Friday, August 31, 2007

Such Is Life...

So I failed out of law school. Well, to be more accurate I was "academically dismissed" from law school, which is more accurate considering I didn't fail any classes and earn full credits for my first year, but I think you'd get the gist better if I said I just failed out. Before I continue, I just want to say two things. First, I am not trying to make any excuses. What happened happened, and that is that. I didn't have any sort of clarity that I wanted to do something other than law or anything like that. If I had gotten decent enough grades to go back, I would have. Second, I'm writing this out of my own self-interest. I don't know if it will be particularly interesting, but I am using this as my own sort of press release to inform people that don't know what's going on in order to save me from having to tell everyone I know individually about what happened. I'm not looking for pity or anything like that. As a matter of fact, I hate pity being shown in my direction. Sympathy is appreciated, apathy is preferable, and pity is loathed.

The more I have thought about this situation the more perplexing it has gotten. It is seriously the most odd thing that has happened to me. I cannot wrap my head around how this did not work out. How it works at Widener is that there is a minimum GPA requirement for the year. You fall below it and you are academically dismissed. I was less that .15 points below that requirement, thus I got the boot. But that is really neither here nor there because I shouldn't even have to worry about a minimum requirement. If I'm anywhere near there, then there is something wrong.

What went wrong? I really can't say. I worked harder at that school than any other time in my educational life. I was on top of work, I did everything I needed to and yet the grades were not there. If I had to guess what went wrong, I'd say that the form of testing is different than what I was accustom to coming from mostly written paper finals and such. Also to answer questions on exams there is a specific format you had to follow, and I'm not sure I ever really understood how the professors wanted the answers presented. I thought I had made proper adjustments, but that turned out to be not true.

Like I said, I'm not making excuses. I can say I wasn't comfortable with the format or whatever, but when I'm still doing poorly on exams, I'm just missing the boat on something. It's not like my answers were perfect but in the wrong form. That aspect of it is what I cannot answer for myself. What major thing did I miss that virtually everyone else that goes to law school in general get? I know I can do better, and I should have done better, but for some reason I did not. To be honest, when I found out I wasn't going back (about a month ago) I really just felt like God was just telling me, this is not what I'm supposed to do. I don't mean that in a religious aspect, but just as a universe and cosmos thing where the planets and stars were just like, this isn't for you. That's the only reasoning I can grab onto to make sense of what happened. I'm no genius, but I know I'm a smart person. Smart enough that I should be able to do well in law school, and yet nothing law-related in my life has worked out.

I could have reapplied or petitioned for readmission, but I decided against it. Mainly because at the time I was pretty distraught and took the, "if they don't want me then fuck them" role. Then I kind of gave up the idea of going back to law school all together. I told myself it was time to move on and find something else for me. The last phase of my reasoning for not petitioning was that the school said a petition for readmission would only be accepted under "extreme circumstances." Which I basically took as bullshit right off the bat, and an underhanded way of saying, "Do you really want to do this?" I mean let's face it X amount of kids transfer out, they're just dipping into the readmission pool to fill up the empty slots to get money. Bottom line. Anyway, I still thought I could make a good argument for myself, but then I figured if I did get back in then where would that leave me? I would be in the lowest percentage of kids at a pretty average law school. That would fuck me for next summer when I would have been looking for an associate position and that would have snowballed to me having an expensive J.D. at the end of 2009 and no job.

Don't get me wrong, I've always subscribed to the theory that there is no such thing as a bad law school. Which is absolutely true. If you're a good law student anywhere then you'll be fine. But when you're a shitty law student from Widener is different from being a shitty law student from Yale.

Where I am now is basically limbo. I've been on the job hunt looking for good opportunities, but I've only turned up rather poor ones and the jobs I have wanted, I haven't gotten called back for. Honestly, I thought finding a job would be easier, but it has been difficult. I'm definitely bitter about having to be home and not forwarding my life, but I don't think I show it too much. I think I've turned that corner and am more looking for opportunity rather than mulling over the past. While I will still be looking for a good job, I think I may bust out my old LSAT books to start looking them over for a possible return to law school in 2008.

I'll retake the LSAT's (as much as I loathe the idea) and let that determine whether or not I continue with law. If things work out, I'll reapply and go from there. If not then I know for sure law wasn't for me.

The main things I'm dreading about entertaining the idea of law school again is retaking the LSAT's, which is a horrible experience. Then having to retake classes I earned full credit for. Go through everything again, and do the briefs and outlines. It will be frustrating. Then I wouldn't graduate until 2011, which would probably be the worst considering I would have been working for 2 years at that point. It would just be a constant reminder of my failure. But I have to man up and move past those things if I want to succeed.

Ideally I'd like to find a good job in the city, either Philly or New York, and earn enough in a year that I could move into the city and continue working. I still have high standards for myself, so in the end, I'm not going to take some garbage job just to live in the city, I'm looking for a career opportunity that will allow me to be as successful as I had planned to be. If all else fails then I thought about some professions I might want to try my had at:

I. Music producer - probably rap music because it is so easy and lucrative. Eventually I'd work my way into videos a la Timbaland. I think that would be good. I mean if this guy can make it how hard can it be? I certainly don't need street cred.

II. Screenwriter - use my creativity and writing chops to pen a movie script. Sell it for a nice sum and move on from there. Sadly, this may be the most realistic crazy venture idea I had. Problem is I don't know the first thing about blocking scenes and whatever, I'd just do dialogue. So that's a problem.

III. Monk - just pack it all in and live in the mountains somewhere.

Anyway, I've been able to move beyond the fact that I won't be attending law school this year, but the thing that is the worst is missing out on the friendships I had established at school. There were some great people there, and while I can accept that i didn't do something well academically, having to bail on friends and such is something that is harder to wrap my head around. I know I will still maintain friendships, but I feel as though there was a sort of bond that we were all going to grind through this together. I guess it's the closest to a fraternity setting, in regards to the bond between people, that I've had. That is disappointing.

As for regrets, I don't think I have any pertaining to law school. I worked my hardest and did my best so I can sleep at night knowing that. Something about that school at that time didn't click with my head. Was I in front of a book 20 hours a day? No, but that's not my style nor could it ever be. I worked as hard as I could have and I know I put in the effort to be proud of myself in that respect. If anything I guess I would wish that I focused more on the LSAT's. Gave it a little more focus and effort. I was still in school and had other things going on which probably affected me negatively. Again, I'm not making excuses, tons of other people do great on the LSAT's right out of college and do well in law school, but for me I think some time off would have been better. I always told myself I didn't have a year to just refocus. I think I may have gotten into the kind of rut where you don't know you're in it until it caught up to you.

So I'll be around, keeping at it and seeing what turns out. I don't know if this is my brain in denial or an actual feeling I have, but I'm kind of excited to see what opportunities are out there for me. If it leads me back to law school and I succeed then that's fine. If something else turns up then that's fine as well.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Running Diary: The Pick Up Artist

I decided to keep a running track of the debut episode of The Pick Up Artist on VH1. Off the bat, this could be as historic a show as Tommy Lee Goes To College. Needless to say, I'm giddy.

As a brief overview, The Pick Up Artist is about a group of men who have no skills with women. To help them with this ailment, they are turning to Mystery a master pick up artist. He is accompanied by his two prize pupils J-Dog and Matador. Which immediately got me thinking about my master pick up artist name. I'll have something before the show is over.

As a quick run down of the guys, I'm betting on Brady becoming the master pick-up artist of the group. His problem seems to be confidence, which can be easily remedied. The old man, the Indian guy, and the guy that is confused for being gay have no shot. Scott the stutterer may be the dark horse.

The guys are now in speedos and swimming for some reason. This is upsetting, and it is quickly challenging the level of this show off the bat. I may have made a bad call. I would have gone with Rodeo as my pick-up artist name, but it's already taken by the chick on Rock of Love. The Asian guy is acting Asian. It's times like that I'm glad I have that half-German blood in me.

So know, as their first mission (?) whatever the hell it is they have to go into a bar and hit on women while Mystery watches on. Quite a daunting task seeing as I hate approaching women at bars because if they're attractive, then they automatically think I'm hitting on them, when I may not be.

I'm thinking Mystery is full of shit. Yet, he has a little Joey Greco going for him, which is nice.

We're told there are no actors in the crowd. Riight. I'm liking the little blurbs under the guy's names. I think mine would be like:

Rob, 23
high standards, trouble with introductions

So far the guys are blowing. It's painful to watch. Gotta feel for those guys. Girls are evil. J-Dog seems frustrated. Scott just totally blew in like a tornado introducing names and then going straight with the number inquiry. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Girls are rejecting guys and going to the bathroom. Probably to confer with Satan.

Old man just asked about Katrina. Stellar. Wonder if he's met Chris Hansen.

I don't get this Alvaro guy. He's from Miami and he's a boxer. He could be a ringer. His hispanic blowout isn't helping things.

Matador is getting pretty pushy. The Asian guy is painful to watch. Good God, even I wouldn't blame the girls for going to the bathroom.

Thank God that is all over. Here's a Mystery pep-talk. Uh-oh, Mystery is going in. Here comes a shitshow. I can't even begin to register in my brain the amount of editing and fake actors in the bar to get the highlights we're about to see. If I ever met a woman that went for a guy named J-Dog or a guy that has goggles on his head, then I'd be surprised. Really, really surprised.

How about Harp? That's not too bad. Kind of feminine I suppose. Harpoon? Eh.

J-Dog isn't hitting on girls as much as he is playing the gay guy role.

I am likeing The Detective as my master pick up artist name. It's authoritative, demands respect, and is macho. That could be a winner.

Oh, next episode the lessons begin. I'm feeling the three main components are:
1. Continually asking the girl to buy you a drink.
2. Keep rejecting the girl. She'll come back.
3. Get a progressively more ridiculous wardrobe.

Dalliance. Done and done.

I'm Entering the World of the English Premiere League

With soccer and Beckham-mania at its absolute peak, and steadily falling in the states already, now seems the best time to unveil my new interest, European futbol. The cliche is that soccer/futbol is the most popular sport everywhere in the world, but in America. While this is true, my interest was peaked several years ago when I attended a "friendly" or scrimmage between Manchester United and Barcelona at the Linc. This was the first event at the Linc, and more importantly, seeing European futbol live is an amazing experience. It is a sport you need to attend live to appreciate it on TV, similar to hockey or tennis. The last World Cup sparked my interest for futbol even more. I started to learn more of the players, teams, skill, and I loved the passion of the fans for this lost sport from across the pond. The tipping point came this past Winter after our football season was over. I was left with the misery of watching the Flyers and Sixers. Now, the Flyers have been competitive for a long, long time, and they, along with the Sixers, are my favorite teams in each of their respective sports. However, having only them to follow for my live sports appettite was not enough. So I checked in with my old friends from European futbol. Long story short, I got sucked in and now I'm a fan.

The most intriguing aspect of jumping feet first into futbol was that for the first time in my life, I got to CHOOSE the team I wanted to root for. Obviously here, all my ties to sports teams are Philadelphia. This was exciting because being a Philadelphia sports fan is a painful process, and now I was in charge of my destiny. So I devised a process for selecting my perfect futbol team. Just as a note, Sports Guy did this a couple years ago, and I used him as a starting point.

First, I had to choose a league to follow. Much like American sports, there are leagues in European futbol, however, these leagues are global. The three prime ones are the English Premier League (England based), Spanish La Liga (Spain), or Italian Serie A (Italy). This was not a hard decision because I knew I wanted to follow an English Premier League (EPL) team. Due to the games more likely being broadcast in America, the language barrier, and the chance of being able to see my selected team in person some day, once again deferring to the language barrier.

Next, came a much more vital decision. A team. I used a 4 prong system to choose my team.

I. History - I wanted a team with a winning history, but I wasn't looking to jump on any bandwagons.
II. Star players - The team needed to have at least one star player I knew so I could grab onto something early to root for.
III. Uniforms/Nicknames - Clearly I would be owning a lot of merchandise from this team, so they had to be cool in appearance and namesake.
IV. Ownership - How the team was run was important to me. I like teams that don't just throw cash around to reach their goals.

Out of all the teams in the EPL, my first instinct was to find an underdog team I could root for. Stay away from the popular teams, and find one that could be my own and completely devoid of being accused of being a bandwagon jumper. This was a noble attempt, but I realized that I had the chance to choose any team I wanted. There was no need to put myself through the misery of trying to find a diamond in the rough team. I did consider Reading, Newcastle, Tottenham and Fulham. Second, in the EPL there are the Big 4. Basically the four teams that are always in contention, making it borderline foolish to go outside of that. The Big 4 are as follows: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United.

So I had my four teams to filter through. Right off the bat, Manchester United were out. They're the Yankees of the EPL in regards to their spending. Everyone hates them, except for ManU fans, and it would be too easy to choose them. Although they do have two of the best players in the league in Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Chelsea soon fell for similar reasons to ManU. Chelsea blows money and overpays for players all the time. The difference from ManU being that Chelsea notoriously choke when it comes to big games, aside from two years ago when they were atop the EPL. They have notable players, but no one I was thrilled about backing as my star player.

That leaves two teams to fight it out. Liverpool and Arsenal. Two of the most historic teams in the league and two of the more reserved spenders of the Big 4. Liverpool sort of scared me away because they're a truly historic team with a devoted following. I sort of got the vibe that their fans have been through a lot with Liverpool and wouldn't take kindly to strangers hopping on the bandwagon. They do have some interesing players like Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, Torres, and a 6'8 striker that does the robot after every goal he scores. Phenomenal, but something felt wrong about them.

That leaves Arsenal. To lay it out using my formula, they're a very historic team. They're 10 jersey is legendary, they are nicknamed the Gunners, and they have a French coach known for finding the top young players in all of futbol. They have a very attacking style, that promotes offense and a quick pace. They're like the Phoenix Suns of the EPL. Also, they're ability to find top young players early, means they don't spend crazy amounts on transfer players during the season.

Let me just say that I selected Arsenal as my team months ago, and in that time their ownership has suffered through takeover threats, the team has been in peril and questioned on whether they can contend this year, and their all time goal scorer, Thierry Henry, left to play for Barcelona. Just my luck, but I'm still sticking by them. They have a great core of young players like Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott (known as the LeBron James of futbol). The few signings they have made this year have been praised, and I like what they're doing. It may be tough to beat out ManU and Liverpool this year, but I certainly think Arsenal can have a good showing.

So when the season kicks off in a couple weeks, I will be following intently and I'm looking forward to perhaps rooting for a winner after the Birds season wraps.

Movie Review: Transformers

I'll admit I can be snobby about movies. I don't typically go for the blockbuster movies, or popular flicks. However, I'm not enough of a snob to deny myself the joy of a purely enjoyable movie. Case in point, was Transformers. Transformers is pure mindless entertainment. Mindless in the fact that if you take about 30 seconds to think about the movie, you'll end up deconstructing it to a point where you'll probably ruin it for yourself. If you just look at the screen and realize what you're watching are giant robots that change into modes of transportation then you'll be fine, and you'll be able to really enjoy this movie.

Although I have somewhat of a biased since Transformers was one of the primary cartoons I watched when I was growing up, so I'm definitely a fan. What makes this movie enjoyable for everyone, not just fans, is basically the crazy special effects. The acting, story, etc. really take a back seat to the visualization of the Transformers. More importantly, unlike some movies, the Transformers actually appear all throughout the movie. You don't get glimpses or moments, but actual extended scenes, which make the effects of the movie all the more impressive.

At the helm of all these effects and such is the much criticized Michael Bay. Don't get me wrong, I'm not that un-snobby. Michael Bay is a trainwreck of a director. He goes for stupid attempts at sentimentality to add some sort of depth to his characters in his movie, which is frustrating because his characters are so one demensional that they really only exist in the movie world, and you can't imagine them outside of it.

In this case, you have Shia LaBeouf as the awkward teen, Megan Fox as the popular girl with a dark past, and Josh Duhamel as the Army Captain who just wants to see his newborn baby girl. What do all of these angles add to the movie? Absolutely nothing. They're simply there so that it seems like the characters have something to lose, other than just fighting/working with giant robots. You can tell this is a Michael Bay movie about 45 seconds into the film, and it is almost laughable at this point how cookie cutter his movies are in respect to how they're shot.

With all that said, this movie is on a huge scale, and Michael Bay does big movies very well. From the scope and the effects, I have to give him credit in that respect. As someone that has no idea how movies are directed or shot, to take on this type of project and make it a good popcorn flick with lots of action is impressive. He does deserve credit for that.

Most of the performances in Transformers were secondary to the action, but I will say Shia LaBeouf plays a good nerdy, spaz-type kid. He's apparently a big deal in Hollywood because he just signed on for the new Indiana Jones movie. While I'm not sold on that, he seems to be a functioning actor.

Another thing about the movie is that it is goofy. There are comic parts to it that are just plain silly. Unlike Spider-man, however, the comedy works in Transformers. I think it's because the actors are involved in most of the funny parts, not the robots. Although there are some moments that do involve the Transformers, and they're not too bothersome because they were toys, I suppose.

If you're all about just having a good action packed time this summer, then Transformers will not disappoint. Just keep that head mindless and enjoy the entertainment.

Directing: 5/10
Acting: 3/10
Plot: 5/10
Re-Watchability: 10/10
DVD Purchase:6/10

Overall: 5.8/10