I like to think some days that I could be a sweet dude. Granted, I also dream of being a famous poet. Both dreams, while unattainable and unprofitable in the long run, keep me going during the dark hours of law school.


A bit of Verse

It's that time again: Eric's Self-Indulgent Poetry Time. I found this one lying around in my old Poetry 3730 Notebook. I think we were working with meter, rhythm, and rhyme. Enjoy. UNTITLED I walk the Dog down City streets and Watch him wag his Tail The leash pulls Hard on my thick Arm as we Now chase a Snail Upon the Beast he Leaps and Laps it Hard with his Rough tongue The Crunch and Crack of Snail's Hard shell is Heard 'til Kingdom come The snail, they say, was heaven-bound on Wings of slimy Dew, but I've heard it Said, well, over-Head "God Likes his Escargot..."


Autumn Pet Peeves

Some things I Love and...not so much Love about Autumn, Law School, BYU, and Life in General... PET PEEVES I like to think I'm a fairly level-headed, patient person. But when these things or people happen, I get an instant headache. (1) Cell Phones in Church Every time I see someone fiddling with or, heaven forbid, answering a phone call during church services, it's all I can do to refrain from asking them "You texting Jesus?" Which brings up a good question--would He use Verizon or AT&T? (ps--Danny, I love you, bro! In a totally masculine, un-weird way!) (2) Sweet Dudes I can't take credit for coining this term. Pretty sure it was good friend Randall Rowberry. Or good friend Kari Baardson. Either way, it's a perfect description of BYU's favorite guy. He's equipped with the following:
  • Trucker Hat. Lying lightly on his head and slightly askew, as if to ask "Do I realize what I'm wearing on my head? No. But if that's all you're looking at, you're not getting the full show, baby."
  • V-Neck T-shirt. You know the one--it allows just enough chest hair to peek through to be interesting. Never mind the fact that sweet dudes wax their chests. That's not the point, duh!
  • Super-duper-tight pants. These are essential. Like the trucker hat, they're uncomfortable to look at and to wear. But Abercrombie says they're in, so Sweet Dudes feel obligated to wear them.
  • Sunglasses. The size of Toronto. These are presumably to protect the sensitive Sweet Dudes' eyes from the awesome glare off their awesome homies' awesome bodies...
  • Upper Torsos at least twice the size of Lower Torsos. Chicken Legs to Support Bullish Chests. Sweet Dudes only work the muscles they know the ladies like--arms, pecs, etc. If only girls realized that "Curls get girls and Squats make jocks."
  • A Tan, a membership to a Tanning Club, and a collection of Tanning Oils. Ever seen a pasty white Sweet Dude? Unless he's scared pale by the thought of an impending test, it's not going to happen. Sweet Dude must have a tan for wardrobe purposes. And to provide a sheen with which to cause the glare for which the Sweet Dudes need sunglasses
  • Nearly Clear Teeth. Peroxide strips every month lead to incredibly sensitive, but immaculately white teeth. Sweet Dudes make the sacrifice willingly to be able to flash that unnaturally white grin. So what if they can't eat hot or cold food? Luke warm is worth the attention wreaked by these perfect pearly whites!
  • Too-Strong Cologne. Polo. Acqua diGio. And lots of it. Mixed, if possible. If a girl can't identify it immediately and from at least 200 yards away, Sweet Dude's not going to wear it.
  • An Ozone Layer Hole right above their heads. Because of the pounds of hair product in their unnaturally blonde locks, Sweet Dudes get the added benefit of getting tanner quicker than the rest of us. Ultraviolet is ultra sweet, homey!
  • Small dogs. For some reason, Sweet Dudes, like Paris Hilton, love little yappy dogs. Chihuahas, Poodles, Beagles, the whole gammut. This shows the girls that they are sensitive, and that if the girls could only unleash this sensitive side of these incredibly sculpted men, they could have the perfect guy. Of course it's just a ruse! But that just shows that Sweet Dudes are self-conscious and concerned.
  • Trophy Girl. This is the hot blonde that goes to the gym wearing more makeup than she had on pre-gym. Even as she nimbly weaves her way through the weights and aerobic machines to get to the drinking fountain, her hair is immaculate, her nails a work of art, and her gym clothes just the right mix of comfortably revealing. Sweet Dudes must have Trophy Girls near them or flirting with them at all times. Otherwise, they feel uncomfortable, nauseous, and a wee bit unsexy.
  • Awesome Girl. Each Sweet Dude has an Awesome Girl who is gaga for him and who would be great for him. She's smart, sweet, funny, caring, beautiful (as opposed to just "hot"), and the proverbial "catch." She loves Sweet Dude in spite of his insecurities and laughably skinny calves. Sweet Dude, in all reality, loves her too, but can't let her know that. How would that look to Trophy Girl and the other Sweet Dudes?! Occasionally, Sweet Dudes make it out of the Sweet Phase and realize that Awesome Girl is really awesome, and they live happily ever after. More often, however, Sweet Dude loses his hair at 25, joins Business Buddy's Multi-Level-Marketing scheme, and spend the rest of his life convincing people around him to buy his products with the conviction that one day, money, like his calves and his hair, will magically appear.
(3) The Economy Would this thing just settle down and become predictable? I mean, come on!!! (4) Over-Seriosity You know. When something's funny, but people make it serious. Like when I was in Evidence class one time and we read a case about whether a dog could testify at trial or not-- the dog was referred to as a "she-bitch" in the case book. This is a semantically correct usage of the word, but nevertheless, our professor relished his chance to say a seemingly "naughty" word in class. So he used it a few times to great comedic effect. We all loved it, not often having the chance to say "naughty" words in a professional context at a relatively stuffy University. With most of the class in a tizzy of giggles and guffaws, the girl sitting next to me leans over and says in a hushed, disgusted tone "He's just saying it so he can swear...gosh!" That last part raised a whole new question for me, but I'm proud to say that I just laughed in her face and said "Yep. He is." (5) The Wannabe Sweet Dude at the Wilk who Plays the SAME John Schmidt Song on the Slightly Out-of-Tune Piano and is Convinced That if he Continues to do so, the Girl of his Dreams is Going to Walk up to him at the Piano and say "Hey! Isn't That John Schmidt?! I Love that Guy! Will you Take me out Right Now so we can Steadily Progress on a Path of Courtship that Leads Towards Marriage and Eternal Bliss?" Yeah, you know this guy. (6) The Business Student who is Convinced that the Greatest Charity he can Give to the World is not, Actually, Giving of his Time and Talents in Service to Others, but in Fact Making as Much Money as Humanly Possible--Merrily Stepping on, Gleefully Stabbing, and Meekly Betraying Others Who Carry the Same Charitable Notion, all the While Carrying a Humble Prayer in his Humble Heart--Knowing That his Tithing and the job Opportunities his MLM Creates can do his Charity for him While he Sips Virgin Margaritas on his Private Island. I know you know this guy, too. And just so you all know that I'm not an entirely embittered, lonely soul with nothing better to do than complain, some... THINGS I LOVE (1) Fall in Utah. This picture captures a lot of it. Autumn colors, fishing, rivers, mountains. Nature in general. Just gorgeous. (2) Michael Goldsmith Classes and Quotes. Hands down, one of the best professors I've ever had in my life, Professor Goldsmith came to BYU Law via...well...I don't know what brought him to BYU. He was an NYC prosecutor for years. After writing his own textbook on evidence, I can only presume he became a full-time professor of law. After that, it's a mystery... Regardless, the man is brilliant. And not only that, he is also one of the best lecturers I've had the pleasure to listen to. A self-described "New York Jew in Mormon Utah," he also happens to maintain the greatest sense of humor I've ever come across. Some of his quotes (curtesy of Ms. Kathleen Cannon):
  • (On the propensity of students to play games on their laptops in class) "I'm not opposed to playing games. If you want to play solitaire, bring a deck of cards."
  • (On his work as a criminal defense attorney) "I represented a prostitute, and some of her activities were highly aerobic."
  • (On Law students who don't read carefully) "The children of lawyers who don't read footnotes will STARVE."
  • (On Marriage) "They met at a Communist party get together. Not exactly the wardhouse, but still pretty romantic."
  • (On ethics and the law) "You never tell your clients to lie. That's unethical. You say, 'Well, here is a potential, credible story that we hope is true.'"
  • (On moving violations) "When you get caught speeding, don't say 'I'm sorry.' Say, 'IF I was speeding, I am sorry.' ADMIT NOTHING."
  • (On required gospel insights in class) "Let me give you a hypothetical. Jesus goes to law school, graduates, what does He do? Criminal prosecution or defense? That's right, he's defending these monsters. He's a defense attorney. That's my gospel insight for the day."
  • (To a smart aleck in class) "This is my job. I'm just trying to do my job, and you're giving me a hard time. I don't give you a hard time with your job. I just order my burger and fries."
  • (On the Passover and Law School) Prof: Passover is coming! Have you been thinking about it? Student: No, Ive been busy preparing food for it all week. Prof: Your excuse fails, because the law requires the lamb to be boiled not roasted, so it must be done quickly. Your excuse fails like the little boy who lost his CTR ring."
  • (On Politics) "A liberal is just a conservative who's been to jail. Of course, a conservative is just a liberal who's been mugged."
Michael Goldsmith, everybody. Favorite Law Professor ever. And earlier this semester, he informed us that he has been diagnosed with Lou Gherig's Disease. Despite that diagnosis, he comes to class prepared, passionate, and savvy as always. BYU won't be the same when he leaves. Nor will the thousands he touched. Isn't that the measure of a life well-lived?


Politics...fer Real Now

I just got a request, and you know that when you request I try my derndest to comply. So, back story: my good friend Christin has asked that I write a political post. More than happy to oblige, Christin. However, I feel like I need to take this one a bit more seriously and less satirically than usual. Why? Because it's late and I'm tired and I'm feeling nostalgic and I think it's actually really, really important. (TWO reallys. It's that important.) Sometimes people wonder what my real political viewpoints are--am I a fiscal conservative trapped inside the stunning law-student-body of a social libertarian? Am I a Republicrat? Am I apathetic? Am I (shudder) a Republican? Am I (hiss) a Democrat? Well, after reading this post, I don't think you're going to have any better clue than you already had. When it comes to politics, I'm cynical and sometimes bitter about the whole process. I'm constantly disillusioned. Even feel-good-story-of-the-moment VP nominee, Sarah Palin, has some not-so-feel-good baggage stashed away on the Straight Talk Express. I bring this up because it perfectly illustrates my point: The era of the public servant is dead. Long live the politician. Don't get me confused here. There are plenty of hard-working, dedicated, fantastic public servants out there. Erin's mom is the Mayor of Kaysville, and the living epitome of this-- concerned with, devoted to, and working for the welfare of her city and its citizens. I've seen her do it. It's impressive. But more and more, Mayor Roundy is becoming the glowing exception to the self-aggrandizing rule. This shrinking dichotomy is especially noticeable on the grander, more national scale. These "servants of the public interest" just tend to get less concerned with the public and more and more self-interested. It's sad. It's stupid. But it's human nature. I may be generalizing quite a bit here, but I think the human race as a whole is a lot like a mockingbird. When we see shiny stuff we grab at it. We can't help it. We're just interested in it at first. Technology is shiny. Fashion is shiny. Power is shiny. So when someone wafts that tantalizing scent of power our way, it's the most natural response to follow the scent and make a grab for it. The problem with that is, we as a nation don't want the natural reaction. The natural reaction has led to the most attrocious acts in history. War is, at its root, a natural reaction. Bill Clinton was a living natural reaction during his term of office. So was Richard Nixon. Power grabs, lobbyism, partisanship, pork barrel spending, debts--all natural reactions. So, whatever happened to the days when amazing men and women went to Washington, served one or two terms, made differences, made changes, represented their people, and fought for principle? What happened to the people who would really effect change? What happened to the public servants who went in to Washington, eschewed the natural reaction and stepped down or away from their pedestals? Where have they gone? The career track politician has swallowed them up. A very famous Utah Senator once ran on the campaign slogan that three terms from the incumbent Senator were too many years for any politician. That 18 years was just too much time to languish on the Potomac; that, with the passage of time, this senator had lost touch with his constituency. 30+ years later and you'd never hear Orrin Hatch make the same argument today. He's got seniority, he's got pull, he's got sway, he can make a difference with the connections and power he's gathered together. And I can't dispute that. The man is right. And he's generally done an excellent job in the Senate. But he's gonna have at least 36 years in the Senate before he might even leave office. Twice as much as the senator he replaced--Frank Moss. Has Orrin lost touch with his constituents? I don't know. But by his logic, he has. At the end of the day, I try to keep myself educated, up to date with the issues, and try and make decisions according to my own beliefs and convictions. To join one of the "teams" (ironically the Red or the Blue) and just follow the party line because that's what the team believes makes me sad. And I worry so much that our nation has sharply divided itself into teams, drawing a line in the sand with issue after issue. Stand on one side and you're OK. Stand on the other side, and you're the enemy. Worse, many times, the teams don't determine their side of the issue until they find out what the "other" guys think about it. Reactionary politics is a dangerous game. It leads to extremism in both policy and decision-making. Think I'm a radical? Think I'm too wishy-washy to dive into the "game?" Listen to what George Washington had to say at his farewell speech in 1796: "[Political parties] serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests. "However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion." And so, in this season of politicking, vote-garnering, stumping, speaking, and debates, it's more important than ever that we REALLY study the candidates and their views, and vote with our consciences and a healthy dose of reason. Don't just listen to your party. Don't ignore the "other" guy. Please study, please vote, please make the right choice. What that choice is, I won't tell you. That's one of the beauties of Democracy. So, there you have it, one of my rare serious posts. But until then, you can count on me lampooning both sides of the aisle. If nothing else, political satire will always enjoy a special place in my heart.