Friday, October 22, 2010

A Canadian in King Tinseltown's Court: A Plethora of Riches

Naturally, I'm supposed to be writing a paper right now, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to procrastinate a bit... and muse about being a Canadian in a foreign land. Which has its upsides, downsides, and things that make you go hmmmmmmm.

For the upside? This has been a wonderful adventure and experience in a LOT of ways. It may be that Southwestern is A-typical of American law schools, but I really like it. It has a more relaxed atmosphere in general, but I don't feel like I'm getting less expertise from my professors. I feel like we are more encouraged to ask questions and discuss issues more openly. And yes, there are still a few cliquey cool kids who try to make you feel like pond scum, but they are in the minority.

Is anyone surprised that there isn't a lot of emphasis put on Canadian law? And what mentions there are are often mis-conceptions? That said, I've noticed a few gaffs about American law that my Canadian professors made... so there. Interesting to see... Although, I do have to say that I'm not a big fan of mocking Canada -- Trademarks, I'm looking at you... And really? You don't immediately recognize the Boston Bruins logo? God, no wonder it took the Great One to get any interest in hockey in this town... *rolls eyes*

Major upside? The number of AMAZING seminars available through the Beverly Hills Bar Association. I'm barely home anymore! A seminar in Production counsel and one on the Latest Trends in Financing Motion Pictures (included with lunch at Lawrey's -- YES that Lawrey's - where the steak spice REALLY comes from) - coming up tomorrow, an all day program at USC. Next Tuesday - Internet and New Media seminar. More all through November. Also in November and offering 2 days of industry related seminars is the AFM - American Film Market - the American equivalent of Cannes -- and it happens to be in Santa Monica - just a few blocks from my apartment!!

I really feel like I am learning so much from every side. I'm still enjoying it, and really feel like I'm "getting it" - that I made the right choice. I know that I can be good at this. I'm passionate about it.

Downsides? I miss a lot of what day to day life in Canada is all about. (and you heard me say it - "about" is the one word that always gives me away - otherwise I "pass" pretty convincingly...)
I miss my easy access to things - like phone and internet... I miss our overt politeness. I'm not saying we are friendlier - I truly believe that's mostly a factor of how friendly you are regardless of where you are...

I miss people who can drive in the rain. OMG - you should have seen the freak out on the television weather about the thunder and lightening. And really? You could barely see 20 feet in front of your car for the rain??? Talk to me when you can't see the hood of your own car for the snow!!!
And PEOPLE!!! A little rain - I mean barely wetting the pavement - does NOT turn the road into a sheet of ice - it does NOT mean you have to slow down 30 miles an hour!!!

I'm definitely hitting the homesick stage about now, but I'm also even more excited about what I'm doing - so I guess it's still balancing itself out.

Last observation, the obsession with business cards. Everyone has them. Everyone gives them out. Have I been missing this in Canada? On the to do list to have some made up...

Only two of the super fun activities I've done this week? Ninja blogging and Pirate scuttling... God, how I love you entertainment law...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Random Quickies

Such an interesting day!

Started at the Paley Center's session for Social Media Week: "Hollywood Gets a Social Media Makeover"
Interesting insights from the higher ups at the likes of Paramount and 20thCentury Fox. They are being more focused on targeting demo's through social media, but they are getting pretty comfortable with the idea of letting FANS drive the bus - change how media is delivered to them and tailor it to what they truly want. Some cool stuff coming.

California highways have several problems. 1. the lanes are WAY too fucking narrow. 2. nobody explained to them that curves should not be FLAT. When you try to go around an unbanked curve at a high rate of speed? Not good... 3. California drivers really are angry. Like ALL the time....

I'm going to be interning with a studio! YES! They have lots for me to do. I suspect the legal work alone will keep me busy. They really do EVERY aspect of the production, so I'm really, really looking forward to seeing each step and learning as much as I can about every aspect - not just the legal stuff.... They acquire the properties and handle every aspect of the production - including foley and editing and shipping... I can't wait!

Southwestern Law School is awesome. Maybe this is indicative of law school in the States, but I do NOT feel that overwhelming stress and cut throat mentality I always felt at UWO. I answered one question in Trademark - and it was a good one - dignity re-established - but that's my own personal phobia and has nothing to do with how the class is taught. It's a wonderful class. Great content and energy, and a terrific atmosphere for dialogue. Here is the best exchange I think I've EVER heard in a law class.
Hand up.
"Yes? You have a question?"
"I don't get any of this. I'm completely confused." (just the level of comfort to be able to blurt that out in class!!!!)
"You're giving me no way in here...."
And it was completely obvious that he wanted one. He wasn't pissy that she wasn't "getting it" or demeaning. He found different cases and analogies to clear up the concepts and the discussion continued.
I am excited to go to class. I'm actually engaged with the material - like 110%

And now I must pack.... for it's home to my boys tomorrow!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Day, Another Observation or Two

First off, I pretty much adore law school in the US. I still feel stupid when I open my mouth from time to time, but in general, I'm a LOT more willing to jump into the fray. I don't feel like I'm pond scum for attempting to enter the diaologue. My professors actually know who I am! I'm totally engaged by the material... Now, to some extent, that is helped along by my professors, but it isn't hurt by the guests we have to speak.... Tonight's case in point? In Financing and Distributing Independent Film....Clark Peterson. Hollywood Producer - check him out:


He's produced films in Canada. So I asked him the $10,000 question. Do you use lawyers in Canada when you produce a film in Canada or do you use your lawyers here in LA?
Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus.
They use Canadian lawyers - because it's Canadian law.... I didn't tell him I was Canadian... I'm undercover after all.... They do use the big firms from time to time (damn it!) but more often the production companies have in house legal staff (We have a BINGO!)....

Next week? Patricia Barry who argued the first ever Sexual Harrassment case.... That's in Women and Law - for which I am writing a paper on Pornography - comparing the American and Canadian responses... This is morphing a bit, however. I'm really fascinated by the ramifications of how women are presented in the media - the hermeneutics of it and also the potential for actual harm to women. Surely, this in itself should be some form of pornography??? But what about women who take control of pornography and wield its power for their own benefit and pleasure? What about slash writers, for instance? Is that pornography? So much still to think about on this topic.... I'll be coming back to it, I know as the research progresses and my thoughts come together.

And now, for my not so postitive observations...
First, I will say that Santa Monica is the cleanest city (Is it a city in its own right? I'm still not clear on that) I think I've ever been in. It must be why so many homeless people live here. So far they have all been very polite - and I still feel so badly for all of them. But they sweep the sidewalks here! There was a fellow DUSTING the street meters - on a Saturday at 6pm!!!
However, I miss Canada for a number of reasons... and here they are...
Fresh fruits and vegetables!!! Maybe I just haven't found the best shops yet, but the produce here is abyssmal!!!!
Internet and cell connection and skype -- all generally suck. I was bitchy about it at home -- and I think the number of times I was dropped in one day here is equal to the total for all of last year at home - jeesh!
Safety. I really don't feel safe here. Maybe it's being a stranger in a strange land - but I grew up in Toronto, so it's not the "big city".  In two separate incidents in the last month, people have been attacked just outside the law school. There really are areas you don't want to be in. There are way more police. Maybe I'm just getting old... but I don't think that's it.

Well. Not a very coherent post... but it's now almost midnight and I haven't had dinner yet. AND I have an assignment to tackle. Tomorrow's adventure? First cocktail party in LA....
*Note to self... remember to buy pantyhose and agonize more over what to wear...
And here's what I got in the mail today.... (plus FINALLY!!!! 3 letters - that had been re-mailed after coming to Santa Monica and being sent home and finally making it back....)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Some Days You Can Do No Wrong

So, today was one of those days when all things in my universe seemed to simply converge.

And a little wonderful.

I'm currently working on a paper examining the intersection of Women, Pornography and the Law. It's just in the throw around questions stages, but I'm fascinated by the many different facets of the topic. Is pornography in and of itself a bad thing? Or is it like a gun. Something that can be used for good or ill. Maybe the gun analogy actually attributes too much negativity. What about the interplay of obscenity, pornography and erotica? Is making women feel bad about pornography simply another way to disempower and de-sexualize them? Why can't I like porn? It doesn't mean that I simply endorse debasing women or men or animals or children for that matter. Like I said, so much to think about... I'm not trying to downplay pornography's negative effects or the harm it has done to people, but I do firmly believe that women can play a significant role in taking power back in this area....

So, obviously, I've been thinking a lot about this topic. And I'm thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere at Southwestern where this is possible and actively encouraged. Judges use cases and statutes to formulate their judgments but they also look to experts in the field - both legal and academic. They look to public opinion and many other sources too. So it's puzzled me that up until now, law school didn't really encourage this wide range of critical thought. I'm enjoying bringing all guns to bear!

That said, back to today's instructive lesson... For Trademark, we are following our professor on Twitter - where he posts timely announcements for class. I was curious as to whom he might be following. I already follow a few legal types - such as Michael Geist - and I grabbed a few from my Trademark prof's list, including Rebecca Tushnet - whose work I have long admired. I will be adding her blog to those I follow.... and her twitter lead me to her post for today which was about the Right of Publicity which just happens to be what we were covering today in Mass Media Law!!!

Now... I have other reasons to really, really like Rebecca Tushnet. For one thing, she is an admitted Supernatural aficionado (well, in her own words she says she has a "love/hate relationship" with the show) - and if you know me, you know that is my passion.

But just to round out my day, I found this link to a little cartoon on her blog page.... and it brought me full circle.

And finally, the externship which I am coveting for next semester? The offices are SIX minutes from where I am living... Shouldn't THAT mean something?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Getting Settled

Apparently this blogging takes more discipline than I'd first anticipated!

It's been a whirlwind since my last post. I'm now in Santa Monica and just finishing up my third week of classes. It's been a pretty steep learning curve from start to finish with a LOT of unexpected road bumps along the way. Living alone - really, really alone - without anyone within a few thousand miles - after so long has been challenging. It really isn't easy to meet people in a completely new situation, but early days yet, and if nothing else, this is proving what an actually social being I am at heart. And truly? Thank God for technology and the Internet - it's been a lifeline!

It seems that nothing about this trip/adventure has gone smoothly. Getting the Visa was an exercise in itself.
How to Get a Visa
As a Canadian, this was a relatively painless task - except that no one was able to tell me the entire process. First, you get an I-20 from the school you are attending. Then you have to go online and pay a fee. Then you go to the airport and fill out an I-94 before going through customs. You have to bring the I-20, the receipt, and all the documentation you needed for the I-20. Then you get a little square of paper stapled into your passport and you get your passport stamped.

How to Get Mail
Now. Here's something you never would have guessed to be a problem. Getting mail in the US. And you would be like me - bereft of all mail delivery. I had 3 parcels full of law texts, notes, dvds, and bits of home sent. ONE of them arrived. TWO were sent back to Canada. And I have received NO mail. Why, you may ask? Well, apparently, the US addresses things differently than Canada - and no one at the post office here has ever received a letter from Canada before... In Canada, you write Apt #- Street # Street Name, city, zip. In the US, it's Street #, Street Name, Apt #, city, zip. But why, oh mail Gods, did I receive ONE parcel and not all THREE when all THREE were addressed the same way and arrived on the same day????

How to Get a Phone
Getting a phone should have been easy, right? No. Apparently, they've never dealt with a Canadian either. Four hours. It took four hours for me to get a PHONE!! First of all, even though I have a social security number, I don't have an American credit rating - which meant a $400 deposit. Even though part of the Visa process involves getting a document from your bank declaring that you have enough money to be here in school for the year! *sigh* And then it wouldn't except my credit card, even though it was from a US funds account, because the mailing address for the bill had a postal code instead of a zip code - don't even ask....

How to Get Sick
Should you decide to go to school in the US - do NOT sign up for their health care. Go directly to Blue Cross. Sooooo much cheaper. For me - $1200 cheaper.... But you do HAVE to have health care....

Ok. Here is where the good stuff starts! I'm taking five classes - Trademark Law, Mass Media Law, Financing and Distributing Independent Films, Video Game Agreements, and Women and the Law. So far, I'm finding them all fascinating and engaging. They are either totally practical - FDIF & VGA, of a great blend of cases, discussion, theory.

I am still working out the kinks of how the program actually runs - like I thought I was supposed to take 10units for fall and spring and then finish up in the summer, but apparently, some think maybe I should have spread the requisite 24 units over 2 semesters??? I think this problem is solved....

Santa Monica
Is a great town! It is UBER-clean. Everything I need is within walking distance - including the beach and the pier! And a GREAT comic store and the third street Promenade AND a great candy store. The weather is a little cooler than I'd anticipated - who knew the Pacific was COLD??? But that means I can comfortably jog every day! I am a bit taken aback by the number of homeless people here. By and large they are very polite and it's just personally distressing. I want to do something, but I haven't figured out what I can do.

I've got way too much of it, so me being me, I'm getting nothing done. I'm hoping to sign on as a student editor with one of the school's legal journals. I'm hoping to pick up some casual work - for free - no worky on the Visa!! - to get some practical experience. I'm joining every school association that looks interesting. The problem with being a poor, non-working student is that I have the time and no money... so I need to fill the time. And of course, I'll be trying to work a couple of fan conventions - just got back from one in Vancouver!

Work in Progress
I'm currently beginning research for a paper looking at Women and Pornography - comparing the law in the US and Canada, so look for some thoughts on that coming up soon.
We had a great class in Mass Media about Privacy - so I'll likely be thinking and blogging a bit about that - I have an old paper I'd really like to re-work.... actually a couple in the mass media field.

I am intrigued by the Privacy issues currently being stirred by the proliferation of cross-posting social media. In particular, the current brouhaha on LiveJournal over the crossposting that anyone can do with supposedly private posts. This is causing quite a bit of upheaval at that site for people who actually use the site for private journalling.

I'm also going to be working on two humanities-focused papers. Re-working the conference paper I did in Dallas in the summer on the Apocalypse in Supernatural and writing a paper (already accepted for publication) on the treatment of the disabled other in Supernatural. So you may see some thoughts on those topics as well.

And that's a wrap for now....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It seemed to me that it was high time to start a blog. Going to LA for a year in pursuit of an LLM seemed like the perfect opportunity to provide lots of relatively interesting material. My intention is for the entries here to be fairly eclectic and to cover a range of subject matter. I'm not limiting myself to just the law, though legal issues will hopefully be a regular feature. You will also find musings on popular culture and life in general.

You will also find lots of experimenting on the best way to convey my thoughts and impressions. For now here's a pic of where I will be spending lots of time in the coming year... Southwestern University School of Law...