February 2003 Archives

RICO Suave


There's been another crushing defeat for abortion rights in the Supreme Court, only not really. Today's decision holding RICO laws inapplicable to anti-abortion protesters seems to have less to do with privacy (or even free expression) than with property. Judging from what the news article says, the court decided the issue on an esoteric and thoroughly uninteresting consideration of what it means to "obtain" a piece of property, concluding that the chaotic undertakings of Operation Rescue don't amount to obtaining for the purposes of RICO. The lone dissenter complained about the ruling's effects on property rights.

This, I'm afraid, is another example of how property law quite pretentiously insists on being interesting, in this case being the controlling factor in a hot political battle.

As for precedential value, I think the ruling means that if you and your friends get dressed up as Vikings and take over a local place of business, you can be charged with all kinds of crimes, but racketeering is not among them (I mean, how could it be?). Nor will you be subject to any kinds of injunctions preventing you from dressing like a Viking and taking over businesses in the future.

Quite predictably, the National Organization for Women is treating the ruling as a direct attack on women's rights as opposed to a near-unanimous application of law. They applaud Justice Stevens' dissent, ignoring the fact that he was also more concerned with the property rights of business owners than with reproductive freedom.

Happy interfering, everyone.

Affirmative Smacktion


First things first. I'm out of paper, so I had to use the back of an old strip to draw this week's strip. The black specks you see are the ghosts of I Fought the Law past.

Also, please don't interpret anything in the strip, the blog entry, or anything I ever say to you as a condemnation or endorsement of affirmative action. My opinion on the merits of the program is completely immaterial for our purposes. The point of Kam's rant, which should be clear to the more than casual reader, is that I'm sick to god-damned death of hearing about affirmative action.

I understand that it's a hot issue, and something of deep spiritual significance to many people on both sides. But the sad truth is that there is absolutely nothing new under the sun to be said on either side of the affirmative action debate, and trying to engage in any sort of meaningful dialogue will doubtless end up in so many quavering voices and angry sighs with nothing substantial being accomplised. Unless, of course, you happen to be in a politically homogenous environment where you can just sit around a bitch about the people who don't agree with you while you drink either Peet's or Starbucks, depending on which side you happen to fall. Everyone who's ever going to make up their mind about affirmative action already has, and those who haven't either don't care enough to take a side or are young enough to have their parents decide for them.

And another thing. A lot of people are wringing their hands over the Supreme Court's impending consideration of the University of Michigan affirmative action case, wondering how it's going to turn out and how it's going to affect the racial landscape of Our Nation. Well, I can tell you exactly how it's going to turn out. The Supreme Court is going to come down on one side or another. Then, nothing will happen. If the court is feeling especially frisky they may--oh, they just may--strike down the specific program that Michigan is currently using. But assuming that we live in a fantasy world where the ruling will have any sort of precedential value whatsoever, no other programs will be the least bit affected until years and years (and years) of subsequent litigation. We're not all going to wake up one morning and find that affirmative action is illegal, or that it's legal forever, and no amount of amicus briefs or dubya jokes will change that. The reason they refer to the Supreme Court Justices as "The Supremes" is that these days, to most people, they're about as bold and powerful as a sequin-clad Motown doo-wop band. We can all look forward to a fragmented set of opinions that will settle absolutely nothing about the affirmative action debate, and the band will play more or less on.

In related news, the conservative students at UCLA are infinitely more creative than their Berkeley counterparts.

IFTL Quiz: Spot the Drama Geek




A shorter, furtive Holohan.

Yesterday I found an unopened bottle of Corona on top of my locker with a red ribbon tied around it. Confused, yet charmed, I left the following message on the hallway chalkboard:

"To the kind soul who left the bottle of Corona on top of my locker-- Thank you! The red ribbon was a nice touch. I'm not sure if I was the intended recipient, but I have it now. And I'm going to drink it. Next time leave some limes as well. And something with which to cut the limes. Your friend, Matt."

So this morning I arrived to find, on top of my locker, a piece of cheesecake in a plastic box, complete with plastic knife, plastic fork, and real strawberry. I went into the hallway to check the chalkboard and someone had written "U R Welcome. (heart) Darren" next to my message.

At this point I'm still mainly confused, but I think the paranoia will set in at any moment now. Also, since I can't stand cheesecake, it's pretty much up for grabs if anyone wants it.

Curse of the Afterborns


Quiz Master Steve sent this my way. If you thought you were living in a nation of fools because of last week's duct tape fiasco, you're in for an extra special treat on the other side... of the link.

In lighter news, mockumentarian Christopher Guest and his band of Merry Men are at it again, in case you haven't heard. The group shot alone is enough to keep anyone giggling until the April release date.

We May Not Care, But At Least We Listen


I'm not sure how long our new fuzzy character will stick around before being forgotten in the eddies of my creativity. If I decide to give him a name it'll be an encouraging sign.

The girlfriend and I went to the Ballet on Saturday. There were four short ballets, culminating in a ballet version of Medea with a big Tree of Death and all kinds of neat capes. I was somewhat disturbed by how much I enjoyed the single all-male ballet performance, but if you could see what these fine southern gentlemen were doing with their bodies, well, you might not mind looking at the ass-hugging leotards so much.

Being the contrarian that I am I managed to antagonize the girlfriend on at least two points. First I criticized the above-mentioned ass-huggingness of the boys' leotards, prompting her to point out that part of the ballet experience is appreciating the human form. I countered by noting that the female dancers' leotards not only laid flat against their respective bottoms (instead of thrusting up the ole crack like the mens' did), but were further covered by flimsy yet optically impenetrable skirts, so nobody was too worried about appreciating any huwoman forms. Heh heh heh.

I also tried her patience with a brief synopsis of the episode of Mr. Belvedere where Wesley is taking ballet lessons and George is none to happy about it, but at the end George loudly tells off a fellow father for calling Wesley a sissy. We determined that it wasn't so much an "It's okay to be gay" episode as an "It's okay to do ballet because it doesn't mean you're gay" episode before I went off on all the other very special episodes of Mr. Belvedere, including the one where Wesley's friend can't play Abraham Lincoln in the school play because he has AIDS, the one where Heather gets date raped by the captain of the football team, and the two separate episodes where Kevin gets drunk and they worry he's an alcoholic. Supposedly it's not a good idea to discuss Mr. Belvedere at a ballet, but as far as I'm concerned anytime is a good time for Belvedere.

All in all it was a very enjoyable experience.

The end.

God Damn It


This afternoon I had an interview in Irvine. As I was pulling into the parking garage for the handsome office building wherein the interview was to go down, I was beset by an unfortunate happenstance. See the thing is, when you pull up to the ticket machine, see, there's this monitor, and it's showing you a real-time full color image of your very face, as if to say, "Listen, bitch, our surveillance is so thorough that we can show YOU a picture of YOUR DAMN SELF, so just watch your back. JACK."

The upshot of this system for megalomaniacs like me is that you get distracted checking yourself out in the monitor. So that's what I did. Got distracted. Accordingly, as I was pulling away from the ticket machine I heard a the crash and snap of a soul being crushed, and angled my head slightly to see my left mirror dangling limply from the side of the car. I still don't know exactly what I hit. It may have been the gate thingy not getting itself up fast enough, but whatever it was, it relieved me of the full use of the side mirror.

So I went ahead and parked, and tested the switch that makes the mirror move, and that still worked, so all hope was not lost. I left the mirror to dangle for two and a half hours while I learned all I could about the Practice of Law in beautiful South County, and returned to the car. Fortunately I had some rope left in the trunk from John's bachelor party, and i managed to secure the mirror back in place by opening the window and tying the damned thing around the door frame. Satisfied with my handywork, I got in the car, started the Mattmobile up, and proceeded to absent-mindedly close the power window, until I heard another soul-crushing snapping sound and, angling my head more severely this time, observed my window having been driven out of its groove by the rope.

Undaunted, I rolled the window back down and drove down to San Juan Capistrano with only a little wind and rain in the face. When I arrived at my Capo destination I undid the rope and tried to roll the window up again, and imagine my glee when the window decided the bypass the frame entirely and come to rest about an inch and a half above the door.

Still resisting any sort of daunt, I lowered the window yet again, and this time it bitched and grunted its way back into its proper place before being once again raised and nestled into the frame, this time with a delightful array of grease streaks from the inside of the door.

I then had a very lovely dinner.

Then I secured the mirror in place yet again, this time using precious, precious duct tape, which while ineffective against biological terrorist attacks is A-1 for ghettoizing your car. And now, on account of the duct tape and all, I won't be opening the window for a while, which means that if I get pulled over guns will be drawn.

So, to summarize the last year of the Mattmobile:

April, 2002: Car accident, not my fault, ~$8,000
May, 2002: Break-in, $200 to replace the window and $100 to replace the jackets stolen from the back seat.
February, 2003: Fucked up side mirror and window, a few cents worth of duct tape and I'll be God-damned if I'm sinking another dime into any more bodywork for a long, long while.

Watch the Buttons


Behold the new strip, posted late, but better than never.

I never realized that a business suit was sexy until I was watching Patriot Games with the girlfriend a while ago and she said of Harrison Ford, quite unexpectedly, "Mmm. He looks good in that suit," much in the same way as the likes of me would say of any given screen actress, "Mmm. She looks good in that minidress" or "She looks good in that teddy" or "She looks good in that naked body."

At one point I tried to convince the girlfriend that she looked at Jack Ryan in that torso-hugging suit and saw power, money, success, and all the other patriarchal things that women are traditionally supposed to find attractive in a man without actually knowing anything about him as a person, and that therefore she was objectifying Harrison just as much as I had objectified the assistants on that Secrets of Magic show by focusing on the overt sexuality that they exuded as they twisted and cavorted and made each other disappear, and that in that one passing remark she had licensed me to drool over any old pair of boobies that happened along the TV screen. Not surprisingly, the comparison didn't fly. I should have known better than to lift an argument from Maxim

In my defense, it was from a Mike Soutar issue of Maxim. In my further defense, I also think Patricia Heaton is hot, so figure that one out.

We Are the Violent Masters of College Bowl


Steve, Tom, Mike and I entered a UCLA College Bowl tournament last week, which concluded this evening with great drama and excitement. There were fourteen rounds with two byes, and we went 10-2, losing twice to the same team, a team stacked with College Bowl regulars who went 12-0.

Since our team, Lowenthal's Nuns, was the second-ranking team, we played the undefeated team in a final championship round. Steve's goal all along had been to make it to the top two, so at this point the pressure was off. Or so we thought.

Though we played valiantly for the first half of the championship round, the score was something along the lines of 150 to 35 at the half, with us on the 35 end. We were down by quite a bit. Morale was low, but noble captain Steve assured us that we were "still in the game." We all pretended to believe him. A little bit.

The second half began ominously. The correct answer to the first question was "Roe v. Wade," and we four law students were beaten to it by the opposing captain. "That's no good," muttered Steve. "No good at all." I told him to relax, which is what he told me to say to him if he got agitated. So I said it. And he remained agitated.

A tumultuous half ensued. Tom's triumphant "Boyz II Men" and my risky "asbestos" secured some much-needed toss-up points and access to bonus questions. But Steve truly owned the night. Using "44 B.C." as his only clue he pulled out "Brutus" for ten. He hail-maryed an impulsive yet successful "iodine," forcing me once again to shame-facedly confront my chemical ignorance. Yes, the history major had gotten "iodine" from "kelp," and me, I didn't even know that neutrinos happened when neutrons decayed.

Halfway through the half Steve growled, "We're back in this, guys." And the audience laughed, those fools whom we had left in our wake, pummeling them with our two "United States of America"s, a well-placed "George Washington, Our First President" and a painfully strategic "Jar Jar Binks." We suffered their giggles and pressed on. The last few minutes of the round were a tense buzzing match between our two worthy captains, until, with about ten seconds remaining, Steve buzzed in with a wrong answer, costing us a minus 5 for the early buzz, and allowing the opposing team unfettered access to the ten. The final buzzer screamed the round to a halt, and I leaned over to My Captain and whispered encouragingly: "If we lose by five points, you're dead."

The players relaxed, somewhat, but tension still filled the room as we asked the hot girl with the tongue stud what the score was, in God's Holy Name, What Was the Score???

Us: 240
Them: 235

A cacophany of applause, laughter, groans, and table-pounding broke out as the law school underdogs claimed their hard-fought victory. And every penny of our respective $25 Ackerman Student Union gift certificates will be spent with several dollars worth of pride.

So, to summarize our winnings:
Steve: Free Basketball Jersey from Mountain Dew, Bragging Rights Amongst College Bowl Colleagues
Tom: The tongue stud girl's phone number
Mike: A mad assist re: tongue stud girl
Me: Giving "They Might Be Giants" as a correct answer

Until next year, playaz.

Overheard in the student lounge:

"My friend just got engaged, but she's freaking out. Her fiancee is in the military, so if a war starts his contract might be extended. And if that happens he'll want to get married right away so she'll be entitled to the benefits. So, you know, she's going crazy, because if she has to get married in, like, six months, she won't have time to plan it. She may have to settle for, like, a small ceremony with a party at some restaurant."

Moving Right Along

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My laptop is back!

A week early, even. Among the improvements are a shiny new display screen, a suitably stable power socket, and a touchpad that no longer makes a mouse-click when tapped. This last thing is actually something I'd like to reverse, but the Control Panel seems to think I have an actual mouse hooked up to this thing and won't let me do anything that I couldn't also do to an actual mouse. And since nothing happens if you gently tap a mouse on the back of its back, well, I'm at a bit of a loss.

In other news, the girlfriend and I recently watched a trilogy of "It's Shakespeare, but..." movies: It's Hamlet, but Denmark is an NYC Corporation; It's Romeo and Juliet, but they're in Mexico in the near future; and It's Richard III, but during World War II. I'd like to see this idea taken to the next level: It's the Merchant of Venice, but with dinosaurs... It's King Lear, on the moon...

In all seriousness, I think they could easily make a futuristic version of The Tempest. Instead of a storm, a meteor shower, instead of an island, an undiscovered planet, and a bunch of aliens instead of fairies and whatnot. So if anyone out there is looking for a good movie idea to hork, there you go.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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