Law students (maybe not really) await their mascot auditions (not really) in a new video from UC-Hastings College of Law.

Law students (maybe not really) await their mascot auditions (not really) in a new video from UC-Hastings College of Law.

There are a lot of things that might stir pride in your alma mater, even including your law school (OK, that’s a stretch.) But I’m not sure what emotion is stirred by a recent humorous announcement that Hastings Law is trying … mascots.

Before you get too deep into law school irritation (yes, it’s a thing), take a deep breath and realize: It’s a joke.

Yes, the University of California–Hastings College of Law did put out a video of a faux mascot competition. But they only did it to drive home the message that they are wholly focused on law, and not those many other things schools of general knowledge spend time on.

uc-hastings-logo-2

Here’s the video, which I rather enjoyed.

But then I started thinking: Maybe a mascot wouldn’t be so bad. Ever so briefly, it might take your mind off tax law, and damages, and civil procedure, and all those horrible things we discovered in torts that a vacuum could do. I mean, what if law schools around the nation lent their imaginations to the effort to select mascots that befit their mission and their clientele? What would they come up with?

And what would you come up with? I really wanna know. Send me a note (arizona.attorney@azbar.org) indicating your best law school mascot idea, which I may share, depending on the absence of obscenities.

Just so you know, sharks or shark-related ideas will be declined by me as the decider. Not because they’re not funny. But just because they’re altogether too easy.

Happy Change of Venue Friday. Enjoy your weekend—and always keep swimming.

British police car in its high-visibility "checkered livery." And it's not just loud on the eyes.

British police car in its high-visibility “checkered livery.” And it’s not just loud on the eyes.

How do you fix a crisis in policing?

(If your first response was to scratch your head and mutter “Crisis in policing?” then I offer a few terms to Google: Ferguson, school-to-prison pipeline, chokehold, Rahm Emanuel. That should get you started.)

Maybe the answer is to get people engaged in policing’s nuts and bolts. For example, amidst all the coverage and scrutiny of large police departments (and even smaller ones), rarely addressed in the debate is the question that has gripped U.K. schoolkids:

What do police sirens really sound like?

On this Change of Venue Friday, I offer a news story in which English police officers blared their car sirens to allow schoolkids to answer the difficult question: Do they sound like “nee-nah” or “woo-woo”? If you’ve watched any British movies, you may have wondered yourself what the hell is up.

This article—and the schoolkids—try to answer your question. It involves loud sirens, student voting, and a tongue-in-cheek apology by the police. All of this, I’m guessing, was mentioned somewhere in Magna Carta.

Police demonstrate their car and its multiple siren sounds to British schoolkids.

Police demonstrate their car and its multiple siren sounds to British schoolkids.

The hilarious musings by the school’s headmistress will have you thinking a British education doesn’t sound so bad.

“The school’s headmistress had ‘officially put it out there’ that it was actually a wah-wah. But following a vote at the school earlier, it was announced that ‘woo-woo’ was the winner by 60 votes to 28.

“Ms. Muckleston said the result was surprising as the children had been ‘leaning more towards the nee-nah’.”

“‘Nee-nah is a bit of a classic but when it came to it they decided woo-woo was the way to go,’ she said. ‘I would say it’s probably a surprise—although I think it’s more of a wah-wah myself.’”

That Ms. Muckleston is a saucy one!

And, as the Daily Mail explained the whole why-are-British-sirens-so-weird issue:

“There are at least six different types of siren used in the UK and most vehicles are able to sound them in different tones. According to one police training document, a longer tone should be used when the driver can see further and a shorter one in built-up areas.”

Color us colonists confused.

Have a terrific—and a woo-woo—weekend.

My kingdom for an earplug: Polling closed, young Britons stand beneath their selected siren sounds.

My kingdom for an earplug: Polling closed, young Britons stand beneath their selected siren sounds.

Here's hoping you don't hear your own Linkedin humblebrags and self-praise emerge from actors' mouths.

Here’s hoping you don’t hear your own Linkedin humblebrags and self-praise emerge from actors’ mouths.

I’ll admit I like Linkedin well enough, and that I use it a good bit. I post items there, and read others’ items even more. I track down friends and colleagues, and I cheer them when they have a promotion.

And yet Linkedin manages to make my eyes roll skyward at least once a week, usually due to someone’s chest-thumping.

Today, I share three videos that demonstrate I am not alone in my occasional irritation.

What the videos include are actors reading actual posts and updates from Linkedin users. It’s horrifying, and hilarious. As the creators say, “We’ve cherry-picked real quotations from the website’s millions of profile summaries and invited actors to read them out loud.”
Here are parts 1, 2, and 3. I’m guessing you can’t watch just one.

The producers are Joseph & Joseph Productions, and their own Youtube page is here.

All the featured profiles, and more, can be found on Tumblr.

Have a terrific—and hopefully not Narcissistic—weekend.

New Yorker illustration by Brian Rea.

New Yorker illustration by Brian Rea.

It was not the plan to make this a magazine-appreciation week. Really.

Yesterday, I pointed you to our own evocative “Call to Authors” house ad that we occasionally publish in Arizona Attorney Magazine.

And then, on Sunday, I was leafing through the newest issue of The New Yorker. (If you’re a writer, I recommend it highly, especially when it comes to profiles and intriguing feature stories.)

There, in a section called “Shouts and Murmurs,” I came across a hilarious piece of short fiction called “Apocalypse,” by author Jack Handey. Here is part of how it opens in the world of 2042, noteworthy for its “marauding bands” of cannibals:

“The mail comes only about once a week, twice if you’re lucky. It is mostly junk mail. Somehow I have a subscription to a horrible magazine, Cannibalism Today. It features gruesome photographs and recipes. I have written to the magazine’s circulation department, asking them to please cancel my subscription, but every month I get the current issue with a note that says, ‘Welcome, New Subscriber!’ Nothing makes any sense anymore.”

As a magazine editor, I have sent exactly that type of missive, so my radar shot up pretty quickly.

Pretty fast, though, I realized that what at first glance was a riff on end times was really a love letter to that most compelling of communication channels—the magazine.

I’ll shut up and let you read the whole thing here.

Jodi Weisberg delivers the humorous goods at the 2015 lawyer-comedy competition (photo by Ruth Howe, Rotary).

Jodi Weisberg delivers the humorous goods at the 2015 lawyer-comedy competition (photo by Ruth Howe, Rotary).

I’m happy to report out the following news I received about an annual lawyer-comedy competition. (No, not comedy about lawyers; comedy by lawyers.)

In the past I’ve written about this annual competition. You can read my coverage here and here.

Congratulations to Jodi Weisberg, Bob Howard, and Matt Storrs.

Jodi Weisberg won the 2015 annual John O’Connor Comedy Competition. She is the only two-time winner of this contest, which began in 2011. She has been performing stand-up comedy for more than a decade.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and the Rotary 100 Club, began this competition in honor of John O’Connor, who had a wonderful sense of humor, and was a past President of the Rotary 100 Club.

“It is always such an honor and a thrill to perform for Justice O’Connor and her family,” said Weisberg. “It is a wonderful feeling to make her laugh!”

Weisberg won the competition in 2011, was a judge in 2012, and not allowed to compete in 2013-14. She was invited to perform this year. Bob Howard placed second, and Matt Storrs took third place.

First place prize was $2,500, and Rotary donated $2,000 to the University of Arizona, where Weisberg received her M.S. and J.D. degrees.

John and Sandra Day O'Connor in their Paradise Valley home (undated photo)

John and Sandra Day O’Connor in their Paradise Valley home (undated photo)

You think elections have gotten personal? In Arizona, one candidate wields the wooden stake. (Happy Halloween!)

You think elections have gotten personal? In Arizona, one candidate wields the wooden stake. (Happy Halloween!)

Today is the Change of Venue Friday that precedes Election Day. And it’s also Halloween. So I am going to take a few scary risks: (1) This post could sway a major Arizona election, and (2) After reading this, your Halloween—and government—may be even more frightening than you had expected.

AZ Mine Inspector logo

The state race I’m discussing drills down to the core of who we are as residents of a Western state. Of course, I refer to the Arizona Mine Inspector race.

I must declare a conflict right away, as our own 18-year-old daughter has declared her own intent—just to her family and a few friends—of being a write-in candidate for this very race. With no actual mining experience or education, I do not expect her to prevail. #prouddad. But duly disclosed.

The pitched battle for Mine Inspector is being waged to unseat incumbent Joe Hart, who has been in the position since 2007. Here is some background on Hart from the official state page. And if that’s not enough, here is a Wikipedia page about him. (Yes, there is a Wikipedia page for Arizona’s Mine Inspector; if you don’t have your own page yet, you’re clearly not trying very hard.)

But what has been a sleepy and relatively uncontested race has been changed this year by a write-in candidate committed to … ridding Arizona’s mines of vampires.

Ian Kobe is the fellow’s name, and his campaign may make you chuckle and creep you out all at the same time. You can see more about his wooden stake-based campaign on his Facebook page.

Here are a few images/status posts from his page:

 

Ian Kobe State Mine Inspector 2

Ian Kobe State Mine Inspector 3 Facebook post

Ian Kobe State Mine Inspector 1 skull and crossbonesI must add that I’ve been surprised at the small (or no) coverage given to this unique approach to mine safety (which, let’s admit, is a pretty good fake and comic campaign). But it seems that Kobe has cornered the market on Dracula-free tunnels.

Have a great—and oh-so-frightening—weekend.

What, the IKEA catalog is a bookbook? What could be better?

What, the IKEA catalog is a bookbook? What could be better?

Yesterday, I admired the writing and images in a national magazine. Today, I’m all about a consumer catalog. (You may start to think I like print products or something.)

On this Change of Venue Friday, I take you to IKEA. Not literally to IKEA, of course, but to an online offering of theirs that makes you smile.

The video the company created (see below) is in honor of its iconic print catalog—hundreds of pages of dead trees that modern thinking suggests is decidedly passe. But—no surprise—IKEA doesn’t agree. Enjoy its take, not an an ebook, but on a “bookbook.”

 

You can read more about the video in this Adweek story.

The “creative” behind the video is very, very smart. It skewers and parodies the manner of selling modern digital products. By the time they’re done you not only want to get your hands on the print catalog. You also will never be able to watch a solemn and self-important technology commercial ever again.

Have a wonderful weekend, and maybe stop by IKEA – now there’s a Stockholm syndrome I can get behind.

Dianne Barker just wants to cartwheel. Is that so bad?

Dianne Barker just wants to cartwheel. Is that so bad?

OK, that may have been a link-baiting headline if there ever was one. But a recent Arizona news story teaches us one of America’s oldest lessons: Leave it to a lawyer to crush a woman’s cartwheeling dreams.

The facts are simple: A woman expressed herself at a public hearing not simply through her words, but also through a cartwheel. Cue the irked board, which had its attorney send a “please knock it off” letter.

What, were all the lemonade stands already boarded up thanks to covenants not to compete?

I joke, of course (as this is Change of Venue Friday). The anti-cartwheeling letter that attorney Fredda Bisman sent this week was entirely understandable—though the sentiment behind it has become the butt of quite a few jokey news stories.

Here’s what happened, as reported by Arizona Republic reporter Dustin Gardiner. (Dustin covers all kinds of serious, City Hall-type stuff, too. But this story is the gift that keeps on giving.)

Dianne Barker is a community activist and what acid-reflux-affected public officials call (through clenched teeth) a “gadfly.” I know Dianne, and she speaks often and whole-heartedly at many public meetings.

The 65-year-old woman also takes a shine to cheerleading outfits. And she has developed a reputation as someone who will offer a cartwheel—along with her words—during public comment periods.

Most recently, she offered the alley-oop at a meeting of the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). As the topic was transportation, and as she is a bicyclist and wellness advocate, she may have been merely expressing the value of getting out of our cars.

You should read the whole story here.

It’s happened before, apparently. For more background, here is an excerpt from minutes of a March 28, 2012, MAG meeting (found via this news story). As you’ll see, Dianne cites to a higher authority—now-retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

“Chair Hallman recognized public comment from Dianne Barker, who stated that multimodal feels good. She said that she used to do cartwheels, but the doctors and lawyers stopped that. Ms. Barker said that she saw Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the Arizona Centennial celebration and she asked Justice O’Connor what might happen if Ms. Barker were to do a cartwheel in her courthouse to which Justice O’Connor replied to just do it and see what they say. She did the cartwheel and the guards liked it.”

Back to the current legal tumble and the letter sent to Dianne. This blog’s legal audience yearns (I know) to read the letter itself, so here it is:

Diane Barker cartwheeling letter

I know what you’re thinking: What part of Citizens United does this lawyer not understand? If money is speech, how could a cartwheel be anything less? (Yes, I joke.)

Time, place and manner restrictions? Can cheerleaders shout “Go, Phoenix!” in a crowded boardroom? Perhaps Dianne should foreswear the cartwheel and shift to a vocal offering: “Two, four, six, eight, what do we appreciate? A little humor! Sheesh!”

Of course, anyone who has ever had a client can picture the conversation between the MAG leadership and the MAG general counsel: “You want me to send her a letter that orders her to stop cartwheeling? Really? You do know this will end up on the late-night comedy shows, and be confused with an Onion story—right?”

But the client proposes, and the counselor disposes.

Finally, I can’t top the way a newspaper reporter concluded his coverage (and got “tyranny” in the headline): “Give her gymnastics, or give her death.” (Writer Larry O’Connor goes on to muse what George Washington would have thought of cartwheels. ‘Nuff said.)

Have an exhilarating—and legally aerobic—weekend.

We all know photocopiers, right? Not according to a deposition transcript.

We all know photocopiers, right? Not according to a deposition transcript.

How many of us have conducted depositions, or at least sat in them? Has it ever occurred to you that the result could be a compelling piece of … art?

Me neither. And that’s why I am so taken with a New York Times project that brings cold depo transcripts to life. And you can play a role too!

The verbatim project is described by NYT staffer Jason Spingarn-Koff:

“This marks the debut of a new series, presented by Op-Docs, that transforms verbatim (word for word) legal transcripts into dramatic, and often comedic, performances. Here you will find re-creations of actual events from the halls of law and government. You, our readers, can help us find material for future episodes. Have you come across court trials, depositions or government hearings that you think are surprising, bizarre or baffling—and lend themselves to performance? We especially seek original, publicly available transcripts, along with details about the source. Email us at opinion.video@nytimes.com and include ‘Verbatim’ in the subject line.”

So your own transcripts might become fodder for a compelling video performed by professional actors. (Your ethics-rules violations may vary.)

Read more about the project and the inaugural video here.

A hat-tip to Rick DeBruhl for pointing me toward the ABA Journal’s mention of this NYT project.

And now because it’s Friday and we need a chuckle, I offer you the video itself, in which lawyers and a deponent argue over “what is a photocopier?”

Have a wonderful—and dramatic—weekend.

The photocopier struggle is real.

The photocopier struggle is real.

April Fool's hoax taillights for horses

Would you believe your horse requires a taillight? Many did.

Happy April Fools’ Day!

Yeah, I know it was yesterday. But only amateurs prank on the day everyone expects it.

In fact, I have no pranking plans today. But two fools-related elements looked too good to wait another year to share. And yes, they are connected to the law, for the diehard legal fans out there.

The first element reminded me of an old trick: convincing the unwary that a ridiculous new law has been passed.

A hilarious one you’ve probably heard is that an Italian city now requires taillights on horses. As a result, gullible Milanese residents dutifully trotted over to repair shops to affix the required luminary.

(More “stupid laws” are categorized at the Museum of Hoaxes.)

In defense of these folks, have you ever viewed what comes out of legislative bodies? Sure, we occasionally get a Clean Water Act or universal suffrage. But there are some howlers too.

Anyway, here is the second item I enjoyed related to April Foolss Day—this one even more closely tied to lawyers.

This story details how Ska Brewing is suing fellow Colorado firm Oskar Blues. The offense? Using Ska’s “s-k-a” right in the middle of the name “Oskar.” The nerve. Clearly infringement.

Here’s the opening of the Times-Call story:

“Ska Brewing and Longmont-based Oskar Blues teamed up on an April Fools’ Day press release Tuesday, announcing that Ska would be pursuing litigation over Oskar Blues’ use of the Durango-based brewery in its name.”

“‘They’re using our whole name,’ wrote Ska president and co-founder Dave Thibodeau in the made-up press release. “It’s right in the middle of their name, like we wouldn’t notice as long as they put an ‘O’ at the beginning and an ‘R’ at the end. Well, we’ve noticed now.’”

The reporter noted that the prank even included a Photoshopped picture of the “ska” being blacked out of an Oskar Blues sign.

April Fool's hoax Ska Brewing

Thanks to a Photoshop gag, letters are being blotted out of a competitor’s sign. April Fools.

Of most charming impact to attorneys, though, is this comment from the “plaintiff”:

“‘Once we figured out what those guys had done, we didn’t want to let another day pass without paying some lawyers,’ said Thibodeau. ‘Obviously bringing lawyers in immediately is the only way to resolve any conflict, so we hired a bunch of them. Hopefully they did too.’”

 Be sure to read the whole article here.

Let’s hope all your pranks are as cooperative as this one. And next April Fools’ Day, if you get a call from a client with a big promised payday, why not wait a day before expending resources on your conflict check? You’ll be glad you did.

Happy non-prank Wednesday.