Friday, February 25, 2011

Why You Don't Have a Copyright Infringement Case

A lot of people come to my firm seeking representation in copyright matters. For some reason, I end up evaluating a lot of these cases. 99% of them are the same. Someone (hereafter “PC” for Potential Client) wrote a book or movie script (hereafter “the work”). They send it to someone at some point in time, maybe an agent, publisher or movie studio. At this point, one of four things happens: (1) PC gets a letter back saying thanks but no thanks; (2) PC gets the work returned, with no other communication at all; (3) PC gets a letter back saying they don’t accept unsolicited admissions; or (4) radio silence. Usually PC has lost or thrown away ("I was just so devastated") any written communications they had with this party. Then some amount of years later a movie or television show comes out, and PC believes it is stolen from the work they released into the world.

Look, PC. I’m impressed you wrote a book or movie script. It’s admirable. I understand you poured your blood, sweat and tears into it. I understand you thought it would take off and you would be a millionaire sitting on Oprah’s stage with your book as her “Book of the Month.” You pictured movie deals, the Oscars, rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, and book tours. I get all that. Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened. I don’t mean to be the dark lining in your silver cloud, but a lot of people write books and movie scripts. That doesn’t mean they are any good. Anyone can take pen to paper.  Being good at it is something else entirely.  I mean, take a look at all the fan fiction out there. Holy moly. The PCs of the world have no ability to look at their work objectively in comparison to the allegedly infringing work. Every little thing jumps out at them as COPYING. They imagine that whoever they sent their work to thought it was so brilliant that they clutched it to their bosom like a golden ticket and hid it away for years until the right time emerged, where they could copy it and make millions! But even if – even if -- someone took PC’s work and used it as inspiration for what they did, or even if they were partially inspired by it, that doesn’t mean PC has any legal recourse against them. Here’s why:

An idea cannot be protected by copyright. It is the expression of the idea that merits protection. Here are two examples to explain the difference:

Idea: Aliens from outer space come down to Earth
Expression of Idea: District 9, E.T., V, Superman, Men in Black

Idea: Two people who initially hate each other end up falling in love
Expression of Idea: Green Card, The Proposal, French Kiss, You’ve Got Mail, What Women Want, What Happens in Vegas, Pride & Prejudice, One Fine Day, Sweet Home Alabama

Although the underlying idea in the above movies and television shows is the same, the expression of the idea is very different. Think about all the movies and books that are based on very similar plotlines or stories, but yet are very different. The next level of detail up from the idea is where they start to come into their own. The idea can also be much broader than the brief examples I’ve given, and even constitute plot points. There are also stock characters, such as the wizard in a science fiction novel, or the mean headmistress in a novel about girls at boarding school, or the quirky friend in a romantic comedy. Characters such as these appearing in certain works just don’t raise huge red flags. There is also something called the scenes a faire doctrine, which are scenes that are considered standard for certain plotlines. For example, a plotline involving college students might show a party at a fraternity house, a plotline involving a wedding might have a a trip to the bridal dress shop, a plotline about a first date might involve a visit to a restaurant. This is standard stuff that can be used in almost any story and simply isn’t protectable standing alone. When PCs point to alleged similarities, it starts to get ridiculous at times and these types of conversations ensue:

PC: But when he got to her house she asked him if he wanted coffee and he said no! That is exactly what happens at page 104 of my book.
Me: Really? She asked a guest at her home if he wanted coffee? God, I’ve never heard of such a thing.
PC: And then they went to a restaurant for dinner. It’s exactly the same.
Me: A restaurant? For dinner? Shocking.
PC: But that’s where they realized they were truly in love. It’s the same thing.
Me: On a date they realized they were in love. Again, shocking. The copying is blatant.
PC: I know!

I’m kidding, of course. But sometimes it is that bad. More importantly most of them are missing the most crucial thing: access. The person you are accusing of copying must have had access to the work. This is usually the nail in the coffin for these types of cases. A valid defense to copyright infringement is independent development. You know the old story about a bunch of monkeys pounding on the typewriters long enough could probably write a Shakespeare work? Well, the same also goes for writing stories, books, and movies. It’s entirely possible that someone on the other side of the country simply came up with the same idea and similar expression of idea that you did. It doesn’t mean they ever saw your work, much less copied your work. I mean, we all live in the same world and have a lot of the same influences and things surrounding us. Maybe whatever inspired you also inspired them. There absolutely has to be some timeline and linking up of your work to the person you are accusing. Most PCs don’t have this other than through vaguely circumstantial, well maybe this person gave it to this person who gave it to this person kinds of facts. This is also hard to buy when PC’s work…to put it mildly…sucks.

These cases are always sad to turn down, because by the time PC gets to us, they are desperate. Usually they have been a starving writer for years, and they are looking for any kind of compensation they can find to make up for the lost time they spent writing and trying to sell their work. Unfortunately, you can’t just go around accusing people of copying. This is particularly important when you are trying to accuse a hugely popular and successful writer or producer of somehow stumbling across your work, thinking it was the best thing they ever read, and copying it. Those scenarios usually don’t pass the smell test, at least for me.  I mean, no PC ever comes here accusing Mr. No Name of copying his work.  It's always the big guys, who have made the most money.  I can't imagine why that is....

I'd Like to Be a Weather Man

Or a Weather Woman.  Weather Girl?  Whatever.

Here's why:  (1) it's no big deal if you are wrong; and (2) half the time you are relating something everyone can see by simply looking out the window.  Think about it.  It's practically expected that the weather person is going to give a faulty forecast, so when they are wrong, people hardly even react.  Wouldn't that be a stupendous job?  You do or say something wrong, or screw up constantly, and no one ever thinks anything of it.  In fact, no one has any faith that you will actually be correct.  Imagine.  You can be wrong all day long and still keep your job.  Also, a huge part of the job also seems to be explaining the obvious while standing in the middle of a blizzard/hurricane/tornado:  "There's a blizzard!"  "There's a big hurricane!"  "There's a tornado!"  "It's really windy!"  Yep, I can see it.  You can barely stand up due to the wind and I can look out my window.  That part of the job is also pretty phenomenal.  Just state the obvious and you are doing your job.  No thinking necessary.  The only negative appears to be that you actually have to be in the middle of the hurricane, blizzard, or tornado.       

I was thinking about this all morning given what happened in Chicago last night.  We had a Winter Weather Warning! last night.  It was supposed to be really bad, 3-5 inches of snow, hazardous roads, a dump of snow in a short amount of time, all that business.  Everyone was freaking out given the Great Blizzard of 2011 that occurred a few weeks ago.  This was the forecast first from 6 p.m. yesterday until 9 a.m. today, then from 12 a.m. until 9 a.m....and then...nothing really ended up happening at all.  I expected to walk outside this morning to a bunch of snow, and instead I got a light dusting that makes no difference in the grand scheme of anything, and failed to break the much vaunted snow record that was supposed to be broken.  On the plus side, at least I didn't have to shovel the sidewalk. 

Obviously weather is unpredictable, and things can change, and I'm sure the weather people do more behind the scenes of which I am unaware, but still...sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Chicago Lincoln Park Post Office Is Horrible

During the three weeks I was gone, when they were allegedly holding all of my mail, they managed to lose a lot of it.  Oh, things like 1099s, new pictures of my nephews and nieces my sister and brother sent, magazines.  You know, nothing I would have wanted!

Let me lay out the situation.  I didn't initially put my mail on hold, because I kind of didn't think about it.  I mean, I go on vacation and don't put my mail on hold, and frankly anything that makes the post office actually have to do something different makes me nervous.  However, about a week in, I realized that the trial was nowhere near ending, and in fact there was no end in sight, so I bucked up, went online, and told them to hold my mail for the next week.  Then, when I got the confirmation number, I copied and pasted it straight out of the browser and into a Word document so I had it, in case I needed to extend the hold.

Needless to say, I needed to extend the hold for another week.  But, when I used the confirmation number that was -- let me be clear here -- copied and pasted straight from the website to a Word document -- it didn't work.  Now, it's possible I somehow left off a number when I copied, but the web form you get to enter the confirmation number gives no indication how many characters this number should be or what it should look like, so I have no idea what went wrong there.  I'm pretty sure I know how to copy and paste, though.  So, I had to call the post office, and eventually got routed to my local post office, since I didn't have the confirmation number.  Not having this number was a huge problem.  This is how the conversation went:

Me:  I need to extend a hold on my mail for a week.
Her:  What's your confirmation number?
Me:  I thought I had it, but ---  
Her:  Ma'am, what's you confirmation number?
Me:  I don't have it, apparently.
Her:  (Huge sigh)  What's your address?
Me:  (I give it to her)
Her:  What's your name?
Me:  (I start to spell my last name, because it is a clusterfuck of a last name).
Her:  Ma'am, just say it, don't spell it.
Me:  (stunned, I say my last name)

There's a little more blah, blah within here, and then:

Her:  Do you want to pick up your mail or have it delivered?
Me:  I want it delivered.
Her:  Will it fit in the mailbox?
Me:  No.  (I mean, duh.  If it would fit in the mailbox I wouldn't have put a hold on it.)
Her:  Ma'am, if it won't fit in the mailbox you need to come pick it up.
Me:  Fine, I'll do that.

Ugh.  So, fast forward to this past Monday, the 14th, when I left work early to go to the post office, which is only open until 5 p.m.  It's has very convenient hours, the post office.  The woman handed me a stack of mail with about 50 things in it.  This is nowhere near the amount of mail I should've had for a two week hold, so I ask her "Is this everything?"  She assures me it is.  I glance at the top of it and flip back and see my name on the mail, so I take her word for it and leave.

When I get home, I start going through the mail stack.  What becomes abundantly clear fairly quickly is that I have not only part of my held mail, but a bunch of other people's mail also, including their 1099s and other important type documents like that.  I have my next door neighbor's water bill, some guy three streets over's credit card bill, some guy who lives way over on Michigan Avenue's Fidelity statement, my other neighbor's People magazine and Sports Illustrated, and on and on and on.  Easily 1/3 of the mail she handed me belonged to other people.  It was absolutely insane, and that along with the lack of 1099s from one of my banks (thank God I at least got the one from my main bank and for my mortgage interest), and the lack of the new photos of my nieces and nephews, had me seeing red.  Now, I regularly get other people's mail, so I knew my carrier kind of sucked, but when you get one piece a day, it doesn't really seem like a lot.  Two weeks' worth all at once?  Ridiculous.

So, I called the post office to try to find out where my mail was.  It took about a minute of ringing before anyone answered the phone over there.  Then after I gave my address, I got put on hold for twenty minutes.  Twenty minutes!  Finally someone else came to the phone and asked me who I was holding for.  I didn't know her freaking name.  The lady who is looking for my mail.  So, that person hangs up and I'm on hold for another five minutes.  She comes back and tells me no one is doing anything for me, and asks me why I called.  I explain the sitaution again, and she goes off, and returns about ten minutes later and tells me they have no mail there for me.  I ask her then, where is my mail?  She gives me the carrier's name and tells me to call on Monday morning to talk to him.  Oh yeah, like he knows.  He's the one who is constantly giving me other people's mail. 

What a clusterfuck it is over there.  I hope my sister has another 5x7 of my nephew for me.  And now I get to call my financial institutions to find out what tax filing needed forms I might be missing.  Awesome.  Like I don't have anything better to do...

Thanks United States Postal Service!  I seriously wish I could use FedEx for my mail.   

I Wish All These Alderman Candidates Would Stop Calling Me

February 22 is a big election day here in Chicago.  Not only do we get to vote for a new Mayor, but we get to vote for new Alderman.  Alderman represent the various neighborhoods here in the city.  My current Alderman (who is actually a woman, but Alderwoman sounds kind of funny to write) is retiring, so there is a big race of about six candidates vying for her seat.

Every one of them has called me numerous times over the past two weeks.  Not them specifically, but their voice recording or someone campaigning on behalf of them.  They are calling on my cellphone, which makes me extremely irate, and the number they are calling from is usually 00000000.  Oh, I see.  You get to block your number?  I don't understand this.  How did they get my cellphone number?  I have a landline home number, which I could see them having access to, but how and where did they get my cell phone number, and when did I give them permission to call me on it incessantly?

Also, if campaign calls are exempt from the do not call list, there really needs to be some limit.  When you have six candidates all calling multiple times, in addition to calls from the Mayoral candidates, it turns into a massive annoyance.  I am getting 3-4 calls per day now.  At this point, I don't want to vote for any of them.  Add to that coming home to flyers all over my front door (or blowing around in the breeze outside of my place, littering it all up) every day, and the candidates (or their minions) knocking on my door all weekend and in the evenings to talk to me, and I am not a happy camper.

I understand the need to campaign and get the word out, but it's complete overkill.  I will be so happy on February 23 when all of this is over.  I still don't know which candidate to vote for, even with all of this campaigning.  They all seem the same.  What I want to know is who is going to get small businesses back into Lincoln Park to take over all of the empty storefronts on Clark, Lincoln, Armitage, and Halsted?  One candidate seems very interested in that, but she is more focused on Clark, which is not near where I live.  I'm greedy.  I want new businesses where I live, not on the other side of the neighborhood.  But still, she may be the best choice in that regard.  We'll see, I guess...     

Monday, February 14, 2011

Another Guilty Pleasure Fun Song - Akon - Angel

Why do I love Akon's voice so much?  I don't know.  But I actively seek out his songs and songs he collaborates on with other singers.  So, here's another one I like these days for just flat out fun and dancing:

When You Bypass a Date Without Even Realizing It

I'm kind of amazed, because I never thought this day would come, so I'm going to post about it. 

My dad passed away on February 13, 1993.  Not a February 13 has gone since by that I haven't been depressed on that day and thought about him and all of the baggage that goes along with losing a parent.  Usually tears are shed and all that.  This has also pretty much ruined Valentine's Day for me, not that I didn't already hate it before.  (I mean, seriously?  One day a year to show your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse that you love them?  How dumb.  I much prefer the random flowers at work to the Valentine's Day flowers.)  But anyway, that all changed this year.

Yesterday I didn't even connect the day at all with my dad's death.  This morning when I got to work I realized that it was February 14.  I made it through February 13 without thinking about my dad at all.  Now, logically I know this was because I just got back from the trial and had other things on my mind and frankly, I really didn't even realize what the date was, since I had kind of lost track of it all with being out of town for so long, and who pays attention to the date on a weekend?  But still, it was actually kind of a nice feeling, for once.  I made it through the day.  This doesn't mean that next year will be any easier -- every year is hard -- but I have to admit that it was kind of a nice feeling.  I hope that doesn't sound callous, because I don't mean it to be.   

Of course now I'm thinking about it, since I know what the date is, and what it represents.  But somehow making it through the 2 o'clock hour on February 13 is kind of a nice feeling for me these days.

The AIT at Detroit Metro Airport - Huge Bottleneck

I can't believe I forgot to blog about this after my previous rantings on the TSA.

So, Friday morning I flew from Detroit to Chicago.  The security line was not long at all, in terms of security lines at airports.  Maybe 40 people.  This should have taken no time to get through.  Unfortunately, the brainiacs had one AIT machine going for all of these people, who were spread out into two lines of conveyers for stuff, and merged into one line of people for the AIT.  The conveyers were moving along just fine, but the lines to get people through the AIT were keeping people from getting through to grab their stuff off the conveyer to create more space for the conveyers to keep moving.  So, the conveyers were stopped and there were probably 20 people standing and waiting to go through the AIT, all while more people were entering the security line.  It was the biggest clusterfuck I've seen yet at an airport.

So, what did they do?  They opened up the metal detector.  This was certainly the right and smart thing to do.  And people flew through that thing so fast it eliminated all of the lines and confusion.  But then they decided to randomly stop the metal detector and force people into the AIT, which created the bottleneck all over again.  Hello TSA!  The AIT takes way too long if you are only going to have one open, even for a fairly short line of people.  This machine takes probably ten times as long per person than the metal detector.  And some people still had to get a pat down after they went through it.  It was pretty unbelievable.

Luckily for me, I got to go through the metal detector.  I was seriously standing in line and thinking about how much I felt like opting out at 6:45 a.m. on a Friday morning, and was very relieved to not be put in the position to have to make that decision.  This is a pretty good roll for me. Since May, I have yet to be forced into an AIT line.   

I Just Have to Post About Lady Gaga Again

Because I cannot, cannot believe how much her new song sounds like Madonna's Express Yourself.  I know I'm behind the curve on this, but I truly hadn't even realized she had released a new song until I logged into iTunes the other night, saw it at #1 on the chart, and gave it a listen.  My first thought on hearing the chorus was that I was hearing Madonna.  Then, of course, I had to Google it, and found out everyone on the Internet has been talking about the similarities.  Then her performance at the Grammy's last night was so old school Madonna it was ridiculous.  So of course she attributed it to Whitney Houston of all people, who was pretty much Madonna's opposite back in the day.  Bizarre.

Frankly, there's something about many of her songs that sound like something I've heard before.  Alejandro sounds like a mix of Ace of Base and La Isla BonitaBad Romance sounds like...something.  I know I've heard it before, from the intro part to the chorus to some of the other parts, but I just can't put my finger on it.  Telephone also sounds familiar to me, but I'm not sure why.  I know the excuse is that everyone gets inspiration from other artists and blah, blah, blah, but isn't Lady Gaga's whole schtick about how unique and influential and intelligent she is?  I mean, I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest Katy Perry or Britney Spears fans, but at least when I hear their songs I'm not immediately reminded of some long forgotten song in the recesses of my brain.

The whole thing about Lady Gaga has just become so...strange.  The stunts, the ego in her interviews, the admitting to drug use in interviews...it all makes her seem to be trying way too hard to be edgy and new, when in fact, she (at least to me) is starting to appear rather pathetic.  I keep hearing what a great writer she is, but the lyrics to her songs are really trite.  She's no different than the Katy Perry's or Ke$has or Rhiannas of the music scene.  I mean, no wonder she wrote Born This Way in ten minutes -- she copied the chorus straight from Madonna.  It will be curious to see whether Madonna (or whoever owns the copyright to Express Yourself) sues her.  I can imagine a million reasons why she wouldn't.  But, I'll tell you, as an IP attorney, she's got a case.  On the other hand, maybe Lady Gaga will admit that she was "inspired" by Madonna's song, as she did in admitting that she was "inspired" by Ace of Base for Alejandro, as a result of some behind the scenes legal wrangling.  Of course there are a lot of songs out there that sound alike, but it's not like Arcade Fire released a song that sounds like a Madonna song.  I mean, Lady Gaga is the Madonna of this generation, and she went on stage at The Grammy's performing it with the high ponytail a la Madonna and has ripped off Madonna's videos regularly since she became Lady Gaga. 

All in all, I'm still not impressed.  And really, this whole schtick is going to wear out soon.  Look at Marilyn Manson.  His schtick got old, too.  Madonna stuck around because she kept reinventing herself.  Will Lady Gaga do the same?           

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Doorman and The Painting

I think I discussed previously that one of the doorman in my building at work bought me a painting.  Not a small painting, but about a 24" x 36" painting.  (I'm eyeballing it, and I think that's about right.)  It's a nice painting and I like it a lot, but the entire thing was extremely weird.  To be honest, I didn't know how to react, so I just thanked him and took it home.  I've got it hanging in my dining room because I do like the painting, but overall...weird.  This is a guy I see daily and say hi and all that, but we're not like buddies or anything, and I don't share a whole lot about my life with him, although I think I've mentioned that I like art and whatnot over smalltalk.  That's why the painting thing evolved, I think.  Also, he's very unattractive.  My secretary thought he was a woman, although she isn't very smart.  So, I accepted the painting graciously (because I didn't know what else to do), and took it home and put it up.

Well now he's telling me that he has a new painting for me.  (He told me this at the end of last year, since I really haven't been in the office much this year.)  He's apparently looking for the "right frame" before giving it to me.  I mean, what the hell?  This is making me very uncomfortable.  Why is this guy buying me paintings?  It's not that I don't appreciate the gesture, but....it's weird.  It really is.  I don't want him spending money on me, even though my firm gives him a very nice Christmas bonus every year.  I've tried to avoid any smalltalk since the giving of the first painting so as to not give him the wrong idea, but he isn't getting the idea.  He makes me uncomfortable at this point with the "gifts."  But I don't want to get him fired or anything.  I just want him to stop shouting my name across the lobby (of a huge office building) when he sees me enter from the other end, and I want him to stop buying me paintings.

I'm honestly already dreading seeing him on Monday because he's going to be like "Where were you!  I haven't seen you in so long!  I love your shoes!"  He's a weird dude.  He always compliments my clothes, me, my shoes, my smile.  Jesus.  If only he were a hot billionaire. 

I swear, this stupid shit stresses me out so much.  I am not a mean person, but I don't know what to do about this.   

Robert Deyber -- Awesome Surrealist Artist

I'm a huge fan of surrealism art.  Like most people, Dali and Magritte excite me a lot.  About eight years ago I discovered a great artist on eBay who did surrealism work:  Robert Deyber.  I buy a lot of art on eBay, because if you sift through all the crap you really can get some fabulous paintings for a good price.  I'm a big fan of having real paintings in my house, as opposed to photographs or framed posters.  When I buy, I buy what I like.  I don't think about whether it will be worth something someday or anything like that.

At any rate, when I discovered Robert Deyber, he was just breaking out on eBay, so his paintings were going for maybe $300-600, which is a lot for an eBay painting.  Oh, how I'm kicking myself now for not buying more.  I have one, and I'm staring at it as I type this.  It's one of my favorite paintings.  Only one, though!  I got outbid a lot.  He was on his way up.  But at the time, I was still in law school and shortly after just entering my profession, so I really didn't even have $500 to spend on a painting.  I could really kick myself now.  Although I thought he was super talented, I just couldn't afford it.  And then he disappeared from eBay.

So, Robert Deyber's paintings now go for at least $5,000 at galleries. His web site is here.  He's amazingly talented, if you like weird surrealism paintings.  (The titles are important to his paintings.)  I don't want to link to them here because of copyright issues, but seriously check him out.  He shows at a gallery in Oak Brook, and I may wander over there and buy another painting one of these days.   

Guilty Pleasures - I Got It!

You know how sometimes you like totally cheesy songs, just because?  I'm in such a great mood to be home, and I'm listening to my iTunes on random, and this song popped up and I was reminded how much I love it.  It's a cheesy song, I'll admit.  But there is something about Donnie Wahlberg (Blue Bloods, good show!)...and I don't know.  What can I say?

So if you haven't heard it, it always pulls my mood up and makes me want to dance!  (And Aubrey O'Day can't spell "official," but whatever.

Back to the Real World

Today I did the following:

1.  Flew home from Detroit, got home around 9:30 a.m.  Told all of my co-workers that I will not be checking e-mail this weekend at all.  If they need me, they better call or text.  But they shouldn't.  I will see them Monday.  (And yay, I can't wait to get back to my office!)

2.  Entered my home and was relieved to find that there were no ceiling leaks due to the big snow, and my furnace was still running like clockwork.  Both of those were a huge relief.

3.  Went to the grocery store, since my cupboards were bare.  I'm so excited to eat at home.  Eating out for three straight weeks, every meal, is not fun.  As I said, I put on a few pounds, so I will need to do some Just Dance 2 this weekend. 

4.  Unpacked and did two loads of laundry.

5.  Made a cup of Starbucks coffee.  The hotel coffee was awful, and I've been dying for a good cup of coffee.

6.  Partially went through my mail, but I need to go pick up the rest from the post office tomorrow -- if I can figure out which post office has my mail.  That could be a challenge.  The USPS is not all that friendly, as I discovered when I called to put my mail on hold.

7.  Curled up on my couch in soft clothes with an electric blanket and caught up on my DVR.  I had 2% of space left.  That's my "to do" list for this weekend.  It also consumed a huge part of my day today.

That's it, and it is so good to be home!  I'm ecstatic!  I have two feet of snow out my back door, so I'm smoking inside today.  I don't normally do that, but I did not feel like shoveling it out when I got home.  I'll deal with that tomorrow, provided I can even open the storm door.  But it's kind of nice to enjoy a smoke and a glass of wine inside!  I am so ready for Spring.   

Thursday, February 10, 2011

We Won!

I'm happy to report that the jury returned a verdict for my client! They -- and we attorneys -- are over the moon! All the bull fades away pretty quickly when you hear that verdict read!

I'm heading home tomorrow morning, so regular blogging will commence once again.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, February 4, 2011

I Have Nothing to Blog About

I feel like I've been in a cave for the past two and a half weeks.

The only news I know about is the massive snowstorm in the Midwest and the Egypt crisis.

My television watching has been limited to about ten minutes of whatever is on TNT, MTV, or TBS at around midnight or one in the morning, prior to falling dead asleep.  (God, my DVR at home is full, I'm sure.)  I've caught bits and pieces of Jersey Shore, but am far behind.

I haven't been on the Internet at all to read up on my usual blogs or anything else.  If I get a minute, I might check Drudge, but that has been pretty few and far between.

My entire world is this hotel, the federal courthouse, and the conference room we have booked.  Also, Lafayette Coney Island has better coney dogs than American Coney Island.  Just an FYI if you ever visit Detroit.  I've had a lot of those, since they are right across the street from the courthouse.   

It's like my entire life is at a complete standstill.  A very, very weird feeling. 

On the plus side, I haven't spent any money.

You Know What Excuses I Hate?

As a single person without kids, I mean.  I hate these excuses:  "My husband/wife will divorce me if I don't come home this weekend."  "My kids won't remember who I am if I don't come home this weekend."

Please.  Really?  Your spouse will divorce you?  Your kids won't remember you if you aren't home for two or three fucking weeks?  I don't get to make these excuses.  My only excuse is that my 30 year old furnace might have gone out, so I should get the hell home to check up on it.  Also, I'm wondering just how much snow is blocking my front door in Chicago right now.  I'm also wondering if the USPS really put my mail on hold.

Yes, I'm still here at trial.  Out of town.  For two and a half weeks.  We had no court on Wednesday due to the snow (I'm in Detroit), and only a half day Thursday, and no court Friday, due to the Judge's prior obligations.  So, all of this is treading along as slowly as molasses.  We hope to be done with proofs by Tuesday morning, closing arguments Tuesday after lunch, then charging the jury.  I anticipate going home by Wednesday night.

Home feels very far away now, since I've been in this hotel room for so long, and have been working basically 16-20 hour days for the past two and a half weeks.  My entire life is this client, this trial.  I'm about to go batshit insane.  Either that or I might shove a fork in my eye so I can get the hell out of here.  Also, I've gained about 7 or 8 pounds because all we eat is crap and big meals.  I don't normally eat heavy, but we are constantly ordering in lunch and dinner and eating Detroit coney dogs, and this whole turn of events is not making me particularly happy either.

So, pretty much the entire trial team except for my secretary, our paralegal, and myself went home for the weekend.  They are supposed to come back on Sunday, but we'll see what time they arrive.  This means that Sunday night is going to turn into a debacle, and I am not looking forward to that.  The reason I didn't go home was because I knew if I got home I would (a) not want to go into the office; and (b) not want to do any work period.  At least by staying here, I just continue  the misery.  Also, I can see some of my friends and family, so that works.  I wrote a judgment as a matter of law opposition, and our two motions for judgment as a matter of law today, which we will file on Tuesday.  It's fucking miserable, and if I don't answer my phone immediately there is panic.  I mean, I can't even go to the bathroom.

Honestly, the only thing keeping me going is looking at the hours I'm billing and the money I will make after nearly a month of misery and nonstop work.  I'm not sure anymore what life will be like when I get home from this trial.  It's hard to "turn it off," and there will be judgments not withstanding the verdict to file, as well as appeal briefs, because this is going up on appeal no matter what happens with the jury, given things that happened earlier in the case.  Ugh.

All I can say is...I can't wait to go home.