Sunday, November 5, 2006
Although it is often said that the law professor career is "life's loophole"--and it must really feel that way this weekend with the crowd at the DC Marriott Wardham Park bartering for the gig--I do note that many blog posters from the actual gig have done a good job of dispelling the myth that the only worktime is class hours, the summers are "off," and there is no stress. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that on paper it looks like something for which it is worth navigating the mutiple elevator banks of that monstruous Marriott and answering for the umpteenth time your ideal top three courses. (Belated hint from last year's chair of appointments: it's, surprisingly, not "uh, Jurisprudence I, Jurisprudence II, and a capped- enrollment seminar on Jurgen Habermas Meets Michel Foucault." Learn to utter and love the words "Secured Transactions.")
Still, even as a law prof, I have managed to be one of three brothers with longer formal hours than the other two, making them appear to have found two bigger loopholes. Rory Childress--happy birthday today!, and I am glad it is you!!--is actually a "jet pilot." That must look cool on a business card, but anyway by federal law he has to take off days of breaks between his trips to Aruba and Rio. [The photo on left is actually Dad, since I don't have a PDF of Rory handy, but this is how Rory will look in 25 years.] My job is great but there is no law or union telling me to take it easier. His downside must be dealing with a 767 full of white-knuckled customers who don't believe in safety statistics, and now fear snakes too. (I believe so specifically in statistics that I don't fear flying but I am scared witless to drive to the airport.) Rory really does work hard and is the most risk-averse person I know--you, as freight, will be relieved to know.
And then Mark Childress beats even that gig by being "a novelist," with no boss whatsoever; not even a business card. Of course that means he works harder than anyone, but on paper this loophole looks enviable. He chafes at the extended family reunions when everyone tells him how easy his life is, but is kind enough not to reply, "You stare at a blank screen for 14 hours a day and see if it's all sweetness and light." In part he does not say that because of the use of faux-literary cliche; he is good at his job, and I don't pretend to be. His sixth novel is called One Mississippi (though I believe the working title was "Author Shamelessly Exploits Family Embarrassments and Secrets, Part Six"). It is funny and and clever and jarring and close-to-home for all of us who survived high school, but he does not need my endorsement (here's the Washington Post's) or marketing (Little Brown just paid him to go sign them in Germany and Switzerland), and that is not why I am writing.
I am writing to say that I am specifically envious that some fool editor at the L.A. Times thought it would be cute to pay Mark to go to Las Vegas to spend and gamble the readers' collective quarters. Here is the product of that independent contract, called "His Mission: Blow $1000," in today's paper. If you think it does not have a law-and-society element to it fitting to this blog, then you did not get past the part where Toni Braxton spanked him or my poor grandmother got government cheese hand-outs ('cause she did not feel exploited enough this year), down to the part on Vegas' anti-panhandling law. That's the aspect that makes me able to post it here for your Sunday amusement without worrying that Jeff and Mike will tell me I've gone off topic (a conversation and fret, you may have figured out, we have never really had). But what's a blog if you can't occasionally wish one brother a happy birthday and link to the other's LATimes scam?