• A Week Without TV

    kill your tv by philentropist
    kill your tv by philentropist

    I love gymnastics. I watched all the artistic competitions this year during the Olympics. Part of NBC’s failure this year was they barely gave notice about which sport they would be showing next and how long we’d have to wait to see it. So, I spent hours sitting in my chair waiting for my beloved sport. I felt like I was wasting so much time sitting there.

    I enjoy TV. I always have a handful of shows that I watch pretty consistently.  But my experience with the Olympics inspired me to see what would happen if I gave up TV for an entire week, starting yesterday. For 168 hours, I will not watch TV, DVDs, or any mindless programming on YouTube.

    I often use TV or TV shows on YouTube as background noise. I like to watch it during lunch and at the end of the day to unwind. It will be weird to have to find something else to do during those times. I wonder if the quiet will make me uncomfortable or if I’ll substitute it with music or podcasts.

    I have friends who don’t have TV or rarely watch it. I’ve wondered what they do instead. So what am I going to do instead? I have some ideas . . .

    • Attend networking events and community meetings
    • Read – I used to love reading, but reading for law school made me not want to read as much for pleasure
    • Work out
    • Get ahead on my blog posts
    • See my friends – especially those who took the July Bar Exam
    • Clean out my drawers – my plan this year is to get rid of things I don’t use or need
    • Create videos for my law firm
    • Gardening – The evenings are the best time to do this because it’s cooler and there are fewer bugs
    • Go to the movies – Going to the theatre seems ok since I have to leave the house to do it and it’s something I rarely do
    • Sing – It’s something I don’t do enough
    • Sleep – I think sometimes I watch TV when I’m tired when I’d be better off taking a nap or going to bed early

    Of course I will have a countdown going to track how many hours I have to go. This will be a fun experiment. I’ll let you know how it went next week.

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  • Is That Legal – Itsy Bitsy Spider Prank

    Spider by vtsr from Flickr

    Today, my friend Heather posted a link to the video of Sketch Empire’s Itsy Bitsy Spider Prank on Improv AZ’s Facebook wall. I laughed so hard. It was a great way to start the day.

    It looks like this prank took place in a mall. One prankster on an upper floor would lower a big spider on a string down in front of an unsuspecting person below and another prankster would film them freaking out. It’s simple, but funny when you get over-the-top reactions.

    One unsuspecting mall patron didn’t think it was funny. After being scared by the spider, he immediately spotted the cameraman across the way and demanded that he delete the footage of him.  He threatened to call the police to make the pranksters delete it.

    Is it Illegal to Scare People with Giant Fake Spiders?
    I think it’s unlikely that someone would be arrested or cited for a simple practical joke, especially one that lasts only a matter of seconds. When the motive is to be funny, not malicious, I have trouble finding criminal fault.

    I could see a situation, however, where someone gets scared by the spider and falls backwards in fright and breaks their wrist when they fall. In that situation, the pranksters are the direct cause of the fall and should be financially liable for the person’s injuries.

    Could it Ever be a Crime?
    Yes. The law generally criminalizes offensive touching of another person or putting a person in fear of offensive touching. If the pranksters touch someone with the spider or put a reasonable person in fear of being touched by the spider, they could be charged with assault and/or battery depending on the applicable state law.

    Did the Guy’s Argument that the Pranksters Invaded his Personal Space have Merit?
    Probably not. In general, a person does not have an expectation of privacy in their whereabouts in public. Our movements are videotaped all the time by security cameras. A person with a smartphone or flip is just one of many cameras on us any time we’re in public.

    If the mall had a policy against videotaping on the premises, the patron might have had a legitimate expectation of privacy while he was there, but I don’t know of any mall that doesn’t have security cameras.

    You do have a privacy right related to the commercialization of your image. If the pranksters are making money off that video, the guy might have an argument that the video interfered with that right, but still couldn’t prohibit the shooting of the video itself.

    Could the Pranksters get in Trouble with the Mall?
    It depends. Malls are private property and the mall cops have the responsibility to keep the peace. If they caught the pranksters scaring people with a giant spider, they would have the authority to tell them stop.

    Some malls have rules that prohibit patrons from taking pictures or shooting videos inside the mall. If that’s the rule at this mall, the pranksters could be told to stop filming or told to leave.

    I think the Itsy Bitsy Spider Prank is hilarious and pretty harmless. I think their biggest issue will be not getting caught by the mall cops if they continue to do it. Improv AZ learned the hard way that even when you think you’re taking all the proper precautions and are willing to leave upon request, the mall cops can still freak out and call the real cops, which isn’t fun at the time but makes for great YouTube footage.

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  • Is That Legal – Freaky The Scary Snowman

    Freaky The Scary Snowman
    Photo by Freaky The Scary Snowman

    Freaky The Scary Snowman is an ingenious spectacle on the East Coast. Freaky is really a shell of a snowman made primarily out of chicken wire and insulation foam. One person puts of the Freaky costume and stands unassumingly on the sidewalk. When someone walks by, Freaky turns his head or his whole body and scares the bejezus out of them. One of the other masterminds tapes these incidents and compiles them into YouTube videos.

    I’m biased when it comes to Freaky. I think he’s hilarious. I look forward to every new video.

    Recently the guys were filming Freaky in Providence, Rhode lsland and they were approached by a police officer. The officer told them that the guys had to leave because the police had received “a lot of complaints” about Freaky and that people were “falling off the curb.” None of the recently released videos showed anyone falling down. The most I saw were people stepping off the curb. It made me question the legalities of Freaky the Snowman.

    Does Freaky Commit Disorderly Conduct?
    I think that’s a stretch. Disorderly conduct in Rhode Island involves engaging “in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior.” I don’t think being a barely moving snowman counts as threatening behavior, even if it results in people being momentarily frightened.

    What About Blocking the Sidewalk?
    You can commit disorderly conduct if you obstruct a sidewalk in Rhode Island; however, Freaky isn’t big enough to obstruct a sidewalk if he’s standing up. A person could easily share a sidewalk with him.

    Can Freaky Scaring People be an Assault?
    In Rhode Island, you commit assault by putting someone in fear of physical contact, without ever laying a finger on the victim. People who are scared by Freaky sometimes raise a fist as if to defend themselves when they see him move. That could be evidence of assault. I think Freaky’s best argument is he doesn’t have any arms to hit with which to hit anyone and he usually turns in place towards the person. He rarely gets physically closer to the unsuspecting person than the person voluntarily put themselves.

    Could Freaky Face Civil Charges?
    I would think this could be a bigger concern than criminal charges. There is lots of footage of people stepping off the sidewalk when they’re scared. If a person stepped off the curb and into oncoming traffic, the Freaky guys could be held liable.

    Freaky doesn’t have any arms. If he falls there’s no way he can break his fall or prevent himself from falling on whatever’s in his path. There was an incident where a man punched Freaky out of fear. Freaky fell like a stone and took out a small child. Don’t worry, the kid was fine. If someone ever gets hurt by a falling Freaky, the guys could be at least held partially responsible.

    I’m not completely convinced that the Providence Police had enough evidence to make Freaky leave, but I think the guys made the right choice to move on. The end of their latest video shows Freaky in Newport where a police officer was standing on the corner laughing while Freaky was down the street, scaring people passing by.

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