f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

December 31, 2005

New Year’s Eve: good time for a snow buddha

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:25 pm

The end of one year and the beginning of a new one

seems like an especially good time to think about —

and, if possible, make — snow buddhas: snowmen

in the shape of Buddha, that remind us of the imper-

manence, creativity and connectedness of all life.  A 

year ago today, we had a posting about snow buddhas

that is as timely and informative as ever, and includes

a number of haiku and photos.


                                                                    “snowbuddhaChadGS”  original photo 

                                                                                            by Alison Shumway, via Chad W. Shumway


Whether your profession (or your home life) leaves you

stressed or joyful, making a snow buddha, and watching

its progress is fun and educational. 

tiny check  If you haven’t got snow where you live, mud

and sand also make great materials for your

homemade buddhas. 



    after snowfall

a Buddha on the lawn

    with coal eyes



  from Presents of Mind (1996)






wintry mix
the kids make a snow buddha
and a mud buddha





snow turns to rain –

our Buddha’s visit

cut short



  dagosan / David Giacalone


                                                                                                  Photo-Haiku Gallery by drussell 


“snowflakeS”  Explore our new New Year Haiku & Senryu Page.



December 27, 2005

thanks a lot (for all this pressure)

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 7:58 pm

We’re going to rest on our alleged laurels for a few days. New haiku by Honored Guest Poets will be added each day at the foot of the post. Enjoy the Holiday Season and please have a creative, peaceful, giving New Year. [see our new New Year Haiku page]

Open Letter to Ed-the-Editor

re: Blawg Review Awards 2005

Thanks for giving f/k/a your very first Creative Law Blog award.
But, frankly, if I had known that winning an award could cause so
much agita, I might not have spent as much time buttering you
up the past few months.

First, I’ve got Ms. Eversman over at AutoMuse sulking because
she didn’t win anything. She even called yours truly a “haiku
wonk.” Hey, not a-mused.

Horn‘s Lady Justice

Worse, a lot of first-time visitors are stopping by, expecting
to be wowed. All they’ve seen is your cryptic words
David Giacalone wins the award for Creative Law Blog for
f/k/a .” In a webworld that mistakes technoflash for imagination
and style, new readers come here assuming they’ll be overwhelmed.
Instead they find a rather humble-looking blawg that promises
genuine haiku and assorted punditry. As I wrote to you earlier
today, you could have said something like:

“What happens when a client/consumer advocate
who can’t quite control several of his alter egos,
becomes a haiku missionary.”

Add a warning: “No non-verbal bells & whistles.”

How can I possibly convey the notion that it is the mixture
of serious punditry on the legal profession and politics, and
silly social commentary, and personal pet peeves, with
genuine haiku by some of the best English-language haiku
writers, that gives f/k/a its uniqueness and its creative juices?
How can I explain (without a degree in psychotherapy) the
serendipitous collision of my various inner demons?

“blueRibbonN” Worst of all, however, is the wrangle you have
touched off within the f/k/a gang:

tiny check Our resident contrarian and agent of reality,
Prof. Yabut, is having a Brandoesque snoot,
wanting to return the award, with the Truman
like assertion: “I just tell them the truth, and
they think I’m being creative.”


tiny check The usually mild and humble haikuEsq is
certain the award is due to our haiku content
and resources, so he wants more acreage
on the home page. Resident haijin dagosan
wants some credit for improving his poetic
output and quality this year — or, at least,
for getting a few poems published elsewhere.

tiny check Founding editor emeritus ethicalEsq is back
on his preachy highhorse, and insists we
get back to our client-advocacy roots Big
Time [boring].

tiny check His cousin, skepticalEsq is certain almost
every visitor comes here by mistake, and
would focus on our Inadvertent Searchee

tiny check Advisor Jack Cliente points out that we
haven’t complained about standard contin-
gency fees in ages, nor written any good
senryu on the topic.

erasingS Meanwhile, yours truly, the proprietor of this

weblog, wishes he had something really fascinating to say

about lawyers & haiku and the pressing need for more

Haiku Police.


Compared to all this aggravation from being called

Creative, other winners have it easy: For example:

Bainbridge can just uncork another bottle

and start to ponder a post reviewing the wine.


Jeremy Richey can sit back and admire
his tagline, while Walter Olson protects the
trademark on his blawg name.

There are a dozen people at Volokh to spread
the work around.

SCOTUSblog gets to enjoy the Court’s vacation.

Lat and the Harriet Miers folk are retired. aspirin f
And Ernie doesn’t have to worry about any hurricanes
for a few months.

George Wallace only has to have a better person-
ality than a bunch of male lawyers (that’s real hard).

Everyone knows Bashman has an army of underlings
doing his aggregating.

And, if resting on one’s diva-ness and lifetime achievements
aren’t enough, nobody expects working mothers like Denise
and Carolyn to be posting much over the Holidays.



I don’t want to spoil your holiday egg nog, Ed, but

I’m starting to understand why you want to stay

anonymous. By scheduling your Awards announce-

ment in the middle of Christmas vacation, you have

made it almost impossible for the serious winners

(especially this tired old guy) to be at their best. I’m

supposed to be acting jolly and/or serene, plus penning

a haiku or two, not trying really hard to be creative.


So, I give up. Maybe someone else (besides AutoMuse)

will win the Creative Law Blog award next year and

have their Christmas/Holiday Season disrupted. Thanks

for reminding me that just being nominated may be the

best award of all.


with all due respect,




a squabble of jays —
he shovels my bootprints
off the sidewalk






chilly evening —

the wine full of summer

in a far country



Billie Wilson

“chilly evening” – loose change: HSA Members’ Anthology 2005

“a squabble of jays” – The Heron’s Nest VII: 4 (Dec. 2005)



delta autumn
the storyteller cradles
his gun




lunch at the zoo
even among gorillas
some who sit apart

fast-breaking news
weight of the lead apron
in the dentist’s chair



he comes to bed

cleanshaven …

winter stars

Peggy Lyles from To Hear the Rain (2002)

except “he comes to bed” – – loose change: 2005

deep winter
I search the lease
for a loophole

high noon
the boys refill
their water pistols

Tom Painting

“high noon” – July Selection, Snapshot Press, 2005 Haiku Calendar

“deep winter” – loose change: HSA Members’ Anthology 2005

first date

she groans with pleasure

at my pun





“snowflakeS” Here’s a bonus selection of haiku by

some of our Honored Guest Poets, from the brand

new volume loose change: HSA Members’ Anthology





first visit

seeing the colors

she lives with


Hilary Tann




migratory ducks

I have never

kept a diary

paul m.





just long enough

to leave an impression



yu chang




snowFlakeS Dec. 28, 2005: Featured Haijin: Hilary Tann:



10:01 PM

the mall fountain

falls silent





daily commute

watching for

an odometer event






summit view

my friend

examines his shoes






family reunion

a circle of feet

around the youngest child


Hilary Tann from Upstate Dim Sum (2002/I)

first night at her place –

three-dog gal and

no-dog guy





snowFlakeS Dec. 29, 2005: Featured Haijin

Gary Hotham:



early in the night—
the stars we can see
the space for more






last night’s snow down river


among shadow__

the day begins cold

snow now rain–

your picture

by mine





I lean
into the soup’s steam…
snow flurries

fly south neg

waiting up–

one hand warms

the other

their last sound

before we move on–

the geese outdistance us

Gary Hotham from breathmarks: haiku to read in the dark

(Canon Press, 1999)

– don’t forget our Christmas Season Haiku Page – “spotlightN”

snowFlakeS Dec. 30, 2005: Featured Haijin Kobayashi Issa

translated by David G. Lanoue:

making the rounds
as a New Year’s gift…
paper fan


New Year’s gift of tea–
where did you go
on your jouney back to me?




a full round

of New Year’s greetings

at the inn

Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

tiny check The Kobayashi Issa Website is now back on line,

including keyword search (by topic, season, year and more).

tiny check David Lanoue’s haiku novel Dewdrop World (2005) is

still available as a free download!


“Old&NewYearSF” A little help from our friends:



a red flush

on the amarylis bud

New Year’s Eve

Pamela Miller NessThe Heron’s Nest


New Year’s Eve –

the lentil soup



Tom Clausen

from Homework (Snapshot Press 2000)





year’s end

the bartender

blocks my reflection

Tom Painting The Heron’s Nest





Issa and the hermit

home alone again–

New Year’s eve





“snowflakeS” Dec. 31, 2005: featured haijin:

Jim Kacian.


chopping wood

someone does the same

a moment later





morning thaw

deer tracks

full of sun





just the north face

of each fence post

painted white






in the sleeping bag

of butterflies



Jim KacianPresents of Mind (1996)


December 26, 2005

Blawxing Day — we gush, we blush

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:35 am

Just as Christianity co-opted pagan winter festivals when designating its

Christmas holiday, the high priests of Blawgdom at Blawg Review have co-

opted Boxing Day and chosen December 26 for the bestowal of their first-



    Horn‘s Lady Justice                                                                               


If you’re interested in weblogs about law, the legal profession and legal

education, you will want to peruse the Blawg Review Awards 2005.  We

have dubbed this bestowal of honors on those who edit or contribute to

legal weblogs Blawxing Day.   Although much could be said of this

event (beyond its striking graphics, which borrow Greg Horn‘s image of

She-Hulk as Lady Justice), let’s start this morning with three observations:


1) By giving over 40 awards, Blawg Review  — in addition to showing great

marketing savvy — has made a crucial point: weblogging is a multi-faceted

activity, with a great variety of styles, approaches, and purposes.  When

done well over a substantial length of time, weblogs fitting many needs

and niches deserve recognition.  Blawg Review Awards 2005 highlights

the scope and depth of the communication form and format known as



2) “Ed” and the other gents at Blawg Review have taken their awards, but

not themselves, seriously.  Bravo.




3)  f/k/a is both pleased-as-punch and punch-drunk after receiving the 

BRA 2005 Award as “Creative Law [We]Blog.”  Some would call our

combination of poetry, punditry and preachy professionalism a strange

symptom of the Editor’s many personalities.  But, “creative” sounds much

less like a malady and more like a virtue.  We’ll all be working harder than

ever to find inspiration from the exasperations of law and life on planet Earth.

If you’re new here, thanks for giving us a look.  Some of our tortured history

and intentions can be found on the About page.



in the spotlight

he squints

and turns away



tiny check Many thanks to our Honored Guest Haiku

Poets, who give the poetry portion of this website so

much of its creative edge and panache.


tiny check  Kudos to all the winners, but especially to our

weblogging friends, George,Wallace Steve Bainbridge,

Evan Schaeffer, and Carolyn Elefant, who make an effort 

to stay in touch and respond in kind.


We want to tip our hat to SCOTUSblog and Volokh Conspiracy hat tip small neg

for their exceptional contributions.   I also want to say that

Walter Olson’s Overlawyered.com  doesn’t just have The Best

Name — it also does a darn good job of demonstrating the per-

spective behind the name.  Finally, I want to give the ol’ RiskProf,

Martin Grace, my own special Hazardous Duty weblog award for

making an esoteric topic interesting, often fun, and far more

understandable (even by lawyers). 


update (noon): Prof. Yabut woke up late and grumpy, and had

just two things to say: (1) “I can’t believe they called us a ‘Blog’,”

and (2) “When everybody gets a gold star, nobody gets a gold

star.”   Talk about a malcontent.  Let’s hope he cheers up for

the New Year.  (Of course, we will continue to eschew the “blog”

word and will refer to ourselves as a weblog.)


naughty child–
instead of his chores
a snow Buddha






a full round
of New Year’s greetings
at the inn

       Issa, translated by D. Lanoue




                 “snowflakeS”  When the f/k/a gang hears “creative,” 

                   we think of Honored Guests like Andrew Riutta:




my inner child . . .

even baby shampoo

burns a little  







                         tire swing–

                         the world she flirts with

                         through its void  








so many guns

aiming for peace-









                             how cold:

                             sunshine through

                             a leafless willow



“snowflakeS” Andrew Riutta

“tire swing” – Frogpond (2005)

“how cold” – Full Moon Magazine (2005) 

“so many guns”   Poetry Bridge – World Haiku Club (2005)


                                                                                                                        Lady Justice [really] HornHulkJustice


December 25, 2005

merry christmas from a stuffed pundit

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 5:08 pm



                                                                                    – brand-new Christmas Haiku page.


Not even punidts should talk or type with their mouths

full.  Therefore, you get an opinion-free posting today,

with a small tray of holiday haiku and senryu on the side.


best wishes from the f/k/a Gang for a

joyous Christmas and holiday season!



“turkey Cooked”


rainy christmas
the lawn goes from white to green
while we nap




six wrinkled faces
around the Christmas feast –

santa forgot





christmas morning

the old retriever gets

all the innards






christmas evening

the goose she raised

all summer




NastXmasFlirt afterglow (11PM): Hanging around the mistletoe wasn’t

a winning romantic strategy for your Editor today.  Click here to find an  

even sadder tale of Christmas Flirtation unearthed by The Fool in the

Forest, in his holiday series of Thomas Nast images..


                                                                                                                     “goose F”  “snowflakeS”


December 24, 2005

our “traditional” holiday greeting

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:16 am

It’s great to be around long enough to have

our own Christmas weblog tradition.  Here’s

a repeat of our December. 23, 2003 post 




Christmas 1950

slippery slope

the giacalone law firm

No matter how you celebrate, f/k/a wishes you a time filled with much joy,  

gratitude and holiday spirit.   


Don’t forget to let a few haiku moments happen, too.



p.s. Yes, Mama Giacalone had some cute kids! (that’s me upfront,

big sister Linda in the middle and in charge, and twin Arthur for ballast.) 

As Denise has suggested, Mama never had enough arms.



“snowflakeS” Our blurb from Dec. 25, 2004 is (no surprise) still relevant today:

“But, the truth is, there’s room for the spiritual and the secular on this

day.  The space is there.  We just have to see it.”(Editorial, “Joy All

Around,” Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle, Dec. 25, 2004) —

and live it.

“snowflakeS”  Check out our brand-new Christmas Season Haiku page.

Thanks for the gift of your readership.




on the harp strings

Christmas Eve


      from To Hear the Rain









feeding pigeons

on Christmas morning ~

the can collector’s red socks










our children awash in gifts





a sleigh-shaped cloud

floats by –

first glimpse of Christmas






December 23, 2005

warm holiday fuzzies

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:00 pm

We’ve been posting Christmas-related haiku throughout the

past week, for your Holiday enjoyment.  Tonight (instead of

gift wrapping), your procrastinating Editor collected haiku

and senryu by our Honored Guest Poets, plus dagosan, to  

create the f/k/a christmas season haiku page.   With more

than 40 one-breath poems, there is something to please every

Grinch and Scrooge (and perhaps Christmas Warriors, too).


However, don’t fret that we’ve become too soft and    NoSantaGS

sentimental here at the home of Prof. Yabut and

skepticalEsq.  For example:

tiny check  Your editor has never gotten all warm or

fuzzy over Christmas and birthday cards from life

and auto insurers, or law firms, and the like.  So,

there wasn’t much chance of me smiling joyously at

the e-card greetings that arrived today from Andrew Cuomo,

son of New York’s illustrious former governor, Mario,

and current candidate for State Attorney General. 

Nonetheless, just in case his cute daughters and 

sappy sentiments are just what you need to get

into the Holiday Spirit, I will repeat them here:



                        “HAPPY HOLIDAYS!



Thank you for a year of friendship, love

and support.  We wish you a very happy

holiday season and all good things in the

New Year!


                   with love,


 Cara, Mariah, Michaela and Andrew

My giving “friendship, love and support” without even knowing

about it is quite a feat — just think what might happen if I

were trying.   Since Andrew is being so nice, here is a tip

for him:  I might very well vote for you next year, but it

won’t be because of your faux gratitude.  Phony e-motions

won’t compensate for a perceived lack of humility and

gravitas — but they could easily send potential supporters

looking elsewhere.


Your organizational skills are also a bit suspect: the Holidays

e-message points to the Andrew Cuomo for Attorney Website,

which currently has a blank white page, that declares in the

upper lefthand corner: “AndrewCuomo.com is coming shortly.”  

“Coming shortly” is never a great strategy for getting elected. 

You’ve got big name-recognition advantages right now over Mark

Green and other opponents, Andrew, but you might squander

it, if you don’t get your act together.  Capice?


p.s.  Andrew, you have apparently co-opted or purchased

the mailing list of an internet public interest group. Please

tell them from me that I’m not thrilled that they have used

our connection in this way.


another Christmas . . .
my parents visit
the son in prison

    Lee Gurga

tiny check  It may be the Holiday Season, but I still get fr ventalone

annoyed every time I see some criminal defense lawyer

arguing that embarrassment is enough of a punishment

for a public figure who breaks the law.  This time, we are 

supposed to feel sorry for 78-year-old Anthony Doria, who

founded the Vermont Law School, and admitted guilt on tax

evasion — taking $115,000 from a woman in her 70’s and

spending it rather than investing for her.  It is equally wrong-

headed for a judge to be persuaded by such rubbish.  Here,

U.S. District Judge J. Garvan Murtha sentenced Doria (who

was originally facing up to 145 years) to only one month in

prison.  We agree with Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth

Woodcock, who said “embarrassment is not in the senten-

cing guidelines.”   (see AP/Burlington Free Press


Prof. Yabut says:

If you value your reputation and you don’t

want to do time as an octagenarian, you

ought to avoid felonies in your 70’s. 




Christmas morning–
we wake up holding
each other’s hand

 Lee Gurga from Fresh Scent (1998) 


                  p.s.  Christmas Commercialism getting you down?

                     check out our st. nicholas v. santa claus post.



wrapping, packing, musing

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 9:55 am

What stage of Christmas/Holiday preparations have you

reached?   Office party?  Last-minute shopping?  En route

to see loved ones?  Wrapping?  Still baking?   Packing your

car for a trip?   The f/k/a Gang is still a little behind.


If you don’t get back here before Christmas, Hanukkah,  starXmas

or the Holiday of your choice, please take our sincere

wishes with you for a joyous and peaceful holiday season.


Randy Brooks has captured a mix of moments and

emotions that touched me this morning. 


Christmas morning–

        misty breath of cows

        rising where they lie







home from the war

not your prayers

he says just luck



ship to label sm




through the open door . . .

her smile doesn’t forgive

all my sins







the daughter taps flour

into a mixing bowl . . .

mother’s apron tight









cedar walking cane

hangs from the coat rack

dust on the handles curves



“snowflakeS”  “SnowflakeS”



praising the hostess


in his moustache








big brother’s grin . . .

the last piece of the puzzle

out of his pocket





grandpa’s cedar cane

      my son poling holes

      in a snow drift








stockings on the mantel . . .

the child’s eyes follow sparks

up the chimney       






from School’s Out (Press Here, 1999)  

except: “home from the war” – Modern Haiku (Summer 2005)




tiny checkI’ve had a hard time getting into the punditry mode this week, but

Prof. Bainbridge has been opining at his usual prolific pace.  Check

out his coverage of Britain’s plan to keep watch on all vehicle

movements on the nation’s roads. [we’re still worrying about wintry

precipitation for our drive on Saturday]




Also check out Steve’s continuing reportage on New York Attorny

General and Governor-in-waiting Eliot Spitzer — Prof. B. asks whether

Spitzer = Thug? and whether he’s channeling Teddy Roosevelt.  The

closest we’ve come to such heady issues lately is Prof. Yabut’s recent

comment that a spitzer is a sharpener in the German language, with the

verb spitzen meaning to nib or sharpen.  The noun spitze is acuteness,

the pinnacle, a sting (or a prick).  After a few stops at the f/k/a Holiday

Punch Bowl last night, Yabut also pointed out that Spitzer would have

made a darn good Reindeer Name, noting that Eliot, too, may have to

battle a guy name Rudolf for the lead position.   






victorian christmas
a trail of horse shit
down the main street







stuck beneath
the nativity stamp
a strand of blond hair




         (Dec. 10 and Dec. 16)




that godless salesgirl said
“Happy Holidays!”


       dagosan [for Steve Bainbridge]





December 22, 2005

a little more Christmas (a/k/a Holiday) spirit

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 9:57 am

the frozen breaths

of the carolers   disappearing

among the stars




the blizzard over

bird chatter from inside

the evergreen







after the search for meaning       bills in the mail







the neighbor’s snowblower . . .

I begin to remember

last night



     George Swede 

                from Almost Unseen



snowFlakeS  snowFlakeS



snow flurries

candelight moving

from window to window


                  paul m.

                                from The Heron’s Nest





bitter cold

the bell ringer —

peppermint breath



                 Tom Painting

                            from The Heron’s Nest




silent night, holy night


      at the bar


    from the novel Haiku Guy




setting up the creche —

the Baby’s name

uttered over and over









December 21, 2005

winter sun

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 5:11 pm

wrapping gifts
the dog stops panting
for a pet




saying good-bye
my hand warms
the iron gate

winter sun
lifting his round face
to catch it


w.f. owen

“wrapping gifts” – Mainichi News Dec. 5, 2005 (No.678)
“saying good-bye” – tiny words (March 6, 2003)
“winter sun” – Manichi Daily News, March 5, 2005 (No. 669)


happy winter solstice!

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:15 am


The Winter Solstice has arrived. A time to re-light the candle of hope

and forgiveness for all. Click here for our collection of Solstice haiku

and senryu.

a candle

in every window —

strangers light our path


Our Solistice message from last year — not surprisingly — still

rings true:

Christmas was set at the end of December, in the Fourth Century, in order to

co-opt (or overcome) ancient Sun-Solstice celebrations [see, e.g., here, here,

and even there] , the Solstice Story seems well worth retelling. Universe Today

has a good summary of the science and the lore, including this excerpt:

The season we call “winter” begins on the Winter Solstice. The word Solstice means “sun still”. Because ancient peoples knew nothing of the earth’s tilt, the southward march of the sun was a troubling time. There was fear that one day the sun might continue moving south until was lost entirely. Many cultures conducted rituals to encourage the sun to move north again and when it did there were great celebrations. These celebrations, regardless of culture, all had a common theme that of rekindled light.

starXmas Not surprising then that many of the traditions and customs of ancient Solstice celebrations have survived to the present day. Although we know that the sun will begin moving north without any encouragement from humans, we still use this time of cold and darkness to celebrate the theme of rekindled light. From the Hanukah Menorah, to the Scandinavian Yule log, to the lights of the Christmas tree, during this season we seek to push back the darkness with light. Although the forms have evolved over the centuries, we can still see the spirit of many of the old ways in our present day Solstice celebrations. still

December 20, 2005

clients who ruin christmas (and lawyers who let them)

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:55 pm

A week ago, Slate‘s Dahlia Lithwick started a contest looking for tales 

of “the meanest thing you’ve ever done to an opponent on the holidays”

or other “stories of hideous pre-holiday lawyer shenanigans.”  (Slate,

Billable Horrors,” Dec. 13, 2005).  Naturally, Walter Olson used Dahlia’s

lark as an occasion to seriously condemn such malicious mischief (without

offering solutions) (Grinch, Esq) and Prof. Bainbridge fretted that he might

actually have to show up for Jury Duty this week — delaying his consumption

of duckling and vinous liquids. 

tiny check Before I get to my main points, please let me do a

bit of (nit)picking on Steve.  Writing on Monday, Dec. 19, Prof.

Bainbridge says “And I can’t help but think that nobody’s

really going to start a trial this late in the week before

Christmas.”  That makes me wonder just how much of

a buffer Prof. B. thinks is appropriate around the Holiday-

Christmas celebration?  As an academic, Steve has ap-

parently lost touch with the vast majority of his profession

— not to mention the rest of the population — who need to

be on call should their clients or bosses need them during

what teachers must think of as “off-peak” and inviolable hours

and weeks.


In addition, I can already hear Steve’s  complaints over     courthouseN

California taxes being wasted with empty court buildings the

weeks before and after Christmas, were it not his duckling get-

ting cold.   For most of us, many issues depend on whose oxen

are being gored, but Prof. B is — god bless him — more willing

than most of us to reveal his myopia on his website. (On the

other hand, you can’t say he has no sense of humor.)

In my many years serving as a Law Guardian — a lawyer appointed

to represent a child in NYS, usually in Family Court — I often had to

deal with Christmas Season visitation issues.   This was among the

topics most dreaded by the court and court staff.   As much as I

knock divorce lawyers, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen one who was

the instigator of such battles, but I can definitely say that many of

them made things much worse by going along with or feeding the

anger or paranoia of their clients. 




By their nature, Christmas and Christmas Eve and Christmas

Vacation issues often arise just before Christmas — often because

one estranged parent has unilaterally declared that he or she would

not follow their court-ordered arrangements, or wasn’t going to bring

the child(ren) back on schedule, or was leaving on vacation with them.

At that point, if a parent contacted me, as the Law Guardian, I would

attempt to “mediate” a solution that focused on the child’s welfare. 

That was often possible, when the parents were appearing pro se, but

at times the lawyers would get in the way of a resolution — usually

because they needed to show they were the client’s protector (which

just happened to run up a few billable hours).  At times, they threatened  

me with ethical sanctions for talking to their clients out of their presence

(a bogus threat in the context of Law Guardians, in my opinion, and a

risk I willingly took in hundreds of instances — at $25 per hour!).

tiny check One older lawyer, a former Family Court judge, made

such a threat, when I called to ask him to telephone

his client to calm her down and get her to follow the

Court order.  He screamed so loudly at me that I

said “call me back when you can hold a civilized

conversation” and I hung up.  He never called back.

He didn’t want to call his client, because she was

a factory worker who had a hard time paying his fees.


phone old  In the end, I got the couple to stick to the con-

sent order,  where one parent had the one-year-old child

Christmas Eve overnight and the other all day on Christ-

mas (with the roles switched the next year).

Earlier this year, f/k/a had a post discussing Valedictorian Litigation, 

(counsellor or mercenary?), in which I had the following reaction

to John Steele’s sayingisn’t this another case where people were

out of control before they called for lawyers?

I’d like to add these excerpts to my WISTful quotation —

Wish I Said That — collection .  They’re by Sol Linowitz  

(from DCBA Briefs, Betrayed Profession, June 1999):   

“Elihu Root . . . put the matter more simply: ‘About

half the practice of a decent lawyer,’ he once said,

‘consists in telling would-be clients that they are

damned fools and should stop.’


“Today there are too few lawyers who see it as

part of their function to tell clients (especially new

clients) that they are damned fools and should stop:

Any such statement would interfere with the marketing

program. The public pays, because the rule of law is




Later in the same chapter, titled “Living the Law,” Linowitz  


“The doctrine that professionalism means respect for

the client’s ‘autonomy’ and commands doing whatever

the client wants is, after all, most convenient. Nobody

ever lost a client by doing exactly what the fellow wanted,

but much lucrative legal work has been sacrificed by lawyers

who regretfully told prospective clients that this was some-

thing they were not willing to do.”

Thanks again, Lawyer Linowitz.

Many lawyers do try to serve that role as counsellor — especially when they

don’t want to upset their own Holiday plans.  As Law Guardian (and as a

divorce mediator), I often got to see just how unreasonable clients could be

— and I could also see how anger and distrust fed on itself.   My best story

of a “client” trying to ruin my Christmas goes like this:


                                                                                   snow pile

Before 8 AM the day after Christmas, the non- 

custodial Father of an 8-year-old called me at

my home-office saying that as Law Guardian

I had a duty to go get his daughter and bring

her to him.   He explained that he called the

Mother’s home that morning and was told the

child was not there.   I pointed out to him that

(1) we had two feet of snow overnight and there

was a snow emergency, with no driving allowed;

and (2) the Mother lived at the top of the highest

hill in town.


snowFlakeS “SnowFlakeS”


The Father continued angrily to insist that I

had a duty to make his visitation happen.  As

he babbled, I learned two more things: (1) the

girl was with her stepfather at a hospital,

because (2) her Mother went into labor over-

night and had delivered a baby that morning.

None of these facts seemed to help the Father

— an otherwise bright man — see just how

silly he was being.  I told him I’d call him in

a day or so to see what I could arrange, and

I requested that he not call my home before

9 AM ever again.  Because the Court was

virtually closed — for all but child abuse and

domestic violence cases — that week after

Christmas, I was relieved that the Father

would not be filing any violation petition that


Sometimes, going to court around Christmas cannot be

avoided.   Many courts have figured out ways to protect

themselves from Holiday shenanigans.   Lawyers acting

as true counsellors — telling their clients when they are

being unreasonable or acting crazy — is often the best

safeguard.   Until both clients and lawyers are perfect,

there will be new Holiday Horror Stories for Walter to

write about and Steve to fear.


from Mom’s to Dad’s

the clickity-clack

of suitcase wheels


       from New Resonance 3





waiting room–

the ex-wife

looks past me








custody hearing

seeing his arms cross

i uncross mine



         A New Resonance 2:; pocket change



my toddler

helps pack her travel bag —










piano practice

our scowling child plays

Ode to Joy


    Tom Painting    

        from his haiku chapbook piano practice 





Christmas Day

  the exchange

    of custody



     John Stevenson 

         from Some of the Silence


                                                              snowFlakeS    “wolf Dude negF”



last-minute? not yet [christmas eve haiku]

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 12:54 am

Oh, stop catastrophizing.  It’s only December 20th.  Real Men  

don’t think “last-minute shopping” or “last-minute preparations”

until about lunchtime on December 24th. 


turkey cooked



Christmas Eve–

the hum of power lines

just pass the mall


     Alice Frampton

        New Resonance 3; beyond spring rain




Christmas eve

the carousel animals

all motionless










Christmas eve

in the courtyard below

a flutter of wings








Christmas eve-
the row of cut trees
no one took home



“Christmas eve/trees”: “Modern Haiku” XXIX:2 (Summer 1998)

“Christmas eve/carousel” Modern Haiku XXIX: 2 (Summer 1998)

“Christmas eve/courtyard” –  “Can Collector’s Red Socks” (2003)





Christmas eve

in her pajamas all day

the youngest one



      Tom Clausen –

             Upstate Dim Sum (2003/1)







Christmas morning

a yellow ribbon

of sun


         Alice Frampton – 

              The Heron’s Nest (Dec. 2003)



p.s.  Well, no, I didn’t quite get all those cards mailed out yesterday. 

My faith in the USPS is almost total.



red envelopes

the sound

of children’s laughter






winter evening

a cafeteria tray

at the end of the slope


    Yu Chang

          Upstate Dim Sum 2003/I




silent night, holy night


      at the bar


                    David G. Lanoue

                            from the novel Haiku Guy




Nana serves

Grandma’s recipes —

Christmas Eve calamari    







December 19, 2005

prematurely late [winter solstice haiku]

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:13 pm

If I had done (any of) my Holiday Chores over the weekend,

I’d be posting about “professionalism” right now and not

frantically figuring out what absolutely needs to get into

the mail today.  


So, I’m going to balance my tardiness with a few

premature solstice haiku:







shortest day

the highrise disappears

into indigo


                      Pamela Miller Ness 






winter solstice–
moving the scale
to a lighter place


                     Alice Frampton

                             from The Heron’s Nest (III:12)









shortest day —
all of the yellow
beaten out of eggs


          from The Heron’s Nest V:3










  A whisp of white smoke:
Out of a widow’d chimney

         Winter is rising


                                     RICHARD WRIGHT,

                                              Haiku: This Other World






winter solstice
the hardware out of
three way bulbs








winter dream

                i pick myself

                    from a line-up of suspects

                ed markowski 





winter solstice

our son reads a fairy tale

to his unborn son


      from To Hear the Rain





winter solstice
adolescent wiccans
flunk a spelling test










not sure

it’s coming back  

clouds hide the solstice sun



                                                                                                                                             jailbird neg


December 18, 2005

Roadrunner Haiku Journal is One Year Old

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:03 pm

Congratulations to Jason Sanford Brown on this first anniversary of the

premiere issue (V: I, Dec. 18, 2005) of his Roadrunner Haiku Journal

It took courage and commitment to envision and implement a new, internet-

only haiku journal, and Jason has been rewarded for having both.




The first edition had four haiku contributors, all of them well-known and

respected.   The fourth edition, posted in November, had 17 contributors,

and included some of the best haijin writing in English — established

masters, journeymen and new-comers.   We thank Jason for this new

contribution to the haiku world and wish him and Roadrunner all the best.

Go, see what Jason has wrought, with a little help from his haijin friends.


Here are three poems by Michael Dylan Welch from the

premiere edition: 



hummingbird at the window

–my blink

startles it away 






a stack of unread books

rain blows

against my lamp-lit window






cafeteria line–

the good-looking girl

looks at my plate




premiere issue (V: I, Dec. 18, 2005)


And, here’s a pair from Jim Kacian:



ancient mounds

imagining the builders

in their own language






rainy day

the left hand



Jim Kacian from Roadrunner Haiku Journal
premiere issue (V: I, Dec. 18, 2005)



MarilynMerlot potluck 

tiny check It’s not sweeps week, but Prof. Bainbridge is featuring a very

robust bottle of wine at both of his websites — Marilyn Merlot.

He is definitely putting the X back into the Christmas season

with this display.  Steve says “So how’s the wine? Good. Not great.

Fresh, forward blackberry and currant flavors dominate.”  With its

relatively high price, it gets a B-/B+ from the professor.  Go to his wine

weblog for the full review and view.


“spiltwine” update (5 PM):  I left the following Comment at Prof. B on Wine

a couple hours ago, but just went back and found it deleted

Now I know what Jesus would drink. 

You did say Magdalene Merlot, didn’t you?



first date

won’t be the last —

she likes the House Red




                                                                                        MarilynMerlotN MarilynMerlotNV


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