Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Other Side

Today, I finished the Maryland Bar Examination. Tomorrow, I begin counting down to November 6, the target date for the release of the results. But I would rather talk about the O-mazing beisbol game I went to tonight.

The Kansas City Royals were aiming for their third straight win in Baltimore, and, for six innings, that seemed likely. Zach Greinke held the Orioles to three hits after giving up a two-run homer to Adam Jones in the first. He struck out seven and walked only one. The Royals offense did its job, too. Alberto Callaspo and Miguel Olivo hit solo homeruns in the top of the second off the Orioles' Chris Tillman to tie it at 2, and Mike Jacobs hit his fourteenth homerun in the top of the fourth to give Greinke his lead, 3-2. He started praying for rain.

Tillman started the fifth by walking Mitch Maier, then got his only groundout of the night when Yuniesky Betancourt grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. A single each for David DeJesus and Willie Bloomquist, and Tillman's debut was over. Matt Albers threw one pitch, and Billy Butler's groundout ended the Royals fifth.

Greinke, meanwhile, kept the Orioles quiet for two more innings, but he couldn't last forever. After just six innings, he had already thrown 116 pitches. Robinson Tejeda came in with the Royals ahead, 3-2, threw eleven pitches (walking Cesar Izturis and Brian Roberts), and went right back out. John Bale ran in to stop the madness, but Adam Jones knocked a double to centerfield and Izturis huffed and puffed all the way from second to tie the game at 3. Then, Nick Markakis singled to right, and Roberts and Jones scored. Greinke's lead went the way of the Kansas City Athletics. The Royals were down 5-3 after seven.

The O's added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Jim Johnson pitched the eighth and the ninth innings for the Orioles giving up only one hit while striking out four. And the Orioles won their forty-third game of the season, 7-3.

Now they're only 18 1/2 games back in the AL East and 15 games back in the Wild Card.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Testing is my aeroplane

I'm so awesome, that I'm halfway done with my bar exam, while most of my friends are only one third. Today, I wrote eleven essays on various and sundry (hahaha---legal redundancy wins out again!) legal topics, such as torts, criminal law and procedure, civil procedure, contracts, real property, professional responsibility, and the damnèd U.C.C. I was a little surprised that I wasn't asked a blatant constitutional law question. Not disappointed or relieved; just surprised.

Tonight, my plans are (1) not studying, (2) blogging, (3) reading another chapter each in Watchmen and Les Miserables, and (4) eating a banana.

Tomorrow, I plan on answering 200 multiple choice questions about contracts, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, real property, and torts. Please lend me any no. 2 pencils you have.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tyler Durden would read Twilight

The gyms you go to are crowded with guys trying to look like men, as if being a man means looking the way a sculptor or an art director says. [Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club]
Last night, I borrowed the second and third books in the Twilight series. A guy I know saw the two black-covered books in my hands and looked at me askance, as if questioning my machismo. But that's alright. People have questioned my machismo before. Heck, I've questioned my machismo before. It's part of what makes me a man.

And if that doesn't work for you, maybe my reading Alan Moore's Watchmen will. Nothing says being a man like reading a big comic book.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Black---the night that ends at last!

I'm torn. Part of me wants to be all smart and well-read, so I wade through books by F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, and Charles Dickens. But the other part of me just enjoys a good story, so I also inhale books by Michael Crichton, Ian Fleming, and John Grisham. In the past year, I've even made forays into the likes of Nicholas Sparks and Agatha Christie. (Please note, however, that I have yet to contribute to the Harlequin Empire. I'm not ruling anything out, I just haven't gone there yet.) Meanwhile, I've been wading through Les Misérables for nearly three months. After reading 1,169 pages as of last night, only 294 remain.

But Kurosawa gets me. He knows what I'm up to:
[T]he best scripts have very few explanatory passages. Adding explanation to the descriptive passages of a screenplay is the most dangerous trap you can fall into. It’s easy to explain the psychological state of a character at a particular moment, but it’s very difficult to describe it through the delicate nuances of action and dialogue. Yet it is not impossible. A great deal about this can be learned from the study of the great plays, and I believe the “hard-boiled” detective novels can also be very instructive.
Yes! I can read a novel for its interesting story, and still play the artsy fartsy card!! Kurosawa said so!

I'll catch y'all later. I'm gonna go catch the Orient Express.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Don't articulate---Exclamate!!

To the growing chronicle of why Maryland law is better than Texas law, I add this. Texas Rule of Evidence 103(a)(1) mirrors the federal rule:
Error may not be predicated upon a ruling which admits . . . evidence unless a substantial right of the party is affected, and . . . a timely objection or motion to strike appears of record, stating the specific ground of objection, if the specific ground was not apparent from the context[.]
For my non-law friends, this is referred to as the "specific objection rule." At trial, you can't just yell out "Objection!!" and expect the judge to hammer her gavel and affirm your just rage with a clear and condemning "Sustained!!" She won't. Not in Texas, at least. Instead, you have to articulate, saying something like "Objection---hearsay," or "Objection---the defendant's sexual history is irrelevant to whether he ran the red light." As you can see, exclamation points get drowned in the articulation.

But in the Old Line State, shaped like a gun with a law as simple and effective, there is no specific objection rule. Read for yourself:
Error may not be predicated upon a ruling that admits . . . evidence unless the party is prejudiced by the ruling, and . . . a timely objection or motion to strike appears of record, stating the specific ground of objection, if the specific ground was requested by the court or required by the rule[.] (emphasis added)
Maryland Rule 5-103(a)(1). That, my friends, is colloquially referred to as the "Maryland!! beats Texas. rule." In a Maryland court of law, see, you can vent your frustration with that lone beautiful word: "Objection!!" See? When you don't have to articulate, you can exclamate. And that's a beautiful thing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Twilight: 3/5

I opened Twilight with very low expectations. A friend of mine warned me how terrible it is, but I decided to keep an open mind. It turns out that "twihards" can be more annoying than the book, as her post ably demonstrates.

I enjoyed the story. It was clever in ways, but nothing remarkable or groundbreaking. Meyer did her research, which I appreciated. She asks the reader to suspend disbelief in a major way but cleverly lets you trust her with the minor things.

The writing itself is either brilliant or savvy. She could be brilliant in the way that Ken Kesey or J.D. Salinger were brilliant: narrating in character. I've never been a melodramatic 17-year-old girl in the throes of teenage romance, but I knew a few. The character was pretty believable in that respect. Maybe not literary or original or whatever, but believable. On the other hand, Meyer could be a savvy writer, writing a story that takes advantage of her limited talent or skill. If Meyer's skill is equivalent to a high school junior's, then more power to her for finding an outlet that lets her make a ton of money taking advantage of it.

Would I recommend it? Let me answer with an illustration. I've often asked my parents if they remember this or that pop culture icon from their young adulthood. They frequently told me they were too cool for this or that. (M*A*S*H and The Twilight Zone are the only exceptions.) So if you want to tell your kids you were there when Edward kissed Bella the first time, read it. If you're too cool for that, don't.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Holy Grail

After nearly two months sans comida mexicana, I've eaten three Latino dishes in the last five days. Saturday was El Salto, Sunday was Holy Frijoles, and tonight was Los Amigos Dos. I never knew how much I took good Mexican food for granted down in Tejas. Up here in Maryland, Catholics abound, but they're all Irish or something.

El Salto reminded me of those local Italian places you find in Texas. Ethnics running the scenes, serving Americanized dishes, and thickening their accents for atmosphere. My chimichanga was delicious, but The Missus wasn't as impressed as I. She thought their salsa was too mild.

Holy Frijoles was a very gringo attempt that fell flat. I should have seen that coming. Clearly, "frijoles" is meant to be a slant rhyme with "holy." It takes more than a cast iron skillet and some tortillas and frijoles to make a good Mexican restaurant. The Missus thinks they get their chili sauce from a box.

Tonight was Los Amigos Dos. I was thrown off by the wrong order of the adjectives. I feared another gringo attempt. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised when the lady who took our order wrote down "pollo" and spoke with an accent. We were on the right track. But something was a little off. My quesadillas weren't quite fried enough, so I had to eat them with a fork and knife. And instead of Mexican rice, I was served plain white rice. The Missus liked what she had, but she wouldn't call it "Mexican" either. I think they're Peruvian or Argentinian. Something South American, judging from the decor.

So the quest continues. We're exploring Eastern Avenue later this week, particularly looking for a good hole in the wall. We found some good Mexican-Salvadorean places last summer in D.C., but we'd rather not have to trek thirty miles southwest everytime we get a hankerin for tortillas.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Staying Power = 400 posts

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby had a first printing of about 20,000 copies. Five months later, the publishers printed a second run of 3,000 copies. When Fitzgerald died, the publishers were still trying to sell that second run, including seven copies that sold in the first half of 1940. But now, several generations later, it is universally recognized as a masterpiece, as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.

Contrast that with two recent, popular works of fiction. The four books of the Twilight series were the four bestselling books of 2008, according to USA Today. And the sixth Harry Potter had an original print run of 10.8 million copies, two thirds of which sold within 24 hours, according to Wikipedia. Now, I love Harry Potter, and somebody lent The Missus a copy of Twilight, so I'll give it a chance, but it just makes me wonder: what books will high school juniors be reading in 2084?

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Today, I went downtown, near the harbor, for an interview of sorts. I took the light rail down to Camden Yards, then walked about half a mile east on Pratt. Afterward, I walked back listening to Queen and enjoying the beautiful weather and the harbor on my left and the tall buildings on my right. I thought "Man, I love Baltimore."

You say, "Yo, J-Cheez, wassup witcho thinkin?" To which, I gladly point to an article from the Baltimore Sun:
This tagline about bringing [Miami, D.C., New York, L.A., etc.] to Baltimore almost guarantees failure [of a new restaurant]. I'm not saying the line is bad luck. It's not. But the line means the owners have a mindset that, most times, just doesn't jive here.
That's what I love about this place. "We're Baltimore, and we like it. You don't have to be from here to fit in. If you like it, we like you." It reminds me of a country song:
Everybody knows everybody
Everybody calls you "friend."
You don't need an invitation.
Kick off your shoes, come on in.
Yeah we know how to work and we know how to play,
We're from [Baltimore] and we like it that way.

Yeah, so just ignore the crime rate.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Good Bad Guys

One of my earliest memories is sitting on my best friend's back porch after dark, feeling the warm summer breeze, listening to dogs bark somewhere, and talking about how best to cross the thirty feet between his house and mine without being captured by vampires. That friend had a knack for telling you stories with the kind of dead eyes that made you wonder whether the world wasn't really like he said. He taught me that a great villain beats a great hero any day. Maybe he's why I'm fascinated by villains, and why I prefer my heroes (spoiler alert with that one) with a little bit of darkness to them. And maybe that's why I love The Wire.

That show is chock full of fascinating, deep, thrilling, terrifying villains who just might be good guys, and good guys who just might be bad guys. Well, we're pretty clear about two of my favorites: Chris Partlow ("Part---like what white people put in their hair. And low---like not high.") and his equal partner Snoop. Those two make Norman Bates, Mrs. Danvers, and Nowonmai (some of my personal favorites) look like children's bad dreams. On the episode I watched tonight, this kid tells Chris and Snoop he wants somebody out of his house. They make it happen by beating the guy to death (with bare hands) and leaving him on the street. All the commentary we get out of the other is "Damn, you didn't even get him in the house first." Then she shrugs and walks off.

Kinda reminds me of Anton Chigurh in a people-I-don't-want-to-make-mad kinda way.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fireworks in Baltimore

For the second year in a row, I celebrated the Fourth of July in our nation's capital region. As I watched the fireworks explode, I thought about the scene in Baltimore on July 4, 1776. I don't have any idea what was going on here back then, but I have some idea what was going about 100 miles east of here. Fifty or so crazy guys, mostly lawyers, got together and voted in favor of one of the most important documents in modern history.

When you start to grasp what independence really meant back then, you start to see how stinkin crazy our political ancestors were. Imagine if Guam declared independence. Imagine if we said no. Imagine if we had to fight about it, and we sent our best troops, and they still kicked us out of town. I think that's kinda what American independence from Great Britain was like.

And two hundred thirty years later, we're still standing. We've got our problems, just like anybody else, but we have a system that tries to fix those problems. Maybe we don't always agree with those in power, but the beauty of America is that you don't die for it.

So you know. I'm just sayin. Go America.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Guacamole Salad

The world of sports has some great stories off the field/court/ice if you're willing to look for them. I was reading up on Spurs history yesterday, when I stumbled on this interesting bit.

Larry Brown, the only guy in the world who's been practicing longer than my Con Law prof, coached the Denver Nuggets for five years in the 1970s. The 1970s Nuggets were a pretty dominant team, but the Spurs had that special something. We broke their winning streaks, physically fought them, graffittied their locker rooms, pantsed them when necessary, and generally had a good ol' fashioned rivalry with the mile-high ballas. The rivalry got so intense that Coach Brown is quoted by as saying:
I don't like anything about San Antonio, their coaching staff, their franchise or their city. The only thing I like about San Antonio is guacamole salad.
The good citizens of San Antonio responded by dumping avocados, guacamole salad, and beer on Coach Brown and his Nuggets the next time they came to town.

Ten years later, Coach Brown took over the reins of the Spurs. He spent three and a half years there, winning 153 and losing 131. Not bad. But not good enough: we fired him halfway through the 1991-92 season, after "just" a 21-17 start. Pretty unforgiving if you ask me.

Then we stuck it to him again in 2005. Larry Brown's Pistons finished the year on top of the Central Division, then clawed their way past the 76ers, Pacers, and Heat to face the Men in Black in the NBA Finals. The Finals began on the streets outside the Alamo, where the Spurs pounded the Pistons in the first two games. Everybody flew up to the Motor City, and the Pistons tied up the series before losing game five, 96-95 in overtime. Back in San Antonio for game six: the Spurs were seiged like the 1836 Texicans, and the Pistons won their fifth consecutive elimination game. But in Game Seven, Timmy gummed up the Pistons with his own version of fundamental guacamole salad. The Spurs hung their third banner in the rafters, and Larry Brown got fired.

I don't know if Larry Brown still hates the Spurs, but I think it's awesome that he might.