April 2003 Archives

Mrs. Gunderson

By popular request, I'm posting a run-down of the TMBG / McSweenys show I went to last week. This is an e-mail that I wrote to my man jmv over the weekend. As you'll see I'm not nearly as stand-offish and sarcastic in personal correspondence as I am in blog form.

so anyway, the show. i went with my friend jed, and neither of us knew what to expect. it was billed as "a night of music an literature." and the "vs." sign really threw me off. what was funny is that there was a definite dichotomy in the audience: the music geeks there to see TMBG, and the book geeks there to see mcsweeny's. lots of tension. a lot of people actually left at intermission once the readings were over.

the show started out with "older" and "the ballad of timothy mcsweeny," which i hadn't heard before. there was a foreboding podium on stage left. after the two songs dave eggers came out, and he an john flansburgh gave a hilarious explanation about how the mcsweenys / tmbg collaboration came about. then dave introduced this social commentator person named sarah vowell, who gave a talk about her morbid fascination with the darker parts of american history, particularly the salem witch trials (did you know that the founder of salem was john flansburgh's 12th great grandfather?). the band was on stage the whole time, and they played a song called "gallows hill and andersonville" which was based on her monologue when she was done.

Punked by the Daily Bruin


Last week I sent a letter to The Daily Bruin, a retarded cousin of The Daily Californian, regarding this crap. The relevant portions of the letter are:

Dear the Daily Bruin:

I enjoyed reading [the author's] article today. It's refreshing to see that arguments that have been played to death in Ms. Magazine for years can still be published anew in the Daily Bruin.

There are, however, a few holes in [the author's] story. First off, Lizzy Borden was real person, who committed a real double-murder with a real axe. Accordingly, her characterization by "our culture" as mentally unstable is more an accurate portrayal of empirical facts than a sinister plot to subjugate women.

[I then gave a boring a properly excised explanation of the independent etymologies of "hysterectomy" and "hysteria" from the Greek word "huster," meaning "womb," to counter the author's claim that "the word hysterectomy is derived from the word hysteria".]

Finally, while I don't doubt that a woman killing or otherwise injuring a man (or woman for that matter) in a fit of insane rage will face mitigated prosecution, these statutes are part of broader provocation and emotional distress laws which have been common for centuries and apply to both women and men.

I applaud [the author's] attempts to break free of her own "blame the media" approach by using historical and linguistic arguments. But these arguments must be accurate and complete in order to be effective.

Matt H.
First-Year Law Student

Today the Bruin published a ham-fistedly edited version of the letter, with one glaring substantive change: the last sentence in the second paragraph now reads: "Accordingly, female mental instability is more an accurate portrayal of empirical facts than a sinister plot to subjugate women."

So in one awkward stroke of the cut-and-paste the esteemed editors have transformed me from a somewhat thoughtful commentator on gender issues into a raging misogynist. More importantly, I now share with Steve the dubious honor of having been beasted by a second-rate college newspaper.

Contract Killing


I decided to go guest star heavy this week to cover up the overall weakness of the humor. Those who complain that IFTL is "only marginally law related" may be pleasantly surprised with our offering this week, though that pleasantness will turn into despair when they realize that the jokes aren't even funny within the legal context. But hey, if a state government can act incrementally in keeping unsafe operators out of public transportation, I can act incrementally in bringing more legal humor into my goddamn comic strip. That may be a local government, actually. I haven't really done much Con Law studying yet.

Anyway, enjoy the strip while you can, because I may be sued for likeness rights at any moment.

First final is on Tuesday. Hey, "first final" is kind of an oxy moron, right? Like "red buttons."

An old high school friend has tracked me down and shanghaied me into a sinister plot to reunite my high school drama class, which should be great fun. In addition to bringing a giggle to my eye, the experience has presented me with the shameful picture reproduced above. Yes, I used to wear a flannel shirt, I used to slick my hair back, my forehead has always been that big, and there was a stretch of several years where I absolutely refused to smile in photographs. In short, I nailed the sullen teenager bit to the wall.

And in case you were wondering, that is, indeed, a cardboard cut-out of George H. W. Bush in the background.

The night in addition to bringing me dreams about Christopher Guest and books written by my classmates also brought me a teeny tiny splinter. Since my tweezing proved futile, I got all MacGyver and used an unbent staple to free myself of the hated piece of wood. So I probably have tetanus now, but at least there's no wood in me.

But that's not what's important. What's important is that a classroom isn't a fucking library, so if you come to class early and expect everyone else to lick your balls and be quiet because you're studying, you're a pure uncut jack-ass.

But that's not what's really important. What's really important is the fact that today is the last day of class. Two weeks of finals hell and I'm working for the Man for eight weeks. O glorious day.

But that's not really what's really important. Really what's really important is that I'm seeing McSweenys vs. They Might Be Giants tonight, motherfuckers.

Smell things before you eat them.

Much Less than Zero


This is a story about pretty houses. I realize there are no actual houses in the strip. Use your imagination. Also, this story isn't funny. My apologies.

On Saturday night Molly and I went back to Brentwood Village for dinner. We had Indian food and ate ice cream while peering through the gates of Brentwood School, more or less oblivious to the numerous ants at our feet until they started showing up one by one on our hands. On the way back I decided to take a shortcut down Montana Avenue rather than heading all the way back to Santa Monica Boulevard. The excursion took us into the nicer neighborhoods of Santa Monica, and Molly had the idea to head north and look at houses instead of heading directly back to my modest studio apartment.

As we headed north the houses got larger, more attractive, more diverse (architecture-wise), and more reclusive. Fences turned into walls, gates got larger, foliage got more elaborate, driveways got longer and front doors got farther and farther away. Eventually the street we were on turned into Sunset Boulvard and I could no longer drive slowly enough to admire the houses. I was very aware that I was driving the only car within miles that had a mirror held on by duct tape. Sunset took us into Pacific Palisades, where they have chain grocery stores I've never heard of. We caught PCH and headed south back to Santa Monica, with the sun setting over our shoulders.

When I was in college I always had trouble envisioning my future. I wasn't pessimistic, I just had no idea how my life was going to turn out. I think the series of dysfunctional relationships, my inability to get anywhere in my chosen major, and the general aimlessness of my life in Berkeley left me without any building blocks with which to model a life for myself after college. Law school was more or less an accident, so even as the acceptance letters started showing up I didn't get the feeling that I was really going anywhere or doing anything.

Now, I'm marrying an amazing woman and I'm working toward a pretty decent career. I can look at nice houses and imagine being the (second) oldest person living in one of them. I can imagine speaking German and Spanish to my children at the breakfast table. And I can see myself sharing my success, my life, and everything I love with someone I never thought I'd find.

And god damn it, that's a pretty good feeling.

When I was a small child, around four years old, I was a big fan of the television show Soap, which was a sitcom-satire of soap operas. Soap featured the talents of Robert Guillame, the late great Richard Mulligan, the actors who would later play the dad on Blossom and Mona on Who's the Boss?, and, most importantly for the purposes of this story, Billy Crystal as Jodie Dallas.

Jodie was one of the first openly gay characters to regularly appear on an American sitcom, and his gayness was a source of many a cheap laugh. For example, on the pilot episode, when Jodie comes down for breakfast, his stepfather Burt (played ably by Richard Mulligan) says, "Why don't you get him some Froot Loops?" Laughter and applause.

As a four-year-old I didn't understand why certain otherwise unfunny things were funny just because they were said in relation to Jodie, but I figured that they had something to do with him being "gay." So I asked my mom what "gay" meant. Not wanting to embark on the task of explaining homosexuality to her four-year-old son, my mom punted and said, "Well, if you're gay it means you don't get married." An accurate, but by no means precise, explanation.

And so, I developed the understanding that not getting married somehow made you funny, and realizing the value of a good sense of humor even then, my path was chosen. Little did I know.

About a week later I was visiting my grandparents with my dad (who hadn't been privy to the Jodie conversation). At the time one of my aunts was planning her wedding, and there was much talk of weddings and marriage amongst the relatives gathered at my grandparents'. At one point one of my relatives said to me, "How about you, Matthew? When are you getting married?"

"Aw, I'm not getting married," I replied. "I'm gay."

Legally Blonde is a Fucking Lie

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Enjoy this week's double helping of IFTL. Earlier this week I came up with an idea for a guest-star named "Liti-gator: The Alligator Attorney" which may or may not be making an appearance in a bonus strip later this week. Don't hold your breath.

As for 1L tips, here are a few more. Keep up with The Sopranos, becuase about 65% of the conversations amongst your classmates will involve them in some way. Tony Soprano is also a perennial fixture in classroom hypotheticals, final exams, and law review prompts. It may also be a good idea to watch Legally Blonde if, unlike me, you can stomach Reese Witherspoon for more than a few seconds.

And most importantly, don't bitch about law schools you didn't get into. Unless you're at Yale or Harvard, everyone takes for granted that you'd rather be somewhere else. No need to bring it out into the open. It's very demoralizing.

But even more importantly, the fiancee and I ate at a restaurant in Brentwood this evening that had those walls of autographed pictures of famous people who had eaten there (famous people from the 70s and 80s, Molly adds, but famous people nonetheless). Anyway, among the stars was Gino "Felipe" Conforti, who played the high-strung chef on Three's Company. I felt especially honored to be dining in an establishment previously graced by such an icon of popular television, but oddly enough I resisted the urge to inflict episode synopses on Molly, like the one where Mr. Furley is helping out in the kitchen and he keeps driving Felipe crazy. "I want... to keel heem...." Good times.

But Can You Eat PIE?


The Honorable
Antonin Scalia
United States Supreme Court
One First Street NE
Washington, DC 20543

Dear Justice Scalia:

I hereby challenge you to a pie eating contest to be conducted at the time and place of your choosing. Although you may consider this to be a formal challenge, I address you with the utmost respect, as your position commands, and by no means am I "calling you out." I merely wish to settle, once and for all, the question of which one of us is more skilled at eating pies. Whole pies.

Furthermore, I must respectfully request that pecan and other nutted pies be banned from the competition, as this is to be an objective measure of pie-eating abilities rather than a "pie-eating battle to the death."

I eagerly await your response. Please be further advised that the longer the delay, the greater time you afford me to hone my pie-eating skills.

Respectfully yours,


During my senior year in college I attended a laser safety seminar at LBNL. I didn't actually work at the lab, but they had free danishes and, you know, you might meet someone.

The seminar consisted of tips and rules for safely operating lasers, like "Don't point it at your eye," "Don't point it at other people's eyes," "If you're going to burn off a mole wear goggles," and "Always turn on the 'laser on' warning light, because unlike those fancy bastards over at KALX we don't have the technology to make that happen automatically."

The seminar concluded with a look at laser hazard signs from around the world. They all had the same graphic (an eyeball on fire), but each said "Danger: Laser Radiation" in a different language. As the instructor put each sign on the overhead, he'd ask what language it was in, and we'd call out our answers. "German!" we'd cry. "Portuguese!" "Korean!"

Finally he put up a sign written in curvy, jagged letters and dots, and asked if anyone knew what language it was in. Without really thinking about it, I found myself saying, "Klingon?"

And it was Klingon. Now, I am not now, was not then, and have never been what you'd cal a Star Trek fan. But somehow I managed to identify the Klingon laser hazard sign using the sheer force of my own innate nerdery.

The point is this: If you're at a laser safety seminar, you're a nerd. If you're at a laser safety seminar and manage to spot the random Star Trek reference, you're a giant nerd. If you're in a room with eleven Physics majors and you're the first to catch the Star Trek reference, you're the giant nerd that the other giant nerds and smaller nerds bow down to as their king.

Of course, there was no actual bowing that day, but there were a lot of genuine oohs and ahhs, and I got a plush eyeball as a reward for being the "Klingon Warrior."

Arr, Matey


My man JMV over at Octopus Hat has alerted me to advertising for the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I'm conflicted about this film. On the one hand, it's a Disney movie. On the other hand, it has more hot girls than the ride. On the other hand, it's a Bruckheimer movie. On the other hand, pirates! On the other hand, there's the "try wearing a corset" joke in the trailer, which means that the script writers have fallen into the familiar trap of using bad, obvious humor to pretend they have progressive views on gender. On the other hand, undead skeleton pirates!

I was really hoping to get that up to eight as an homage to Allen's Octopus opus, but I have failed. You've been worsted again, Allen.

But what I'm really wondering, really, is this. Disney is making a movie based on a ride. Are they going to make another ride based on the movie based on the ride? And if so, will it have a live-action or animatronic Keira Knightly?

This is Not a Comic Strip


I ask that you not read this week's update. Note that I use the word "update" instead of the usual "strip."

If you insist on taking a look anyway, what you're seeing is lecture notes from Property, specifically the Rule Against Perpetuities, which is actually a lot of fun, and inspires law students to write about fetuses in very large letters.

The point is, UCLA Law benefits from being one of two semester-based schools on a quarter-based campus, which means we get a teeny tiny Winter Break and classes that end in April, which means that I have an ass-load of outlining to do which, given the numerous other excuses I don't feel like writing down, leaves precious little time for drawrings. I apologize. Next week will be six panels. Just you wait.

In the meantime, this should help fill the void. When you tell people about this website it's extremely important to enunciate very clearly, as you'll find out the first time you don't.

Happy Birthday, Fruit Scone!


Forty years ago this week, the Pop Tart was invented by a Kellogg's employee named (oddly enough) Post. Just imagine, a mere four decades ago people were walking around without benefit of preservative-loaded toaster pastries.

Did you know...

Two BILLION Pop Tarts are sold annually in the United States, and that doesn't include knock-offs like Toaster Strudel and those god-awful store brands.

The first city to encounter the Pop Tart was Cleveland, Ohio, where the warm reception sparked nation-wide distribution.

The original Pop Tarts were round.

Froster Pop Tarts were developed in 1967, when a forward-thinking Kellogg's employee ran a few Pop Tarts through a cookie froster. The suits upstairs screamed No! You fool! The toaster will melt the frosting! But the frosting remained intact, toaster be damned, and now two of the four most popular Pop Tart varieties are frosted.

I don't particularly care for Pop Tarts.

This guy Amir in my math class freshman year was never seen without a Pop Tart and a bottle of Dr. Pepper, and his legs shaked constantly when he sat down.

Now you know.

In Other News


Apparently I've been hanging out with the right people, because I got a letter from the Beverly Hills Country Club today (addressed to me) inviting me to "become acquainted with [their] friendly, neighborhood private club." In case you were wondering, membership in their fine club is "exclusive, but not exclusionary. Notable members of the Board of Governors include Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Chris Carter, Barbara Eden, George Hamilton(!), Alan King, Tommy Lasorda, Leslie Moonves(!), Wolfgang Puck, Nancy and Tina Sinatra, and Dr. Harvey A. Zarem.

Some day, perhaps.

By the way, I'm not bragging. There's no way in God's Holy Hell I could get into the BHCC in my current state of affairs. I hope somebody got fired for this.

And the Winner Is...

I've resisted this until now, but I'd like to bring to everyone's attention that some poor fool found my blog by searching for "i want fuck my mother in law." Good luck with that, pardner.

Also, I've learned that my page is the first thing that comes up when one types "Ignorantia Legis Neminem Excusat" into Google. People are probably trying to find a translation for it, which I've failed to provide. I'm wondering if I have some kind of moral obligation to go ahead and write out the translation. Nah, probably not.

Finally, if you're still reading this and holding out hope for something to comment on, I learned today that "It's the woman's body" in the context of a discussion about Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey is functionally identical to "It's in the Bible" or "That's what Hitler would say" in numerous other contexts.



A Google search for "gubment cheese" serendipitously turned up Onion World, a site I used to visit back in 199-fucking-7 during my viriginal experiences with high-speed Interweb access. Also, the Friends section of the same still includes a graphic portraying Angry 18-Year-Old Holohan in Onion form (called "Tok," short for "Tokamak"), linked to my long defunct original Web page. The title of the page was "Matt's Pessimistic Hate Page" and it won the Worst of the Web Award.

But I'm feeling much better now.

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

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