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William Wray is a 3L at Roger Williams Law. He attended Georgetown University and Brown University for undergraduate, graduating in 2010 with a degree in Middle East Studies. Throughout high school and college he was involved in Mock Trial, which kindled his interest in litigation. At Brown he...

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Law Crack, LOLCats, and James Bond.

Posted by William Wray on 11/30/2010 at 12:15 PM

To make up for my extra-long absence from the internets, this'll be an extra-long blog post. I recommend that the reader breaks his/her reading up into smaller fragments, taking breaks for coffee, fresh air, and less sesquipedalian prose.


I'm writing now from the Student Commons, which is mostly an undergraduate building. Though RW undergraduate students somewhat resemble RW law students, the distinction is obvious to a learned observer: The undergraduates lack that haunted, dead look to their eyes, a characteristic common to corpses and end-of-semester law students.


I eschewed the law library at the behest of the New York Times, which suggested that changing one's study locales benefits recall in a recap article that is at least marginally more credible than the paper's typical trend fluff.


I doubt, however, that those benefits of varied study spaces extend to those locations where Regis and Perky Blonde are being played quite loudly, as is the case here. Did you know that Kelly likes to work out to 'Naturally' by Selena Gomez? I do now!


BREAK 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOF4YPdYELg&feature=related (If you watch this on mute, it's not funny.)


I recently re-read 'The Corrections' by Jonathan Franzen. It's a great book, and would probably be in my top ten, if not for that damned 'OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB' stamp emblazoned on the cover that I furtively cover every time when I am in public. I don't know how whoever picks books for Oprah picked The Corrections. S/he must not have read the book through, or didn't understand it, because The Corrections ably dismantles the sort of facile schmaltz that Oprah has been hawking to the ~3% of American households who watch her show every day

After re-reading The Corrections, I 'bought' a Barnes and Noble gift card with the LexisNexis Reward points I've been hoarding by attending a slew of redundant and plodding LexisNexis trainings. I thus paid only a fraction of the borderline extortionate sticker price of $28 for his newest offering, 'Freedom.' It would've been $16 cheaper on e-book, but I weighed the pros and cons - the implied opulence of a hardcover book on a bookshelf that I will someday own – and went with the “real thing.” After all, it was on LexisNexis' tab.


Prospective students may be confused as to what I mean by 'Reward points.' Here's the deal: there are two companies which have taken all the difficult parts of law school (walking from one shelf in the library to another, paging through books) and made them ludicrously easy. People who complain about law school being difficult may just have forgotten the URL to LexisNexis and/or Westlaw or don't know how to read.


The most amazing part about LN/W is that they are entirely free for law students. In fact, they beg us to use the services. They adopt the crack-dealer model: “Hook the customer with free goods, charge them once they're dependent (i.e, once they're lawyers).” They constantly pass out swag to law students in order to curry their goodwill. They do so with staggering zeal. You would think that each of us – if we are ever in a position to choose between Westlaw or LexisNexis at a law firm – will dispatch our minds back to law school and tally up the number of free coffee mugs and highlighters we received from each company.


I can't imagine that the cross-over between 1. those law students that will someday be in a position to decide between Lexis/West for a firm and 2. those law students who make critical decisions based on trinkets like highlighters and travel mugs covers more than one or so person... but somewhere in the board rooms of LexisNexis and Westlaw five or so highly paid marketing executives are waging a tireless and costly battle for that student's fickle loyalty. The rest of us law students are mere war profiteers swimming in reward points and highlighters.


BREAK 2: Attractive Nuisance cat


To return at length to my original point, I bought Freedom. I was unimpressed and somewhat taken aback. It stank of the bien pensants on the editorial staff of the New York Times and made me wonder if, rather than just hilariously and lucidly riffing on a couple of familiar stereotypes in The Corrections, he had been trying to “say something, you guys," about Americans and America. Freedom demands to be taken seriously right from the outset – it has none of the humor or relatability of The Corrections - and I was distracted throughout by the impression that Franzen was trying to really “nail down” the zeitgeist of the 2000's. Snore. According to Time's shamelessly worshipful cover piece and the slatternly flattery of every other urbanophile news source, he did. I don't buy it. And I resent Franzen's Freedom for casting a pall upon The Corrections. Now I can't help but think of the characters as extended allegories; as mere instrumentalities for his evidently fat-headed opinions. His characters never had that degree of believability necessary to say something about U.S.



I did a literary 180 and cast about for anything that would engage as few grey cells  as possible. I got Casino Royale (Ian Fleming) on e-book and have since finished the Fleming books.


I was pleasantly surprised to find that the highly-explosive, utterly-preposterous, gadget-centric super-duper-chauvinistic Bond movies are highly stylized versions of a much less glitzy source. The books are merely mildly explosive, acceptably preposterous, light on gadgets and, well, still super-duper-chauvinistic. Most of the familiar Bond “trademarks” are in fact liberal embellishments on a literary character who has, in the entire series, yet to pun or utilize an exploding something-that-doesn't-typically-explode to kill the bad guy. The plots of the movies – save for Casino Royale – bear little resemblance to the books. As one example, in the books, “Octopussy” is an octopus that Bond never sees. In the movie, Octopussy is a beautiful, wealthy jewel smuggler/circus owner who foils a plot to explode a nuclear bomb.


This is where a blog post is supposed to come full circle and refer to the law in some respects. Octopuses... law... I can't do it. Like shy people who have exhausted their where-are-you-from-what-do-you-do set piece conversations at networking events, I'll just trail off... and... walk away. To refill my drink?