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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Downlow On Brownlow

Flash back a year, to the days when I was a research master at ESPN. A year out of school, and I was getting paid to look up sports stats. It was a pretty good deal, all things considered. But in the late winter gloom of Bristol, Connecticut, something wasn't quite right.

One day our research intern from Quinnipiac, Ray, came into the research room and informed us that he wouldn't be coming in to work for a week. It was his spring break. He was going to Miami Beach. At the time, I had already applied to law school, but the thought of Spring Break threw another log on the fire that was my thoughts of going back to school. As a temp, I didn't get any vacation time at ESPN. When I wanted to visit my mom in California, I'd head to the airport after work on Friday, catch a flight out, and arrive in L.A. around midnight. Then I'd take a red-eye back on Sunday night and go right to work from the airport on Monday morning. No vacation. The closest I got was when I was sent to Houston for All-Star Weekend (which was fun, no doubt).

But there was no Spring Break. The lack of a periodic lack of responsibility was one of the reasons I wanted to go back to school, and so I had been eyeing this week for quite a while.

Then, about a month ago, the flyer appeared in my mailbox: The write-on competition to join UCLA Law Review was going to be over Spring Break. Poof, there it goes...my work-free week vanished. Instead of finishing my memo (worth half of my grade in Lawyering Skills) and facing a week without responsibility, I now had 200-plus pages to read and a 10-page paper with 15 pages of endnotes to write, not to mention the dreaded Production Test, which is more or less copy editing on steroids.

The write-on was due this afternoon. For me, Spring Break has finally returned. It's a four-day break, but it's a break nonetheless.

I now know more than any sane person should know about the history of the right to confront one's accuser. I read the cases - go ahead, ask me about Crawford v. Washington. I read law review articles with names like "Facing the Accuser: Ancient and Medieval Precursors of the Confrontation Clause" by authors with names like "Brownlow M. Speer." Seriously. That's the guy's name. I wonder what the "M" stands for. It must be something really terrible in order for someone to call himself "Brownlow" in the 21st Century.

Well, Brownlow, you and all of your writing on the Confrontation Clause are behind me. I'm on Spring Break.

What am I doing with my limited time on break, you ask? I'm going to the Spring Break capital of the world: Minneapolis. Hell. Yeah.

Really, that's where I'm going, and I couldn't be happier. Cornell's hockey team is seeded there for the regionals of the NCAA tournament, and I'm going. I haven't been to a Cornell hockey game all season, so I've been looking forward to this weekend ever since it became clear that they'd make the tournament. I knew even Law Review couldn't keep me from these games. And I didn't screw up my flight plans like I did for my Super Bowl trip, either (I hope).

You can have your Miami Beach, your Daytona Beach, your Cancun, and your San Felipe. I'll take Minneapolis and the chance to see the Red advance to the Frozen Four. And while I'm at it, I might as well stick with my guns and say I'll take the write-on, aggravation and all, because if it pays off, then maybe I'll get my pick of a job down the line. And then I can choose one that lets me go to Zihuatanejo whenever I want.


A short rant: Fortune Cookies.

I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant today, and naturally, after the meal, I got a fortune cookie. Fortune cookies are more or less tasteless. Nobody actually likes fortune cookies for their culinary properties. It's just a tradition that you have to eat the cookie after eating Chinese food.

So I eat the cookie and look at my fortune. "You are a true friend."

What kind of a frickin' fortune is that? That isn't a fortune at all! That's a declaration about the present. I hate when fortune cookies pull this crap. Fortune cookies should give you a fortune. Who cares if it's not going to actually happen? It's a fortune cookie. It's supposed to predict future events. It is not supposed to tell you something about your present state, or worse, spit some trite aphorism such as "Dreams are like butterflies" at you.

I want a fortune, dammit. I want my cookie to tell me that I will meet the girl of my dreams tomorrow, or that I will find a $20 bill on the street, or that I will find love on Flag Day (thanks, Homer J. Simpson), or even that I will make Law Review. Hell, it can even tell me something bad, like I will spill a drink on myself or something. Just tell me something about the future. That is what a fortune does.

And while I'm at it, what's up with giving me my "lucky numbers" on my "fortune?" 05, 12, 26, 35, 41, and then it even sets apart the last number, 16 for me. Is the fortune cookie industry in bed with the lottery industry or something? These "lucky numbers" are a whole bunch of crap. For real. If I go eat Chinese food with a friend, we're going to get different lucky numbers. They can't both win the lottery. Come on, if you're going to try this "lucky number" B.S., at least make it believable. Give me a phone number and tell me something will happen if I call it. Give me a single number and then let me figure out what exactly I'm supposed to do with it. Just give me something I can work with!

Actually, I kind of like that last idea. What if the next fortune cookie you got said only "40?" What would you do?

See, it makes you think. This is much better than the crap they fill these cookies with now. And I know what I would do if I got a cookie that said only "40." It starts with "O" and ends with "lde English 800."


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