That's a New One

I called the counsel for the Bar Association to discuss a problem I am having with a client. His response: "Wow. I haven't heard that one before. When I write my book that's definitely getting its own chapter."


Live Dead

Three tapes have survived my travels from VT to NJ to SF to 4 different AK locations (not to mention the shift from cassette to CD to iPod): a recording of an acoustic Jerry Garcia Band show from 4/10/82; a mix tape Lindsay made me almost 10 years ago titled "Songs for the Soul" (saved primarily because it contains a moving version of Send Me Some Lovin' by a young Stevie Wonder); and one of the tapes I made for my drive back from Ohio to NJ after graduating from college. Last night I found myself wanting to listen to the Jerry Band tape--specifically the Reuben and Cherise encore. I don't know why. It just popped in my head and suddenly I was in the mood for nothing else. But I hadn't listened to the tape in years and I had no idea where it was. I rooted through all of my stuff but I didn't find it until tonight--it was naked, without a case, under the passenger seat in my car.

But I needed to hear that song last night. It's not on iTunes, so I had to do some serious google-ing. What did I find? This place has a ton of live music available to download, free and legal. The Grateful Dead section is incredibly comprehensive. I found this version of Reuben and Cherise, which isn't as good as the one I was hankering for, but it got me through the night.

This trip down musical memory lane, and the discovery of a huge archive of live concert recordings (when was the last time you listened to the Gin Blossoms?), made me think about other Grateful Dead songs I haven't heard in a long time. I remembered one of my favorite Dead tapes, a recording of a show at Cornell from May 1977. I particularly remember two songs from that tape, Scarlet Begonias and Fire on the Mountain, that I listened to over and over while driving around with Howard in his 1986 Isuzu Impulse during the Summer of '95. Excuse me whilst I reminisce.


Negative = Positive

I heard from Dr. Hametz's office yesterday. The small "suspicious looking" freckle the good doctor removed from my cheek last week was just that--a freckle. The biopsy results were negative, which is good. As Michael Scott explained, "apparently in the medicine community, negative means good. Which makes absolutely no sense. In the real world community, that would be chaos."

Pretentious? Moi?

At dinner with Viv and Big Poppa last night, Big P asked if the trip to DC for the oral argument was "the trip of a lifetime?" He didn't mean it literally, but even if he did, for a lot of reasons the answer would be an easy no. But my response was this: "Well, having recently returned from Africa, it's hard to say that going to the Supreme Court was the trip of a lifetime." At that, all three of us cracked up. I didn't mean for it to sound so pretentious, but that's what life has been like recently...

I Heart New York

Sandwiched between 36-hour visits with my mom in New Jersey, I spent a few days in New York. It was a great trip: I ate a lot of pizza and spent time with two of my best friends.

I took the bus into the City on Wednesday evening and met The Longtime Litigator at her favorite old Upper East Side Italian restaurant. She was blown away by the whole Supreme Court thing; she wanted all the details. In her words, "I've been practicing law for 35 years and I've never even been to a Supreme Court argument. I can't believe you got to sit at the counsel table." She's never been so impressed with my work before--though, unlike most of the rest of my family, she actually understands what I do. But she has a very traditional, formal view of the practice of law and how one should approach a legal career. All of the decisions I have made career-wise so far--where to go to school, where to work, the decision to move to AK--were always met with strange looks and questions, though she always remained incredibly supportive and any criticism she ever had was always constructive. This time, however, she was legitimately impressed. But she still thinks I should move back to New York and pointed out that I looked like a slob. My protestation that "This is how I dress for work!" was met with with a raised-eyebrows look that I deciphered as synonymous for "exactly."

I spent the next day with Al, who had just returned from New Orleans where he was doing post-Katrina environmental justice work for the Natural Resources Defense Council. I hadn't seen Al in a year, and the last time we got together we were only able to meet for a quick dinner. This time we got to spend the whole day together. We had lunch, dinner, some drinks, and walked around the city for hours and talked. The discussion involved the things that seem to be on most of my friends' minds these days: work/career choices and relationships (or lack thereof, depending on who the conversation is with). It was really good to talk to Al about the aspects of these topics that I have been thinking about because he knows me really well and doesn't hesitate to call me out on my bullshit or tell me when I'm being stupid. We also told a lot of old stories and laughed a lot--a lot. It was great. I miss Al.

I spent Friday with Howard, who had driven down from Boston the night before. Howard and I have been the best of friends since we met in 5th grade. I hadn't seen Howard in about a year either, and I can't even remember the last time I saw him before that. So, spending some time with him was long overdue and much-needed. We hung out and talked for most of the morning and then spent the afternoon at the MoMA. That night we went out for sushi late, at 10:45 (and it wasn't even that late by NYC standards--the restaurant was still packed. I miss that.), and after dinner we wandered over to a jazz/blues club and listened to live music until about 2. Then we went out for a slice and a drunk girl threatened to start a fight with me.

It was so good to catch up with Howard. He is doing really well and I am very happy for him. He's getting married in September, but it is a little weird for me because though I am going to be his best man, I don't know his bride-to-be at all. Sure, I've spoken to her a few times and I've heard Howard talk about her a lot, but I only met Holly once, and it was only about a month after they started dating. Similarly, Ian, another old, close friend, is getting married next year, and I've never met Erin. Not to discount the pizza, but these are the things that make me think about moving back. It's hard to be so far away from the people I care about the most. Though we will always remain close regardless of where we live, when their lives start to change and take different direction, when they start to share their lives with people I don't know, it saddens me that the part of them that I know, remember, and love is getting smaller and smaller and more distant.


I Flu to DC

Flying while sick sucks. Al told me that he recently flew from China to the US--18 hours--with Dengue Fever. It sounded awful. Flying with the flu from Anchorage to DC was not nearly as bad, but I still wasn't looking forward to it. Especially after my boss warned me that there was a possibility that my eardrums could burst because of the sinus pressure buildup--but I think he was just trying to scare me into not going so he could take my seat at counsel table for the BH4J oral argument.

In order to stave off eardrum bursting, I hit the pharm to buy some serious meds--something with pseudoephedrine in it. I consulted a pharmacist and chose the most potent one they had--one that would knock me out so I could sleep on the plane. After purchasing it (and providing ID and filling out the federal pseudoephedrine register) I figured I should buy some of the non-drowsy variety as well. Unfortunately, I had already maxed out my daily allowable amount of 3.7 grams of pseudoephedrine with that purchase. [Contrast this with CVS in DC where the manager did not want to take the time to train a new employee on how to use the log book, so he told me that though I was supposed to fill out the federal paperwork, I didn't have to. Now, normally I would think nothing of this--I'm pretty clean cut and don't look like a meth cook. But for this purchase, I was with Rebecca, we were both sweaty and gross from just coming from a yoga class, and we were also buying toilet paper and peanut butter. That just screams "junkie!" to me. Alas, the CVS manager didn't think so; these new laws are working really well to prevent drug use. (CVS' receipts however, clearly indicate how much meth you just bought. My total for the day: just .72 g.) I also want to note that I learned that walking down a busy city street with a 12 pack of 2-ply toilet paper under your arm is much less embarrassing if there is a cute girl walking with you.]

I slept for about an hour on the 2:30 AM flight from Anchorage to Seattle. After a 2 hour layover in Seattle, I was looking forward to taking some cold meds, a sleeping pill, and passing out for 5 hours against the seat 9F window. However, to my surprise, I was seated next to one of the Alaska Supreme Court Justices (referred to as Justice Doe for anonymity's sake). This was great, because it meant for interesting conversation (Justice Doe was on the way to DC to watch the argument for our case and was reading our brief on the plane) and some important face time, but it also meant that (a) I had to be on my game, and my legal eagle game at that; (b) I couldn't pop a bunch of pills for want of looking like a junkie; (c) I had to suffer the embarrassment of having nothing intellectual to occupy myself with--just a Michael Crichton novel and a bunch of episodes of Lost on a video iPod. I also found myself saying something I never thought I would utter: "Justice Doe, I have to go to the bathroom. Can you move over?"

I was totally beat when I arrived in DC. Rebecca, an old friend who I was staying with, picked me up and we gave Justice Doe and Justice Doe's spouse a ride to their hotel. That night I slept through the night for the first time in months. Rebecca has amazing pillows; I slept straight from 2:30 AM to 11:30 AM. I woke up for a few minutes as she was leaving to run errands. I went back to sleep until 1:00 and then stayed in bed for another half hour. It felt so good and that sleep help downgrade my flu from "flu" to "stuffy nose and sinus headache."

I spent most of the next day blowing my nose and thanking the good lord for Puffs Plus tissues. That night I met up with JG, who also came into town to watch the argument. I couldn't have asked for a better pre-oral argument dinner date. I adore JG, and though since we met our interactions have been limited due to geography, as usual she did not disappoint. The conversation included: her making fun of my pronunciation of words en espanol, me being totally turned on by her impeccable Spanish accent, talk about life, jobs, politics, blowjobs, and something we shall now forever refer to as "the old-fashioned."


My Mom Is Hilarious

The trip to DC for the Supreme Court oral argument in the BH4J case was a blast. I'll post some stories and pictures later when I get a chance.

Right now, I'm in New Jersey to visit my mom. I took the train up from DC this morning. When I got off the train, I noticed that my dear mother had redecorated the station in anticipation of my arrival:

She made a slightly-altered replica of the banner that caused all of this hubub in the first place. But, for me, the best part of this was that she told me she called the ACLU of NJ first to make sure hanging the banner up outside the train station was legal. I've trained her well.


Reviews, an Igloo, and the Flu


I've been in a Netflix slump; just not picking good movies lately. The latest two came just before I left for Africa, and they sat on my desk while I was gone. During the past week I finally got around to watching them:

The Talent Given Us sucked. Though it did a good job of making you feel like you were on the road trip with the characters in the movie. The problem was that it was a long, excruciating road trip that felt like it was never going to end.

The Safety of Objects was much better, but that is largely due to the soundtrack. The movie itself was of the "jaundiced view of American suburban society where people are either obsessed with their families or their children and derive little pleasure from either" variety. See, e.g., American Beauty, The Chumscrubber, Thumbsucker, Magnolia, Happiness, and The Ice Storm. But it was more boring than all of those. The mostly-original soundtrack however, was great. The songs really complemented and enhanced the storytelling. Here are links to clips from a couple of songs from the movie: Relapse and Paul's Song. And if you are so inclined, here is a full version of Paul's Song.

This is a great segue to talk about music. I bought 5 new albums in the last 6 weeks: Wincing The Night Away by The Shins, Some Loud Thunder by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Neon Bible by Arcade Fire, Friend and Foe by Menomena, and Out Louder by Medeski Scofield Martin and Wood.

Let's start with The Shins. The made us wait a looooong time--over three years--since their last album. But they did not disappoint. The album is great. There isn't a bad song on it. The ones I find myself listening to the most are "Turn on Me" and "Nothing at All."

Next up is Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Some Loud Thunder, CYHSY's sophomore effort, pales in comparison to their debut album. But, their first album was nearly perfect (it sometimes appears on my Desert Island Top-5 album list); it would be nearly impossible to re-create that success. Some Loud Thunder is still good, just not as good as the first. The band is a little more experimental on this one, and some of those tracks lose me. But there are still a few songs that I really like: "Underwater (You and Me)," "Mama Won't You Keep Them Castles in the Air Burning?" and "Satan Said Dance."

Just buy Neon Bible. It's awesome. You won't be disappointed.

I heard of Menomena but hadn't listened to them before I clicked on the "listeners also bought..." link from Arcade Fire's iTunes page. I can't describe their sound, but I like the album Friend and Foe a lot. Check out these songs: "Muscle'n flo," Wet and Rusting," and "Air Aid."

There is no need for me to dissect Out Louder, a collaboration between Medeski Martin and Wood and John Scofield. It's MMW at their best--groovy, funky, improvisational, "alternative" jazz. Throw Scofield into the mix and it is just a treat. If I were to hire some musicians to record the theme music for my life, it would be these guys.


An igloo building competition was arranged for this past Saturday. The lines were drawn: those who ran for student government vs. those who hated the student government nerds. Due to a very brief stint on the Ohio University Student Senate, I found myself aligned with the government folks (a rare occurrence given my profession, but in my defense I want to point out that my senatorial experience lasted about 3 months, during which I did nothing, and was forced to resign because of a sex scandal). And guess who won? Thas' right. We did. Witness:

ready to roll
artisans at work
starting to shape up
snow moses
almost done
finishing touches
looking up at Big Poppa
finished igloo (complete w/snazzy underground tunnel entrance)
[Thanks to Big Poppa and T-Dawg for the pics.]


I'm really sick. It's either malaria or the flu. I've been basically bed/couch-ridden for the past 3 days. I need to get better soon because I leave for DC on Friday, and I don't want to be coughing and hacking up phlegm in front of the Supremes next week. I'm doing what I can--getting lots of rest, drinking a lot of water, juice, tea, and powdered vitamin concoctions. I've also been spending some time in the sauna in an effort to sweat it out and tonight I am going to try Wet Sock Therapy (more on that another time).

Viv offered to bring me some soup tonight, but I made a huge vat of vegetable soup on Monday, and I have no appetite. So more soup was not what I needed. Viv still came by to walk me and my dog and brought something else that has incredible restorative powers: Girl Scout Cookies. The walk was tiring. Thirty minutes of trudging through the frigid air was exhausting in my weakened state, and I had trouble keeping up my end of the conversation. But from what I remember, we discussed Viv's heretofore unbeknownst-to-her requirement that as maid of honor, she has to give a speech at her sister's wedding. The ideas we came up with were for her to recite one of the speeches from Wedding Crashers or claim to have written a poem for the occassion and then plagarize Air Supply. These ideas came after a discussion of what a store that sells unicorn accoutrements would be called. Viv's answer: Unicornucopia. Brilliant. I'm sure her speech will be great.


More Malawi Pics

the school Solace built at Malawi Children's Village
Polly teaching kids to play Duck Duck Goose
the Afghani girls
safari tour guide (complete w/machine gun)
sausage fruit tree

vanilla sky

Nate and Marlo's house (back view)

Nate in the lake

Marlo on safarino molesting allowed

Sahar, Ayub, Ghatai, Mushda, Tania, Tamana (a/k/a the afghans)
sketchy bridge

jumping rope after school
another sunset

big snail

blogging by the lake

Mid-Week Sabbatical

Due to the vagaries of my employment contract I find myself having to take nine days off of work between now and April 1. I'm doing my best--in a week and a half I'll be in DC for the Supreme Court argument in one of my cases and I plan to stick around the east coast for a few days after the argument to visit some friends and family; I'm taking off today and Friday, one day next week, and then the last Thursday and Friday of the month, so as to usher April in with a four-day weekend.

I have the following planned for my mid-week sabbatical: massage at 10:15; free lunch courtesy of the Anchorage Young Lawyers Association; reading a book for Monday's book club meeting; a ski in the snow with Josie; and if I'm really motivated, I might get frames for the paintings I brought back from Malawi.


Ski Train-ing

Every winter the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage charters an Alaska Railroad train and sells tickets for a day trip to one of two remote-ish locations: Grandview or Curry. The train ride, known as the Ski Train, involves a 4 hour ride to get there, 3 or so hours of skiing at the destination, and then a 4 hour ride back, complete with bar and a polka band. For some, it is a family-oriented event--a picturesque journey through scenic Alaska and some cross-country skiing. For others, like the peeps I roll with, it is a raging 12 hour party on a train.

A few years ago some of my friends decided to take it to the next level by bringing lots of people, lots of drinks, and lots of theme decorations on the train. Last year, the theme was "Cruise Ship." This year, it was "Space on a Train." Long story short: Alex, Sarah, Butch, Maria, Susan, and Justin did a ton of organizing, planning, shopping, cooking, concocting, and decoration making; Everyone met up at the Anchorage train depot at 6 AM; 600 people on the train, 150 of were part of the Space on a Train crew; Space costumes and decorations--foil, plastic tubing, dry ice, dangling planets, stars, and aliens; lots of drinks; lots of music; lots of fun; only one casualty. Photographic proof:

early morning at the train depot


decorpre-sunrise partying
space cop
genuine astronaut
intergalactic chicken
more alien
space cops and robots
normal people on the train--no party
polka band
arrival at Curry
big mountain
space-y hair
green hands and wheat thins
reaching for the star

fun with dry ice

tres sophisticate
late-night body surfing
the only casualty