October 2005 Archives



Hi everybody.

Halloween isn't just my favorite holiday; it's the only holiday that I actually like at all. Kind of like the song "Lost Again" by Dance Hall Crashers. I hate every ska song except that one, and it's one of my favorite songs. But anyway, yeah, this Halloween has been kind of lame. I dressed up as "Reasonable Doubt" at The Firm, borrowing a page from Steve's playbook and dressing up as an abstract legal concept. It involved a fake mustache.

The Firm had a big Halloween Hullabaloo today. There were two costume contests - group and individual. My section's "Ghost Town" motif won second place. The group of partners who dressed up as Elvises and plastered their section of the building with Elvis posters and cardboard cutouts took the gold. The ladies of the HR department, dressed as 80s chick rockers, came in third. A guy dressed as a ninja won the individual best costume prize, which I don't understand at all.

Before the party proper, attorneys and staffmembers and people who will hopefully be attorneys come December were invited to bring their children in for trick-or-treating. The Firm supplied candy to everyone for their respective offices. Predictably, I ended up with a big bowl of Baby Ruths and Butterfisters. Anyway, kids are cute, especially when they're dressed up as things, and especially when a strange man with a creepy mustache who has no idea how to talk to children tries to lure them into his office with the promise of candy. I also had some of Meli's homemade punkin bread on my desk for the parents.

Since Meli wouldn't be home in time to set up for the trick-or-treaters, I decided to leave early and finish the work I was doing at home while handing out candy to The Children. Our impressive display of pumpkins and delicious assortment of candy were enjoyed by exactly two sets of children. Worse yet, we intentionally bought candy I don't like so I won't be tempted to eat all of it. So if anyone wants a bunch of pixie stix, Heath Bars, and sour Starburst let me know.

This is all leading up to this: I'm spending the evening reading a 270+ page securities complaint, so please please please make with the Halloween party pictures.

The Grey Age


I did a new strip, posted here, using the new art supplies I got from my brother-in-law. The strip is dedicated to him, and his law school applications. May he have unbridled success. Maybe for Christmas he can get me some new drawing skills, or the ability to make gifs of my cartoons without pixelating them (any help from you Photoshop experts out there would be greatly appreciated).

As you may have noticed, the latest strip is in black-and-white. I also changed the style sheet so that the links are in black. This is meant to signify that, while life was fun and colorful in law school, the life of a lawyer is bleak and demanding. It also signifies that I'm sick of using my clunky version of Photoshop to add color to my comic strips and have them come out uglier than they went in. We'll see how that works out.

Tomorrow is Halloween, my favoritest of holidays, and I'm completely missing out on all the festivities this year. All the festivities except the office Halloween party, which may or may not be fun. My area of the office is doing a "ghost town" theme. Since all the good costumes (town drunk, card dealer, prostitute) were taken, I decided to make my office the "Wild Westlaw" Depot. The kids should be amused.

Big Fancy Lawyers, Small Fancy World

I just returned from my two-day new associate orientation in San Diego, an experience so fraught with ridiculous things that it may finally break my long-suffered cartoonist's block. Especially since my brother in law bought my a bunch of fancy art supplies for me birthday.

But first things first. When I arrived on Day One I saw that the woman featured in this controversial strip from way back when is a new associate in another office of The Firm. She didn't seem to recognize me. I don't anticipate much interaction with her, what with our offices being in two entirely different Northern California metropolitan areas, but I'll be vigilant.

Bad Idea


I'm off to San Diego and will be cut off from the blorgsphere for a few days while I learn to fall into the arms of my fellow new-hires. But I just wanted to share this before I left. As someone with crippling acrophobia, I may never be able to sleep again knowing that something like this will ever exist.

Office Pals


Of the many photos I have up in my office, the most distracting by far is this one:

Not only because everyone in the picture is strikingly handsome, but also because their respective faces are all telling me distinctly different things.

Matt: Your air of relaxed comfort belies a crippling lack of self confidence.
Zack: Hooray Matt! Yaaaaaay! I'm with you, buddy!
Tyler: (In "Hi, Aquaman!" voice) Hi, Holohan! I'm silly! You should stop doing work and start being silly!
Sean: You ain't shit.

In other office news, it's absolutely freezing in here unless the sun is shining directly on my window, this morning I was visited by a menacing bird-shadow, the IT guys are really nice when you ask them for things but have trouble bringing the things you ask for, and my secretary is awesome. Among other things, she brought me an unsolicited plate of Halloween cookies yesterday. I ate some.

If Paul Were a CEO


Howard Stern fans will already be familiar with this story. On this morning's show they were talking about all the steps that Scores takes to prevent these kinds of disputes. The article also mentions it:

Hanover said that each time a patron spends $10,000, Scores calls the customer's credit card company to get the charges approved. Scores even fingerprints the customer and requires him to get on the telephone with a credit card representative, he said.

As harrowing as my own tales of gentlemen's club mishaps are, at least my tabs never had commas in them.

Damn it. In all the excitement last week with the move and the polar bears I forgot to post a National Ten Day post. So here it is, a week later.

October 10th is National Ten Day. It's the 10th day of the 10th month, and 1010 is ten in binary.

That's all.

Big Important Autumn


It occurred to me today that a lot of shit is about to go down in my life. Here's a rundown.

Tomorrow (October 17th): I start work at The Firm, launching my career as a big fancy lawyer/billable hours slave.
October 26th: I turn 27, leaving my mid-20s behind.
Also October 26th: I leave for a three-day firm-wide orientation, which will feature lots of nametags, PowerPoint, forgettable personal anecdotes, and hopefully unhealthful foods.
November 16th: I find out if I passed the Bar, and whether I have a future as a big fancy lawyer/billable hours slave.
November 26th: Notre Dame* plays Standorf, bringing a busload of Irish revelers from San Bernardino County to Palo Alto, including my family whom we'll try to strong-arm into visiting us at our new apartment.

So, if I seem a little distracted for the next month or so, don't take it personally.

*By the way, I never watch college football, but I'd nonetheless like to thank the Notre Dame football team for just barely failing to end USC's 27-game winning streak on Saturday. Because that wouldn't have been awesome at all.



I went and picked up my diploma today, bringing to fruition the collateral damage discussed so long ago. Somehow I find the fact that he's President of the Regents even more disturbing than the fact that he's governor. Oh well.

Speaking of which, in case you care, I plan to vote No on every one of Arnold's initiatives except the redistricting one. The blanket No vote has less to do with politics than with my seething hatred of special elections, a hatred that is nonetheless dwarfed by my hatred of gerrymandering.

But back to the diploma. It's ginormous. It's also a lot wider than it needs to be, for reasons unknown. I didn't think my bachelor's degree was such a big deal, and now it will be further de-emphasized by being hung alongside its big brother. Not to mention the banana sex picture.

Shallow Alto


As previously noted, Meli and I moved to our new place in Palo Alto this weekend. This morning, two bumbling Comcast field agents spent an hour and fifteen minutes trying to connect our television and computers to the outside world. I helped a little bit. The installation guys didn't speak English, and the guy on the other end of the Nextel walkie-talkie sounded like an overwhelmed seventeen-year-old computer geek, so it fell upon me to lend a helping hand. The point is, I'm back on the Internet after an unprecedented three-day hiatus, and it hasn't changed much.

Here are a few observations about our new living arrangements.

We live across the street from a park, which was full of children playing soccer all day Saturday and Sunday. This means that walking around naked in my apartment with the blinds open is now a sex crime.

The cats have adjusted surprisingly well to the move. They were, of course, completely freaked out their first day. But the morning after we brought them, Ruby was bothering me at four in the morning to feed her, just like always. They're still slightly on edge, and exhibiting strange behaviors. Today, for example, Pepe found it extremely important to jump up onto the stove. My stern rebukes and hand-clapping were of little use, but fortunately his attention span is such that he grew tired of the stove rather quickly and went back to chasing imaginary bugs around the apartment.

We have a balcony. The best thing about the balcony is that the screen for the sliding glass door is on the inside. This means that if I want the glass door open and the screen door closed, I have to open the screen door, then open the sliding glass door, then close the screen door. This I don't understand at all.

In addition to being across the street from a park, we're within spitting distance of the 101 freeway. On our first night here I decided to open the bedroom windows when we went to bed, because Meli and I both find the freeway sounds strangely soothing. It must be the Orange County in us.

We haven't really met any of our neighbors. Most of them just gave us the stink-eye as we were carrying our shit into the apartment. My guess is that it's mostly Stanford grad students around here and they can smell the stench of two Cal degrees emanating from my person.

When I lived in Santa Monica, getting anywhere in Los Angeles involved driving west on Santa Monica Boulevard and turning right. Here, getting anywhere at all involves driving on El Camino Real, a road that seems to go in every direction, including parallel and perpendicular to itself. I'm going to get lost a lot in the next few weeks.

Speaking of Lost, have you guys been watching the new season? It's cray-ZAY! What the hell is going on next week? Jin speaks English all of a sudden? I think Michelle Rodriguez is a demon. Maybe Jin's a demon too.

Never entangle yourself with U-Haul if you can help it.

I was going to send out a "Here's our new address and sorry I haven't e-mailed in a while" mass e-mail, but decided against it for various reasons. The blorg, cell phone, and e-mail haven't changed, and if you really want to know my address you probably shouldn't.



I have a long and tragic history of nicknames. In elementary school I had a number of teasing nicknames, most of which were based on my red hair and/or freckles. None of them are really worth reproducing here. In middle school, I became tall and fat, giving rise to the nickname "Big Red," which had unusual sticking power. In fact, I remember being called "Big Red" intermittently well into high school, despite the fact that I lost weight and became less tall with respect to my classmates (somehow "Medium Red" doesn't have much allure to it).

In college, thanks mainly to Tyler and his undue influence on the editorial staff of the Heuristic Squelch, people started calling me by my last name. You may scoff at my assertion that this is a nickname, since it's my actual name, but think about it. How many people get called by their last name outside gym class and the military? The answer is very few. As such, when someone is commonly called by their last name, I think that qualifies as a nickname. This was the first nickname that I actually approved of in earnest, for three reasons. First, it finally allowed me to escape the fact that 60% of males born in 1978 are named Matt.* Second, my last name means something really cool in Gaelic, something I discovered in high school. Third, despite the fact that Tyler probably began referring to me by my family name as a form of affected disdain, for once it was a nickname that had nothing to do with my physical appearance.

In law school, I narrowly avoided being tarred with the nickname "Hot Lips," a handle which is objectionable on far too many levels to get into here. I dodged that bullet by insisting that my official nickname would in fact be "H-Bomb." Nobody agreed to call me "H-Bomb," but anyone who tried to call me Hot Lips got an earful about the propriety of "H-Bomb." So the two cancelled each other out, and most people stuck with my last name.

Now, as I'm embarking on my professional career, it's time for a new nickname. Fortunately, I've found one. It has nothing to do with my name, my hair, or my skin. It is based, rather, on my abysmal neophyte golfing abilities. It came to me last weekend as I quadruple-bogeyed yet another hole at Tilden Park. I came up with a nickname that was self-effacing, and yet captured my status as a rising establishment hack. The name? "Three-Putt." It's a good nickname because it has a number in it. My golfing partner liked the idea, and said it was too bad that we didn't work at the same firm, since he would be happy to spread that around for me. So now all I have to do is find some golfers at my firm, shoot a few rounds with them, and diligently avoid improving my putting skills.

* In Cub Scout Camp one year there were not only multiple Matts, but there were two Matt H's. As such I was identified as "Matt Ho." Why it never occurred to me to use that as a nickname I'll never know.



I received a letter today from the judge I'll be clerking for confirming my offer. In addition to all the typed-up logistical information there's a hand-written note at the bottom that says:

Look forward to your joining us. Looks as if "the law won"!


Get Us Out of Here


Eager to prove to the country that he still knows what he's doing after the Katrina imbroglio, President Bush nominates an inexperienced crony to the Supreme Court. Which just further illustrates the Bush Theory of Leadership: If you make a mistake, make that same mistake again, only bigger! Even conservatives are pissed off about the nomination. The confirmation process will be fun.

In more mundane news, Meli and I will be transporting ourselves, our cats, and all of our crap about 35 miles south to the lovely city of Shallow Alto this Saturday. We're currently seeking stout-hearted souls to help us carry things hither and yon. All boxes are packed lightly and expertly. Some of them smell like oranges. Your reward will be dinner and drinks on Saturday, and a meatnormous favor of your choice* to be performed by me at any time in the future.** E-mail me or comment if you're interested.

* Meatnormous favors exclude sexual favors (unless it's teabagging***) and free legal representation.
** While I'm still alive. Unless you'd like to use my corpse for some nefarious purpose, which I suppose would be okay.
*** That's me teabagging you, bee tee doubleyew.

The Constant Gardener: Not Boring Enough


Meli and I (and some of her friends from work) saw The Constant Gardener last night, a movie that was exactly as dull as its title suggests. In fact, a more accurate title might have been The Tedious Non-Adventures of Ambassador Boring and His Self-Righteous, Meddlesome Wife. This was a movie that I didn't like.

Meli read the book while we were in Hawaii and liked it, but didn't love it. She described the story to me and it sounded interesting, both in terms of its central premise -- a woman is murdered because she's about to expose massive corruption involving the practices of a large pharmaceutical company operating in Africa -- and in terms of the character dynamics between the save-the-world wife (Tessa, played by Rachel Weisz) and her prim and proper English diplomat husband (Justin, played by Ralph Feinnes), who takes on the task of solving her murder and completing her work. Not having read the book, I couldn't say how well this stuff actually plays out on paper (Meli seems to think that it held together but ultimately had some glaring flaws). The movie version basically takes both plot devices and takes massive dumps on their respective heads.

I should say that about 60% of the way into the movie, by which time I had long since given up on enjoying it, the murder-mystery story really gets going and the film becomes somewhat watchable. Almost everything up until that point is unbearable. Over the course of about 80 minutes of grueling exposition, which toggles awkwardly between heavy-handed and ham-handed, we get the gist of what the husband and wife are all about, along with the cadre of one-dimensional supporting characters that surround them. Although the wife has dedicated her life to the noble pursuit of human rights in Africa, almost everything about her life is a secret from her husband. Apart from the "Hooray we're pregnant!" flashbacks (see below), Justin and Tessa are basically roommates, with Justin desparately yearning to know what's really going on with Tessa, and Tessa stubbornly and irrationally shutting him out.

In the book, I'm told, Justin and Tessa's respective professional lives are secrets from each other, but they're nonetheless deeply connected personally. They have a vibrant, healthy marriage, keeping their respective professions separate out of mutual respect. None of that comes across in the movie. The result is that Justin's obsession with solving Tessa's murder seems driven more by his morbid curiosity about what she was doing during their marriage than by his love for her as his wife. On the one hand, this doesn't really make me care too much about him solving her murder, since he's drive by curiosity rather than love. On the other hand, this motivation could have worked out fine during the murder-mystery portion of the movie, if the director didn't constantly interrupt the action by reminding his that, yeah, Justin was actually in love with Tessa, and that's what this is really about. It also left me wondering why I had to sit through over an hour of tedious flashbacks about how Justin and Tessa were in love, so in love, no really really fucking in love, so much so that Justin liked looking at Tessa naked even when she was pregnant, and here's what a naked pregnant woman looks like in case you were wondering. And here she is again, and again, and here's another shot of the naked pregnant woman, you know, just in case you didn't get the point the first nine times.

I actually had to leave the theater for a few minutes about halfway into the movie since the flashback sequences were shot in a shaky, hand-held camera fashion, which made me nauseous. I assume it was the camera work that made me sick, though I've never had that problem in other shaky-camera movies. My stomach may have just been reacting to the realization that this was how I was spending nine dollars and three hours of my life.

The good points? There was one. Ralph "Raif" Feinnes. He's an excellent actor, even when portraying a character that I want to punch in the face over and over again, and he's also a breath-takingly handsome man. During the Matrix: Revolutions-style uncomfortable lovemaking scene I found myself admiring Ralph more than Rachel. But if all you're looking for is some nice Ralph Feinnes action you may as well just wait until Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire comes out in a few months. Ralph plays Voldemort in the new Harry Potter movie, a character that will no doubt prove to be infinitely more complex and likeable than Ambassador Boring.

Classics Geeks of the World Rejoice

I know I often disapprove of scraping, let alone having two scrapey posts in a row, but I thought this was worth linking:

Archaeologists Unleash Ancient Unspeakable Evil Discover Tomb of Oydssues and City of Ithaca.

The Ithaca in upstate New York, as it turns out, is a fake.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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