Beagle Power

I like dogs in general, but I have a soft spot for beagles. Maybe it’s their incredible sense of smell, even compared against other canines, or maybe it is just so cute, but there is so much in one little package.

P-‘s sister’s beagle Shelly can tell when I’m anywhere near her house, and then I always get a warm welcome upon my entrance. (I’m conveniently overlooking the other dog, Mimi the mini schnauzer, who is also real cute and affectionate, but quite frankly not that bright). While Shelly doesn’t normally speak, she can generally communicate what she needs, be it food, snuggling, or being taken out for a walk. When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing more comforting than having a lap full of beagle taking a nap.

Yesterday’s win by Uno the Beagle (a.k.a. Ch. K-Run’s Park Me In First) at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show rivals the Giants’ win over the Patriots. It wasn’t the favorite coming in, being that the poodles were coming on strong, and that a beagle had never won in its over 100 year history. But Uno played the perfect game – a 10 score from the judge, and well-timed baying to the capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden that aroused a standing ovation at his win.

Like that other famous beagle Snoopy, if you give them a chance, they will figure out a way to make you happy.

Cold February

Time’s Lisa Takeuchi Cullen on the coverage on the Asian/Asian-American vote, as AALDEF’s Voting Rights project 2008 results emerged from Super Duper Duper Tuesday. Cullen has concerns that CNN’s implying that Asians/APA’s are racist in their voting. Cullen remarks to CNN/media generally:

The thing is, we Americans have a habit of identifying people by color. I’m not saying it’s good or sensitive. But you [The CNN guy she’s referencing] do it, too. You [CNN guy] lumped us—a rainbow of Americans in varying shades of yellow from dozens of countries in the continent known as Asia—into one vote. When the young lady ID-ed Clinton as “the white lady,” she wasn’t saying she was voting for her because of those characteristics. To us, Clinton is the white lady. McCain is the white man. Obama is the black or multiracial man.

I’m not saying race doesn’t play into Asian-Americans’ choice at the voting booth. But to imply the whole swath of us are not voting for Obama because he’s black is just a little much. Don’t you think?

Not sure if I agree or disagree with Cullen. I don’t think the Asian/Asian-American vote is that monolithic, but the numbers that went for Hilary Clinton, as reflected in the AALDEF findings – well, I do wonder why so monolithic? The pessimistic me also doesn’t think that we live in a perfect world about how people think about issues of race and ethnicity (if they think at all). (I may not be making sense there, but oh well; pardon me).

If we join a group, and then find we want out, shouldn’t it be easy to do? NY Times article on how hard it may be to leave Facebook. I’m not there (yet) but hmm…

The Mets’ David Wright – will he step it up as a leader?

Writers’ strike almost done, but future implications loom; dare we hope that we can avoid an actors’ strike? NY Times’ Bill Carter on what may or may not be back in salvaging what’s left of this season. No “Heroes,” since the special effects take time – honestly, they need to fix the plots anyway – learn from the best of sci-fi and comic books series. Go with what works – the ensemble, the intertwining nature of the plots – get us to care about the characters without sacrificing some complexity. Oh, and stop threatening to kill off the major characters – it’s a trend that’s getting tiresome. Tall order for “Heroes,” I know. “How I Met Your Mother” may be back, and so would “House.” Actually, FOX is in the best of shape; the less said about NBC, which may have to push every thing off. I’m pretty agnostic about “Lost” (which just got back anyway), and certainly less reactive about “24” (imagine, it might not be back until 2009!).

Winners and Losers (according to anyway)
of the writers’ strike. The AP article doesn’t exactly make me feel any better either, but maybe things will start looking better if we keep our patience. Casual tv viewers don’t seem to notice the difference anyway. (maybe they are too into the new “American Gladiators” (which doesn’t have the same campiness that the old one had) or the usual “American Idol” to care) about the writers’ strike.

Managed to have watched the so far two episodes of ABC’s mid-season series, “Eli Stone.” The work of writer-producer Greg Berlanti (previously behind WB’s “Jack and Bobby,” WB’s “Everwood,” ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters” (which more or less inherited the name of the character “Robert MacAllister” from “Jack and Bobby”), and ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money”). Its premise is kind of hard to swallow. Eli Stone is Big Firm Lawyer who has brain aneurysm that gives him hallucinations – or maybe it’s something that will help him redeem himself. Yeah, right – and I got a bridge to sell you.

But, “Eli Stone” has a sweet quality to it, and it doesn’t hurt that Jonny Lee Miller is easy on the eyes (not only is he yet another British actor playing an American, he’s last known in America as Angelina Jolie’s first husband). Anyway, so Eli’s hallucinations has him imagining George Michael’s singing the song “Faith” (and other George Michael songs pop up) and the hallucinations are tied to his cases – as he’s now inspired to do more good, and not the usual Making More Money for Rich Folks. Hmm. Somehow, it kind of worked for me, even though it was kind of hard to find the first episode credible…

Actually, I accepted the plot that Eli decided to represent a single mother’s claim against a pharmaceutical for a flu vaccine’s addictive allegedly causing her son’s autism. I swallowed that the woman turned out to have been the woman who took his virginity when he was a teenager (and that it was funny and angsty that Eli thought he was the kid’s dad and the woman responded: “Yeah, I was pregnant for 8 years, Eli.” – Eli may be a smart litigator, but he’s kind of a dope in the personal department). Nope, the least believeable plot was how the mother approached Eli to represent her even though he was representing the defendant (well, his firm anyway; they met at the settlement conference, before she decided to fire her then-lawyer; she apparently recognized Eli when he couldn’t recognize her from their common past).

Plus, it was silly how the partners of Eli’s firm acted like they never heard of the so-called Chinese Wall (or maybe they were still shocked that he wanted to represent the plaintiff instead of the defendant). For the non-lawyers out there – it’s the concept of blocking the lawyer within the firm from knowing about the strategies of a case to avoid a conflict of interest. The firm partners – they’re partners – surely they could think of what the solutions to ethical dilemmas may be? Then again, why on earth would they have allowed Eli to take the plaintiff’s case when he was so close to trial for the defendant? (maybe the timeline was longer than portrayed). I did like how Eli told the plaintiff along the lines of: “I can’t represent you; there are ethical canons about that. I could be killed; that’s why they’re called ‘canons.'” (canon, cannon – get it?).

So, there would be funny lines and enough to suspend some disbelief (i.e., yeah Eli could be crazy, but there’s a medical reason for it, and maybe a spiritual one too). And, I liked the cinematography of San Francisco – it looked nice on the tv screen.

Interesting cast selections: character actress Loretta Devine – last seen on “Grey’s Anatomy” as the Chief’s estranged wife – as Eli’s assistant, Patty; Victor Garber – previously the ex-Jack Bristow on ABC’s “Alias,” the morally ambiguous SpyDad (and last seen on FOX’s “Justice” as a Scary Nutsy Johnny Cochrane kind of Senior Partner) – as Eli’s Senior Partner and future father-in-law; Tom Amandes – previously Dr. Abbott on “Everwood” – as another Firm Partner (Berlanti bringing on his ex-cast-people, huh?); Tom Cavanaugh – ex-Ed Stevens of “Ed” (played the Bowling Alley Lawyer) – as Eli’s dad (from flashbacks) who suffered the hereditary brain aneurysm that no one knew about and died a drunk (what’s with Tom Cavanaugh and the drunk roles lately? He played the drunk uncle on “Jack and Bobby” and the drunk brother on “Scrubs” – hmm); Nastasha Henstridge as Eli’s lawyer fiancee (and the Senior Partner’s daughter); and James Saito – the ex-Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie — as Eli’s Dr. Chen, the Beijing-trained acupuncturist – whose real name (in the series’ development) is a UC Berkeley educated/philosophy major Fred Lebowski (kind of wonder how Dr. Chen got that identity – was he adopted? was his dad Lebowski? what? At least we got an APA playing an APA pretending to be an Asian on tv!).

Eli – the “cutthroat attorney” who was once Justice Ginsburg’s clerk and graduate of Stanford – has a nice chemistry with his brother, the neurologist who diagnosed the condition and is desperately trying to help him. Eli – who’s turning out to be a better human being than he admits he is, apparently because it was in him all along, or because he’s scared he’ll die of the aneurysm without fulfilling much. Hmm.

I thought Eli had nice romantic chemistry with the woman who took his virginity and that he lacked chemistry with his own fiancee (maybe Miller and Henstridge are trying to see if her character gets better defined than Lawyer and Senior Partner’s Daughter), although there’s a lot of affection between them (although Patti hates the fiancee, so what’s going on there?). Henstridge and Garber kind of lacked chemistry – again, maybe because neither of them has very defined characters for now. (then again, I liked how Garber was the trying-so-hard Spy Dad to Jennifer Garner’s Sydney; his role as father figure/Senior Partner/mentor really needs needs further development on this show).

So, I agree with Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker: I like the series so far. I can’t make much of the legal accuracy whatsoever or the over-the-top stuff; from what I can tell “Eli Stone” may have resemblance to “Ally McBeal” and tons of other “Named Character with Hallucinations” shows, but there’s a charm to it and it has room to grow. Room to Grow may happen, considering the state of Return of (Fictional) TV. Please, ABC, be a little kind.

The passing of actor Roy Scheider, best known for “Jaws” – but I remembered him for his role in “Seaquest: DSV” – which wasn’t a particularly spectacular tv show (let’s just say that no one quite understood how it was a submarine sci-fi thing and NBC kept tinkering with it too much), but Scheider did okay.

The passing of Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to have served in Congress. His bio is quite the story – not only was he accomplished and proud to have achieved the American dream, he was amazed to have survived the war because of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of Hungarian Jews by issuing them fake Swedish passports. In addition to introducing the legislation to make Wallenberg an honorary American citizen, he was among the first to have demanded that the Japanese government apologize for its wartime’s military sex slavery crimes. An American story indeed.