Sunday, January 31, 2016

Writing my novel PART I

It recently occurred to me that writing a best selling novel is a legitimate way to make a lot of money.  And if I had a lot of money I could buy name brand chocolate milk and possibly hire a nanny.  So, it seems like something I should do.  But where to begin?  

I googled "how to write a.." and realized "book" is a more popular search than "novel".  I feel safe in saying I have a leg up on people googling "how to write a book".  So I proceeded with my superior google query and found out step one is to take an hour to summarize my novel into one sentence.  Considering I have, at most, 25 minutes before Guy wakes up, I am sure as hell not wasting an hour on that.  I'll give it about three minutes.  Hmmmm...

"A cool guy goes through a series of life events."

Let's compare this to the example on the webpage: “A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul.”

I can see advantages to both.  While my sentence lacks in specificity and creativity, it also does not require scientific or biblical research.  I am declaring right now that I do not want to have to study ANYTHING to write my novel.  This is certainly not going to be The Davinci Code (did I even spell that correctly?).  My "cool guy" may go to the Louvre on vacation or something, but he is not going to be deciphering anything.  

Apparently I have gotten ahead of myself by proceeding to step one.  [Wait, now that is a good sentence, I am definitely using that in the novel.]  I am going to just close this first stage by writing six ideas/themes to implement in the story:

1.  The main character (cool guy) will be named Ted (badass name)
2.  Ted's favorite band is Rage Against the Machine but he does not necessarily agree with their politics.
3.  Ted goes on vacation to Paris at some point.
4.  Ted describes people to readers by saying "he/she seems like the type of person who (something)".  For example "this guy seems like the type of person who gets really excited when an armed homeowner shoots an intruder."
5.  Maybe squeeze a murder in somewhere
6.  If Ted has kids then they take really long naps and he has the requisite time to put into money making ventures.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A heart-warming tale for the ages

The holidays and subsequent winter season are a difficult and stressful time for many.  Fortunately, a recent series of events put a positive spin on this time of the year for me.  I hope the following recounting serves as a beacon of hope for all...

The Gift Exchange

In early December of this past year I was invited to attend a "holiday lunch party" in the courthouse with the judges, staff, prosecutors, and fellow public defenders who regularly work in the third floor courtrooms.  The primary festivity was a white elephant/yankee swap (!)/dirty Santa/ whatever the hell you like to call it gift exchange with a $15 purchase limit.  "Gag gifts" were encouraged.  Being new to the scene, I really wanted to get the perfect gift.  So, naturally, I waited until the night before the party and purchased a mountable bottle opener that looked like the head of a lion.  I figured the $13 listed price was close enough to the limit, but was surprised to see such a sought-after item was in fact on sale for $8, barely half of the suggested limit.

The next day I arrived to work and realized that my cheap gift was also bag-less.  Then the first blessing kicked in, a co-worker had a spare festive bag that they gave to me.  The fleeting confidence that accompanied the bagging of the lion head quickly dissipated as the party began.  I was seated on the far interior of a bench, which meant when it was my time to get up and get a gift I would have to either ass or crotch 5-6 people when trying to pass...not the best way to meet new people.  Plus, as the first gifts were opened/stolen it quickly became apparent that $15 gift cards and booze were the standard gifts.  Animal-themed trinkets were nowhere to be found.

I was completely overcome with dread, not only for when my shitty gift would be opened and scoffed at, but also for my uncomfortable journey to get a gift when my number was called.  But then, just as before, blessings continued to flow.  My friend next to me selected a huge bag that turned out to have a thoroughly-wrapped Kroger gift card in it.  As soon as my number was called, I stole this gift and managed to retain it for the duration of the exchange.  So not only did I not have to get up and make an awkward trek, I got a gift card to buy beer with and a huge bag to put another un-wrapped gift in (for an afternoon exchange I had also half-assed).
Isn't she a beauty?

I could not finish counting my lucky stars before I noticed someone grab my gift form the pile.  I braced myself and expected "oh great, I got the worst fucking gift in the whole pile, I bet this only cost $8".  Instead, almost as if it were sung by an angelic chorus,: "oh cool, a lion, I'm a Leo, no one better steal this from me!".  There are 7 billion people in the world and the only one who would like that ridiculous gift received it.

This seems like an appropriate place for the story to end.  How much more could a man possibly be blessed?  Well, I found out today.  This morning my wife was making out a grocery list and I wanted her to add beer to it.  This would normally be a fairly standard request, but I have already purchased and consumed what the vast majority of people would consider to be "enough" beer this weekend.  Justifying an additional brew purchase from the "money that goes to feed our family" would be tricky.  So, I slyly offered up the gift card while asking for a 4 pack of Guinness cans (~$8.49) and 16 16 oz. Keystone Lights (~$13).  She wrote it all down and NEVER ASKED HOW MUCH WAS ON THE GIFT CARD.  So I managed to stock up on damn near $22 worth of brew in exchange for an $8 lion head bottle opener.

The End.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

OP-ED: U of L Brandeis School of Law: "compassion", "social justice" and..."pizza"?

The law school of which I am a fresh alum recently decided to connote itself as, loosely stated, a "compassionate" law school working towards "social justice".  There is debate about whether this was a good idea and/or necessary and two highly-regarded professors have publicly weighed-in on the issue. (here and here)

I will not be taking sides, at least on Proctor's Type anyway.  Rather, I have an additional proposal for the ideological direction of the  Now I do not quite have the exact phrasing down yet.  "Striving for Pizza" seems to over-state the importance and "a "pizzariffic" law school" sounds like something from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Semantics aside, the idea is simple: the Brandeis School of Law has pizza readily available EVERY DAMN DAY.  It would be a pizza guarantee and would be formally recognized during orientation in a manner similar to the oath signing ceremony.

Current students and recent alumni would be quick to point out that between the school itself, student groups, and legal research providers, there is already quite a bit of pizza to go around.  A student who was willing to join every student group and take in countless training sessions could easily eat free pizza 3-4 times a week.  But that is not what I would call a "pizza guarantee", not even close.  There needs to be an area of the building where there is conditions-free pizza, a pizza "safe place", so to speak.

Many may worry about the financial implications of providing endless pizza within the law school.  To that, I provide two arguments.  First, our school is frequently tabbed as a "best value" law school, with full time in-state tuition coming in at less than half the cost of many private schools.  If a slight tuition raise were necessary, so be it, we are all too used to customary raises in tuition without any explanation whatsoever.  At least this raise in cost would have significant tangible benefits accompanying it.  Second, enrollment numbers at law schools across the country have decreased significantly and Brandeis is no exception.  Just think how many potential students deciding between two schools would choose the one that always has pizza over the one that does not.  Further, someone deciding whether or not to go to law school at all may be swayed in that direction if they knew the amount of pizza involved.  More students means more tuition dollars plain and simple.

Last but not least, I must emphasize the importance of pizza variety.  Law school is a stressful environment filled with hours of reading and studying.  Papa Johns every day is not going to spice it up enough.  Don't get me wrong, Papa Johns can be a part of the rotation and is very good (side note: I want to thank the angel from heaven who ordered for school events and frequently ordered a green olives one topping.  I often got the majority of that S.O.B to myself), but we need to get creative.  Why not install some ovens and have some Papa Murphy's ready to bake so as to coincide with a particular student's schedule?  Boombozz on Fridays would decrease skipping class for a three day weekend.  Mellow Mushroom on the day of the law school prom (whatever that is called) would add to the glamour of the evening.  The possibilities are endless.

In sum, pizza unifies everyone in a unique and special way.  As the Brandeis School of Law contemplates how to set itself apart in the current realm of legal education, it should seriously consider a pragmatic and non-controversial pizza guarantee.

Eric Proctor is a 2015 graduate of the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law and a pizza lover.