Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010! (And a reminder about those black-eyed peas)

Oh, the tales I could tell, about last night, this afternoon.... but in the spirit of holiday love and forgiveness, I won't, for now. I'll save the complaints and stories for another time.

For today, let me just say Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it.

For those of you who don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a nice Saturday, and I wish you the best for whichever holiday, if any, you do choose to celebrate.

I'll be back soon ... with stories!

For the fine print, please see last year's Thanksgiving Greetings post. Same rules apply here.

And remember to stock up on black-eyed peas before the new year. For details regarding why this is so important, please see here, and here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Funnies - Forwarded From Friends - Part III

Murphy's Immutable Law #48: If you drop your toast with jelly, it will land on the floor jelly side down.

Uncontroverted Animal Fact # 282: If you accidentally drop your cat from about chest high, in any position, it will land on the floor feet down and will run away uninjured.

What happens if you tie a piece of toast with jelly - jelly side up - to your cat's back, and then drop it?

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Legal Disclaimer (because we lawyers love the fine print):

Do NOT try this experiment at home. Information for this blog post was provided by professional toast droppers and cat wranglers. No animals were harmed in the creation of this blog post.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cool Stuff From LegalMist's Daughter

I've written before about my daughter's art talents and Zazzle gallery (here). She may not be the next Monet or O'Keefe (then again, she might be...), but she definitely has some natural ability that I lack.

My daughter has a pretty good natural ability for photography, too. She hasn't developed her portraiture talents quite as much as Kim Ayers[fn1], my blogger buddy who also writes "Ramblings of the Bearded One," a blog I've read for years. But she takes a nice photo.

When she was two, nearly three, I took her to my cousin's wedding. She wanted to take pictures with my new camera. Since it was simple enough (point and shoot), I let her take a few photos of me in the hotel room. She told me where to stand and when to smile.

I figured I'd end up with typical kid photos of my torso & chin, or half of me at the edge of the frame with a bunch of crud that should have been background showing as the main focal point, or, at best, a blurry shot of me not smiling.

Instead, I ended up with several well-centered photos of me, actually smiling (she got the timing right), with minimal annoying background crud. The perspective was a little off -- she was not-quite-three, and very tiny, and she didn't think to climb up on a chair to photograph me straight-on instead of from her looking-up perspective. Then again, that was her usual perspective on the world, so it probably didn't occur to her that it wasn't "normal," and I didn't think to suggest that she stand or sit up higher for the photo shoot, so whose fault is that, really?

Overall, I was impressed. I let her take more photos with my camera any time she wanted to after that, and I am disappointed far less frequently with her photos than I am with my own.

So when we went to the Desert Botanical Garden to see the butterfly pavilion, I let her take lots of photos of the butterflies and flowers. She did a nice job.

I made a calendar out of her photos and posted it in her Zazzle store. Check it out:

I also designed some magnets and mouse pads and mugs and other items, just for fun, from some of the photos. And there are items made from some of her drawings, too. You may have noticed the "Zazzle" display bar in the margin - it shows some of the things posted for sale on the site.

But here's the cool part: People have actually bought things! And not just me or my relatives. We have sold actual calendars and magnets and cards to people completely unrelated to us! Not many, mind you. No one is getting rich from this particular endeavor. But it is fun, and a good confidence-booster for her, to know that other people like her art and photos as much as I do.

So, if you have time, check out her Zazzle store. You don't have to buy anything (it can be expensive, although they do have frequent sales and discounts and free shipping offers), just look around and let me know what you think.

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Footnotes (because lawyers love them):

Fn1: Kim Ayres' portrait photographs are unique. Instead of the typical photo of everyone with smiles plastered on their faces, dressed in goofy outfits, sitting and/or standing next to each other in front of some idealized background (or, worse, stacked on top of each other in some ridiculous pose meant to suggest "family love and harmony reigns supreme here"), he captures real faces with real expressions, in real places (or with black backgrounds, for maximum focus on the actual person). I love them. You should definitely check out his photography web site - and his blog, too, if you have time.

If I am ever in Scotland again, I am going to have him photograph me and whoever is with me (husband, kids, friends, whoever). It would be a hoot to meet him, and I'd end up with some way cool photos, to boot.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Christmas Story

We all know that Santa Claus is responsible for the huge undertaking of making and then distributing toys all across the globe to rich Christian children (despite the propaganda perpetuated in such made-for-tv documentaries as "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," poor and / or non-Christian kids don't generally get toys for Christmas).

To assist him with these duties, Santa has hired vast legions of elves. They help him keep lists of the naughty and nice kids, make the toys, and wrap and package them for delivery. They also take care of the reindeer.

Santa has angels working for him, too. You've probably seen some of their work at the local mall, in the form of the Christmas Angel program, by which Santa attempts to distribute some Christmas loot to poor kids in rich Christian countries and support the merchants and economy at the same time. The Angels have other tasks, too, such as supervising the elves in the toy shop and helping Santa with any shopping he must do (Santa is generally too busy taking orders from kids at the mall to do the shopping himself). Sometimes they help Mrs. Claus with the bookkeeping, too.

In addition to supervising the whole enterprise, hiring and firing elves and angels, selecting the reindeer for the annual Christmas ride, and predicting what gift will be this year's "hot ticket item," Santa historically has handled the task of selecting, cutting, and trimming the Christmas tree for his annual Christmas party for the elves and angels. This is a huge and important task, as the holiday party represents Claus, Inc., to workers and customers alike. The tree must be perfect, and the decorations must also be perfect.

(Of course, just like any corporate holiday party, the party is, at best, tolerated by the worker elves and angels. They'd really rather be at home with their own families and kids, but they show up at the party anyway to keep ol' Santa happy, because jobs are scarce at the North Pole. Santa is pretty much the only game in town.)

One year, Santa had other pressing items on his "to do" list, so he delegated the task of selecting and trimming the tree for the party. He asked his best worker angel, Beatrice, to handle the task. He explained that the tree must be perfect, that it must be placed in exactly the right spot, and that it must be decorated perfectly -- all by 6 p.m., because the party was to start at 7:00. She had enough to do already and was a little miffed, but she really had no choice. After all, jobs are scarce at the North Pole, and she had a family to feed.

So Beatrice went out into the extremely cold North Pole day, which at that time of year was really more like twilight and lasted only a couple of hours, and after much deliberation, she selected a fine evergreen tree for Santa. She paid (from her own pocket!) a local elf to cut it down and haul it back to Santa's lodge where the party would be held. But then she faced a problem. Every year, Santa placed the tree in a different location. She did not know where he wanted it that year and he had told her the location must be "exactly right."

So she went looking for Santa, to ask him where it should be placed. Santa was... uh... shall we say, "indisposed." He was ... uh, busy... with Mrs. Claus. Nevertheless, Beatrice knocked on Santa's door and asked, "Santa? Are you in there?"

Santa ignored her and kept on with his, uh ... work.

She knocked again: "Santa?!? Are you in there?!?"

He ignored her again.

Beatrice was nothing if not persistent (not to mention running short on time), so she knocked again: "Santa?!? I really need to talk to you. Where do you want me to put this tree?!?"

Santa, frustrated with this interruption of his very important, uh... work... shouted back: "I'll tell you where to put it, just shove it up your @$$!!"

And that, my friends, is how the tradition began of placing a Christmas Angel at the top of the Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Polar Bear Attack

I received these photos in my email inbox today. They are photos of a polar bear attacking a man. There were many observers; unfortunately, no one was able to stop the attack.

Just a reminder to all: just because an animal looks cute and cuddly, that does not mean it will not attack you.

Please, don't climb into zoo enclosures. It's a bad idea. Really.

Scroll down to see the photos. I put them below the margin in case any of you didn't want to view such potentially disturbing photos.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh, What a Relief!

LegalMist's daughter's basketball team played an excellent game that came down to the last seconds of overtime on Friday evening. I am very proud of my daughter, even though she did not get a lot of playing time. She did well for the few minutes she was in, playing excellent defense and passing the ball for an assist.

She was disappointed that she didn't get to play more but, as I explained to her, she cannot expect to get a lot of playing time in her first game of the season when she is one of just a few 7th graders on a team of 7th and 8th graders, and the shortest kid on the court to boot. If she continues to play well and improve her skills, she may end up with more playing time per game as the season progresses.

Her team as a whole played great defense, blocking shots, rebounding, intercepting passes, and stealing the ball from the other team frequently. They also handled the ball well, with dead-on passes, good dribbling, and few turnovers. And on offense, they did a great job of finding the open player and taking appropriate shots.

Their shooting skills need improvement, however. Particularly free throws. Those should be "gimme" points, with very few misses. But her team missed quite a few. The other team's field goal and free throw percentages were somewhat better, which made it a very close game all the way, despite the frequent turnovers in favor of my daughter's team.

So I was worried when, in the last 1.4 seconds of overtime, my daughter's team was ahead by one point, and one of the other team's best scorers was taking a shot. One of our players fouled her (appropriately), and the other team's excellent player went to the line for two free throws. If she made them both, they would have won, as it was hugely unlikely our team could have even taken a shot, much less made one, in the remaining 1.4 seconds. (This is not the WNBA). If she even made one free throw, they would have tied and gone on to a second overtime.

It was a very stressful situation for the scorekeeper. I should know, because I had volunteered to fill in as scorekeeper.

And here, I digress so that you can more fully understand the stress that your poor attorney blogger was suffering... Holy cow, what a lot of things to track throughout the game! Things I was supposed to keep up with -- for both teams -- included:

* Who played and substituted in for each quarter. (For both teams, remember? There were a couple of times when I was still trying to write down who was in for both teams, and the coaches were already substituting in new players!!).

* For each quarter, I had to track each time a player attempted a shot, and whether it was missed or, if made, whether it was 2 or 3 points -- for both teams, remember?

* For each shot made, I had to track the team's total score -- for ... oh, you remember by now...

* I was supposed to document each free throw taken by any player, and whether it was a one point, two point, or one-and-one situation, and whether the free throws were missed or made, and, of course, the team's resulting total score.

* Each foul - tracked both for individual players and for each team as a whole, with the responsibility to let the referees know if / when either team's fouls put them into the penalty status for each half and/or whether any given player fouled out.

* Each timeout, along with whether it was a 30 second time out or a full time out, which quarter it was in, and which team and player (or coach) called it.

* The score at the end of each quarter, and at the end of the game.

* Double-check that the score at the end of each quarter on the scoreboard matched the totals at the top of my page for each team.

* Double-check that the score at the end of each quarter matched the totals for all the players, as marked for that quarter.

(I'm not really sure what I was supposed to do if those totals didn't match... fortunately, the issue didn't come up).

There may have been more things I was supposed to track, but I didn't. Couldn't. No way. It was hard enough to keep my (probably ADD) self focused on the game without getting distracted for even a few seconds, thereby missing something important like who just made that shot or who that foul was called on, while also writing down those listed things in little tiny columns that started to blur together after about two quarters. (Clearly, I must keep my day job. I do not have a bright future as an official scorer for the NBA / WNBA.)

And now, back to our regularly scheduled story:

So, the poor girl on the other team was making her "no pressure" last-second free throws with the outcome of the game hanging in the balance. We all watched, perched on the edge of our seats. She shot one, and it bounced off the rim. There would be no "win" for her team in this overtime... but she still had a chance to tie it up and score another chance to win in a second overtime.

At that point, I was literally praying that she would miss the second shot.... not so that my daughter's team would win (by then, I truly didn't care who won - it was a well-played game on both sides), but because I didn't think I could take the stress of trying to keep score accurately for yet another overtime period!

The second shot went up .... and it bounced around the rim of the basket a couple of times... but then it bounced out! - and my daughter's team won the game!

I felt bad for the girl who missed the shots . . . but oh-so-relieved that the game was not going to a second overtime!

I felt happy for my daughter and her team for their impressive and close win over an excellent opposing team . . . but mostly, I felt relieved that the game was not going to a second overtime!

Am I self-centered and inappropriately focused on my own well-being instead of my daughter's team's big win? Apparently so... But, oh, how happy I felt!!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

My New Favorite Show

I was devastated when Nip/Tuck ended. I've written before about how much I loved that show, in all its craptastical, over-the-top, depraved, awful glory. It was so bad, so utterly awful and unbelievable, and at the same time so believably well-acted, that you just couldn't help but love it. (Well, some people apparently hated it.... but what do they know?)

One of the best things about Nip/Tuck was the utter lack of predictability. Just when you thought you knew where the show's soap-opera among its characters was heading, the bad-boy son announces that his life's dream is to become a mime... and then he starts a robbery career... as a mime (yes, he literally "mimes" the robberies)! (For a more thorough discussion, see this blog post.)

And the medical dramas were so completely over-the-top, you'd think they would never happen in real life, although the show's creator claimed that all the plastic surgeries depicted were "based in fact." For example, there was the woman who wanted to have her nipples removed so she could be "just like Barbie," because she wants to continue her perfect sexless relationship with the perfect plastic-surgery enhanced human replica of Ken (choke on that for a moment...), and then in the end she has sex with Dr. Sean, thereby "setting Ken free" to hook up with a perfect plastic-surgery enhanced human replica of G.I. Joe. Oh, it was glorious in its ridiculous awfulness. (For a more thorough discussion, see this blog post.)

I like other shows. "House, M.D.," is a good one if you enjoy excellent snide comments and sarcasm along with your over-the-top medical drama, but the plots, and even the medical dramas, are predictable. (At least once a month: "Maybe it's lupus." My husband has started saying this every time one of our kids complains about any sort of pain).

"Glee" is good if you like singing and dancing and high-school romance interrupted by the pure evil and hilarious one-liners provided by Sue Sylvester. It's good - I watch it and I like it - but it's no Nip/Tuck.

I like "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" -- it's not bad for a half-hour comedy show. It aims for unpredictability and the good sort of ridiculousness that makes a show entertaining, and sometimes it hits the mark. Other times, though, it crosses the line to stupid and unbelievable in a not-entertaining sort of way. It isn't reliably hilarious.

When I need good background television (like while I clean house or sort mail and pay bills), I watch crime dramas, like the various incarnations of Law and Order and CSI, NCIS, or Criminal Minds. The plots are predictable - bad guys do horrible awful things and persistent, hyper-intelligent cops catch them - so you can miss chunks of it and not really miss anything important. It is that predictability that makes them less than stellar shows, though, no matter how well-acted they are or how much you like the characters. Most of the half-hour comedies on the networks have that same flaw, too, no matter how good the dialogue is sometimes. Two and a Half Men, Everybody Loves Raymond, and King of Queens pop to mind as examples of generally mildly entertaining, sometimes really funny shows. They also make good background TV.

I didn't like "Pscyh" at first, but it sort of grows on you. It has fun with the criminal-catcher genre, sort of mocking all the cliches and predictable plots and amazing puzzle-solving abilities of the lead characters in those shows. Still, though, it's not "must see TV."

I've always loved "The Simpsons" for its irreverent, make-fun-of-everyone sense of humor. But sometimes I'm just not in the mood for a cartoon.

And of course I love me a good football or basketball or hockey game, but sometimes you want something with a plot, not just a sports contest.

So what have I found to scratch that "irreverent, unpredictable television" itch?

My new favorite show is "Raising Hope." It comes on after Glee on Tuesday nights, and it is fantastically funny and unpredictable.

The premise of the show, for those of you who haven't seen it, is that a twenty-something fellow named Jimmy, who still lives with his parents and works at his dad's lawn and pool service company, has a one-night stand with a woman who turns out to be a wanted serial killer. Jimmy's family turns her in, and she ends up getting put to death in the electric chair. The one-night stand, however, resulted in a baby, born in prison before the mother is electrocuted. Jimmy, as the father, is given the child to raise, and he names her "Hope." The show is hilariously unpredictable and irreverent, but still manages to project good family values like loyalty, responsibility, and love. It is well-written, with great and sometimes downright unbelievable dialogue, delivered deadpan and made believable by the excellent actors. Cloris Leachman is priceless in the role of Maw Maw, Jimmy's grandmother who also lives in the home.

If you haven't seen this show, you must go watch it. You can watch prior episodes at Trust me, you've just got to see it. It will make you laugh out loud. I promise.

I can't wait for Tuesday!