Sunday, April 24, 2011

6 Things I Learned About The Philadelphia Court System

Hey, what do you know. A post having nothing to do with Hugh Laurie or Leslie Nielsen. I'm just as shocked as you are. I really don't know why I've been so damn lazy on here lately. Just haven't felt the urge to force my poorly formed thoughts on the world for a while. But I really think I'm turning a corner here. I'm ready to get back on the horse.

You may remember that delightful fellow who tested his airbags by demolishing my wife's parked car while were sleeping. Well, after two months we were called into court to testify about the damage. After around 5 hours as we exited the courthouse, our jaws were dragging on the floor in awe of the epic sideshow that is the Philadelphia court system. I learned some very enlightening things about how justice is disbursed in the City of Brotherly Love, and I would like to present them to you in no particular order...mainly due to the fact that there certainly wasn't any in court that day (zing!)
  • The crier is allowed to treat everyone, including the judge, like an absolute prick. I'm fairly certain that my wife and I were the only two people that the court crier (a.k.a. the guy who announces the next case) didn't grumble to, shout over, or yell at. And that includes the judge. This guy was absolutely stunning in his utter lack of professionalism. And I say this as a man who has more than once knowingly gone to work with a noticeable hole in the crotch of his pants. Now, I get that with 50 plus cases to juggle each day, even the most even-keeled person would get frazzled from time to time. But if you're to the point where every word out of your mouth is dripping with contempt for your fellow man, perhaps it's time for an extended vacation.
  • It's perfectly reasonable for a judge to throw a temper tantrum in the middle of a case. First of all, it needs to be said that our judge could have easily played Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He looked to barely be able to see over the bench in a standing position and he's definitely indulged in a "second breakfast" or an "elevensies" in his lifetime. The similarities are purely physical, however, because if my memory serves me correctly Bilbo Baggins wasn't a raging asshole. At one point, after we had been out in the hall reviewing some paperwork, my wife and I returned to the courtroom to find the judge literally out of his chair yelling at an assistant DA. In all fairness, I don't know what happened that lead to this exchange. But unless the assistant DA just admitted to coercing a confession from the defendant by showing him pictures of the judge's naked wife, then I think a little restraint is in order.
  • The judge is allowed to jerk around an expert witness as he sees fit. Part two of Judge Bilbo's screaming fit came when the assistant DA called up an expert witness as part of her case. At this point the judge was still seething and he only seemed to become further enraged that the assistant DA would call an expert witness. So within a few seconds of taking the bench, the judge threw up his hands and told the witness that he didn't want to allow him to testify. So the witness left the stand and sat back down in his original seat. The witness' ass had barely touched the seat when the judge changed his mind again and told him to take the stand. I'm sure the narcotics officer being used as an expert witness that day had nothing better to do than play musical chairs with an elected official.
  • Lawyers have no problem using pop culture references as "precedence." I want you to picture every shady-looking TV lawyer you've ever seen. Then combine them into one bubbling mass of shyster. Then you'll have a picture of the lawyer I saw doing his thing. Basically, I think his style can be summed up by the fact that he utilized the following logic: his client was not intending to sell the drugs that he had on him because, after all, Charlie Sheen had claimed to do more drugs in one sitting than his client had on him when he was pulled over. I'm not kidding. I'm still not sure if this was the best or worst line of reasoning I've ever heard.
  • Public defenders are even more tired and beaten-down looking than you might think. While a minority of the defendants had their own representation, I'd say at least 3/4 of the cases were being defended by one guy who looked like he slept in the suit he was wearing. I felt so bad for this guy. I don't care if this is the life he chose. No man should be forced to go through his day looking that down-trodden. Actually, if anyone remembers Ted from Scrubs, just add a head of a hair and make him a few years younger and you'll have this public defender.

So my day in court was a lot of things, but boring was definitely not one of them. I think I learned a lot about the law even in the short amount of time that I saw it in action. If I had to pick the most important thing I've learned from the day I'd say it's this: if you are going to break the law and you want it to be resolved quickly, make sure you break the law outside of southeastern Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This Week In Non-Naked Gun Leslie Nielsen: Kung Fu

So, uh...yeah. That plan of pulling my head out of my ass didn't really pan out. What can I say? Life has been busy and I just haven't had the motivation to do my thing on here. But the good news is that I've got some good story-time material so I'm definitely ready to get back in the groove.

The worst part about my not posting for the last two weeks is hardly that anyone's been deprived of my stupid bullshit. No, the worst part is that I've deprived everyone of what might be the greatest scene ever committed to film. Leslie Nielsen has become known for physical comedy over the years. But I swear to God, I don't think I've seen him in anything as funny as this clip as he guest stars on the 70's martial arts/horrible acting extravaganza Kung Fu.

Be warned that I have no idea what the scenario is here. As far as I can tell Leslie Nielsen is fighting with someone who used to be his friend but now has to "bring him in." Series star David Carradine is no where to be found; he was likely tied up (ba-dum ching!). So that leaves Nielsen and Random Dude to put on the worst display of fighting in the history of television.

So let's forget the fact that neither person in this scene has any right taking part in a pillow fight, much less a martial arts duel. And let's even look past Leslie Nielsen's face as he puts his pal in the worst rear-naked choke ever applied. I'll even overlook the fact the comically overdrawn series of 7 goddamn stomach punches that Nielsen seems to receive in slow motion.

What I absolutely cannot let pass, however, is that Leslie Nielsen takes an upward palm thrust to the nose, seemingly resulting in his nose being shoved into his brain. But rather than die immediately, as pretty much anyone with catastrophic brain damage would logically do, he remains consciousness long enough to coherently warn his friend of his inevitable doom. No, writers of Kung Fu, that is not how this works. I'm not a doctor, but I'd be willing to bet that someone receiving a blow to the head hard enough to kill them is going to do little other than shit their pants before they die.

But it might very well be this clip's complete disregard for reality that makes it one of my new favorite YouTube clips. Every once in a while there comes a clip that I compulsively need to watch at least once a day. This is one such clip. In fact, if nothing else I hope that this post will urge people to spread the joy. You don't even need to give me credit. I just want to know that this clip won't get lost in YouTube obscurity. It must live on! Ok, so it's not that important. But it's pretty funny.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This Week In Non-Naked Gun Leslie Nielsen: The New Breed

So after about a week and a half I guess it's time to pull my head out of my ass and start writing on this thing a little bit more. Apologies to anyone who's been sorely missing me. Work/family/laziness have prevented me from putting much effort into the blog over the last few days.

But today I'm excited to officially introduce the first installment of "This Week in Non-Naked Gun Leslie Nielsen." Nielsen won the poll over competition Keanu Reeves and Gillian Anderson (although they both got some love too so maybe they'll work their way into future segments). I'd give kudos to the guy/girl who suggested him, but they chose to remain anonymous. Either that or the person's name is Anonymous, in which case they probably have a pretty tough time getting through the airport.

Anyway, folks who know Leslie Nielsen know him for two things: The Naked Gun's Frank Drebin and Airplane!'s Dr. Rumack. What most people don't recognize, however, is the 150+ movie and television roles he churned out in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. This guy liked to keep busy. Not only that, in his early career he actually played the leading-man type. Keep in mind that playing the leading man in early film and television didn't seem to require much more than memorizing your lines.

With that in mind, I bring you a gem that I found on YouTube from a cop show called The New Breed. In it, Nielsen plays Lt. Price Adams, a detective for the LAPD Metro Squad. From what I can gather, it's a poor man's Dragnet. Enjoy.

Can I first point out that YouTube really is the best place to find the most gloriously pointless clips. Who the hell even has The New Breed on film, much less the time and inclination to upload it on their computer and post it for the world to see? I'm not going to rule out the possibility that it was Leslie Nielsen himself.

Setting that aside, am I the only one who thinks 1950s television is priceless? This was a time when viewers had a narrator read the opening credits to them, and a slap from a woman was invariably an implicit invitation to a mind-numbing kiss. It was a time when it was perfectly acceptable for a 12-year-old suburbanite to wander the LA hills armed with a bow and arrow, and police interrogations were held with zen-like calm inside what can only be described as a large cardboard box with a door.

Clips like this are exactly what I hope to find when I start looking through a person's lesser-known back catalog. And I think next week's going to prove to be even better. Apparently, Nielsen had a guest spot in the original Kung Fu series. That's right, gang. Leslie Nielsen is going to be performing martial arts. And not as a joke. I can't wait.