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I Want This Monster Under my Bed! November 25, 2009

Posted by rscottgriffin in Uncategorized.
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Although it’s been leaked for a week, and many a positive remark (Bananas! I die!) have already been made about the new benchmark in music videos set by the “Bad Romance” video, Lady Gaga’s newest album (or half-album, as it were) was officially released today.  If you didn’t know that, you’ve probably been living under a rock or don’t have a single gay friend.  “The Fame Monster,” is the follow-up to the HUGE “The Fame.”

I have never written a music review in my life, but let me tell you why I cannot get enough of this album.  I’m not going to repeat the constant comparisons to Madonna, other than in a few of the songs, below.  I love it because it sounds fresh and new and hip with an edge that Lady Gaga lends to her performance, but it also has some fantastic nuances that pay tribute to the frivolity and synth beats of the 80s and 90s and brought back some great memories of early mornings at Backstreet.

There is also one, undeniable thing that we know after this album – this Lady can SING!  Although you can tell the label had a lot more cash to throw into production in this album, that’s more in the backing music and effects and they let Gaga be Gaga.  It’s certainly obvious why she made it into Tisch at NYU at 17.   So, here are my thoughts, for what they’re worth, song by song.  (I’m not analyzing lyrics, here, btw, that could probably be a college course in and of itself.)

“Bad Romance” – I’ve been hitting “replay” on this song for two weeks, now.  It’s been remixed, it has a kick-ass video, and a great line that we’ve all thought at some point, “I DON’T WANNA BE FRIENDS!!!  Want your bad romance!!!”  Amen, sister.

“Alejandro” – Okay, this one is reminiscent of “La Isla Bonita,” which was never one of my favorites from Madge.  But, it also has a nice Ace of Bass “I Saw the Sign” little back-beat to it that gives it enough pep to make me want to get out of my chair at work.

“Monster” – She goes a little rougher here, too, and I do wish that the Autotuner would go the way of the Dodo, but we have our first big dose of 80s synth, here, which is just pure nostalgia for me.  This is also the first of the non-BR songs that is made for remixing and more layers of beats. It’s a cute disco song.  There’s also a shout out to “Just Dance.”  If you’ve seen a Gaga performance, you can see those creative seeds throughout this album, too.

“Speechless” – For every critic that says Lady Gaga is just another over-produced, bouncing blond “vocalist” that can’t actually sing, I give you this song to pop in your iPod, take a listen, then shut the f*ck up.  We go on to a completely different musical direction, here.  This one makes me think, Beatles.  I’m talking sound and pacing, here, people, but it also has a very bluesy feel with even a bit of country and western twang at one or two points.  The music and backing vocals are very simple, so you can really get a good dose of what a deep and raspy voice (Janis Joplin, Bonnie Tyler) she actually has.

“Dance in the Dark” – Oh. My. God.  This one is MADE for remixing, not that it stands out as a possible club mix on its own!  But, damn, it starts out sampling Depeche Mode’s Strangelove for Christ’s sake!!!  Also, she brings back her “freak bitch” self-proclamation from “Bad Romance,” here.  But, the hook has me thinking of that moment on the dance floor – you know it – when everyone’s been waiting for anticipation for it, then there’s a big “WHHHOOOOO!!” and everyone throws their hands up and the lights correspond.  I can’t imagine that this one won’t be on everyone’s favorite list, especially since about 3/4 of the way through, she channels “Vogue” and rattles off some dead celebrities…most of which are big gay icons.

“Telephone” – We all knew that the collaboration between Lady Gaga and Beyonce was coming, but who knew that it was going to be everything and more that Madonna and Britney wished “Me Against the Music” could be.  It mixes their styles so well, and its also remix fodder for days.  Also, listen very closely, and you’ll hear a little sample of “Beautiful Nightmare” thrown in there.

“So Happy I Could Die” – We’ve all had these nights, that everything seems so perfect, and you’re having such a good time…but this song is not happy, it’s melancholy.  It’s fantastic.  It’s juxtaposition of lyrics with music, and it actually evokes something much more, to me, than what they lyrics convey.  (Okay, so that’s my one discussion of lyrics.)

“Teeth” – Okay, I think Madonna circa Erotica era on this one.  Very raw, with a simple driving beat, it’s as primal, tribal, and honest as what she’s singing about.  I mean, she says, “I just want your sex” and “take a bite of my bad girl.”  This is probably my least favorite of the album, but I have a feeling it could grow on me.

So, those are my thoughts.  Please feel free to share your own in the comments section!

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My Greatest Accomplishment: Becoming a Notary Public November 3, 2009

Posted by rscottgriffin in Uncategorized.
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When consulting a former colleague on some things I should think about when starting my own law practice, she suggested that I “sign-up” to be a Notary Public in Fulton County.  She suggested this so I could add Real Estate closings to my professional offerings.  (For others that are attorneys reading this, I realize there is some question to notarizing documents for a party I’m representing, but it doesn’t hurt, right?)  So, I asked around, and they said, oh it’s easy, you fill out the form, take it to the court, and there you go.  Great.

Georgia, being the progressive State that it is, actually offers an on-line application.  Praise Her for electronic government.  So, while I was still at my firm, knowing that we had plenty of Notaries around to notarize the application, I decided to go ahead and fill the thing out.  I will preface the rest of this story with the fact that I *possibly* did not fully and completely read all of the details of the application rules.  Hell, I’m a lawyer.  Unless it’s in published rules of court or an order or some administrative agency, a thorough perusal is usually sufficient.  So, I asked one of the secretaries and one of our case clerks (who is a Notary) to serve as endorsers on my application.  We filled in the application, I printed it out, signed it, had Travis notarized it, and voi la…I could become a notary.  Wrong.

The next week, my application in hand, I set off for the Clerk of Superior Court of Fulton County.  I sat down at the window and passed through my application.  On each and every legal document, court admission, court pleading, patent application, mortgage application, insurance application, driver’s license, check, and any other piece of paper that I have to sign in an official manner, I sign it with my first initial, and then my middle and last names – R. Scott Griffin.  Like many a southern boy before me, was cursed by being called by my middle name, and the application was VERY clear to apply in the manner in which you SIGN YOUR NAME.

So, my first argument with this particular bureaucrat was over whether they could issue me a Notary seal with my first initial, then my full name.  I explained the situation, explained I was a member of the State Bar of Georgia under that form of my name (including producing my bar card), and even showed that my driver’s license had that EXACT signature.  He had to ask his supervisor and mumbled something about “Homeland Security,” but I avoided THAT particular political discussion.  After a few minutes in the back, it was determined that was acceptable.  He then begins to take my application and enter the information into his computer.  (Why they have an electronic application that basically prints what you type, but requires them to perform data entry why you attempt to sit pretending to be patient is really beyond me.)  At the first endorsement, the secretary’s, he notes that she does not live in Fulton County, but in Cobb.  (This is the part where I realize I may have skimmed past something important in the rules, and I’ll own that part.)  So, he says, get two Fulton County endorsers, and I’m all set.  Great.  Trip number one down.

So, I get a friend and neighbor to scratch through the prior endorsement, per his instructions, and fill out new endorser information.  I embark on my second journey.  I go and sit at the window, and the same gentleman begins to enter the information anew.  (I remind him we’ve already solved the great name debate of 2009).  The next problem then arises.  He asks if this new endorser has a local phone number.  “I don’t know, what did he write?”  This is an out of state number, he says.  “Oh, he only has a cell phone and moved here from Florida, and that’s his only phone.”  This is when it really gets interesting – apparently, and this was NOT in the rules, each of your endorsers has to have a LOCAL phone number because…the phones at the Fulton County Superior Court Clerk’s Office can’t dial long distance!!!!

He also informed me during this second visit that I was really “causing him problems” because I noted on my application that I had a reckless driving conviction four and one-half years ago.  He indicated that, although it was “not that bad,” the clerk generally likes to INTERVIEW people that have answered in the affirmative to the particular question about convictions other than minor traffic citations.  Seriously?!?!  Interview???!?!  So, at this point, the ire and irritation were seriously bubbling up inside of me.  The only thing that I could do to keep from screaming at this man at the absurd turns this application process was taking was return all of my stuff to my bag and walk out and say I’d come back…AGAIN.

So, back on-line I went.  I started the application anew, filling in all of my required information.  I then tracked down two friends, one of whom is a notary, to fill out the endorsers section.  I also completed all of the information about my reckless driving issue.  Last week, off I went to the courthouse for a likely-unprecedented THIRD time, with my application, complete with endorsements from Fulton County residents with local phone numbers, a full explanation of my reckless driving conviction, and the court papers for the resolution.  I.  Was.  Ready.

Yeah, you knew it was coming…he HAD to give me a hard time about something.  He was about to tell me that they could not accept the application because my endorsers were WRITTEN in as opposed to being typed and that after November 1, they would no longer be accepting applications with anything filled-in in writing.  I said, “well, it’s not November 1, and after the first time I came you told me to have a new endorser write his name in, therefore I thought that was fine.”  (Again, I note that NONE of this is actually in the rules or noted on the on-line application.)  So, he asked his superior, who said that it was fine and that they would get it taken care of.  Next, he looked to my explanation of my conviction, and I noted that I had all of the papers.  The supervisor, still standing there, asked if he could HOLD ON TO MY ORIGINAL FILE!!!  Um, NO!!!  Lord, what kind of personal records do you people keep if you would you give your only copy to a stranger?!!?  In the ensuing conversation we agreed on which pages they needed, which I handed over to them for him to copy.  I got my papers back, put everything up, and he noted that I should “hear something” in the next week or so.  If I don’t, I should call.  At this writing, I have not heard anything from them, so I have no idea if the clerk wants to interview me.

That does not end the story, though.  Of course, after I get OUTSIDE OF SECURITY at the courthouse, I decide that I probably needed to check to make sure I had all of my papers.  One of them…the original, was not returned.  When I tried to go back through security, I was not allowed because only workers were allowed to use that entrance.  So, back around the block I went, back through the security line, and back to the office to retrieve my original, which he has just sat on his desk and not even copied.  Wow, these people are detail-oriented.

So, at this point, I have no idea if I’ll actually become a Notary Public.  I’m sure that they will find some other issue that I have to address, but right now, no news is good news.  Thursday of this week will be a “week” since the application was filed.  Also, keep in mind that I have managed to get admitted to the State Bar of Georgia, all Georgia State courts, the Northern District of Georgia, the United States Patent Office, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and numerous other District Courts on a Pro Hac (per case) basis, and adding up the effort I expended for each of those STILL would not come to what I’ve had to deal with just to become a Notary Public.  So, rest assured, Fulton County, your public servants are ensuring that those people that sign off that it really is you signing your documents are doing everything in their power to make sure you’re safe!  And, y’all keep your fingers crossed for me, okay?