Posts Tagged ‘Alan Shore


Alan Shore Bar Pick-up

I remember the following scene from Boston Legal where Alan Shore was pretending to pick up his girlfriend Tara Wilson at a bar:

Alan Shore: [to Tara] Hello, I’m a complete stranger and I’m here to pick you up.
[notices Joe]
Alan Shore: Oh, I see, there’s two of us. I’ll be evens, you be odds.
Joe: You got a problem?
Alan Shore: No, actually. I just saw this fair maiden here talking to a tree trunk, and since I’m an arborist I thought I could help translate.
Joe: Here’s a health tip. Walk away.
Alan Shore: Why would I do that?
Tara Wilson: All right, guys.
Alan Shore: Don’t be deceived by my cushy appearance.
Tara Wilson: Excuse me. I actually am with him.
Joe: I don’t care. Walk away, or I lay you out.
Alan Shore: I don’t mean to be a stickler, but isn’t the object to lay her out?
[Joe punches Alan]
Tara Wilson: Hey!
Joe: Oh, gee, I’m sorry, I was reaching for my wallet…
Alan Shore: I see. Allow me to reach for mine.
[walks away to the other end of the bar]
Tara Wilson: Are you all right?
Alan Shore: Fine.
[to Mike and friends]
Alan Shore: Hello, big people. Sorry to intrude, but you seem rather strapping. Here’s three hundred dollars. Would you be so kind as to go hit that man down there?
Mike: [laughs incredulously] Really?
Tara Wilson: Alan!
Alan Shore: There’s an extra hundred if he goes down.
Mike: You’re on.
Alan Shore: Make it a good one.
Tara Wilson: Oh, for God’s sakes.
Alan Shore: [Mike hits Joe; fistfight ensues. Alan gives money to Mike’s friend] Here’s a hundred; go help your friend.
Alan Shore: [watches the fighting] Gee, seems Joe has buddies.
[passing out money to Mike’s friends]
Alan Shore: One for you, one for you. I’ve got plenty of them. Hit him hard, now. For you, and for you…

I thought that was rather amusing, but Tara wasn’t a bit pleased. On the contrary, she was very pissed and said to Alan, “It would have been one thing had you had any Neanderthal reaction and swung back! But your response was considered! You reflectively, calmly, orchestrated your violence.”

To make matters worse, Alan Shore was charged with conspiracy to commit assault and battery. And as he did his own closing argument, he told the jury:

I’ve been accused of reflectively, perhaps even glibly, orchestrating a little revenge. Well, I guess that’s how I wanted it to look. A man punched me in the face, in front of my girlfriend, and while my instinct was to hit him back, the truth is, I was afraid. I was fearful, that if I retaliated he would beat me up. So I got somebody else to do my fighting, then things got out of hand, and…well…I had to send more and more troops to a war that should have ended quickly. But, make no mistake, my reaction that night was not so much reflective, as it was, primal. A man hit me, and while we like to think of ourselves as being evolved…maybe I should have just hit him. There’s a warrior that lies within the belly of every man, a warrior who, in my case, has always gone unsatisfied. I tried to satisfy it, but without pain. That’s what the craven do sometimes. They stand out of the fray, thump their egos along with their chests, and let others do the fighting.

Good speech for the jury, but I think Tara was right. Alan Shore’s response was indeed considered as he reflectively and calmly orchestrated his violence. He is a fierce warrior – but in the courtroom and not in a bar brawl. And though he says that his act was cowardly, I think it was wise and effective. It’s what an evolved, intelligent man who is in total control of his emotional responses would do. Why swing back at the big guy and lose not only the fight but also a few teeth when you have a lot of money to pay even bigger people to do the job?

That may seem cowardly, and surely there must be this primal warrior inside every man, no matter how evolved he is. But the fight need not be primitive, and the battlefield need not be a bar. And the weapons need not be your own bare hands.


Eugene Young’s Judgeship Interview

I remember a scene from The Practice where Eugene Young, a defense attorney, was being interviewed  by the Governor’s Judicial Council for the position of superior court judge. They wanted to know his stand on the death penalty.

Council Member: I can see your firm has handled several capital cases out of state, each time taking a position against the death penalty.

Eugene Young: Uh, we’re a defense firm. Our clients tend to disfavor being executed.

Council Member: Fair enough, but as a judge, would you impose the death penalty, should it ever become law in this state?

Eugene Young: No.

Council Member: Why not?

Eugene Young: One—I consider human life to be intrinsically sacred, and I do not believe the state should engage in the systemized taking of human life. Two—Our judicial system is flawed. We wrongly convict over 10,000 people a year, some of whom are sentenced to die. Now, you can always release an exonerated man from prison, but bringin’ him back from death has proven to be trickier. DNA has already cleared a hundred men, many on death row. Clearly, something isn’t working.

Another Council Member: And what would you say, Mr. Young, to the mother whose five-year-old daughter has been raped and murdered?

Eugene Young (after a long reflective pause): I would say, if it were my daughter, I’d like to kill whoever did it myself. And if I ever came face-to-face with the guy, I couldn’t guarantee any of you that I wouldn’t kill him. But if I did, it would be wrong. And for the State to kill reflectively, absent emotion, on ceremony, it is not right.

It appears that Eugene Young has implicitly differentiated homicidal rage over the rape and murder of one’s own child – from cold-blooded execution; the former being the spontaneous and emotional response of a seriously aggrieved parent, the latter being the considered and systemized, even ceremonial, act of the State after careful reflection, and without emotion. Although he condemns both as wrong, one is definitely a more sinister and graver ill than the other, because while a helpless grieving parent may have little to no control over his or her actions, the State, with all its resources and power to take away liberty and property, is expected to be more circumspect when it comes to taking away life.

And this is expressed best in an oft-repeated motto in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever:

Do not hurt when holding is enough
Do not wound when hurting is enough
Do not maim when wounding is enough
And kill not when maiming is enough

Rabbits Prequel: Ghaqli and Fidda

(First published in March 2009)

Hello my dear friends and longsuffering readers. Actually I’m going to spare you another Rabbits story. I’m sure you’ve already had enough of Ghaqli riding his horse and cooking and eating and drinking and sleeping. And besides, I guess I’m not the type of writer who would allow his characters to grow bigger than him. Maybe just as big. I believe this is why some writers of famous fiction books would deliberately stray from a successful character-series – against their editors’ advice – to write about another character for another book or series, often ending up with disappointing sales figures.

I guess it’s not the same for some actors in TV series. Although I first saw him in Stuart Little, I can’t imagine Hugh Laurie not being House. (This is why until now I still haven’t watched Street Kings even though I have a DVD.) Or James Spader not being Alan Shore. I find him weird in Secretary. The list goes on. I’m sure you can think of your own favorite characters and the actors/actresses who played them. Ah but who cares about your characters growing bigger than you? I’m sure Hugh Laurie and James Spader are paid more than the supposed salaries of Dr. House and Alan Shore, perhaps even higher than what most doctors and lawyers make.

I guess it won’t be so bad letting your characters grow bigger than you, as long as they bring in the money. As for writing, I wouldn’t mind being the writer of Twighlight and being much less popular than Edward. Especially with the ladies. But as for Ghaqli, I guess he still has a long long way to go.

I do not normally do this, but please forgive me for sharing a short passage from the book I am presently reading. It’s a conversation between a man and a woman.

WOMAN: I call it the sandbox test. If you and your potential mate were dropped in a sandbox, could you have fun there for twenty-four hours? Could you build castles or have a little Zen garden or pretend you were on a beach? Could you improvise a game of Battleship or draw pictures? Could you do something other than have sex or wish you were somewhere else? If the answer is yes, then that’s a person you should consider being with.

MAN: Does it have to be a sandbox? Why not just a hotel room or some form of transportation?”

WOMAN: You would have TV in a hotel room, or magazines and food in an airplane or train. A sandbox demands imagination. You have to look at a mound of sand and see a dune or a mountain or a castle. It requires the ability to play well with each other and to be a little silly. It requires the capacity to access the child inside you. Otherwise you can’t be in a sandbox at all. Or a fun relationship. You also need to be able to communicate. If you don’t have all of that, you’ll be incredibly bored. Or else you’ll end up bickering. Those same qualities are necessary for a successful relationship.

Ah, the sandbox test. I mentioned earlier that Ghaqli still has a long long way to go. Other characters, like Edward, seem like they can go anywhere. But if two people pass the sandbox test, I would say they have already arrived.



(First published in June 2008)

Schadenfreude. From the German words Schaden and Freude, damage and joy. It means to take spiteful, malicious delight in the misfortune of others. We used to dismiss this as simply an ugly side of human nature, but it is much, much more than that. Recently a Stanford professor actually captured Schadenfreude on a brain scan. It’s a physiological medical phenomenon. When we see others fall it sometimes causes a chemical to be released in the dorsal striatum of the brain which actually causes us to feel pleasure.

That was a line from a TV show script. I did not put them inside quotation marks because I’m trying to practice speaking them as if they’re my own, or at least to imitate how the show’s character did it. Someone said that the English translation of Schadenfreude is “gloating”. Merriam-Webster defines gloating as “to observe or think about something with triumphant and often malicious satisfaction, gratification, or delight; <to gloat over an enemy’s misfortune>.” On the other hand, Schadenfreude is defined asenjoyment obtained from the troubles of others”.
Hmmm…the two words seem so synonymous to each other and yet there is this very trivial nuance. Maybe Schadenfreude is the reason why we gloat. Schadenfreude is the feeling while gloating is the result of that feeling. It’s like saying, “I am gloating at you because I am overwhelmed with Schadenfreude at your misfortune.” For this reason I would prefer not to substitute the word gloating for Schadenfreude. But actually my real reason is that Schadenfreude sounds so much more sophisticated than “gloating”. Don’t you want to say it? Schadenfreude \’shä-dən-froi-də\.

It’s another three-day weekend. Perhaps this is one thing I like about GMA, her practicality. Moving non-religious holidays to the nearest Monday. Although I have heard protests that we are losing the significance of the Holiday – Independence Day in today’s case – those who did protest have not yet tried working away from home. Far enough that coming home means spending a lot of fare money or travel time or both, that you want to make the most of your visit. Of course, a three-day visit beats a two-day visit every time, except for those visiting their in-laws.

Thank you GMA for three-day weekends. But as for all the other things, I would not be surprised if for many people it would be the ultimate Schadenfreude to see you and your husband fall.

Attempts at uncovering the underlying simplicity beneath apparently complex concepts as well as the core complexity within seemingly straightforward issues

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