Thursday, September 27, 2007

My Dorkiness is Limitless

Last Monday night, I was walking along 14th Street when I bumped into some friends on the street on their way in to dinner at a nearby restaurant. I was carrying a small Whole Foods bag.

An exchange of pleasantries ensued, and a friend commented on my bag, suggesting that I had my dinner with me.

"No," I sheepishly replied, "this bag has a travel Scrabble board and dictionary. I'm on my way to meet some people to play Scrabble."

And with this, I once again emerged from my Scrabble closet.

A small group gathers at my local coffee shop on a regular basis to play Scrabble. We're pretty hardcore geeks about it; we have the little cheat sheets listing all the two- and three-letter words and we are genuinely excited about bingos and other cool plays (like being able to play a "Z" on a triple letter score that counts twice).

Wow, I am a geek.


The very next day, I was at my weekly poker tournament in the 'burbs. As I've mentioned before (I'm too lazy to look up the link), it's generally a very straight affair with a group of people that I've seen around enough that I consider them (and me) to be regulars. And I've never had occasion to discuss my sexuality with them. (Well, I kinda have, but chose not to -- it would have felt forced.) (Again, too lazy to look up that link.)

So after the cheap beer specials ended, I asked our server (female) for my check. She provided it in the obligatory leather sleeve, and I pulled a $10 bill out of my wallet and slipped it in, with an edge of the bill protruding through the top. In due course, she took the sleeve and returned with my change.

Meanwhile, one of my fellow players (who had already been eliminated from the tournament and was watching away from the table) decided to announce, rather loudly, that I had clearly given my number to our server. "Did you see that?" he practically yelled. "This guy gave his number to the waitress? There was writing on that bill! Seriously!"

I just kinda smiled to myself, because I knew what writing he was referring to.

On the edge of the bill I had left was a handwritten notation: "".

Where's George? is a site where you can log in your currency, then spend it normally. When other people find the bills, they re-enter the number into the system. This way, one can track particular bills as they venture around the country. It's kinda fascinating.

In a geeky sort of way.

I've started making it a point to enter all my bills into the system. And I try not to spend bills I get back as change until I've had a chance to enter them in. And if I see bills that have the mark on them, I'll try to acquire them so I can re-enter the bill myself.

Because I'm a big geek.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Now That I Think of It...

Dear Sen. Craig:

I understand you're trying to withdraw the guilty plea that you entered in Minneapolis. You know, the one wherein you admitted that you had inappropriately moved your foot under the partition of the guy sitting next to you (more than once, I might add). I understand that you think you should be able to take your case to trial, because, hey, the guilty plea was somehow legally defective.

Okay, I'm no lawyer, but --

Oh wait, I am a lawyer.

First things first: Withdrawing a guilty plea is very very difficult. If the trial judge is worth anything at all, he walked you through a big long colloquy in open court wherein he asked you a very very long series of questions designed to elicit whether you were absolutely, positively, super-de-duper sure that you were okay with waiving the large numbers of constitutional guarantees our criminal justice system offers. You were probably asked, possibly more than once, whether you knew you had a right to a trial by jury, that you had a right to confront witnesses against you, to have counsel appointed for you, etc. etc. You were then asked whether you were ready to waive all those rights. You were asked whether you knowingly and voluntarily and of your own free will waived those rights. And you affirmed each and every time that you knew you had those rights, and that you were willing to waive them.

Dude, judges usually have a script in front of them for when they accept guilty pleas. Judges don't frequently mess up guilty pleas for this very reason.

So, uh, good luck with that.

But I'm more curious about the next step after that. You want to withdraw your guilty plea. If -- if -- you succeed, what do you think will be the next step for you? I'm sure you've thought this through, or if not, your lawyer has told you this: the next step would be that you get to go to trial before a jury of your peers.

It's unlikely that you can get the charges reinstated for the purpose of legally challenging the sting in the first instance, or that you were read your Miranda rights.

The sting was clean: even if you think it wasn't, it's unlikely that the judge will be able to conclude on his own that it was dirty. It would be a swearing contest between you and the cop; that means sitting in front of a jury who will decide just what the facts surrounding your arrest were.

And the Miranda issue? First of all, there's a tape recording of the arresting officer reading you your Miranda rights. But even if you wanted to try to claim you were not told your rights again later, what harm would that entail? It would mean any statements you made during the non-Miranda interview session would be inadmissible. But don't look now, your first post-arrest interview contains some pretty damaging admissions standing all on its own.

So, where does that get us: you'll end up in front of a jury of your peers. You're going to ask a jury of your peers to decide whether or not you were engaged in inappropriate conduct. When you ran your hand under the partition. When you scooted your foot over toward that of your stall-neighbor.

Let me tell you this: no man who has ever used a public restroom will ever buy that you just have a "wide stance." We all know that's not appropriate. We all know it's kind of icky. And once the officer testifies that tapping your foot is what people who want stall sex do... well, you're toast.

So seriously, dude... what are you thinking?

Uh, good luck.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Overthinking HSM

I just wanted a reason to post this pic. HOT!

Okay, so I saw High School Musical this weekend. Entertaining, to be sure. Who doesn't love a good song-and-dance routine (though the very first number, "Get Your Head in the Game," was a little lame). Even better when there are cute boys involved.

But of course, as I am wont to do, I have some stupid issues about this movie. I overthink things, and here's what I came up with after watching this movie.

Quick synopsis if you haven't seen the movie: Troy is a basketball star, and his friends laugh at him because he found out that he can sing. The same is true for Gabriella, except that she's not an athlete, she's academically talented. (Who would have thought the nerds could be mean to each other like that?) Troy and Gabriella together endure ribbing and taunts to try out for the high school musical. Along the way, they have to beat out brother-and-sister team Sharpay and Ryan Evans (by the way, how much crack do you have to be smoking to name your child Sharpei?), who have dominated (and, somehow, terrorized) the drama club for a long time.

The movie is, of course, set up to make Troy and Gabriella the heroes. You're supposed to want them to try out despite their other commitments and be the musical leads. Sharpay (tee hee!) and Ryan are talented, but their personalities are awful and you're supposed to want terribly to dislike them.

But although I don't like them, I still kinda feel sorry for them. Truly.

Here's my thought: Sharpay and Ryan had nothing going for them besides their stage talents. True, they let it go to their heads in an awful way, but at least they had something to be proud of. It's what they're good at. I suppose, up to that point, they had no reason to expect that anyone else would ever challenge them for the position of on-stage talent.

But then here Troy and Gabriella. Both already have their superstar talents. Troy is universally loved anyway, just because he's the basketball king. Gabriella is clearly academically talented and will probably graduate at the top of her class. (And, inexplicably, this is actually something to be proud of at the school they attend.) They don't need the extra attention and love.

But Sharpay and Ryan kind of do. As I said, that was destined to be the pinnacle of their high school career, the point when everyone watches them and thinks just how great they are. But this moment of glory was taken away from them. Worse yet, it was taken away from them by two people who already had the world on their oyster shells. Troy and Gabriella get to walk away from this not just stars, but now they're well-rounded super-duper-uber stars. Meanwhile, Sharpay and Ryan no longer have anything. Troy gets basketball and dramatic lead on his college applications (an admissions officer's wet dream, I tell ya); Gabriella gets to boast of top academics and dramatic lead; Sharpay and Ryan no longer have that "dramatic lead" line to brag about.

Really, if I were Sharpay and Ryan, I'd hate them too.

... And Zac Efron is hot.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

My Quick (or Not-So-Quick) Take on Larry Craig

Larry Craig is a fool and a hypocrite.

Wow, that was fast.

Not so fast. I've got more to share.


I'm reading a fascinating exchange on a legal ethics listserve to which I belong. Various experts in the legal field (and I do mean experts -- big names in legal ethics circles) are debating whether there's such a thing as a public-private dichotomy when it comes to legal ethics. Question: does how one acts in private life necessarily mean they are unfit for their (more public) job? If Larry Craig engages in sexual liaisons in bathrooms, does that make him per se unfit as a legislator?

Some say no; that a whole constellation of reasons could exist for the foot bumping and the finger-reaching. (Oh, and the guilty plea.) These are reasons we don't know, the argument goes, and as such, we can't necessarily judge the whole of the person based upon this once incident that may very well be a huge (HUGE!) misunderstanding.

I can't buy it. Not because I necessarily disagree with the principle that one act does not necessarily condemn the entire person, but because I have given some though to what constellation of events may have caused Senator Craig to "accidentally" bump his foot against the foot of the guy next to him (twice!, I think) and to reach under the stall, and I come up empty.

According to the cop, there was no paper on the floor for him to pick up, and if there were, who picks that shit up? Unless it was a piece of legislation that you were reviewing while on the can, or even a newspaper, most people just leave it. (Early reports were that he claimed there was a piece of toilet paper on the floor. Really now, who makes the effort to reach down a pick up a piece of errant toilet tissue in a public bathroom?)

He doesn't deny tapping the cop's foot, he just claims a takes a "wide stance" when taking a crap. Uh, please. Every American male who has ever used a public restroom knows the rules of public toilets: unless absolutely necessary, never stand at a urinal that's right next an occupied one; never talk to anyone; and always look straight ahead while urinating. And never, ever, invade another man's space, for any reason. Memo to Sen. Craig: This generally includes not letting your leg drift into the next guy's stall, no matter how "wide" your "stance." It just doesn't happen. Unless you want to initiate some chicka chicka bow bow. And let's face it, Sen. Craig knew those rules. And he knew the rules on who to solicit sex in a public restroom.

Oh, when you're in a stall an realize there's no toilet tissue there? I would vote for a stage whisper to the guy next to you along the lines of "Hey dude, I seem to be out of paper here. Could you pass me some?" Oh, and doing that before running your hand under the bottom of the stall.


In the aftermath (though I suppose it's still continuing, WaPo ran an article about Mike Rogers entitled "The Most Feared Man on the Hill?". Mr. Rogers is the gay activist who spends a good chunk of his time identifying and outing anti-gay lawmakers (those whose legislative activities are homophobic -- including not just voting records, but also campaign-related issues). Sen. Craig was on his list.

I mention this article because there's a wonderful quote in there which needs to be called out. It's on the third web page of the article.

Context: Rogers outed Dan Gurley, a national field director at the Republican National Committee, whom Rogers believed signed off on a flier sent to conservative voting districts which played upon those voters' base fears about gay marriage. Gurley eventually lost his job and moved to North Carolina. But here's his money quote:

[Gurley] adds: "Who does Rogers think he is? God? What gives him the right to bully people around and tell us what to think or how to conduct our lives?"

The hypocrisy is rank. Does he not notice that if you substitute "the Republican Party" where "Rogers" shows up in that quote you come up with the exact reason gay people should reject GOP social conservatism??


And, just for fun, Keith Olbermann: