April 30, 2007

How To Be A Lawyer, Part Two: Navigating Law School And Interviewing

STEP SIX: If you want to survive law school, you've got to treat it like a job. So go ahead and cut out early on your first day to see Radiohead in Maryland. Someone will cover for you.

STEP SEVEN: Law school can be pretty hard. You'll need a network of smart friends willing to share their notes, give you their outlines, and explain all the shit you're too dumb to figure out by yourself. The good news is, this isn't med school: as long as you bring something to the table, most people are willing to help you out.

STILL SEVEN: What do you bring to the table? It sure as hell isn't keen analytical insight, a yeomanlike work ethic, or oral hygiene. I recommend a steadfast commitment to always being the drunkest guy in the room. If you're always the drunkest guy in the room, then everyone else will feel free to let their hair down and drink as much as they want, knowing they'll never do anything as embarrassing as the guy wearing a black pom-pom on his head like a Jheri-curl. Your fellow law students will appreciate the social freedom your antics guarantee, and they'll reward you with six semesters of law review-caliber outlines. Trust me.

STEP EIGHT: Before you know it, it's time to start looking for a job. The secret to a successful interview is to remember that law is the absolute dead-on boringest subject known to man, and no one in their right mind would ever ever ever ever ever choose to talk about it of their own free will. Find something more interesting to discuss and you'll have a job in no time. For example, if your favorite baseball team recently staged an historic comeback from a three-games-to-none deficit against its arch rival to win the pennant then swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win its first world championship in 86 years, you could talk about that.

But honestly, even Harry Potter is more interesting than the résumé blather your interviewer has been listening to all day. Don't fuck this up.

Be on the lookout for Part Three, sometime between tomorrow and mid-July.

April 25, 2007

How To Be A Lawyer, Part One: How to Get into Law School

Last week I traveled to Albany to be sworn in as a member of the NY Bar. Sitting in the bureaucratic light of the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, I reflected on my experiences over the last 5 years and realized I could put together one hell of a how-to pamphlet. Here's part one:

STEP ONE: Major in philosophy. I can't emphasize this one enough. Majoring in this worthless piece of shit subject ensures exactly one thing: if you ever want to own a TV, have sex with a girl, or eat a meal, you HAVE to go to law school. Nothing motivates like desperation.

STEP TWO: Eventually it comes time to take the LSAT. The key thing here is to become heavily dependent on anti-depressants during college, then slowly wean yourself off them when your undergrad health insurance expires. By the time you take the LSAT in October, you'll be used to the cold sweats and stratospheric heart rate, while your fellow test-takers will be dealing with them for the first time.

STEP THREE: The morning of the LSAT, it will occur to you that you need a #2 pencil to take the test. It will also occur to you that you haven't owned a fucking pencil since you took the SAT five years ago. But don't worry. On your way to the test, casually pull into a convenience store and swipe a handful of golf pencils from the lotto desk. Nothing motivates you to get things right the first time like not having an eraser.

STEP FOUR: Now that you've taken the LSAT, it's time to get serious about applying to law schools. Choosing the right one can be an arduous task, but only if you're a dipshit. The important thing to remember is that the US News & World Report rankings are infallible. Let them be your only guide.

STEP FIVE: Once you decide on your schools, it's imperative to forget their respective application deadlines. That way, when you're forced to fill out the applications and write all your essays in 3 days, they won't come across as "too polished" or "proofread for spelling errors". Law schools are like women: the harder you try, the less they like you.

ALSO PART OF STEP FIVE: Don't be shy about asking a professor you haven't spoken to in years to write you a recommendation over his winter vacation and mail it to you the very same day. If they didn't like doing this shit, they shouldn't have gone into academia in the first place.

Stay tuned for Part II: Surviving Law School and Getting a Job

April 16, 2007

my oldest pair of underwear

A friend of mine-- let's call him SW-- recently came to visit me in a city we'll call NY. I had visited him about a year ago in Chicago, which weekend was punctuated by an unfortunate incident involving SW, alcohol, and puking all over my clothes. Normally I'm happy to sacrifice a few clothes to a good time, but the particular clothes he puked on were a favorite t-shirt and my only pair of cargo shorts.

Indignant, hungover, and leaving that morning for Argentina, I instructed SW to wash my goddamned clothes and mail them to me when I returned. But I left for South America assuming I'd never see my clothes-- and hoping I'd never see SW-- again.

So anyway, good old SW arrives in NY last week and begins unpacking his stupid suitcase. A few minutes later he's standing next to me, extending a bundle of clothes. I recognize the blue Brooklyn Superhero Supply shirt and faded khaki shorts, but another item catches me off guard.

"Holy shit!" I say. "Those are my boxers! I don't remember you puking on those."

"I didn't." SW says. "You haven't seen these boxers in forever. You left them at my apartment years ago and I've been carrying them around with me ever since."

It turns out I had left them at his apartment when he was in college. The intervening years had seen him move from Blacksburg, VA to Las Vegas to Chicago. The boxers accompanied him the entire way, from stupid suitcase to stupid suitcase, through four time zones.

And now, some four years later in New York City, my boxers and I were reunited. I barely recognized them-- they were threadbare, and their light tan had been washed almost white. The boxers were a Christmas gift in 1995, part of a three pack whose other constituents-- grey and blue-- were lost years ago.

Then, in the bizarre nostalgia of fondling a 10 year old pair of my own underwear, a memory flooded back to me. I checked the boxers' fly. Sure enough, there was a curious brown stain running along the underside of the open flap.

I imagined SW had noticed this stain at least once over the years. I had some explaining to do.

This fateful three pack was a building block in my effort to switch from briefs to boxers during my sophomore year of high school. I had recently become aware that I was the palest, spindliest pussy in the history of the universe, a fact which bode poorly for my chances of surviving 10th grade gym class unridiculed. Anything that might provide locker room cover for my pasty white thighs was a necessity.

The boxers worked great, but I quickly discovered a problem. Briefs, for their myriad faults, are at least designed to protect the penis from unwanted exposure. My boxers, however, did not share this feat of engineering. Right in the crotch was a gaping fly, all the better for taking a leak, but all the worse for having your stupid 15 year old pecker fall out of your boxers in the locker room in front of a bunch of people who don't like you anyway.

So, long story long, one night I grabbed a bottle of glue and headed down to my room for repairs. I laid out all my boxers and carefully drew a thick line of glue down the interior flap of each fly, pressing the flaps against each other when I was done.

The glue was a good enough solution, if a tad indelicate. Not only did it hold the line long enough for me to survive my last semester of gym, but it gave me a great story to tell in the spring of 2007.

April 13, 2007

April is the stupidest month

Before I moved to New York, a friend gave me a copy of A Moveable Feast. She knew I had read it before because I had borrowed her yellowed copy a few years back, but she wanted me to have one of my own. She wrote to me "I hope one day you'll feel about New York the way Hemingway felt about Paris."
With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only truly sad time in Paris because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring,as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.

In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.

April 9, 2007

the sopranos

Now that the final half of the final season of The Sopranos has finally aired, commentators have begun to opine on how the show will end. Here's ESPN.com's Bill Simmons's stupid take:

clipped from sports.espn.go.com

7. My Sopranos prediction for the final episode: Carmela kills Tony. Why? Because Chase has maintained from the beginning that he always knew exactly how the series would end and never wavered from that statement, not even once. And since that's the case, there are three ways it can end: Tony gets whacked; Tony goes into a witness protection program; or Tony gets killed by his wife. Given the past six seasons and the way everything has been carefully set up, I'm going with the "Carmela kills Tony" scenario. It makes the most sense. Regardless, there should be a way we can wager on those three scenarios along with "the field" of every other scenario.

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Here's Slate's Timothy Noah's offering:

clipped from www.slate.com

I can't predict how the show will end, but I can tell you how I want it to end. I want Tony put away or rubbed out. I read somewhere that Chase is disinclined to "punish" Tony in the series denouement because that would smack too much of the middle-class morality imposed by Hollywood's Hays office on the Warner Brothers gangster classics of the 1930s. But the real trouble with letting Tony show that crime pays isn't that it would be nihilistic. It's that it would be unrealistic. As you point out, the mob isn't nearly as powerful as it used to be, and this decline is very much a theme of The Sopranos. In some episodes, the setting could just as easily be a steel factory or (to take a thoroughly up-to-date example) an urban daily newspaper. In the real world, the Tony Sopranos don't end up on top. They end up either in prison or sprawled across a tile floor and bleeding from the head in one of the better Italian restaurants. I'd like to see Chase honor that reality.

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Now that these conjectures are flooding cyberspace, I want to get my thoughts out before I read them somewhere else:

During the fifth season, my friend JD and I would discuss each episode over the phone every Sunday night. After the one where Meadow gets engaged to Finn, good old JD called me, almost breathless. "The series is going to end with Meadow getting married!" she exclaimed. "It'll be just like The Godfather in reverse!"

I quickly realized she was right. I pointed out how Tony's anxiety attack in the very first episode-- where he falls over his pool furniture-- was carefully shot to mimic Vito Corleone's famous death in the tomato garden. Thus, in a broad sense, The Sopranos is following the Godfather story arc in reverse. The Godfather was set during the mafia's mythic golden era, so it's fitting that a show chronicling the mob's decline would describe-- symbolically-- the opposite trajectory. (That Connie Corleone married a hot-headed mobster while Meadow chooses a mawkish dental student underscores the point.)

The more JD and I think about it, the more sense it makes: The Sopranos will end with Meadow's grandiose wedding ceremony. And with it-- with the family, the wine, the aging overweight Don smiling in the shadows-- America's 35 year obsession with la cosa nostra will have come full circle.