Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friday Feature - Diary of an Old Fart

Today's featured blog is "Diary of an Old Fart." When I first began reading it, I thought it was a real diary. After a while, I realized it was fiction.

The characters are well-drawn, and the author does a lot with just a few words. He captures a lot about personality, attitudes, and relationships with just a few lines of dialogue.

After the main story (set forth in Days 1 - 88) was completed, the author moved on to writing "preludes" and "epilogues."

So head over and start with Day 1, work your way through all the days, then go to the preludes and epilogues. If you can restrain yourself, it would be fun to read one day at a time (as I did when I started and he was posting only a day at a time of the diary, making it seem like the story was happening in "real time"). But you probably will find yourself hooked and unable to avoid reading all the days at once.... Good luck with that.

Happy reading, Friday feature finders, happy reading!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Uncle Rene

My Dad is heartbroken about the loss of his favorite Uncle Rene, who died last week. Uncle Rene was the “last link” to my Dad’s father’s past. My Dad’s father, Fred, died around 1980 (I’m ashamed to admit I don’t remember the exact date), when my Dad was in his 30's. My Dad’s grandfather died before Fred married and before my Dad was even born (in the early ‘40's). There were other brothers, too, besides Fred and Rene, but they also died a while back, so Uncle Rene was the repository of all the remaining history from that side of my Dad’s family.

He was also a charming man with a wry sense of humor and a great memory for details.

When my cousin got married in New Orleans quite a few years back, my Dad, stepmom, step-siblings, and I attended the wedding. It was around the same time that the Super Bowl was being played there (in the Superdome, which Uncle Rene fondly called the “stainless steel wart”). Of course, the Super Bowl has been held in New Orleans 9 times, so it’s a little hard to avoid getting married around the same time the Super Bowl is being played in New Orleans, so I don’t blame my cousin for that unfortunate timing. (I also won't mention which time it was, since this is a sort of anonymous blog and all that.) [See Footnote 1]

Sadly, my Dad waited too long to book a room at the "Taj Mahal" hotel where the wedding reception would be held, and was forced to look at other options nearby. And, due to the massive number of rooms booked for the Super Bowl, affordable and decent hotels were hard to come by in New Orleans.

My Dad, bless his heart, tried to book a decent hotel, but this was before the internet was popular - that is to say, before one could actually look at photos of the place and read reviews about it easily. One was forced to rely on less accurate sources of information, such as the minimum wage worker who answered the phone when you called the 800 number that you looked up in the telephone book (do any of you still have one of those?), who assured my dad that the motel he booked was a fine motel, and was in a safe and nice part of town just a couple of miles from the "Taj Mahal."

I can’t remember if it was a Travelodge, or Holiday Inn, or some random unaffiliated motel, but I am thinking it was a chain, because I remember thinking it was something that you would expect to be somewhat decent, if not exactly the Ritz.

It turned out to be an extremely dumpy and disgustingly dirty roach motel right next to the freeway overpass in a crappy part of town, complete with pubes in the bathtub and gun-toting gangsters in the parking lot. And I’m not kidding about either one of those.

We checked in, but stayed only long enough for my Dad to use the telephone (this was also in the days before cell phones were ubiquitous; and at least the awful room had a working telephone) while the rest of us stood around trying not to touch anything. My Dad called Uncle Rene and asked if he knew of any hotels available near his home, because this one clearly wasn't going to work. Uncle Rene graciously offered to let us stay with him instead, and so we checked out and drove to Uncle Rene’s house.

That was the best decision ever.

In addition to enjoying an immediate welcome with wonderful iced tea and snacks, and clean bathrooms and linens, and my charming great-Uncle Rene, we were treated to tales of the family’s history, complete with a driving tour of historical homes of New Orleans that were built by my great-grandfather.

You see, my grandfather’s (and Uncle Rene’s) father was a home builder in the early 1900's in New Orleans. He was quite successful, apparently, due to some fantastic yet relatively low-tech innovations that he built into his homes.

The first fantastic innovation was to build very large and wide eaves on the house. This did two things in pre-air-conditioning early 1900's New Orleans: (1) it provided shade, thereby helping to cool the home; and (2) it allowed the homeowner to open the windows even if it was pouring rain, which it did frequently in the summer in New Orleans, to keep the house cool even during the hot, humid, summer days with storms. In a more typical (at the time) New Orleans home without such large eaves, the homeowner would be forced to close the windows to keep the driving wind-blown rain from soaking everything in the house. Then the house would be hot and humid and extremely uncomfortable. Wide eaves kept the rain out, thereby allowing the homeowner to open the windows and take advantage of the breezes and the evaporative cooling effect from the rain.

The second fantastic innovation was to “bug-proof” the homes. He accomplished this in two ways. First, most homes in New Orleans are built up on pillars, or "pilings." That way, when the City floods (as it inevitably will - can you say “Katrina”?), the house is (hopefully) sitting high enough off the ground that the water won’t come in. So my great-grandfather put metal “caps” on top of the pilings, that stuck out a couple inches from the top of the piling, with the edges angled downward. This prevented bugs such as termites, carpenter ants, and roaches from entering the home, because they couldn’t climb up to the wooden part of the house. They could climb up the pilings, but then they’d hit the metal sheet. Some bugs could even crawl upside down on the metal sheet to the edge of it, but they couldn’t make it around the edge to the other side to enter the home. Instead, they would fall back to the ground and presumably go bother someone else.

In addition, he put boric acid inside the framing of the walls before installing the plaster (this was before the days of drywall, of course). That way, if any bugs did start to get in, they would hit the bug poison and die before infesting the home. [See Footnote 2]

In hot, humid, bug-infested New Orleans, these were welcome inventions indeed!

Sadly, my great-grandfather fell on extremely hard times during the depression, and was unable to recover his fortune before he died in the late 1930's or so.

But his legacy lives on in the homes he built that are still standing today. And you can tell his homes by looking at them - large eaves, and little metal strips sticking out from the pilings.

And my Uncle Rene’s legacy lives on, too, in the memories he provided for me that day in New Orleans, and for my Dad across his lifetime, as well as for his own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

We miss you, Uncle Rene.

* * * * *
Footnotes (Because I'm a lawyer, that's why!):

Footnote 1: Did you know that, although the Super Bowl has been played in their hometown NINE TIMES, thus giving them more opportunities than any other team has ever had to actually play in the Super Bowl at home, the hapless New Orleans Saints have never played in any Super Bowl game in any location? Then again, they are on a roll so far this year - maybe they'll finally make it to the big game!

Footnote 2: Note that boric acid is practically harmless for humans - barely more toxic than table salt - yet a small amount kills a lot of bugs. My great-grandfather had his kids (my grandfather and Uncle Rene, and the rest of them, too!) assist with the boric acid installation, among other aspects of the house-building process.

(Of course, these days if you tried that, you'd have OSHA and Child Protective Services and possibly a whole host of other government agencies breathing down your neck and threatening you with fines and jail time. But back in those days, having your children install bug poison was a viable option!)

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Tough Week in New Orleans

My Dad’s favorite uncle, Uncle Rene - his father’s brother - died last week. His mother’s sister, Aunt Betty, died last week, too. Rough week for my Dad.

My grandmother’s sister had been fighting cancer for most of this year. When it was first diagnosed, it already had metastasized, so there was not a lot of hope of a cure, even from the beginning. She lived longer than they expected her to live (about 9 months after the diagnosis), and she lived with grace and joy and a sense of the wonder of life, determined to experience what she could, enjoy what she could, and be with family as much as she could, while she was able. However, she had been under hospice care for some time. She was awake and alert and happy to receive cards and visits for her 84th birthday on October 16. Since her birthday, though, she had not done much but sleep. She died this past Friday, October 23. Her daughter was with her. I am sure she felt loved. We will miss her dearly.

My grandfather’s brother had seemed very healthy, especially given his age - he would have been 94 this week. He had a bit of fluid around his heart a couple of months ago, but they got rid of the fluid (diuretics did the trick, I think) and pronounced him healthy. He died of a heart attack last Monday, October 19. It was sudden and as unexpected as a 94 year old person's death could ever be. I hope he had a chance to say his goodbyes and to enjoy all the things he wanted in life. I hope he died relatively peacefully, and that he, too, felt loved. Because he was.

Both lived in New Orleans for most of their lives. That is where my Dad’s family is from, and where many of his relatives have lived for generations. Both funerals will take place this week. Many folks in New Orleans may not notice their passing, but my family is understandably a bit shaken.

I’ll share a bit more about Uncle Rene, and about my family history, tomorrow.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Feature - I'm Not Benny

Today's featured blogger will make you laugh at least once for every post you read. I promise.

(Either that or you just have no sense of humor. One of those....)

The author is, by turns, funny, intriguing, absurd, humorous, head-scratchingly strange, and hilarious.

But he's not Benny.

Go check him out today, at I'm Not Benny.

Happy reading, and happy Friday, my favorite featured friends!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What Could Be Worse?

Have any of you watched "Nip / Tuck" (on FX)? The show is so bad, it's good.

The plots are outrageously ridiculous, shocking, disgusting, depraved even - and they completely lack any semblance of any sort of redeeming social value, so that I hate myself for liking this show - but at the same time, I can't help it. It is hilarious and entertaining. The acting and writing are good. (Really. There's no way I could keep a straight face with some of the situations and lines these actors are given, yet they play it as if it's just their reality. Amazing.) I read somewhere, though, that most of the plastic surgeries requested on the show - outrageous things like "remove the drug-smuggler's cocaine-containing breast implants" and "anal reconstruction" and "make my face look like a cat" and "amputate my leg" - are based on real-life plastic surgeries that have been performed.

Last week's show really cracked me up, though. Here's why:

Does anyone know/remember the character Matt McNamara's history through the show?

Matt has been raised as Sean and Julia's son, although Christian is his biological dad. He considers both of them his "dads" at this point. He also has some adjustment problems, apparently. Right off the bat, in season one, he smoked marijuana with a friend and was involved in a hit & run accident.

So, his parents hire a "life coach" for him. Then he has a sexual relationship with the "life coach," who turns out to be a sexual predator.

The life coach also later turns out to be a transexual (who was also having a sexual relationship with her own biological son), which sends Matt over the edge and to a tranny bar where he picks up a woman and then attacks her when he learns she is a transexual; her friends later attack Matt. Later that season, he dates a racist girl and becomes a skinhead / racist / white supremacist. Later, he makes up with the tranny gal, who kills the supremacist gal's dad with a shovel, if I am remembering correctly. Holy cow.

But that's not all, folks. Later, Matt sleeps with Kimber, the porn star girlfriend of each of his dads at one point or another during this crazy bad show. He converts to scientology while trying to seduce her. (This was around the time Tom Cruise was being a high profile scientologist and Oprah couch-hopper, giving new meaning to the word "nuts").

Matt later tries to extort money from his dads to pay for his and Kimber's crystal meth addiction, by claiming he is broke and needs the money to pay for food for his and Kimber's baby.

And then he is burned in a hotel explosion and fire he caused by cooking meth.

And then he meets a patient in his father's office, falls hard for her, and starts sleeping with her -- only to learn she is his biological sister who had come to L.A. to find her real father, Christian.

So, when your character has been a white supremacist; a meth addict; a scientologist; a lying, cheating, thieving, no-good jerk; has been involved in at least one murder; and already has slept with his father's (fathers'?) porn star girlfriend, his transexual life coach, and his biological sister, what more can you do with / to that character? What can you do to make everyone hate him even more? What could be worse?

Why, of course! (And I can just picture the writers sitting around smoking dope and thinking up this one....)

This season, he decides to pursue his "life's dream" of becoming a ...

* * *

... can you guess? ....

* * *

... scroll down, now....

* * *

...Wait for it!...

* * *

. . . he decides to become a . . . MIME !!

(The look on his two dads' faces when he announced his new life's dream was priceless).

But, of course! If there is any single person out there who still likes this character after all he has done, this will seal the deal! This will get rid of any small amount of sympathy that still exists for this character. Because of course everyone hates a mime!

(Don't they? I can just picture this discussion in the writers' conference room...)

And the kicker is, within the hour, Matt the Mime is holding up a coffee shop with a fake plastic gun. In full makeup. And without saying a word.



I'll be laughing for weeks over that one.

(And I can't wait to watch this week's episode....).

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Pet Peeve

Have you ever called your credit card company to ask about a charge you think may be incorrect?


Well, here's what happens:

You dial the telephone number printed on your statement.

The phone rings.

The automated voice mail menu system picks up.

It runs through a list of options for you, none of which mention your problem. So you hit "0" hoping for a live person.

No such luck. The computer advises you that your entry is incorrect and to please select from the following menu of options, repeating the same useless list.

So you pick something remotely similar, like "To Pay Your Bill" and press "2" (or whatever number it was).

Then it gives you another menu, with none of the options matching your query. So you try again with the "0," hoping to speak with a real person.

This time, it seems to work! It says something like, A representative will be with you shortly. Please enter your credit card number.

So you enter your credit card number.

Then begins the "Hold Hell," which despite rhyming with Cold Hell is not at all similar to a "Cold Day In Hell," which would be an extremely rare event and therefore not as annoying.

"Hold Hell" is where they play annoying music in the background that keeps you from enjoying the music you were listening to at home. They also interrupt the bad music every two minutes or so with some sort of "announcement" about the bank or credit card offerings or whatever. Each time you hear the music cut out, your face brightens a bit as you think, "Finally! A person to talk to!" and then your heart sinks again as you hear the soft female computer-generated voice begin another announcement...

15 - 20 minutes later, a real person finally picks up but by then you are so engrossed in your online Sudoku game that you don't even notice until the person is saying, "Hello? Hello?"

And then you jolt to attention.

And then they ask you for your credit card number.

And so you say, "I know it has been 15 minutes, but I thought computers had pretty good memories. Didn't I just type that in?"

And the person says, "Well, but it doesn't show up on my screen, so I need you to tell it to me again."


So you do. And then it turns out this person is in the wrong department to help you and so you have to be transferred.

Again the computer-generated voice asks you to type in your number. Again you do so.

And then... another 15 minutes of "Hold Hell." Another online Sudoku game and a crossword puzzle and a quick perusal of and and . . . .

Another person finally picks up the phone, jolting you back to the present. What's the first thing they ask you? . . .

. . . Right! [You guys are quick learners, by the way!]

"Can I have your credit card number, please?"


Friday, October 16, 2009

The Tooth Fairy Must Have Been ... On Vacation...

(... yeah, that's it! ... vacation! ... yeah, that's the ticket!)

My little guy lost a tooth. He had three loose teeth for a few weeks, and finally one fell out. (One down, two to go!)

He was so excited! As he placed the tooth under his pillow last night, he said, "Please, tooth fairy, will you bring me five pennies?!"

I was excited, too, thinking, "Wow, this is so much less expensive than when his sister used to ask for five dollars."

As it turns out, he wanted coins so he can use them to buy jelly beans from his dad's gumball / candy machine. Yes, it takes pennies. (My husband wishes the kids still thought it would only take quarters....)

* * *

And then he woke me up this morning, crying because his tooth was still under his pillow ... with no pennies, no dollars, nothing at all from the tooth fairy....

He was so crushed, poor guy. He thought maybe the tooth fairy didn't like him, or she forgot him, or his tooth was too small or otherwise just wasn't worthy....

* * *

And in my foggy-brained, just-woke-up-stupor, all I could think as I hugged him, was:

(Oh, my.)

(Major oops.)

(I am the worst tooth fairy ever! I couldn't even manage 5 pennies!!)

And then, a flash of brilliance! The perfect excuse (!) --

"Oh, sweetie, I'm sure it's nothing personal. She's probably just on vacation. I bet she'll be back soon, and we can try again."

He asked, "The TOOTH FAIRY goes on VACATION?!?"

I said, "Sure, sweetie, *everyone* needs a break now and then, right?"

He looked at me skeptically, and then I said I would email her and ask when she'll be back so we can try again with the tooth.

He asked, "The TOOTH FAIRY has EMAIL?"

I said, "Sure, sweetie, *everyone* has email, don't they?"

He looked even more skeptical. I knew I couldn't just say the tooth fairy emailed me back; he'd never believe that.

So later I doctored an email to make it look like the tooth fairy emailed me back and said she just got back from visiting her cousins, and we should try again tonight. I printed it, and we read the email together.

When we finished, he asked, "The TOOTH FAIRY has COUSINS?"

I said, "Yeah, I didn't know that, either! And there I was thinking she was just hanging out in Hawaii or something."

He laughed and said, "Yeah, me too!"

* * *

Another parenting crisis averted.

* * *

The pressure's on now, though. If I forget again, after the tooth fairy promised to be back, it's all over!

Friday Feature - Some Days It's Not Worth Chewing Through The Leather Straps

This week's featured blog is "Some Days It's Not Worth Chewing Through The Leather Straps," written by Skyler's Dad. Most of my readers already know Skyler's Dad, but for any new readers and/or any long-time readers who don't know him, you should!

SkyDad's blog is one of my perennial favorites because it has it all: laughs; Bad Tat Tuesdays (these regular features will make you laugh, cringe, squirm, and laugh again!); funny and/or touching stories about his life and his son's life challenges; random funny, strange, and/or crude videos, photos, ads, and other information gathered from around the internet; excerpts of well-written stories by other authors that will make you laugh and/or cry; and then some more laughs.

Plus, Skyler's Dad loves to leave hilarious and/or sensitive and kind comments on other blogs, so he gets extra credit for being a great blog-friend and frequent commenter, as well.

Here is a sampling of links for you to check out:

* A link to a recent "Bad Tat Tuesday" feature;

* A link to a post about navigating around town in a wheelchair overseas that will make you laugh inadvertently even while you scratch your head and wonder, what were they thinking?!?, and will give you a new appreciation for our Americans With Disabilities Act and other accessibility laws in the good ol' USA;

* A link to a post that will make you smile;

* A link to a post that will make you think; and

* A link to a recent funny but somewhat disturbing, crude, and definitely NSFW post (don't click if you are easily offended).

Click on them, and then click around Sky-Dad's site. I bet you'll like some or all of what you see there. [See footnote below]

Go on! Go check out the goods!

* * *
Footnote (because I'm a lawyer, that's why):

WARNING/DISCLAIMER: You have to be careful when clicking at work. SkyDad sometimes posts things that are "Not Safe For Work." He usually warns you about any links or videos that are "NSFW" -- but still, don't click too randomly while you're at work!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Self-Righteous Indignation - A Reliable Indicator of Illegal Behavior?

In June 2001, Judge Kent, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Galveston, Texas, wrote a scathing decision mocking the brief-writing skills of the attorneys on both sides of a case called Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp. For those inclined to do legal research, you can find the case at 147 F. Supp. 2d 668 (S.D. Tex. 2001). Or you can Google it.

In any event, the decision is hilarious, by lawyer standards. Here are some excerpts:

[After lamenting the lack of facts and citation to legal authority in the papers filed with the court - ]

"Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact-complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words-to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions. With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor's edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins." 147 F. Supp. 2d at 670.

After describing the basic legal rules about summary judgment motions, the Court continues:

"Defendant begins the descent into Alice's Wonderland by submitting a Motion that relies upon only one legal authority. . . . A more bumbling approach is difficult to conceive - but wait folks, There's More! Plaintiff responds to this deft, yet minimalist analytical wizardry with an equally gossamer wisp of an argument[.] . . . Plaintiff's citation . . . points to a nonexistent Volume '1886' of the Federal Reporter Third Edition[.]" 147 F. Supp. 2d at 670-71.

Apparently the Court found the case anyway, and after describing the holding of that case, the Court says:

"(What the ...)?! [Legalmist's note: ... never seen that in a court's decision before!] The Court cannot even begin to comprehend why this case was selected for reference. It is almost as if Plaintiff's counsel chose the opinion by throwing long range darts at the Federal Reporter (remarkably enough hitting a nonexistent volume!)." 147 F. Supp. 2d at 671.

After describing more of the equally bumbling and useless pleadings submitted to the court, the Judge provides a quick summary of the applicable law and a ruling, with a footnote as follows:

"Take heed and be suitably awed, oh boys and girls - the Court was able to state the issue and its resolution in one paragraph . . . despite dozens of pages of gibberish from the parties to the contrary!" 147 F. Supp. 2d at 672 n.3.

At the end of the published opinion, the Judge further chastized the plaintiff's attorney:

"At this juncture, Plaintiff retains, albeit seemingly to his befuddlement and/or consternation, a maritime law cause of action against . . . [the other defenant, Unity Marine]. However, it is well known around these parts that Unity Marine's lawyer is equally likable and has been writing crisply in ink since the second grade. Some old-timers even spin yarns of an ability to type. The Court cannot speak to the veracity of such loose talk, but out of caution, the Court suggests that Plaintiff's lovable counsel had best upgrade to a nice shiny No. 2 pencil or at least sharpen what's left of the stubs of his crayons for what remains of this heart-stopping, spine-tingling action. [A footnote to this paragraph states: In either case, the Court cautions Plaintiff's counsel not to run with a sharpened writing utensil in hand-he could put his eye out.]" 147 F. Supp. 2d at 672 and n.4.

* * *

After I finished laughing (I did find it funny), I thought about it some more and all I can say is, "ouch."

This is in a published decision, out there for all other attorneys and their clients to read, see these attorneys' names, and refuse to hire them ever again. Ouch.

And while the writing and analysis was likely horrible (I've seen some pretty poor lawyering over the course of the 16 years I've been practicing), I feel a measure of sympathy for the attorneys. The decision is so entertaining (to lawyers and law professors) that it is used in countless legal writing classes all across the country to try to pound into young law students' heads the importance of the materials and information taught in the required legal writing class.

Those Texas attorneys will probably never "live down" their poor performance on that one case. Even if they have now learned to properly analyze and write about legal issues, folks are still laughing about their supposed incompetence, 8 years after the fact.

* * *

And in an ironic twist, Judge Kent (the author of the scathing opinion) was later charged with sexual harassment of his female court employees. After vehemently denying the charges and insisting he was innocent and that he couldn't wait for trial where his horde of witnesses would prove his innocence, he later pleaded guilty to "obstruction of justice" and in his plea he admitted to the sexual harassment.

He was sentenced in May 2009 and is currently serving 33 months in federal prison.

So potentially, while his secretary was typing, proofing, formatting, and sending the opinion publicly and permanently berating the attorneys for the oh-so-horrible offense of submitting crappy briefs, he was standing behind her, rubbing her back and pressing against her and trying to put his hands down her shirt....

(Or maybe not, I'm just guessing. But he was charged with pulling up the shirt of one of his employees and putting his hand underneath in a long struggle to feel her breasts while she tried to escape his clutches).

He may have been outraged by the unprofessional quality of the legal writing submitted to his court. But at least those lawyers managed to submit enough information for the case to be correctly resolved, and no one was substantially damaged at the end of the day.

I am outraged by the judge's unprofessional, illegal, offensive, and hurtful behavior. At the end of the day, his victims most certainly were damaged.

* * *

Have you ever noticed that the louder someone trumpets about the supposed shortcomings of others, the more likely it is that the person will be brought up on some ironically related charges later?

Without naming names, several recent examples come to mind: the attorney general, in charge of prosecuting crimes, caught having sex with prostitutes; the male evangelistic minister preaching against the evils of homosexuality caught having a sexual encounter with a gay man; the "family values" mayors and members of congress caught having extramarital affairs; the list goes on.

Does it make you immediately suspicious of anyone who self-righteously jumps up and down on their soapbox about some supposed crime against humanity?

And I don't mean just anyone who complains about perceived injustice. Lots of people do that. Lots of people should do that; it's the only way those injustices will ever be addressed.

But the ones who are later caught in criminal and/or immoral and/or interesting sexual acts seem to have a certain self-righteous air about them. A certain attitude of moral superiority that leads them to do things like writing scathingly sarcastic published decisions about hapless attorneys, subjecting them to a lifetime of ridicule, instead of just requiring the attorneys to refund their clients' money (or some other similar approach).

I wonder if someone would fund a study to determine whether smug self-righteousness is, in fact, a reliable indicator of an inclination to commit crimes?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Feature - Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds

Last week, I featured a brand new (to me) blogger. Today's featured blogger is one that I have been reading for a long time (several years - and well before I started my own blog) because she tells darn good stories: Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds.

Many of you may already be fans. She has Whiskeymarie in her blogroll, which is how I found that fantastic blog, which led me to many of my current favorite blogs, including yours! So if you already know about Wide Lawns, that's great. But if you don't, you must go read it!

When I started reading the blog, WideLawns mostly blogged about her job in the office at a Florida gated community full of eccentric (read: crazy) rich folks. Apparently she ran into some legal issues or something, because those old posts (which were hilarious) were removed a couple of years ago and now she blogs about her quirky family and her vast array of strange life experiences (which are hilarious, moving, entertaining, and fun), with occasional tidbits about her new job teaching writing and other classes at a community college.

I think it doesn't matter the topic - WideLawns is quite simply a good story teller. She keeps her real name to herself (like I do), but if you read her posts, you'll feel like you know her, at least a little bit. You'll also get to know an interesting cast of characters.

She claims the stories are true. I have no way to verify this, of course, but I can verify that they are entertaining. For some of the stories, you'll need to scroll down through the blog to find "part one" or whatever looks like the beginning of the story. I know it's a little time-consuming, but it's worth it, really.

Here is a good place to start - September 8's post: Kitchen Therapy - How I Became a Cook, With A Dose of Cold Blooded Murder. It's a story in progress (so you'll have to click around on the blog to find parts 2 et seq.) and I can't wait to see how it all comes out....

Go now, and read.

I promise you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

For today, I'm going to share a kid story from long ago, when my daughter was about 4.

One day as I was driving and put on my turn signal, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Daughter: Mommy, what's that arrow that lights up?

Me: That blinking light? That's the turn signal.

Daughter: What does it do?

Me: Well, you put it on when you want to make a turn, and there are lights outside the car that blink and let the other drivers know you are going to turn and that way they know to slow down and not crash into you. The light inside just reminds me that I have the turn signal on.

Daughter: Oh. ... How come Daddy doesn't have those on his car?

* * *

You can learn a lot by listening to young children.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Las Vegas, in Bullet Points

Here are some strange things we saw on our trip to Las Vegas:

* Leaving town, we stopped at a traffic light. The fellow in front of us, who was driving a 1990's large black sedan of some sort, opened his window and used a whisk broom to brush a small piece of invisible dirt off the side of his car, then closed the window again and drove on. WTF?!?

* 15 men walked by on the sidewalk in front of the Luxor, in a group, each dressed as Mario - red cap, blue overalls, etc. Was there some sort of convention in town?

* Capt. Jack Sparrow and Cat Woman chatting up tourists in front of the Bellagio. What a pair!

Here are some (but not all) of the fun things we did on our very low-budget trip to Las Vegas:

* Checked into our *free* room at Bally's (best possible price, no?).

* Wandered around the strip checking out all the cool stuff in the lobbies and shops at the hotels. The Bellagio and Caesar's Palace are my favorites. The Bellagio, in particular, has beautiful glass flower sculptures hanging from the ceiling in the lobby which were done by Dale Chihuly, whom I've written about here before. They have a gift shop with some smaller pieces you can buy. I don't know how much they cost. I think the rule there is, if you have to ask, you can't afford it.

* Lost a bit of money gambling. Won a bit of money gambling. Lost some more money gambling.

* Took fun and funny perspective photos of us appearing to do unusual things - such as a photo of me seeming to balance the "Paris" neon ball / balloon on my hand, a photo of my husband with his hands on the hood of a parked police car appearing to be arrested, and a photo of me appearing to lick a very phallic-looking sculpture at the Bellagio.

* Drank coffee and watched the other tourists and made catty remarks about their clothes, hair, behavior, and anything else we found amusing.

* Watched the fountain show in front of the Bellagio, choreographed with Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On."

* Gambled some more and drank free drinks and lost a bit more money.

* Listened to the bands at several cafes and bars at Paris and Bally's.

* Checked out of Bally's and moved into our *free* room at the Four Queens downtown (another fantastic price!).

* Ate $1 shrimp coctails at the Golden Gate hotel & casino.

* Gambled and won a bit of money.

* Checked out the vendors on Fremont Street.

* Enjoyed the view of the Vegas lights and casinos from our almost-top-floor hotel room.

* Enjoyed the hippy-dippy "Summer of '69 Woodsdtock TributePalooza" street show (apparently a repeat from August) in front of the Golden Gate hotel on Fremont Street, complete with performers hanging from fabric and/or rings suspended in the air, Cirque du Soleil style.

* Enjoyed the "Fremont Street Experience" overhead light and music show several times (American Pie, Fire and Ice, and Kiss) one night.

* Played slot machines at the Four Queens and won more money.

* Enjoyed a decent buffet meal at the Main Street Station hotel and casino, complete with a darn good prime rib steak, a decent black-bean chili con carne with cornbread, and fresh (not canned) green beans that were cooked perfectly. The fried scallops apparently were fake scallops (like fake crab meat), but the shrimp were real and my husband said the pizza was good, too. The building is done in an old victorian style that is quite charming. I've never seen the rooms, but the lobby and restaurant / buffet area are absolutely beautiful. My husband tells me there is a portion of the actual Berlin wall in the men's restroom, with urinals attached to it. I did not verify this information for myself.

* Played more slot machines at the Main Street Station casino and won even more money!

* Returned home with more money than I took with me to Vegas - a first for me!

And now I have to get back to work. Happy Wednesday, gamblers and fools, happy Wednesday!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Feature - Knucklehead

Today I want you all to go read Knucklehead.

Yesterday, Candy over at Candy's Daily Dandy recommended the site*, stating, "The guy's a genius, really." I was skeptical. So many times when someone or something is overhyped, there is disappointment involved when you get there.

But I dutifully checked out the link Candy provided. And I was immediately enthralled by today's story, "The Ecstasy" from a die hard Yankees fan perspective, about the thrilling and amazingly wonderful 1978 Red Sox / Yankees playoff game. The writing is superb, and draws you right in. Humor sprinkled throughout. Suspenseful. Fantastic. And for added effect and perhaps to give balance to the tale, DK provided a link to Suldog's blog, which tells the sad yet heroic tale ("The Agony") from the Bosox side of the "hideous" (Suldog's word) tragedy.

But still, I'm thinking, I like sports a lot, and I love a well-written sports tale, but not all my readers are sports nuts. This might not be such a great blog to feature.

Then I read a few more posts. And laughed my ass off. I admit was a little confused by the "Davey Hansen" story, until I googled it and figured out Davey Hansen was some sort of strange stop-action animated tv series (I had never heard of it before; I had a deprived childhood with only a 12 inch black & white tv in the house, and my dad refused to get cable until all the kids were in college). But after learning what the series was about, now I can't stop laughing.

The guy's a genius, really.

But don't take my word for it. Click here and check it out for yourself!

No really, go!

* * *

Why are you still here....?

- - - - -
*footnote: In reading the comments, it is obvious that many of my readers were already aware of this fantastic blog. Why have I only just now discovered it?!?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Something New Tomorrow: "Friday Feature"

Tomorrow, I'm starting a series here on LegalMist: "Friday Feature" -- in which each week I will spotlight one of my favorite blogs around the web.

There are hundreds, thousands even, of great blogs out there. I read some of them, and I want you to check them out, too. I know you could click on the little avatars under my "followers" widget, or on one of the links in the blogroll my sidebar, but sometimes my blogroll isn't updated and sometimes it's not easy to find a link to one of the "followers." And sometimes a blog's title, or that day's post, doesn't fully reflect the fabulousness that is the blog itself.

So, I thought it might be fun to do a weekly series that gives a little more information about the blog than just the blog title. I'll include a description of the blog, along with a link to either a recent post or to one of my favorite posts.

Now, don't be upset if you're not first in line. It will take months - possibly years - for me to get through all my favorites one week at a time. And the order in which you appear means nothing about whether I like you better than some other blogger. If I write about you this week, it just means I particularly liked one of your posts or I randomly picked you to be next. If I didn't write about you this week, but you're in my link list or one of my followers, I'll likely get to you in a few weeks or months.

Many of you are already familiar with each other, but some of my readers may not be familiar with your blogs, and on the off chance that I have a new reader who hasn't read your fantastic blog yet, I want to send them your way. Not that you should expect a huge "bump" in readership from my little blog - it won't be at all the same as if you were to make the "blogs of note" list one day! But I want to do my part to encourage and highlight some of the best bloggers out there. And I want to say a public "thanks" to those of you who entertain me whenever I need a break from work or from the hectic pace of my life.

If you want to point me to a great blog that you love (or that you write), please feel welcome to leave a link in my comment section. I'll check it out when I have time, and perhaps I'll add the blog to my blogroll and/or spotlight it in a future Friday Feature.

Happy Reading, everyone!