I always find the posts at Lowering the Bar funny and/or interesting , but the items for October 31st this year were thought-provoking, particularly the one about Oakland's police chief, who had set his spam filter to send email messages about "occupy," "police brutality," and "excessive force" to his junk mail folder. Thus, when important email messages arrived concerning the Occupy movement, he didn't get them, well, because...they went to his junk mail folder. Natch. The magic of technology is indeed wondrous. (The other items in the post are pretty good, too, including the ones about the bones under the tree, the naked clown, and the lawsuit against the Great (make that a really big) Pumpkin).
Thirteen reasons to adopt a black cat, including their sartorial elegance (well, that accounts for a number of the reasons) and the fact that, on the other hand, their color puts people off. At adoption time, black cats are often the last felines to find homes. Poor kitties. Black cats have also traditionally been associated with the black arts, with witchcraft, and with evil doings. Snopes.com delves into the question of whether black cats (and other animals) actually disappear with more frequency around Hallowe'en but notes that many animal shelters cut back on allowing feline, especially black cat, adoptions in October.
So, if you don't know what to get your favorite lawyer/magician for the holidays (and you've already gotten him or her a disappearing Bill of Rights mug from the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild, and nothing else from that website appeals, and you gave him or her a copy of the Law and Magic book for his/her birthday), take a look at The Bill of Rights Security Edition. It's a copy of the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution, nicely printed on metal. You can buy 3 for $11 or 5 for $16. Great stocking stuffers. I saw them at the Penn & Teller shop the last time I took in the show.
During the performance P&T do a bit on the likelihood that the TSA will actually confiscate the metalized Bill of Rights if you try to take it through security; if you believe them, you will want to invest in more than one. Check out t-shirts and other paraphernalia here.
If your taste runs more to the artistic, might I recommend Alan Gerson's wonderful work? An attorney who now creates art full time, he makes wonderful "lawyer" watercolors out of terms of art as well as amazing paintings. His work is on the cover of the Law and Magic book and he created several "law and magic" watercolors that hang on my walls at home.
Finally, three seasons of Merlin the series are now out on DVD. The show, featuring a retelling of the King Arthur legend through the eyes of his pal, wizardly Merlin as a young man, is fairly entertaining. It stars Colin Morgan, Bradley James, and Anthony Head.
According to one of the Sexy Beast's interviewees, "shoppers who wait until after Dec. 9 will get stuck with faulty products or presents that no one wanted in the first place. By mid-December, holiday travelers will be hit with bad weather, mechanical errors and possibly, terrorist threats. Wars may break out, marriages will dissolve, people will lose their jobs and, as astrologer Gahl Sasson put it, “the whole planet is going to have Tourette’s syndrome.”" Yikes.
Apparently, among the best advice astrologers consulted have is to finish shopping early. Think practical. Buy gift certificates, not electronics, which I suppose could break down (although they do that even when Mercury isn't in retrograde. And what about the years when all this stuff happens and Mercury isn't in retrograde? I don't understand). Don't overdo. Be flexible.
All good advice. But on the other hand, don't psychologists give out similar advice every holiday? See Relationship advice for the holidays here, travel advice for the holidays here, and depression busters here. Oddly, Mercury in retrograde is not mentioned in any of them.
Carry on. I wish you and yours a wonderful non-denominational gift-giving occasion.
October 31st isn't just Hallowe'en. It's the anniversary of Harry Houdini's death in 1926. He died in Detroit (I know--not a very Hallowe'eny place). His insurance policy paid "double indemnity" because his death was the result of an accident. More on Houdini's will and estate here.
Want to attend a seance to see if Houdini returns? Try The Harry Houdini Museum which hosts such an event each year. Harry has been a no-show so far, however, just as he was for his wife Bess through 1936. She gave up that year and revealed the secret word he had told her he would send her if there was an afterlife: "Believe." A link to the final seance is here. Some of Houdini's colleagues keep trying, however. Here's a link to a seance from last year, hosted by the inimitable James Randi.
Maybe, like Greta Garbo, Mr. Houdini just "vants to be alone." After all, there is such a thing as the right to privacy. And even if it doesn't survive death, a famous dead magician might just want the neighbors, the family, and colleagues to stop dropping by, especially on a busy day, like Hallowe'en.
For those of you wondering just what one can give a favorite magician this year for the non-denominational gift giving holidays, check out the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild website, where I spotted a great Houdini mug. I'm ordering one for my favorite magician.
Another good place to scour for gifts: The For Counsel catalog and website. I've given the Attorney Work Product romper to a young person (actually to the parents, but the kid had to wear it--no IIED claims allowed), and I have the Christmas tree (in our abode renamed the non-denominational gift giving holiday shrub). I covet the beer stein. I don't like beer particularly. I just like the stein. The website also has gavels, bookends with justicial emblems and lots of Lady Justice figures, just so you know in case you are trolling for such.