Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

2011 in Review

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

An Afternoon With Tom

Posted: July 20, 2009 in Uncategorized

Today was one of my better days because I heard Tom Mesereau speak. You may not recognize the name, but click on THIS LINK and see his picture (and read about him), and you’ll recognize the person.

Tom came to speak at Pepperdine this year on the topic of “Defending the Unpopular Client,” and I was disappointed that I was unable to attend. Thankfully, he came to Public Counsel today, and I was able to benefit from his wisdom. He exceeded my already high expectations.

It has been an adventure trying to find my way in this profession called “law,” and this summer has allowed me to finally discover a path. Now, I have every intention of becoming what is called a “plaintiff’s lawyer” – and a good one at that. The more accurate description is that I hope to be a civil litigator, but the best way to get the picture across to you is to get a picture in your mind of the cheesy commercials / backs of telephone books with car-salesman-looking guys saying, “If you’ve ever been in an accident…” You know, the ambulance chasers. The people who give lawyers a bad name. That’s where I’m headed.

And I get the negative connotations. But I’ll tell you, if you ever really ARE in an unfortunate situation and find yourself screwed over by insurance companies or other assorted large corporations, you’ll want me to be there. And you’ll want me to be good.

Tom Mesereau is a criminal defense attorney, and not a civil litigator. But we’re kindred spirits. And I’m not saying he’s Jesus or anything, but his reputation of being a friend of tax collectors and sinners is a lot more like the real Jesus’s than any church folk I’ve ever met.

Two bits of wisdom especially resonated with me today:
1. Tom has two goals: to exonerate innocent people, and to make sure the system isn’t abused by those with power. The latter is my kind of goal.
2. Tom said that the old saying that law school asks you to check your common sense at the door on the way in and then forgets to give it back on the way out is true. In the end, a trial lawyer must be able to connect with the common people. He’s speaking my language.

I have finally determined that I want to be a trial lawyer. And I want to be good at it. Now I’m lucky to be at Pepperdine because I want to be an excellent negotiator/mediator, too, and I hope in the future that I will negotiate many an appropriate settlement with wealthy corporations who should pay for damage they have caused to others. But if these big gorillas in the world jungle aren’t willing to bring about justice, I want to be able to connect with a jury of citizens in such a way that justice will be served.

I guess I’ve wondered what sixteen years of teaching and preaching were leading to next. I think I’m starting to see where.

And Now, For Sports

Posted: March 27, 2009 in Uncategorized

VOLLEYBALL: #3 Pepperdine moved to 13-2 with a commanding win over #9, UC-San Diego last night, and my family was there rooting them on. It was a blowout, but a blowout is still fun when you’re on the winning side.

BASKETBALL: Well, Hillary’s bracket is busted now. She had Memphis going all the way. One of my brackets is in pretty ugly shape, but the other is still in play. We’ll see how it shapes up by the time the weekend is over and the Final Four is set.

BASEBALL: It is good to be getting spring training scores from the Redbirds on my homepage. I kind of like the possibilities for the Cards this year – as always, my concern is pitching (especially the closer).

LITERATURE: I actually started reading a book for fun a few days ago, and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve had “Summer of ‘49” by David Halberstam for quite awhile. Actually, it has been on my nightstand for quite awhile, but for some reason I finally started it. Maybe it is the fact that baseball season is practically here! Reading mostly about Joltin’ Joe Dimaggio last night…

SPRING FOOTBALL: Read a quick synopsis on the Razorbacks this spring, and it looks like we have some pretty good possibilities for the coming year. Have to say, living in Malibu is cool. I miss friends and family back in the South, but outside of people, the main thing that I miss is living/breathing SEC football.

Criminal Law

Posted: January 13, 2009 in Uncategorized

We get a new class this semester in addition to the same ones from last semester: criminal law. I’m already convinced that the subject matter will prove interesting, and at least we will be dealing with some terms that anyone who watches television knows – like “beyond a reasonable doubt,” “double jeopardy,” and “presumed innocent.”

I look forward to later this morning when I will meet our course instructor, Professor Samuel Levine.

In reading the introductory material, I discovered some eye-popping statistics. From 1925 to 1972, the American prison population was fairly stable, about 110 citizens incarcerated out of every 100,000. Since 1972, however, the population has skyrocketed – in 2005, the number stood at 738 per 100,000. Further, men are ten times more likely to be in prison than women, black persons five times more likely than white persons, and put together this one boggles the mind – one out of every three black males in this country is incarcerated.

There is a racist answer to that disparity that I am unfortunately well-versed in, but I don’t buy it in the least. I anticipate some interesting class discussions over the course of the next few months.


Posted: December 6, 2008 in Uncategorized

Today would’ve been my dad’s 88th birthday. Kind of hard to believe.

Born the same year as Pope John Paul II. And Walter Matthau. And Charlie Parker. Actually a year older than Betty Crocker. And Nancy Reagan. And Lana Turner.

The year my dad was born women were granted the right to vote. Prohibition began. The Yankees bought Babe Ruth. The first commercial radio station in the U.S. was launched. The hair drayer was invented. And the National Football League formed.

Life expectancy was in the early 50s. Average annual earnings was just over $1,200.

The years just keep flying away.

Settling In

Posted: August 11, 2008 in The Big Move, Uncategorized

We woke up to a gorgeous view last Friday morning. It was unfortunate that our arms and legs weren’t working. Like slime, we oozed out of bed, downstairs, back to our apartment, and began settling in. This was last Friday.

Well, in between all the oozing, we took a couple of pics of the view from the Drescher Graduate Campus at Pepperdine (up where our hotel was Friday evening).

Passing the Baton

Posted: August 1, 2008 in Uncategorized

With Rodney

Well, two more days and I’m out of here. Close to ten years of my life known as a “preacher” in Ocean Springs. In the midst of the varying emotions and chaos of the past couple of days, I have had a blast hanging out with Rodney Britt who has come to take it from here.

The name Rodney Britt is well-known among many Church of Christ folks, the original bass singer from the group Acappella. In just a short time, I now know him as a friend.

Leaving isn’t easy. Leaving people you love in excellent hands makes it way easier.

Rejuvenation for Dummies

Posted: July 31, 2008 in Uncategorized

You can call me a sissy all you want, but I don’t care. I won’t wear pink. I refuse to wear flip-flops or sandals of any type. (In fact, I don’t believe the words men. And sandals. Belong in the same sentence.) I am lost in the kitchen. I will not purchase brightly colored underthings. I believe the Lifetime Channel is a menace and should be banned from the airwaves. I refuse to cry at movies that do not involve sports. But after receiving my first ever massage recently… To heck with Sears gift cards, I know what I want for my birthday from here on out.

I thought I should write a primer for all the men out there who need to be gently guided into the world of rejuvenating massage, but I’m not so sure there’s a grand need for such an essay. My masseuse, Carrie – yes, I’m man enough to say the words, My masseuse, Carrie… My masseuse, Carrie, said that she gets more male clients than female in her little town, and that this was the case when she was in school, too. Maybe all men are already getting massages and I just missed the memo. (This happened once before with perfume – um, I mean, male-marketed cologne.)

Anyway, for anyone who might care, here are some massage tips from me to you. You can thank me later.

#1: “Full body massage” is a misnomer, so don’t worry yourself. More like “Whole-lotta body massage.” If you want a true full body massage, you have to get married, and that costs extra. LOTS extra.

#2: Remember: massages are therapeutic. This is not dating. Do not get these two confused. I grew up in a repressive environment where touching always meant something sexual, so yes, after my massage I had a strange urge to smoke a cigarette, but therapy is helping with all that.

#3: That having been said, if your wife or significant other is as enlightened as mine, get a masseuse instead of a masseur. First off, masseur sounds gross, sort of like a southern plantation owner complaining about septic problems (Ma sewer is backing up…). Second, and more important, the idea of having a man touch me to help me feel better still creeps me out. Therapy hasn’t helped that much yet.

#4: This is conjecture, but I’d suggest finding a masseuse in a small town. Carrie works in a town of less than two thousand residents, so that definitely qualifies. My inlaws say that Carrie grew up on a farm doing manual labor sort of chores before becoming a masseuse. Trust me on this one: that is a winning combination.

#5: When you arrive, you will be listening to New Age music, either soft piano or gurgling streams or something close akin. In case it is gurgling streams, be sure to go to the restroom beforehand.

#6: Wear clean underwear. No one will know, but it’s simply good hygiene guys.

#7: Drink the bottle of water they give you afterwards. It is not a door prize. They say it’s to help flush out the toxins the massage projected into your bloodstream. Toxin projecting is a good thing, but only if you flush.

#8: Do not operate heavy machinery for several hours afterwards. Your brain will still be in the Fiji Islands where no one operates heavy machinery for a reason.

#9: Do not wear pink or sandals. Don’t wear pink or sandals ever again. You’re a man for Pete’s sake!

This is all I can think of right now, but Rejuvenation for Dummies is a work in progress. When you go in for your first massage, please feel free to share any important tips I may have left out.

Walking in Memphis

Posted: July 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

In Sun Studio

“They’ve got catfish on the table / They’ve got gospel in the air / And Reverend Green be glad to see you / When you haven’t got a prayer / You’ve got a prayer in Memphis.” – Marc Cohn, Walking in Memphis

I quit buying my daughters birthday presents years ago and started getting them memories instead. It all began when I took Erica to the House of Blues in New Orleans for her fourteenth birthday where we stood in the middle of thousands of screaming teenage girls to see O’Town in concert. Since then, Erica and I have gone on all sorts of adventures: from stalking a soccer star in Dallas to watching championship tennis in Miami. When Hillary turned six, I began the same tradition with her. We’ve spent birthday trips in places like St. Louis, Mobile, and New Orleans. Recently, we added Memphis to our repertoire of memories.

We began with the simple plan of watching the Memphis Redbirds play baseball at AutoZone Park, but it grew a bit from there. We drove over early, dropped by the Welcome Center to get some ideas, and ended up with more ideas than we had both time and money so we had to pick our favorites. We began with lunch on Beale Street at the Blues City Cafe where Hillary had the “World’s Best Tamales” (that’s my girl!) and me and my acid reflux chose the Southern Catfish Dinner instead. None of us complained. From there we strolled over to the Rock & Soul Museum to wander through music artifacts from the Smithsonian and learn about the rich history of music in Memphis. Afterwards, we got kicked out of the FedEx Forum (kicked out very politely I might add – southern hospitality is alive and well), and drove down to tour the very cool Sun Studio where Elvis was discovered and rock & roll music was born. We ended up at the Redbirds game that evening after all, followed by a late night drive back to my inlaws singing goofy songs at the top of our lungs. As the MasterCard commercial says, priceless. As my Visa statement will read, about $130.

I grew up eighty miles from Memphis and, as familiarity works, never appreciated it. I read in the newspaper that Ahmad Rashad’s daughter didn’t know he played football until a friend told her in junior high. I didn’t know Memphis was the center of the world until, say, this trip.

Learning about the birth of rock & roll music was fascinating. Although Memphis has the unfortunate distinction of shooting Dr. King off the mountaintop, it in many ways served as the harbinger of positive race relations. Though music. On a video, I listened to a black studio producer say that people had always told him that black and white people could not work together, but that the music scene in Memphis proved otherwise.

And I finally got Elvis. I grew up with the fat and sweaty Elvis and was just a kid when he died. I remember sitting in my backyard contemplating the news of his death in 1977, probably the first death I ever contemplated. I knew something monumental had happened, but to me, Elvis was gaudy clothes and drug overdoses and music my parents liked, and I didn’t grasp any real significance in it all. Over time, I learned he had something to do with rock & roll music and a leg that didn’t know how to remain still and girls screaming their lungs out, but that didn’t do much for me either. Until this trip to Memphis.

Elvis was the bridge between both races and generations, not a bad feat to pull off for a delivery truck driver from Mississippi. In the 1950s South, when America went into labor, it was Elvis who served as the delivery room doctor. He gave birth to a style of music that bridged the gap between the blues of the blacks and the country of the whites and set a generation free from it’s dividing lines. And say what you will, but I for one pause and give thanks.

The best photo-op on the Sun Studio tour was the site marked by a duct tape X where Elvis Presley gave birth to a new nation, founded in melodies, and dedicated to the proposition that music can change the world. Our tour guide said that Bob Dylan came to Memphis a few years back, walked into Sun Studio, bent over and kissed that exact spot on the floor, then got up and walked out.

I completely understand.

I’m not sure if I’m getting anywhere, but at least I’m doing my part to stimulate our sluggish economy.

I began my Memorial Day by scheduling my first colonoscopy (talk about something you’ll always remember), and then my smirking wife and I traveled to Baton Rouge to see our good friend, Roland. We have been a Saturn family for years now, mostly because we are a Roland family. I’d trust Roland with anything, so trusting him with our automotive needs is an easy one.

We did a two-for-one deal: we trade in two of our cars, and get one in return. Our new digs in Malibu will make it so we can easily be a one-car family, so we wanted to make sure we had a dependable ride for the next three years or so. Well, we accomplished that, and then some: we got a sweet 2008 Saturn Aura with the deluxe bells and whistles package.

I’m thinking about my friend, John Dobbs, non-stop, and he called me this morning to hear all about my new car, since he loves these new Saturn Auras. I cannot wait to give John a ride when he makes it back to the Gulf Coast.

Well, buying a new car didn’t resurrect our sluggish economy overnight, so I had to get back on the credit card wagon again today. Now, I’ve ordered my laptop computer for law school. A brand new Dell product should be heading my way at some point in the new future, and though I hope it isn’t my best friend for the next three years, I have this funny feeling that we will get to be real close.

I’ve suddenly got a new car and a new laptop on the way. I’ve been researching my new insurance agent and Saturn dealer, both of whom happen to be on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica. I’ve realized that the big countdown now stands at 68 days.

Our move is beginning to sink in.