Tuesday, August 30, 2005

An open letter to the law firms I've talked to the past two days, and the next two days:

Dear law firm,

I'm very happy that I (have had/will have) the opportunity to talk to you this week. Everything I told you about your firm and myself was absolutely true; any lies were in the emphasis or the omissions. Just remember as Homer Simpson said, it takes two to lie, one to lie and one to listen.

Really, I wouldn't have interviewed with you if I didn't see some scenario where I end up working for you. Please remember that just like you (had/will have) many very similar conversations (yesterday/today/tomorrow/on Thursday), I (have also talked/will also talk) to any number of you as well. Admittedly, the conversations have been more diverse than I was led to believe--probably because there are so many strange things on my resume that each of you (has/will probably) pick(ed) something different to focus on. Please also note that I (will) have had so many interviews that I am forgetting the name of my classmates, let alone you folks, so please try to be understanding.

Also, enjoy anything you find here and remember the context, that this is a personal blog written mostly to be read by a handful of friends and occasionally to try (and fail) to be witty. Career Services has told us twice to "clean up our blogs" which would be a great idea in a world where Google didn't have a "cached" option. I don't think I've ever mentioned a law firm by name here, nor will I in the coming months except to eventually thank one of you for giving me a summer job, so poking around for what I have to say about you will be a big waste of time, but feel free. In the highly unlikely scenario that I think you or your firm is The Devil (really, only true of one of you so far), I will keep that opinion to myself--which includes not mentioning it here, not telling my colleagues who may choose to work there anyway, not telling my parents who wouldn't understand or care, and not posting to the various allegedly anonymous message boards some of my colleagues inhabit.

In short, thanks for your time, and I won't take it personally if you forget everything we (discussed/will discuss) in the interview and hire based on our transcripts. Hell, that may even work out better for me.


Joseph K. Wright ("Joe")

P.S.: If you are the one interviewer with whom I thought the conversation went really well only to find out 5 minutes after the interview that my fly had been open for the previous hour, I sincerely hope that your attention to detail is not as high as I claimed that mine is.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The craziness has been (as predicted) crazy. To sum up:

  • Port Huron: fun
  • moving: not fun, but basically done
  • interviews: for the next 4 days
  • interview prep: um yeah, getting there
  • finally getting a good night's sleep last night: priceless
  • getting that sleep at Mike's house: random, and I'll explain later (particularly to him)
  • coming up for air: probably on Friday

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I've been reading a lot of habeas corpus cases for my library job over the past couple of weeks. In the process I've learned that "habeas corpus" is the Latin term for "deliberately wasting everybody's time." Here's how the appeals process works, in dialogue form:

Criminal: Hey, there was some sort of mistake in my trial that means I shouldn't have been convicted (or got too harsh a sentence, or should get a retrial, etc.)
Appeals court: We don't really think that's true, but even if it is, you didn't preserve the issue for appeal by objecting. Since we only review the transcript for procedural mistakes, there's nothing we can do.
Criminal: So I'm out of options?
Appeals court: Well, not quite. You could file a habeas petition, which is kind of a meta-appeal. You say, the issue wasn't preserved for appeal because the prosecutor was crooked or the judge was crooked or because your lawyer screwed up.
Criminal: And then I can get out of my conviction?
Appeals court: Oh, no. We never actually grant these things, and in the rare occasions we do, you just go back to your previous judge, argue there were mistakes, and he says "no there weren't." But you will deliberately waste everyone's time and money, except yours because you're in jail anyway and have a court-appointed lawyer.
Criminal: Sign me up!

And this is in California and New York. I can't imagine how ugly it is in red states.

Reading habeas petitions is also a great way to see massive amounts of human disgustingness on one side (lots of child molesters, double-murderers, and equally savory types) or the other (life sentence for a guy who stole $22) of the law. There's also some wonderful gallows humor, my favorite being the guy charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault, and vandalism. Apparently the vandalism really pushed the DA over the line to press charges on that one.

But my summer of doing other people's research will be done soon, and then hopefully I'll be done dealing with the criminal law.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I knew that there was a violent, criminal element in my old neighborhood at USC, but I didn't know there were any of this magnitude.

UPDATE: Sportscenter just reported this story, adding: "Police say they don't yet know the cause of the altercation." I'm wondering if they have investigated the LAWRENCE PHILIPS IS CRAZY Theory.

And hey, if you're reading this, Lawrence (OK, let's be honest, having this read to you), I'm just playin'. Seriously, please don't try to kill me.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I put together my schedule for the next two weeks yesterday, and then I recoiled in horror. In addition to working most of my regular hours at the library this week (and some the following), I have to pack, move, assist with move-out of the apartment building, figure out a journal note topic (basically, my mandatory research project), attend two-day 9-to-5 journal orientation, attend orientation for OCI (on-campus interviews), have my 15-to-25 interviews, find time to hang out with people getting into town from summers spent elsewhere, try to finish volume two of the Baroque Cycle, spend part of next weekend in Port Huron, help out with 1L orientation, pick up Game Show Conventioneer mail, draft for two fantasy football leagues, unpack, and breathe. It's not as bad as it sounds, but it's quite a change from the languid summer pace. On the plus side, I'm actually looking forward to at least half the things on that list.

Monday, August 15, 2005

One of the cooler sites I've seen in a while is Malls of America, a site filled with '60s and '70s mall photography.

Do not click through to the StripGenerator (makes your own comic strips!) unless you have serious time to kill.

I'm not feeling creative today, so I'm stealing a play from the Barker playbook (via the Coen playbook). Given 25 musical artists who appear exactly once on my computer, guess the song in comments. It's just that simple. (UPDATE: Unaccounted for answers in bold.)

  1. 10,000 Maniacs--Because the Night (Chris)
  2. Blood, Sweat and Tears--And When I Die
  3. Bonnie Tyler--It's A Heartache
  4. Built to Spill--Joyride
  5. Burl Ives--Ol' Dan Tucker
  6. Carly Simon--You're So Vain (Tom, who nothing gets past)
  7. Cher--Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves (Greg)
  8. Dead or Alive--Brand New Lover (Greg)
  9. Dion--Donna the Prima-Donna
  10. Dixie Chicks--Goodbye Earl (Richard)
  11. Dropkick Murphys--Good Rats
  12. Faith No More--We Care a Lot (Lauri)
  13. Jackie Wilson--Lonely Teardrops (Bill)
  14. Janis Joplin--Mercedes Benz (Richard)
  15. Lesley Gore--You Don't Own Me (Maribeth)
  16. Live--Selling The Drama (JQ)
  17. Lovin' Spoonful--Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?
  18. No Doubt--Spiderwebs (Richard)
  19. Pavement--No More Kings (off of Schoolhouse Rock Rocks)
  20. The Pretenders--Back on the Chain Gang (Lauri)
  21. Rancid--Time Bomb (Craig)
  22. Roy Orbison--Cryin' (Mark)
  23. Split Enz--Six Months in a Leaky Boat
  24. Squeeze--Pulling Mussels from a Shell (Greg)
  25. A Tribe Called Quest--El Segundo (Chris)

Friday, August 12, 2005

I have certain tastes in pop culture that some might find gay quaint, and tops on the list is a disturbing predilection for classic MGM musicals. Or rather, as I learned today, some classic MGM musicals. I've really enjoyed the work of Pittsburgh's own Gene Kelly in particular. I first saw him several years ago in two of my favorite cheesy '70s films. Then I saw An American in Paris for a class, and I thought it was great. We also watched the Kelly-less The Band Wagon in that class, and again, I was impressed. Then earlier this summer I got Singin' in the Rain from the library, and I started to worry that I just loved musicals in general, raising questions I didn't necessarily want answered.

But I'm feeling better today, because I absolutely hated my latest foray into the musical, and I got bonus points because I also hated a Judy Garland movie. Yes, I experienced the 113 minutes of suckitude known as Meet Me In St. Louis. Only two things saved me from turning the movie off early. One was the 5-year-old morbid youngest daughter Tootie, who basically stole the movie by saying the most bizarre things about once every ten minutes, most of which seemed entirely out of place in the movie. Two was the production design in a very particular sense--I've come to appreciate movies that consistently use color in distinctive ways. To me, it's a sign that there's more going on in the film than just a story, but that the director is also doing something interesting aesthetically. Sometimes this is true of movies I respect more than love, and sometimes it's a key aspect of a movie that I do love, such as my favorite Spielberg film. In St. Louis, the colors in question were generally the period costumes and the Smiths Victorian home. Nice work there, MGM and Technicolor, but that's what we'd expect you to get right.

Bottom line: Men, stay away from this movie, as it may actually make your body convert testosterone into estrogen. I'm watching my second preseason football game between teams I don't care about in 2 nights just to try to counteract the effects.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A link to Yard Work came across Sportsfilter this week. Some people there apparently weren't clear on the whole "it's a parody" thing--even though the first post at the time was by Ron Dibble arguing for Eric Milton (6-12, 6.48 ERA) for the Cy Young based on being a modern-day Nasty Boy.

Anyway, the whole point of posting here was to say that Yard Work is freakin' hysterical writing about baseball, with pitch perfect parodies of all your favorite broadcast and print sports journalists, along with players and other famous people. Clint Barmes' rookie diary stands out among the players, but what absolutely made the site for me were the Monday and Tuesday Morning Quarterback parodies. There's also an Eric Karabell section (whose name I can neither type nor say without thinking: "What this fantasy football draft needs....is more Karabell!"), so perhaps our favorite fantasy sports analyst will appear there soon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The best link I was emailed last week.

The second best link I was emailed last week is the poster on the bottom.

Flogging Molly tonight at Royal Oak Music Theatre--woohoo!!

Monday, August 08, 2005

My favorite observation of the summer

I was working out on the third floor of the Intramural Building here on campus on Friday, and after I was done I went to the restroom. Because it was the more involved process, I was able to see that the men's room stall is fully handicapped-accessible. This is, of course, admirable...save for one little problem.

The third floor of the Intramural Building is not handicapped-accessible.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

I just finished my four-week-long grappling match with Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, a monster of a tome. It's 916 pages, but makes up for it by being a slow read. Still, I'm pretty much immediately seeking out the next two books in the trilogy, so don't take the slowness the wrong way. It's just dense, that's all.

It's customary to say what a book is about when you describe reading it. So here goes--Quicksilver is about: Isaac Newton, the Tower of London, the Glorious Revolution, Samuel Pepys, John Locke, silver mining, the court of Louis XIV at Versailles and his hemorrhoids, Robert Hooke, the Siege of Vienna, the Siege of Maestricht, fisting, chakras, Amsterdam stock markets, Christaan Huygens, gallstones, Barbary pirates, Massachusetts pirates, the taking of Batavia, the slave trade, Gottfried Liebniz, royal bastards (i.e. jerks), royal bastards (i.e. illegitimate children of noblemen), the Black Death, the burning of London, Oliver Cromwell, Charleses I and II, Jameses I and II, the Royal Society, the King of the Vagabonds, the ascendancy and fellating of William of Orange, binary numbers, clockmaking, and alchemy.

I'm sure I've left out a few things, but that's a good start anyway. Most specifically, I've left out the two extraordinary main characters--Daniel Waterhouse and Eliza de la Zeur, each of whom has a picaresque role that has crudely been designated in recent years as the abominable movie Forrest Gump. That is, they are the fictional connectors of major historical personages and in many ways the quiet movers of history. If I had to pare down the whole "what this book is about" thing, I'd say it's about the dawn of modernity--in science, in religion, in politics, and in capitalism (and in the interconnections of all of these). It also has numerous sly winks at the present, many of which serve to mock our notion that everything and anything is new or unprecedented. (Leibniz, for instance, in a letter notes that the rapid pace of modern life is being blamed for the rising incidence of "Canal Rage" among the gondoliers.)

If you'd like to immerse yourself for a while in the intrigues of 17th-century European politics, religion, war, commerce, and science, then I heartily recommend Quicksilver. Just don't make any plans for a while...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Since I'm already being accused by his colleagues of wanting Peter King's job (duh!), I thought I might as well ring in with my thoughts on the NFL's supposedly wayward wide receivers, Terrell Owens and Hines Ward. In both cases, I'm with the player.

What no one seems to bring up about T.O. is last year's fiasco where his former agent screwed his chance at free agency. With his contract renewed by the Niners, he was then traded to the Ravens and then again the the Eagles. Now, he was able to engineer a trade to a team he wanted and subsequently signed a solid long-term deal, admittedly. But he missed out on a chance to truly test his value on the open market at the prime of his career. Now he's sitting on a contract that will be terminated by the other party in 1 to 3 years, and everyone is yelling at him to honor that deal. Under those circumstances, I say fight for what you can get.

The Hines Ward situation is even more of a slam dunk for me. Here's what Steeler fans (at least the few who are against Hines--most seem to be on his side) are missing: if this were just about money, Ward would play out this year and go on the open market for 2006. This is about Ward wanting good money to play for the Steelers. Given that, I don't see how any fans can be against him here. He's a four-time Pro Bowler, he's two years younger than Owens, he's the only Steeler who has consistently played well in recent years in the playoffs, and he's the absolute heart and soul of his team. He should be paid like it, and shame on the Steelers for drawing this out and jeopardizing a potential championship season.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Like a good poker hand, I am now suited after spending a long weekend as a human clothes-horse. I actually got the suits I needed in Bridgeville at the first stop--navy blue and grey suits, 5 ties, and belt. My dad gave me a lot of shit for the ties and belt, because he's been doing all his shopping here and here for years, and doesn't understand that you occasionally have to spend over $10 for a single garment. Besides, even if I overpaid a bit for the ties, I made up for it by getting three nice sweaters that were 60% off an already reduced price (under $35 total for all three) because they basically found them in the back and needed to dump them quickly. Total cost for all of the above: $604, including tailoring, plus they're sending them to the Ann Arbor store gratis.

But we weren't done. After lunch, we drove (via Downtown Pittsburgh) to Uniontown and the Bon-Ton where Dad had seen some dress shirts in my freakish size. We picked those up along with some socks. On the way back across the mall, I wandered into a Finish Line. I'd been wanting a Casey Hampton jersey for a while, but they still don't seem to be on-sale. My second choice, Troy Polamalu, was not in stock either, so I went with the #1 draft pick.

On Saturday we went back to Uniontown for a family lunch, which somehow turned into more shopping. The best part was hitting Wal-Mart for an oil change, and while I was browsing during the wait, I came across a #43 Polamalu in my size, and for half the price of Finish Line. Score. Of course this necessitated a third straight day at the mall (almost certainly a personal record), as I returned #83 to Robinson Town Centre on my way back out of town on Sunday.

A few other bits of interestingness from the trip:

  • I hit 100,000 miles in the car in Toledo on Thursday, and my car didn't instantly fall apart. Again: Score.
  • When Eat 'N' Park shuts the lights out on you, even if it's early afternoon, you get the hell out of dodge. Evil Otto could attack at any time.
  • It turns out I drove more in the last four days then I had driven since January 8th inclusive. Weird.
  • The Ohio turnpike has Starbucks in many of the rest areas; I give the new green tea Frappuccino an A-.
  • I took U.S. routes 30 and 250 most of the way through Ohio on the way back, and in Norwalk I saw a church sign that said, "Never give Satan a ride; he'll aways want to drive." I can't really add much to that one, folks.