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My Covercraft is Full of Eels


Rick comments on the preceding Armour Hot Dogs item, invoking the Oscar Meyer wieners commercials as well. Then, no doubt under the sinister influence of the pork product peddlers, he offers up a proper futurist wiener dog.

He is also getting "on the bandwagon"¹ in the debate over the best cover versions of songs, joining the growing ranks of those endorsing Devo's version of "Satisfaction." (A worthy choice.) I won't pick any favorites as such, but here are a few cover versions of which I approve that seem not to be getting much mention elsewhere:

Jeff Buckley - covering Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. [This version is clearly superior to the also quite good John Cale version, featured on the Shrek soundtrack; the late Mr. Buckley earns extra points for covering Benjamin Britten's Corpus Christi Carol]
Roxy Music - covering John Lennon's Jealous Guy
Johnny Cash - covering Nine Inch Nails' Hurt
Concrete Blonde - covering Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows
The Clash - covering Bobby Fuller's I Fought the Law
Joss Stone - covering The White Stripes' Fell in Love with a (Boy)
Travis and Fountains of Wayne [tie] - covering Britney Spears' Baby One More Time (neither version readily available in legitimate channels). [Alternate Britney cover: Richard Thompson's version of Oops I Did It Again, also amusingly alluded to here.]
Brian Eno - covering The Lion Sleeps Tonight
U2 - covering Cole Porter's Night & Day. [Alternative for those who prefer Coward to Porter: Pet Shop Boys' cover of Coward's If Love Were All]
Romeo Void - covering Wrap It Up . [A good alternative version of the song can also be found on the first Eurhythmics album]

There, that should keep the conversation going.


¹ In a context entirely other, involving Flannery O'Connor, Mika Cooper asks parenthetically: "(isn't that a vehicle of convenience for instrumentalists too lazy to march, like me?). "


The Ad-Ternal Return


One of the by-products of American consumer culture, and particularly of the ubiquity of television advertising, has been the Inescapable Jingle, the little ditty that becomes so implanted in one's mind that once reminded of it it is near impossible to stop it looping and looping and looping in the head. The half-life of some jingles is several decades at least, often long after the original has disappeared from the airwaves.

I have been suffering from this condition for the past several days, the culprit being the old jingle for Armour Hot Dogs. The stimulus, I think, was hearing a radio report describing the hot dogs found in the hovel beside which Saddam Hussein had gone to ground. It is bad enough to be haunted by a cheap advertising ditty, but this one has the added feature that it could not possibly be approved for broadcast today. Consider this litany of offensive images:

Hot dogs! Armour Hot Dogs!
What kind of kids eat Armour Hot Dogs?
Fat kids, skinny kids,
Kids who climb on rocks.1
Tough kids, sissy kids,
Even kids with chicken pox
Love hot dogs!
Armour Hot Dogs!
The Dogs Kids Love To Bite!
What a parade of horribles: children with body image issues (the obese and the anorexic), children engaged in dangerous ascents of geological formations without appropriate state-sponsored supervision, children with aggressive tendencies or questions of gender identity, even children suffering from now-arcane and little seen diseases, all culminating in an outright endorsement of animal cruelty. Not to mention, of course, that the Center for Science in the Public Interest instructs us never to approach within a hectare of the product being sold. (Do you know how those things are made? Why, it's more frightening than the legislative process!)
Make it stop, please make it stop.2

1 That portion of the lyric was quoted by the Agreeable Snow Man in Pixar's Monsters, Inc.. Fortunately, he only spoke the words; the accursed thing has to be sung to have its most pernicious effects.

2 Perhaps, since it was his capture that made me think of it, this jingle can be of use in the interrogation of the deposed Iraqi despot? Assuming the Geneva Convention permits such things.


I Camembert It Any Longer


Just when it seemed we would have to give up on them, the scholarly band at Crooked Timber nearly redeem themselves with a link to a long and unusually interesting review explaining the scandalous secret history of Camembert. Zut alors!

(Strange to say, this is not the first time that I've been intrigued by the place of cheesy comestibles in the arcane practices of international trade.)


How Do We Pronounce Thee, Let Me Count the Ways


At this festive and giving time of year, my thoughts never fail to turn to . . . oddities of pronunciation. Riddle me this, if you will:

Premise: Throughout the year, we frequently hear of or discuss the State of Israel, and when we do we Americans tend generally pronounce its name with a long "a" sound and condensed down to two syllables: "Iz-rale". Regional variants appear to include "Iz-reel" and "Iz-ruhl."

Question: Why then is it that whenever the same word appears in the lyric of a traditional Christmas carol -- "The First Noel," for example, or "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" -- it is stretched out to three solid syllables and vowel-shifted to become something like "Iz-rye-ell"?

Just asking, just asking.

Update: Almost instantly upon posting this item I heard by e-mail from two of my longtime Jewish friends. First, Portland's own Bridget Hoch [who has no site of her own, claiming that she is "too shy"] writes:

[I say] IZ ree ill - although I went to Hebrew school where we pronounced it EESS ra el. I think the "rye" is the way the sounds "ah" and "el" blend, making it an elongated "eye". But when I say Israel, I sometimes think of the biblical character of Israel and possibly that's why I think of it in 3 syllables. I think the masculine name of Israel sounds lovelier with 3 syllables.
Then Rick Coencas weighed in on similar lines in the middle of an e-mail about something else altogether:
BTW, in Hebrew School we said Is-Rah-El and sometimes Is-Roy-El.
Actually, I've always assumed the three-syllable version to be closest to a proper Hebrew pronunciation -- which would make sense in all those Christmas songs, given that those that use the word at all tend to come from the 19th century, long before the founding of the modern State of Israel -- but saying so would have rather undercut the joke, which was pretty feeble to begin with, don'cha know?


Update with Working Link [Updated]


The circuitous joys of dealing with the Internal Revenue Service -- tracking down a client's paperwork, which seems vanished into the depths of an IRS office at an undisclosed location in Pennsylvania -- have kept me away from other posting, but apropos of the post below about legal vs. non-legal blogging, I received an e-mail from Denise Howell with the news that the ABA article mentioned (to which I thought there was not a good link available) can be found on her firm's site, right here.

Update to the Update: Here's wishing a happy First Birthday to one of the catalysts for that earlier post, Carolyn Elefant's My Shingle.

And speaking of birthdays, as I seem to be doing with some frequency just at the moment, get a load of the merry band of on-line Saggitarians [Saggitaria?] identified by Scheherezade Fowler.


An Online Survey of Sorts


A fine, Blowhard-inspired rhetorical question from the Futurballa Blog:

Perhaps we should do a survey of culture bloggers. How many are simply wannabe artists, poets, filmmakers, actors, novelists, or playwrites, who lacked the ego, drive, insanity, and 'rhinoceros skin' to pursue that career.
Me? I'd love to tread the boards again as I did alongside the Friendly Futurist in those bright college days1 (or to get serious about poetry for that matter), but I already knew back then that the practice of law generally pays much more regularly.

1A run as Touchstone in As You Like It has resulted decades later in the naming of this site.


This Fool Rushed In, and Intends to Stay


Attorney Carolyn Elefant is responsible for My Shingle, a site/weblog devoted to the practice of law as a sole practitioner or in a small firm. That may not be terribly interesting to you, but it is a subject near and dear to me because I am (you guessed it) an attorney practicing in a small, 2-lawyer firm.

Recently, Carolyn mused aloud on the question, "How Long Can A Lawyer Sustain A Blog in an Unrelated Practice Area?." It is one thing to write about a field in which you have daily hands-on experience, but what about subjects further afield? Some of her thoughts:

But all of this has led me to wonder whether it's possible for any lawyer, particularly a solo or small firm lawyer, to sustain a quality blog, on a topic that is neither directly related to, nor offers any synergies, with one's primary practice area.

See, if a lawyer practices, for example, appellate law or intellectual property or high tech or ERISA/benefits law and runs a blog on those topics, then the blog, while perhaps a personal endeavor, bolsters the underlying practice. Sure, a blog won't write a brief or attend a hearing, but it gives exposure and serves as a mini-CLE, keeping the blogger current with new developments.

So should lawyers try to run blogs on topics of interest unrelated to practice and can they succeed? Will someone want to read a blog on a topic that's written by a non-expert anyway - in other words, perhaps the issue of blog-being-related-to-practice-area is self-selecting anyway.

I started this Foolish enterprise not quite six months ago as a sort of test run, intending to launch a law-related site once I had developed a little confidence in the format. The legal site, Declarations and Exclusions, went up about a month later. Decs and Excs was and is intended to address those business, practice development and professional purposes that Carolyn Elefant mentions. I suppose I could have shuttered or slowed this site once it had served its purpose on my learning curve, but the idea never seriously entered my mind. Each man in his time wears an array of headgear, and the cap and bells is as satisfying in its way as the barrister's wig.

At about the time both of my sites were tuning up, there was a bit of soul searching going on in the legal Web community over whether it was wise or advisable for an attorney to disclose, online, personal interests that he or she would otherwise never have reason to take up with a client. Denise Howell took up the subject (responding to an ABA piece for which her link seems no longer to function), and her observations bear on Carolyn Elefant's conundrum:

As far as the overall message of the piece, everyone is entitled to an opinion about what might constitute 'acid-rainmaking,' a great turn of phrase supplied by Perkins Coie Labor and Employment partner Michael Reynvaan. Not so great in my view is Mr. Reynvaan's suggestion that while writing about certain hobbies -- 'bridge, marathon training, sailing' -- might form a common bond with clients, writing about others -- 'professional wrestling or NASCAR' -- could be perceived as 'unlawyerly.' Maybe it's just me, but the adjectives such an approach brings to mind are 'elitist,' 'narrow-minded,' 'backward,' and 'out of touch.' While I'm not personally into NASCAR -- IRL is more my thing -- or professional wrestling, if I were, I assume from time to time they'd come up here. Then, to the extent any of the millions of people who contribute to the huge popularity of these pursuits -- who are bound to include clients, potential clients, and colleagues -- should stumble on a related Bag and Baggage post, it might just bring a smile to their face.

If you want an automaton as a lawyer, someone like me may not be your best bet. If, on the other hand, you would prefer your legal representatives to think, breathe, and have some grasp on the kinds of cultural and policy issues that so frequently affect the development of the law and the outcome of judicial decisions, that might be another story.

By similar logic, I see no reason that attorneys shouldn't write and post about legal topics outside the bounds of their usual practice area(s) -- or write and post, as happens here, on subjects altogether unrelated to legal theory or practice -- so long as they do it out of genuine interest or enthusiasm. Absent that enthusiasm, maintaining a weblog quickly becomes drudgery no matter what the topic. It is that aspect of the project -- just how interested the author is in whatever he or she is writing about -- moreso than the relation to the author's "day job" that will tend to determine how long an "unrelated" weblog can be sustained.