Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why I Love the Spurs

This guy explains it well:

Look, Manu [Ginobili] isn't Jordan. He's not Kobe. He's not LeBron. Rooting for guys like that is unimaginative and frankly, boring. They won the genetic lottery. They're bigger, stronger, faster. Wheee. Root for them and you might as well root for McDonalds and Nike (shockingly companies those guys endorse or have endorsed). You might as well cheer for Team USA in the Olympics against Team Argentina. I have no use at all for people like that.


Manu isn't your favorite player because he's perfect.


He's your favorite because he's not.


He's Rocky. He gets knocked down. He loses. He fails. He occasionally does really stupid shit in really important games.

But he cares. You can see every second he really fucking cares. Even in the regular season when 99% of people affiliated with the NBA, including the fans, don't care, he does.

And that's that.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Sun Also Sets

Alas.  The Spurs eliminated themselves.  The Lakers (although they played well) did not beat the Spurs; the Spurs beat themselves.  A 20-point lead in Game 1?  A 30-point loss in Game 2?  They finally showed up for Game 3, but Game 4 was a disastrous heartbreaker.  Then last night, they let the Lakers nibble at a 13-point first-quarter lead until the last two minutes, when the Spurs finally woke up.  But too little, too late, and the Spurs are out.

I'm interested to see what next year's Spurs will look like.  Hopefully, they won't be as dumb as the Mavericks and fire Poppovich.  They just need to do something to get younger and faster--they couldn't keep up with the Lakers' speed, and they barely stayed up with the Hornets.

Finally, I think it worth noting that the pre-Gasol Lakers were 30-16, winning 65% of their games.  The post-Gasol Lakers were 27-9, winning 75% of their games.  Bryant was the constant, and Gasol the change.  Who should really have been MVP, if you had to pick a Laker?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bucket of Pepper

Most of what I do each day is watch a lawyer mediate a child support dispute, then draft an order representing the agreement the parties reach.  I don't think I'd want to do it forever, but so far it's been fascinating to watch these real people with their real problems find real solutions.

Mom X is having trouble with Dad X paying his child support.*  Notably, courts order child support, so failing to pay child support can lead to a finding of contempt, and that means jail.  There are dozens of cases where dad stays out of jail by hand-paying his child support each month at the courthouse.  Dad X is one of those cases.

Today, Dad X told Mom X that his brother was getting married.  She offered to give Brother X a Sam's Club-sized bucket of black pepper, and Dad X laughed easily.  "Do you remember that time in Amarillo?  When his mashed potatoes had too much black pepper?" he asked.  "Yeah," she said, "we spent all night in the hospital waiting for the swelling to go down."

When we meet people only once or in isolated situations, we tend to crystallize their identities with those circumstances.  My fourth grade teacher, for example, will always be (in my mind) exactly as she was in 1993.  But hearing Mom X and Dad X talk about Brother X, I realized that these people had identities beyond their child support dispute. 

Once upon a time, they were strangers.  Then they met and fell in love.  He met her parents; she met his.  They got married and had children.  Then something broke.  They got divorced: she got the kids and he got a monthly child support bill.  Now they're stuck dealing with each other for the rest of their lives.  Each month, he promises that he's "this close" to getting a "good" job, and she promises not to kill him.

You just don't get stories like that in a securities regulation practice.



*Please note that some facts have been changed to protect anonymity and help me keep my job.  I have not, however, changed any names.  There are really characters named Mom X and Dad X.  Mom X + Dad X = Racer X.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

You Make, You Pay

The first half of this summer, I'm working for the Attorney General of Texas in the Child Support Division.  A lot of people, when they hear that, ask why and try to fathom why anyone would ever want to work in the CSD.  But here's the deal: it's awesome.  I love watching people interact.  Somebody once said that family lawyers see good people at their worst.  Some of the stories are unbelievable, but that's what's fascinating.  You look at these two people and all the ugly water under their bridge, and you think, "At some point, these people were in love enough to make a baby." 


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm a monster!

I just can’t stop buying books. I bought three last night:

Including several other books I’ve somehow acquired recently, that brings my total up to 73 books that I own but have not read, 11 more than one week ago.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quite Quick Quotes with Jeremy

There have been people in my life whom I would love to have silenced with this:

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.

- William G. McAdoo.

Put that in your quiver of quite quick quotes for quarrels.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

No Mas de Eso

So I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in three days.  On, I gave it four stars out of five.  Here's my completely arbitrary quality ranking:

  1. Deathly Hallows (book 7)
  2. Order of the Phoenix (book 5)
  3. Half-Blood Prince (book 6)
  4. Prisoner of Azkaban (book 3)
  5. Goblet of Fire (book 4)
  6. Chamber of Secrets (book 2)
  7. Sorcerer's Stone (book 1)

I thought the series got better with each book, but I think that probably the top three could be ranked in any order, and so could the bottom four.  So now I can join the ranks of the cultural elite who have read Harry Potter. 

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Real Life

The New York Times reports that over 220,000 people have listened to a BBC recording from the answering machine of a soldier's family.  Apparently, he pocket-dialed his family in the midst of battle and, because they weren't home, their answering machine recorded the sounds of battle from his pocket.  Listening to that recording is an odd experience.  It doesn't sound like any of the battles I've seen on TV and not anything like I expected.  It's real life.

Friday, May 09, 2008

My Harry Potter

In 6th grade, I randomly borrowed a book from the school library, John Christopher's The Guardians.  The next Saturday morning, I plopped into our old blue recliner and started at page one.  I read about Rob's father dying and followed two steps behind as he ran from Conurb.  I helped him dig the hole under the Barrier and hid with him in the cave.  I assimilated into County life, learning archery and sweating during Sir Percy Gregory's interrogation.  And I tried to convince Rob not to betray Mike to the Guardians.  I didn't, however, notice the room gradually brightening or my hunger pangs as morning turned into noon and afternoon.  I turned the last page some time before dinner, wondering at what I'd read and why I'd never read anything like it before.  Two days later, I returned The Guardians and checked out The Prince in Waiting, where I imagined a deep blue vista of desert broken only by the bright orange glow of the Burning Lands in the distance.  That image remains with me, stronger even than some of my real memories. 

In less than a month, I read every John Christopher book our library had.  I think that's when I fell in love with reading.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Note to self: I = Me

Just in case you were wondering:

Being able to distinguish yourself from other people is fundamental to successful social relationships rather than simple interactions.

The rest can be found here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The End Is Near

Tonight, I start Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’m happy to be finishing the story. I’ve grown to like Harry, Ron, Hermione, and all the rest (especially, for some reason, Remus Lupin), but I’ll be glad to finish the story. Every beginning must have its end, I suppose, and now I rush headlong toward this ending. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Secret Lit'rature

I have this uncanny ability to take seemingly worthless or meaningless pulp fiction (or movies or actors or whatever) and think that it's worthwhile.  But the Guardian has avenged me:

[Ian Fleming's] aim, famously, was simply to write "the spy story to end all spy stories" and he happily talked about his "pillow book fantasies of an adolescent mind." He was right. Bond does have an edge, but the novels are essentially lightweight, adrenalin pumping and frequently and gleefully absurd.

But that's not to disparage them. A good thriller is worth more than its weight in gold - more even than the multi-million [sic] industry that Fleming created. There's a magic to the brooding enigmatic James Bond, his glamorous lifestyle, his vast range of pervert foes and their crazy weapons. Fleming also has perhaps the greatest benchmark of writerly talent in spades: unputdownability.

. . . .

Whether Bond would have survived so long without the enduring film franchise is moot, but writing as nasty and unsettling as that is always going to be worth reading.

So maybe the next time I'm recommending a book to you, you'll listen, eh?

Monday, May 05, 2008


The Office, for me, is one of those shows that I love to watch but it comes on at the wrong time.  I almost always miss it when it comes on for real.  But I own the first three seasons on DVD and I'll probably buy the 4th when it comes out.  And you know what?  I like Toby.  He's my kinda guy.  (Except for his whole crush on Pam thing.  That was kinda creepy for some reason.)  Well, according to Yahoo!, the Tob-ster is a Rangers fan.

Toby likes the Rangers ... because they also try hard, but never seem to gain any respect

Hey--we just won two out of three in Oakland!  All we're asking is for a little respect when you get home (now baby).

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Last fall, I saw an episode of The Office during which Michael had the office divide up into teams.  Dwight named his team Gryffindor and Jim named his Voldemort.  I decided that if Harry Potter had pervaded pop culture so much as to be alluded to on The Office, then I needed to do some reading.

The first two books were OK, but I really started to enjoy the series after reading the third one.  The fourth one, too, was pretty good, especially the scene near the end between Harry and Voldemort.  At the beginning of that scene, somebody dies.  I remember stopping and thinking that I couldn't believe a children's book had a death like that.  But after reading the fifth book, I've got it figured out.  Harry Potter ≠ children's literature.

I mean, sure, kids love it, the language isn't the most complex, and the hero is a young teenager, but it's just not children's lit.  It's far too complex and dark.  But, hey, that's real life.