Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bar Break

Covering dozens of topics, asking hundreds of questions, forcing intense review of books upon books of legal rules, and requiring the testing endurance of a Nobel prize winning economist, the bar is the single most daunting academic experience of my life thus far (makes the first year of law school seem like a stroll down cherry tree lane on a warm day in June).

Most of my days are spent crouched over a review book, taking practice tests, or watching any of the dozens of (inane?) lectures covering every legal topic imaginable in order to prepare for that "special day." Nine times out of ten, I probably look (and feel) like this:

But sometimes, there are reasons to laugh.

Where else, other than bar review, would I find questions focusing on the religious rights of "The Lucifers," a Druidic religious group that likes to hold bonfires on mountains to expunge the sins of the world? Or where would I find cities passing statutes to keep their streets from turning into "strip mall jungles illuminated by neon signs from Hell"? And where would I find such fun, diverse, and interesting names as Dryden, Knepper, Yancy, Wapner, Pru, Prell, and Snoop "Piggy" Pigpen (the lead singer for the Deadheads, a popular Santa Cruz rock band)?

So I guess despite all the ick, uck, eck, and arrrggghhh that is bar review, sometimes you just have to take a moment, grab a cold root beer, and enjoy the ride.

Update 1: Funniest. Question. Ever.
Question: A woman with a bladder control problem lived in State X and was angry about the state legislature's rejection of a proposed "Women's Restroom Equity Bill." The legislation would have required all new public buildings to maintain a two-to-one ratio of women's bathroom stalls to men's stalls and urinals. the woman believed this legislation was vital to eliminate longer lines that often form at women's bathrooms. To express her frustration and to attract attention to the issue, she went down to the state capitol building one afternoon, armed with a toilet plunger and a roll of toilet tissue. She held the plunger and roll, as she delivered an angry speech on the capitol building's front steps. "Members of the legislature, shame on you! Judgment day is here for you, and you are doomed! I will strike you down with my mighty plunger, and I will bind you with toilet paper until you can no longer breathe! Legions of warriors for 'potty parity' are ready to do whatever it takes to pass the Women's Restroom Equity Bill! We will put firecrackers in every toilet in this building, until they all overflow and a mighty wave sweeps every legislator out of this building and drowns them!" If the woman is prosecuted for violation of a state statute which prohibits "the making of any threat to the life or safety of a public official in any way related to that official's public duties," what will be the likely outcome of the prosecution?

Answer: The judge will chortle, chuckle and guffaw for a few minutes ... and then throw the case out.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Art of Website Biography ...

While perusing an Immigration Law Firm Website, I came across a true gem of legal auto-biography. Seriously, if I had the cojones to put something like this online (for all my clients to see), I would consider myself a real man. The first paragraph of the biography is reproduced below (remember ... this is the biography people read when deciding whether to retain his services):

"Jerry Z. Zhang was born in Nanjing, P.R. China in 1957 and grew up in a small town called Hua Nan in the Heilongjiang Province. Jerry was a mischievous and naughty teenager during his early years of middle school and high school. Although Jerry did not steal with the other hooligans, he always fought with his fists as well as his teeth; showing a great promise for being a lawyer in the future.

And if that wasn't awesome enough, check out his 1970s-era-Chinese-farmer caricature. Jerry, my hat goes off to you.

And someday, my friends, someday, I will be half that cool.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Billboard in Action

"If it's life or death, call 911 ... if it's not, don't." - Utah Billboard

Dispatcher: Police operator 3332, what is your emergency?

Hello? (static) Hello? Are you there?

Dispatcher: Yes, ma'am, I'm here. What is the nature of your emergency?

I'm ... I'm trapped. We're stuck inside of a small tunnel.

Dispatcher: Ok, stay calm. Now ma'am, I must ask you a very important question. Please, answer as best you can: Is this a life or death situation?

Caller: What? ... What?!

Dispatcher: I mean, as far as you can tell, is this the type of situation where somebody could end up dead?

Caller: What are you talking about? I'M TRAPPED IN A TUNNEL! We can't get out of here!

Well, yes, I know. But ... do you have enough air? Is there a source of water around you? Could you survive for a while in there if you had to?

Caller: Are you insane? What part of trapped in a tunnel are you missing here?! My daughter and I are stuck ... trapped ... we can't get out!

Dispatcher: I wouldn't even bring it up at all, ma'am, but you see ... due to the recent financial crisis, we've had to cut back on our emergency support staff and what not and, well, if this isn't life or death, you have to call another number. So you see, I just have to make sure this is really a life or death situation ... and I'm just not sure being trapped automatically qualifies.

Caller: What the hell is wrong with you? Yes, this bloody well is a life or death situation ... GET US SOME HELP!

Ok ... if you say so, ma'am. I'll transmit this call to Search and Rescue. Please remain on the line.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Songs that Speak to Us ...

"Music has the power to cause emotions to well up within us. ... These feelings color our moods [and] affect our perceptions ... Music has the ability to tap the still, mysterious deep well of our emotions."

We live, and we love. We live, and we laugh. We live, and we sing. And ain't it just amazing? No matter the difference in creed, color, culture, or continent, we are all drawn to music. It's powerful, it's emotional, it's rather a lot like an addiction ... and we can't help but keep coming back for more.

I can't even begin to list (much less analyze) all the songs that have come, for one reason or another, to represent pieces of me and my life (some good ... and some not so much).

Of course, most of them are tied to love ... often the lack (or unrequited nature) thereof. And it makes sense, if you think about it. After all, love is one of the most powerful emotions out there. It controls our moods, our schedules, and even our eating habits (just try eating when you're pining away for that perfect someone ... tough going at best). Combine that with the fact that there are approximately 3.6 dekillion (10 to the power of 30) love songs out there and you're bound to find at least one that speaks to your heart (or the hole where it should be).

Even the toughest among us are prone to the love song jitters. Case in point: Have you ever seen Tommy Boy? Remember the scene where Chris Farley and David Spade are driving along and the radio begins playing "Superstar" by the Carpenters? Both Farley and Spade feign non-interest ... then we cut to the a scene where they are both singing at the top of their lungs weeping like fat Swedish school boys who've just lost their chocolate bars (I know, a Tommy Boy reference? Still, I think it proves the point).

Because of our different experiences, there are songs that speak to us more than others. There are those (often in the unrequited love category) who seem fairly drawn to stalker songs. For instance, I once knew a girl who, after realizing that the boy she loved wouldn't return the favor, clung like a life raft to the lyrics from Dido's "White Flag":

"I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be."

As far as I can tell, that's not typically the kind of song you'd want in your "it speaks to me" repertoire ... but sometimes, that's just the way we feel and there ain't nothing that's gonna change it. In truth, though, there are lots of songs like that ... one's we connect with but feel ashamed about.

Recently, the songs that have been speaking to me fit into that category. The "I'd rather not have those lyrics EVER describe any part of my life" category. (And they're all by Death Cab for Cutie). The music, per usual, is lovely ... but it's the lyrics that really seem to be making sense to me. See, these songs seem to reflect a rather sizable problem on my part in the realm of love ... and I'm only just realizing the full extent of that problem.

Even though I won't be going into why I've connected with these songs, I thought I'd finish this post off with the pertinent lyrics from two of them. So, without further ado, here they are ... for your viewing (and psychoanalytical) pleasure:

"I was Once a Loyal Lover"

I was once a loyal lover
Whose lips did never seek anothers
But now each love's more like a match
A blinding spark that burns out fast

And they all conclude with the same sentence:
"I've never met someone more self-centered
Who thinks that life with a nice girl's like
Waiting for a bus to work"

And you can't even begin to know
How many times I've told myself 'I told you so'

"A Diamond and a Tether"

Pity, take pity on me
Because I'm not the man that I should be
I'm always turning to run
From the people I should not be afraid of

And darling, you should know
That I have fantasies about being alone
It's like love is a lesson
That I can't learn
So I make the same mistakes at each familiar turn

I know you can't hold out forever
Waiting on a diamond and a tether
From a boy who won't swim
But who will dip his toe in
Just to keep you here with him

I've got this habit I abhor
When we go out, I'm always watching the door
As if there's someone I'm going to see
Who could out-do the things that you do to me

I know you can't hold out forever
Waiting on a diamond and a tether
From a boy who won't jump
When he falls in love
He just stands with his toes on the edge
And he waits for it to disappear again.