Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

My first impression of Chicago is that it's very gray. That may just be the weather. It's windy and chilly today; rained quite a bit last night. The streets are lined with chain stores. I haven't seen much of the city yet, but so far, it's lacking in charm. But I've been here barely 18 hours, so we'll see.

The trash can in the airport was labeled "Waste Paper." Hopefully not an instruction.

On the flight, the flight attendants were trying very hard to get rid of beverages and pretzels. Usually they're very stingy. This time, "Are you sure I can't get you a can of soda? Are you sure?" "Would you like another bag of pretzels?" "Here's another bag of pretzels." (throws one at me) "For the love of God, have a can of soda!" Maybe all the soda and pretzels were weighing down the plane. Then again, having the passengers eat the pretzels shouldn't solve that problem.

This morning, I'm wandering around the American Bar Association TechShow exhibit hall. It's a trade show, filled with electronics vendors, law firms, and the ubiquitous Lexis and Westlaw. I'm collecting pens. They're all giving out pens. I think I'm up to about 40. Also: a frisbee, a couple of keychains, a coffee tumbler, a paper clip holder, a yo-yo, and a toy basketball. I'm disappointed at the lack of stress balls and kooshes. There's a bias toward pens over toys. Definitely a disappointment. Although pens are okay too. I feel like I seem young enough that none of the vendors actually thinks I'm looking to buy any of their products, so I'm free to grab the pens and keep walking, without anyone trying to engage me in conversation. So that's good. This should occupy another 20 minutes or so, and then I'm off to lunch. One of my friends goes to law school at Northwestern, and is in their Parody show, and I think I'm getting to see the dress rehearsal tonight -- I have plans tomorrow night and Saturday, which are the two nights the show is being performed. So that should be cool -- I'm excited to see that. It should be fun.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I'm leaving tomorrow for a long weekend in Chicago, where I'll be seeing some friends, and going to LexThink, a conference about law and marketing and technology and creating a more perfect personal services firm. Seems like it could be interesting, and I'll get to meet some lawyers and talk to them about things that could be useful and inspiring for posts on other things I might be working on. And I figured it was an excuse to go somewhere new for a few days. But, really, the highlight is that on Monday I'm going to see the White Sox play the Indians, opening day at New Comiskey Park (or whatever it's called lately -- U.S. Cellular Field?). I mean, in a perfect world it would have been the Cubs at home to start the season and I could have gone to see a game at Wrigley Field, but this is almost as cool, and I'm excited about it.

I'll post from Chicago; I expect I'll find some things to say. I have a couple of days there with some free time when I'll be hanging out with people but we have no particular destination in mind -- so if anyone has any ideas -- cool things to see or do, places to eat, etc, send 'em along....

Also: a couple of people e-mailed me asking about the law school Parody show, and if there was a place to get the song lyrics. We made a PDF that got sent around to some people, but if you're curious: I think this link should work.
There's an article in the American Journalism Review about journalistic ethics -- if an interview subject says no, she doesn't want to be interviewed, but then continues to talk, should the reporter use the quotes? Is it fair for a journalist to take advantage of any ambiguity as to whether or not the subject knows she's on the record? Interesting article. You can also read the column that resulted from the interview. Links courtesy of Romenesko's Media News, which often has links to all sorts of cool articles like this.

Monday, March 28, 2005

This week's issue of New York magazine leads off with a very disturbing blurb about "Astrakhan, the velvety, somewhat curly, very expensive lambskin also known as 'new fur' or Persian lamb." Stop reading now if you're eating.

The reason Astrakhan is so soft is that it's aborted Karakul-lambskin. The process of getting the fur requires killing the pregnant ewe, removing her lamb, and then killing it for its pelt.
That is stomach-turning, I'm sorry.

But there's a paradox here. I eat meat, I'm fine with eating meat. I don't love the conditions they keep chickens and cows in, and I wouldn't want to have to kill my meat myself, but I'll order it and eat it. Yet this really kind of disgusts me. But here's the paradox. So, for animals, killing the big ones is okay but killing the fetus is bad. For humans, we're cool with killing fetuses and not so cool with killing the big ones. I'm not making a political statement here, at all. I'm just pointing out that I'm confused by my own reactions. I guess it has to do with killing the fetus for its fur that's so abhorrent, although killing it to eat it sounds just as disgusting, if not more so. As the friend I was talking about this with said, "How much fur can they really get from a fetus anyway? These must be expensive coats." And I imagine they are. Also, can you imagine advertising for the job of doing this? "Help wanted: kill pregnant lambs, extract the fetus, kill the fetus, shave the fetus, make a coat." Right. Lining up out the door for this one. "Here's my resume. I used to write grotesque horror movies, so I think I'm perfectly qualified."

This conversation led to a related one about where the cutoff is for what kinds of animals it doesn't gross you out to imagine terrible stuff like this happening to (no, I don't usually think about these kinds of things). Bugs are below the line, I guess. I'll step on a bug. That's pretty bad -- for the bug -- but doesn't make me lose sleep. Fish seemed to be the line. I'm kind of uncomfortable with the thought of pulling a fish out of the water and smacking it against a brick wall. Just seems needlessly cruel. But I guess dangling a hook in front of its mouth for it to bite into is kind of cruel too. I'm never going fishing, am I?

What I'm really never doing is going hunting. I understand the impulse to want to have a gun for protection. I don't, and wouldn't, but I can get why it's not completely insane for someone to think that's a good idea. What I don't get is wanting to actually use a gun, even to kill stuff we eat. Just the idea of shooting some living, breathing thing that's walking around is really just something I find kind of grotesquely unpleasant and undesirable. I've got very little interest in shooting a deer, no matter how overpopulated they get. I do think, however, it would be beyond awesome to let random animals wander the city streets. How cool would it be to occasionally pass a goat walking by, or an antelope on the sidewalk? I guess not having the instant realization that animals probably aren't good at safely crossing streets reveals the amount of amimal contact I've had in my life. I still get excited when I see cows or horses out the window when driving through non-urban areas. Animals! Exciting! Look at the animals! Yes, I'm four years old. Sorry about that.
I had Chinese food last night. The fortune inside the fortune cookie was bizarre. "A carrot a day may keep cancer away." Uh, great. There was no carrot in the dish I got. Oh well. Bizarre.

Skype worked really well for the fantasy baseball draft I had on Saturday.

This week is spring break.

More later. I have some ideas.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Sherry has been posting about 15 things she's learned while blogging, to celebrate her 1500th post. The most recent two posts in the series, one from yesterday and one today, are really quite excellent, and definitely worth reading. I Am Not My Job talks about having an identity outside of your job, and, even better, I Make Friends talks about letting down your guard and how it doesn't have to be so hard to open yourself up to others. I guess I'd like to be more like that -- more able to just start a conversation with strangers, make friends in new and sometimes-overwhelming situations. I feel like I'm pretty good at making friends in comfortable contexts, good at opening up to people, not particularly guarded once I know someone. But, still, stupid stuff, like being in a big room of people where I don't know anyone, makes me go into a bit of a shell. In any case, it's a good post.

Friday, March 25, 2005

A quick product testimonial. A fantasy baseball league I'm in has an auction tomorrow, and I've had to download a program called Skype in order to participate -- it's basically a program that lets you use your computer to make free telephone calls. What we're going to use it for is a big conference call with Internet chat capability so we can all talk and type to each other at once. This won't happen until tomorrow, but I tested it out with a friend just now, and this thing is really, really cool. I mean, I guess part of the coolness is that I don't have a speakerphone, and just the fact that I can talk on the "phone" without holding a phone up to my head is kind of cool. But also that it adds in the chat room capabilities, and that it's free -- all of that combined makes this a pretty neat program, I think. Of course, it'll probably completely fail tomorrow, but we'll see.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

This week, since this past weekend was admitted students weekend here, I turned my newspaper column over to an admitted student... apologies that this is really Harvard-specific. [i've added some explainers in brackets where they seemed helpful]

"I can't believe it! I came here expecting nothing, and I'm leaving with a bright red messenger bag. This is awesome. Harvard is even better than U.S. News said!

The best part of the weekend was the mock class I got to sit in on. I think it was called "Legal Profession." Someone tried to trick me into thinking it was a real class, and the other students were all 3Ls, but I couldn't be fooled. They seemed to know even less than I did - and none of them even raised their hand. It was definitely a mock class. When I'm a law student, I'm gonna raise my hand every single day. That's what law students do, according to everyone I talked to in the library on Saturday night.

What really excited me was the admitted students activities fair. I never realized there would be so many extracurriculars at law school! I'm going to join the Taxes Club. I hear they put on great parties - and help people set up Roth IRAs.

I can't believe all the legal journals they have here. All of them sound so exciting. They promise substantive editing and writing work from the very first day I get on campus - as much as I want! And, they said they'll get me familiar with all of the hard-copy books and statutes that will be crucial for the work I'll have to do in all of my classes throughout law school. "You can't go a week without searching through hard-bound volumes in the library when you're a law student," everyone kept saying, "and so the journals offer you valuable experience from day one." Then they started laughing, but I think they were just laughing because everyone at law school is so happy to be here, and laughs all the time, at everything, for no reason at all.

This weekend really helped me conquer some of my biggest fears about law school. For example, I had heard it gets really cold here during the winter. But I think I can take it. As long as this past weekend was just an unusual cold spell, I think I'll be fine. But I do wonder about the ice rink. I really hurt my head when I fell through. I hope it didn't make me say anything stupid at the admitted students resume workshop. I mean, everyone looked at me funny when I asked about working as a personal injury attorney after law school, but I figured it was just because I had stolen their next question.

What was really helpful all weekend were the nametags that all of the other admitted students had. It was great that they included the name of everyone's undergraduate college. This way, I knew who was worth talking to, and who had gotten into Harvard by mistake. Someone from some school in the middle of the country somewhere tried to corner me and ask if I knew where the cafeteria was. I did everyone a favor by pointing him in the wrong direction. Only certain people deserve to eat.

That reminds me. The Vie Society (get more info here)invited me to their pre-1L junior princess party. I got to do laundry for all of the pretty 2Ls and wash their shiny silver shoes while they drank champagne and stared blankly at each other, searching for things to talk about. It was a blast. But not nearly as fun as that law school social center, Lincoln's Inn [a fraternity-like thing at the law school]. They told me all about their outline bank, and educational trips to museums and other cultural events, and the prestige that the Lincoln's Inn name carries on their resumes. Then someone threw up on me. But I think it was just because they thought I went to a state school, like I did to that guy earlier in the day.

One of the coolest parts of the weekend was when I went on a tour of the interactive museum exhibit about what law school was like in the 1950s. I think it was called Griswold Hall [a building that needs to be renovated]. I also enjoyed the brownies they kept serving me. I will never get tired of those brownies, even if they're at every single law school sponsored event for my entire three years.

I signed up for a ton of mailing lists at the activities fair, but I can't wait to start getting e-mail. I am especially excited about hearing news about the dorms - I definitely need to be reminded when to keep my windows closed and my heater on, so that the pipes don't freeze. I hope they send one of those e-mails every other day.

In the end, I thought my decision was going to be difficult. But then I tried a piece of pizza at Pinocchio's, [a pizza place] in Harvard Square, and knew that I would have to pass up Stanford for here. Maybe the Boston Globe can write an article about that, on a slow news day, and Pinocchio's can put it up on their wall for everyone to read. That would be amazing. [they really have an article like that on their wall]

Actually, my decision isn't going to be difficult at all, since I didn't get into Stanford. But Harvard has really gone out of its way to alleviate my concerns that this place is just one giant party in the warm and sunny Cambridge metropolis. The only disappointment is that the library here is only open a hundred hours a week. I'm concerned that with all of the extra outside reading I'm going to do, and the exciting journal opportunities, I'm going to need a place to study at four in the morning (after I get back from the Lincoln's Inn birdwatching trip).

The final thing I did before I left to come home was eat a meal in the Hark cafeteria. Everyone I talked to recommended the handmade sushi, expertly rolled by Harvard's own sushi masters, and then packaged to look like it just fell off a truck somewhere en route to a soup kitchen. It was delicious, and led me straight to one of the recently-renovated bathrooms. They're very pretty, and bigger than the dorm rooms, which is a nice touch.

In the end, I simply can't wait for September. I've already bought all of my books, read them twice, written my 3L paper, spent a summer working for a law firm, completed the law review write-on competition, applied for clerkships, passed the MPRE, and been groped on Cambridge Common [this is a recurring problem we keep getting e-mail warnings about]. I'm all set!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I started to write my newspaper column for this week, but it's kind of lame, and goes nowhere. So I'm just gonna post it here and start from scratch in the morning with something else. ("Yeah, thanks for posting something lame. I really want to read it now." "Oh, whatever, it's a weblog, not the freaking New Republic." "The New Republic? What are you talking about?" "I have no idea. Just forget it.")

What the heck are we still doing here?

You like the title? I tried to come up with something cute, like "Death March," which has a double meaning because at graduation we march, and, uh... right now it's March. Obviously, that failed miserably. So I decided just to say what I mean. 3L year is useless. No matter what you're doing after graduation -- working at a firm, clerking for a judge, running off to join the circus -- the fact is, unless you've discovered some Holy Grail that I'm missing, right now you're just playing out the string. Extracurriculars are having elections already, so even the stuff you've been doing all year to pretend there's a reason we're still in law school is about to come to an end. Besides the 3L paper, which is kind of a joke anyway -- "I'm writing a short story," "I'm drawing a graph," "I'm making a collage" -- what still demands our attention? By now we've figured out how to get decent grades, and even if we haven't, likely no one will ever look at our transcripts again. No one even shows up to class anymore. No one shows up anywhere. There are 3L mailboxes that have candy in them from Halloween and flyers for Y2K fallout shelters. (Alternate joke: "...flyers for the upcoming speech by President Truman.") What's the point? Nothing new happens to 3Ls. We take the MPRE, which is a joke. But I wrote like seventeen columns about it, because at least it was something different we hadn't done already. Obviously 1L year everything is new. And 2L year is dominated by OCI. And then there's clerkship applications. And since that... nothing. It's more of the same.

At least they should make it more of a challenge. Make us wear a blindfold and see if we can still pass our exams. Have competitions where the losers get expelled. Make some more law firms shut down so people have to scramble. It's not that I want bad things to happen. I just want SOMETHING to happen. And the ice rink doesn't really count. I know we all have the responsibility to take charge of our own law school experiences and make things happen for ourselves -- but there's only so much momentum and energy to summon to do that. There's not much for 3Ls to do. People are planning vacations. Mastering XBox. Ordering t-shirts online with funny slogans. All during class, actually. It's the Internet. I blame the Internet. I blame the Internet for everything lately. It's not the Internet. It's the ABA, mandating that law school is threey years. No, it's not the ABA. It's us. It's our own fault. Why? [and here's where I just lost the will to continue... oh well... more tomorrow...]

Monday, March 21, 2005

This weekend is the first of two admitted students weekends for incoming 1Ls. Sunday afternoon there was an activities fair where the student organizations got to try and sign up students for next year. The Environmental Law Review had awesome green t-shirts about putting the Superfun in Superfund, but it's probably been too long since I did any work for them for me to get one, although they're really cool. My one observation of the afternoon -- they put the Jewish Law Students Association at the same table as HLS TaxHelp. Isn't that just buying into the stereotypes? I mean, really... kind of unfortunate. I guess I can only write this because I'm Jewish, otherwise it would be really offensive. It's probably borderline anyway.

My friend Katie gave me an idea for a post that will probably turn into a newspaper column this week. The White House has a page that lists all of the "proclamations" by the President. This week, for example, is National Poison Prevention Week, which is great, since I wasn't planning on drinking bleach until next week. Save Your Vision Week was the first week of March, but this week shining lasers in your eyes is totally cool. January 15 was Religious Freedom Day, which I guess made January 16 Okay We Can Taunt The Quakers Again Day. There's a National Farm-City Week, America Recycles Day, and National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, even though no one can remember when it is. National Forest Products get a whole week, but Child Health only gets a day; Hospices get a whole month, but Fire Prevention only gets a week; White Cane Safety gets a day; Ovarian Cancer Awareness gets a month; Women's Equality, just a day. In 2004, National Maritime Day came within National Hurricane Preparedness Week; November was both National Hispanic Heritage Month AND National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, leaving a handful of Hispanics with Prostate Cancer confused as to which they should more energetically celebrate. National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day came within National Child Abuse Prevention Month; While 2003 had Protection From Pornography Week in October, it vanished in 2004. More of this fun with the White House web site coming tomorrow, when I magically try to transform this into 800 words fit for the law school newspaper. Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 20, 2005

I'm in ESPN's 4.6th percentile in the NCAA tournament challenge thing. My friends and I didn't put any money into it, which is a good thing, because my random picks were pretty terrible. I know absolutely nothing about NCAA basketball, so I just guessed. I was 17-15 in the first round, which is pretty dismal. I'm 4-2 in the second round so far, which is better I guess. Bizarrely enough, my 4.6th percentile ranking does not put me in last place in the set of 12. One person is in the 0.6th percentile. That seems especially hard to do. The leader is in the 99.6th percentile, which also seems especially hard to do.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

I may be jinxing things here, but I feel like the weather may finally be turning to spring. It's been really nice for about five days now; of course, there's still some snow on the ground. The difference between Boston and, say, New York, is that here, the snow basically never goes away. Ever. At the bottom of the pile, there's probably still some snow from 1952 that's still lingering. That's not entirely true. It goes away. Eventually. But not yet. Nevertheless, the warmer weather makes life slightly more pleasant.

I mean, when it's really cold, it's just hard to do stuff. My cable bill for January was two weeks late because I couldn't bring myself to make a special trip to the post office and get stamps.

I ate some Cheez-Its earlier. They say they "contain 100% real cheese" but I don't understand what that means. Because they're not made of 100% cheese, and so whatever portion of them are actually made of cheese would have to be 100% real cheese, or else there's just less cheese. Like, if there's 1 gram of 50% cheese (whatever that means), then they could just say there's 0.5 grams of 100% cheese, and still say it contains 100% real cheese.

No one else cares, do they?

In other food-related uselessness, I tried Nantucket Nectars' Cloudy Apple juice the other day. Marketing geniuses came up with the "Cloudy Apple" name, I'm sure. It explains on the side of the bottle that the reason it's cloudy is because they use more of the real apple. Everything but the seeds, core, and skin. But isn't everything else... just apple? I mean, there's the stem... but I can't imagine they use the stem and not the skin. So what else is there? And so why is it cloudy if other apple juice isn't? One of my friends said maybe it just isn't strained, which makes total sense... but then why not just say that on the package? Instead of this nonsense with the seeds and core and skin. Orange juice is cloudy too, but Tropicana doesn't feel the need to go making excuses about it.

[/end of desperate attempt to create content from nothing]

Thursday, March 17, 2005

On Reading and Writing, Sort Of

Okay, I have a post that's been circling in my head for a little while. I think I bored my grandma on the phone a few days ago with a little monologue on the subject, and I've been waiting to feel compelled to ramble about it on here. This is long and kind of scattered. I'm sorry. I should edit myself.

I wrote a few weeks ago after seeing the Hasty Pudding show at Harvard that what disappointed me was the lack of a point of view, the lack of something interesting the show had to say. It wasn't unentertaining, it was just sort of irrelevant. And I've started to realize that there's a common thread in what books I enjoy, what movies and TV I like to watch, what kinds of music I listen to, and, to some degree, who I enjoy being around in real life. In my post from a couple of days ago about the lack of a creative community here, I mentioned that the creative writing workshop I was part of last semester was a little bit frustrating because of the push toward stories driven by action and plot. Action and plot are good things. Even if I didn't believe that was true, thousands of years of creation would be against me on that point. Action and plot are good things.

But I don't find myself reading stuff because of the plot. I don't find myself compelled to go see movies because of the plot. I'm compelled by the point of view, by the voice, by the thought that the person who wrote this has something to say. That he or she is someone whose head I want to get into. I've been reading more fiction recently than I used to, but the fiction I'm drawn to is almost exclusively first-person narrator, not third person. It's stuff where I'm able to get inside the head of a character who's smart and thoughtful and interesting -- to a good extent, where I feel like the narrator is getting me into the author's head more than anything else.

And when I find something -- in any medium -- that I like, I feel like the direction I look to go in is not necessarily to find other things like what I liked, but to find whatever else the writer has created, because it's the writer's voice that's usually what's compelling me more than anything else, and I want to know more of it.

"The West Wing" was great when Aaron Sorkin was writing it. It's just less compelling now. The surface reason, I feel like, is that the writing "isn't as good," but I feel like, on a slightly deeper level, it's because I felt like Aaron Sorkin was a smart, interesting guy, and I was interested in what he had to say. And what he had to say came through in the episodes. So it's more than just "good writing" I was looking for; it's his writing.

I like "Everwood" on the WB, even though it's borderline soap-opera. I just feel like there's some spark there that transcends the characters and the plot, that there's something deeper and interesting going on in the writing. So when I read that Greg Berlanti, who created "Everwood," had created "Jack and Bobby," I started watching that too, and it's similarly good.

And conversely, if I don't care how a writer's mind works, if I don't find myself compelled and interested in the voice, then I'm not really interested in anything they're creating, even if the story is great, even if the characters are great -- if I don't trust the writer, if the writer isn't someone whose thoughts I'm interested in, then it feels irrelevant and like it doesn't much matter.

Maybe everyone feels this way and it's so obvious as to not be worth articulation. But I feel like this is sort of the point of creation. That you need to have interesting things to say, or why are you bothering to create, and that there needs to be some sort of emotional truth behind them, some sense of the author, some feeling that the audience can make a connection -- or it's not worth it. Stand-up comedy frustrates me in this respect. I feel like a lot of it is so interchangeable -- jokes that anyone can deliver, that have no emotional truth relevant to the person delivering them, that don't give you any insight or connection into the comedian. And so it's a waste. Why bother? There's no reason to care. But the stuff, for me, that works, is the stuff where you do get a sense of the person, where you can see how their mind is working, where you can gain a little bit of insight into their personality and character, and see a little bit of that connection.

And, for me, I feel like it's why I'm motivated to write. I want to feel connected to other people, I want my writing to reflect what's going on in my head, I want to have an actual point of view, a voice, and something original to say, that reflects what goes on in my head, and that it's not just wordplay or interchangeable content that anyone could be writing.

I was talking to some friends for a second about a book and I said it wasn't interesting to me mostly because I just didn't care what the author had to say. That it could have been about anything, but I'm not curious about what goes on in the author's head, I'm not really compelled to know how she thinks, or what she's thinking about, or what her interior monologue is like. So I don't care. But that a story I read, that a mutual friend of ours had written, that was interesting -- not because of what the story was about, but because I feel like he's an interesting, compelling person, and the writing let me get into his head, and that was cool. I want to know how he thinks. So no matter what it's about, I'm interested.

And I feel like this translates into real life too. And, again, maybe this is true for everyone and obvious and I'm just rambling needlessly. But the people I know who I really think of as friends and really like spending time around are people who I feel like think interesting things. Whose interior monologues are interesting and compelling and worth getting a glimpse of. Who I want to find a connection with, and who I think there is a connection with. I don't know if any of this makes sense or I'm just writing gobbledygook to spit it out and say I wrote something, but whatever, there it is....
Some music recommendations I got from my post about Keane the other day.

Stuff people recommended that, after listening to a couple of songs, I like:

--Josh Rouse (I'd heard a bunch of his stuff before. I think he's really, really quite good. He has a cool album, 1972, that has some throwback pop, and his new album, Nashville, is cool too.)
--The New Amsterdams (Had never heard of them before, but really liked some of the stuff I listened to. "Hanging on for Hope" is a nice song.)
--Joseph Arthur ("Honey and the Moon" was cool. Some of his stuff is a little slow.)
--Death Cab for Cutie (some nice ambient stuff; "Expo '86" is cool.)

Stuff people recommended that, after listening to a couple of songs, I'm not really that excited about:

--Afghan Whigs

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Pointless Conversation With Myself About The Meaning Of Life In A Law School Context

“Intellectually, I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but, honestly, there are certain people, when they tell me they’re going to work for a law firm after graduation, I’m sad. Creative people, who I know have something else to offer, who don’t have to just settle for being an interchangeable part, but have a voice, have a point of view, have interesting things to put forth into the world, and instead are going to work eighty-hour weeks and lose their spirit. And either be miserable or be forced to become people I wish they wouldn’t be forced to become. So I’m sad.”

“Come on, you’re not giving law firms enough credit. You’re demonizing them. There are awesome people at these places, doing interesting, challenging work. There are ways to make a contribution; there are ways to add unique value. And there’s also a lot to be said for the stability and security. And not everyone has something else pulling at them. Not everyone is looking for something more than what these places are offering. There are all sorts of ways to have a fulfilling life.”

“But for the people who do have something else pulling at them, something else that gets their blood flowing, it’s such a shame. Some really smart, really talented people go to law school. And most of us had all sorts of things that interested us, that motivated us, that drove us in the past. But, somehow, here there’s a tendency to forget about a lot of that, and let ourselves be herded toward a life that’s very one-dimensional, and very much lacking in ways to express what really makes you special.”

“But that’s not always what’s driving everyone. This can be enough. There are happy lawyers.”

“I had a conversation with a friend the other day. I was saying that there’s a culture here where people don’t really talk about their passions outside of the law; where doing interesting things is not always seen as a positive; where ambition is expected to be focused in a very narrow direction. I talked about pursuing things you care about; my friend said he doesn’t feel like he’s lacking in outlets for those kinds of things. But then he talked about playing computer games and watching TV, and that being a balance of sorts."


“But that’s not exactly what I meant. Computer games and watching television are not passions in the sense I’m thinking about it.”

“But, look, not everyone is creative in the sense you’re talking about. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just a fact. And so maybe it can be that a life outside of the law doesn’t need to involve great ambition, but just satisfaction and contentment and happiness. Those aren’t bad things either. You can have hobbies and pursuits, but for some people law school gives them an actual direction. There’s nothing competing with the law. It’s just a way to pay the bills so people can keep on enjoying the other things they enjoy, as would any job.”

“But if there IS more... if there IS something else out there… that’s when I’m saying it’s sad. It just seems like a waste. But I know... I know I’m not really being fair... and that it’s my own view of the world that’s informing these feelings, but still....”

“There’s no right or wrong answer. It works for some people, it doesn’t work for other people. For some people, the tradeoffs are worth it. For other people, they’re not. I don’t know.”

“I don’t know either.”

“Okay, so at least we agree on something.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

I've been listening to some stuff by the British group Keane. I really like it. It's somewhere between The Postal Service and Fountains of Wayne on some imaginary spectrum in my head. I like everything on this spectrum. If anyone has any suggestions for other things on this spectrum somewhere that they think I might like, let me know.
For my Law and Psychology class, we've been focusing each week on a different emotion, and we have to write short response papers about some of the reading. This week's emotion was worry, and the reading was about how part of Worry is physiological, and adrenaline can burn holes in our brain, and also about how people experience strings of worries -- one patient described calls them SBPOWs (spontaneously branching polymers of worry) -- that can take over their minds. I just finished the paper and sent it. I'm kind of amused by it. So I feel compelled to share. I've edited this slightly. Which perhaps I should have done before I submitted it. :)


My first inclination was to write a short paper this week all about worrying about what to write about this week. I was going to describe the “SBPOWs” (although I was worried I would spell that wrong) that developed as I sat down to write: the thought that it wouldn’t be a legitimate enough topic to write about, and that any positive feelings you may have had from the previous papers I had written would be overshadowed by the negative feelings that such a pointless and ridiculous paper would create in your mind; the thought that these negative feelings about my paper would lead to my being called on more often during the seminar; the thought that I would give a terrible answer to one of the questions you asked, and my classmates would hate me; the thought that they would tell their friends what a terrible answer I gave in class, and those friends would tell other friends, and pretty soon I would have no friends left at all; the thought that without any friends, I could find myself alone forever.

But then I realized that this was too easy. Surely, I wouldn’t be the only person who would decide to write about worrying what to write about. It’s an obvious angle, and pretending it was some original thought of mine would just make me seem silly and naïve. And I worried that if you thought I was silly and naïve, you might be inclined to give me a lower grade in the class, simply as punishment. And that would lower my GPA, which would potentially make it more difficult for me to find a particular job (although I’m not entirely clear how my GPA will affect employment possibilities, since everyone here gets jobs and it doesn’t really seem like, in practice, it matters much at all what our grades are), either now or in the future. And if I can’t find a job, I’ll have to eat lunch by myself, because everyone else will be working. And that might make me sad. And if I’m sad, no one will want to be around me. And I could find myself alone forever.

So I decided that I would take it one step further. I wouldn’t just write about worrying about what to write – I would write about worrying about writing about worrying about what to write! But then I worried that this would be confusing, and if I wrote a confusing paper, I might confuse myself just as much as I’d confuse you, the reader. And if I confused myself, at least according to the reading, I might burn a confused hole in my brain that would make it easier to be confused in the future, because the confused pathway would be deeper and more able to be filled with adrenaline. (It took some energy for me to convince myself that this reading wasn’t trying to be funny, because the idea of a “brain burn” sounds pretty silly, even if it’s actually a real physiological occurrence, but I’m going to pretend I really believe it’s true, especially because the author apparently went to medical school.) And if I was confused more often, people wouldn’t like me as much, and I could find myself alone forever. It’s worrisome how that always seems to be where these strings of worry end up.

In any case, then I started to think about whether it was actually true that people wouldn’t like me as much if I was confused more often. Maybe they’d like me more. Maybe people like when others are confused, because it makes them feel smarter. Maybe if I burned a hole in my brain to make me confused more often, I’d actually have more friends, and a more satisfying and fulfilling earthly experience. So maybe I shouldn’t have been worrying at all about writing a paper about worrying about writing about worrying about what to write, because the more confusing, the better!

But then I worried that this whole thing was just silly. Oh well. I can’t very well start from scratch now that I’ve gotten this far. Because then I’d have to cancel my lunch plans, and people would stop making plans with me, and I could find myself alone forever. Which is worse than getting a lower grade in this class. Maybe.
One of the fantasy baseball leagues I'm in is looking for a few more players. The draft is online on Sunday at 6:30. The categories are H, SB, K, AVG, OPS for batters, and W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP for pitchers. If you're interested, Yahoo League ID# 45738, password: bigunit.

Monday, March 14, 2005

More on the socks dilemma from three posts below -- read upwards from last night's post if you're just tuning in. My friend e-mailed me some more explanation on why he thinks it's a good test of what kind of a person you are; I think I'm pretty much on board. It's kind of a neat thing to think about. I'm adding "the sock test" to my mental list of ways to sort people into two categories. It becomes test #3 in that list. Test #1 is "the well test": if you were stuck at the bottom of a well, would the person help you, even if they were on their way to something important? This is a fairly low bar, I think, but I feel like a lot of people fail it. Test #2 is "the crossing the street test": do you trust the person not to lead you into oncoming traffic? This one's not a good person / bad person test at all, but more of a test, I think, of who's the adult in any given relationship. With some friends -- and this isn't a good thing or a bad thing, necessarily at all -- I feel like there becomes a dynamic where some people are leaders more often than not, and some people are followers, and I totally feel like people can be both, depending on who they're with. But it becomes a question of who's the one watching for traffic; who's the one deciding whether or not we're crossing the street, and who's the one following the leader. I feel like in some settings, I'm totally the one you can trust to not cross into oncoming traffic, but in other situations, I can become completely oblivious, because I implicitly just trust the person or people I'm with to take care of trifling stuff like making sure we don't get hit by a bus or eaten by a bear. If that makes any sense. But, anyway, back to the sock test:

Here's how I would relate the sock scenario to law school - if the person got mad, they're going into corporate law. If they didn't mind, they're doing public interest law.

Getting mad means you focus on only how it affects you, while not getting mad means you see a broader picture. Why? Having one pair of socks "stolen" certainly makes you worse off. Other things being equal, having one less pair of socks is not good. But it's such a trivial amount of worse off - nobody should really miss one pair of socks. A nicer, more compassionate person would not mind being very slightly worse off it it meant someone else was significantly better off. This doesn't mean we all should be perfect utilitarians. I certainly value benefits and detriments to myself more than I would to other people - I'm not going to give up my comfortable existence to go work in the peace corps, for example. But I would gladly give up one pair of socks to someone with wet feet (especially if that person wasn't some nameless, faceless person, but somebody I knew or a friend of a friend)

Also, I think in this instance, the actual material good being stolen is so dumb, that the person's reaction isn't based on WHAT has been taken from them, but reflects their instinctual response to being wronged, and how they think they SHOULD FEEL when wronged. Jerks would simply label it "stealing" and that they were "wronged" and get pissed off. More evolved people would understand the nuance to the situation, that it wasn't really stealing and they weren't really violated.
Last semester, I was part of a creative writing workshop. Each week a few of us brought in short stories, and we all commented on them. I just got an e-mail asking for feedback about "how the group worked in your lives at the law school and in your lives as writers" with an eye toward renewing it next year. I got inspired by the prompt to write something a bit broader than they might be expecting. I think there's a chance I'm overdramatizing the whole thing, but thought I'd share some of the thoughts I sent...

I thought the creative writers group was a good idea, but only marginally useful in its execution. I feel like one of the sad things about law school is that there are so many talented people here, and so many people who, in past lives, did all sorts of interesting things with their time -- not just writing, but other passions and pursuits as well -- and then they come here, and either forget about those parts of themselves, or they let the comparative lack of clear opportunities to pursue those passions frustrate them and make them miserable. With writing specifically, I think there's a chance to create a real community of people who want to write more than just law review comments and case briefs -- and even though maybe it's not really the job of the law school to do it, and it doesn't really have anything to do with our legal education or any of the things we're supposed to be learning here, it would be an added bonus to being here, around all these smart and talented people, and maybe improve some people's quality of life. And there's such a tradition of lawyers-turned-writers -- Scott Turow, John Grisham -- and, even more so, writing of all sorts is so important to so many types of legal practice -- that it seems like a worthwhile goal to somehow facilitate a writing community of sorts.

I've heard other writers I know here talk about the lack of opportunities to meet other people who write, and how at times it seems no one thinks much about anything besides classes. Of course, there are absolutely opportunities for writers on campus. Beyond just the journals, there's the Parody, and the Record, and whatever anyone can find in greater Boston and the broader outside world. But there's also not a real culture here, among the students, of talking about your passions outside the law, or of pursuing them. I got weird looks when I told people 1L year that I'd written a musical. I have at least one friend here who writes things and has said he's afraid to mention it to people he doesn't know really well. It's sad. It makes the life of a lawyer seem sad. It makes law school a less spiritually rewarding place than it could be.

So where I think the creative writers group failed is that it didn't create a community much at all. In a way, the parameters of what we could write, and how we could write it, were kind of stifling. It limited us to short stories, and was very much focused on a certain kind of story. Which was fine, and it got me writing some things that were different from what I might have otherwise written, and stretched me as a writer. But I can imagine it turned some people off -- people who wanted to play around with literary nonfiction, or poetry, or essays, or something else. Not that the instructor would have necessarily stifled that, but it seemed like it just wasn't what the workshop was for. Similarly, each session was very much the same. Comment on the pieces, and leave. Some push toward collaboration would have fun. Some push toward getting to know each other -- getting a sense of who these other people were -- if there were aspects of the workshop that weren't just about the writing, but about the life of a writer at law school -- a forum to talk about the opportunities for creativity on campus, to talk about how some of us might be reconciling the urge to write with the life of a lawyer, and how to make that work into a fulfilling and satisfying life.

Some of this goes beyond what a writers workshop can be expected to do, I know -- and maybe this is really a push for a "life skills for creative law students" workshop -- or maybe even therapy -- but the sense I get is that there are lots of people here who feel stifled or frustrated or that the creative parts of themselves don't belong in law school. Too many of my friends and classmates do very little outside of class besides waste time. Surely they didn't used to. Surely they had interests and passions at some point. It makes me sad, a little bit. Sometimes. I've been fortunate to find outlets for my writing; not everyone here has been able to find the right outlet to express their own personal passions, whatever they are. I think the law school can probably either make some sort of an effort to facilitate that, or at least acknowledge it's a problem. I mean, maybe it's not a problem, and I'm wrong. But maybe it is.

I'm not sure if any of this makes sense or is helpful, or even comes close to addressing the issue of whether the writers group should continue. But the prompt inspired me to start thinking and this is where I ended up.
A response to the sock dilemma in the previous post, that I don't know that I really agree with all that much. I mean, I guess it's an invasion of privacy, and I guess that's bad, but if the intention is just to take a pair of socks for your wet feet... I mean, is anything really private? If you have stuff in your drawers that you're ashamed of having there, maybe that means they shouldn't be there. Like, my friends were here over the weekend, and while I assume they didn't go through my stuff while I was out taking the MPRE, I mean, they could have, and I'm not sure I really care so much. There's nothing really all that interesting to find. Maybe a couple of CDs that I'm sort of ashamed to own, and perhaps also the bizarre copy of Lucky magazine that randomly and unsolicitedly came in the mail but I haven't thrown out, but, like, if my friends did go through my stuff, as long as they weren't doing it out of any sort of malicious intent or anything, I'm not sure I really care. Then again, my privacy bar may be kind of low. In any case, the response, from someone who sounds like a law student, but I don't know for sure:

The sock question is not one of theft, but of invasion of privacy. Unless the socks were once worn by Elvis Presley or are woven out of strands of gold, they're essentially worthless. They're socks. Who cares? Dryers across America, which have been on sock stealing sprees for decades, have gone unprosecuted and unnoticed by the law. Why would it be any different with your soggy soled pal? The real harm to the sock owner, and consequently the sock owners anger, come from what personal items and information your friend comes across when lifting the footwear.

You already noted invasion of privacy as the main factor contributing to the anger of the sock owner, by noting that stealing socks from the floor is more forgivable than rifling through a drawer to find a pair. But the scale is much wider and much more nuanced than a floor versus drawer delineation. Let's say that your friend is looking for socks, gets the right drawer on the first try and finds that the sock drawer is truly just that – a sock drawer consisting of nothing but socks. Only the most ardent of foot fetishists would consider socks intimate apparel, so in that case, your friend would probably not face much wrath from the owner of the socks, whose dignity and privacy would still be intact. Any reasonable person would be forgiving. We've all had wet feet.

But that was the best case scenario. Now for the worst. In the quest for dry socks, your friend first opens a drawer which is not the sock drawer, but instead is home to a number of embarrassing items, such as double-ended dildos, tubes of Crab-B-Gone fast-actin' lotion and a number of Hanson cassette tapes. The next drawer does hold socks, but it is also the resting place for the sock owner's frilly, lacy bras, corsets and underthings. And the sock owner is a guy. And the stuff isn't clean. Now, if the sock owner busts your friend, the slimy discomfort of his feet will be no excuse for the humiliation the sock man will feel having been outed as a freak with bad taste in music.

But, let's take it one step further. Among the socks and corsets, your friend finds a detailed stealth plan to lobotomize the entire law school while they are sleeping, in hopes of improving his job prospects. Your friend tips off authorities and saves the day. He's gone from super snoop to super sleuth.

So what I'm trying to say, is when sifting through dark, deep, unknown realm of sock drawers, the ethics aren't so cut and dry. It's all about moral luck, and what secrets folks just happened to be harboring in their bureau drawers.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Okay, Parody's over. The show went well, the reaction was really positive, people seemed to really like it, it was fun, I had a good time, sad that's it's over, although hasn't really sunk in yet.

Had a fun weekend, with the shows and besides. Random notes from wandering around Cambridge today:

*A tea shop had a sign outside advertising today's special flavors, one of which was "Golden Monkey Tea." This sounds like a euphemism. Not a very tasty one either. Wouldn't go near that one....

*Adidas opened up a sneaker shop around here. One of my friends observed that it's a trend, that lots of sneaker companies are doing this. Except Converse, I said. They're doing the opposite. Read that one again if you don't get it. Sorry, it's lame.

*Yesterday was really wet out; I changed socks three times I think, because my sneakers kept getting wet. One of my super-cool friends (I think I promised I wouldn't say which one) who came up to see the show and hang out this weekend and came to the cast party afterwards posed an interesting ethical dilemma. So, we were at the cast party, and his socks were really wet. And so, just for a second, he contemplated sneaking into someone's room (the party was in somebody's house) and stealing a pair of their socks, so his feet would be dry. He wouldn't actually have done this; the thought just crossed his mind. So the question is whether this is ethically justifiable or not. I think it may depend on whether the socks are on the floor or in a drawer. If you're actively searching through someone else's stuff, I think that's definitely worse than just grabbing a pair of socks off the floor. Of course, socks on a floor are likely to be dirty, and I'm not sure anyone really wants to wear someone else's dirty socks, even as compared with wet socks. And he thought you could probably tell a lot about someone based on their reaction, if they caught you taking their socks. If they'd really be mad, after hearing the reasoning behind it, are they really a good person? Contemplate this issue for a minute; I'll post any interesting responses that come my way.

*Speaking of legal ethics, I took the MPRE Saturday morning (on about 4 hours of sleep...). Not a disaster, I don't think. Certainly I expect I beat the girl who was sitting next to me, who, unfortunately, even if she had a command of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility, did not seem to have a good command of English. She saw me take out my pencils before the exam. "Ah, you have yellow pencil. Everyone have yellow pencil. You all buy pencil at same place?" I swear she said this. Her pencils were blue. "I try your pencil?" she asked. I let her try one. "Same as me," she said. Good for her. I don't want her to be my lawyer.

*Saw some cool-looking MIT buildings, one with lots of windows and one with a weird random entranceway with a lot of bent metal. What was funny was that the card swipe thing in front of the building was also bent at an angle and leaning over, like some of the building. I thought it was a nice touch that it matched. But, looking closer, no, it was just broken. Ha.

Friday, March 11, 2005

54 hours away from being done with this Parody stuff and able to write posts that aren't four lines long. Really.

Tonight is the penultimate show, unless I'm wrong about the meaning of "penultimate." There's a Parody tradition where the 3Ls get some time during warmups to talk about their Parody memories and say nice things about people. My turn is tonight. I've scripted myself.

I read the Conviser mini review in the Bar/Bri book today for the MPRE tomorrow and then took a practice test. I got 40/50, which would be enough to pass if that's the % I get tomorrow morning when I take the test. In a perfect world, I'd squeeze in another practice test, but I have friends coming into town tonight who are seeing the show tomorrow, and it'll be late anyway, and the test is at 9AM tomorrow, so odds are very slim I'll look at the MPRE stuff again before the exam. Oh well. I bought 8 pencils. That should compensate for not knowing some of the answers.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Parody show opened tonight, and the audience seemed to really like it. Would love to hear reactions from anyone who saw it and reads this. It's been an overwhelming, but very cool and very rewarding process. It's nice to care about something, it's nice to feel invested, it's nice to work on something with people you respect and like and connect with. So we do it 4 more times, and then I can catch up on sleep. :)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I'm working on a draft of my law school newspaper column for the week. Here's what I've got so far.

In the Harvard Law Record last week, David Katz wrote a column defending the "right" to have Internet access in class. "Class becomes unbearable without computers," he wrote. "[T]ime drags and our brains shut down. No one, not even students with a sub-B average, should ever be forcibly subjected to a laptop-less experience." This week, I take the opposite position. I think Internet should be banned from class, and, in fact, I think computers should be banned. I almost think pen and paper should be banned, but I won't quite go that far. Certainly tuna sandwiches should be banned, but that's for an entirely different reason. Professors possibly ought to be banned, but, again, that's beyond the scope of my column this week.

Of course computers -- and wireless Internet -- make class less of a chore. It's great to be able to check e-mail, instant message, surf the web, play solitaire, watch DVDs, shop for coat racks, and hack into the Pentagon's electronic files, all while sitting in Fed Courts pretending to listen to the professor. I won't dispute that attendance is higher because people know they can go to class and basically pretend they aren't there and zone out and play first-person shooters. But this isn't productive, and it's not like just being in the classroom should be enough.

There are classes I bring my computer to this semester, and classes I don't. The classes I either find really engaging, or feel like I really need to pay attention, I usually leave the computer at home. Maybe other people are better at this than I am, but when I have the computer, I'm not really mentally tuned in to the class. I'm tuned into the New York Times article I'm reading or the e-mail I'm sending, or the secret military formula I'm decoding. When I get called on, I'm flustered, because I haven't been listening, I give a crappy answer, the professor moves on, and I go back to my fantasy baseball draft.

Even when I'm not Internet-enabled, and just using the computer to take notes, I'm not as engaged as if I'm writing with pen and paper. My notes end up looking like a transcript written by a narcoleptic. Five minutes of every word the professor says, without really knowing what I'm writing, and then I zone out into some other world, and get jarred back to life when I hear the clickity-clack of other people typing something (so it MUST be important!) or I hear my name. Or someone's name. Or the cell phone of the dude next to me. There's no value-add in transcribing what the professor is saying. Professors are smart, sure, but not everything they say is worth recording for posterity. Of course, sometimes you can turn what they say into monologues in Parody shows, so maybe it's okay in special circumstances like that. But usually it's just kind of useless.

And besides all this, computers are big. They block people's faces. You can't really interact with classmates when you're all behind computer screens. It distances you. Like the tuna sandwiches. You can't really interact with classmates eating smelly lunch foods. You can't get close enough to challenge their paradigms and tear down their assumptions and revolutionize their worldviews and whatever else it is law students could theoretically do to each other in class that doesn't involve anything filthy. Get your mind out of the gutter.

So, I think we should ban laptops, ban ethernet, ban keyboards, ban cell phones, ban fax machines, and ban tuna fish. For a better law school experience. Even if it means no one will ever go to class.
We're reading a case in Legal Profession about an attorney named Jay London. Jay London was also the name of a comedian on Last Comic Standing 2 who was sometimes funny. It's sad that I remember the names of the comedians on Last Comic Standing, which was not a very good show, mostly because 8 minutes out of every hour were spent on comedy and the other 35 were spent on showing the comedians playing hide-and-seek in their big mansion, or talking smack about each other.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Useful e-mail this afternoon:

On Tuesday March 8th (tomorrow) between 8am and 5pm work will be performed on the audiovisual system in the Harkness Commons. During that time you may hear audio and see video in various locations throughout the Hark. We appreciate your patience while we test the Harkness Commons audiovisual system. If you have any questions please call Media Services at XXX-XXXX.
I'm so glad they warned us. We may HEAR AUDIO??? GADZOOKS! Or SEE VIDEO??? How would we ever cope without this notice?

Sorry, I think I'm just tired today. I guess this e-mail was fine, if just a little overeager to keep us in the loop about what's going on.

Although, I do wonder if anyone's going to call with any questions.

"What kind of audio might we hear?"
"Can I request specific audio?"
"Can you make the audio any louder?"
"Will you be having auditions for the audio voice you'll be using?"
"I'm pre-emptively offended by the video that I will be seeing. Can I get any compensation for the psychological harm it's going to cause?"
"Will there be audio and video at the SAME TIME?"
"I don't hear any audio or see any video. Am I deaf and/or blind?"
"I saw some audio and heard some video. Can you refer me to a specialist?"

Sunday, March 06, 2005

We had a dress rehearsal for the Parody show tonight. (The show opens on Tuesday.) In the room next to our makeup room, there were a whole bunch of people standing up, and a dude with a purple robe at the front doing some stuff. I figured it was a cult meeting of some sort, but someone said it was just Catholic mass. I realized I've actually never been to any sort of mass or anything. I've been inside churches, and been to a couple of weddings where there was some kind of church service-ish, but I don't think I've actually been to any sort of church service. I've been to synagogue. I always just assumed it was the same thing. But rabbis don't wear purple robes, so I guess not.

But, besides thinking we were rehearsing next door to a cult meeting, the dress rehearsal went well. There's a post on Class Maledictorian about the Parody. Class Maledictorian is written by Amber, a classmate of mine. We've never actually met, but she's in my Legal Profession class this semester, and we have name cards in the class, so I know who she is, and she knows who I am, and so I guess we sort of know each other, I guess, but not really. I was called on in that class last week and gave an answer I knew was wrong, sort of. Not a really great story, but what the heck. I had an outline that's in the school's outline bank, up on my screen, in the right place. But, for some bizarre reason, when I was called on, I had this pang of guilt just reading the answer off the outline. I wasn't really paying good enough attention that I would have given a good answer without the outline. And so I made the split-second decision to say something that I knew -- because the outline was right there on my screen -- was wrong. I'm not entirely sure why. It actually wasn't any sort of big deal at all -- my answer wasn't unreasonable, and I explained myself out of it, and I'm certain the whole thing didn't stand out in any way at all and was a complete non-event. Wow, that's a lot of self-indulgent words about nothing. Sorry. Anyway, her post:

I now have a ticket for the law school parody. I was ambivalent about attending this year because last year's parody was a) not funny and b) personally offensive. However, I am informed that the end-of-show routine with a clown wandering the audience spotlighting individual people and insulting them has been eliminated and thus my main objection to the show has disappeared.

The whole ticket acquisition process is especially amusing to me because I am going with my friend and former roommate, who spent hours ranting this summer (with my partial agreement) about the pernicious effect of the parody on law school civility.
I think Amber will like this year's show a lot better than last year's show. But she can post about it after she sees it and verify whether that's right or not. I'll probably have more to say about the Parody after the performances, but don't really have a ton to say at this point except that I'm excited to see what the audience reaction is, and feel like regardless, I've gotten to know a bunch of cool people through the process so it's been worth it even if the audience doesn't laugh. But it will be better if the audience laughs.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Via a link from Wings & Vodka, which you should be reading anyway, here's a link to a really funny McSweeney's piece that uses the Abbott and Costello "Who's on First?" routine as a jumping off point for something really quite clever. Wish I'd thought of it. It's very good.
I wrote a preview article for the law school Parody show. Well, sort of wrote. I cribbed some over-the-top New York Times theater reviews and just changed the details a bit.

Parody Show Preview: "Finding Nemo Contributorily Negligent"

It all begins with the sound of meandering footsteps, ominous but curiously clumsy, as if something wicked had lost its way. In the teasing opening seconds of the sensational - in all senses of the word - 2005 Harvard Law School Parody Show, "Finding Nemo Contributorily Negligent" - you're likely to experience that mixed thrill that is part giggle and part goose flesh, the kind that descends when you hear a sudden thud in a dark and quiet house.

You suspect that whatever lurks behind the tattered black curtains of the Ropes Gray Room, where the Parody will open this coming Tuesday and run for five nights, is either truly fearsome or really ridiculous. Trust your instincts: the 2005 Parody, produced by Danielle Rothman and Matt Smith, is, oh so deliciously, both.

Therein lies the genius of this one-of-a-kind "nasty picture book" of a musical, in which badly-behaved law students learn profound lessons about life, love, and legal research. A spiky, subversive riff on Heinrich Hoffmann's "Struwwelpeter," a droll collection of grisly bedtime stories from the mid-19th century, "Finding Nemo Contributorily Negligent" is both the silliest and the most sinister show in town. It is also, as it happens, one of the smartest.

Directed with unstinting imagination and brazen assurance by Bettina Clark, and featuring bizarrely beautiful wooden set pieces by Taylor Dasher, the 2005 Parody manages to wallow in and tear apart our enduring appetite for satirizing ourselves and our professors. And while its medium is the time-worn conventions of sketch comedy and parody lyric, this bold realization of an even bolder vision makes last year's effort seem like a poor imitation of a reality in fact too bold to even contemplate.

The vultures have been salivating over the show for months. How could they not be? All those stories of production-freezing technical glitches as the light switches failed to activate in the Ropes Gray room; the reported rumors that Lexis had failed to donate any money to the show; and, beyond all that, the mere fact of a law school musical named after a cartoon fish, a singing-and-dancing rendition of the young century's most famous maritime character: yes, it all seemed to portend a memorably bloody chapter in the history of flops in Pound Hall.

But law-themed theater disaster cultists like Professor Bruce Hay will have to wait, however, as will Record headline writers armed with scalpels and the obvious puns. "Nemo," which will open on schedule next week to a soon-to-be-sold-out audience, doesn't drown. It swims. And majestically so.

The show, performed by a cast of thousands, oh so quickly leaves the dock. Like the fish that gives the show its name, the talents behind "Nemo" have worked hard to create something of epic scope and technological wonder. Few of the metaphoric implications of this animated fish, an endless source of historic and literary contemplation since it appeared on movie screens last year, have been neglected.

The miracle of "Finding Nemo Contributorily Negligent" is that it traces the idea of multiplicity on so many equally satisfying levels: within Nemo, the narrator, who speaks often of the different identities he has assumed throughout his life and agonizes over roads not taken; within every law student who appears on the stage; within the surprise cameos by a handful of popular professors.

And while you may well draw specific parallels to contemporary figures and events, it's this show's infinite open-endedness that makes it such a treasure. With "Nemo," the Drama Society has singlehandedly rejuvenated the law school parody show by making its boundaries porous, so that against the odds it feels as universal as it does particular.

"I am large," said Walt Whitman. "I contain multitudes." So, improbably but gloriously, does "Finding Nemo Contributorily Negligent." Tickets available in the Hark and at the door. Show opens Tuesday night March 8 and runs through Saturday, March 12. All shows at 8 p.m. except Saturday at 7.

Friday, March 04, 2005

A Conversation With Myself

"What are you doing for the next hour or so?"
"I'm taking a practice MPRE."
"But you haven't studied for the MPRE at all. At all."
"I know. But I figure this will give me a baseline. To know how much I need to study."
"That's stupid. You should study first."
"Yeah, but studying sucks. Taking a practice test is more fun."
"Not if you don't get any of the questions right."
"No, I guess not. But that's the plan."
"You'll regret it. You're just wasting a practice test."
"I know. But what do you want from me?"
"Nothing, I guess. I should know by now it's not worth arguing."
"No, it's not."

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Okay, this is a really stupid recruiting move. Yahoo has a ridiculous article from, called "Law Firms Mull the 'Gen Y' Equation" that basically says that law firms are upset because young associates don't work hard enough.

Big money at large firms may be intoxicating for young lawyers with mounds of school debt, but new associates often are not willing to make the sacrifice that those salaries demand, said Bruce McLean, chairman of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

"It entices people to come to big firms who really don't want to do what we do," said McLean, adding that Akin Gump has a "significant number" of hardworking associates.

Generation Y associates often come from the nation's top schools and have other impressive credentials, McLean said, but what many do not have is unbridled ambition. "Just being successful and a partner in a firm is not enough of a motivating tool," he said.
I mean, I guess I can see the line of reasoning here. Lots of people coming out of top schools are going to firms for the money, and aren't really passionate about the work, and their hearts aren't in it. But the attitude that comes through here is what's a little frightening. That the problem isn't the firm's but the associate's and that associates just need to work harder. When the truth is that associates seem to work pretty hard -- or at least pretty long -- at all of these firms, and do make sacrifices, and do want to do a good job -- but that the firm doesn't live up to its side of the bargain, and doesn't always provide work that associates can get passionate about.

Later in the article:

Studies indicate that young workers are less willing to put in long hours and instead are more focused on pursuing interests outside work than were their predecessors. A report issued by the Families and Work Institute in October, Generation and Gender in the Workplace, found that younger employees are less likely to be "work-centric." The study also found that young men and women are more interested in staying at the same rung on the career ladder in order to preserve their quality of life.


"This group wants to grow professionally and advance to partnership, but not while compromising their personal lives," said Karen MacKay, a partner with Edge International. The survey, "Motivating the Next Generation," was sent to about 4,000 members of the law firm network Multilaw. About 800 attorneys responded.


One managing partner at a New York firm cited a "failure to take charge of their career" as a common problem with young associates. "They are more willing to sit back and wait for things to happen to them instead of making them happen for themselves," the attorney said, adding that new associates today are more brazen than those in previous years. "They are willing to turn down work they don't want to do. They don't volunteer for committee or other firm work."

Another managing partner at a national firm said that many new associates, unlike associates before them, no longer "feel lucky" to have their jobs. The attorney also said that associates now operate under a pack mentality.

"[Newer associates] have a very strong connection with each other as opposed to the institution. If someone is treated badly, they all react to it," the attorney said.
I guess what I find kind of frightening about the article is that there's a sense that these are bad things -- that people wanting a life outside of work, wanting work that's interesting and challenging, wanting a balanced existence is all illustrative of a "problem" with associates today, and it's something firms need to "solve." I mean, if this is really the attitude the law firms have, then that's scary, and demonstrates a real disconnect with what I would imagine most of us would like to think the reality is.

But what amazes me is that the chairman of Akin Gump was willing to go on record saying he doesn't think associates "make the sacrifice" that the salaries demand, and that while they have a "significant number" of hardworking associates, it's a problem. Because even if it's true, how does this help Akin Gump? How does this make them more desirable if you're a law student looking for a job? It just seems like a stupid thing to say.
Slate has an article about Dunkin' Donuts and how it's trying to capture the middle market and not just rolling over for Starbucks to take over. It's an interesting read. The article's basically saying that Dunkin' Donuts' biggest problem is the atmosphere in its stores. They aren't places people can linger, they don't feel like Starbucks, they're too magenta. I suppose it has to be the atmosphere more than the products themselves, because it seems like Dunkin' Donuts offers pretty much the entire coffee side of Starbucks' menus, but then also adds donuts, bagels, and breakfast sandwiches, in comparison with the baked goods Starbucks has that I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone eat. Then again, I don't go to Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts very often at all, so what do I know?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Chris Geidner has a post about law teaching, reacting to a post elsewhere that says you really need to go to a top 15 school to be a law professor. He writes, "I don't pretend that it is easy for those at non-top schools to break into the law teaching market, but it is likewise not at all productive to tell -- or imply, or whatever it was that Professor Bernstein did -- those vast majority of law students outside the top 15 schools incorrectly that law teaching is closed to them."

I know nothing about the law teaching market. I do know that it seems like pretty much all the professors I've had here went to Harvard or Yale, except the visiting professors.

Also, I didn't like any of the performances on American Idol tonight.