the lawyer writer

sometimes legal                     sometimes literary                     sometimes not

Thursday, September 14, 2006


The lawyerwriter has moved to Sirens Magazine! Click here to be linked to the latest post.

Monday, July 17, 2006

More Sepia Mutiny Posts

Hello all...

here are some more posts from my guest-blogging stint at Sepia Mutiny...I very much enjoyed working with the bloggers, who are exceptionally articulate and interesting people. The comments section, however, leaves me a little cold...too many trolls looking for pointless argument. That said, it's a great site, and here are some links!

Indian Woman Marries Snake

Computers Without Words

Apu-Calypse Now

The Freedom To Write

So Long, Farewell

For all future lawyerwriter posts, go to And gentlemen--while the blog is run by three girls who like to dish and gossip, it is resolutely NOT a woman's blog. It will however, help you understand why smart women are sick of Cosmo and Glamour. Since all three bloggers are entertainment involved in various aspects of pop culture, get ready for a hefty dose of television, movie and book publishing commentary...

For all those who put up with my erratic blogging, this also means regular, near-daily posts. What are you waiting for? Click here for the latest lawyerwriter posts!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Some Sepia Mutiny Blog Posts

Hello all...

Here are some of my more recent posts for Sepia Mutiny...

Greetings and Salutations

Mahabaratha Reloaded

Desi Goth Manifesto

Silencing the "Code"

Monday, May 22, 2006

Big Changes For This Blog!


the lawyerwriter is guest blogging at Sepia Mutiny for the next month, so check out my posts there. There might be occasional entries on this blog, but probably not often--just the occasional musing on the evils of the publishing industry.


the lawyerwriter is moving house! Soon (though not sure when) the lawyerwriter is going to find a new, permanent blogging home at Sirens Magazine. Those of you linked to the lawyerwriter will be sent to my new, gorgeous home, and, hopefully, regular, reliable blogging posts.

So definitely check out Sepia Mutiny for my latest posts...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Nerd v. Geek

The source of my pop culture fixation, E! Entertainment Television (sorry VH1--you are dead to me, expect for America's Top Model marathons) is already promoting its Mother's Day show Rise of the Geeks, and while the link is incredibly unhelpful, the commercial flashes an unusual array faces: familiar ones, like Adam Brody, Zach Braff and Bill Gates, and the more radical choices like Adam Sandler (please. a total jock, not a nerd or a geek). The ladies are probably represented by the likes of Lisa Loeb and Allison Hannigan (of Buffy fame), who have their own brand of geek chic, usually involving glasses or band camp.

Now, it is important to get the terms straight, for a variety of reasons, but the most important of which is that I am both nerd and geek, and I like to have the various parts of my personality neatly labeled. I use the phrenology head in my living room as my example. To bolster my defintions, I bring in our guest consultant, Wikipedia, the largest growing encyclopedia (who would probably get a lot more writers and accurate information if they gave authorial credit, but are awesome anyway).

"Nerd" is a derogatory term for someone of high I.Q., academic standing, and either adequate or dubious social skills, depending on your definition. For example, in the 1980's, skinny underage Indian girls who spent all their time in the library were known as nerds, or, in a particular case, "Nerdja."

"Geek" is a derogatory term for someone whose passions/obsessions are outside the mainstream, making them oddballs. Many geeks are technology/science geeks, but regardless of the field, geeks are obsessive in their devotion. For example, in the 1980's, skinny underage Indian girls who stared endless into the San Jose night with an old-fashioned telescope, trying vainly to find the rings of Uranus, were known as geeks.

Therefore, please do not throw those terms around. Admittedly, I am not a geek/nerd on the outside. I do not embrace geek chic; I strive more for "corporate goth bombshell." That said, I am still a nerd and geek on the inside, which is why when the hot dog vendor on my dog walk flirts with me, I get embarassed and think he's making fun of me. Okay, briefly. As with rap, I'm old-school--if you were a geek or nerd before it became trendy, then you have felt my pain.

The following criteria will help you distinguish whether you are truly a nerd and/or geek, or simply posing as such because it is fashionable.

The criteria:

1. Own, or still own, some of the original Dungeons and Dragons game books. Don't waste my time if you just "played the game" or "watched the (crappy) cartoon or (even crappier) movie." Unless you know the difference between comeliness and charisma, know how to calculate the hit dice of a mature green dragon (breath weapon: noxious gas), why Dragonlance books rock and who the dark lord of Ravenloft is, you don't qualify. However--if you still have one of the multiple-sided dice, you have a shot. Bonus points for sides over twenty.

For the record, I own a few books, my most prized possession being The Oriental Ad&D Handbook. I was always the Wu Jen-Kensai--magic and katana power.

2. Was addicted, in a serious, disturbing way, to at least one video game in your youth. It doesn't matter if it's Castle Wolfenstein on your brother's Playstation or Tetris at work, or 3-D Tetris at work or Tekken on your cousin's X-Box. We're talking: visual impairment when not playing, blisters on thumbs, nervous twitch that causes you to stack and unstack boxes, or charge into street fights with large panda bears.

3. Love anime. I mean serious, old school, Voltron, Robotech, Starblazers, Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Thieves, G-Force/Battle of the Planets--not-just-porn anime. Anime is the true sign of the discerning nerd, before it got overly uplifted in Spirited Away and bludgeoned into hyperactive stupidity with Pokemon. Please note: the following do not count as anime: G.I. Joe (though I loved it), He- Man (go She-Ra!),Thundercats, Transformers (surprisingly!). Some argue for Inspector Gadget; I find this assertion dubious.

4. Took the SAT at least three times. I took it six. I was the only twelve-year old at the testing center. AND: took at least two (2) of the following standardized tests: PSAT, AP (at least 2), ACT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT. Extra points for GRE Subject Science. GMAT takers are neither nerds nor geeks; they were playing baseball and nominating themselves for Vice President of the student body in order to have stuff to put on their b-school resume.

5. Was continually, steadily picked last for every sport except for badminton, and that's only because the racket wasn't so heavy to lift. (Alternatively: unable to catch, throw, hit or even spot the ball during softball). Bonus points: consistently failing the state-required physical fitness requirements (fifty situps? who's in charge, Patton?)

6. Was consistently, steadily bullied by at least two (2) different individuals at two (2) different stages of childhood/adolescence/teen years. Bonus points are awarded for the higher in the social ladder your bully was--for example, a grabby stoner is far less significant than, say, The Girl Voted Most Attractive her senior year of high school.

7. Had at least two of the following at an inappropriate time: braces (say, during senior year around the prom), glasses (since kindergarten), bad skin (ah, puberty), untamed facial hair (I really should have taken a razor to myself), sudden changes in voice (singing lessons were not a good idea), cuticle chewing, an undershirt instead of a bra, nail biting, hair-chewing, unfortunate makeup choices (blue eyeshadow and big earrings), unshaven legs (learning the hard way in the locker room) and, worst of all, unfortunately ignored armpits (ditto).

8. An unusual (or unhealthy) interest (or aptitude) in technology (or pure science) to the point that when that kid from the 'Nsync tried to buy his way into space, you thought about dating him just so he'd take you along, even though you have a strict no-boy-band policy. Oh yes, and a tendency to read chaos theory or The Dancing Wu Li Masters or Brief History of Time when drunk, making for strange falling dreams. (Please: let's keep the threshold for this high. Science fair ribbons, yes. Ipod critic for Vanity Fair, not so much).

9. Knows why it's very, very important for X3: The Last Stand, to get everything about Dark Phoenix/Jean Grey/Madeline Pryor right, and if they muck it up with too much romance with Wolverine or bad special effects, they really won't get the full impact of the whole Dark Phoenix story. Plus they're already in the doghouse for the Rogue/Ice Man romance, which is so boring and not worth passing up an opportunity to introduce her Cajun, card-throwing, French-mangling lover Gambit, aka Remy LeBeau, to be played by Dennis Quaid as he was in The Big Easy, preferably with his shirt off. (I will accept Josh Lucas if he can do the accent). Which, may, MAY make up for the fact that the X-Men cartoon is off the air, even if it wasn't very good, and Jubilee was incredibly annoying and they kept fighting robots. But it doesn't make up for the fact that all the X-Men videogames SUCKED.

Sorry about that. Number (9) is an unhealthy obsession with at least one series of comic books to the point that you start drawing your own secret comic book where you have the power to fly and manage a complex, superhero-oriented lovelife.

And finally...

10. Could never really fall for someone who doesn't find it cute that, at your core, you are still a nerd and/or geek.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Last Word on Opal Mehta

Look, it's bad enough that I've got to walk my dogs past a water-logged David Blaine five times today, but are we still beating up on that 17 year old with the unfortunately large book deal? All the browbeating is extraneous. Let the numbers tell the tale, simply:

Age of Kaavya Viswanathan when deal was made: 17

Age of person old enough to sign a legally binding contract: 18

Percentage of book completed at the time of the deal: 34, approximately

Dollars in advance: almost 500,000

Average dollars in first-time fiction advance: 15,000, maybe.

Number of William Morris agents involved: at least 4

Figures in Dreamworks deal: 6, at least

People involved in "packaging" book at 17th Street/Alloy Entertainment: uncounted.

Alloy Entertainment average percentage of advance: 30-50

Agent's percentage: 15-20

Kaavya's actual advance in dollars: 150,000 to 275,000

Date of deal: February 2005

Print run (number of books printed): 100,000

Copies shipped to bookstores: 55,000

Copies sold: 15,000 or less

Date of scandal: April 2006

Number of passages that are reportedly plagarized: 40 (some say 50)

Number of sources of plagiarism: at least 4

Publisher's loss, in dollars: 485,000 + publicity outlay, recall costs, productions costs, value of publishing reputation, smear on publishing as a whole)

Alloy's gain, in dollars: 150,000 to 250,000 (minus value of souls sold to Lucifer & Co.,)

Book deal Kaavya has now: 0

Film deal Kaavya has now: 0

Years of school she has left at Harvard: 3

Kaavya's current age: 19

Years left to live with this: 60-70, approximately.

Ebay average price for hardcover copy of discontinued book: $30.00

Number of people who have asked my dad about his daughter, Kaavya: 4

Number of people who have said to him that "She looks just like you": 2

Number of times my father wanted to say "My daughter, who goes to Harvard...": innumerable

Amount of money that I would have to be paid to make up for never be taken seriously as a writer: 7 figures, at least, and the promise that I could write privately.

Privilege of having a future as an author: priceless.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Our Very Own Rico Suave

Many thanks to mediabistro and tiffinbox for linking the yesterday's Kaavya Viswanathan post to their sites. My readers will be satisfied to know that, despite urging from some quarters, I do not intend to see my ridiculous connection to a teenage plagiarist to the logical pr conclusion: that is, mention from, article in trendy 'zine, artful pose in fashion magazine, book deal, high-profile boyfriend, Page Six mention, major network tv appearance, catfight, diva attitude, lawsuit, reality show, talk show, hell. Unless, of course, Kaavya starts doing any more of that shit, in which case we'll have to just throw down. She may be rich and overachieving but I'm older and ornery and I fight dirty.

Meanwhile, does anyone else feel that we are just not paying enough attention to Vikram Chatwal. Who is he, you ask? This 30-something Sikh billionaire graduated from Wharton and is ostensibly an executive in his father's empire and some sort of creative consultant (don't ask celebrity photographer Dave LaChappelle about it), but what he's mostly known as is the "turban cowboy," known for partying with Gisele and Leo (he has a "G" on his arm), crisscrossing through every velvet rope between here and Kolkata and Mumbai, but not Chennai, baby, that's a little too lower east side for him. This character has been nightclubbing his way into my party-going unconsciousness; he travels in a pack, usually all indian guys, and is supposed to be the messiah of the new Cool Indian American Party Animal. Think Paris Hilton with facial hair and a turban. And a shirt open to the hairy navel.

Well, I say, let's keep him around. Wherever he goes, unintentional comedy ensues. For example, I urge you to check out the hilarious New York magazine article about his wedding. (Yes, it happened over a month ago, but what do you want from me? I've been in a publishing-induced coma). It's hard to point out the particularly fine moments of mirth--Vikram's Svengali father pushing a "nice" Indian socialite (with flat abs, natch) at his still-partying son, or a reference to the aimless Dustin Hoffman, lost in his own rites of passage, in The Graduate. The wedding apparently out Bollywood's Bollywood, which means there wasn't an elephant or dance choreographer in all of India that wasn't involved in the preparations. So all of you who get your jollies reading about exotic Indian marathon--er, weddings--will like that as well.

I was hooked up for a "job" for Vikram Chatwal back in 1996--to do a "treatment" for a movie about a Sikh hero. I use quotes because that's what he told me--even though he had no idea what those words meant. What the turban cowboy wanted from me was a full screenplay, for under a thousand dollars. I delivered a treatment, as promised.

Six months of phone calls later, he still hadn't paid me. So, naturally, not knowing his father's supernatural powers or Vikram's own innate star quality, I fired up my relic fax machine and faxed his father a letter threatening to sue. As my attorney, I put Nolan Ryan. I had meant to put Nolan Jackson, my father's boss, but for some reason, no one at Chatwal HQ seemed to recognize the famous baseball pitcher's name. Apparently he wasn't going to the right clubs.

This resulted in a phone call from Vikram in ten minutes. After much legal threatening both ways, I realized that the idiot truly expected me to write a full screenplay around the legend of Guru Gobind Singh (a screenplay-for-hire, with battle scenes, is rarely under $20,000. Rarely) and, instead of dealing with it, just hoped I'd go away. But the man clearly knew that hell hath no fury like some impoverished Indian girl, so he finally relented, saying that a driver would come over with a payment within the week. But he didn't. I called. Vikram blamed the driver. I gave him my address again, and waited. Nothing. I arranged to pick it up at one of the many glorious Chatwal restaurants. No check.

About two weeks after that phone call, I walked over to the lobby of some hotel and got my check. Apparently, all the FOB drivers (his term, not mine) were getting lost on the way to the West Village. The check was made out from a checking account by the name of Sant Chatwal. His dad.

I was angry then, but I'm elated to have him around now. Now Indians can celebrate their very own celebutante, watching him party around and try to be taken seriously as an entrepreneur and artist while his wife pursues her "acting" career, decorates the houses, pops the kids (keep those abs, honey!) and pretends not to notice. My verdict of the guy? I found him boring. Couldn't finish a sentence. None of that "deep spiritual calm" that Deepak Chopra claimed was in his soul. Maybe hungover, but still, no excuse.

But the restaurant served a mean salmon, and the Dream Hotel has a great bar. And Vikram? I predict big things for him. I predict...coverage in non-New York publications. Coverage in non-Indian publications. Coverage in national media...perhaps, dare we say it, US Weekly? In Touch? People? I'm just grasping here...a reality show? Other than MTV Cribs??

One can only hope. I rejoice in the stupidity of all people, but I celebrate it most when it comes in the form of a flashy, cheap Sikh guy who tried to stiff me.