Song: "I am the Wombat of D. G. Rossetti"

Rossetti's Wombat Seated in his Master's Lap



In the Southern Hemisphere
They say that the creatures are terribly queer: 
Some of them poisonous, 
Some of them vicious. 
Furred, but with duck’s bills!
Or scaly, like fishes!
But I, sir —
You see me, sir —
Harmless and dreamy, sir —
Make my acquaintance: I’m pleased to be here.

Oh —

I am the wombat of D.G. Rossetti, 
  Imported to London from over the seas. 
When Maestro Rossetti was wanting a pet he
  Sent off a request to the antipodes.

There a bold sun-burnished strapping Australian
  Beat through the bush to see what he could see. 
Searching through forests eccentric and alien, 
  He found a burrow and there he found me.

Many months later I came to the jetty, 
  Was met by my master, Christina, and Jane. 
Now I am the wombat of D.G. Rossetti: 
  I live in Cheyne Walk and I walk on a chain.

Kangaroos relish their fisticuff combat
  Whilst I on the other hand flee from a fight. 
In London I am the preeminent wombat,
  The only one owned by a Pre-Raphaelite.

I have been called both a joy and a madness, 
  Delightful to all who my company keep. 
When some day I die of homesickness and sadness, 
  My master will fall to his knees and he’ll weep.

Fighting his tears he’ll erect a memorial, 
  Hon’ring the wombat what wuvved him so well, 
While my marsupial soul incorporeal
  Sighs from on high like some blest Damozel.

He taught me Italian and fed me spaghetti: 
  All chubby in Chelsea, I couldn’t stay long. 
I was the wombat of D.G. Rossetti: 
  Though mortal in life I’m immortal in song.

Yes I was the wombat of D.G. Rossetti —
  Though mortal in life I’m immortal in song!

Wmr wombat sketch

This waddling lyric is the result of a bit of free association on Twitter last week between soprano Jennifer Behnke, composer Garrett Shatzer, and myself. I am afraid 'twas I who inserted wombats in to an otherwise perfectly serious train of thought about poetry. At length, I decided to take a run at lyrics for a wombat song, and here we are.

I hear a tune for this in my head, a Victorian music hall waltz of sorts, but your own imagination may lead you in other directions.


Illustrations: "Rossetti's Wombat Seated in his Master's Lap," pencil drawing by William Bell Scott, on Rossetti's letterhead, from the holdings of the Tate. A sketch of the wombat by William Michael Rossetti, provenance unknown.

Additional visual inspirations:


"Mrs. Morris and the Wombat," pen drawing by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, original in the holdings of the British Museum, image via The Rossetti Archive.

Rossetti mourning his wombat

"Rossetti lamenting the death of his wombat", pen drawing by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, from the holdings of the British Museum.


Blawg Review #315 - April Fools' Prequel

Trial by jury 1



Surprise! Blawg Review, the blog carnival for everyone interested in law, is ready for its comeback and its close up.

Launched originally in April 2005, and overseen by the still-anonymous Editor, Blawg Review ranged about across the legal blogging landscape, appearing each Monday in a new and different exotic locale for the next six years before seemingly going silent following its 314th edition this past August.

It has been my pleasure to host Blawg Review on my legal blog, Declarations and Exclusions, on five occasions, beginning with Blawg Review #51. Since April 1, 2006, I have also hosted, here, five April Fools' extra editions, in the same week as the Decs&Excs editions. That's ten hosting turns for me, an ample store of evidence from which our Editor was able to infer that, yes, I'm just a blogger who can't say "no" if you were, hypothetically, to float the notion of refiring the boilers under Blawg Review and ending its sabbatical on an April Fool-ish note. Thus it comes to pass that Blawg Review #315 will be up at Decs&Excs on Monday and that the sixth annual April Fools' Edition is now before your disbelieving eyes.

While the original installments of Blawg Review were simple collections of links to the prior week's best or most interesting or most curious legal blogging, it early on became common, albeit never mandatory, for each host to adopt a Theme for his or her presentation. On this day last year, Blawg Review #305 took the form of a tribute to and adaptation of "I've Got a Little List," from Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado. Today, I hope I may be pardoned if I return to the same well and build this 2012 April Fools' edition around another popular G&S number, the introductory song of Major-General Stanley from The Pirates of Penzance, best known by its opening line:

"I am the very model of a modern Major-General." 


We need not go into the absurd plot of Pirates today. Suffice it to say that it involves pirates, an unfortunate young fellow apprenticed to their service until his eighteenth birthday, the difficulty posed by his having been born on the 29th of February and thereby having had only four birthdays in eighteen years, a collection of young lovelies who are wards in chancery to the aforementioned Major-General, a collection of unhappy policemen, and a joyous, nuptial ending.

Major-General Stanley himself is a figure of a kind W.S. Gilbert delighted in mocking: a man who has risen to a position of stature for which he has no practical qualifications whatever. What the Major-General does possess is a vast store of arcane and useless knowledge bearing on most every topic except those that might make him an effetive military man. He would likely have made a fine blogger, had the Victorian era offered that outlet.

Upon his arrival in Act I, Major-General Stanley demonstrates his breadth of study with this famous patter song. Here it is, as performed by John Reed, principal comedian with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in the 1950's and 1960's:

Here, George Rose performs it in the wildly successful 1980 New York Shakespeare Festival staging in Central Park, with Linda Ronstadt as Mabel and Kevin Kline in his star-making turn as the Pirate King:

Sir Arthur Sullivan's catchy tune has achieved a further measure of immortality thanks to its having been adapted by Tom Lehrer to provide the melody for his cataloging of the chemical elements, "The Elements." (Clever title, that.)

Lehrer's song drew renewed attention recently when the performing of it was revealed to be a favorite party trick of Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe. Allow him to demonstrate:

And so, with that tune now well-implanted in your ears, we may turn to the matter at hand. Friends, the 2012 April Fools' Prequel to Blawg Review #315:

Henry Lytton as Major General Stanley 1919



This is the snappy patter-singing April Foolin' Blawg Review.
We're bringing back this legal blogging carnival to all of you
Who've missed it or forgotten it while it's been in absentia:
(A weekly dose of blawging is believed to slow dementia.)
There's many kinds of blawging, folks: it may be theoretical,
From time to time rhetorical, and sometimes alphabetical.
We hope you'll find this parody enlightening and risible....
Inspired by Major-General Stanley's rapid polysyllables.

    Inspired by Major-General Stanley's rapid pollysyllables,
    Inspired by Major-General Stanley's rapid polysyllables,
    Inspired by General Stanley and his rapid Polly Polly syllables! 

The Law's much more than drafting-stuff-while-sitting-at-your-

And offers opportunities for wackinessgrotesquery,
For odd quixotic ventures, and for trumpery and trickery,
And litigants possessèd by the spirit of Terpsichore.
A matter rather serious we feel we need to mention: you
Should click the links below and take the time to pay attention to
The awful depredations of a so-called blogger/journalist
The Lord High Executioner might add to his infernal list.

    The Lord High Executioner might add to his infernal list,
    Oh yes he would indeed do well to add to his infernal list
    That most eternally infernal wicked so-called blogger/journalist.

With cigarettes and chocolates, we try to be responsible.
These clever cartoons educate the criminal and constable
If you work at McDonald's, all your problems may be supersized.
(These blawgs are all original, there's nothing here
    that's plagiarized.)

From blawgs you'll learn a thing or three about judicial etiquette
And dangerous misguided legislators in Connecticut.

Perhaps with an analogy we'll find that a solution'll
Present itself to when a health care mandate's Constitutional. 

    We do not understand it, all this complicated push 'n' pull!
    To find it inter-esting you would have to be delusional!
    We like a nice long walk, yes that's a proper daily

You, too, could be an expert
, so be sure to trim your cuticles

And brighten your appearance through the use of cosmeceuticals.
Now take the time to listen to a podcast full of Georgery
Or head out to a gallery where ev'ry work's a forgery.
Our time here it is fleeting and I fear I hear it flittering
Or fluttering or flattering or maybe even Twittering 
This Prequel's the embodiment of ev'rything that's ex- cell- ent....

   And now that Blawg Review is back, 
  You'll wonder why it ever went!

The Major General - theatre poster 1880


Here are gathered stand-alone links to all of the blawgs embedded in the lyric above. Where multiple entries originate from the same source, I have kept them together, so the order of links below does not necessarily follow the order of links above. 

Above the Law -
"Nanny State Ban on Words Is Lazy Educating By New York State"

The Criminal Lawyer [Nathaniel Burney] -
"Better Criminal Lawyering through Smart Risk-Taking"
Also by Mr. Burney, the ongoing and highly commendable
Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law.

An Associate's Mind [Keith Lee] -
"Churchill's 5 Elements for Persuasive Speaking"

Koehler Law Blog [Jamison Koehler] -
"Cross Examinations. Directs, too." -
"Guide to Rhetorical Fallacies" [Michael Lines]; 
"The Friday Fillip: The Military of Silly Walks" [Simon Fodden] [Kyle Graham] - 
"The Affordable Care Act Oral Argument, If Hollywood Had Scripted It";
"The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Indexed to Franklin, Rabin & Green’s Tort Law and Alternatives" (via Overlawyered); 
Just the Facts, Ma’am: Daily Training Bulletins of the Los Angeles Police Department, in Cartoons (1954)

New York Personal Injury Law Blog [Eric Turkewitz] - 
"A New Personal Injury Waiver (Updated)"

D.A. Confidential - 
"A word in your ear"

 Technology & Marketing Law Blog [Eric Goldman] - 
"What Do Soymilk and Nutella Have to Do With an Online Harassment Case?--Taylor v. Texas"

California Appellate Report
"Brantley v. NBC Universal (9th Cir. - March 30, 2012)"
["It basically depends on if you know you're Don Quixote or if, instead, you're actually Don Quixote."] 

"The RNC shoots itself in the mouth

WSJ Law Blog - 
"Witches’ Brew! NY Suit Over Court Victory Dance Continues

The Legal Satyricon [Marc Randazza] -
"Judge rules, again, that blogger Crystal Cox is not a journalist. You know why? Because she ISN’T a journalist"; 
"How Crystal Cox is helping to prove the strength of the First Amendment"

Simple Justice [Scott Greenfield] -
"A Blogger Not Like Us"

Popehat [Ken-at-Popehat] -
"'Investigative Journalist' Crystal Cox's Latest Target: An Enemy's Three-Year-Old Daughter"; 
"For Plagiarists, The Internet Is A Double-Edged Sword";
"In Which I Dare Connecticut To Come Get Me. COME AT ME, BRO."

Philly Law Blog [Jordan Rushie] -
"Crystal Cox – Investigative Blogger? No, More Like A Scammer and Extortionist"

Defending People [Mark Bennett] -
"Crystal Cox"

Abnormal Use [Nick Farr] -
"Philip Morris Not Liable for Fire Started by Cigarette"

Jonathan Turley -
"Pinch Me: First Truck Spills Millions of Coins All Over Highway, Second Truck Covers The Money In Candy . . . Men Wait Anxiously For Moosehead Beer Truck"

Overlawyered [Walter Olson] - 
"Woman Blames McDonald's for Prostitution"

The Trial Warrior Blog [Antonin Pribetic] -
"Supreme Court of Canada: Canadian lawyers must turn the other cheek when bench slapped"

Concurring Opinions [Nathan Cortez] - 
"Why Can’t We Analogize the Mandate?"

Criminal Defense [Brian Tannebaum] -
"Wanna Get Famous Off Trayvon Martin?"

A Georgia Lawyer -
"A New One: 'Cosmeceuticals'"

Infamy or Praise [Colin Samuels] -
"George Rises (and Falls)"

The Art Law Blog [Donn Zaretsky] -
"Remember when I asked how long it would be before a gallery signed him up?"

Charon QC -

The Modern Major General by Bab (aka WS Gilbert)
Tomorrow [April 2, 2012] BLAWG REVIEW #315 will be hosted at my law and insurance blog, Declarations and Exclusions. Please drop in and sample the wares on offer.

[Update 4/2/12: Blawg Review #315 is up and readable here.]

Blawg Review has information about next week's host, future hosts, how you too can become a host, and instructions on how to get your own blawg posts considered in upcoming editions.


Blawg Review #305

Trial by jury 1


Yes, friends, it's Blawg Review #305, appearing several days ahead of its typical Monday schedule so that I may continue the Tradition (Tradition!), observed in four of the previous five years, of hosting an April Fools' Blawg Review installment here in the forest.  Note, if you have not already, that since this past Monday I have been hosting Blawg Review #304 at my oft-neglected legal blog, Declarations & Exclusions.

For this year's April Fools' theme I turn to a true connoisseur of human folly, William Schwenk Gilbert, the "Gilbert" of Gilbert & Sullivan fame.  W. S. Gilbert knew something of the Law at first hand: as a young man, before finding success first as an author of light verse and then as the authoring and directing half of one of the more successful theatrical duos of all time, Gilbert attempted a career as a barrister in London's Inner Temple.  He was not a success.  Indeed, it is reported that in the course of a year a mere five clients came his way.  We pause at this juncture to shed a tear of solidarity.

Gilbert's fortunes improved when, under the pen name "Bab," he began writing and illustrating humorous verse for magazines. Those poems came to be known as the "Bab Ballads."  The illustration atop this post accompanied "Trial by Jury," the tale of a suit for breach of promise to marry in which the judge does equity by wedding the jilted bride himself.  That ballad was ultimately expanded to a full one-act operetta, marking the first successful collaboration between Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, with whom his name is now forever linked.

Of the fourteen major collaborations between Gilbert and Sullivan, the longest-lasting is The Mikado, which continues to receive performances the world over on a near daily basis.  The creation of The Mikado was the subject of Mike Leigh's Academy-nominated 1999 film, Topsy-Turvy, which is perhaps the best ever made on the subject of how the creative process in the theater really works.

Ko-Ko by Bab
Although it is ostensibly set in distant and exotic Japan, in the town of [ha ha!] Titipu, the only things actually Japanese about The Mikado are the costumes and, particularly in Sullivan's Overture, some of the music.  Otherwise, it is a resolutely English piece, poking fun at resolutely English targets.

To summarize, insofar as the plot is relevant to our business here today: The Mikado (Emperor) of Japan is of a particularly bloodthirsty disposition, criminalizing all manner of innocent activity and declaring most crimes to be punishable by death.  Not so bloodthirsty themselves, the citizens of Titipu hit upon the idea that the next person set for execution should himself be appointed Lord High Executioner.  Since his first order of business will be to behead himself, it is unlikely sentence will be carried out.  The title and responsibility thus fall to Ko-Ko, a poor tailor languishing in the county gaol awaiting execution for the now-illegal act of flirting. Released and elevated, Ko-Ko promises the populace that should he ever be called upon actually to execute an execution, he has in mind many potential recipients of that service other than himself. So well prepared is he for this eventuality that He's Got a Little List!  And he will share it with us, in song.

Gilbert's original lyric begins:

As some day it may happen that a victim must be

I've got a little list — I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed — who never would
  be missed!

There's the pestilential nuisances who write for
  autographs —
All people who have flabby hands and irritating
  laughs —

And so on from there.  

The Little List is a catalog of prejudices and dislikes—including some unpleasantly hostile attitudes, probably Gilbert's own, toward non-white persons ("the banjo-serenader and others of his race" [the original-original line is actually worse]) and the female sex ("the lady from the provinces, who dresses like a guy,/ And who 'doesn't think she dances, but would rather like to try';/ And that singular anomaly, the lady novelist...")—none of whom, we are assured, will be missed.   

In Gilbert's last verse, he targets politicians "of a compromising kind."  Perhaps in consideration of the notoriously onerous English libel laws, he names no names (referring instead to "What d'ye call him — Thing'em-bob, and likewise — Never-mind") but it became traditional from virtually the first performance of The Mikado that, by appropriate gesture and mime, the actor portraying Ko-Ko could convey precisely which well-known statesmen were intended to be tweaked.  

That little trick, and the passage of years, led to the other grand tradition of the Little List: it is now almost always performed with extensive revision so as to target the irritants particular to the time and place of the performance.  It is not unknown for new verses to be crafted immediately before curtain time: since Ko-Ko is reading from his List, memorization is not a problem.  When the English National Opera revived The Mikado in a Jonathan Miller production (shifted to the 1920s), Eric Idle of Monty Python's Flying Circus took the role of Ko-Ko, and his cheeky nightly updatings of the Little List became somewhat notorious.  Richard Suart, who has since played the role many times in revivals of that same production, produced a book in 2008 (They'd None of 'em Be Missed) compiling a remarkable number of updated, topical Lists.

As you will have guessed from this prolix introduction, this year's April Fools' Blawg Review is centered around my own attempt at a blawgophile version of The Little List.  I present it below, followed by a selection of links directing you to properly foolish or eyebrow-raising legal items from 'round the sphere o' blawgs.

(If you find my version of Gilbert's lyric at all amusing, you might also enjoy my prior attempt at a topical rewriting of Victorian light verse, inspired by the 2010 BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico: "The Walrus and the Petrol-Man.")


For those not familiar with Sullivan's tune for Ko-Ko's song, there is a cheesy MIDI version here.  Note that the lyrical revision below runs one verse longer than Gilbert's original, so the MIDI will run out before the verses do.  (The MIDI version also slows, as the singer typically does, during the political "What d'ye call him" section of Verse 3.)

Or perhaps you would prefer first to hear it sung by a professional?  There is a surprising dearth of satisfactory in-context versions of the Little List on the YouTubes, so instead I offer this performance by the fine English baritone Sir Thomas Allen (seen very recently in these parts), recorded at the closing BBC Proms concert at the Royal Albert Holes Hall in 2004.  Sir Thomas milks it more than somewhat, as the occasion requires, but his version strikes a reasonable balance between Gilbert's original verses and new, topical ones—to the extent Walkman jokes were still "topical" three years post-iPod—by Kit Hesketh-Harvey:


George Grossmith as Ko-KoGeorge Grossmith, the original Ko-Ko

And so, to our own special Blawg Reviewing Little List.  I might manage a passable rendition of this myself, but the lack of proper recording equipment spares us all the experiment.  Instead, in concluding this introduction, I shall simply join with Ko-Ko himself in declaring:

"I can only trust that by strict attention to duty I shall ensure a continuance of those favours which it will ever be my study to deserve."


(This Blawg Review Has) Got a Little List

On April Fools' it happens that some targets must be
I've got a little list! I've got a little list
Of law-related nuisances we wish were not around
And who never would be missed — they never would be 

There's law school grads whose sole concern is paying 
  student loans,

And members of the slackoisie who will not grow
  some stones,

And haughty law professors who don't practice, only

And excise practicality from everything they teach,
And let employers do the job for which their schools
They'd none of 'em be missed — no, they'd none of
  'em be missed!

    He's got 'em on the list — he's got 'em on the list,
    And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none
      of 'em be missed.

Those copyright "defenders" who write rudely to

You cease and you desist — I've got them on my list!
All the Constitution-shredding prosecutors 'cross
  the land,

I'm sure that you'll insist I put them on my list.

There's the Legal Biz consultant and his jargon-
  spewing kind

Like You Know Who, and Wotsername, and –
  hang it! Never mind --

Who claim fat fees to tell you how to stand out in the

But haven't got a clue because their heads are up
  their Cloud.
And let us not forget the "legal thriller" novelist.
He'll surely not be missed — they'd none of 'em be

    He's got 'em on the list — he's got 'em on the list,
    And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none
      of 'em be missed.

Those advocates who haven't got the sense God gave
  a rock

Are roundly to be hissed — I'll add them to my list.
And lawyers who are "Outraged!" or "Offended!" or
  "In shock!"

They'd none of 'em be missed — no, they'd none of
  'em be missed!

There's legislators, regulators, monitors and such
Who claim that they know secrets and that you're just
  out of touch,

And those who cite your "safety" as they strip you of
  your rights

Or ban your toys and food and drink and
  incandescent lights.

I won't forget the talking heads and "legal analysts."
They all go on the list, as they'll none of 'em be

    They all go on the list — they all go on the list,
    And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none
      of 'em be missed.

Don't claim to be "aggressive" when you're really just
  a jerk —

I'll slap you on the wrist, and add you to my list — 
And don't suggest that Twitter is a substitute for
  work —

At you I shake my fist, and now you're on my list

With the fellow who surrounds himself with all the
  latest "Tech"

And bloviates about it 'til you want to wring his neck —
And everyone who's "passionate" while really doing
  squat —

And anyone proclaiming he's an expert when he's not.
And I, a fool who plays the part of rhyming satirist?
We'll none of us be missed — no, we'll none of us
  be missed!


George Grossmith as the Lord Chancellor in 'Iolanthe'George Grossmith as the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe

"The Law is the true embodiment of everything that's excellent."

"When everyone is somebody, then no one's anybody." — W.S. Gilbert, from The Gondoliers, oft-cited (as in the linked case) at What About Clients?


Links, then— You'll be wanting links, this being a Blawg Review and all.  Let me see what can be done, shall I?  Yes, yes, we have some fine links here.  An assemblage of legal blogging from hither and thither, showing grace, oddity, quiddity, variety, and epiphany.  See which of the themes from our Little List re-echo through the slightly Longer List below:

Blawg Review hosts do not often get the chance to cite Access Hollywood, but where else will you learn that Judge Judy was hospitalized, but got better?

They banned the toys in Happy Meals, what more do you want? San Francisco's rather unsavory Tenderloin district seems somehow aptly named, but the upright citizens with PETA are not satisfied.  They are proposing that the City—which has only a Temporary Mayor at the moment—should rechristen the Tenderloin to honor textured soy products.

At his California Appellate Report blog, Prof. Shaun Martin proposes a useful predictive tool in litigation: "Whoever attempts to file a proposed pleading in excess of a full ream of paper will lose the lawsuit."  Make a note: valuable safety tip.

If Washington University Law's Brian Tamanaha suddenly vanishes mysteriously, it may be because he has been spilling the beans about the supposed "selfessness" of law professors.

  • Caution— The preceding post contains this disturbing admission by the former president of the Association of American Law Schools:

   "Lawyers are not 'produced' or even 'trained' by law schools."  

The AALS—which sounds rather like one of those wicked "special interests" we are always hearing about—appears to believe that this is a good thing.  

Did you see where the American Bar Association—yet another special interest group—after close examination of the evidence, concluded that personal referrals and recommendations from people who actually know something about a lawyer are far more likely to drive business to that lawyer than, say, a blog (even a good one) or social media?  And did you see where a lot of people professed surprise at what strikes this blogger as pretty obvious? Let it be duly writ down that Scott Greenfield was not to be counted among the surprised.

Even the jaded souls at Above the Law were amazed by the ghoulish bad taste and the abuse of firefighters and of Photoshop evidenced in one law firm's recent advert.

Brian Tannebaum, with the tactful and gentle demeanor for which he is beloved, calmly and carefully gnaws down to the root of things, spits it out, and explains yet again that The Real Problem With Lawyers is Pure Stupidity.

In a development that should please art fanciers everywhere, it seems our very own Los Angeles County Museum of Art is beating the devil and slaying zombie copyrights.

James Joyce is dead, his troubles are over.  Not so the troubles of certain clever researchers who encoded 14 nearly-coherent words from Finnegans Wake on to a strand of DNA and are now, per Overlawyeredhearing about it from the Joyce estate's lawyers.  (More at The Art Law Blog.  I ventured into the metaphysics of it all via Twitter here.)  The Joyce estate is notoriously touchy about these things, to the extent that Ohio State University publishes a set of Frequently Asked Questions on dealing with them.  [h/t the Twitter feed of @AntoninPribetic.]

  • Gilbert and Sullivan, by the way—and particularly Gilbert—were extremely protective of their copyrights, particularly when their first big hit, H.M.S. Pinafore was the subject of multiple unauthorized U.S. productions before their own could be brought from London.  Through the efforts of their producer, impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte, those copyrights were kept alive until 1961.  Parliament even considered, but rejected, a further extension specific to Gilbert and Sullivan, given the operas' "national treasure" status.  More on the legal aspects of the Savoyard legacy, here.

You know how they say an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client?  Apparently, that rule makes no exception for Harvard grads.  [also via Above the Law.]  Remember, kids: if the case isn't about your 75-pound Labrador, there is little to be gained by submitting his vet bills as exhibits.

Even if your Lab is not involved, howz you doin' at getting your exhibits admitted effectively at trial?  It's not Rocket Science, you know.  It's Magic.  [via, unnaturally, the Law and Magic Blog.]

And speaking of cute li'l doggies: Michigan liquor authorities express fear and loathing over a Ralph Steadman-designed label for "Raging B*tch" Belgian-style India Pale Ale.  [Legal Blog Watch]

New Horizons in Business: Florida legislator suggests women should incorporate their lady parts to avoid intrusive regulation, is reproved for use of real names of things.

Perhaps you have no higher goal in life than maximizing your following on Twitter?  Then you might be just the sort of gullible sap who would listen to a self- styled "social media scientist" advising you how to do it.  "Social media science,"  we should note, bears about the same relationship to actual Science as "science fiction" does.

You want fiction?  Try this on for size: "Three Law-Related Dramas Win Peabody Awards."  [Law and Humanities Blog]

This being April Fools' Day, you will perhaps be thinking of some sly prank or other to inflict upon with which to contribute to the innocent merriment those around you.  You know, stuff like this.  If your roguish japery includes, say, the use of the public airwaves, the Broadcast Law Blog reminds you to please be sure to clear it first with the FCC.

You might also take steps to contain the mirth a bit in the workplace.  [Manpower Blog]

More workplace fun via Lowering the Bar: "The employee was horrified at the possibility of wearing the chicken head. . . ."

Of course you realize this means war!  [An Associate's Mind]

Or it may just be the end of the world as we know it.  [Legal Antics]

In any event, we don't need another hero.  [Southern Lawyer NC]

Memories, via @gapingvoid.

Lord Chancellor and two of his wards by WS Gilbert


This April Fools' edition marks the tenth occasion on which it has been my pleasure to host an installment of Blawg Review. Thanks once again to the Anonymous Editor, and other supporters of this and previous editions.  

As Futures will do, the Future of Blawg Review has shrouded itself in mystery.  Should it turn out that the post you are reading is the Last Blawg Review Ever, it is my hope that you will agree with me that, unlike the denizens of our Little List, the institution of Blawg Review assuredly will be missed.

Keep your heads, and good blawgs to you.


Meet the Beagles


I am flying today to Orlando, Florida, for a weekend of risk-and-insurance jollity with my fellow CPCUs.  If you should find yourself loitering about the Marriott World Center hotel on Sunday morning, you might try sneaking in to the annual Mock Trial, in which I will be fighting the good fight on behalf of my fictional client in a spirited Appellate Cage Match of vasty deepness.

The sign above was photographed in the Orlando International Airport in 2008.  I do not know if it is still there.  Much is communicated by this sign, though but little is revealed.

It is comforting to know that Security Theater, like the vaudeville of old, still has a place for a good dog act.

The promise that I might be permitted to help sniff luggage is intriguing.  

The promise that I will be fined for smuggling if I declare my food, plant, and animal products is dismaying.  

The question of whether the beagles, as animals, must declare their own products is unanswered, as is how best to declare them in polite company.

That said, a little traveling music:

The Handsome Family - All the Time in Airports


Photo by Mark Kobayashi-Hillary, via Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons license.


See Emily Play

And you read your Emily Dickinson
And I my Robert Frost
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what we've lost.

The Dangling Conversation (P. Simon) performed by Simon & Garfunkel.
By happy coincidence, this is exactly the verse excerpted in this audio sample:

More Simon & Garfunkel music on iLike


Emily Dickinson never really goes away, and you can never tell when she will turn up along your path to remind you of that fact.  Here, two recent such reminders.

First, from a week or so ago, a Dickinsonian installment of a well-known webcomic.  It's the Belle of Amherst vs. the Hearse of Amherst.

image from

[Click to enlarge.  Better yet, view the full size original version at xkcd.]

The perspicacious reader will note that this item is not only amusing but also practical.  It is just the right size and shape to be printed out, scissored neatly, and used by the said reader as a bookmarker with which to note a place or to measure a loss.

Number two: to counter the unfortunate musical revelation hidden in the alt-text of that cartoon, David Sylvian proffers an austere, altogether humorless setting of Miss Dickinson's "There's a certain slant of light".

David Sylvian - A Certain Slant of Light   



Maestro Gustavo Dudamel.

So much promise.  

His star on the rise.

Cream of the Crop.

Envied by all.

A career ascendant in every way.

Until the day some prankster in the woodwinds "forgot" that banana peel in front of the podium....

Dudamel Takes a Tumble - edit


Photo: Detail from the LA Philharmonic's new Dudamel supergraphic for the exterior of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, via the LA TImes' Culture Monster blog, slightly modified for the sake of risibility.

Previously: A Venezuelan Werewolf in Los Angeles.


Les Regles de LA Metro

When I need to make a court appearance in downtown Los Angeles, I generally hop on Los Angeles' Metro Rail light rail system. There is a station convenient to my office, and another downtown convenient to the county courthouse, and the roundtrip fare is much less than the cost of parking.

As with most any other public facility, Metro Rail stations come equipped with helpful signs to alert passengers to the Do's and Don't's of Good Transit Citizenry.  

Here is an example, posted on a pillar in the station near my office:


So many rules, so much good advice, and all conveyed in the three official languages of California Public Spaces: English, Spanish, and Pan-Global Semiotic.

You don't have to be a Harvard Symbologist, or literate in English or Spanish, to appreciate the elegance and clarity with which this sign conveys its Helpful Hints on good Metro Rail behavior.  Just one look, that's all it took, to interpret these universal signifiers:


"We Warned You It Was Sticky"

Put That Down 


"Forward and Lateral Passing Only"

Look where You Throw 


"Okay, Okay,
the Dinosaur Footies
Are Kinda Cool"



[Posted on the advice of the Brussels Transit Authority.]

"No Cussing, Tintin!"



Verse Than Expected [w/ multiple Updates]

Inaugural Poem

I have been hunting, thus far in vain, for the text of Elizabeth Alexander's inaugural poem, which was I think Very Terrible and which was delivered in that manner poets have -- 

of pronouncing Each.  Word.  Distinctly, but without.  Affect or.  Understanding 

-- that is calculated to drive audiences from the room and away from poetry altogether for generations.  Reverend Joseph Lowery's benediction which followed had more poetry in any random ten second passage than the official Poem mustered in its entire length.

Fortunately for us all, within moments of Ms. Alexander's conclusion, the eminent Dr. Boli posted a superior alternate version of The Inaugural Poem.


UPDATE [1159 PST]:

The New York Times has a text of the real poem.  This is only a transcription, i.e., not the text.  I strongly suspect that the line breaks in that version are all wrong. 

A commenter to this post at Entertainment Weekly attempts a transcription that likely comes closer to the actual lineation.  (See comments by "Doodle"  posted at 1:51 pm and 1:48 pm, EST.)  The EW post itself describes the poem oxymoronically as "a steady march of free verse iambic pentameter" and is all too taken with limp bromides such as "figuring it out at kitchen tables."  It presumably goes without saying that those tables are on Main Street, not Wall Street.  Urgh. 

The Times of London is not so easily fooled.


UPDATE 2 [1420 PST]:

Remarkable the number of visitors dropping by today through some variant on the search "inaugural poem terrible".

At The New Republic, Adam Kirsch critiques the inaugural poem as an example of "bureaucratic verse."  He includes excerpts from earlier Alexander poems that show her to be a poet fond of short lines, which reinforces my assumption that the available transcriptions are getting the line breaks wrong.

In fairness to the poet, and so that readers can judge the work for themselves, here is Elizabeth Alexander's own delivery of her poem earlier today:


UPDATE 3 [1631 PST]:

At last!  Newsweek offers up the true text of Elizabeth Alexander's "Praise Song for the Day," complete with proper line and stanza breaks, proper punctuation, a proper copyright notice, and the news that a chapbook edition Can Be Yours come February 6.

It fares somewhat better on the page and in the mind's ear than it did in performance in this morning's "sharp sparkle", but it is still not a particularly impressive poem.  I remain unaccountably but genuinely aggravated, for example, by the dangling preposition that concludes the commemoration of the hard-working dead who

brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

That lonesome "of" might be set up to rhyme with "love" two stanzas later, but I doubt it.  There are no other rhymes in the poem, after all.  And what, pray tell, is "love with no need to pre-empt grievance"?

Let the last word on this come from the Los Angeles Times' David Ulin:

There is, of course, a cognitive disconnect to reading poetry to an audience numbering in the millions, as Alexander did.  Most poets never reach that many people in a lifetime, which may have something to do with the choice to keep her focus simple, her imagery direct.  Even so, the crowd began dispersing well before she was finished, as if her words were little more than an afterthought.

Partly, that has to do with her placement on the program, after the president; she had the misfortune of following the main event.  But even more, it suggests the tangential role of poetry in our national conversation, which is unlikely to change no matter how seriously this president, or any other, takes the written word.

We now return the new administration to the prosaic business of governance in difficult times.  Good luck to them.


Illustration: Inaugural Poem for Messrs. Lincoln and Johnson, 1865, via the Library of Congress.


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