Jul 202008

Post largely rewritten after seeing it again 8/9.

Friend: You’re going to see Mamma Mia? My mother loves Mamma Mia!

Me: No, MY mother loves Mamma Mia

You’d never know it by looking at her, of course, but she has seen the play in nearly every jurisdiction where it’s been performed (e.g., London, New York, California, Hamburg…). I myself have seen it in each of the first three locations at least once. Unless you absolutely hate ABBA, it’s always good for a toe-tapping good time. The play cleverly weaves together many of the most famous ABBA songs along with plenty of humor and female-empowering themes.

So we decided to go catch a matinee of the movie on its opening day. I felt some trepidation going into it: a movie is a very different dramatic medium than a play. Would it still work? Or were its enjoyable qualities dependent on it being a piece of live theater?

On retrospect I think this anxiety clouded my initial take on the movie. It definitely seemed different, and I equated those differences with deficiencies. But seeing it the second time, with a better idea what to expect, allowed me to better appreciate it.

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 Posted by at 6:38 pm
Jul 092008

I have a Google alert set up to let me know when my name appears in the news or on someone’s blog. It doesn’t go off all that often (I’m not that newsworthy), but it can be helpful to let me know when someone has linked to my blog.

Occasionally though I get alerts for the wrong Catherine Gellis. It’s not a particularly common name, but it’s not unique either. Vanity googling earlier revealed that there’s another in Virginia, and one in New England. Or at least there was. Today’s Google alerts were for news that the latter has just died of cancer, and at just 33 (I’m 34).

So I write in part to stave off any confusion by any other googlers. We had the same name, had relatives with the same names, used to live in the same area and were close to the same age. I’ve been confused with the other Catherine Gellis before, and could easily again be with this one.

I also wish to express my condolences for her untimely death. She wasn’t someone I knew, and I don’t think we were related, but somehow by virtue of sharing the name I still felt somehow connected to her. Few people get to go through life with the privilege of being named Catherine Gellis, but she was one of them. From all accounts she seemed like a decent person and loved by many, as all Catherine Gellises should be.

 Posted by at 7:07 am
Jul 062008

Last week I was in New Jersey fulfilling a few more of its unconstitutional CLE requirements. I’ve objected before to how onerous these requirements are for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they require attorneys to physically be in the state to fulfill them. This requirement poses an undue burden on out-of-state residents, who must travel great and expensive distances to get to those classes, and thus runs afoul of the US Constitution, which prohibits such discrimination against them.

I had not realized until a few weeks ago though that it is apparently possible to schedule an appointment to watch video replays of the CLE lectures on dates other than when they are formally presented. They still cost twice as much to view than the live lectures (again discriminating against out-of-state residents who are necessarily unable to fly in and out for the more affordable yet randomly-scheduled in-person versions) and are still not given on all dates, but it’s something, I suppose.

So on this occasion I watched two videos to satisfy the third year requirements. (Inconveniently I must still do the second year’s sometime in the next six months lest I become ineligible to practice anyway, but I was unable to schedule their viewing during the date I could be in New Jersey.) The courses were “Municipal Courts” and “Landlord/Tenant Law.”

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 Posted by at 2:21 pm
Jul 062008

A few weeks ago on our houseboat we had another “Family Night.” I made pancakes in deference to the one’s vegetarianism, inadvertently forgetting about another one’s gluten intolerance. Oops. I remember another gluten-intolerant friend once telling me that he recognized his intolerance one night after he’d eaten a huge bowl of pasta and ended up in a homicidal mood for no good reason. Brilliant. Just the kind of mood you want to risk putting your roommates in…

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 Posted by at 11:03 am
Jul 052008

Yesterday we celebrated America’s birthday, today we celebrate Huey Lewis’s. But even Huey himself was on hand to celebrate America’s yesterday when he and the News performed in DC at “A Capitol Fourth,” the annual shindig on the lawn of the Capitol.

As a fan it’s nice to see HLN get the kind of exposure and respect such an invitation affords, and it was also nice as a fan to have the performance so helpfully beamed to me by PBS. But having previously endured these DC affairs before, I’m acutely aware how awful they are to attend.

For one thing, it is at best bitterly ironic (to say nothing of unconstitutional) that people must surrender their Fourth Amendment rights in order to attend these celebrations of “freedom.” When I attended in 2004 I was appalled to discover I was not able to enter this public event in a public park without “voluntarily” submitting to invasive searches of my person and possessions. On that occasion, while I waited in the entrance line like a lamb to slaughter, I heard Clay Aiken belt out how proud he was to be an American, “Where at least I know I’m free.” I suppose he was able to maintain that illusion because as a performer he likely wasn’t forced to undergo these invasions of his privacy. But as one of the teeming masses, I was much less sure.

The other problem with these events is that they’re really designed for the television audience — a completely banal, milquetoasty television audience. Consequently they suffer as a live event, which is a shame for a band like HLN, which is such a consummate live band (even Jimmy Smits in his corny introduction acknowledged them as such). It also always drives me up the wall as someone so familiar and appreciative of their work that they are so often regarded as a banal, milquetoasty band. But maybe that’s changing…

See, the other bit of Huey Lewis news is that they have a new song, released this week on MySpace, the first studio effort since 2001. Seth Rogan asked them to do the title song to his new movie, Pineapple Express. I’d worried about what the lyrics would be like given that constraint, but it turns out they’re eminently serviceable and much better than I feared (on par with “Back in Time,” itself a title song from 1985’s Back to the Future, which still has legs today). The real story though is the music, and for those who’ve not heard HLN for a while I recommend it as a snapshot of their current sound. It’s the same energy-driven musical layering they’ve been doing since well before the Sports era, but now with a built-in horn section and increased R&B flavor. I can say nothing about the movie, but I can definitely vouch for the song.

Of course, I’m obviously biased, but you don’t need to take my word for it — even the Wall Street Journal thinks so.
In fact, listening to it closely now I think it’s more the pity they didn’t do this song last night in Washington. But then, that’s the kind of rebel I am…

 Posted by at 11:38 am