Thursday, May 31, 2007

Summer associate is the greatest job in the world

It was nice of the bartender who was working our firm event tonight to let me take the empty bottle of Blue Label home with me. A nice memorial to our $32-per-glass scotch rounds to close out the evening. We still came in well under budget.

Follow-up gripe about CNN.com

How is it that an Internet news site that has a video for like every article whether I like it or not fails to include a video for a news story that is about a video? Don't talk to me about copyrights, they showed the video on the BBC, they could have gotten a license. Bah!

Update: okay, they put up the video. Fine.

Fictional characters I'm in love with

Spent the evening tonight with some high school friends I hadn't seen in a good long while. Originally, the plan was to go out to dinner, but instead, we stayed in and I learned how to cook a traditional Bengali feast. This was brilliant. If you ever want to catch up with someone who you haven't seen for a long time, cook dinner together. I mean, like, 4 courses, at least. It takes a couple hours to do right, the food is immensely satisfying, and it's a great combination of entertainment and nourishment.

Anyhow, that's an aside as far as this post as concerned. After dinner, I finally watched Amélie, only 6 years after the film came out. It was great, and it was a lot of fun to react to. On the one hand, the main character and everything does is immensely charming. On the other hand, if someone did half this stuff in real life I would think they were irredeemably creepy and possibly run screaming in the opposite direction. That said, I totally developed a crush on the main character, which got me thinking about all the fictional characters I love. And so I am going to list them.

This is not the same as listing all of the actresses I'm in love with. Not coincidentally, most of them appear on this list, but this is a list of characters, not actresses. So yes, of course it matters whether I find them physically attractive, and the personality that an actress brings to a role is important. But it's the whole package...the way the character is written, the way it's played. Basically, I want these people to be real, so that I might marry them.

Honorable Mention - Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum, Phantom of the Opera): Okay, I'm cheating a bit on this one, which is why it's getting "Honorable Mention" instead of an official place on the list. I've seen Phantom on stage 3 times, and I was never particularly drawn to the Christine character until Emmy Rossum took on the role in the movie. My perspective is impossibly colored by the fact that I decided Emmy Rossum was the woman of my dreams after I saw her use the word "quizzically" in casual conversation on "The Tonight Show" while promoting the movie. I would feel guilty making this list without her appearing on it. Though she hasn't really had any memorable or truly original characters, even before I saw her on "The Tonight Show" and decided she was the girl for me, I was transfixed by her while watching the movie. That grace, that voice, those cheek bones...

4 - Claire Cleary (Rachel McAdams, Wedding Crashers): This one isn't cheating, but it's still a bit of a cop-out for two reasons: (1) because the whole movie is set up to highlight how Claire Cleary is the greatest woman in the world, and (2) because at least 75% of guys I know would have her on this kind of list. But what you can do with someone who is that attractive, smart, rich, nice, and slightly nerdy? That's not even fair. She's not people. As a side note, can we all agree that Rachel McAdams should be mandated by law to stay a brunette at all times? I was tempted to put Amy Stone from The Family Stone on this list on the strength of the Rachel McAdams brunette look, not to mention the intelligence and sarcasm of the character. But I'm going to limit this to one appearance per actress, and Claire Cleary is, as I said, written to be the perfect woman.

3 - Anna Stern (Samaire Armstrong, The OC): The writers of The OC did a pretty good job turning Summer into a not-horribly-annoying character, which is good, because I was pissed when she won out over Anna for Seth's affections in season 1. Anna is basically my dream girl. She's smart, constantly sarcastic, uses pointlessly large words (anyone remember Sandy impressedly mouthing "anathema" when Anna busts out with that one during Thanksgiving?), and has an indie musical taste and personal style without being overbearingly scene, trendy, or whatever else. She's also just the right amount of aggressive, and loves nerds. Hey, I'm a nerd! See, e.g., this list; this citation. It would be perfect. When she briefly reappeared during Season 4, I was ecstatic. If everyone on this list really did exist in real life, she is probably the one that I would end up really really pursuing...the others benefit from living in the magical realities of their movie worlds. And seriously, what happened to Samaire Armstrong anyhow? She did 1 season on Entourage (ahhh, Emily was darling too...), and I basically haven't heard from her since.

2 - Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou, Amélie): Like I said, a lot of the things that Amélie does in the film would freak me the hell out if done in real life, but in movie land, it works. She has this incredibly spritely quality to her. Endearingly mischievous. Even her smile, which I think is objectively scary looking, comes off perfectly in the context of this character, this movie, shot in this style. She's probably the most non-realistic human on this list, but you can really imagine that having one person like this in your life would improve it immensely. And she and I have so much in common! I, too, love cracking the top of crème brulée! And skipping rocks!

1 - Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation): This is the gold standard, how I define this very category. When I walked out of Lost in Translation, that was the first time I ever left a theater thinking, "Why is she not real?" When I break down the attractive elements of the character, it looks a lot like Anna Stern: smart (and educated/cultured...I wouldn't have realized that Evelyn Waugh was a man), adorable looking, sassy, thoughtful. But for some reason, I just have this incredibly visceral reaction to the character. That persisted even after I saw Scarlett Johansson go on the nighttime talk show circuit and completely eviscerate my opinion of her as a real-life human being, as opposed to the characters she plays.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Coastal elites

When I was in New York last summer, I came up with my most simplified statement of the difference between L.A. and New York: when you go out in L.A., you talk about music and movies/TV, and when you go out in New York, you talk about books and food.

I'm super glad to be back in L.A. this summer, I feel no hesitation whatsoever about coming back here after graduation, but I miss talking about books and food. Working back east as a summer associate, yeah, the extravagant lunches are about being spoiled, but they were also about going to lots of great restaurants and comparing them and getting these dining experiences. People just don't seem to give a damn here. In the middle of a conversation about food at a summer lunch, I told the people at the table about my last week in New York, when I blew $450 on myself alone over the course of 3 dinners (with wine). Yes, that was hideously extravagant, and it's okay to react with some surprise, but every person looked at me completely incredulously. Like, having two heads-style. That whole scene -- the food, the wine, the culture of it -- just isn't a factor here. I need an L.A. dining buddy. Preferably someone who'll care about what I'm reading now that I actually have the free time to do so, too.

I just hate that it seems like it's always one or the other. In New York I was a shallow west coast pop culture whore, and now I'm here and I'm a pretentious east coast-inflected snob. Can't I discuss trashy reality shows over a bottle of expensive dessert wine or port?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Internet news fails me

Basically, Internet news has now adopted so many of the irritating conventions of traditional news, I have no reason to rely on it anymore. Every service seems to have its own sin.

CNN.com has basically ceased to be a source of written news. The last time I opened CNN.com last week, I found that out of the top 13 story links on the main page, 5 were video-only, and another 3 were part-text and part-video. CNN.com is basically going from being a news website to serving as an Internet portal for the CNN network. It's like going to a radio station's website now...there's less and less actual original content, and more just a link to a webstream of the same exact stuff their (more annoying traditional media) counterpart is providing.

Yahoo News is guilty of this as well to a lesser extent, but for the most part, it just relies on AP and Reuters Wire articles, which is really all I want out of my Internet news. My big problem with them is their predilection for click-inducing, non-informative headlines. Right now, the top 4 stories on the Yahoo News section of the Yahoo main page are: (1) "Whoopsie: Miss Japan is crowned Miss Universe at the conclusion of a troubled pageant. (Link) What went wrong?" (2) "'Pirates' earns booty: 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End' commandeers a record Memorial Day weekend haul. (Link) How much?" (3) "NFL player drowns: Jet ski accident claims the life of New England Patriot Marquise Hill. (Link) Body recovered." (4) "Two years in Iraq: The story of one Iowa National Guard battalion in Iraq, and their families at home. (Link) Watch '60 Minutes' Video."

Out of those 4 headlines, 3 irritate me. The fourth links to a bunch of "60 Minutes" segments. I am reading Internet news. I don't want to watch "60 Minutes." If I wanted to watch "60 Minutes," I would turn on CBS and watch "60 Minutes," or at least go to CBS.com. The first and second decide to forego actually providing useful information in favor of asking a broad question, to force me to click on the article and view more ads that will appear on that page. It's annoying in its own right, and even more so because of how transparent the marketing ploy is. It's the equivalent of a totally uninformative local news ad that says something like, "Something in your kitchen right now could be slowly killing you...tune in to the news at 11 pm to find out what!" TELL ME WHAT IS KILLING ME (it's probably E. coli spinach again). Or in this case, TELL ME HOW MUCH "PIRATES" EARNED AT THE BOX OFFICE (it's $142.1 million).

The only acceptable headline out of the bunch is the one about Marquise Hill, and I'm honestly surprised it didn't say, "NFL player drowns: Jet ski accident claims the life of a pro football player. (Link) Which one died?" For all you'd know it was Tom Brady, so you'd HAVE to click to be sure it wasn't.

And of course, there's always Fark, but there are just too many totally useless headlines clogging it up to make it worth my time to sort through.

Looks like I'm back to reading every single article on ESPN.com. I know way less about the world generally, but I'm really good in sports bars.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Worst Vegas trip ever

I've read that the only thing worse than losing big on your first trip to Vegas is winning big. Last year, I left Vegas up $500 and ready to come back ASAP. I was up $550 on one trip to Foxwoods during the last school year, and up $150 in Peruvian casinos during Winter term.

Luckily, after losing $850 this weekend ($200 in craps, $50 in blackjack, and $300 on each of two nights in poker), I am still up in lifetime gambling. But I am pretty well soured on Vegas for a little while, at least a year, I think. I played well, dammit. I made good plays and decent reads and just got drawn on by inferior hands with bigger stacks. If you had hit top two pairs and a flush draw on a flop with nothing higher than a 10 on it, after a pre-flop raise, you'd have gone all in too. You wouldn't expect the guy with 3-J suited to stay in and draw out the flush. I'm sorry, that is a very specific complaint, but somewhere someone is reading this and understands exactly what I am saying.

I also feel bad for my mom, for whom I lost $50 in craps, and for my cousin's husband, whose $10 bet on the Pistons +4 for Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals didn't pan out.

Vegas is a very difficult place to be if you're sober a lot of the time. I was on driving duty for the weekend, so I got to be the responsible one (though I was probably more dangerous in driving while thinking about that hand than I would have been after a few gin and tonics). The place is just filled with...colorful individuals who can either be very amusing or very irritating, depending on your mood. And when you're sober and way down, your mood isn't very accommodating. Plus, I have my random moments of mild agoraphobia, and after a while, I was about two hip-checks away from decking a stranger.

One of the little things I adored about New York City was the collective intelligence of the pedestrian public. It's a walking city, and even when the streets are crowded around Union Square or wherever, people are moving quickly, efficiently, cleanly. The exception is the tourist-overrun Times Square, which was one of the major reasons why I loathed Times Square and never ever went there unless a friend was in town and wanted to be touristy. I didn't know anyone who actually lived in New York who ever wanted to spend any time there. Anyhow, by contrast, Vegas is filled with herds of mostly-drunk, mostly-ineffectual tourists with no sense of walking etiquette. I spent so much time shuffling back and forth, going nowhere, my back is still sore. And you can pretty much abandon this "personal space bubble" notion when dealing with the Strip.

This is a very expensive, but very helpful lesson of a weekend. I still like Vegas, I just don't need to go there very often. That's probably a wise realization.

In the meantime, I keep thinking about all the things I want, but have been denying myself as wasteful, that I could have bought with $850. A new longboard ($500), a new bodyboard ($150), a new wetsuit top ($50), a new full wetsuit ($150). Ugh.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Things I will never accomplish in my life

There are many times when I see someone do something creative, and I think, "Boy, I miss the days when I had time to do that." Make goofy videos, write stories, make comic books using a digital camera and Photoshop stamp effects. I did all kinds of cool things in high school and college.

But I have never, never had the time it would have taken to do this:



Yes, that's Legos doing the whole dance from "Thriller. " That just happened.

I think I'm sort of glad I never had quite this much time.

Dramatically underrated 80s gems

Driving to work today, I ended up listening to not one, but two great 80s songs that just don't get the respect they deserve. They don't make into most people's 80s mixes. They don't get played at 80s parties. They don't usually get played during the flashback sets on radio stations. But they are totally high-quality, and should get some recognition.

I recognize you, "Beds are Burning" by Midnight Oil.



I recognize you, "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks.



Also make for pretty sweet videos.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wisdom from that screen in my office building's elevator

"College attendance is conducive to and exacerbates the innate predisposition of some young adults toward alcohol abuse, a new study finds."

No kidding.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

As bad as being a lawyer is, it could be worse

The case I've been working on this week is, in essence, about bovine flatulence.

I've been reading (and trying to object to) expert testimony about the polluting effects of methane emissions from cow's asses. The last few days of my life have, for the most part, been dedicated to the study of cow farts.

I'm pretty much done now, but not everyone out there is so lucky. I was reading expert testimony about bovine flatulence. That testimony, in turn, relied on several studies about bovine flatulence. There are people out there whose job it is to study cow farts. They conduct studies. They calculate estimated per-cow factors. They contemplate the literally TONS of methane that are emitted from cow asses every year. They have to separately test the cows and the liquid manure and the solid manure. Milk cows vs. dry cows.

They wake up in the morning. "Welp, time to check the cow farts."

And for this week, my life was waking up in the morning and saying, "Welp, time to litigate the cow farts."

But at least, for me, it's already over. For those experts, they'll wake up tomorrow, and their lives will STILL be all about cow farts. Woe is them.

Although this also demonstrates to me perhaps my greatest weakness as a lawyer...I could take on this same evidentiary issue, and if it were attached to an entertainment issue, maybe I would give a damn. But because it's related to barnyard gas-passing, I could really care less. I just need out of this rotation in the environmental department.

The return of dreaded BTQ abuse

It came up TWICE today. First, in the oral arguments of one of the cases I was watching at the Court of Appeals, and second, in the papers for the oral argument that OUR firm was doing:

"Miller's claim that she expected the court to contact her begged the obvious question of 'where?'"

I'm so ashamed!

Seriously, my obsession with this form of grammatical abuse grows with every passing day. If it comes up again, I'm probably going to change the name of this blog to "Begging the Question." I just wish people would use it properly more often. I miss you, Bruce Hay.

Le sigh.

Highlight of my day at the California Court of Appeals, 2nd District, 4th Division

"Your honors, this is a case about the law."

I think I need to make a point of including this line in every oral argument I ever make for my entire career.

Pet peeves (I've got plenty)

Lawyers are busy people, that's fine, I get that. But they have this ridiculous tendency to write the shortest, most brusque emails they can possibly muster. It basically makes them sound like chronic assholes (even when I otherwise have every reason to believe they're not). I might well fall into this when I'm a grown-up too, but in the meantime, I make a point of putting pleases and thank yous in my emails. I say hellos and include pleasantries. Seriously, it adds about 15 seconds to the time it takes to write the email, and it makes me an infinitely more enjoyable-sounding human being. At least in the digital forum, that is. In person, I'm still an insufferable bastard.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Where has my 7 hours gone?

The last couple of days, I've been commuting to work by car, which is sort of a new experience for me (I walked to work in New York last summer). Today as I was heading home, I realized it took me like 3 minutes just to get out of the parking garage from where I park on level D. That's time I never think about, never include when I estimate travel time, but it adds up.

This summer, I will go through the parking garage twice a day, for 3 minutes per trip. That's 6 minutes a day, 30 minutes a week, for 14 weeks (I'll only be in this office building for 7 weeks, but for argument's sake, let's say I'll spend the same amount of time navigating the garage for my second firm this summer). I will lose 7 hours in parking garages this summer. What the hell?

Sign of the month

You know how office buildings have those little signs on the wall with maps to the nearest exit in case of fire? The one in my building is my favorite, because it includes the announcement, "FIRE ALARM SOUNDS LIKE - WHOOP!"

It's all caps. It says "whoop." It has an exclamation point.

Whoop.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I am here!


Totally stole a good idea from Trevor.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I took a picture of bicycle dude!


This guy has gone riding by my window at least 5 times in the last semester. Every time I see him, I always stop what I'm doing to watch him pass. And I'm pretty sure he's the ringleader of that little midnight bicycle convention that went riding past a few weeks ago. Finally, today, I was walking down Mass Ave. when I saw him coming, and deftly busted out the camera phone to document his existence. Homeboy even had speakers busting some tunes as he rode by...pretty good bass too. Hooray for small victories.

Dream log '07, v3.5

I finally, FINALLY have an interesting, crazy dream, and I don't immediately write it down, and it's forgotten. Damn it! It's so fun sharing my neurosis!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?


Today, for the first time, I went through an entire Tootsie Pop without taking a bite even once. Take that, Mr. Owl! The real answer, is a whole hell of a lot of licks. That took forever.

Friday, May 04, 2007

This is what madness sounds like

The following exchange took place in Langdell Library, via e-mail, from 12:44 am to 12:50 am on Saturday, May 5 (so, late night of Friday, May 4).

Ken (12:44 am): I see you. Hi. (Study-induced cabin fever).

Dan (12:45 am): Creepy. Where you at?

Ken (12:46 am): Table to your left.

Dan (12:48 am): Ah. Backwards hat and headphones. It's like a disguise.

Ken (12:49 am): Modern ninja.

Dan (12:50 am): Totally. P.S. I think I'm starting to lose it. As soon as I finish justifications and excuses for Crim I have to bail.

As if I needed a demonstration of why one shouldn't be in the library at 1 am on a Friday night. This is how I pay for my slacker semester.

Dream log '07, the third

In today's installment, Ken travels to the Baltic states with his family and goes to Estonia. While there, he loses his digital camera (again with the digital camera!). The next day, he goes into the central part of Talinn (capital of Estonia) and discovers photos of him and his friends/family, with various Photoshop effects applied, on a couple of billboards in the center of the city. Ken notices that the billboard in the city's central square shows him wearing the same shirt he is currently wearing as he looks up at the billboard. Then, awake.

My dreams lately are weird, and also lame.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The first thing I notice...

...is that the head on my shadow looks much smaller. My head is cold again, but this time I don't resent the world for it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"Roker isn't funny, he is a racist"

In light of all the discussion there's been in about Don Imus, here at HLS and generally, I thought it would be worth posting this letter sent by my friend's father to NBC in response to a joke Al Roker made on the Today Show:

From: Ken's Friend's Dad
Date: May 2, 2007 9:14:14 AM PDT
To: WT@NBC.com
Subject: Roker isn't funny, he is a racist


Dear Today,

Al Roker made a comment today on your show that I believe qualifies as a racist and heartless attack. He spoke of the people of Bhutan all sleeping on the traditional Japanese mattress called a futon. The people of Bhutan are not Japanese. Neither are they Chinese. Rather, they are the last remaining Asian monarchy that devoutly reveres and protects the Tibetan buddhist religion and culture from annihilation at the hands of the Chinese. Bhutan is free and closely allied to India. One can only hope it does not fall to Chinese domination and ethnic cleansing which will eradicate Tibetan buddhism and culture forever. Mr. Roker, who has always considered himself humorous (except for exposing us to his grotesque rich-man's solution to obesity in such detail), has recently expressed his personal opinion on the Today show that Don Imus should be fired for his racist and sexist attempt at a joke. I strongly urge you to consider the feelings of those of us of Asian ancestry who are ridiculed incessantly about all of us looking alike and adopting habits of completely different Asian nations. The cultures and habits of the Chinese, Bhutanians, Tibetans, Koreans, Japanese, Vietnamese et. al., people, are as distinct from one another as American caucasians and so-called African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Shia-Americans from Iran, Sunni Americans from Iraq et. al. If Mr. Roker can use the Today show as a platform to ridicule other races, then certainly Don Imus has that freedom as well. Conversely, if Don Imus was fired for a disgusting racial joke, Mr. Roker should also be terminated for his racist little rhyme that many of find just as disgusting.