The Things People Say. Un-great minds think alike. Check out Hollywood Halfwits. A sample – Julia Roberts’ Deep Thoughts: “Republican comes in the dictionary just after reptile and just above repugnant. I looked up Democrat. It’s of the people, by the people, for the people.” via Attu Sees All.
March 17, 2003
March 15, 2003
Linkage. The other day I added three new links to my blogroll (Iâ€™m still learning the jargon). Within a weekâ€™s time, one of them, Phact Patterns, decided to pack it in. That wasnâ€™t the first time my linking to a site was followed by its demise. Shortly after I linked to The Spoons Experience, a well-written, no baloney blog, the author closed up shop. (I have since de-linked his site, but I will happily add him to the list again, should he decide to resume blogging.) I was beginning to think I was the creator of jinx links when literally, the day after I got around to finally linking to Rachel Lucas, she said that she was taking an extended vacation (happily, she has already returned). It certainly could not have been something I said, as I never communicated directly with any of them (except for being one of a zillion people responding to Rachel’s request for suggestions for a new name for her blog). Whatâ€™s up? Gott-damned spooky, if you ask me.
I suspect (but I am not certain) that I treat links like many people do. That is to say, I link to blogs that I like to read and that I think that those people who read my blather might also like to read. Almost always, I read them for some time before I add them to the list (I sense that de-linking someone is serious business). I have about three times as many sites bookmarked as those in the blogroll that I look in on just about every day, some of which I will eventually add to the list.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, and because I am too fried from the week to do any heavy mental lifting, I thought I would share some thoughts about each of the blogs listed in my blogroll, understanding completely that none of them needs an introduction from me.
Twisty: TJ and I are most definitely related. Indeed, I will be the proud father-of-the-bride proudly walking her down the aisle in a month or so. So, is should not be surprising that she gets top billing, and I make no apologies for that. As it happens, she writes well enough to occupy that spot anyway. In addition to working and closing in on a Master’s Degree, sheâ€™s also a talented singer and actress. She and I (Iâ€™ve been banging around the music business all my life) have been known to tear up a Karaoke bar or two just for shits and giggles. In fact, one time on a cruise ship, we did a couple duets on â€œtalentâ€ night, and the people in the audience thought we were members of the shipâ€™s stage show cast pretending to be passengers. Shows you what a couple extra-dry martinis can do.
Jack Bogâ€™s Blog and Yakety Yak. As many of you know, Jack and I are cousins. Last Fall, I sent him a few post-election political rants and, an e-mail, prompted by a post he wrote about the 50â€™s and 60â€™s group, the Coasters, describing an opportunity I had to play drums one time behind the Coasters. I suspect that he got tired of hearing from me, so he suggested I do a blog. Blame him. He is, and always was, scary smart. How else could one be a tax law professor? He also writes his ass off, and, as a Jersey native who has not lost his Jersey edge, Jack keeps the politicians of Portland grinding their teeth.
Ultimate Insult. One of the first link-portal sites I ran into when I started the blog, and Iâ€™ve been reading it every day since then. Great stuff.
How Appealing. The definitive appellate law blog. Having had the good fortune to have served as a law clerk in a federal appeals court, I find this site to be extremely interesting and informative. I do, however I wonder where Howard Bashman finds the time!
Instapundit. THE blog. Weâ€™re not worthy!
Ipse Dixit. A lawyer-blogger who is always interesting as hell. One of these weeks Iâ€™ll win the damned caption contest. I just know it.
Attu Sees All. Another link portal site, this one originating from outside the U.S. Arthur always manages to find interesting and offbeat things. I also must compliment him on his eye for excellent looking women.
Hanlonvision. Leigh Hanlon is nice guy and a talented writer from Chicago, with a keen artistic sense and who regularly, and in a most engaging way, calls our attention to things worth thinking about. He also takes great photos.
The Presurfer. The third link-portal site on the list, also from outside the U.S. I often wonder how he finds all those things. Great place to spend time.
Res Ipsa Loquitur. Rita is just plain special. She is an Arkansas lawyer who spends most of her time rescuing abused and neglected children from their â€œdysfunctionalâ€ parents or guardians. She then represents the interests of the children in ensuing court proceedings. When she is not doing that, she manages to find time to write an extremely interesting and entertaining blog. Definitely a class act.
Rachel Lucas. This is one smart, talented, take-no-prisoners woman who lives in Texas and has a bullshit tolerance of zero. I figure I am but one of zillion people who link to her site.
mtpolitics. Really sharp guy from Montana, who is politically perceptive, and who is the proud owner of a big sky sense of humor.
a small victory. Another well-known, ass kicking female blogger. The East Coastâ€™s answer to Rachel Lucas, sheâ€™s not one to be trifled with. She is linked to by a cast of thousands.
i hate stupid people. An obviously very bright law student, who writes extremely well. As she is about to complete law school, she reports having learned the most important lesson â€“ â€œdonâ€™t be an asshole.â€ (Sounds like she could be one of Sgt. Steele’s students.) That basic lesson is lost on too many members of the profession. I have no doubt that she will do very well.
Phact Patterns. Another seriously smart law student, who writes particularly well. What I really admire most is how he and â€œkâ€ from â€œi hate stupid peopleâ€ disagree on difficult issues in a most civil way. There is not enough of that going around. Heâ€™ll also do well after graduation. Iâ€™ll keep him on the list a while, in hopes that he will blog a bit when time permits.
Life After Fifty. I learned of this site from Ritaâ€™s blog and, after reading a particularly touching post, I linked to his site right away. Besides, I figure that the author and I were born in the same decade, and, as bloggers go, we are a both little long in the tooth and, therefore, a bit of a rarity. He also served in the Army and, in the touching post, related a story about a stuttering drill sergeant. Whatâ€™s not to like?
March 14, 2003
EWWWWW. Leigh Hanlon over at Hanlonvision asks us to consider the marketability of dog treats that taste like shit. Leigh’s post caused me to remember that I once worked for a man at a pharmaceutical company who claimed to have a friend who was the marketing manager for a company that manufactured “feminine hygiene sprays” (Are they still manufactured, I wonder?). He reported that the the company hired professional “sniffers” to make recommendations about various scents. As it was described to me, the test subjects would use the products and, at the appointed time, show up and stand on a platform built and shielded such that only the “relevant bits” were visible and sniffable. I assume the “sniffers” were paid more than the “snifees,” but one can only speculate.
Dixie Disappointed. It seems that Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the fabulous Dixie Chicks, one of my favorite groups, felt she had to run her mouth – in London yet – by saying, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” I sure wish she wouldn’t have done that.
March 11, 2003
MASTER SGT. JOHN â€œJACKâ€ STEELE, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF LAW
(Continued from March 5, 2003)
Third Installment: 3/5/2003
Fourth Installment: The Class Continues â€“ Loretta Kelly Has a Rough Day
Oh my GodÂ¸ Loretta Kelly thought. It was as if someone had hit her in the chest with a sledgehammer. She had been terrified at the prospect of being called upon even before she watched Stan Kozloski be badgered mercilessly by Steele. Now, as she attempted to rise from her chair, she felt a rhythmic pounding in her temples and sweat begin to form on her forehead. Her legs were weak and were barely able to push her body out of the chair. Finally managing to get on her feet, she struggled to assume the position of attention. Her hands were visibly shaking.
â€œAt ease, Kelly,â€ Steele said.
She was frozen with fear. She did not respond to his command.
â€œGott-dammit, Kelly, I said, AT EASE!â€
She moved her left foot to the left as previously instructed, but faltered momentarily because her legs just would not work properly. She regained her balance, placed her hands behind her back and assumed the proper position.
â€œKelly, did you hear my gott-damned question?â€
She tried to speak, but she hesitated a split second too long.
â€œJesus Christ!! What the hell is the matter with you people? First Kozloski and now you. Iâ€™ll bet you have no problem running your mouths outside this class when you’re in the â€œFive to Fourâ€ telling all the townies that youâ€™re on the way to being the next Clarence gott-damned Darrow! Dammit Kelly, SOUND OFF.â€
Her voice cracking, Loretta Kelly responded, â€œYesâ€¦.sergeantâ€¦.I heard the question. You asked me what a tort is.â€
â€œWell, well, Kelly. You do have a voice, after all. I was beginning to wonder if maybe you should drop out while you can still get most of your tuition back and go join one of those silent religious orders.â€
Kelly felt the sweat running into her eyes. The pounding in her head grew louder.
â€œSo whatâ€™s the answer, Kelly?â€
Her throat tightened again, but she managed to say, â€œItâ€™s negligence, â€¦butâ€¦ where someone gets hurt.â€
â€œYouâ€™ve got to be jerking my chain, Kelly. â€˜Itâ€™s negligence where someone gets hurt??â€™ In the last example, when Kozloski, the â€˜Five to Fourâ€™ swashbuckler, fell over his shoes, he broke his nose didnâ€™t he? I’d call that getting hurt, wouldn’t you? And just two gott-damned minutes ago we agreed that that was not a tort, didnâ€™t we Kelly?â€
â€œYes, sergeant, butâ€¦I meanâ€¦.itâ€™s where somebody else gets hurt.â€
â€œOh, I see, Kelly. So every time there is negligence and someone other than the negligent numb-nuts gets hurt we have a tort? Is that what you are saying?â€
Kelly was beginning to feel lightheaded. At that moment, she wanted to be anywhere on the earth but standing in Steele’s crosshairs. Say something, she thought, and maybe this torture will end. Just say SOMETHING. â€œYes, sergeant. Itâ€™s where someone else gets hurt.â€
â€œYou read the material, Kelly?â€
â€œWere you also looking for a little multi-colored definition section in the book? Maybe next to a picture of gott-damned Big Bird?â€
Steele interrupted, keeping her completely off balance, â€œListen up Kelly, and that goes for the rest of you dipshits. Pay gott-damned attention and do your very best to think.
OK, Kelly, suppose you and one of your gal pals are taking a ride to the beach for the weekend. Youâ€™re in her car, and sheâ€™s driving. Youâ€™re riding down the highway within the speed limit, but the only problem is that your dizzy pal is changing the radio station, talking on her cell phone, lighting a cigarette and putting on her makeup while looking in the rear view mirror. In other words, Kelly, she is not watching the road. You with me on this, Kelly?â€
In barely more than a whisper, Kelly replied, â€œYes, sergeant.â€
â€œVery well. OK, youâ€™re in the passenger seat, your pal is not paying attention, when all of a sudden, the right front tire rolls over a small nail in the road that no one, not even an Indy 500 driver, could have seen. The tire blows; the car instantly spins out of control and rolls over a couple times and you wind up with two broken legs. Are you still with me on this, Kelly?â€
â€œYes, sergeant,â€ she managed to reply, but now her panic was replaced by a wave of emotion. Her voice quivered, and she experienced the tightness in her throat and the pain between her eyes that she always felt just before she would begin to cry. God, why wonâ€™t he let up?
â€œSo, Kelly, letâ€™s walk through this.â€ Steele could see the signs that she was about ready to cry, but he pressed on. â€œDo you agree that your dizz-ball pal driving the car while changing the radio station, talking on the cell phone and putting on her makeup in the rear view mirror was not behaving reasonably?â€
Now, barely able to hold back her tears, and audibly sniffling, Kelly said, â€œNoâ€¦she wasn’t. I meanâ€¦.I agree that she wasn’tâ€¦behavingâ€¦..â€
â€œDo you agree that, in fact, she was gott-damned negligent?â€
â€œYesâ€¦.sergeant, she was.â€
â€œAnd you wound up with two broken legs. I’d call that getting hurt, wouldn’t you, Kelly?”
â€œYes, sergeant,â€ by now clearly crying.
â€œSo, what we have here is â€˜negligence where someone else gets hurt,â€™ right, Kelly? And, according to your half-assed definition, that means we have a tort here, and you can sue the ass off your negligent girlfriend and win a boatload of cash, right, Kelly?â€
Kelly didnâ€™t answer. She couldnâ€™t. She couldnâ€™t think straight. She was uncontrollably sobbing.
â€œKelly, gott-dammit, answer me!â€
Kellyâ€™s crying became more intense. She shook her head from side to side, as she placed her hands on the desk and slowly began to sink back into her chair. She sat, put her head in her hands and wept.
Except for the sounds of Kellyâ€™s sobbing, the room was silent as a tomb. Everyone was dumbstruck by what was happening.
Steele walked from the center of the room and stood directly in front of Kellyâ€™s seat in the first row. The students held their breaths waiting to see what Steele would do, and his walking to within two feet of Loretta Kelly only served to heighten the already-unbearable tension in the classroom.
Steele looked down at Kelly and roared, â€œKelly, I did NOT give you permission to sit down. Get on your gott-damned feet and stand at attention! NOW, Kelly!â€
The students were horrified. This was not supposed to happen in a law school class.
It took her a few seconds, but Loretta Kelly managed to stand up and even place her hands at her sides, but now she was crying harder than before. Tears were streaming down her face.
Steele placed his face even closer to Kellyâ€™s and he bellowed, â€œKelly, let me tell you something, and you gott-damn well better listen. Iâ€™ve had 250 pound college football superstars and tough, knife-scarred gang bangers from L.A. and New York in basic training companies stand in front of me and the other people in the company and do exactly what you are doing now â€“ crying. And you know what, Kelly? I didnâ€™t cut them any slack and Iâ€™m damned sure not going to cut you any slack either.â€
â€œJesus Christ,â€ came a voice from the back of the room. It was Tod Barringer.
Without ever taking his eyes off Kelly, Steele said, â€œBarringer, shut your gott-damned mouth and KEEP IT SHUT!” Steeleâ€™s tone was different from anything they had heard before. It was downright menacing. Barringer decided to remain quiet and to add this incident to his list of complaints to the Dean.
â€œNo, Kelly. You get no slack from me. You can stand there and cry for the remainder of the gott-damned class if you want. But, be advised, Kelly, that weâ€™ll ALL spend the rest of this gott-damned class waiting for you to get your shit together. You WILL advise me when youâ€™re ready to proceed.â€
Everyone in the room was transfixed by the bizarre scene â€“ a six foot three Army drill sergeant towering over a 120 pound sobbing woman, who was trying to maintain the position of attention. He never stopped staring directly into her face. No one in the class moved a muscle, wondering when it would end.
Kellyâ€™s crying gradually diminished, as she struggled to gain control. The clock in the front of the room ticked off another three minutes.
Four minutes. Steele never flinched.
Finally, Kelly took a deep breath, stood more erect, threw her shoulders back, and said, â€œIâ€™m ready, now, Sergeant.â€
â€œVery well, Kelly. At ease.â€
Kelly assumed the position of â€˜at ease.â€™ One could almost hear the class resume regular breathing.
Steele returned to the lectern, and said, â€œSo, Kelly, in my example, did your negligent friend commit a tort because â€˜someone elseâ€™ was injured?â€
Her voice returning to normal, Kelly replied, â€œNo, sergeant. She did not.â€
â€œAnd why is that, Kelly?â€
Her voice now strong and confident, Loretta Kelly looked directly into Steeleâ€™s face and answered, â€œIt is because it was the carâ€™s running over the nail in the road that caused the blowout that resulted in the accident and the injuries. It was not the driverâ€™s negligence that caused the problem. Even if she had been paying attention, she would not have seen the nail in the road.â€
Steele said, â€œI hope the rest of you dim bulbs were paying attention, because sheâ€™s gott-damned right. The idiot driver in my example was a massive accident waiting to happen, but her negligence did not cause the accident â€“ something else did.â€
â€œOK, so, letâ€™s get a fix on our position so far. Pay attention. You asswipes just might learn something. Whatâ€™s negligence? Negligence is some dumbshit doing something a reasonable person wouldnâ€™t do, or failing to do something a reasonable person would do. If the dumbshitâ€™s negligence causes damages to someone else, we have just about all we need for a tort. There is still one piece missing, and weâ€™ll get to that in the next class.â€
Steele looked over the class and saw that the students still had not gotten over the effects of witnessing the exchange between him and Loretta Kelly. He said in his best, drill sergeant voice, â€œYou people look like warmed over shit. Itâ€™s time for a gott-damned attitude check!â€
Attitude check?? It was obvious that the students had no idea what Steele was talking about, and he enjoyed seeing the puzzled looks on their faces.
From now on, when I call for an “attitude check,” the correct response is, â€œWe LOVE this shit!â€
â€œDO YOU PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT?â€
â€œYES, SERGEANT,â€ the class responded.
â€œVery well. â€¦â€¦ATTITUDE CHECK!!â€
Like a well-rehearsed chorus, the 1Lâ€™s shouted back, â€œWE LOVE THIS SHIT!â€
â€œOutstanding, people. Now, for next week, I want all you horseâ€™s asses to read the next 65 pages in your casebooks. Is that clear?â€
â€˜YES, SERGEANT.â€ Steele noticed that, for the first time, Kellyâ€™s voice was louder than most.
â€œAtenn-HUTT.â€ Steele roared. The class sprung from their seats, and was actually beginning to look sharp.
As the students were filing from the room, Steele, meticulously placed his drill sergeantâ€™s hat on his head and walked smartly out of the room, satisfied that everything was going just fine. He loved this shit.
A group of 9 or 10 students, led by Tod Barringer remained behind. Barringer said, â€œDo you believe that shit? The way he treated Loretta? The son-of-a-bitch is a goddamned bully. Heâ€™s also completely nuts. â€˜Attitude check?â€™ What kind of stupid bullshit is that?â€
Paul Green, one of the former backbenchers, asked, â€œYeah, the guy is a major asshole, but what can we do about it?â€
Barringer replied, â€œIâ€™m going to the Deanâ€™s office first thing Monday morning, and Iâ€™m going to tell him the kind of crap this crazy bastard is pulling. Can I count on you guys to back me up if necessary?â€
â€œAbsolutely,â€ Green replied. The others agreed.
Barringer noticed that Loretta Kelly had already left the room.
March 6, 2003
More Hair! TJ at Twisty has posted Part Two of the story of her involvement with the “Hey gang let’s put on a show” production of “Hair.” Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland ain’t got nuttin’ on this crowd. Believe me. I know. (Part One is here.)
March 5, 2003
MASTER SGT. JOHN â€œJACKâ€ STEELE, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF LAW
(Continued from March 7, 2003)
Third Installment: Sergeant Steele Introduces Torts
It was Tuesday morning, approximately 8:20 a.m. Just about everyone enrolled in the class was already in the lecture hall. Although few of the students would admit it, their uncharacteristic punctuality resulted from having been put through the wringer the previous Friday by Sgt. Steele and having been warned about arriving to class on time.
Steele was the subject of virtually all the separate classroom conversations taking place that morning. In fact, the students had talked about little else since last Fridayâ€™s class. Even in the â€œFive to Four,â€ the local pub frequented by haggard law students, the weekendâ€™s topic of discussion had been Sgt. Steele, or â€œGeneral Patton,â€ as he was angrily referred to by some of the students, but only after being fortified by a half dozen Coronas and a peek over the shoulder just to rule out the one in a million chance that Steele would be in the bar.
The consensus that had formed over the weekend was that Dean Maxwellâ€™s decision to hire Steele to boost the schoolâ€™s lagging performance on the torts portion of the bar exam was a horrible mistake. Surely the Dean would not tolerate Steeleâ€™s running the class as if it were a basic training company. The students reasoned that this is, after all, a law school and they are law students; this is not an Army base and they damned sure had not enlisted in the Army. This problem had to be nipped in the bud. To that end, several students vowed to complain to the Dean about Steele first thing Monday morning.
â€œI tried to see the Dean yesterday,â€ Tod Barringer said, â€œbut his secretary said that he was away and would not return until tomorrow. Look, the guy is a maniac, and none of us have to put up with that crap. â€˜Stand at attention, at ease, sound off, stow your gearâ€™â€¦Itâ€™s all bullshit! Iâ€™m here to learn to be a lawyer, not to learn to be a damned grunt.â€
Loretta Kelly, who was seated two seats away from Barringer, said, â€œI spent the whole weekend worrying about this class. I had a difficult time sleeping. The guy scares the hell out of me. I read the assignment twice, and Iâ€™m still not sure I get it all. And, if he calls on me, I think I might just puke.â€
â€œDonâ€™t worry about it,â€ Barringer said, Iâ€™ll talk to the Dean. Once he learns what is going on in this class, heâ€™ll get Steele out of here in a New York minute.â€
â€œI wouldnâ€™t be so sure about that,â€ Loretta replied. â€œSteele said that he was in service with the Dean. Maybe theyâ€™re good friends.â€
â€œCome on, Loretta. Dean Maxwell is a smart and classy guy. You think he would be friends with an Army blowhard asshole like Steele?â€
It was exactly 8:30, and Steele walked through the door to the lecture hall. â€œAttenn-HUTT!â€ he roared. All the students immediately stood and assumed the position of attention â€“ even Barringer.
Steele, again wearing his perfectly pressed Class A uniform, strode across the front of the room, and stood behind the lectern. The brass insignia on the front of his Drill Sergeantâ€™s cap seemed to be even more highly polished than it had been last Friday. On his left sleeve, near his shoulder he wore the insignia of the 101st Airborne Division, a black patch on which was the white eagleâ€™s head, and over which was the word â€œAirborne.â€ The patch on his other sleeve was a red and yellow shield, with a sword in the center, signifying that Steele had served in the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam.
Steele set the torts casebook on the lectern and carefully removed his hat, placing it on the desk next to the lectern. He looked over the class, all standing silently at attention, and said, â€œWell, well, people. You look a little better than you did on Friday, but that is not saying much. Concentrate, people. Chest out, gut sucked in, and line up your damned thumbs with your trouser seams.â€
â€œYou. Second row, fourth seat in from the end. Whatâ€™s your name?â€
â€œMy name is Stanley Kozloski, Sergeant.”
“Well, Kozloski, you must think Iâ€™m pretty, staring at me like that. Maybe you think we should pick out furniture together? Why else would you be looking at me?â€ Kozloski was speechless.
â€œGet your gott-damned, greezy eyeballs off me, Kozloski!!! You are supposed to be at attention, and your gott-damned greezy eyeballs are supposed to be looking straight ahead.â€
Steele looked at the class, â€œDoes everyone understand where your greezy eyeballs should be when youâ€™re at attention?â€
About ten students answered, â€œYes, Sergeant.â€ Instantly, the remaining students realized their mistake. Steeleâ€™s reaction was instantaneous and loud.
â€œJesus, you people are real dumbshits. We went over this a couple times last class. I just asked the class a gott-damned question that calls for a yes or no answer. Does that mean anything to you muttonheads? Let me try it again, so that I can determine whether there is something wrong with your memory, something wrong with your ears or some gott-damned thing wrong with your voices. Listen closely.â€ Raising his voice even more, Steele repeated, â€œDoes everyone understand where your greezy eyeballs belong while youâ€™re at attention?â€
â€œYes Sergeantâ€ the class responded loudly, in almost perfect unison.
â€œYou people had better get your heads out of your asses. How do you expect to learn torts if youâ€™re too gott-damned stupid to learn to properly stand at attention?â€
He stared at them. He had a way of making each student feel as he or she was the one being glared at. Without warning, he hollered, â€œSeats!â€
The students all sat down at the same time. Every one of them looked nervous as hell. It was obvious to Steele that he had made exactly the impression during Fridayâ€™s class that he had intended. He most definitely had their complete attention.
Barringer silently fumed.
â€œAll right, people. Hereâ€™s what I want you to do. When I give the command, â€˜Move!â€™ I want you to fill in all the empty seats in the first five rows. I want a tight formation in the center of the classroom. There will be NO empty seats between students.â€ He focused his attention on the back row and said, â€œI want you five knuckleheads in the back row to make sure that you take seats in the center of the formation where I can really keep my eye on you. There will be no back-bench bullshit in this class.â€
The students scrambled to gather up their belongings from the desks and under their chairs so they could change seats. There was more than a little confusion, as students bumped into one another as they tried to work their way to new seats while carrying all their things.
Steele did not let up. â€œMove it! Move it! Move it, people. We donâ€™t have all gott damned day. How hard is this? Letâ€™s go. Letâ€™s go. Letâ€™s go!!â€ Steele could see clear signs of anger on some of the faces. For him, that meant that everything was going just fine.
In a few minutes, the chaos ended and everyone was seated as Steele had ordered.
â€œThese will be your assigned seats for this semester. He walked to the student in the front row in the end seat and handed her a piece of paper. People, this is a seating chart. When it comes to you, you will print your last name first, then your first name, then your middle initial.â€
â€œAre there any questions from last class?â€
Barringer thought, Yeah, you miserable bastard. I have a question. What are you going to do when the Dean fires your ass?
â€œOK, so there are no questions. Fine. Letâ€™s begin.â€
â€œBefore we get into the cases, weâ€™ll spend a little time talking about torts in general.â€
Kozloski immediately stood at attention and this time made sure that he stared directly forward. â€œAt ease, Kozloski.â€ Kozloski, remembering from Friday, moved his left foot to the side and placed his hands behind his back.
â€œWhat the hell is a tort, Kozloski?â€
Virtually every other person in the class viewed Kozloski as the first combat casualty and thought, Thank Christ itâ€™s not me.
Kozloski was momentarily speechless with fear. At that very moment, he would have had a difficult time spelling his name, let alone answering Steeleâ€™s question. His mind raced as he thought, I donâ€™t remember a definition in the reading assignment; the damned book was not like a regular textbook; it only contained those confusing cases.
â€œCat got your gott-damned tongue, Kozloski? The name of this gott-damned course is â€˜Torts,â€™ so I think itâ€™s a helluva good idea to know what a tort is. Iâ€™m waiting for an answer, Kozloski.â€
Kozloskiâ€™s voice shook as he timidly responded, â€œWell, â€¦ itâ€™s likeâ€¦uhâ€¦.negligence.â€
â€œThatâ€™s your answer, Kozloski? â€˜Itâ€™s like negligence’?â€
â€œIâ€™m not really sure, Sergeant. I read the assignment, but I donâ€™t remember seeing a definition.â€
â€œThis is a gott-damned law school, Kozloski, not an eighth grade social studies class, where the text books contain little definition sections and pictures of the frigginâ€™ Lincoln Memorial.â€
â€œYou read the assignment, didnâ€™t you, Kozloski?â€
â€œYes, sergeant, but I just donâ€™t remember seeing a any of the cases giving a definition of a tort.â€
â€œThereâ€™s a lesson for all you blockheads. You canâ€™t just read the cases. You actually have to think about them. I sense that may be hard for some of you lemons, but to make it in this class and to make it as a lawyer, there is no substitute for gott-damned thinking.â€
â€œKozloski, for your benefit and the benefit of the rest of the sorry asses in this class, letâ€™s take a couple minutes to see if a tort is â€˜like uhâ€¦negligence,â€™ shall we?â€
â€œYes, sergeant.â€ Kozloski could feel himself beginning to hyperventilate.
â€œOK Kozloski, pay attention. Letâ€™s suppose you wasted an entire night in the ‘Five to Four’ saloon drinking and trying to romance one of the young ladies in the joint. You have been to the â€˜Five to Four,â€™ havenâ€™t you Kozloski?â€
â€œYes, sergeant; I have been there.â€ Kozloski, fearing the worst, thought, Oh God, could he possibly know that I referred to him as â€˜General Pattonâ€™ at the â€˜Five to Four?â€™
â€œYou a beer drinker, Kozloski?â€
â€œWell, what do you drink at the â€˜Five to Fourâ€™?â€
â€œWell, Iâ€™ll be damned,â€ said Steele, â€œWhatâ€™s your drink?â€
Kozloski, answered, â€œWhen I have a little extra money, I drink â€˜Makerâ€™s Mark,â€™ but I also like â€˜Jim Beamâ€™ just fine.â€
â€œMakerâ€™s Mark? Jim Beam? Damn, Kozloski, there may be hope for you yet.â€
After the class there would be a good deal of discussion over whether Steele had actually smiled at this point in the exchange. Some swore he did, but most were convinced he did not. Kozloski had been too frightened to notice.
â€œLetâ€™s get back on track, Kozloski. So, letâ€™s pretend that you spent the night at the â€˜Five to Fourâ€ drinking Makerâ€™s Mark. Is it Makerâ€™s Mark on the rocks, Kozloski?â€
â€œYes, sergeant, on the rocks.â€
â€œFine, you come home late, after a night at the â€˜Five to Four,â€™ with a belly full of bourbon and no date. You sit on the bed and take your shoes off. Youâ€™re too tired to put them away. You leave them on the floor next to the bed. You toss your clothes in a corner, and you hit the sack.â€
â€œYou following me, Kozloski?â€
â€œA couple hours later, you wake up because you need to take a trip to the latrine.â€
â€œThe gott-damned bathroom, Kozloski!â€
â€œYes, sergeant, the bathroom.â€
â€œOK you wake up, not feeling too well, and you walk in the direction of the latrine and you trip over your gott-damned shoes, fall down and break your pretty nose.â€
â€œYou getting this, Kozloski?â€
â€œYes, sergeant. Broken nose.â€
â€œWould it be a smart thing to leave your shoes where you might trip over them in the middle of the night, particularly when you know a long night at the â€˜Five to Fourâ€™ damned near always requires a middle-of-the-night trip to the latrine?â€
â€œNo, sergeant, that would not be a smart thing?â€
â€œWould it be a reasonable thing to do, Kozloski?â€
â€œNo, Sergeant. It would not be reasonable.â€
â€œDo you think it would be NEGLIGENT of you to leave your shoes where you could trip over them?â€
â€œYes, sergeant, I think that would be negligent.â€
â€œSo, we agree, Kozloski, as you would say, what we have here is â€˜likeâ€¦uhâ€¦ negligence,â€™ isnâ€™t it?â€
â€œYes, sergeant, we have negligence.â€
â€œBUT DO WE HAVE A GOTT-DAMNED TORT, KOSLOSKI?â€
Steeleâ€™s sudden outburst, startled virtually everyone in the class, after having been listening to what had become an almost conversational exchange between Kozloski and Steele. As for Kozloski, he later told his friends that, at this point, he almost shit himself.
â€œI guess that we donâ€™t have a tort, sergeant.â€
â€œYou guess?â€ Well, let me assure you and the rest of you that we absolutely do NOT have a tort here. People, you can find yourself up to your ass in negligence and not have a gott-damned tort. You need other ingredients. Negligence by itself may create a tort waiting to happen, but it is not a gott-damned tort.â€
â€œDoes everyone understand that?â€
â€œYes, sergeantâ€ the class responded together, obviously getting better at this with practice.
â€œAll right. Take your seat, Kozloski.â€
Momentarily taking the seating chart from a student as it was being passed around, Steele looked down, then looked up at the class and shouted, â€œKelly!â€
It was as if someone had punched Loretta Kelly in the chest. She was struck with an instant wave of nausea and dry mouth, as she stood and tried to assume the position of attention.
â€œOK, Kelly, now itâ€™s your turn. Just what the hell is a tort?â€
Boston. Just returned from three days in Boston. Iâ€™ve lived in New Jersey all my life, and this was my first trip to Boston, and itâ€™s only a 45-minute plane ride away. Go figure. I didnâ€™t get to see that much of the city, but what I saw I thought was great (even though my site seeing was limited to an early morning walk in four degree weather). I stayed at the Boston Harbor Hotel. Now, that is one terrific hotel. Iâ€™m definitely going back, but I think Iâ€™ll wait until it is just a tad warmer.
March 2, 2003
Blogtied! When I started blogging (thanks, Jack, I think), I did what zillions of others do. I clicked on the Blogger icon, picked a template and a name, and I was off to the races. After a while, I wanted to add links and a hit counter, and olâ€™ Jack came to the rescue. I realize now how nice it would be to have permalinks, and also to be able to do â€œthe rest of the storyâ€ thing. Some of the stuff I spew into cyberspace is longer than the average post, and some people may not (gasp!) want to read it, forcing them to scroll their heineys off through a long post.
Upgrade to a fancier version of Blogger? Wait to see what Googleized Blogger will offer? I donâ€™t think I pack the gear to tackle the â€œhostingâ€ and web page thing.
While writing this, I thought I would see if the Blogger help page would tell me if one can add permalinks to the steam-driven version of Blogger I am using. Surprise. The Help feature is down!
Thinking about this is making my hair hurt.
March 1, 2003
Hair! I urge you to click over to Twisty and take a read through TJ’s recounting of her experiences in putting together and performing in a local (very local), fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants production of the 60â€™s musical Hair. It is a great story and well told.
I make this recommendation with all the objectivity I can possibly muster, given that TJ and I areâ€¦wellâ€¦related.