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February 2006
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April 2006

Let This Be Thy Goal:
Shoot Thou Not the Cyber-Moose

From the Halifax, Nova Scotia, Chronicle Herald, "Man gets 20-year hunting ban for shooting at moose decoy":

A Pugwash Junction man has been banned from hunting for 20 years and lost his car after pleading guilty Monday to attempting to kill an endangered species last fall.

Robert Lee McLaren, 49, became the first person in Nova Scotia to be found guilty of the crime after shooting Bullwinkle, a full-sized robotic decoy the Natural Resources Department started using last fall to help combat the poaching of mainland moose.

[Link via Sploid.]  No actual moose were harmed in the making of this arrest.

For unrelated robot moose fun, browse the product line of The Robot Factory of Colorado Springs, Colorado, for this fellow, who is also available to drive your Zamboni.  (Scroll to mid-page.)  Frightening video of Robot Factory character products in action (although seemingly none of the robot moose) available here.

That Zamboni-driving robomoose sports the logo of the Rochester Americans, aka "The Amerks", of the American Hockey League.  Indeed, The Moose is team mascot of the Amerks, as can be seen here:

Confusion reigns, no doubt, when the Amerks play the rival Manitoba Moose, and the good-natured Rochester moose must share the ice with Winnipeg's more attitudinal mick e. moose:

But Where Will the Werewolves Go For Pina Coladas?

Both LA Observed and LAist are reporting that the current owners of the Beverly Hilton hotel are making plans to remodel and expand the property to incorporate three high-priced high-rise condo towers.  One victim of the project: the Beverly Hills outpost of that fons et origo of Tiki culture, Trader Vic's.  LA Observed's Kevin Roderick writes:

The existing hotel, recently remodeled, would remain.  The Beverly Hilton's 1950s modern styling, with lanais on the rooms overlooking the pool, has its fans. The hotel was for a time the L.A. flagship of the Hilton chain and served as the Western White House for President John Kennedy.  But Trader Vic's— that place would be missed by lots of people.

The Beverly Hills restaurant is not the original: that would be up north in Oakland, as the official history would have it:

Trader_vics In 1932, with a nest egg of $700 and carpentry help from his wife's brothers - plus his mother's pot-bellied stove and oven - the ebullient Victor [Bergeron] built a cozy pub across the street from the store and called it Hinky Dink's.  His pungent vocabulary and ribald air made him a popular host, as did his potent tropical cocktail concoctions and delicious Americanized adaptations of Polynesian food.

Soon one of the most popular watering holes in Northern California's Bay Area, the place attracted sophisticated urbanites like writers Herb Caen and Lucius Beebe.  By 1936, when Caen wittily wrote that the 'best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland,' Vic had become 'The Trader' and Hinky Dink's had become 'Trader Vic's,' complete with a showpiece Chinese oven.  Its South Pacific theme 'intrigues everyone.  You think of beaches and moonlight and pretty girls.  It is complete escape,' Vic said at the time.  Among Trader Vic's more tantalizing legacies is the original Mai Tai, the bracingly refreshing rum cocktail he created at the restaurant in 1944 and introduced to the Hawaiian islands in the 1950s.  Tahitian for 'the very best,' Mai Tai became the slogan for his entire operation.

I have been unable to find any online confirmation of my favorite Trader Vic's detail: in the mid-1970's founder Vic Bergeron was caught up in the "Pyramid Power" craze then sweeping the nation.   Convinced of their efficacy in improving the aging of wines, he had pyramids installed in the wine cellars of many of the restaurants.  It is uncertain whether a belief in such stuff can be traced to one (or more) too many of those famous Mai-Tais.

And yes, I realize that the werewolves, and their bespoke tailors, are most likely still hanging out at this branch.

Blawg Review #51: The Jingle

Coming Monday, as promised, will be a bifurcated presentation of Blawg Review #51, presented here and at Declarations & Exclusions.  To drive traffic like crazy, I feel the necessity to advertise this Big Event.  And to that end, what could be better than a catchy advertising jingle? 

I have crafted just such a jingle for the occasion.  It is to be sung to the tune of "The Major-General's Song" from Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, better known in some circles as the melody to which Tom Lehrer crooned his then-complete listing of The Elements.

For those who'd care to sing along, just launch this handy MIDI version of Sir Arthur Sullivan's perky little tune.  All together now, step, point, step, point, . . . and a one, and a two --

    We'll host the very model of a legal weblog carnival,
    The finest compilation since the Battle of the Marne; of all
    The practice fields our cov'rage will be maximal, not minimal,
    From Civil Litigation to Transactional and Crinimal.
    You'll seek it here, you'll seek it there, just like that pesky Pimpernel;
    Will we produce a bang or will we crumple with a whimper?  Well,
    Just wait and see on April 3, we're puttin' on the dog for you:
    The Fifty-First edition of the mighty mighty Blawg Review!

 [Chorus of law clerks and comment spammers:]
        The Fifty-First edition of the mighty mighty Blawg Review!
        The Fifty-First edition of the mighty mighty Blawg Review!
        The Fifty-First collection of those mighty, slightly hoity-toity Blawgs!

    From lavish L.A. office suites to somewhere in Schenectady,
    From scads of legal thinkers on the Internet collected, we
    Will skim the choicest morsels for your pleasure and enlightenment:
    Just wait until you read it, you'll be breathless with excitenment!
    Each legal mind you'll truly find's unique in perspicacity,
    Expressing its opinions with abandon and audacity;
    You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll fall in love all over, every one of you --
    The Fifty-First edition of the mighty mighty Blawg Review!


Light refreshments will be served.  Arrive early for prime seating.  Offer void where prohibited.

A Monster in the Nation's Attic and Bats in a Screenwriter's Belfry

When last we encountered the monster Grendel and his nemesis Beowulf here in the forest, they were about to be brought to life on screen -- in the Robert Zemeckis-directed computer-generated Beowulf, slated for release in 2007 -- and on the Los Angeles stage  -- in an Elliot Goldenthal opera, Grendel, adapted from John Gardner's novel, also Grendel -- directed by Julie Taymor and set to premiere two months from today on May 27. 

Will either new work be true to its source?  The most recent reports on the two productions leave me with more optimism over the opera than I can muster for the film.

  • The opera turns up in an unexpected quarter, as it is the topic of an article in the current Smithsonian Magazine.  [Grendel and Beowulf are not American treasures, but an argument can be made that Taymor and John Gardner qualify.]
  • The opera is further discussed in this AP article highlighting its post-Los Angeles run as part of this year's Lincoln Center Festival:

'Their baby is a monster,' tenor Placido Domingo joked about 'Grendel,' a new opera composed by Oscar winner Elliot Goldenthal and directed by Tony winner Julie Taymor.  The story centers on a passionate thinker trapped in a beast's body.

The Los Angeles Opera, with Domingo as its general director, co-commissioned the work with the Lincoln Center Festival.  'Grendel,' starring mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, is a dark-comic retelling of the legend of Beowulf based on the 1971 John Gardner novel.  After its Los Angeles premiere on May 27, it will come to Lincoln Center on July 11. 

'In today's world, it's more relevant than ever,' said Taymor.  'It's about how do we look at the world from the outsider's point of view, from the monster's point of view.'

  • The Zemeckis film, meanwhile, was the subject of a "fan-boy scoop"-type article in early February at Harry Knowles' Ain't It Cool News.  Neil Gaiman's and Roger Avary's screenplay appears to be taking some seriously dubious liberties with its source material.  The skepticism I have previously harbored over the notion of Grendel's horrible mum being portrayed by Angelina Jolie -- contrary to my earlier post, Jolie's "beautiful queen of darkness" and Grendel's mater horribilis prove to be the same character -- is only compounded by this little tidbit, which renders me well nigh speechless:

According to Avary, he and Neil Gaiman went to the original epic poem and did as literal a translation as possible, with the only liberties filling in holes in the story, either gaps in time or something left unexplained.

In this instance, they realized [sic] that Grendel was the son of the demon [Jolie] and The King [Anthony Hopkins' Hrothgar], which would be the reason he's tormenting his father, as well as dragging living men off to his mother.

O tempore, o mores, oh dear dear dear...

A Conspiracy Carnival So Vast . . . .

Grab the Kids!  The Carnival is Coming to Town!

"What Carnival?" I hear you cry.  Why, none other than the premiere weekly carnival of legally-oriented weblogologists, the Blawg Review

I had been planning to host the Review sometime around Midsummer, when it was to be hoped that the demands of my profession might have eased up a bit.  My Midsummer's dream was not to be, however, as the mysterious "Ed.", editor of the Blawg Review, was successful in prevailing upon me to serve as a last minute substitute to host the Review fewer than two weeks from today. 

WHEREFOR I humbly request that you mark your calendars now!  Because, on April 3, 2006, Blawg Review #51 will be published at two -- yes, two! -- locations under the proprietorship of this foolish country lawyer: here, in the forest, and there, at the ostensibly more serious Declarations and Exclusions.  Some clever division between the two sites will be worked out, so that you will be required to read both posts at both weblogs in order to savor the full spectral panoply of wonders that is, or will be, Blawg Review #51.  The extra click-through will be a small price to pay, I assure you.

In the meantime, so that you may contain your excitement and so as to make the time pass more quickly, please sample the current offering of Blawg Review #49 at Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog, and the forthcoming 50th Edition to be hosted beginning March 27 by the dark goddess of replevin

[Query whether the goddess of replevin is acquainted with this Fool's #1 hit-generator, the  Goddess of Folly?  A mystery of eleusinian dimensions, to be sure.]

Heads Up! Seven Veiled Threats for Al Pacino

Salome_beardsley Speaking of lush and decadent works from the late 19th Century, as we were in the Klimt item below, a promotional e-mail alerts me that the Wadsworth Theatre in West Los Angeles is about to play host to a limited engagement of Oscar Wilde's Salome in a "production with music" (not by Richard Strauss) to be directed by Estelle Parsons and starring Al Pacino, presumably in the role of Herod.  Jessica Chastain casts modesty to the winds and essays the title role.

The run will consist of 26 performances from April 14 to May 14.  Tickets become available for public purchase on March 26 -- and are being offered for pre-sale at the moment to those who have purchased a membership in to the theatre proprietors' preferred-playgoer club -- an elite group that does not include this Fool.

It is unclear whether the production has any direct connection to Pacino's 2003 "reading" version of the play in New York, the cast of which included three other past or future Academy Award nominees or winners: Marisa Tomei, Diane Weist and David Strathairn, or the 1992 Circle in the Square staging in which Miss Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks, Washington, Sheryl Lee was the naughty titular princess. 

Of Pacino's 1992 turn as Herod the New York Times reported:

Bejeweled and spangled, Al Pacino swaggers onstage as King Herod in "Salome" and raises his voice almost to a falsetto.  He does not edge into this role; he dives headlong.  It is a daring performance that flirts dangerously with camp but stays strictly within the character, at least the character as Mr. Pacino envisions him.

    * * *

In the end, his Herod is close to Caligula or Nero.  He would have been right at home on television's "I, Claudius" as a maddened monarch who is so accustomed to having his way that he is stunned when someone, in this case, Salome, challenges him. . . .

As a feat of acting, Mr. Pacino's performance may remind one of Marlon Brando's more eccentric characterizations, his foppish Fletcher Christian in the remake of 'Mutiny on the Bounty,' for example.  But it is heightened by Mr. Pacino's own particular virtuosity and gift for black humor.  It is a performance that obscures everything else on the stage.  This is a good thing. . . .

For added decadence, this is another one of those productions only accessible to those with a currently active VISA® card, a dreadful exclusionary practice of which I have complained once before.

Coming Soon!
Eddie Murphy Stars in Nutty Curator II: The Klimts

Delightful news for Los Angeles-based fans of fin de siecle Viennese painting: five Gustav Klimt works looted by the Nazis, ownership of which was recently awarded -- to the chagrin of the Austrian government -- to the heirs of the looted family, will be placed on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from April 4 through June 30.   An excerpt from the LACMA press release [PDF] on the exhibition:

'In gratitude to the City and County of Los Angeles,' stated [Bloch-Bauer heir and painting recipient] Maria Altmann, 'which provided me a home when I fled the Nazis, and whose courts enabled me to recover my family’s paintings at long last, I am very pleased that these wonderful paintings will be seen at LACMA.  It was always the wish of my uncle and aunt to make their collection available to the public.'

The earlier portrait, Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907), one of the few extant paintings in Klimt’s groundbreaking gold style, portrays its elegant and intelligent subject as the ideal of feminine beauty.  The figure, now among the world’s most recognizable works of art, seems to dissolve into sumptuous gold patterning reminiscent of Byzantine art.  The second version, Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912), abandons gold in favor of vivid colors.  Beechwood (1903), one of Klimt’s few woodland paintings, shares in the ideas of French Impressionism and is dominated by the brown and gray tones of the dried leaves of the forest floor.  His Apple Tree I is suffused with nuanced color and is among his most meditative paintings.  One of Klimt’s last landscapes, Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter, renders houses along Lake Attersee in an architectonic style.

Adele Bloch-Bauer I The Los Angeles Times report states the obvious:

The exhibition is sure to raise questions about the possibility that the paintings might join the Los Angeles museum's permanent collection.

That will be up to the heirs, and no decision has been made, [Altmann's attorney Randol] Schoenberg said.

But the museum's staff can hope.  'Should there be some way to make this exhibition something that would be forever available,' [LACMA senior curator Stephanie] Barron said, 'that would be extraordinary.'

LACMA is, sadly, somewhat notorious for its skill at losing out on promising/anticipated bequests, so fingers must remain crossed for the time being.

And yes, I realize the Eddie Murphy joke in the post title is a bit of a stretch.  After all, every art historian knows that Gustav Klimt's real cinematic ambition was to be John Malkovich.

John Malkovich being Gustav Klimt being John Malkovich being Gustav Klimt being...


Paging Jimmy Page, or, Might These Be Robert's Plants?

Have you ever been curious why it was that Led Zeppelin put "Goin' to California" and "When the Levee Breaks" in sequence and on the same album?

Well, now you know.


[Just look at those soggy vineyards.  I have been unable to find any reports identifying the particular winery whose vines were inundated in this incident.  We are close enough to the advent of Spring that it is likely the vines were emerging from dormancy and may have sustained actual damage from being flooded like this. 

One shudders to think how much worse this would have been if LedZep hadn't chosen to put "The Rain Song" on a different record. . . .]

I Like Pinot, Brudder, I Like Toast and Jam . . .

If you hurry, before it disappears into the pay-only archives, Wednesday's Los Angeles Times Food Section featured a fine article on Pinot Noir, the Grape That Launched a Thousand Dozen Festivals.

Of vaguely related interest: film-fancying wine-bibbers, as well as film-bibbling wine-fanciers, may enjoy the Paul Giamatti joke in the penultimate panel (that's the one at bottom left) of LAist's OSCAR...the Comic Book.  No Merlot was harmed in the making of this picture.

And, if your tastes run to Two- Three-Buck Chuck: Be sure to catch (again, before it disappears onto the overpriced archival servers) the New York Times' revelatory piece on the mystery-shrouded inner workings of Trader Joe's, just in time for the opening of the first Manhattan TJ's a week from today.

[Post title adapted from an idea by The Newbeats.]

Best. Appellate. Advocacy. Anecdote. Ever?

Yesterday morning, I argued an appeal in a relatively minor criminal case -- involving the liability of a corporate officer for posting of signs not in compliance with the Los Angeles Municipal Code, which is exactly as riveting an issue as it sounds unless, of course, you are yourself the defendant or a fellow such as myself who enjoys wrestling with fine evidentiary distinctions -- before the Appellate Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court.  I was not trial counsel in the case, so I have had to make do with a Record I Never Made.  It was perfectly clear from the outset -- actually, from the moment I read the Court's tentative ruling -- that the Court is inclined to go against me on this one.  Still, the judges were entirely civil about it as they heard me out, and I gave them the best shot I was able within the bounds of the facts and the law that I had been dealt.

All of which is by way of mere prelude to this:

My appellate appearance yesterday was as nothing compared to that of Norm Pattis of Crime & Federalism today, in which he was bloodied before the Second Circuit.

[UPDATE 031306: Thanks to whoever it may have been (not me) who submitted this post for possible inclusion in this week's Blawg Review #48, hosted at Rethink(IP).  Why, I don't even mind that the Rethinkers elected to shunt it off to the appendix.   It is an honor just to have been Rethought of, isn't it?  Indeed it is.]