Thursday, April 22, 2010


Last Thursday, I found a tick on me, which left a small bruise when I removed it. So, on Friday, I went to the doctor, who placed me on antibiotics to cure Lyme Disease.

The next day, I went to the Set to Explode show at the Electric Maid, a small club in Takoma Park, Maryland. While I was watching one of the bands play, someone did a stagedive and kicked me in the temple. Before long, I noticed some swelling and bruising at my temple. I didn't black out, but I've had headaches since the kicking. I put off going to the doctor, but finally went and was diagnosed with a post-concussive syndrome. The doctor did a catscan. I suffered no brain damage, but did get a mild concussion.

After that, I dropped my cell phone in a sink full of water accidentally. Cell phones don't swim well. So, I'm getting a new one. I had bought insurance, but I still need to pay $50 for a replacement.

Three bad things... Hopefully, the run of bad luck is over.

Rations at the Electric Maid:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


My client is innocent of the armed robbery and the government finally agreed.

The prosecutor's only eyewitness/the victim, Jose Medrano, was unreliable. The man had waited until the day after the crime to report it -maybe because he'd gone liquor-store hopping with his buddies before he was attacked. A good night's sleep failed to deliver clarity, but he did call the police. For over three months, he was unable to describe the trio who he said robbed him.

Understandably, in the panic-filled, nerve-wracking moment when a person is under attack, that person may focus only on escape or on the danger of a weapon. Often, surprise interferes with the practical task of noting details about the crime and the attacker's face. False identifications happen all of the time.

In my client's case, maybe Mr. Medrano investigated some on his own. He wanted to hold someone responsible. The summer turned into fall and Mr. Medrano claimed that the passage of time improved his memory. Suddenly, he was able to id my guy in a photographic line-up. My client was placed under arrest.

My investigator and I figured out who robbed Mr. Medrano. A teenager in the neighborhood with the same last name as my client. The teenager's own mother was willing to testify that her son had confessed to the crime in the middle of a backyard barbecue with probably five other people there. Plus, the teenager admitted to my investigator that he saw Mr. Medrano get punched. He also agreed that my client wasn't there. So, Mr. Medrano heard the talk around the neighborhood and may have heard a name being thrown around. Then, if he sought out a person by that last name, he settled on the wrong person. Maybe that's how he ended up picking out the picture of my client.

A man saw the whole thing that night as he stood in his yard smoking a cigarette. This man told me that Mr. Medrano was sloppily drunk. This resident smoker identified by name the people who assaulted Mr. Medrano and insisted that my client was not there. We found out about the guilty teenager originally through this man.

My client did have an alibi. He insisted from the beginning that he was babysitting his cousin's babies that night.

Up until the last minute, the prosecutor was acting like he was ready for trial. He gave us a final plea offer: misdemeanor assault. I talked to my client who insisted on his innocence and refused to accept anything but a dismissal. The prosecutor walked away to the bathroom. I officially rejected the offer on behalf of my client. We walked into the courtroom. The case was called... I presented our side and theory of the case. The prosecutor dismissed the case. Justice was done.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Clash of the Titans?

I went to see Clash of the Titans on Friday night with my friend Sharad. Both of us have seen the original 1981 film, which stays true to the adventure and polytheistic psychology of Greek mythology.

Themes from Greek mythology are a part of modern culture, inspiring literature, film, and art. Shakespeare modeled his characters Theseus, Hippolyta and Oberon from A Midsummer Night's Dream and even Romeo and Juliet on characters from Greek mythology. Dr. Carl Jung studied Greek mythology and tried to interpret archetypes within it. Even the Percy Jackson series for young adults has combined elements of Harry Potter with Greek mythology and is disappearing like magic from bookstore shelves. And now, the Clash of the Titans remake? No!

Greek myths showcase eccentric, unique creatures or deities with supernatural powers. Their plights typically illustrate a moral lesson. The gods can be proud, loving, spiteful, vengeful, loyal, and philandering. The interplay of these drives shapes the story. Moreover, bigger than life characters such as Medusa with her face framed by hissing snakes and her ability to turn anyone who catches her eye into stone, the flying horses who are pure and strong, and the heroes on a quest to save a loved one or a city allow Greek mythology to educate about the values of respect and ingenuity while evoking fear, hope, and curiosity.

The new Clash of the Titans is a series of CGI images and fight scenes. The character development is minimal and corpses in the Greek underworld have more flesh than the storyline. Perseus, the son of Zeus and the hero, confronts scary creatures in video game style - a couple of quick jabs and on to the next one. I'd say Perseus whines, but he refuses to change the tone or pitch of his voice in the movie, so "whines" is the wrong word. Instead, Perseus annoyingly repeats in a stern, rumbly voice that he is a man, not a god, and he is going to defeat the Kraken (the supervillaneous, almost omnipotent, town-sized creature that destroyed the father of the three most powerful gods - Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon) as a man. He sounds like a seven-year-old child with a goal of digging to China from the United States with a sandbox shovel. Perseus attempts to toss away the magical sword that his father, Zeus, gives to him and, almost until the end, seems ready to sacrifice everyone in the city because he can't come to terms with his own talents. Any reasonable person understands Perseus' success depends on his tapping into the supernatural. Perseus denies his own "bigger than life" quality and that of the story. Who expects the hero's fatal flaw to be that he wants to handicap himself?

A few good actors are in the movie. Liam Neeson plays Zeus. Ralph Fiennes plays Hades. They both have shaggy beards. Hades has heavy make-up and Zeus glows the majority of the time, making his face appear unnatural with the color white oversaturating his features. Maybe these veteran actors appreciate the makeup and hair camoflauge, wanting to hide behind something after agreeing to do the movie?

Final comment: only watch Clash of the Titans if you aspire to see giant crabs.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I met Dr. Ellen McDaniel on Wednesday, because she is our expert in a murder trial that I am second-chairing. Dr. McDaniel evaluated our client and researched the background of our client's husband, who brutalized his previous wife, fought in bars, and had gotten fired from his job due to his "violence." Dr. McDaniel concluded that, when our client shot her husband, our client was suffering from battered spouse syndrome. The prosecutor demanded to interview Dr. McDaniel as to the basis of her diagnosis.

The meeting happened in our office, the local branch of the Public Defender's Office. The prosecutor did not come discretely and solo. The State's Attorney, who is the first-chair prosecutor, arrived with another prosecutor, who is the second-chair prosecutor, and a police detective in a suit. We, also, gathered as a team, with our investigator, the district public defender, who is my boss and the first-chair in the trial, and me trying to find a way to squeeze into my boss's small office. The prosecutorial gang sat in a row of chairs that took up most of the length of the room. Our investigator sat in a chair backed up against a bookcase behind everyone. I perched on a table so that the prosecutors and the detective were slightly to my right and my boss and Dr. McDaniel were slightly to my left. My boss and Dr. McDaniel sat behind my boss' desk.

Dr. McDaniel has grace, sophistication, and a backbone, reminding me of a heroine in a Katherine Hepburn-era movie. She has a light gray, jaw-length bob that frames her narrow face. She walked into our office in a light gray, basket weave, swing jacket that perfectly matched her hair color. She had attached a pin on her right side that was a combination of red, yellow, and purple enameled flowers with a smattering of little diamonds around them. Dr. McDaniel moved with confidence and poise. She exuded classiness.

Dr. McDaniel started off her career toiling on behalf of The House of Ruth, a shelter for battered women that started in Maryland. She helped it develop from the "ground floor." She also was instrumental in getting the Maryland legislature to pass a statute recognizing battered spouse syndrome in the early 90s. She told me that back then, she didn't realize how long legislative sessions would go and parked her car in Annapolis in a parking garage that closed at 7:30. She was wrapped up in her advocacy for the bill and forgot about the car. When she was ready to make her way home, she realized that the closed gate and locked door of the parking garage put her car off limits until the morning. She laughed that she didn't want to bother anyone and took a cab to a hotel where she called her husband and explained that she would see him when she got her car in the morning.

From the beginning of the meeting, the prosecutor focused on grilling Dr. McDaniel about what specific incidents made her arrive at her diagnosis. She explained that the pattern of violence is what she found relevant to her diagnosis. She said she'd carefully researched the couple's history and found extensive evidence corroborating that our client's ex-husband was a violent man both inside and outside of the marriage.

She entertained the prosecutor's questions for a while without letting him push her around. He asked her if she'd read discovery (documents such as the police reports that the government must give to the defense to prepare for trial) and, then, followed up with a question about what parts of the police report she'd relied on in forming her opinion. She cut him off. She firmly told him that she was not under oath in a courtroom and no one expected her to indulge him by sitting through a practice cross-examination. She refused to go line-by-line through the report. She offered politely to explain the big picture, mentioning her willingness to define battered spouse syndrome and explain why our client would meet the diagnosis for it in general terms. She said that she would not be tricked into nailing herself to a list of specific incidents as a comprehensive, exhaustive list. She could not off of the top of her head detail every physical and psychological attack on our client by her ex-husband that is relevant to her finding. Dr. McDaniel instructed the prosecutor to look at the pictures of the Defendant. According to Dr. McDaniel, the first time she saw our client, our client's face looked like it had been through a meat grinder because of the severe beating at the hands of her husband that our client had just suffered through.

During this exchange, the second-chair prosecutor appeared ready to growl at any moment and spread dirty looks around the room. She at least maintained silence until the end. Then, my boss walked the prosecutorial group out of our office. My boss asked the second-chair prosecutor a question about the role of the police detective that came with them in the investigation and the second-chair prosecutor snapped, as she hustled toward the parking lot: "Read the police report."

After the prosecutorial group left, Dr. McDaniel made a few comments about the meeting and offered to let me borrow a few of her books on battered spouse syndrome. True to her word, I received her books in the mail a few days later.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Food for Zack's Birthday

I'm basically going to ramble through this entry about the food I prepared yesterday for my housemate Zack's birthday, who is not only vegan, but also gluten free. He has a wheat allergy. One of my friends joked that he heard Zack is not a wheatist. I like plays on words and ignore eye-rolling.

I made vegetable lasagna for the entree and cake for dessert. I hunted down rice noodles from Whole Foods and also got coconut flour for icing. Seeing asparagus on sale, I added steamed asparagus with lemon-orange sauce to the menu as a side dish. For the lasagna, I grabbed some zucchini as the Whole Foods employee was placing it in the bin. I also got mushrooms, a poblano pepper, and spinach. I already had an orange pepper and some Daiya cheese at home.

When I got into the kitchen, I started off by making the icing for the cakes, wanting time for it to thicken in the fridge. Cakes without gluten sometimes have the texture of sand and, while not giving up on the cake, I wanted to detract from its potential dryness with a rich, but light, icing. So, I followed the recipe for chocolate icing from the Babycakes' cookbook, which calls for a bunch of specialized ingredients such as coconut flour, soy milk powder, and agave. I mixed everything together and shoved the bowl in the fridge. The Babycakes'-style frosting has a consistency similar to whipped cream, but still packs a lot of flavor. I made the Babycakes' vanilla frosting for a friend's birthday in January and her house stuck the remaining vanilla icing in their freezer, eating it like ice cream over the next day.

Next, I made a small, round, chocolate, vegan, gluten-free cake and a larger vegan, chocolate sheet cake. The gluten-free cake turned out well, maybe because the chocolate chunks in it made it seem more moist.

In making the sheet cake, I'll confess to cutting corners. I simply blended a can of Diet Pepsi into Duncan Hines cake mix. This recipe for a cake may sound disgusting, but actually produces a moist, delicious cake. The soda substitutes for both eggs and oil without interfering with the flavor. A secret ingredient.

While the cakes cooled, I prepared the sauce for the lasagna. I always add extra garlic and usually put crushed red pepper into the sauce. Then, I diced the vegetables and put them into a pot to simmer for five minutes in a light, herb-rich sauce that I'd whisked together. I also blanched the spinach and mixed some Daiya cheese in with it as it cooled.

Finally, I made two layers of lasagna by stacking sauce, lasagna noodles, vegetables, spinach, and extra cheese. I topped it off with extra sauce and a sprinkling of Daiya cheese. Then, I talked to Lucas and Zack as the lasagna baked in the oven for 40 minutes.

Pat came over just in time for dinner. Zack, Lucas, Pat, and I managed to finish the entire lasagna as well as the asparagus.

After dinner, several people came over to eat cake, wish Zack a happy birthday, and watch a movie. Pat bought some Mocha Soy Dream ice cream, which went well with the cake.

We looked through the Netflix streaming video selection for a while and picked The Blues Brothers, which was entertaining. The Blues Brothers ends with the longest police chase I've ever seen in a movie. The entire Chicago police force trails after the brothers, who evade the police with enough spare time to stroll into a building and make a tax payment before hundreds of officers arrest them.

Jaimie made Zack an eclectic-looking, metal mobile as a birthday present. I didn't get a good look at it, but I saw some sharp objects, almost like geometry projectors, hanging near, I think, a castanet. I just glanced at it from a distance, though, so my description almost amounts to speculation. Zack's face lit up when he saw the present and I'm sure it's hanging in his room. I heard someone refer to it as the "death mobile."

Finally, the movie was over, and the cake and the friends were gone. Before he left, I found Joey, a mutual friend, standing at the sink in our kitchen, conscientiously trying to scrub cake plates. It was a nice night.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Yesterday involved a lot of eating, driving, and waiting. I enjoyed myself, though. My first meal was a traditional, family one for Easter with stuffing, corn, mashed potatoes, mock chicken (yes, other people ate ham), and peppers. I also ate chocolate peanut butter balls, which are unhealthy, but taste amazing.

Laden with food, I went to a super secret Lotus Fucker show at WMUC, the University of Maryland radio station, that was broadcast on the air. I call it "super secret," because I don't think anyone made a single posting or flyer for it. Five bands, including a band from Pittsburgh and a band from Australia, played and, for the most part, comprised the audience. A few other friends showed up.

Bands sometimes take a while setting up for a performance, but the WMUC people took extra care in placing microphones and testing sound since the show was being recorded. Yes, they invested time. Still, the microphone for the vocals didn't work very well.

Lotus Fucker, minus the singer Dan, and I walked over to a row of restaurants in College Park, which are mostly fast food, chain restaurants, while one of the first bands was setting up. Everyone went to a different restaurant and agreed to rendezvous. Dan asked us to get strawberry or raspberry bubble tea for him. Jon picked up a tea as requested, but the restaurant, Ten Ren, only offered a few fruit flavors, so Jon ordered peach. Dan started drinking, turned toward me, and said: "I drank about half of this drink and thought it was a weird tasting strawberry. Jon just told me that it's peach. It tastes pretty good." Memories.

The band from Australia attempted to sound like The Ex with meandering, discordant notes united by a repetitive, persistent, minor-key, bass chord. The female drummer screamed along, but I couldn't hear her vocals very well. She was poorly miked. Brad kept saying their record was great, but they didn't pull it off live. Plus, in between bands, they complained about the lack of quality restaurants in DC, having only gone to the convenient store attached to the building with the radio station. Their superficial criticism of DC food annoyed me.

I agree with the Australians that the campus convenient store doesn't offer much. I ended up getting a bag of pita chips and a container of knock-off brand hummus from there. Pat got a mock chicken wrap with tahini, which is better than what I've found at a standard 7-11. Regardless, who rates or ranks convenient stores? How can you judge a city's food offerings based on a convenient store? People eat there because they are short on time, not because they are seeking a gourmet or unique meal.

FROM DECEMBER - Old Video...
Video of Lotus Fucker at their record release show at St. Stephen's Church in December 2009 before Pat joined the band:
Vogel, Toner, and I had just gotten back from 7-11 as it started snowing... Pat and I are in the video at one point, standing next to our friend Parsons.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tiny Town Tour

Last night, Lotus Fucker (Hey, what is in a band's name? These guys are nice and funny.) embarked on the first night of their weekend Tiny Town Tour, playing a Mexican restaurant in Burtonsville, Maryland.

I entered the restaurant, passed by several couples dining, and imagined those couples choking on their chips when Lotus Fucker took the stage. The restaurant had some tables lined up in a narrow corridor like a tributary leading into a main room with a small stage and even more tables.

The restaurant staff was extremely friendly to us. We sat through a band doing 311, Blink 182, and Green Day covers. The restaurant staff brought free nachos for Dan, as well as a pitcher of soda and glasses of water for all of us. Hospitality.

The cover band talked a lot about being drunk, inspiring some inebriated woman to ask me why I hadn't had any alcohol. I was surprised she noticed and also wondered why she was only asking me and not my Lotus Fucker friends sitting with me. I told her that I don't drink alcohol. She quietly placed me into her category of outcasts-who-intentionally-abstain-from-beer, smiled uncomfortably, and walked away.

Lotus Fucker is a noisy hardcore, five-member band with a lot of distortion and growling vocals. They achieve a sound reminiscent of Japanese bands like Gauze. Anyway, they sound nothing like Blink 182.

When they started playing, yes, some people did retreat from the area around the stage. I was the sole Lotus Fucker fan present to cheer on the band. I tried to be demonstrative.
DAN ->

Meanwhile, Lotus Fucker won over the sound man and the guy from the restaurant who set up the band night. They even got asked to play again on May 1st. Go figure. They didn't win over the woman who'd questioned me on my lack of alcohol, but I enjoyed watching her purse her face as she shot out of the room with Dan's first scream.

Dan, the singer, likes to get up in people's faces when he sings. With me being the only person standing in the middle of the room, he told me it'd be a little awkward to keep jumping at me. So, he moved around a lot in an empty space near me.

After the band finished, one woman approached Brad, the guitarist, and told him to ditch Dan and get someone who actually "sangs." It was the first step in her plan for them to become a real band; I guess a band like the 311-cover band. PAT, BRAD, DAN

Friday, April 2, 2010

What is in a Name?

I wasn't sure what to name this blog. A month ago, we hosted a potluck at my house. My housemate Dave brought out his Limited Edition Dave's Insanity Sauce that is sold in a wooden box, like a tomb, with caution tape around it. The hot sauce is made from the ghost pepper chili, which is the hottest chili on the market.

Dave received the hot sauce as a gift, but plans to use it as a recipe ingredient rather than as a condiment. He appreciates heat, but says he knows his limits. Plus, the sauce actually comes with a warning against tasting it on its own. My housemate Zack and I both like hot stuff and responded to the words of caution as a challenge. I put some on a piece of bread and Zack piled some on a chip.

Zack poured too much hot sauce on his food and, as a result, he downed a quart of soy milk attempting to quench the heat. The large quantity of soy milk and the heat of the Dave's Insanity resulted in a menacing form of nausea. Zack retreated to his bed and layed down. He reported feeling waves of heat sort of like acid reflux rolling up his chest every time he sat up.

My housemate Meredith kept waiting for me to tear up. I was fine, but I didn't eat as much of the sauce as Zack had eaten. Contrary to the opinion at the table, my taste buds are not gone. Capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the "heat," does no actual damage to tissues. I taste nuances of flavor and am good at distinguishing spices in foods. So, there. I just like spice.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


On Tuesday evening, I saw two shows. I started off at the house referred to as The Chill Factory. The first band there was Bookworm and they were enthusiastic. They're going for an early 90s, Gilman-Street sound, in my opinion. The second band Kicking Spit (ANS/Seasick) was smoking. Literally. They plugged their bass head into Pat's cabinet and his bass head was already plugged into it. As they played, the basement of the house smelled increasingly like plastic and smoke swirled around the ceiling light. When Pat looked at his bass head after Kicking Spit played, he saw a spark and his head wouldn't turn on, which is not a good sign. The third band was DOC, Chris and Nolan's band. They are fun to watch. Their bassist was not in town, but they still produced a full sound. I only saw their first few songs, though.

I headed from The Chill Factory to the Black Cat to see Jello Biafra and the Guatanamo School of Medicine. Jello is animated on stage. He gestures wildly and mimes. I would use the word "prances." He, at times, prances around the stage. Beyond the music, he's interesting to watch.

Jello and Guatanamo covered several Dead Kennedys' songs, including Holiday in Cambodia, Let's Lynch the Landlord, and California Uber Alles (with updated lyrics). So cool. So memorable. Enough said.

Cold in Warm Weather

I'm feeling sick and my ability to process things seems slower, which is my way of making an excuse if this blog entry seems off.

I had an unusual dream about my sister, Jody, last night. We sat in the second level of a dark room that looked like a giant theater. I could see empty seats to our right, left, and on the lower level. A stage was lit in the front of the room and it was some kind of court. Jody was submitting an essay and, for some reason, I was representing her before this court. Why would she be submitting an essay to a robed judge? I have no idea. It was a dream.

Anyway, Jody was upset because the ink was smeared on the first page of her essay and she took off for the basement of the building to use a printer. Right after she left, the prosecutor (?!) called Jody's case. I walked down to the stage and asked the court for a brief continuance. The court denied my request. I appealed, saying that she only left due to her great respect for the court and the solemnity of the proceedings. I explained the ink smudge and told the judge she'd be back any second. The court held her in contempt and ordered that she be placed in handcuffs as soon as she returned to the room. I knew that she'd blame me and felt like I'd failed her. I woke up with tears in my eyes. Dreams...

My sister lives in Dallas, Texas and is a stay-at-home mom. She's usually in the house with her twin pre-schoolers. She has no reason to go to any courts. Her husband reminds me not to touch pans on the stove because they are hot and to buckle my seat belt. (No, I don't get myself burnt or flung around a car during the majority of the year when I don't see him.) Jody is my sister and did buy me Diet Peach Snapple when I visited her in December, but I doubt I'd represent her even in placing a take-out order from a restaurant.