Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Game Review: Rams v. Chargers, 10.29.06.

The San Diego Chargers must have the best fans.

Before Eagles (or Giants or others) fans blow a gasket, let me explain.

Chargers fans must be dedicated like an athlete training for the Ironman. They demonstrate their determination, and perhaps self-loathing, by enduring the arduous task of just getting into Qualcomm Stadium ("Qualcomm").

This place is a disgrace. I have attended sporting events across the country, but nothing compares to the torture that Qualcomm inflicted on me and the rest of the sell-out crowd trying to get into this mess. As I approached the stadium about one hour before kickoff, I got into the vehicular queue which stretched from about the freeway exit to the stadium entrance about a mile or so away. The folks with the orange cones were so kind to squeeze three lanes into one. After eating the exhaust of the trucks and cars in this soul-crushing line, I finally reached the entrance--or what I thought was the entrance--to the stadium parking lot.

Instead, I was greeted by oh-so-helpful-gentlemen standing in front of a phalanx of even more orange cones saying that the parking lot was only open to those with disabled or other special permits. It would have been nice to know that earlier. While the folks were kind enough to strategically place other sandwich-board type signs indicating that traffic would be heavy before and after the game (Ya think?), nothing was imparted about the parking lot being full. I got to learn that only after going through the gauntlet of traffic. Thanks, again.

Then, "The Odyssey, Part Deux" commenced. This odyssey involved the nearly hapless effort to locate any off-site parking for the stadium. After passing apartment complex after apartment complex with threatening signs to sports fans seeking to park, and other businesses who haven't figured out that you can license your precious, empty parking spaces to temporary parkers for a pretty penny, I located a spot in a sketchy part of a Mission Valley residential neighborhood. At this point, the trek turned pedestrian. Visions of Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles abounded.

"The Odyssey, Part Three" involved a near marathon jog through greater San Diego County back to the stadium. While I enjoy physical exercise, I don't like to partake of it when I planned to be watching others. After about 35 minutes of that unscheduled workout, I arrived at the stadium to observe plenty of empty parking spaces in the supposedly "full" parking lot. As I traversed through rows of RVs, I saw a grill that got away from some one. This conflagration was no ordinary fire; it was billowing smoke like the Towering Inferno. I then was treated to the spectacle of fire engines trying to make their way through the wall of metal--otherwise known as the traffic queue that I just endured.

Once I got to the stadium about halfway through the first quarter, I got to see the Chargers score. Led by LaDanian Tomlinson, the Chargers controlled this game winning 38-24, and it wasn’t that close. For the game, LT chewed up nearly 240 all-purpose yards.

It seemed the announcer constantly updated the crowd with LT’s latest record or achievement. For example, during this game, LT tied Emmitt Smith as the second-fastest player to amass 80 TDs (Jim Brown was the first), and he also went over 8,000 rushing yards in his relatively short NFL career.

Just before halftime, two very disgruntled Rams fans arrived to take their seats next to mine. They said it took them seven hours to get to the game from the LA area, and this included three hours just trying to find parking and then trekking into the stadium. Notably, this contest was the first regular season game the Rams have played in Southern California since the team left in 1994, so these Rams fans were motivated. Despite 12 years of anticipation, this disgraceful experience made them want to wait another 12, I surmised.

In addition to the action on the field, I got to see a two-year-old boy’s hair colored in blue and gold and fashioned into a mohawk of sorts. I was also treated to hear a fellow with a fog-horn-like voice providing running commentary and tips to the coaching staff who were only about a half-mile too far away to hear it. I also got to see fisticuffs between Rams and Chargers fans. Keeping things even more intriguing, I saw numerous fashion ensembles that should probably be illegal. As an added bonus, the local mental hospital apparently had "furlough day" just in time to go to the game.

Nevertheless, there is nothing like the NFL experience.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Movie Review: The Departed.

This movie is the filmic equivalent of "The Dream Team"--the USA basketball version, not the OJ trial team.

It features these superstars of the profession: Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Walberg, Alec Baldwin, and (director) Martin Scorcese. Martin Sheen's in it too.

However, I think the "Magic Johnson" of this squad is the writer. The story is fascinatingly intricate--with crosses and double-crosses arising quicker than lawsuits over tainted spinach. I'm not giving too much away when I tell you that there are two factions--cops and robbers--where each group has placed a "mole" in the other. This set-up makes for a lot of twists and turns in wonderfully complex writing.

Also, lest one forgets that Scorcese is behind the camera he pulls out tricks reminding you he is there. For example, a song abruptly ends when a door is opened. Speaking of the soundtrack, it is loaded with Rolling Stones songs for some reason even though the story is evidently set in the present day. Similarly, the movie bursts with heavy language and violence befitting standard Scorcese fare.

With regard to the acting, DiCaprio stands out, which is saying something when his "teammates" are the acting equivalents of MJ and Hakeem. DiCaprio's intensity and malleability are remarkable. While some have raved about Jack's prospects for Oscar gold, I don't think so. In some respects I thought Nicholson gave better performances in Anger Management and even Something’s Got to Give.

Alec Baldwin and Mark Walberg wade into smaller roles and wring every bit of humor out of them. Nicely done.

If you can withstand the assault of language and violence, and enjoy superb writing and acting, this film should be seen as soon as practicable.

The Departed receives an “A-.”

Friday, October 20, 2006

Under Pressure.

Over the past seven business days, I have observed people under pressure.

These pressurized people were attorneys, their clients, and witnesses. Over this time, I have participated in four days of depositions, a trial, a mediation, and an appellate oral argument.

Not everyone deals with pressure in the same fashion.

Some laugh nervously; some tell jokes (funny and unfunny); some (clients) hold hands; some feverishly generate notes (a little late when the oral argument is a few minutes away?); some review their scripts for oral argument; some speak passionately; some engage in deep breathing exercises (my counterpart at the court of appeal); and some sit in stoic silence.

Some say pressure is a refining fire. Some get stronger and some melt.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Book Review: The Gospel of Judas.

I've read the long-lost, but newly published The Gospel of Judas.

Before you get impressed, it is a very short book. In fact, I can summarize it with a single pithy quote attributed to Jesus, speaking to Judas. "But you will exceed all of them [the other discliples]. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me." (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2006, p. 43.)

You now have the gospel's dual theme.

First, the text turns conventional wisdom about Judas on its head. In other words, it's more the Gospel for Judas. It seeks to convert Judas from a villianous zero to hero. The book posits that Judas deserves adulation because he obeyed Jesus' ulitimate command.

Second, Judas' "betrayal" should be viewed as a liberation, according to this gospel. It's a liberation to the gnostic because it allowed Jesus to free himself from the prison of his earthly body into the superior spiritual world.

Now you know.

The book provides superb insight into a type of gnostic philosophy (Sethian) prevailing in the first 100-200 years after Jesus' death. In addition, the book is wrapped in excellent commentaries, especially those of Dr. Bart Ehrman (author of Lost Christianities and Misquoting Jesus), and Dr. Marvin Meyer of Chapman University.

If you are interested in early church history or gnosticism, I strongly recommend.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Judges Playing Poet.

Every once in a while a judicial opinion crosses my desk where the judge evidences a desire to be more e.e. cummings than Learned Hand. Here's the latest. Decide for yourself if this judicial officer should keep his day job:

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Worth its Wait.

I observed a mortuary billboard advert as follows: "Don't drink and drive. We'd rather wait."

Pretty clever.