Blawg Review

It's not just a blog carnival; it's the law! ~ a fool in the forest

Blawg Review #89

Lone Mummer Approaching
David Blackwood
1976 Etching and aquatint
20 X 32 inches
(click on the image for more information)

The origin of the Christmas tradition of 'Mummering' can be traced back to celebrations of the Twelve Days of Christmas in the Middle Ages, and these traditions were probably derived from much earlier Druidic rituals surrounding the winter solstice. Mummering began on the night of Boxing Day and continued until January 6. Groups of mummers would wander from village to village at night, playing the fool and calling on a house with a measured, ceremonial knock and the invocation "Any mummers allowed in?" The mummers would be admitted to the kitchen and questioned to guess their identity. Once their true identity was guessed they were required to throwback the veil or mask and expose or 'unveil'. They would then be offered a drink or their 'Christmas' a plate of cakes and a glass of cordial. In repayment the mummers were expected to entertain before they headed out for the next house.

Very rarely you would hear reports of a 'Lone Mummer' appearing in a remote community as it was hard to imagine anyone undertaking such a visit alone in the dead of winter. In fact, this kind of sighting was a dreaded event, which stirred ancient and instinctive superstitions against outsiders, the archetype of the 'Stranger'. A lone mummer was so unlikely and threatening that it was always referred to as a 'Spirit' and was a certain sign of impending death in the New Year. Actual encounters with lone mummers did happen once or twice every ten years.
This is one of those years.

In this Blawg Review #89, your dutiful editor appears as the lone mummer, visiting the sites of legal webloggers far and near in the blogosphere between Boxing Day and New Year's Day 2007.

In the tradition of mummering, every blogger visited in Blawg Review #89 will be permitted to ask no more than three questions in a single private email to the editor as to his identity -- each question requiring a simple "yes or no" answer -- but may not ask a direct question as to a name or other pseudonym used by the editor, such as, "Are you so-and-so?" or "Is such-and-such your blog?" Questions and answers must be kept confidential, on oath, by each enquirer and the editor except as follows.

On January 6th, the end of the mummering, the editor of Blawg Review will post an addendum to this Blawg Review #89 discussing some of the more interesting questions and answers publicly for the first time, and disclosing whether his true personal identity has been discovered. If the secret identity of your anonymous editor remains undiscovered after these inquisitions, we shall entertain no more discussion of it this year.

Three Mummers
David Blackwood
2006 Etching and aquatint
6 x 12 inches, 15.2 x 30.5 cm. (image size)
(three plates printed on one sheet)
edition of 75 $ 1,800 unframed
Contact the Gallery to Order
David Blackwood's depictions of the life, the landscape, and the people of Newfoundland have produced, over the past four decades, a body of work which holds a special place in the Canadian imagination. His strangely beautiful images have come to represent to many of us the essence of Newfoundland's landscape and traditional culture. Part personal biography, part cultural document, part mythic narrative, his work forms an ongoing chronicle of the distinctive stories, both epic and personal, which have shaped his life and the life of his native province. He is widely regarded as Canada's most accomplished printmaker.
It would have been perfect to start in Newfoundland, the birthplace of artist David Blackwood and the inspiration for his wonderful art exhibition, The Mummer's Veil, which is the theme of this special issue of Blawg Review, but I can't find any newfie lawyer blogs at So, the lone mummer begins his journey at the Wise Law Blog, because Toronto lawyer Garry Wise vacationed in Newfoundland this summer and that's close enough for me. Garry asks, Has the "War on Christmas" come north? While in Toronto, I stop by and say hello to business lawyer Rob Hyndman, who tells me about Life in a Northern Country. And before leaving the city, I drop in to say Happy Chrismukkah to Law Librarian and Info Diva Connie Crosby, who's all excited about a burgeoning law intranet co-ordinators' interest group in Toronto that met for the first time last month. Any mummers allowed in?

On to Schenectady, I find my old friend David Giacalone still writing haiku and thinking about family at Christmastime, and putting his Harvard Law Degree to good use every day, serving the public interest at SHLEP: the Self-Help Law ExPress. We talk seriously about Search Engine Privacy Strategies, and share a few laughs about search engine queries that send Inadvertent Searchees to his weblog.

Bob Ambrogi takes note of a special blog post in which Sherry Fowler writes about her yellow underpants and what she's learned from writing her blog.

Prettier Than Napoleon in Washington, D.C., Amber Taylor responds to her heckler by explaining how he also could get into Harvard.

David Lat at Above the Law reports on the case of Steinbuch v. Cutler: The Blogospheric Trial of the Century. Well, actually, he's just phoning it in over the holidays.

Huffington Post contributing editor Melissa Lafsky discusses sex, bloggers, privacy, and lawsuits on Eat the Press.

Seth at QuizLaw tells the story of a lawyer facing disciplinary proceedings, who's trying to stay positive and move on with his legal career.

TechnoLawyer Blog presents I'm Billing Time, a music video by the Bar & Grill Singers, a group of lawyers in Austin, Texas who create and sing parodies to raise money for public interest legal services.

Peter Lattman at the Wall Street Journal Law Blog writes an article headlined Clients Demand Diversity at Law Firms that sparks a debate among readers in the blog comments. Carolyn Elefant at's Legal Blog Watch follows up with a Diversity Roundup.

While in New York City, I stop by Mad Kane's for some New Year's resolutions humor, in the form of a spousal contract, by "recovering lawyer" Madeleine Begun Kane. Bruce MacEwen, discusses "Wealth" and "Conscience" at Adam Smith, Esq., paying homage to his site's intellectual godfather. Ted Frank at Overlawyered reports on a case where a homeowner is being sued over the death of a 19 year old who died moshing at a New Year's Eve party -- moshing, not noshing. New York Personal Injury Attorney Eric Turkewitz finds it troubling that a New York Judge Rejects Pseudonyms In Sex Assault Case. Monica Bay, at The Common Scold, reviews An Inconvenient Truth. Marty Schwimmer, at The Trademark Blog, is thinking about Marilyn Monroe and Betty Crocker and Aunt Jemima, and the likelihood of confusion.

In New Jersey, Ron Coleman of Likelihood of Confusion asks, "What business does the FTC have regulating bloggers and deciding what they should and should not disclose?" Kevin Heller suggests I go to Philadelphia with him...

We catch up with Howard Bashman on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and, together, we track down Professor James Maule at Villanova. Jim suggests we drop in on a former student of his, Jen Burke, at Transcending Gender, who insists we all go downtown to watch the Mummers Parade. "Drag is not an option," says Jen, who puts on a mask and helps the guys get dressed up like mummers, too.

At the parade, we bump into Professor Peter Spiro from Temple, who says that one sign that the blogging phenomenon may have peaked is the number of abandoned blogs one comes across these days — blogs that are still up, but on which nothing's been posted for months.

The Philadelphia Mummers Parade is a beloved tradition that traces its roots to before the city was founded. It is the oldest folk parade in America. The parade is held New Years Day (weather permitting) and it's a day long event.
The first official Mummers Parade was on January 1, 1901. Prior to that, local lore holds that many traditions — the dressing ("mumming") from England, Sweden and other countries — came on New Year's Day when at midnight, the citizens shot off guns to welcome the new year, a dangerous tradition that the law frowns upon. The next day, residents usually went door-to-door shouting out the following rhyme:

Here we stand at your door,
As we did the year before.
Give us whiskey, give us gin,
Open the door and let us in!
Or give us something nice and hot
Like a steaming hot bowl of pepper pot!*

*(A Philadelphia soup)

The parade is related to the Mummers Play tradition from the UK.
In the UK, it's also traditional for the Queen to announce so-called New Year's "honours," including knighthoods, dameships, OBEs — membership in the "Order of the British Empire" (yes, it's still called that for the honor, but nowhere else). This year, as you may have seen, Bono (of U2) received a knighthood. Without trying to be regal about it, here's expat David Maister's honors list for 2007, acknowledging the contributions of everyone who participated on his blog during the past year. I know the lawyers on this list appreciate the link love.

I decide to catch a flight across the pond -- like Phil Collins did for Live Aid -- to make appearances in Philadelphia and Wembley on the same day...

Arriving in London, I bump into Hugh MacLeod in a bar, who shows me one of his cartoons that would make a good business card for a lawyer. Heh. I'd love to sit in a pub reading gapingvoid cartoons all day, but time is money and I want to stop at Corporate Blawg UK while in London, and I'd like to spend some time with Justin Patten at Human Law, as well. Justin's surprised to see me, and asks if I'd like to see some examples of corporate blogging policies. I show him Hugh's business card for lawyers. Justin says if I'm in England looking for lawyers with a sense of humour, I should pop in on Charon QC, or Jeremy Phillips at IPKat. Season's Greetings, says Jeremy, showing me an inspirational picture from, which reminds us to look after homeless cats this winter. Which reminds me, I have to grab a flight back to the States to catch up with Dan Hull on his Renaissance Weekend and get his favorite links to more law blogs from around the world.

In South Carolina, David Swanner asks, "What Audience is Your Blog Addressing?"

On JD2B we pick up a story about Duke University law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, who earlier this year spurned an offer to take over as dean of UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Law, and has emerged as a candidate for the same job where he works now. Duke officials are tightlipped about the search process.

In Lexington, Kentucky, Duke alum Ben Cowgill says, "Here's how it's done Mr. Nifong."

I finally arrive in St. Louis, the hub of the blawgosphere. Matt Homann is hosting a get-together of some sort, which makes it convenient to meetup with several of the leading law bloggers from around here. When I show up unexpectedly, they're all apparently relieved to see that none of them is really the anonymous editor of Blawg Review. The hot topic of discussion is Matt Homann's 15 Lawyer Tips: A Mini Manifesto. George Lenard has a couple or three posts he wants to discuss about employers using Facebook for background checking. Evan Schaeffer extends Holiday Greetings and asks me to mention the latest Weekly Law School Roundup. That's so like Evan, to be always thinking of others. Dennis Kennedy wants to know why there's no category for Best Legal Technology Blog in the recent Blawg Review Awards 2006.

From St. Louis, you can get almost anywhere in two clicks. I go next to see Ernie the Attorney in New Orleans and pick up a discussion he had recently with his readers about provocative blog posts -- sometimes they offend. While in Nawlins, I check in with Raymond Ward, who's hosting Blawg Review #90 next at Minor Wisdom. Ray says Jerry Ford was his favorite Republican president. We digress, and take a look at some of the more interesting posts on law blogs this week that reflect on the life and death of President Gerald R. Ford.
Ann Althouse offers some personal reminiscences about Ford and his presidency, including the Chevy Chase parodies, the "Whip Inflation Now" buttons, and her decision not to vote for Carter because he was "a small man".

Roger Alford remembers Ford as an internationalist who was instrumental in producing the Helsinki Accords.

Dan Filler thinks the instant obituaries published immediately after Ford's death were creepy.

Ian Ayres talks about Ford's noncommittal response to a confirmation hearing question about a possible Nixon pardon.

Gordon Smith takes a look back at some of Ford's sporting accomplishments.

Lyle Denniston looks at Ford's impact on the Supreme Court -- as a president rather than as a litigant like his predecessor.

Michael Dorf discusses Gerald Ford's Greatest Legacy: John Paul Stevens.

J. Craig Williams writes, "There will be many tributes to Gerald Ford, and ones by people more important than me, to be sure. Let me add a personal note, however, to honor the people's President."
Continuing on my journey, I stop by Douglas Sorocco's firm in Oklahoma and find a spiffy, shinier PHOSITA. Doug mentions he's on a panel at the 2007 Corporate Patent Congress Conference later this month.

Jeralyn Merritt is blogging up a storm in Denver. She's blogging the Saddam Hussein hanging at TalkLeft. Greg Worthen at Public Defender Stuff complains that the recent Blawg Review Awards 2006 didn't have a category for Best Public Defender Blog, and remedies the oversight announcing The 2006 Public Defender Blogger Awards. Stephanie West Allen at idealawg finds out what lawyers appreciate.

Deep in the heart of Texas, Tom Mighell, continues to feature the Blawg of the Day at Inter-Alia. Tom Kirkendall, at Houston's Clear Thinkers, shares the story of one of Houston's greatest surgeons, a patient of the surgery he created. Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast says the legislature should prioritize mental health spending that relieves local jails. And The Mommy Blawg reports that a female inmate in a Dallas jail recently gave birth in the jailhouse elevator. The Mommy Blawger takes me to DFW just in time for my next flight...

Touching down in Australia, I stop first at SOX First, where Leon Gettler asks, "Is SOX unconstitutional?" Peter Black, at Freedom to Differ, has collected his Best Posts of 2006 for us, as part of his end of year wrap-up. While in Brisbane, I pop in on David Jacobson, who asks, "Are You the Person of the Year? And how does that affect your business?" Jacobson recommends the upcoming Australian Blogging Conference that Peter Black is hosting at QUT. Sounds interesting, but I have a flight to catch...

Landing in California, I first stop to see Colin Samuels, who picked up the award for Blawg Review of the Year 2006 to put on his mantel with last year's award. We catch up with George M. Wallace at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, and he fills us in on the latest litigation involving the Beach Boys, and what's new at Declarations and Exclusions. Craig Williams and another biker lawyer says, "Happy Holidays to Everyone!" Denise Howell is found issue-spotting at Lawgarithms. Eugene Volokh, Ilya Somin, and Stephen Bainbridge discuss whether a historical association with racial discrimination has forever tainted the concept of federalism. Professor Bainbridge also wants to talk about The SEC's Proposed Section 404 Guidance while driving, and offers to take me to my next destination in his pimped-out Porsche. We head North on the Pacific Coast Highway...

Kevin O'Keefe, on Bainbridge Island, says blog created communities offer opportunities for lawyers, and recommends we all get together with Bill Marler -- for lunch.

I decide to take a run across the border to Vancouver and surprise a few Canadian law bloggers. Steve Matthews at Vancouver Law Librarian Blog introduces his picks for the first ever Canada Law Blog Awards. With all these great Canadian blawgs, I wonder why only one Canadian law blogger has hosted Blawg Review, so far. Apparently, I just missed him, too. UBC Law student Ryan Austin of Lawyerlike, is at home with his family in Calgary for the holidays. Before leaving Vancouver, I poke my head into the Canadian Trademark Blog, which reminds us to pay attention to domain name registration renewals.

Steve Nipper is surprised that anybody would show up unexpectedly in Boise. But he seems genuinely happy to have some company, and we chat for hours about Google Patent Search and Legal Mojo over Courthouse Burgers and Lawyer Fries at the world-famous Crescent "No Lawyers" Bar and Grill.

J. Matthew Buchanan at Promote the Progress is thinking about how the next Congress might deal with patent reform, as he readies himself for The American Conference Institute's Corporate Patent Congress 2007 later this month, where he's on a panel with other notable patentistas.

Cincinnati-based Stephen Albainy-Jenei, at Patent Baristas, asks, "Could the FDA Put the Squeeze on Off-Label Revenues?" Professor Doug Berman ranks the top ten sentencing stories from 2006.

In Chicago, Professor Becker and Judge Posner discuss drunk driving.

I stop in Michigan to congratulate Denise Brogan on graduating with a JD after going back to university as a non-traditional law student. We discuss Life, Law, and Gender, and the challenges of new beginnings. Denise is surprised that I haven't forgotten our email conversation in April '05 -- even before Blawg Review #1 was posted -- when she was personally invited to host Blawg Review. Maybe in 2007, Denise?

Finally, I traverse Michigan to visit The Greatest American Lawyer and get his perspective on the year ahead.

Hosting Blawg Review gives me an opportunity to connect with many friends and colleagues in the community of law bloggers, sharing with everyone these thoughts On Friendship and a New Year, and mummering encourages me to disclose some details about myself.

Great Mummer Unveiled
David Blackwood
2002 Etching and aquatint
12 X 18 inches
(click on the image for more information)