Saturday, March 31, 2007
Why do they think I know so much about shooting people?
A Third Consecutive Self-Aggrandizing Post!
Tomorrow morning, I'm giving a talk at Seventh and James Baptist Church on the Ten Commandments and the Constitution. My thesis is that one, but not the other, is a significant influence on American law and culture. The answer might surprise you! Sadly, I have been asked not to perform a liturgical dance to further my point.
If you want to come (and I hope you do), come to Seventh and James Baptist Church about 9:30 tomorrow morning. I will be speaking to the "Bowen Class," which meets at room 204 of the Melton Building (on the second floor of the building next to the sanctuary-- there will be a nice lady in the courtyard to help if you need directions). The following should address some frequently-asked questions:
Q: Where is the church located?
A: You would be surprised how often I am asked this. As one might expect, Seventh and James is located at the corner of Seventh Street and James Street, on the edge of the Baylor campus.
Q: How long will this thing drag on?
A: About an hour. If you would like, stick around for the Palm Sunday service, which will consist mainly of the Sanctuary Choir and Orchestra performing Bach's Cantata #4. Seriously, the music is awesome.
Q: What should I wear?
A: Most people fall somewhere in the "smart casual" range. I will, of course, be wearing my professor costume (which is more like "smart casuality").
Q: Are you holding yourself out as an expert in everything? You seem a little full of yourself lately.
A: Well, they asked me to talk about this, and I find it interesting. However, I'm no expert in either the Old Testament or Constitutional Law, so I would view everyone in the audience as a peer with an ability equal to mine to understand these documents.
Q: Who will win the final four?
A: Ohio State.
I'm worse than Shawnee Sweetwater....
I suppose that I have now lost the moral authority to characterize student PC witnesses as chucklehead gun nuts. It appears that I have offered myself up as just such a chucklehead gun nut-- though rather than choosing the relative privacy of Courtroom 3 at the law school and acting under the guise of a fictional persona, my blather was on CNN (among other places picking up this AP story). Crikeys. Anyways, thanks to Talltenor for tipping me off on this (for the record, he is both tall and a professional tenor, the only one I know).
Overall, I thought it was a good and interesting story, and the reporter was completely accurate in quoting me. I wonder if this means I'll never get back on NPR?
Oh, so now you want an extension, eh????
I'd like to think that they needed an extension because our logic has them twisted in knots, but I suspect it could be that the SG is simply waiting to see if the Court's as-yet-unreleased opinion in U.S. v. Claiborne resolves our issue one way or the other. Or maybe it is under the bazillion other cert petitions being filed...
Friday, March 30, 2007
Haiku Friday. Unload my burden...
I'd like to thank my favorite person in all of Austin, former BLSer Flo Rueda, for this photo, which sums up pretty much how I feel at the end of a week of minitrials. Ugh. I'm a-gonna-die.
Fortunately, Haiku Friday is here. Dr. Kristen Simpson suggested a theme, which is fortune cookie fortunes. She described two that she has received recently:
(1) Your judgment is a little off at this time
(2) He loves you as much as he can but that is not very much
Nice! I would also suggest the following themes, none of them mandatory:
1) Justice Sandra Day Unconscious
2) When a thong was a shoe
3) What it will be like if Osler goes over the deep end during minitrials
4) U.S. News and World Report Law School Rankings
5) Moot court
6) If Chicago came to school in swim trunks
7) Things you never want to see a professor do.
Here is mine:
Maybe next time, friend,
You should perhaps not (in trial)
Use the word "Pooping."
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Practice Court Quote of the Day!
This afternoon (and evening), I watched that murder case involving the personal trainer again. The students did a pretty good job, for the most part. The jury acquitted in a jiffy, though, in large part because the primary government witness came through as a complete psycho. She was the killer (of the defendant's ex-girlfriend); the charge against the defendant was that he put her up to it.
The really creepy part was when she described the murder. The witness was played by a particular perky killer, who had the following to say about her bloodthirsty ways:
Q: Once you got to the house, what did you do?
A: Oh, I ran over to the car, and I shot her! I shot her a lot! I unloaded the whole clip into her!
Q: Then what happened?
A: I really wanted some pizza! So I called up my husband, and told him, "let's get a pizza!" Well, it turned out he had already ordered the pizza, and he only got the kind he liked. That's with mushrooms. I like pepperoni.
Q: After that, what happened?
A: Well, it turned out that he really did only get the kind of pizza he likes. But that was ok, and I ate some of that!
A few more thoughts on the U.S. News Rankings of law schools....
Here are my thoughts as to some of the results:
As I said previously, slipping only two notches was pretty good, since this is the first time that summer and spring starters were probably counted in the incoming student numbers. Our ranking reflects worse numbers for incoming students, but improvements in both academic reputation AND in reputation with lawyers and judges.
Pepperdine was the biggest gainer, jumping up 21 places. I think they made some smart moves leading to this, and described them over on Law School Innovation.
Yale was #1 again, and has been every year since about the mid-80's. Here's the thing, though-- when I was there, I never heard much about the rankings. We didn't talk about it (unless we were with Harvard people). The Dean, Guido Calabresi, always acknowledged it and said something in the magazine about not thinking it was a true valuation of law schools. Even now, in an even more competitive market, the Yale Law web site doesn't seem to make prominent mention of it. Some might say this is its own kind of arrogance, though.
Baylor History, Part 27
True Baylor Basketball fans will well remember that wonderful, cold day in New York in 1929, when Baylor knocked off the #1 team in the country, New York University. NYU’s teams were at the time called the “Violets,” which tended to make them tough. (The name was changed several times since then—in 1940 to the Jerrys, then in 1942 to the Sandmen, in 1953 to the Linkletters, 1958 to the Sobriquets, 1962 to the Falafel Hounds, 1969 to the Washington Square Stoners, 1972 to the Stone Cold Sobriquets, 1973 to the Greenwich Village Shaftmen (during this period the women’s teams were known as the Bad Mothers), 1975 to the Huggy Bears, 1982 to the Power Rangers, 1992 to the NYU-Tang Clan, 1993 back to the Violets, and finally, in 1998, to their current moniker, the N.Y.U. Violents.).
At the time of their January meeting, NYU was 11-0, led by forward Lon Delancey Merriweather III. He had range from 20 feet in, and was a strong defender. At the time, eastern teams wore uniforms composed of suits with vest, ties, matching pocket squares, pennyloafers or dusty bucks and spats. Baylor, in the more traditional western garb of singlets and buttless chaps, was somewhat intimidated by the NYU finery and the rude comments of the Greewich Village crowd.
The Baylor team starred George Hickey. Hickey, as many of you may remember, played with a very unusual crew of teammates. He was recruited by B-Ball coach Gary (“Golllllleeee”) Gutterman, who was a recruiting genius. Gutterman chose to pursue a small but select group of boys who wanted to pursue both basketball and a high-profile program in fashion merchandising at the same time. His initial group of recruits, later identified as the “effeminate five,” included guards Hickey (not his real name, but a nickname) and Tony (“Swish”) LaVell, Forwards Larry (“Lay-Up”) Le Tigre, Ephraim (“Showtime!”) Davis, and the future playwright Tennessee Williams, who liked to refer to his position as “post.”
The team started the season slowly; in fact, the first two games were cancelled because the group could not agree on a uniform. Le Tigre and Davis favored an “Oriental Destiny” design which featured silk fabrics and large conical hats. LaVell promoted an outfit entirely made of glove leather, including a pull-up hood. Hickey and Williams had come up with a “Cowboy Moderne” look, featuring chaps, ten-gallon hats, riding boots and spurs. In the end, the cowboy look proved the most practical, though the spurs made walking and running difficult, and opposing teams often complained about the gouges left in their floors.
Once settled on a uniform, however, the team played quite well. They opened with a 39-37 victory over Texas Tech, a team which later adopted the Cowboy Moderne look as their own. Many of us students were put off at first by the team’s look, mannerisms and unusual reputation, but once they began to win, attendance leapt into the hundreds. The Baylor hoopsters were aided by an early-season schedule which included matches against Sweet Briar, Wellesley, Smith, Vassar, Radcliffe, Virginia Millinery Institute, the Rhode Island School of Design and Madonna College (Mich.).
Against NYU, Baylor led 32-20 at the half, when NYU played a nasty trick. As the teams were in the locker room, a Zamboni was brought into the arena and laid down a thin veneer of ice over the court. The NYU players, in on the trick, changed into golf shoes, but the Baylor players were helpless on the ice. They quickly lost their lead and were down by five before one of the Baylor bench-riders thought to bribe four workmen with jackhammers to come in and not only break up the ice, but to create several potholes underneath the basket Baylor was defending. Baylor ultimately prevailed by a point, and drew wisdom from the experience, purchasing the first Zamboni in Texas the next week.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
A Leak of U.S. News....
It looks like the results of the U.S. News law school rankings have leaked, and they have Baylor Law at 53. This is almost no change from last year's position at 51, which is encouraging given that new reporting methodology was used this year. Swanburg ran a poll, in which the majority of voters thought that Baylor Law's position will improve this year, but this seemed unrealistic given the change in reporting numbers for incoming students.
For a good analysis of how these rankings are compiled, check this out. A major component of the rankings is the "academic reputation" of a school, which is compiled through surveying certain law professors-- the dean, chair of the hiring committee, most recently tenured prof., and, uh, one other person I can't remember. Anyways, as the most recently tenured professor at Baylor, I got to fill out the survey this year. It was an odd experience; knowing how much this matters to a law school these days, I answered "No Opinion" for many schools, since I didn't have enough information. However, I found that I had to resist voting just based on an isolated fact or single person at those schools. The experience left me with the impression that many people must vote based on hunches, rumors or stray events, and that would risk skewing the results of poll.
Like many academics, i wish that the U.S. News rankings were not seen as so important. For one thing, these rankings are somewhat arbitrary, and for another, they slight the strengths of a school like Baylor, where (for example) our Practice Court program doesn't strengthen us in any of the recorded categories.
You can see the biggest movers up and down (including Pepperdine moving up 21 places!) here. Just to reiterate, I think this a pretty good result for Baylor given the change in reporting.
If you own a business in Metro Portland, and do not care for the Seven Habits, please hire Tydwbleach!
Baylor History Part 26: The Legend of Hap Rogers
One Baylor football memory, of course, trumps all the others: That Saturday in 1928 when Baylor last beat the University of Texas at their stadium in Austin. As some of you may remember, football was different in those days, and innovation was highly prized. Baylor’s coach at the time was Samuel (“Smithers”) Smitherson, a former assistant of the legendary Walter Camp of Yale. Camp, of course, was the inventor of the forward pass, and he was also the Hayden Fry of his day as several of his assistants went on to prominent positions of their own. For example, Tommie (“Scamp”) Randall of Wisconsin developed the backward pass (I believe the Badgers still play in Scamp Randall Stadium); Gabriel (“Lou”) Davis of Cornell was the first to employ male cheerleaders to distract certain of the Ivy League players; Sandy (“Wallace”) Pztzyski of Virginia Tech came up with the “quarterback vortex” offense using five quarterbacks simultaneously, while Camp’s defensive coordinator Francisco (“Bob”) Franco took a different path and led the nation of Spain for several years.
Smitherson, a former offensive coordinator for Camp, struggled to come up with his own defining play. For several years, he worked on the fake-injury play, in which a Baylor player feigned injury to draw attention away from the ball carrier, often by employing blood packets and removable prosthetic devices. It was in 1928, however, that he came up with his defining innovation, and a 68-12 victory over Texas. Law Professor Llewellyn Lloyd Rogers (grandfather of current Baylor Big 12 Faculty Rep Michael (“Hap”) Rogers) had the unusual hobby of closely following any NCAA rule changes. In September, 1928, he noticed a curious mistake: A provision which clearly was meant to have been inserted into the rules governing crew races had been accidentally placed into the provisions governing football. Specifically, in a slot between rules regulating onside kicks, new football rule 72.901 provided that “A coxswain, who may be of either gender and must weigh less than 105 pounds, shall not be counted against the number of team members allowed to compete in a given competition. For example, a heavyweight men’s crew of eight may include eight rowers AND a coxswain.”
Rogers immediately reported this to Smitherson, who began scouring the campus for a potential coxswain. He found his target in Sophomore Phyllis Gandalot, a 103-pound champion gymnast from Abilene. She was issued a suitable uniform clearly marking her as the “Coxswain” and placed in the Eighthback position directly in front of the quarterback, sitting on the haunches of the Center. Gandalot’s job was simple—to wrap herself around the ball before it was thrown, which resulted in her flying through the air with the ball. She could then either redirect the ball to a receiver or land and run with the ball herself.
The UT players were shocked and flumoxed by this development, and their reaction was enhanced by the fact that several of them had been smoking marijuana that morning. The Texas coaches, of course, lodged a hearty and off-color protest ("Dude... that's crunk, man!"), but could not refute that the amended rulebook allowed for the tactic, particularly given their incoherence under the influence of the marijuana. The Texas defense was helpless against the quite agile and fast Eighthback and unable to adjust to the extra player on the Baylor squad, falling behind 45-0 at halftime. In the fourth quarter UT responded by recruiting a third-grade boy from the stands to be their own Eighthback, but after scoring one touchdown he was removed from the game having lost a tooth. It later turned out that he was expecting to lose the tooth that day anyways, had been playing with it incessently instead of paying attention to the game as his father wanted, and was quite delighted with the loss of the tooth.
Labels: Baylor History
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Maybe it is time for some changes at the Razor...
Some of you have been asking about the picture of me that accompanies the blog. In the photo, I am not in my normal workaday clothes-- rather, I was dressed up for a law school commencement. The sash, you will notice, is the ermine color associated with the law degree at such events; the gold "M" obviously is for "Mark," my first name. With such an outfit, I often sport a monocle, so as to read the names of graduates, and a top hat is also appropriate.
I'm kind of cranky. For practice court this afternoon, I had the minitrial of Blutarsky v. Wormer, and "You Know Who" (I can't use his name because he is becoming angry and possibly litigious) played the plaintiff. The whole "What am I? A zit!" demonstration as part of the direct examination was good, though.
I'm begining to think that I might want to change the tagline for the Razor. That whole business about drivel and haiku is getting kind of stale. How about one of the following? I value your opinion.
1) "#1 in Celebrity News"
2) "Your source for complaints about Practice Court!"
3) "Bloviating about meaningless events since 2006"
4) "From Waco to Malibu"
5) "Pedagogy as pathology"
6) "Now Owned By The French!"
Monday, March 26, 2007
"The Single Worst Answer In The History of Practice Court"
The above picture is of some graffiti I found in Alpine. It was the only graffiti in Alpine, so I had to capture it. Oddly, it seems to combine the images of Prince and Michael Jackson. Somehow, despite their many similarities, they don't seem like they should be together.
Anyways, in a comment below, a PC student reveals that he gave "the single worst answer in the history of practice court." I kind of vaguely remember saying that, but I can't remember the context. If anyone can help out, please do.
I'm pretty sure that anonymous did not give the worst answer ever, anyways. The Single Worst Answer In the History of Practice Court was given by a guy playing the defendant in a criminal case. He was accused of killing the lover of his estranged wife in a fit of rage. The wife became estranged when she found him in bed with a woman described only as a "waitress from Hooter's." (I have often wondered about this stray fact-- how could the wife tell? Were there a pair of bright orange shorts by the bed?) The counsel for the defendant was questioning her client on the stand, leading to the following:
Q: When your wife came in, was anyone else in the room?
Q: Who was that?
A: It was, you know, a waitress from Hooter's.
Q: Do you regret that?
A: Her working at Hooter's?
Q: No, having sex with her.
A: Oh, yeah, lots, there's a lot of regret there. A lot.
Q: What is it you regret?
A: [thoughtful pause] Well, of course, having sex with her at my house instead of at hers.
The all-female jury was not impressed.
Sometimes, the defendant just kind of convicts himself...
As we move into that part of practice court where throwing oneself into a vat of Starbucks' backwash seems preferable to another 5-hour minitrial session, I did see a wonderful tragedy today.
Two PC students were faced with the job of defending a workout guru/personal trainer so devoted to physical fitness that his own home featured multiple treadmills, and so popular with the ladies that they were killing one another for his affections. Who did said PC students find to play this super-buff stud? Poseur, pictured here in the midst of yet another workout.
It was a brilliant bit of casting, as he hobbled up to the stand to tell the jury how he wasn't aware that the desire for his hot bod' had driven one of his paramours to kill another. I was hoping he would describe his astounding fitness schedule, but there wasn't time.
The truth is, Poseur is a pretty good athlete, but this was quite a reputation to hold up.
In the end, the jury walked out for seven or eight seconds before returning to convict him of first-degree murder; I'm not even sure the door had closed all the way.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Baylor History, Part 25 (Football)
[This is a tale of Baylor history accompanied by another photo of the Alpine sky. Yeah, it is a complete non sequitor. Deal with it.]
One of the more colorful gridiron contests ever was the Princeton-Baylor game in 1931. As often happens, there was a foul-up, and the communications regarding the game had been addressed to Mary Hardin, who was a secretary in the athletic department at Baylor’s Waco campus. The letters, of course, were then delivered to the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor, whose squad arrived at Princeton on the day prior to the game, greatly surprised to find they were expected to play football. UMHB, due to the unfailingly polite tone of the Princeton communications, had understood the invitation to involve their world-champion twirling squad, which was composed of eleven very attractive and quite competent baton twirlers.
As one might expect, the UMHB ladies put their talents to good use, and managed to wrangle invitations to a quite randy party at a bicker club which included key members of the Tiger football squad, followed by general licentiousness at the Ivy Inn, where they kept their unknowing opponents out far past curfew and drunk beyond repair. The following day, the almost immobile men of Princeton lost to their spry opponents 37-36, the deciding point being scored by Sophomore RB Jennifer Sauders of Elm-Mott on a play in which she froze a defender by uttering “Dei sub numine viget” in a particularly intoxicating tone, fraught at once with both religious and sensual meaning. To add insult to injury, the UMHB gals celebrated their victory with a rousing on-field display of twirling while still in gridiron uniforms complete with shoulder pads, followed by a fine meal and revelry at yet another eating club.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
My birthday present is here!
My parents are visiting from Michigan. Last month, for my birthday I had asked for a painting from my dad, and today it arrived. That's it, being finished up in the back yard. It's a guy sitting by the river in Detroit.
I like it a lot.
It's in the sky...
I took a lot of photos from my cool balcony out in Alpine, and lots of them turned out terrible. As usual, the problem was that my camera was pointed at the wrong thing-- I usually am interested in the contours of a town, but out there what I needed to be seeing was the sky. So I finally adjusted my perspective. It's funny how we can keep looking in the familiar places for what we want, no matter how many times we are disappointed. There are rewards in a change of viewpoint.
The lecture in Midland went great. I really enjoyed the audience, from the federal bar out there-- there was a lot of laughing, and not all of it at me. My topic was ethical withdrawal from a criminal case, and it turns out this is an issue nearly everyone has wrestled with.
Back here in Waco, I'm looking forward to Minitrial 2 in Practice Court-- things get better.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Harvard casenote gets on my case...
Earlier in the month, recent BLS graduate Dustin Benham of Carrington, Coleman in Dallas helped me write the cert petition in Spears; that petition is currently pending before the Supreme Court. It's time for the issue to be addressed, as nearly all of the circuits have now entered a position, and there is a split in the circuits. Today, our own 5th Circuit weighed in contrary to my position in the case of U.S. v. Leatch. (Unlike many of the other losing causes, I had no role in that one...)
Haiku Friday, my friends. Let us celebrate with haiku. And dessert.
Tonight there were a gazillion stars out here in Alpine. For those of you weak in math, that is a million bazillion. I also saw maybe my favorite-ever report of a city council meeting in the paper today. The council apparently changed the law so that dogs were regulated as dangerous animals. The Alpine Avalanche astutely reported the action: Noting that deficiencies in the definition of a dangerous animal became apparent after Mayor Clouse was badly bitten by a neighbor's dog, Lawrence suggested that citizens wanting attention for an issue should bite the mayor.
It all puts me in the mood for some haiku. Remember, The Celebrity Luvr/Judge has promised a special prize to the winner, so put forth your best efforts. Multiple posts are allowed, as is cross-blogging, and androgyny, if you can work that into a haiku form.
Here are some suggested topics for the week, though you have complete artistic freedom:
2) That horrible nickname
3) Words that sound like cursing but aren't
5) Victor Borge
6) Kim Mulkey
8) Pants made of ham
9) Nicole Ritchie
Here is mine for the week:
Come out here to see
I think you will like this place,
Not really nowhere.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Alpine, Marfa, and the last picture show.
What is there to love about Alpine? In short, it's the kind of place IPLawGuy would like-- it has what he needs. It has a great independent bookstore, Front Street Books, which (in keeping with the nonsensical spirit of the place) has two locations in town, which are twenty feet from one another. Alpine also has a surviving downtown storefront movie theater (they recently raised prices to five bucks for adults-- yikes!), and a record store, "Ringtail Records." It also has a lot of good places to get a burrito.
Terlingua is considered a "neighboring town," though it is 102 miles away. I suppose that's how it works in West Texas. The sad news from Terlingua is that Judy Magers, the "Burro Lady," passed away. She was well known in Alpine, Marathon, and elsewhere as a woman who traveled to these places by burro from her Terlingua home. Apparently, some citizens got concerned about her advancing age and bought her an old Cadillac. She used the Cadillac to feed the burro, out of the trunk.
I guess it is ok to be a bit of a character way out here, and that works for me.
Good hair day.
It was time for a haircut, and Alpine seemed like a pretty good place for it. There was a haircut place down the street with the sign ("Eva's") in paint on the plate glass window-- always a good sign. I read once that it is a good idea to bring a picture of what you are hoping for, so I brought this drawing-- I was hoping for the look on the left, if I had enough hair.
She nailed it! Thank you, Eva!
High Desert High
I'm back out in West Texas, imparting wisdom, or, uh, something to members of the federal bar out here. My topic is how to withdraw from a case without getting sued or shot by your (former) client. It's a combination of legal tactics and mixed martial arts, basically. I call it Res Jitsu. For those of you I have abandoned back in Waco on a school day, sentencing exercises will be judged by a real judge instead of just me faking it. Good luck, guys. He's kind of an edgy, smart judge with a killer tan, and if you treat him right he will sell you off-brand clothing at a huge discount.
That last part is true (as is the first part). In fact, Margaret Chen walked in as The Judge was selling me a suit coat for $12 today, so she can vouch for me on this one.
At the moment (which is 1:36 am), I'm comfortably embedded in my fairly bizarre room at Alpine, Texas' goofiest hotel, which apparently has been toddling along since 1928. I love places like this.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
More musings on scholarship...
I recently posted the following over at Law School Innovation. I don't claim an exception for myself in this critique-- there is no doubt that I have played the game. However, my thinking has evolved, and my more recent articles are aimed at non-academics. As I noted before, I'm glad that the Baylor Law Review tries to focus on articles which can have an influence outside of the legal academy, and specifically on courts and legislators.
Doug Berman and many, many others have commented recently on the New York Times article describing the decreasing citation of traditional legal scholarship by federal courts. As part of that debate, it is important to recognize the audiences for legal scholarship. I think there are three basic audiences, listed below in descending order of the rewards they can bestow on an academic:
1) Those in the legal academy, including both professors and students, are usually viewed as a primary audience for traditional legal scholarship. Our status is not built on our reputation with judges, for the most part, but on how other academics view us. An article which is well-received by this audience (even if totally ignored by the outside world) is most likely to bring a professor tangible benefits, such as better pay, job mobility, a named chair, tenure, and a higher U.S. News ranking for her school.
2) Judges & practitioners are a secondary audience for scholarship. It can help a professor's career to be cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, but not as much as publishing a major article in a top journal. The articles most useful to this group include synthesis pieces, pulling together trends in case law. Perhaps not coincidentally, these articles are not highly valued among academics.
3) Decision-makers outside the courts, such as legislators, constitute the tertiary audience for legal scholarship. While many academics write about policy issues, very few direct those articles at those who create the policy, taking into account the political realities a legislator faces. Notably, these decision-makers have very little to offer the academic-- statutes do not even include a citation to an article which influenced the creation of that law.
Thus, we seem (not surprisingly) to write primarily for the audience that offers the most rewards. If we cared about changing the world, the relative importance of these three audiences would probably reverse.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
My Worst Day in Practice Court, Ever
Ugh. Today was a terrible, no-good, very bad day.
Practice Court is hard. The students have their ups and downs. We profs do, too. But today was really stinky.
I walked into Professional Responsibility this morning, and something was wrong. The closest I can come to describing it is that it looked like the students had been visited by dementors, who had sucked out their souls. They were tepid, flat, lifeless, and the first person I called on had not only not done the reading, she didn't even have the case with her. I excused her and tried to make some headway, with little success. Mr. Lansford and Ms. Ross and a few others showed some life, but overall it was grim.
So, I jumped into my bag of tricks and tried everything I had. I quoted the Bible. I whipped out my Miranda card. I made jokes using a megaphone. I changed into a leotard and performed a liturgical dance, interpreting the 23d Psalm. Finally, desperate, I brought in Dame Judy Dench, and we performed a scene from the OJ Simpson trial. Nothing worked.
Sadly, it was my favorite scheduled day of PR, when I get to talk about prosecutorial discretion. But it all fell flat.
So I came home and sulked. But I did remember something that gives me hope. They get better, they recover-- in the end, there is good that comes of all this. Yesterday, in sentencing class, post-PCer Keric Clanahan did a near-perfect examination of a witness. It wasn't just that he did a great job of asking questions and preparing the witness; even better, he chose precisely the right witness in a way that linked into a strong theory of the case.
It's a long shlog up the hill. But, it does look pretty good at the top.
Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!
Who should be thrown overboard? And are there some I should bring on board?
Monday, March 19, 2007
The Irrelevance objection to legal scholarship
Recently, Doug Berman posted on the increasing irrelevance of traditional legal scholarship. That post noted, among other surprising facts, that citations by federal courts of the Harvard Law Review are 1/4 what they were in the 1970's. Clearly, traditional law review articles are becoming irrelevant, and it is our own fault. Here are the dumb things law professors are doing to make sure that their work has no impact on the broader society, solves no problems, and avoids relevance to anyone save those in the legal academy:
1) Too many articles are obsessed with topics which lack any realistic nexus to a real-life problem. For a while, many top academics were fascinated by "shaming" punishments, while many ignored the sentencing guidelines and state practices. Shaming was never going to come back; meanwhile injustice permeates much of the sentencing structure in many jurisdictions and no one cares much.
2) There is no dialogue betweeen the legal academy and decision-makers. Many professors send their articles to other professors, but few send them to judges, congressmen, and practitioners. There audience is not anyone with power to create change, but a handful of other law professors.
3) Law articles are far too long. That is one reason so few people read them. It simply isn't true that an article under 100 pages isn't "serious."
4) The fervency for substantiation is silly. 800 footnotes to other law reviews does not make an article more true-- it just means someone else made a similar small point previously. The text should be more important than the footnotes, because that is how people read.
5) The cycle of writing to publication of an article is one to two years, making it impossible to address an issue which moves fast.
I do think law professors should produce scholarship. I just think that it should address real problems in the law and be written in a way that people might want to read.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
McGeorge School of Law did a great job hosting the ethics tournament-- it was extremely well run. For example, the judges were all really judges, including some from the federal bench.
Last night's banquet was a real treat. It was held at the Sutter Club across from the Capitol building. It was one of those old school clubs (but maybe without the singing) with beautiful rooms and a certain faded grandeur.
It was a good place to celebrate a job well done.
St. Patrick's Day in Sacramento
They had a very nice parade yesterday in "Old Sacramento," which is what they call the part of town presenting the highest danger of disastrous fire sweeping through rickety wooden buildings. It was one of those parades (my favorite kind) where most of the things in the parade are just normal people in goofy costumes.
It is hard to describe how proud I am of my mock trial team. They did a fantastic job. In the semifinals, it turns out that they lost to the eventual champion by only one point.
At the banquet this evening, I spoke with Judge Shubb of the Federal District Court here. I actually argued a case from his court before the Ninth Circuit last year, so we had a good starting point of reference. He told us that we had missed the final by only a point, and while it was frustrating that the margin was so narrow, I was heartened by the fact it was basically a jump ball decision.
In the end, neither the plaintiff nor the defendant in the mock trial case actually exist. The next time these students try a case, it will involve real people. If this experience could improve their skills by just 4 percent, it will have been worth it, because the cost in real lives the next time is so high.
If you see Jennifer Seale, Heath Coffman, Dustin Sullivan, Lindsay Tanner, or Campbell Warner in the hall, congratulate them on a job well done, for they represented Baylor to the highest standard.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
A plea to the outside world-- please send food.
If you possibly can, please send food to the people of Sacramento, who will face starvation if additional supplies are not procured soon. Apparently, they did not sufficiently stock up prior to the arrival of Gordon Davenport, pictured at right with his desserts from last evening (from foreground to background, that would be ice cream, a chocolate tort, key lime pie, and some other chocolate monstrosity).
I'm not sure how long the rest of us can hold out if additional food is not airlifted in soon. Some of you may recall the humanitarian disaster (chronicled here) in Dallas last fall. This, my friends, may be even worse.
Baylor History, Part 23
Tailpipe Laker was privileged to play with one of the best quarterbacks Baylor ever had, old Fuzzy (“Richard”) Murphy, who was the quarterback for Baylor the last half of the season of ‘30. He was about 5’1”—relatively close to being one of the “little people” as they call them now. Despite his size, he was supremely talented. That year, the last game of the season was against A & M (which was then still known as Childress Music Academy and Agriculture Station). The game started at 7 in late November in old Garf Stadium on LaSalle Avenue, where the extremely dangerous Swanburg- oriented convenience store is now. It was unclear why they had a 7 pm start—might have been a radio broadcast issue—but it was dark as black beans by the second quarter. Old Richard set out torches around the huddle to diagram plays, and had everyone run to one side of the end zone. He’d make a throwing noise, and secretly had a Western Union boy run the ball into the end zone. This unusual tactic worked six times in a row, and Baylor won 44-12. As payback, Western Union is to this day the official telegraph operator for Baylor University.
Labels: Baylor History
Friday, March 16, 2007
Mock Trial Update!
Learning at the feet of the master...
Baylor Law student Dustin Sullivan seems to be learning the digestive arts well as Padawan to Gordon Davenport. Yesterday's lunch included this exchange:
Dustin: I'll have the hamburger.
Waitress: What would you like on that? Bacon? Cheese? Guacamole? Canadian Bacon? Grilled onions? Barbecue Sauce? An onion ring?
Waitress (incredulous): Wait... you want all of that?
Dustin: Is there more?
Haiku Friday! C'mon! C'mon!
Maybe this is no secret, but I totally love Haiku friday. I love the fact that people from all over the world, some whom I know and some I don't, write haikus about all kinds of weird stuff. A lot of it is really good, too.
I hate to say this, but Celebrity Luvr won last week, too. At this point, I have to insist that he judge the contest this week, as the first-ever three-time champ (and in consecutive weeks!). So, you're on, CL.
Here are the suggested, non-exclusive topics for this week:
1) Mr. Lego
2) The Leap
4) The blessing of good health
5) Attorney General Gonzales
6) Spring Break
7) Mrs. Celebrity Luvr
8) Dirndl fantasies
9) March madness
Here is my own effort, to start things off:
C'mon, Mr. Lego,
It was only your right knee;
You won't get pregnant.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Letters to a Young Lawyer
Before the break, one of my favorite ethics students lent me his copy of Alan Dershowitz' "Letters to a Young Lawyer." It was kind of odd that he lent me a book (it usually goes the other way), but he said that the book had reminded him of some of the things I say in ethics class. I brought it along for beach reading.
It's a good book, and Dershowitz and I do agree on many things; almost everything, in fact. Some of the points ("choose a job you are passionate about") is standard commencement-speech stuff, but Dersh goes deeper into it than most people, exploring what that means in various contexts. He also advises those concerned about fairness in criminal law to become prosecutors, because of the discretion they have, and I chose that route for that reason.
Back in law school I was visiting a friend up at Harvard one weekend, and we went to a Harvard Square place for dinner. She introduced me to Dershowitz (a Yale Law grad like me, not Harvard), who quickly turned back to the group of students he was strategizing something with. It wasn't much of a meeting, but the image of him huddled in excited conversation with students was enduring-- that he was including his students in his work, trying to lead by example, and valuing their contributions. He was treating them like lawyers. I remember thinking that it was something I wanted to do someday.
Now I have that chance.
Tomorrow I head up to Sacramento to meet with the Seale-Warner-Sullivan-Coffman-Tanner mock trial team and co-coach Gordon Davenport. I'm not exactly a Master of All Media, but there was an article about one of my cases in a Sacramento paper last year; check out the photo the photo they ran taken by Larry Bates (who neglected to tell me my collar was up). I doubt this will get us better tables in restaurants or anything.
The case referred to was in the 9th Circuit; I argued there on June 13th and then the next day in the 8th Circuit, sitting in Omaha. I have to say, arguing Court of Appeals cases back-to-back was a real kick (though a strategic nightmare). I was able to do it with the help of some of my students, including Dustin Benham, who flew up and met me in Omaha to brief me on last-minute case developments. It was this 8th Circuit case that is the subject of our current cert. petition to the Supreme Court.
I find mock trial tournaments kind of frustrating-- there is nothing you can do as the coach except wait outside and wring your hands. But, man, I'm really good at that.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Susan Glaspell Goes to Law School
The shoes make the man... a Grosse Pointer.
Tydwbleach, commenting on a recent photo, noticed my LL Bean boat-mocs. More than anything, this is because she is from Grosse Pointe, and recognizes the importance of the boat-moc to the bizarre culture within which we grew up. The boat-moc is ideally adapted to part of the lifestyle there-- perfectly suited for wooden boat decks, generally worn without socks, well matched to our native dress of khakis, a blue blazer, and a doofy repp tie swiped from dad's closet. They slip on without fuss and can stand up to snow in a pinch.
Not that the love of the boat-moc is limited to Michiganians. The ties on mine were secured, in fact, by native Wacoan Celebrity Luvr, who knew a neat trick to keep them in place for good. Still... there is a special connection. Years ago I was walking down the street in NYC, headed for breakfast at Sarabeth's Kitchen. I ran into an old friend and her fiance. Introducing myself, he rolled his eyes and said "Great... another Grosse Pointer in New York!" I asked how he knew, and he simply pointed to my shoes.
They're not cool, but they're mine.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The lines at Legoland are terrible...
Everyone seems to have headed for Legoland at the same time this Spring Break. In the picture above, you can see me waiting to use the restroom behind a firefighter, a robot, and a scuba diver. Sheesh!
Confidential to Swanburg: If I really was looking for your Mom, would Legoland have been the place to go? Curious...
Monday, March 12, 2007
Baylor History, Part 22
Much of my own attention to the sport of football was due to the exploits of my good friend, Thaddeus (“Tailpipe”) Laker, who was a renowned player of the time. My God, how that Tailpipe fellow could run! In 1929, he beat UT-Austin (then known as Texas Normal School for Women) single-handedly. This was before the days of all this sissy “equipment” the players wear now, of course. Tailpipe scored the last 37 points in a 67-32 win with no teeth left in his mouth—after the game we scavenged them up in a Bell jar and old Doc Ritter put them back in with a rivet gun on the train back to Waco. This was back when a football player was still allowed to have a good time, and no one had more fun than Tailpipe Laker—he used to bring his “dames” right into the locker room, feed them moonshine whiskey and once the booze took effect, he would sweet-talk them in a form of Latin which was mostly made up. Despite his frequent episodes of inappropriate behavior, he was perhaps the best yapback in Southwest Conference History.
I don’t think many teams use the yapback any more—you need the exact right player. Much of the job involved what is now called “trash talk”-- once the teams broke from their huddles, the yapback would get up on the shoulders of the halfback and yell stuff at the fellows on the other side, over the head of the linemen. All kinds of insults would be hurled—about the opposing team’s grades and their girlfriends. Some guys made it racial, but that didn’t go too far since it was all-white teams. About the only position like it now is the coxswain in the row-boating races.
Labels: Baylor History
The calm before the storm...
It's really a moment of remarkable calm here in California, the week before Jen Seale, Campbell Warner and their compadres show up to kick butts and take names. I'm using this interlude to make some new friends, especially with those fellow tourists from the upper midwest. As a midwesterner myself, I know what to look for-- pasty white legs, drowsy demeanor, loud shirts. These are salt-of-the earth people, the kind of folks without whom there would not be enough corn and soybeans to feed the Swanburgs and Stephen Bakers of the world, or Ford Tauruses for them to rent on business trips.
If you're going to be lampin', I would seriously suggest California as the place to do it. Even the junk food seems kind of healthy, and if you stick close to the beach (but not Long Beach), the air is scented with flowers.
Plus, it can be a place of brilliant moments.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Baylor History, Part 21
Labels: Baylor History
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Hi! My name's Mark, and I'm stone cold lampin'!
Not really. But that wouldn't be a bad way to spend spring break- you know, me and Chuck D., up in the Poconos, campin'.
There was some excitement today, though. Swanburg made his first Practice Court appearance, as "The Messed-Up Doctor Who Gunned Down His Own Son During Monday Night Football So As To Avoid A Possibly Stressful Situation." He did a fine job, though he was far better dressed than almost any doctor I have ever seen. The case presents a real nest of unexplained and bizarre circumstances, none of which (apparently) seemed unusual to the lawyers involved. For example:
1) The doctor was worried he would have a heart attack if subjected to stress, so he shot his son. Uh, that's not a little stressful? Hmmmmm.
2) According to the lawyers in the case, in the Swanburg home, the preferred way for a few people to watch television is to set up two chairs about four feet from one another and facing directly towards the other person. It is unclear where the TV is situated in all this.
3) Also, a popular defense position in this case seems to be that the jury will excuse the killing of one's own children, if said children are getting all in your face with their stupid liberal political opinions.
At one point, Swanburg seemed particulary Doctorly as he pronounced "I make important decisions every day! That's what I do. I'm... a doctor."
Anyways, if anyone can get Swanburg's mom as a PC witness, I will be very impressed.
Baylor History, Part 20
I cry at night, Preston Sturgis
When I should be writing wordses,
Prexy Brooks, can’t you see
We think you are poop and pee!
While Anderson’s poem won no awards (despite being submitted for several, as part of Anderson’s “Oh Brown River!” collection), it was recited frequently by a large number of fourth graders who happened to be attending the event, and for decades its refrain was worked into a number of protest chants.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Friday I'm in Love (With Haiku)
Get down and get funky! It's haiku time! (I am, perhaps, the first person ever to utter that phrase)
As always, you can pick your own topic, so long as the haiku is in the standard 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables format. Just let your freak flag fly. However, if you need help, consider one of the following topics:
1) John Lee Hooker's funeral
2) March madness
3) The dental arts
4) What I need to do to keep that one really sleepy guy awake in class
5) The worst song ever
6) Practice Court is the new 40
7) My Spring Break secret
8) My own personal NCAA violation
9) Jennifer ("Finish The Job") Seale
10) The erotic Swiss
Here is my own effort for the week. Enter your own below.
Tired of PC--
I mumble and wave.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Linked By Our Futures?
These people have apparently linked to me over at their blog. At first I found this kind of baffling. Upon a little inspection, though, it appears that one of them is coming to Baylor Law School, and they are planning ahead by linking to the blogs here. Good move, future students!
Music at the Right Time
Yesterday, I was determined to finish grading the Criminal Practice exams. By mid-afternoon, it became clear that I would have to hide if I was going to accomplish this, because of the flood of well-intentioned visitors to my office. I headed off to the perfect secret lair: Moody library on the main Baylor Campus. No one would look for me in the library! And I was right.
As dusk fell over the campus, I headed for home. Walking to the car, though, I heard some music. It was one of those twilights where the sky seems huge, the air is clear, and every cell of the body knows that it is spring. The music was a dialectic-- first a series of high, clear notes followed by several others, these less certain. I followed the sound to the edge of College Creek, where I found Prof. Wiff Rudd (pictured here) instructing a semi-circle of trumpet students in the open air. It was mesmerizing; his playing was so tight and beautiful that the point seemed as much to be aspiration as repetition for the students.
After a while, I wandered back to the car and watched the crimson light fade, and hoped that I could find a way to teach that well.
Baylor History, Part 19
Needless to say, such poor reviews were not well-received on campus. An uproar developed, further, when it was found that the language quoted above was not created by those publications, but rather was provided to them by Baylor’s own Provost at the time, a man named Tony (“Big Rock”) Lucci, who was formerly a member of the Johnny Torrio organization in Brooklyn. The faculty and alumni were outraged, and their protests were only redoubled when both Consumer Reports and the Princeton Review provided to the Waco Evening Enabler (Waco’s leading afternoon daily) copies of the letters they had received from Lucci on Baylor letterhead, which specifically referred to the faculty as “near illiterate degenerate pig-men,” “pompous gasbags,” and “sub-human primates only interesting in cracking open nuts and other closed objects containing food.”
Lucci quickly reacted to the controversy, making clear that he never would have made such statements on the Baylor campus, and that his statements were being taken out of context. “These are statements I made in private letters to these publications as part of my job. They certainly do not reflect any lack of respect for the Baylor Faculty, who do a wonderful job, and of whom I am quite proud.”
Brooks, of course, supported his Provost and as part of his support added several jewels to the tiara worn by Lucci at a lavish ceremony. For his part, Lucci issued a second, clarifying statement explaining that “these letters were written in my private residence and delivered by the United States mails as part of my important job responsibilities, and in no way should be seen to reflect any disrespect to the Baylor faculty.”
Labels: Baylor History
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
There's a lot I don't know about the music biz...
Last night, my friends Blaine and Sarah McCormick had a house concert in their living room. Now that I think about it, I remember my parents having house concerts-- there would be some people with guitars and other instruments (ie, washboard, saxophone, spoons) in our living room or out on the porch. Sometimes, my Mom would sing-- we remember her belting out "Me and Bobby McGee" (even if she doesn't and now denies knowing the words). For a while, a bunch of people in the art biz owned an old ferryboat, the Major Wilcox, and we would cruise around on the Major while a jug band played. Among other misadventures, the Major Wilcox slammed into the Belle Isle Bridge and ran aground during an ill-fated detour up the Clinton River, but mostly it was just good times. Legend has it that on one of those trips Momma Cass sang, but I was too young to remember.
The band last night was Jill Phillips and Andy Gullahorn. They were down from Nashville, and they were great. I knew it would be good music when I saw Bob and Mary Darden there, and I was right. Between them, Phillips and Gullahorn have sold over 200,000 cd's-- it must say something about the music business these days that you can do that and still get booked into a living room.
Actually, it says something very specific about the music business these days: That moderately successful artists like Phillips and Gullahorn are getting killed by illegal downloads. So buy one of their songs off of itunes. They get paid for that.
And, think about having a house concert. Blaine and Sarah are now officially Heroes of Social Life in my book.
Baylor History, Part 18
Imperative Eight of Vision 1930, mandating a "drastic increase in executive salaries", was achieved almost immediately. Brooks, the Provost and several of the Vice Provosts were awarded immediate raises of at least 35%, and their contracts suddenly contained some remarkably generous provisions. For example, the executives were granted the use of a school-owned zeppelin which was to be moored at the football stadium ready for use on school or personal errands. They also were to be provided with daily pedicures, a Studebaker Land Yacht for their personal use, ornamental jewelry including tiaras and scepters, and a personalized firearm bearing the Baylor logo. President Brooks received, as to this last item, a remarkable Winchester shotgun capable of firing two rounds simultaneously in opposite directions to the right and left, making it almost impossible not to hit something.
Sadly, this partial success of Vision 1930 did not raise Baylor’s standing in the wider academic community. An archival review of college guides published in 1926 reflects this failure. For example, the Saturday Evening Post’s annual Education Ratings listed Baylor in the Sixth Tier (of seven), below two educational facilities located in correctional institutions. Similarly, the Consumer Reports College Ratings gave Baylor a black dot, meaning that Baylor was “unreliable” and “not recommended.” It’s succinct reports simply stated that “Baylor’s professors, much less its students, are unfamiliar with the great works of Western Thought and seem obsessed instead with celebrity news, fashions tips, football, dentistry and singing contests. Those who wish to seek a career in the fields of celebrity-stalking, dental assistanting, cheerleading, or clothes hoarding would be well advised to closely consider Baylor. Others should stay away.”
Of course, as we now know, better days were ahead.
Labels: Baylor History
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Deserving of It's Own Space
OH GAWD Pk there was this REALLLLLY weird guy named Billy Johnson. AKA Bart Laminuzzi. Friend of my husbands, weird guy, guitar player and one of the many wayward musicians that LIVED at our HOUSE for like 18 months He took like 6 showers a day drank 5 pots of coffee a day and had like this talking sort of relationship with our dog, a black lab named Banjo.
Bart was a crazy human being, but a brilliant guitar player. Guess who made his guitar? BILL my brilliant luthier husband. and guess who was in John Lee Hooker's band for 10 years? Bart.
WHen Hooker died, Bill knew him and went to the funeral and I went with him.
Van Morrison's daughter was there , and Bonnie Raitt and a lot of music guys I have no idea who they were. It was crowded and it was a HO FEST the music industry is MIGHTY UGLY.
Hooker was a cool guy genuinely nice I could tell you a LOT of stories. but I am too tired to write them all. but he was AWESOME.
Boom Boom Boom Boom.
Who's Who At The Razor?
Some of you may be curious about the cast of characters who participate on this blog. Some are my oldest friends, some are my students, many I have never met. Here are a few of the most frequent participants:
"B": Fifth Circuit clerk who has a way with haiku.
Baker: Baylor Law Student and blogger. Stephen Baker is a current student in the oral advocacy class which is creating the On Rhetoric Blog. Also cares deeply for college basketball.
Celebrity Luvr: Federal Judge and Haiku champ.
Mrs. Celebrity Luvr: She luvs celebrities, too. And she apparently is going to cut and color my hair if the mock trial team wins in Sacramento. This is kind of terrifying.
Chris Fahrenblogger: Proprietor of Sothebearsays, the first significant blog by a Baylor Law Student. A recent graduate of law school, he is now studying at Butterworth College in their "Special Writer's Program." While this does not lead to a degree of any kind, it does promote self-esteem, basic living and communication skills, and principles of cooperation that may lead to mainstream employment.
Dancing Barista: Employed at Common Grounds, she will do the "faculty dance" on Fridays if she is in the right mood and you tip well.
Habib the Tile Guy: Tydwbleach's erstwhile tile guy, who combines doe-eyed friendliness with outrageous prices and no actual work done.
IPLawGuy: A partner at Wahttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifshington D.C.'s venerable Holland & Knight law firm, IPLawGuy has been a great friend both to me and the blog. Lately, though, he seems a little crabby. It seems to be car-related.
Misty Keene: Prominent and successful Dallas attorney; former BLS student and mock trial potentate.
Ladybird: Current BLS student, frequent class target. Ie: Osler: "Ms. Griffin, what would you do if you were the prosecutor in this case... and you were a samarai?
Meatloaf: Former paramour of Swanburg's Mom. At work on a new album.
The Medievalist: Actually, he's a Spanish Medievalist. A master of his craft.
P. Rico: Member of the Gatos. Resident of the faculty suite. Haiku champ.
Pankratz: Current student Craig Pankratz, who is doing interesting things over at his own blog, Weightier Matters.
Squeeknsqueeker: Not mousey at all, as the name would imply. BLS grad, Austin lawyer, superstar. Plus, knows a thing or two about meat.
Red: Commenter with an unusual depth of knowledge regarding medical issues and haiku.
Red Andrews: An owner of the infamous Beer Meet blog, which nominally covers Baylor sports, yet is still often entertaining.
Sleepy Walleye: A Minnesotan, he is wise in the ways of anesthesia.
Swanburg: Jonathon Swanburg, the operator of FromMalibuToWaco, a popular student blog. Mr. Swanburg is a decadant egoist, and I mean that in the best possible way.
Swanburg's Mom: Though not a Swanburg herself, she gave us Mr. Swanburg. Small tidbits of her life come out occasionally, including her maternal concern for Swanburg and her former relationship with Meatloaf.
Swissgirl: A graduate of the University of Virginia, the mysterious Swissgirl teaches in Switzerland. An object of much affection on Haiku Fridays.
TradeLawGuy: D.C. Lawyer (like Red and IPLawGuy) who apparently went to Baylor Law School. Otherwise shrouded in mystery, other than the apparent fact he practices Trade Law, whatever that is.
Tydwbleach: Seemingly the offspring of Erma Bombeck and Sid Vicious, Tyd is a domestic goddess with an edge. Living in Canby, Oregon with her luthier husband and bombastic toddler Spencer, she is currently barricaded into a single room with nothing but soup recipes and Home Depot catalogues.
Vitriolic Diatribe: Astute and mysterious current student. Haiku master, yet apparently unloved.
Baylor History, Part 17
The plan to raise a $4,000 endowment (Vision 1930's Imperative Six) by extorting travelers also failed, in large part due to the representation on the Board of Intenders by travelers on these same roads. Those representatives amended the provisions created by President Brooks to reversed to process, requiring the school to pass out money to those coming through town. In its first year, this initiative led to a loss of almost $988 to the University, and to date (despite enthusiastic support by a series of presidents intent on appeasing the Board), the giving away money program has yet to turn a profit.
The statuary program laid out in imperative Seven met with, at best, mixed results. For reasons unknown, President Brooks at first left the creation of campus statuary to the Delta Upsilon fraternity, which responded by producing five striking and somewhat disturbing pieces: A 20-foot replica of the Washington monument, an armless football player with a prominent purple helmet, an Ionic column resting on two rounded stones, a cannon pointing straight up (which emitted periodic blasts of smoke), and an enormous limpid cylinder which slumped into College Creek, painted in A & M colors.
Baffled by these sculptures and their weird aesthetic, Brooks signed a contract with sculptor Bob Tech of Lubbock to create a college-themed sculpture to serve as a campus centerpiece. Tech was famous for depicting scenes of Texas history, and over the course of several months created a startling work made of welded iron and horsehide. The piece depicted a cowboy, an Indian, a police officer, a burly construction worker and a leather-clad motorcyclist all spelling the letter “Y” with their arms and upper torso, apparently while singing. The sculptor would offer no explanation, and Brooks was unable to talk the Board of Intenders into placing the sculpture on campus. Eventually, he was able to sell the work to Brigham Young University in Utah, which at least utilized the “Y” in their logo. Initially, Brooks had approached Yale University about purchasing the sculpture, but his entreaties were met only with knowing laughter and outright rejection.
Brooks then hired Paul Bryant Roberts, a New Yorker whom Brooks had overheard two men in a Manhattan bar discussing. Brooks had thought they had described him as a “Tier One Sculptor,” but in fact their Brooklyn accents had fooled him. In fact, Roberts was a Beer Stein Sculptor, and for his $12,000, Brooks received by motor lorry an enormous ceremonial stein celebrating Pfeiffer beer (a now-defunct brand famous for “a head as flat as Nebraska roadkill,” according to its print ads). This was deemed inappropriate for a Baptist school during prohibition, and the giant stein was sold to Sam Ford College in Alabama.
Having run through almost $50,000 with nothing to show for it, Brooks finally decided to purchase art which was already completed, rather than commissioning work yet to be created. He traveled to a gallery in Lawton, Oklahoma, purchased 12 counterfeit Remington statues he believed to be genuine, and placed them in the public spaces of Pat Neff Hall, little knowing how real their depictions of Indian raids would soon become. Tellingly, one of the statues depicted the Indians circling a lone figure who is seen defending himself with a thesaurus, and is wearing an ascot.
Labels: Baylor History
Monday, March 05, 2007
Check out the good writing...
The comments this week over at On Rhetoric were really great.
Mr. Stokes requested that he get extra credit for connecting up Martha Stewart and the A-Team in one comment. What do you think? Should he get it?
My response was that he could only get extra credit if he then connected it up to Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo. IPLawGuy, for one, could do it easily. Well, if he wasn't so crabby, he could.
Baylor History, Part 16 (The Ice Hockey Part)
The fifth imperative of Vision 1930, to seek out success in sports not involving a ball, was somewhat successful. Baylor’s very well-funded equestrian team, for example, came close to winning Baylor’s first national championship, as described at greater length in a later chapter.
The ice hockey team was similarly successful. After a series of 0-0 ties, the squad made it to the national championships in 1924, losing to Harvard in the finals. Because the Baylor student body consisted almost entirely of people from Texas, there were none who knew how to skate or had access to the other accoutrements of ice hockey, such as hockey sticks or (most importantly) ice. Nevertheless, the Ice Bears (as they were called) played their matches in boots while wielding large sweep brooms. They played all of their games at opponents’ venues, and were in the Minnesota-Texas Friendship League, together with St. Olaf, Carleton College, Trinity College (International Falls), Gustavus Adolphus, the University of Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State and the now-defunct Lumberton Tech. The Ice Bears were at first fabulously unsuccessful, losing games by horrendous scores and incurring several injuries of the coccyx and skull due to inadvertent slips on the slick ice surface. In 1922, however, the boys in green and gold employed a tactic devised by legendary coach Grant Teaff, who in his later years coached the Bears’ football team. Teaff bundled the players together with gaffer tape and placed them in front of the net, completely blocking any chance the other team might have of scoring. The tactic was effective, though the games were invariably low-scoring as the tied-together Baylor squad had almost no offensive potential. Teaff was less successful years later, when he tried to apply the same tactic to football, owing to the much larger area in which scores could be made.
Sad, isn't it, that somehow none of this is known to the "scholars" over at Beer Mat? Some "sports blog"....
[Does a photo of Prof. Serr skiing fit here? I'm not sure.]
Labels: Baylor History
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Winston Fox and His Lies Must Stop!
As one noted expert has pointed out, Mayor McCheese is the only elected official in the fast food universe. While Burger King and the Dairy Queen rule by monarchial fiat, the Mayor answers to an electorate. If you believe in democracy... you believe in the Mayor.
I'm not where I'm supposed to be this morning. I should be in Minnesota at a theater conference, where I should be giving an academic paper with Dr. Deanna Toten Beard on our collaborative teaching. Man, I was looking forward to being the only lawyer at a theater conference! I even had packed a black turtleneck to wear. (The photo of me in Minnesota's winter wonderland was taken by Bill Underwood during our ski trip to the boundary waters a year ago).
However, for the second time this winter, I was foiled in my efforts to get to an academic conference by snow closing airports. I believe there is global warming; I just wish that I could direct it in some way to those places I am flying into. Dr. Toten Beard was able to avoid the problem by flying in Thursday, and at this moment she is giving our paper for the both of us.
Anyways, here is a short excerpt from the paper she is reading. I will link to the rest of it once I figure out how to do that.
"Since ancient times, theater and law have been two principle ways that civilizations define themselves. The Greek stage both reflected and created the hopes, expectations, and public values of its society. Today in America it is television and film which have the loudest voices in telling us who we are and should be. Law, through the same span of human civilization, has methodically and purposefully drawn lines between acceptable and unacceptable behavior in societies which seek a sense of order. Taken together then, a society’s theatre and law define shared ideas and expectations—that is, those things that mark a people as civilized. What drama and law both seek is as ancient as it is common. In the end, both the theater and the courtroom are, at their best, temples of truth through storytelling.
Everywhere but in the academy, theater and the law are inextricably tangled up with one another. The practice of law is a compelling subject for dramatic performance on the stage and screen—one would be hard-pressed to find an evening television schedule without a legal show. At the same time, trial lawyers know that what they do in court will meet with a single standard provided by the jurors: The model of television lawyers who the jurors watch each week, lawyers who enchant and bewitch them with words and movement. And yet the disciplines of theatre and law do not tend to critically consider this intersection of the courtroom and the stage or to academically engage their shared place in the culture."
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Baylor History, Part 15
Imperative Four of Baylor's Vision 1930, encouraging the development of mediocre academic programs in selected areas, failed miserably. The areas of study chosen for further development in 1918 were (1) the study of squirrels, grackles and crickets; (2) an interdisciplinary degree in “Human People and Thinking,” which was specially designed to appeal to dimmer-witted students; and (3) a “Super-Smart!” program for the brightest students, children of Baylor donors and those whose names sounded similar to those of large donors.
The first program was abandoned after a period of three months. At that time, Waco had an abundance of squirrels, but Grackles and Crickets were unknown in central Texas. The first semester, three mandatory classes were offered in the fledgling program: The first involved rounding up wild squirrels to be caged within the Feral Center, the second involved the importation of grackles to the community for further study, and the third required students to trap large numbers of crickets in Kansas and Oklahoma and bring them to Waco. On their face, all three were successful. Within a month, resourceful students had filled the Feral Center with nearly 400,000 wild squirrels, an unprecedent zoological event which wreaked havoc with basketball practices. Unfortunately, no provision had been made for containing the squirrels once they were in the arena, nor for cleaning up after their voluminous waste. The resulting disaster was especially ruinous for the basketball team, which lost every home game save an unusual contest against Ohio State, whose uniforms at the time featured a large and appealing (to squirrels) Buckeye.
Similarly, the plan to bring in grackles and crickets led to disaster. Baylor had no biology department, and the Professors of Fashion Merchandising put in charge of the program had theorized that the grackles would eat the crickets, the crickets would eat the squirrels, and the squirrels would eat the grackles, creating a closed ecosystem. This plan contained several miscalculations (for example, there was no basis for the conclusion that crickets would be capable of killing and eating a squirrel), and the grackle and cricket populations quickly grew out of control in the complete absence of natural predators. For months, the citizens of Waco were besieged from above and below by the birds and bugs. The crickets quickly consumed nearly all plant life in the area, while the grackle birds destroyed everything else.
Many techniques were attempted to relieve the city of its newfound critter problems. Sharpshooters were hired at first. While they had some success in thinning out the birds, they were much less successful at killing crickets, even with very small gauge ammunition. Next, the river was allowed to flood the area, but this too failed to do much more than cause additional damage, and it was found that squirrels are actually quite talented swimmers.
Finally, men in gigantic grackle costumes were hired to lead the birds out of town, but this had no hope of success and only resulted in the publication of embarrassing photographs being published in the Dallas Morning News.
The crisis was finally averted by the swift action of Governor Bill Daniel. Though not technically the governor of the State of Texas, Daniel possessed a military uniform and a white horse which he used to convey the appearance of great authority. Hearing of the Cricket/Grackle problem, he rushed to Waco in his trademark white hat. For four days Governor Bill negotiated with the leaders of the crickets and the grackles, finally coming to a compromise which would be amenable to all involved: The grackles and the crickets would be allowed to reside unmolested in Waco for two months a year, provided that the crickets and grackles did not choose the same time period. This compromise still holds today, and the influx of crickets and grackles thankfully do not overlap.
The Human People and Thinking and Super-Smart programs were equally unsuccessful. The Human People and Thinking program, which included classes in “Thinking,” “Moving Around,” and “Drinking” was never accredited by the Southern Association of Baptist Schools, Colleges & Universities. The underlying problem was that the skills taught proved difficult to test other than through observation by the instructor, making the provision of final exams nearly impossible. Similarly, the “Super-Smart!” program was a disaster. Its first director, former scholarship winner Barg Argthorn, refused to leave his home in Santa Fe and purported to run the program through a series of directions sent to underlings through the mail. These directions quickly revealed Argthorn to be in possession of a severe drinking problem, and the program was suspended when word filtered back to the administration that the students in the “Super-Smart!” program were spending the majority of their time working on a marijuana farm located on the campus of the University of Texas—Austin.