Sunday, November 5, 2006

They Pay My Brother to Go Gamble in Vega$

Posted by Alan Childress

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!, Dad_7 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. 

Markchildres140markchildressco 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-Markchildres340childressonemis_2literary 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?

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Aspiring law professors: WARNING -- Of course Alan's remark concerning Secured Transactions should be ignored. Most of you are former law review editors. You HATED reading commercial law manuscripts, didn't you? Why, next to letterhead, the "UCC" was the biggest filter for the "reject" pile, wasn't it? (OK, maybe "tax," but just barely.) If you tell appointments committees that you've had a "Damascus road" experience ("You've been to Syria?!?"), and now want to spend the next 35 years teaching a subject you formerly despised, they'll view your exuberance for what it really is: a deceptive attempt to get your foot in the door, where you'll abandon any pretense of affection for commercial law and return to the desires of your heart: Con Law, Torts, Civ Pro, Feminist Jurisprudence, Law and Literature, Golf Law Seminar, Litigation Scare Tactics, etc. So take Alan's advice at your own peril. Leave Sadistic Transactions (and other fun commercial law courses) to its true disciples. We are the few, the proud, the annointed. (And we have difficulty moving laterally when slots are filled with cheap labor.)

Posted by: tim zinnecker | Nov 5, 2006 4:45:51 PM

Right. The solution is to answer "Property." They need Property, and they imagine you will be teaching a class on estates in land, ownership of wandering pets, and fee difficults absolutely. Instead you will teach a course on con law, jurisprudence, and native american concepts of community.

Posted by: Alan Childress | Nov 6, 2006 7:11:51 AM

And Tim, do you really think the hiring committee of law professors would place Damascus in Syria?

Posted by: Alan Childress | Nov 6, 2006 9:55:46 AM

Alan, I suppose folks at UVA, Richmond, George Mason, Washington & Lee, and Bill & Mary might be confused. See

Posted by: tim zinnecker | Nov 6, 2006 11:26:52 AM

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