Sunday, September 28, 2008

Now That's What I Call Leadership!

John McCain, you guys. For real. Is it just me, or did Debate John McCain remind anyone else of your racist old grandfather who stills refers to black people as "coloreds"?* My grandfather isn't that way, but that's probably what he would be like if he was. Dude, grandpa, get with it: it's the 90s.

* Mulattos?

Personally, I like Witty John McCain. John McCain with a joke is sort of like a mule with a spinning wheel: no one's sure how he got it, and damn if he knows what to do with it.

So let me get this right. We sit down with Ahmadinejad, and he says, "We're going to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth," and we say, "No, you're not"? Oh, please.

John's solution is much better. Let's NEVER say it. Or say it from far away. Or behind his back. Or send a lacky to say it. Now that's what I call muthafuckin' leadership!

I also like Poetic John McCain. John McCain with poetic imagery is sort of like a mule with a spinning wheel: no one's sure how he got it, and...oh, you know how the rest of it goes.

But if we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and adopt Senator Obama's plan, then we will have a wider war and it will make things more complicated throughout the region, including in Afghanistan.

Psst! Don't tell anyone, but snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is actually a good thing. Otherwise the jaws of victory will be tasting defeat. In fact, your imagery could overall use better symmetry. See me after class.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Celebrate Your Berf

Today is my birthday. I'm 27. Happy birthday. I'm one of those people who hates celebrating my birthday. Without fail, and these year was not an exception. This in turn has me even more upset, because if I don't like birthdays at 27, what kind of curmudgeon am I going to be at 60? To me birthdays are sort of like law school graduation: I'm sad to begin with, and then I become even sadder because everyone is acting like I should be happy.

"Go do something fun on your birthday," everyone keeps telling me. "Go celebrate." Here's how I celebrated: I spent $250. On what? Car maintenance. One of the plastic hinges on my door handle broke. The handle costs $26, but replacing it costs $115. I feel a little like President Barlet couldn't land Air Force One because the wheels' indicator light didn't come on.

LEO: Listen to me, are you listening? This is one of those things that sounds worse than it is. I can't tell you how many times this happens. It's a 30-cent piece of plastic.
BARTLET: Well, it should cost more, don't you think?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Story So Far

Here are some things I've learned about the Cute Mentee over the past week:

1. She lives in my neighborhood.

2. She plays jazz bass.

3. She is into photography.

4. She's a runner.

By itself, who cares, right? Still, with each new discovery I become more and more surprised with what we have in common. If it turns out she likes The West Wing, I'll believe in a Higher Power.

I've realized this is, in some ways, the perfect situation for a guy: a beautiful woman who, from the very nature of our relationship, has to keep coming to me beseeching that I deign to bestow some of my professional wisdom upon her. Men, we like being experts, being deferred to--it's important to us that we be right. And as of right now, I am always right.

Maybe I'll ask her for ice cream. Seriously, I know at least three married couples who jump-started The Death Do Us Part bit with an ice cream date. Including our future Commander-in-Chief. Who dated his lawyer-mentor. Interesting.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Grow Up, Or Rather Down

Dude, sometimes I am so old. Three times this week my friend called me and asked if I wanted to go out drinking. Each time I declined. Yet today as I was strolling through my neighborhood past the likes of Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware I was thinking to myself how nice it would be to have a girlfriend so we could go furniture shopping together. WTF is wrong with me? Something is. This is not normal.

I know a lot of people who seem to spend their lives wishing they could be 20 again, which is sort of sad for them. But I've spent most of my life waiting impatiently to be 35, which is equally sad for me. When I graduated from college my mother quipped, "You're so lucky, you have your whole life ahead of you." I don't want my life ahead of me. I want a portion of it behind me. I want a nice house and nice car and annual European vacations in four-star hotels. Wouldn't that be nice?

I feel what Jonathan Safran Foer refers to as "the sadness of having options" in Everything Is Illuminated. I suppose the sadness is not truly in having them, but in electing to decline them.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

If You Still Don't Think Love Is About Sacrifice...

I just read about it on the Internet, so it must be true!

Seriously, though. Could that guy be any more of a mediocre writer?

NASA Spokesman: Look, I don't want to step on your toes, you don't want to step on mine. We're both writers.
Sam: Yes, I suppose, if we broaden the definition to those who can spell.
NASA Spokesman: Excuse me?

But don't take my word for it. You can see it live. YOU CAN SEE IT LIVE!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Notes From The Workplace: A Reason Women SHOULD Be In The Workplace

I think I'm starting to become seriously attracted to the Cute Mentee. Last night as I was falling asleep I found myself actually looking forward to work today when I see get to her. LOOKING FORWARD TO WORK, I tell you! Can you imagine such a thing? How did it come to this? There have only been five women in my life I've had that experience for. Interestingly, they have each been delineated within a specific time period: one in middle school, one in high school, one in college, one in law school. Now one at work. I bet there'll be one when I'm in the retirement home.

I said before that I don't like hitting on girls when they're at work. But what about when you work with them? Does that make it more, or less, acceptable? I guess first and foremost I better review that sexual harassment policy pamphlet I derided so, er, derisively a year ago.

Did You Know: the Cute Mentee sits on the Board of Directors for the historical association in my neighborhood? In A Few Good Men Colonel Jessup says there's nothing sexier than a woman you have to salute in the morning. Hmm. What about a woman you have to pay dues to?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

And On The 8th Day God Made A Facebook Profile

God bless Facebook. Facebook has endowed me, the little guy, with omniscient-like powers. Through the power of Facebook, I have been able to look up the Cute Mentee and, more importantly, judge her without the whole bother of getting to know her. Example: her brother is a crazy conservative who attended a rally held by Michelle Bachman, urging among other things that we "END THE MARXIST ORGY IN ST PAUL." Wow. That's a lot of words just to spell "high-minded debate." Winner.

I'm guessing you've never been to an orgy, because I'm pretty sure this isn't what it feels like.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

UPDATED: The Rules of Attraction

Up-close and personal, the Cute Mentee is even cuter. You have earned your nickname well, grasshopper.

The Rules of Attraction

Today at work I start mentoring the Cute Mentee. She's pretty much what she sounds like; I try to give people obvious nicknames on this blog so you can figure out what they are without too much context (Library Girl, Dream Girl, "Mike," etc.). If D.G. went to a worse school than me, then the Cute Mentee went to a much worse one. On the other hand, she's a lawyer. She's got a better nose, but I like to think not as cute a smile. Eh, I guess it's a wash.

I miss the "good old days," before the puritanic values of America took root in our workplace. In an episode of 30 Rock a character says to Kenneth, "In those days, if you wanted to do something with another man, it wasn't gay; it was just two men, celebrating each other's strength." I miss the days when the occasional ass grab or innocent observation on the status of her proverbial "rack" wasn't sexual harassment; it was just complimenting her appearance. Everyone knows women find authority sexy; so I think it's fair to say that if I've got authority over you, you should have to sleep with me. Ipso facto. I don't write the rules of attraction; I'm their playtoy as much as anybody else.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crouching Moose, Hidden Palin (or Abandon Ship!)

For weeks I've warned my friends not to underestimate the power of the Palin vice-presidency pick. I've always suspected there was some hidden genius there the media didn't initially see. She's reenergized the base. The comparisons of experience between her and Barack are weakening him; the top of one ticket should not be equated with the bottom of another. She's diverted focus from McCain. But here's the real genius:

Sarah Palin has saved George Bush's legacy.

Sarah Palin has done what I don't think even the death of Osama bin Laden could do. I never thought the day would come, but she makes me think, "I'd rather have four more years of a Bush presidency than even two years of a Palin one." Palin is the Republicans' way of saying, "You thought Bush was bad? Let's see if we can do any worse." And the hungry masses cried out, "Yes, we can!"

Seriously, you guys. I was half-joking before. But now I'm not. If John McCain becomes president, I am seriously moving to another country. A McCain presidency would establish once and for all that Bob Herbert was right in Saturday's times, and this nation truly is dominated by dimwits. It saddens me to reach this realization, but I suppose it is far better to grasp things as they really are than to persist in delusion.

America is sort of like the Titanic. Yeah it's a beautiful ship, but the motherfucker is so clearly slowly yet certainly sinking. And if we don't all of us get off soon enough, she may suck us down with her. I'm gettin' outta here and, if you're smart, you'll take my hand like you want to live.

Or she's like the girl you used to love, who has been transformed by the douches she's dated into something quite different: something average and purely ordinary. These assholes have run my country into the ground.

The comedy isn't funny any more. It's like a Ricky Gervais comedy, that starts off funny until the patheticism starts to become real. Take this:

At first I thought he misheard the question. It was like someone asked him how he would make America stronger and Old Man McCain quipped, "I like pecan pie!" But it turns out this is the best his campaign can spin for Palin's foreign policy credentials.

"Energy?" Really? WTF?

Make no mistake: energy is an important aspect of national security. But it's not national security. It's got its own freakin' department, and the Sec of Energy doesn't sit on the NSC.

This would be like the governor of Pennsylvania claiming he should be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs because steel is essential to the war effort. The Supreme Court says: Not so much. Girl lives in a state that's got a lot of oil? Well, shit! Someone get her the fucking nuclear launch codes, stat!

They forget: we all know how to pad a resume.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Five Fashion Tips Those Wall-Street Fat Cats Don't Want You To Know.

Today was Dress-Up Day at work. Some bigwigs from the London office were coming through. I hate Dress-Up Day. You should pay me more if you want me to wear a tie just to please some corporate fat-cats. I specifically took this job so I WOULDN'T have to dress up.

But here's the thing about Dress-Up Day. I just feel so damn important. Would somebody put a motherfucking TPS report in my hands ASAP? Today I was goofing off during lunch and a woman passing by gave me a dirty look. Um, excuse me? Did you not notice I am wearing a tie right now? My shirt is tucked in. I must have a lot of responsibility.

Let's head down to Caribou. Hello, ladies. Don't mind me whilst I check my email on my Smart Phone. I could be expecting an important message from Johnson on the Tokyo deal. Or maybe just an inappropriately humorous (humorously inappropriate?) picture forwarded by my mother. Who knows? You certainly have no way of finding out.

My new pick-up line: "Hi, I wear a tie to work!"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Am The Law

Periodically I get emails from the Obama campaign. You probably do, too. Here's why the ones I get are better. They're always explaining how "attorneys like you [that is, me]" make such a difference in America. They're trying to get me to volunteer as an election lawyer for November. I have no interest in doing such a thing, but the emails always make me feel better about myself. It's like being invited to a big party at the Playboy Mansion; I have no real interest in going, but it's nice to be asked.

This is probably the first time I've felt truly proud of my legal education. Work oscillates between intellectually engaging and day-to-day dullness. But these emails make me aware of the immense power I could wield if I so chose. Like a surgeon wields a scalpel, I too can wield something that might render me powerful beyond measure. I feel like President Bartlet in episode 2F15: "I have set up monumental, unprecedented, unbreakable rules about my children and the press! IT IS THE LAW!" The Law is like The Force: it surrounds us, it penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.

The only other time I've felt proud of my legal education is when I've been arguing with my parents. Last Thanksgiving my father and I were debating Congressional war powers, and after enduring some asinine line of his for about five minutes I finally said, "Everybody in this conversation who's actually studied the Constitution, please raise your hand." That shut him up.

Or take last month, when my mother was trying to explain bankruptcy law to me and I interrupted, "So are you referring to Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy? Are we talking full liquidation here or just reorganization?" Her response: "Oh, that's right, I keep forgetting you know more than me now." Damn straight.

In other words, my J.D. has made me an asshole. Enjoy.

"My dear Nora, as a lawyer I know what I'm talking about." --Ibsen, A Doll's House

Friday, September 12, 2008

Last Time We Met I Was But The Learner

At work I'm mentoring one of the new attorneys that just came in. Truth be told, things are a little awkward between us. He's a nice enough guy, but he's constantly talking about his experience as a judicial clerk. "When I was a judicial clerk, we used to use secondary sources all the time." "I didn't do much legislative history research, back when I was a judicial clerk." "I remember when all the judicial clerks used to give each other hand jobs." Dude, seriously, look at my face: I don't care. Maybe it's because I'm 26 and Dude's gotta be at least 45. I understand that at times our insecurities may tower over us like giants, and it seems their shadows alone could crush us. But look at my face. I. Don't. Care.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Change of Greenery

Minnesota weather is pretty ridiculous. When I left it was 80 degrees and sunny, and a week later it's dropped to 60 degrees and overcast. Giuseppe Verdi once said, "Donna e mobile, qual piuma al vento, muta d’accento e di pensiero," but if he'd ever been to St Paul he probably would have said it was MINNESOTA that was fickle.

Minneapolis-St Paul is one of my favorite places in the summer, but I'm not sure how many more winters I can endure. In May my contract at work expires; I can keep working here if I want, or I can transfer to a different office. Here are some of The Contenders:

1. Chicago, IL. My company has a huge office in Chicago. I grew up there, so I've already got a lot of friends there, and a history. There are a lot of things I like about Chicago, but I've always felt it was a little too big; a city that marginalizes you, rather than embraces you.

2. Ann Arbor, MI. There are both advantages and disadvantages to living in the same town as one's parents. This option was more attractive before everyone I knew from high school left.

3. Portland, OR. The Land-Port, the Port on the Land. My cuz already lives out there and my dad has an office in the city, so he flies out every few weeks. My parents have become oddly obsessed with this city (it's so green!). I've only been there once but it struck me as being remarkably similar to Minneapolis.

4. Seattle, WA. When you really want to move to Portland, but wish they had more Starbucks.

5. The East Coast. I don't really like the East Coast. But a lot of my friends from college live out there, and it was nice to live in a region where 90% of what you wanted was within a four hour drive. Possibilities include Boston and D.C.

6. Somewhere in the Montana wilderness. Some days when I'm just so sick of living in society I feel like pulling a Kurtz or, less psychotically, a Thoreau; I'd sell all my earthly possessions and move into a log cabin in the woods. I'd use my savings and investments to buy every book I'd ever want to read, and I'd spend my days choppin' wood and wrestlin' bears. I'd grow a big bushy beard and learn to speak with the animals. I'd raise a pack of wolf-cubs after their mother was shot by a hunter. By Jove, I'd have adventures! Then I remember if I did all that, I'd miss the last Harry Potter movie.

7. Canada. If John McCain becomes President...

8. Wasilla, AK. I hear they raise "good folk."

My company also has an office in London, which is exciting, but I think you need to be trained in UK law or something..."barristers," I think the Brits call them. Sort of like how they refer to "tourists" as "poofs."

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Literal Ann, cont.

My mother is getting more unbearable about D.G. Now she brings her up all the time, usually to point out some manner in which she isn't good enough for me. "Where did she get that nose?" "She went to Such-and-Such College, you went to a much better school." "She's only a nurse. You're a lawyer! You at least deserve a doctor." Interestingly, by most of these avenues of logic I would also be too good for my own mother. I don't think she's really down on D.G.; my suspicion is she just thinks I could find someone more deserving to be obsessed infatuated enthralled with.

This is what I need, though. Most of my friends oscillate. Sometimes they fan the flame: my female friends in particular think it's "so romantic" and proffer promises of aid to "win her," which is sweet but sort of misses the true nature of the endgame--her happiness, not mine. Other times they tell me to a grow a pair and get over her. But what I really need is someone whose opinion I overvalue and whose approval I overseek to look at her profile and say, "Eh, she's just not that cute."

My mother's still a romantic, though. Yesterday I came downstairs and she handed me the wedding section of the New York Times. For those of you who don't know, this is pretty much what it sounds like. There's usually a main story about some artsy member of the American intelligensia who somehow manages to collide into his high school crush. My mother says, "Maybe this will be you and [D.G.] some day." All signs point to "no." We're not heading for the NYT. How dim can one hope grow?

Friday, September 05, 2008

A Shining Vision of America-To-Be

I could have been a speechwriter. After two straight weeks of listening to four speeches a day, I SHOULD have been a speechwriter. Check this out:

Each of our lives has converged into this singular, spectacular moment. Tomorrow when the convention is closed and our revels have ended we will all of us venture forth from these towering halls out into the world, scattered across America but bound together still by a shared purpose and recalling always our common cause: to transform a country in crisis back into the Land of the Free; to re-realize the vision first crafted by our Fore Fathers and molded by the men that followed them. Soon the chance for deliberation will be over, and we will have only a choice--the same old choice of every American Age, woven with new themes and fresh players: we will choose the next man to follow in their footsteps and bring his brand of America before the waiting eyes of history. Then our lives will converge again, and our common cause once more will bind us; as one we will pull the lever of our birthrights and shout out with a single voice. We will shout for equality and the empathy of compassion. We will shout for a shining vision of America-to-be. The nation will shout for Barack Obama.

It's not hard. When I was younger I actually thought about becoming a speechwriter. But my father has got at least one foot in the political world and he says a lot of these guys genuinely believe in the backwater Congressman they work for. That doesn't work for me. I'm not good in believing in other people. I can't decide if I believe more in people or ideas. I guess I believe in more ideas, but more strongly in people--those select few.

But I seriously could do a better job than some of these guys. "Drill, baby, drill?" Not exactly Fear Itself.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hockey Moms: What A Bunch Of Dogs

Watching the RNC is making my mother depressed. Like, despondent-about-the-future-of-America depressed. I don't think I'm going to let her watch tonight, since it just seems to upset her.

For myself, I try to see it as theater. As comedy, or a farce. I'll grant it becomes difficult when you realize this vitriol and stupidity could have an impact on American politics, but until I know for sure that people are seriously listening to Rudy (how can one man alternate so rapidly between beady-eyed and bug-eyed?) or seriously enthralled by Cindy McCain (who's like a bobblehead perpetually stuck in slow-motion) I'm not going to put the cart before the horse.

My mother got particularly upset by Sarah Palin. So much for energizing women. Anyone can make a sarcastic speech in a room that completely agrees with them; it's how you play in the real world that matters. Sarah was playing to the choir--now the question is, how big a choir is it?

Here are some things I've come to dislike about Sarah Palin's rhetoric and the rhetoric surrounding her:

1. Just your average hockey mom... I don't want an "average hockey mom" to be vice-president. At the least, I would want an ABOVE-average hockey mom. Didn't we just have an average guy as President?

DOUG: "Its challenges" make it sound like you're overwhelmed by the job and this is exactly the wrong time for that.
SAM: No. It's exactly the right time to raise the stakes of the election.
DOUG: Why?
TOBY: Cause if it's all day at the beach, any bozo with a handshake can do it.

2. The only vice-president who can field-dress a moose... This may be an impressive skill-set. I don't know. I've never field-dressed a moose. But it's not a skill-set that I look for in a vice-president, if only because I can't imagine it would come up very often. Maybe if she had studied the constitution...or been to a foreign country before 2006...

3. What's the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom? Lipstick. Seriously, I am blown away by this one. Sarah Palin just said hockey moms look like pit bulls. Excuse me? That's incredibly rude! Remove the context and put those words in the mouth of a late-night comedian. "Hey, Kev...So what's the difference between pit bulls and hockey moms? Lipstick!" Let's try it this way: "Hey, Kev...what's the difference between a pit bull and Chelsea Clinton? Lipstick!" Think it's charming now? I can already see the bumper stickers: "Sarah Palin Says...Hockey Moms: What A Bunch Of Dogs."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A SitCom Called Sarah

This blog is pretty lame. I can't write properly when I'm at my parents' parents are constantly pestering me. It's easier when I've only got myself to answer to. The creativity, or what passes thereby, flows more easily in the security of my own space. I've noticed I've lost a few critical readers the past couple weeks, so maybe you've noticed something, too.

Palin's speech was pretty disappointing tonight. With all the talk of her charisma I was hoping to be impressed. But rather than playing to McCain's strengths it looks like the Republicans elected for Politics As Usual. Mobilize the base, make some snitty comments about the Democrats. My suspicion is it will backfire; my recollection was that Obama's original appeal was that he alone possessed the vision to end partisan politics and put the country back together again. Is it just me, or does the whole Palin clan remind anyone else of the Beverly Hillbillies? Seriously, you could write a sit-com about them.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Vote Sarah Pawlenty!...oh, wait...

Here are some notes I scribbled watching the RNC:

Does Laura Bush's public speaking remind anyone else of one of those animatronic things from the rides at Disneyland? She reminds me very much so. "Thank you...for coming...tonight..."

Fred Thompson (speaking of the vice president)...wouldn't the occasional apology to the world constitute some of that "humility" you so value in John McCain?

I enjoy hearing Joe Lieberman talk about bipartisanship thirty minutes after President Bush warned me of the "Angry Left."

New Gingrich: Joe Lieberman is here because Republicans value opposing points of view. Unlike the Democrats.
Interviewer: So why isn't he the vice-presidential nominee?
Gingrich: Uhh....

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Literal Ann of my Own

I’m at my parents’ house for the week. I had to get out of dodge for the RNC, plus it gives me the opportunity to get away from work for a bit and delve into some of my, not quite side, but sider projects (these mostly involve writing and furniture shopping). One of the more interesting things about being home is that I’ve completely forgotten what it’s like to live on a schedule other people rely on. What time is dinner? Whenever I feel like. Can I use the washing machine now? When is your doctor’s appointment? Here’s a query: how the hell do people live like this? I’m a rogue, a lone wolf; I can’t be caged or tied down; I needs must roam free.

Last night my mother and I stayed up late drinking wine and talking politics. I forget how, but at some early point the conversation turned to relationships, and this was the moment I finally told her about Dream Girl. This was a revelation I had kept concealed from her for a very long time, which is an accomplishment I’d be proud of if it wasn’t so utterly inane. The end it was a relief to just get it out there, because I’m hopeless when it comes to keeping things from people. It puts me on edge. Here was my mother’s contribution to the conversation. “It’s too bad you fucked up your chance. Now you’ll have to wait till your forty.” Thanks, Mom.

Now every conversation seems to be about Dream Girl, which is sort of annoying. Here’s a list of who I share friends with on Facebook. Oh look, one of them is Dream Girl. I know a couple of people who live down in New Orleans, but they seem to all have gotten out okay. Yes, one of them is Dream Girl. Today I was showing Mother some photos from one of my college alum’s websites and she was commentating on the comparable degrees of physical attractiveness exhibited by some of the girls. My two cents: “They’re not as cute as [Dream Girl]. My mother‘s: “I saw her profile, and she’s not that cute. I hope she has a good personality.” Ouch.

I think, deep down, she digs the drama.