, confusion, and slurred speech may contain trace amounts of peanuts," Kiser said. "He definitely ate a plate of chicken curry prepared in the same facility as dishes containing peanuts and/or other nuts." The purple-faced, swelling man declined comment.

I must say that I like this piece from about a year ago better, since it's sillier. Stay tuned for further chronicaling of online peanut allergy humor as it comes.

Oh, and there's also a nice article about horrible little children who grow up to be college humor magazine editors.

Six Degrees of Ham and Cheese


Preliminarily, I've been criticized for not giving the latest strip a proper announcement. Here it am! It's not very good and is not deserving of its own blog entry, let alone two blog entries and a comment.

In other news, Molly and I went to a barbecue yesterday. No, it gets better. At this barbecue was a fellow who thought he recognized us at first, but quickly let the matter drop. Only after I made an off-handed remark about the law did he perk up and recite our full names and explan why he knew us. For you see, not only was this man the friend of a friend of the sister of the friend of Molly's who was hosting the barbecue, he was also none other than our own Brian Danny, in the flesh. And some clothes. But not much hair.

So yeah. That was odd. But cool. Nice meeting you, Brian/Danny, and we'll stop by Venus the first chance we get.

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