Tense this holiday season? Maybe a roaring "fire" is good for what ails you. bill-murray-scrooged-holiday-movies GIF

Tense this holiday season? Maybe a roaring “fire” is good for what ails you.

The phrase “I can’t even” may have been invented for today’s blog post, which may be my last for the next week-ish of the holiday season.

How better to enjoy the holidays than gathered around a roaring fire with family and other loved ones? That is the notion behind the longtime TV version of the Yule log, which some stations traditionally have played while holiday music streams. Cheesy, but effective.

A roaring fire: You feel better already, don't you? fireplace norman rockwell

A roaring fire: You feel better already, don’t you?

An inspired “film” on Netflix has taken that a step further. “Fireplace for Your Home” is that tried-and-true approach. But wait … there’s more.

First of all, there is a trailer (yes, a trailer!) for this cinematic effort. Does it build your anticipation? Here it is:

And then, committed to the cinéma vérité of their effort, the auteurs added “behind the scenes” footage. For reals:

If this doesn’t make you chuckle, well, I can only recommend the movie Scrooged to you.

Happy holidays!

scrooged poster Bill Murray


After taking Christmas Day off (a holiday miracle), I continue the Christmas theme today by pointing you to some film reviews from an unlikely source—law librarians.

Specifically, today I point you to the blog of the Law Librarians of Congress. Titled In Custodio Legis, the blog ranges far afield on topics that the librarians think may be engaging to legal readers. And so we get movie reviews.

What makes this post oh-so-timely is that the author decides to provide reviews of Christmas movies. And these are not reviews like many other folks would do them. You know, “If there’s any movie I’d suggest curling up with this season, it’s Miracle on 34th Street.” Not even close.

To get what I mean, here is how the assembled librarians examined that film:

“The film concerns a man named Kris Kringle, who works as a Santa Claus for Macy’s and who, by his shining example, inspires even Mr. Macy and his chief competitor to embrace the spirit of giving during the season. Kris, due to an unfortunate event, ends up being the subject of a competency hearing because he believes he is the real St. Nick!”

“New York State at the time of the movie (immediately after World War II) had several methods for committing individuals who were thought to be a danger to themselves or others. One such procedure was upon the finding of ‘… a judge of a court of record of the city or county, or a justice of the supreme court of the judicial district in which the alleged mentally ill person resides or may be …’. Kris is tried in New York City by a Supreme Court judge (in New York the Supreme Court is not a court of appeals). The local prosecutor represents the State and Kris is represented by his friend, Fred Gayley. The procedures followed in court are not very accurate. Fred is able to convince the court, in part through the sage advice of the judge’s political advisor, to accept the existence of Santa Claus. The issue in dispute then shifts to the validity of Kris’ assertion.”

Do you get the idea? These are reviews that lawyers and judges can sink their teeth into.

Library of Congress logo

Here’s some more:

“The Blog Team suggested Home Alone and Love Actually as other possible candidates. For Home Alone the legal issue would be at what age, if any, does Illinois state law allow children to be home alone. I checked the Illinois code on this point and found that Illinois defined a neglected minor as any child under the age of 14 who is left at home alone unsupervised by a parent or guardian for an unreasonable period of time. However this specific section of the Illinois code, 705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(d) was not passed until 2009—almost 20 years after the movie originally occurred.”

I’ll leave you to discover what they said about Love Actually, and how they remind us that a viewing of Gremlins could be aided by a close reading of The Restatement of Torts.

Read the entire post here.

After you do that, be sure to bookmark the blog, because these are some brilliantly messed up individuals—exactly like many of my favorite people in the law! Merry Christmas Redux.

clueless Santa

This holiday season, you may not be the only one who is clueless about great gifts.

Last year as we approached Christmas, I linked to the talented Washington State Bar Association, which recommended some holiday gifts for lawyers.

I’ll do the same this year, but there is a reason I’m posting this on Christmas Eve, giving you virtually no shopping time:

This year, the WSBA’s shopping list is tongue in cheek. That is, you can’t actually buy these presents anywhere (and the links they provide are fake, so don’t try clicking them).

I suspect those who are still desperately trying to finish their shopping will not think the joke is too funny. But for those who are done—or beyond caring—enjoy the funny column here. And then have a wonderful Christmas.

On the last day of a calendar year, it is commonplace for folks to take stock of their lives and resolve to do things differently in the coming year.

Yeah, right.

Don’t get me wrong. Aspirations are astounding. Goals are great. Resolutions are really, really remarkable.

But in my case this year, I need only look to my holiday presents to see what paths I have been treading. For it is my loved ones, you see, who took stock of me for me—and wrapped it up in bows.

On this last Change of Venue Friday of the year, let me tell you about three of those gifts.

The first came from our older daughter, Willa. She got me the book “The Best of Roald Dahl.”

I love Dahl, and a collection of his seriously askew tales is a great gift. But Dahl is not known for having been a fabulously cheery individual. And his stories tend to share the darker side of the human experience.

The cover squib trumpeted the fact that the author’s work was famously “nasty and wicked.” The first story I read featured a female main character who, by the fourth page, had killed her husband. By hitting him. In the head. With a piece of meat. Specifically, a frozen leg of lamb.

Put that in the category of “things that make me go hmmm.”

Next was a charming gift from our younger daughter, Thea. It appeared to be a beautiful pen, something I could use every day.

On closer inspection I could see a black ribbed crown. Pushing it caused the pen to vibrate.

A wondrous massage pen, the package announced. The perfect gift for those filled with stress.

So now I could write stories filled with Sturm und Drang, and then use my pen to obliterate it.

Hmmm, I thought. Nasty and wicked. Stress-filled. What could be next?

The last exhibit of evidence is a book I was given by our good friends. This last may be enough to convince the jury that my ways need mending.

The gift was a book by David Rakoff titled “Half Empty.” Rakoff “defends the commensensical notion that you should always assume the worst, because you’ll never be disappointed.” The book is his attempt to address the fact that “There seem[s] no longer to be any room in the discourse for anything but the sunniest outlook.”

In the first story, titled “The Bleak Shall Inherit,” Rakoff taps “deeply into the churlish vein,” concluding that “as best as I can determine, the universe cares not one jot for you or me.”

Rakoff acknowledges that “in the pessimist’s view of reality, there is often little difference between ‘worst possible outcome’ and ‘outcome.’”

Well, happy holidays to you, too.

Of course, friends and family know me well.  I am consuming the books and using the pen—both to shake the world with my thoughts and to massage my forehead.

But after all the gift-giving, I was glad all over again that my wife and I decided long ago not to exchange Christmas gifts. I had had enough with the peering into my heart of darkness, and I was not eager to have someone who knows the trail so well start spelunking in there. We’ll leave deeper excavation for 2011.

Have a great weekend.