Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ah the Holidays...

Family Post #1
Sometimes you need to look at the people who were there before you, blazing the trail so you didn't have to. I'm not talking about the figures we read about in history books. I mean the people who paid the mortgage month in and month out, the leaders who went to college, the heroes who get up every day and go to work so that small children can experience childhood as it was meant to be. The ones who worked hard so I could dream, the ones who sacrificed so I could have. I'm talking about family.

This weekend, after spending the first part of the week sweating out two legal memos, I went and spent some time with family. I loaded up the ride, scooped up my brother and headed into the wilds of lower South Carolina to re-visit where I come from. And maybe remember why I'm headed where I'm headed.

I would say I first went to visit my people in the country, but that wouldn't be right, because ALL my people is from the country. So let's just say, I went to vist my maternal folks first.

When I was younger, going to my aunt's house for Turkey day was a magical trip. They would start cooking on Sunday. Two or three turkeys. Chicken. Ham. Venison. Ribs. Rice and Gravy. Macoroni with Cheese. Stuffing. Green Beans. Butter Beans. Peas. Candied Yams. Buttered Rolls. And this is just what i can remember eating. There might be ten different desserts. Going to their house was a feast, there would be enough food for a hundred, with family and relatives you might not see again for months. Folks and neighbors would float in and out all day. It was time to catch up, to hear all those funny stories day I'll speak on my cousin Ray...and reconnect with the folks who will care for you, no matter what. My brother thinks it's more important than the insanely over commercialized Christmas. I think he's got a point.

Earlier this year, one of my aunts on that side of the family had a stroke, and so we visited them. The usual buffett was set out in the kitchen, okay maybe food for fifty this time, and we all passed in and out of her room so that she could have visitors. She's come a long way, but she's got a ways to go yet. But her sense of humor hasn't been affected one bit. She cracked jokes with every other sentence, keeping us in stitches as we all made the best of what it was.

It's moments like this, when family means something.

Then before it got too late, I went to visit the paternal peoples. My grandfolks are nearing 90, and my grandfather still won't sit still. He's such a busy body, my grandmother made the old boy get a cell phone. Yes, my 90 year old grandfather has joined the cell phone generation, showing off his new phone and even playing me a few of his custom ring tones. This was one of life's jaw dropping moments.

I also renewed the deal I have my grandmother that we're going to dance at my eventual wedding, which to her means she can't "go anywhere" and has to keep active. It's the same deal we've had since I was 15, although now she razzes me about great grand babies now instead of wives. I remember when I was a kid, that house my grandparents lived in seemed so big, and now it seems crowded whenever you have more than four people in the kitchen. And just like when I was kid, even from her wheelchair (sigh), I watched grandma take a few minutes to make sure my granddad's hair was okay.

When I talk about love...65 years like them is what I mean.

How deep in the country was I? Well my people have a gas stove...powered by the gas tank in the yard. At night you can see the stars in the sky (and if you think that's easy, go outside and try it). Furniture and fixtures from the 1970s...and that's the new stuff!!! I mean thirty five minutes from town...where the town is forty minutes from a slightly bigger town...which is an hour from any reasonable sized city. Both times.

I've been to the middle of nowhere. It's where I'm from. And my family is still there.

Barkeep. I think my uncle used to drink that Crown. So set'em up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The obligatory James Bond Post

I am a James Bond Fan

James Bond

I like the character James Bond. I've actually read the novels and found him interesting. The movies have ebbed between glorious (Goldfinger or Goldeneye) and "what the hell are they doing" (see Moonraker or Licence to Kill). But much like the dedicated person I am, good or bad, I still follow along.

Kind of like a Trekkie, only cool.

I wasn't all that big on Daniel Craig. I admit it. And I'm not too particularly crazy about the raw Bond they have him portraying, all force and blunt trauma and little of the refined cool that Connery started. Okay, Connery's Bond did once strangle a woman with her bikini top, but it was a cool strangulation. Moore, who was my first Bond, was almost comedy, but he still was cool and debonair if even in an odd sort of way. And honestly Dalton was just a mistake. Don't get me wrong, Dalton is an okay actor, just not James Bond. But I was impressed with Craig's ability to look like an agent with a license to kill.

Now if he could just look like James Bond.

And that's just it. James Bond is mostly defined as the cool and and capable, suave and refined character that most of the first 15 movies portrayed him as. He is the secret agent that we all wanted to be. This new incarnation is brooding and brutal and the writing lacks the essential quality of just off kilter humor that the older series was rife with. Look back:

-- Brosnon's Bond in Goldeneye with Xenia Onatopp in the sauna and "No more foreplay".
-- Connery's Bond in Diamonds for Forever, when after throwing Plenty O'Toole from the hotel window remarks "Nice shot", and the heavy says "I didn't know there was a pool down there."
-- Half of Moore's Bond's dialogue. Just pick something.

Recent critics are just that, recent critics, and their comparisons of the new Bond to the Jason Bourne character make me wonder where they think the whole concept for Moonraker came from? When you've been a movie icon for forty plus years, you can borrow from the next new thing. We real fans don't mind. You halfway expect it. The movie character is older than I am...jeez, would they expect us to shoot the remake of Knight Rider with a TransAm?

But who in the hell watches a Bond movie for character development? He's James Fucking Bond.

Okay, we've had our fun experiment. Bond's a whole man now. So let's get back to the just a bit smoother than the rest of them man about time I enjoy.

Barkeep. Vodka Martini. Shaken not stirred. And Yes, I do give a damn.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Got it in One

Mental Rehab Post #38
Law School's first semester is closing out in stages. First the study guide class, then the writing and research class and then the "substantive" classes. Looking at the whole thing, I'm curious as the reasoning and rationale of the order. I like to believe it's a time honored traditon that has planted the seeds of legal genius, and not simply because these are the professors available. I guess I need to become a legal genius to find out.

The more I see of law school, the more I realize it's all just a trick. One big weird puzzle that to join the secret society, you have to be able to relax your mind and see the pattern in the madness. Or it's just really really hard.

I finished my two legal memos, realizing as I devoted six days to the project - Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a little part of Monday for polish and printing - there were a lot of obvious clues that the system put in my path that my previously untrained eye had missed. The professors were correct in that the previous methods we had used to prepare ourselves for educational input would be for the most part useless in the study of the law. Oh how I wish they weren't.

Now I got two finals in two weeks. The first promises to be a education in creativty, as the first prof - in looking at his previous exams - is a man who really likes his work. Previous exams have included issues set against Elizabethean drama, while others have intergrated in The Three Stooges and Buck Rogers. Sadly in reading those previous exams, once you get past the drivel and his odd sense of humor, he actually knows the issues he's talking about too, so the idea is not to get distracted.

The other guy promised open book and open notes for his test. Which scares the bejeesus out of me. My classmates don't seem to realize...THIS MEANS HE CAN ASK US ANYTHING!!! I for one would like to admit now: this ain't gonna be pretty.

But between now and then, I got Thanksgiving. Which I'm planning to try and spend home with the family. Which means a drive down to South Carolina and back in 48 hours so I can spend the weekend handcuffed to a book, because my light in the ass backup is now claiming he won't be able to fill in for me on the day of the final...and I'll have to go to work and then go take a comprehensive test that is the only grade I get for the semester.

Oh joy.

Well. Here goes nothing. Really...nothing.

Barkeep. Set'em up 'cause I got to get it. We'll start...with the Rum.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Drive By Updates...

Quick and Dirty Post
There is no august lead in. No great or even insipid guide to what's on my mind or even a ludicrous but oddly true story or concept to get you warmed up. Don't have the time. Be happy I even got this up. Dutty somambeetches.

It's Wednesday. And it's on.

By next Monday, meaning that all blog entries will be written on the job when I can't steal the time to study, I have to complete two legal memos. Neither of them went especially well the first time, but I've got prayer and a mildly unhinged mind on my side. And some determination. And at least six precooked meals.

It's amazing now that I look back on my life pre-law school and realize that man, I hung the hell out a lot. A whole lot. And now I'm in a book six nights a week. The seventh is usually spent sleeping.

If I'm still sane on the other side of December 11th (the final final of this years's finals) I just need an outing. Something with possibility. It will be the Christmas Party Season and I know that I've got at least one holiday cocktail party to host. I hope.

Why is it all summer nothing was going on, and now everything happens at once.

Let's see: Finals. Papers. Still haven't' gotten a bill for the security home improvements so that's hanging over my head. Went to see the dentist and oh, I need my wisdom teeth out and he'll need about of $5000 (and have I thought about braces?). Car still needs a touch of work. Still living with one apartment's worth of furniture in a four bedroom house. Yard improvements. Massive yard improvements. New bills.

This could just get depressing if I keep going.

And if last weekend was slow, this week it's going to stop. I started working on Memo one last night, will finish up the basics tonight (some of it at work!), and then work on just citiations and format Thursday night for four hours. It's gonna take that long. Then start on Memo two on Friday night, which is going to be a beast. I don't expect to actually recognize it's Saturday on the day, but have a little Saturday commenoration on Sunday night. Then I start the studying for finals in earnest.

Oh the joy of education.

Dutty somenabeetches...

Barkeep. Just start pouring.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Office Moguls

Mental Rehab Post #37
More of the detritus of the many days I've spent. Suddenly things are in flux, and I haven't had the time to stick more than a minute into anything. And I'm suddenly concerned about things I should have taken care of weeks if not months ago. A simple error may have life changing consequences. But more about that later. Now, more crap from the back of my mind.

In my office, for the past few months, I have been victim of someone who does not have enough to do.

I've unfortunately become intimately aware of a number of things in his life...his apartment break-in, a piece of land he owned jointly with his sister, what he hoped to do with his land, his sister's objections to his plans, his plan for the house on said land, the hybrid car he bought, a certification he wants to get, the certificate for his new certification he didn't get, his entire stock portfolio, his theory of stock activity and market movement, how much he got when he sold the land to his sister, the house he wants to buy, the other house he wants to buy, what he'll have to do to this other house to make it livable, what his doctor said, the joy of his new iPhone, his political opinions and the fact that he didn't know if he was registered to vote or not, his unique brand of sarcasm, his new diet, this other house he's looking at, his new found joy of cigars and if you'll note...

....I haven't mentioned his actual JOB once. It's not that I'm listening. He's an older guy, who looks much older than he is and who sits a row over from me and has apparently no perception that sound carries.

The office rule is you do not as him questions if at all possible. Especially not his opinion.

He sits next to another older guy who enjoys snakes, playing videos of his cello concerts on his computer for whole office to hear and talking about his own meager stock portfolio. He also has no perception that sound carries. I have no reason to part of his conference calls, which he perfers to have on speaker phone. He doesn't understand why I have a problem.

I knew I should have taken that office with a door when they offered it to me.

I make this entry, because as I plod through my day, it has dawned on me that neither of them truly understands what they're doing. Guy B understands more than Guy A, but only by a little. And both of them understand less than that.

These two guys are the reason that Bush's plan that everyone needed to invest their retirement accounts in the stock market was flawed. It assumes that A) either everyone will know what they're doing or B) those that don't know what they're doing will be wise enough to consult a professional. As I listened to someone admit they'd emptied their 401k to do some investing ( he freely admits he's day trading his retirement ), it occurred to me that maybe...just maybe... the stock market isn't for everyone.

That same idea also strikes me when one of them can't comprehend why everybody keeps saying everything is so bad because the stock market hasn't completely crashed and gone to zero. The idea that all the financiers who supply the companies they want to invest in are writing down billions and staring down the concept of going belly up doesn't register with these "traders". They are apparently in the 10% who think the country is on the right course. Guy A is still trying to figure out how he can "flip" a house.

With no studying of the data, fueled only by "somebody told mes" and an "I figure" based on a blurb or apparently gut feeling (I haven't seen a single copy of the WSJ or even Fox Business news or Bloomberg or anything even semi-research related) they invest for hours at a time on the company clock via their PDAs and company computers announcing loudly $500 losses or $50 gains and wonder why their bosses think they're not really working. These are the men who will need Social Security or a well managed pension fund.

But maybe its that I'm not that bright. Because both of them make more than I and obviously aren't busy all day. So maybe I need to shut up and pay attention.


Barkeep - Cutty Sark. And Boone's farm for my friends.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The First of the Slow Weekends

Mental Rehab Post #36
There are days I think maybe God really likes me. There are other days I'm almost certain that God has a wicked sense of humor. And then there are days I think God went to the bathroom during the commercial break that was sometime in 1700s and is just now walking back in having stopped to make popcorn. I mean, if God can let me imagine it, how wrong could it be?

When I was in college, one Saturday morning I had a conversation with my father that I swear was a dream. My roommates remember me answering the phone however, which lead to a rather comical scene a few minutes later. You see my father had an odd penchant for calling at 7am on Saturday mornings when all good college students are up and ready to chase the day, don't you know. Up until my roommate asked me what my dad wanted, I had regarded the whole episode as a very weird dream. A very vivid hallucination.

I bring that up for no reason at all.

So Saturday I realized that law school really is hazing, but the lawyers write the terminology so they're covered. After reading through cases and laying out the simple parts - well, not simple, the parts of the memo I understand - I moved onto the slightly more difficult parts and realized I had been tricked and bamboozled. The whole basic structure we'd been taught so far doesn't quite match this set of facts. It takes too long to explain here, but what it means is what I know of how to do this is just shy of useless.

So Saturday was spent cursing the heavens. And cleaning my house. I got out a contractor's size garbage bag ( larger than a lawn bag) and got to work. Cleaned up the kitchen, cleaned up the living room, cleaned up dining and room and threw out countless old issues of the Wall Street Journal. Washed clothes, put up my scent diffuser, washed dishes, cleaned out the fridge, swept and swiffered. Cleaned some more, and cleaned up.

Man my house was dirty.

That kick on Friday showed maybe I was a little lower emotionally than I thought. Not a good situation.

Sunday morning, (because describing the continuing cleaning and reading through cases would be boring), I continued with cleaning and read through even more cases. I re-arranged and folded clothing, I tried to figure out transitions and logic, I swept, dusted and washed, and looked for legal standing on due process throughout the ninth circuit. And around four in the afternoon I finally said fuck it, I was going to ride over to my RP's house for a fish fry and chill out for a couple of hours, then get back at it.

And lo and behold, the car won't start. Dead Battery. How's about that for timing?

Spanky shows up and checks out the house, then marvels at my cable TV for few hours. She's mad because apparently, in a shocker, every contractor doesn't have your renovations done in seven days like on Extreme Home Makeover. Golly gosh darn the luck. So she watches the house, and also car (okay she watched my TV with a keen ear for my car), while Tom and I went down Walmart to buy a battery. I mean really, where else was I going to get a car battery at 9pm on a Sunday? God bless America.

I hit my man off with a few bucks for gas, and finally eat dinner at midnight, when I realize I haven't eaten all day.

Now, see if you can spot what's missing from this weekend.

Barkeep. Let me get a glass of the Pinch. Bit of branch water.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Night and Day

Relapse Post #3
Sometimes, 24 hours makes all the difference. What was an issue, now has an answer. What was unbelievable, is now within your grasp. What you didn't know yesterday is now a concept in full as you watch today's sunrise. Those are the 24 hours that change lives. This wasn't one of those times. But man that was dramatic, wasn't it?

Last night I went home to an empty house, ate a bowl of cereal for dinner, sat on my couch and looked at my homework - didn't really do any, and finally just went to sleep. It might have been 10pm.

Last night was one of those nights that affects a nearing middle aged person who knows he's missed opportunity and has ducked around his potential. A night where you riff back through the "I should have's" and the "I wish I had's" and try to figure out how you ended up wherever here is. It used to be called doing a little soul searching, but I guess now you might call it something different, it being the 21st century, but I don't know what. Rarely does this turn out well for anyone. It's a gateway feeling to depression.

I've had a great number of opportunities in my life. Probably more than most people. And I've stood there with my proverbial hands in my proverbial pockets and shrugged, like I had too much going on to be bothered. And as you get older, the excuses as to why you haven't achieved this, or gotten there, and made this happen start to run thin, if only to myself. Suffice it to say here is not where I intended to be. Way off. And so each opportunity for success or happiness starts to gain a little more value.

So this morning I woke up and futzed around the house. I futz around especially well on days I don't have class, because I really really really - really - don't want to go to work. I don't really like my job. I could crisply and efficiently get up, clean up and neaten, get showered and ready and actually be in the office by issue. My alarm goes off around 5am. Well in reality, I actually wake up, refuse to crawl of bed, get showered, get on the internet, get ready, and then show up at the office on those days I can stay late a little closer to say ...9:30 or 10am? Did I mention I'm not really that happy with my job?

So this morning I'm on the internet, futzing around and looking at nothing: email, news, porn, whatever - when my doorbell rings. Which is odd. And they keep ringing it, all silly. I start to get a little perturbed.

It's Sporty.

God is funny like that. Because damn if my house isn't a pigsty. And I look like hell. But I'm still happy to see her, and she's apparently happy to see me. She looks beautiful. And she tells me I need to clean up.

My boy Tom, whom I used to walk with in the park, has a saying: "A good woman will make you want to do better. Make you want to be a better man." There's more to that saying but it's not really applicable here. In a large part, Sporty made me WANT to be better. I haven't met anyone else that makes me want that.

If she has time we're supposed to get together before she heads out again. Which would be cool. She told me the one thing she wanted to make sure of was that she saw me. And just to make sure, she ran by my house.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Still, to me it's betta than nothing.

Barkeep. Her drinks are on me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted.

I voted today at 11:55am at my local precinct.

I had been in line since just before 8:30am. The line wasn't that long. Or so it seemed.

After heavily medicating myself - Airborne, Zicam, and then Comtrex - I arose with only the vestiges of symptoms of what I call "the sneezing death" and trundled over to my polling place to cast my ballot. Thank god I brought a book.

The book was Ross Thomas' "The Backup Men" and is good with a sparse writing style that is highly steeped in reality.

In line I developed a distaste for the elderly.

Apparently if you're over 65, you can go right to the front of the line to vote. Health and all that. And there are an astounding number of elderly people in my neighborhood. Astounding. They came in waves of 5 or 10, on walkers and with canes, moving slow, some had help, others bravely going alone. Every 10 minutes or so, a fresh batch appeared. And each and every one voted before me.

And having voted, they're going home to watch a little TV, get a nap, maybe eat a little bit.

And I still had to go to work.

What really upset me, after standing behind the lady who was on the phone the entire time and in front of the mother and son who complained about everything - the weather, the free doughnuts, how slow the line was moving, what somebody else was wearing - for a period that was roughly half of my day, when I walked outside of the polling place....THERE WAS NO LINE.

Had I waited till lunch, I could have been in and out in thirty - thirty five minutes. Why couldn't the older people have waited until afternoon to vote?

In any case it's showtime.

Have the polls been wrong? All 150 of them? We'll know in a little while. Hold on tight, because here we go.

Barkeep, it's only cause I KNOW my boy is going to win, I need a Gentleman Jack and sprite.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Last Weekend Roundup

Mental Rehab Post #35
Sometimes in the course of living, we live just a little too hard. And then comes a reckoning, and then shortly thereafter, nachos. Or is it pie? In either case, as I've told many a folk, most of things that happen to me are my fault. I either didn't plan for the eventuality, didn't prepare going in, or whatever, but's my fault. So read this and when I'm complaining in a few weeks, you'll know why. To wit, my weekend... of my profs plucks my name from the ether to give a presentation last Tuesday. I mean I talk a lot in class to avoid moments like this, what gives?

I have my normal complement of reading and the case briefings.

.... two papers due, one reconstruction and the other from scratch.

... a mock final on Saturday that's gonna snatch three hours.

....and I need to start getting together my outlines and other study methods so I can master these finals in a month.

And then as it turns out I'm hosting the Halloween Party on Friday night (Silly me!), folks from out of town are dropping through, my website is in dire need of an update, I'm losing at BabyCal throw, my house is approaching pigsty status, I need to wash clothes, the loss in hours at work due to school means me es a broke, I'm starting to come down with something and I think my blood pressure medicine is not working right anymore.

So Friday night is party night, as my RP calls twice to see if I'm on the way. I had halfway figured this, so I was ready.. studied for the mock final Wednesday and Thursday, and since it was open book and notes I figured I would be straight. Home by 1am, up by 8 and at the test at 10am. Great plan.

The party is a flashback to how we used to do it. The women are frisky, fine and most are in costume. And the dudes show up empty handed. And ask for the top shelf liquor. The naughty nun doesn't give me a second look, the Serena Williams thinks I'm cute but crazy, miss sailor wants me stop serving drinks so we can get cozy, the dominatrices don't show up until midnight and foolishness is in the air. It was an good night. I need to have more of those.

The one picture I can show you...

So Saturday morning I'm up, and ready and you got to be tripping. The mock was a waste of time. Only four people show up to take it. The 2Ls and 3Ls are not happy. We 1Ls are not appreciative, apparently. Or serious.

So I go home Saturday and nap. And do my contracts reading. And sleep. And play BabyCal Throw. I'm sore from the night before, so I don't clean up and by the time the evening rolls around, I just make some chili dogs and make me some fresh cut fries (one potato - one knife. the basics), crawl into the couch and pass out. Man that's a nice couch.

Special note - Not everyone has an unlimited text plan. My people from out of town are in town, and end up canvasing for Obama (I find out via text) and then get tickets to the Hawks game (I find out via texts) and then run late (texts) and so we don't do dinner (texts) then after the game end up at Barley's in Midtown (texts) then the next day want to go a mall (text) and then are running late again (texts) and stop at the corner so they don't get to the restaurant early (text) and etc ....

So I get up, don't clean the house...again... and go down to eat on Camp Creek with my internet buddies. Who are fun people and have fallen into the trap that is Atlanta - Come for a weekend and you'll want to move here. And since they had the primo tour I can see why.

After eats I run by and catch my tutoring session, which as usual is more informative than the class in most respects. Then after the session my fellow presenters get together and gnash over the fact pattern for our "presentation". THIS fact pattern was described by our prof as a "finals" type question.

For dinner I've planned a thick steak, baked potato and fresh bed, gravy and onions...I have three bowls of Rice Krispies. Great plan.

And then bam! Suddenly I'm sniffling and sneezing! Bad sneezing. What gives?

Barkeep. Whiskey with a Thera-flu back.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


she comes into my dreams
she is an unforgettable whisper
a fantasy
thoughts of her grin still warm my heart
that look that I miss every day I do not see it
she is the beautiful
from the first time I saw her
until forever
and she always will
as long as I breathe
and have her face
tucked away in the recesses of my mind
that mind...
they still come unannouced
unintentional emotional eruptions
I have to carefully conceal
and so I am a liar as to
my disappointment in happenstance
in stark contrast
to the persona i inhabit
only God and I know
in my mind
and the in strands of memory
I will cradle in my heart forever
the love I feel
it never goes easy
it never leaves at all
I will carefully fold it away
an heirloom
as all great loves should be.