Tomorrow, December 18th at 7pm, I’m doing a book reading in Las Vegas at the Town Square Borders on Las Vegas Boulevard. The local weekly (Las Vegas’s Village Voice) interviewed me, mostly about magic, and here’s what was said:
Q: When you say you’re here three hours a day working, are you writing, lawyering or doing magic stuff?
A: A combination of writing and magicking; no lawyering. I recently passed the bar in Illinois; I got the results as I was moving to Las Vegas. So if you’re planning on getting injured or killing someone, go to Illinois and do it.
Here, I’m writing a book about deception and Las Vegas. But sometimes I do a little magic, too. Sometimes I play with cards as I write, and people say, “Are you a magician?” and I say, “Yeah,” and show them a trick. That was my plan, for a lot of my life, to be a professional magician. Because my dad, he was an attorney and he liked it, but I wanted to be my own person, have my own life, so I pushed that away and thought magic was the gig for me.
Q: How did you get into magic?
A: The biggest step was going to my dad’s parents’ house; they had an amazing collection of David Copperfield VHS tapes. Every time we’d go over there I’d watch one. I wanted to impress people the way David Copperfield impressed my grandparents.
Q; How old were you?
A: These are my first memories. Two, 3, 4? One of my first lawyering memories, which ties into magic, was I wanted to get some doves for my act. My parents were completely against it. So we worked up this contract, and my dad helped me with all this formal contract language, that essentially said, if I get these grades, or at least work with a tutor consistently, then I could get the doves. Only a few years ago did I learn what those terms actually mean.
Q: What magicians do you admire?
A: Let me say something good about Criss Angel. I’ve read all the local reviews of his show, and aside from all that, here’s something good about him. He’s truly brought magic to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in it. So I respect him for that. Otherwise, I like a lot of the magicians on the Strip. Penn & Teller; they have the illusions that are the hardest to figure out. Copperfield, because he stays on the cutting edge. I saw Lance Burton’s show; that was great. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of people around the world trying to duplicate Lance Burton’s dove act, and no one does it like him.
Q: Will the book you’re working on now deal with magic?
A: Magic has a much bigger element in this book. I’ve been seeing a lot of shows, talking with a lot of magicians. I’ve been asking them whether they, like me, see deception in other parts of life, whether some people are easier to fool. We’ve been talking about the psychology of deception. One of the big problems is, when you tell people you’re working on a book about deception and lying, they’re understandably skeptical. Why should I believe you? That’s a good question. I’d be skeptical, too. But usually they figure out I’m for real.
LAWYER BOY doesn’t come out until Tuesday, but my local Barnes & Noble was selling the book today. They had four copies of the book on the “Hardcover New Releases” table, and one of them was propped up on a bookstand.
I went to that Barnes & Noble to study for the bar exam—22 more days (!)—but ended up spending my time hovering nearby my book, waiting for somebody to pick it up. Trouble was, this bookstore is in Chicago’s business district, and nobody really goes there on weekends.
But FINALLY, some guy carrying two or three other books picked up LAWYER BOY and flipped though it for five whole minutes. He read the jacket description. Read the blurbs. Read a random page. But then he put it back on the bookstand.
“Didn’t make the cut?” I said.
“Excuse me?” he replied.
“You flipped through the book for like five minutes. And it looked like you were into it. You only flipped through that other book you’re holding for like sixty seconds. What the hell?”
“Do we know each other?”
The guy’s name, I learned, was Sam. Sam was in town for a summer clerkship at BigLaw…and I’m pleased to report he ended up buying a copy of Lawyer Boy. And no I don’t feel weird about talking somebody into buying my book; I’m panning to persuade people for a living, after all.
There’s an old saying that goes like this: “I once complained that I had no shoes, but then I met a man who had no feet.”
My classmates are doing a lot of complaining about how much studying they’re doing for the bar exam. And yes, I myself occasionally indulge in the art of complaining on this blog. But maybe I have no right; I spent the night hanging out with my friend Samir, a recent med school graduate who’s about to begin his residency…working 80-hour weeks. Plus, he’s going into plastic surgery, which means he won’t get a paycheck until he’s like 34 or something.
A few days ago I hosted a “win a free copy of Lawyer Boy” contest in which readers were encouraged to test out their lawyering skills/powers of persuasion and email me and make a compelling case as to why they should get a free copy of the book. I haven’t yet picked a winner, but it’s become clear to me that many RickLax.com readers are way funnier than me, which is humbling, flattering, and annoying.
Here’s one of the entries I received:
“Let me tell you why I should get a copy. Frankly, because I don't have anything to read. I went into the hospital right before reading period this past semester, because I was s#%!!ing around 8 times an hour. No joke. I ended up with some internal bleeding and a bad colon problem that, though it got fixed up, ends up with me taking a s#!* at least 4 times a day. Apparently the doctors say that's normal. With all that s#%*ing, I go through pleasure reading, well lets just say I go through it faster than the food goes through me. I need something to read.”
The oracle said that Socrates was the smartest man in Greece because he acknowledged and appreciated his own ignorance. I must be the smartest law school graduate in Chicago because I’m painfully aware of how much I don’t know.
I just took a diagnostic test on the multi-state multiple choice section of the bar exam…and scored a 35%.
Now, the good news is that each question had four options, meaning I did better than a monkey would have done on the exam.
But I’m pretty sure that if you gave the 50-qustion exam to a bunch of monkeys, one of them would have beat 35%. Damn, back in high school, I probably could have told you exactly how many monkeys (who answer exam questions randomly) would need to take a 50-question multiple-choice exam (in which each question has four answer choices) to make it more likely than not that one of them would score at or above the 35% mark.
Tell you what, anybody who can figure out the answer to that question gets a free copy of LAWYER BOY.
I’ve been a fan of Penn & Teller my whole life. I’ve seen their show three or four times, and I truly believe that they perform the smartest, most deceptive/hardest to figure out magic out there.
You might also know Penn & Teller from their Emmy-nominated TV show Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t
Anyways…Penn, the larger, louder half of the performing team had this to say about my book:
"Rick Lax is really funny and uses his background in magic to see through the bullshit and hypocrisy that make up the law school experience. I'm really glad he's getting the law degree so he has a job other than magic—we don't need this kind of competition."
IN OTHER NEWS. My Bar Exam review materials are supposed to come in the mail today or tomorrow.
I don’t know how big the books are/how many pages they have…but I do know that the tracking e-mail says that the package is THIRTY-FIVE POUNDS.