Monday, May 26, 2008

Sticking to the Law Business

My wife caught me reading Strunk & White's Elements of Style. It is a small book on writing, a primer on clear and concise writing. She thinks I am crazy. I can't disagree. I read great writing, and I want to do it. I read my favorite writer's blogs, yes, blogs, and I want to be able to write like they do. I read a Hemingway short story, and I want to kill myself. I read it, want to do it, try it, fail at it and feel crappy about it. It is so hard to do and doesn't come to me easily. So I read Elements of Style and hope for inspiration. I am better off reading The Enquirer. The writing in that tabloid does not inspire suicide.

The R. Kelly trial is in full swing. During jury selection, I had to go into that courtroom. They have their own Sheriff's security team, screening all who enter, metal detectors and everything. You would expect to then board a plane. Initially, they made me pull out my ID and empty my pockets. After a few moments, the sergeant in charge said, "He is a lawyer; he has been in a courtroom before; he knows what to do." Later, I rode down the elevator with him. I said, "Some setup." He said, "Yeah, I should have brought my big, floppy shoes and red nose." He is right. It's a circus, a black-eye to the legal system.

You have the judge, Ringmaster Ned, leading the nonsense. You have the lawyers, hamming it up with their "pointed" questions and phony demeanor, yelling and bellowing at witnesses. The media plays it all up, giving everyone a forum for their acting. The case has no victim, or a victim who cares. She and her family continue to honor their promise, keeping their mouths shut for money. That would be in contrast to every other witness in the case who was paid off, and yet still testify against their benefactor.

On our descent, the sergeant and I lamented the true nature of 26th Street. While this legal farce continues, there are issues of real consequence being decided in the building. Family members of murder victims seeking closure and some idea of peace, defendants accused falsely of committing a crime, some of the best lawyers and prosecutors in America conducting the business of justice with honor and professionalism, unconcerned about their names being in print or their faces appearing on television.

As all of this occurs, Memorial Day is upon us. Many lawyers, especially defense lawyers, like to tell potential jurors that jury service is the second most important duty that can be undertaken by an American citizen. They also may say that our soldiers defend our freedom and our way of life. They will point to our legal system as the best, and the one truly American institution that separates us from the rest of the world. I am one of those lawyers. I say those things because I believe them with my whole heart and soul.

I believe that to shirk jury service, to trivialize it or blow it off, is a slap in the face to every soldier that picked up a rifle and served this country. I am sickened by the excuses given for being unable to serve on a jury or being unable to answer the questions honestly. They sicken me, these so-called Americans. Their lives are trivial in comparison to the lives of those who make such sacrifices on their behalf. Take a few hours or days and give the justice system your best. It is the least you can do.

Today, I consider the the commitment of our soldiers and all who assist in their efforts. I think of all those who have paid the price of freedom throughout our history. They are the reason I have this vocation. I honor them by my commitment to justice and our system of government and laws. I try to remember them every time I step into the well of a courtroom and open my mouth. I hope I do them proud.

Monday, May 12, 2008

TV Sucks.

The final episode of the "Wire" has come and gone long ago. There is nothing on television worth watching, at least not regularly. No sports can hold my interest. An occasional "Frontline" might cause me to watch the tube. Instead, I have watched a couple of movies lately. I watched the baby-faced killer, Matt Damon, aka "Jason Bourne" in The Bourne Ultimatum. I like spy stuff but have a hard time believing that Matt Damon can whip ass.

A sleeper in the spy genre is Spy Game with Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. I am not a fan of either actors recent work. Redford is not a leading man anymore. He is old and saddlebag wrinkly. He is not believable as a hot-chick magnet. He has to pay for the hot chick. (See Indecent Proposal) What is indecent is this old bag getting any young chippy on screen. Pitt can't act. He is only effective when he is not allowed to say a whole lot, plays a young, dim but passionate character and has a strong actor to carry him. (See Seven) A recent example is Troy. He plays Achilles, has his shirt off alot and can pull off the action scenes. The problem is that he has to deliver some emotional lines and show some depth in the character. He cannot pull off a dark side. He is the weak link in an otherwise decent movie.

Spy Game works. Redford can act and plays his age. No love interest for the the Redster. He plays the grizzled veteran spy who makes one last operation to rescue his protegee, Pitt, who went off the reservation to rescue his radical girlfriend from a Chinese prison. Pitt gets to throw a chair and get all emotional over the business of spying and death while Redford carries the film with a strong and likable performance. Every time this one pops up on cable, I'm watching.

This gets me thinking of great supporting roles or cameos from much maligned actors. Scene stealers or unexpected performances. Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross and The Departed. Bruce Willis in Nobody's Fool. Travolta in Pulp Fiction. Charles Grodin in Midnight Run. Val Kilmer in Tombstone.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Money, it's a hit.

Evidently, many Bears fans believe that the decision not to draft a quarterback after the first round is a clear sign that the team is scrapping any plans to make the playoffs in 2008. You may be shocked to know that I believe that the 2008 Bears are not bound for the playoffs anyway, even without a rookie QB sitting on the bench. The QB's drafted after the first round are no better than Kyle Orton. Matt Ryan is no better than Kyle Orton. This is not a time for a rookie. We need to rebuild our line, upgrade our skill people and reinforce the defensive secondary. Then the Bears need to spend some dough on Devin Hester, Brian Urlacher and a veteran QB free agent in 2009.

Renegotiating with Hester is a no-brainer. He is our best weapon, by far. By really far. It is not even funny so far. Tear up the rookie contract and give this kid some real guaranteed money. They owe it to the fans. Urlacher is a little different. He is 30. He was dinged up last year. He has time left on this deal. All true. But he played through the injuries and finished strong. If we continue to run a cover 2 scheme, there is no better middle linebacker in the league than Urlacher. He still creates turnovers, he can still run and continues to be a player the opponent schemes against. He is our leader. Chicago fans are overly critical. 54 has given this town and this team his all. This is not throwing money to a guy as a reward. He will play up to the contract.

If we can get this offense moving in the right direction, a veteran QB is the move. The Bears haven't had a rookie QB develop since McMahon. The line needs to protect, the receivers have to show progress and this running back situation has to produce. The D has a few good years left. I also love Craig Steltz. He will be the next strong safety and will thrive in this scheme. If Mike Brown goes down, which is likely as April snow in this town, watch for Steltz. He also marks the end of the Adam Archuleta Experience. Thank you and goodnight. So, if the Bears can blow the dust off of some cash, let's see the pursuit of a real free agent QB in '09. Make a splash, cheapies. Then, I may be able to justify season tickets, you know, with a real chance at a playoff-winning contender.