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January 15, 1978 - Image 13

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Michigan Daily, 1978-01-15
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Page 6-Sunday, January 15, 1978-The Michigan DilyThe Michigan Daily

The Michigan Daily--5und+

Comic rehash of an old dilemna


The intent of this two-part story is not
to summarize the storyline of Close En-
counters of the Third Kind, nor to attempt
a straight critical review. It is a step-by-step
chronology of my personal introduction to
the film and of my changing dissimiliar to
any other I can remember. To those un-
acquainted with Close 'Encounters and who
may wonder what I'm babbling about, I
can only urge you to see the film for your-
self-then see it again, and yet again. It's a
secret to be shared.
December 14th. Anticipation! Aft-
ernoon descends into evening, and
I'm doing emotional-aesthetic som-
ersaults with the rapidity of a fast

the intervening phenomenon of Star
Wars, far from stealing Close En-
counters' thunder, seemed only to
whet collective appetites for an event
which promises to be even more
spectacular in its blending of techni-
cal innovation and dramatic profun-
dity. The critics, mostly, have loved
it (I promised myself I wouldn't read
reviews in advance of the film, but
swiftly succumbed to the tempta-
tion). Even Pauline Kael has given it
her enthusiastic, if somewhat conde-
scending, blessing.
The radicalism of such a reversal
can hardly be understated. Through-
out most of its history, science fiction

by the critics or, indeed, by these
films' own creators.
Well, no more, my snotty-nosed
friends: the day of interstellar
reversal has arrived. Where we

I call
with a

By Eric Zorn
By Page Stegner
Little, Brown & Co.: New York
Stegner of penning weighty prose.
His latest novel, Sports Car
Menopause, is a, mere bagatelle:
charmingly entertaining and witty, but
inconsequential. This story of a middle-
aged English professor quixotically
grasping at "freedom and the last
chance for whoopee" goes no deeper
than a mordant blasting of the pseudo-
hip academic society and a parody of
the crisis of encroaching age.
Stegner's style is as clever and
quotable as Peter DeVries', but his
hackneyed plotting and situational
Eric Zorn is an English major in
the Residential College.

development are less moving. Still this
book remains so light and fresh in its
sniping that it steers well clear of any
ponderous "insights" which tend to
plague popular fiction these days and
thus remains satisfying.
The anti-hero is Eliot Warren, the
resident author and critic at a
"'modern, experimental, innovative,
and progressive' institution in the
California system of higher education."
The narrator, Eliot, describes his.
frankly unfounded impatience with his
four year old child who sucks his
thumb, and his wife, Erica, who doesn't
care to do housework: As communiction
breaks down and Eliot retreats into his
study for all meals in an attempt to cure
a severe writer's block, Erica Warren
shines: "You know it wouldn't kill you
to practice spoken English for fifteen
minutes a day."
The modern college student also
causes Eliot incessant irritation. One of
his literature students complains,
"Papers! Oh Shit! I can't write
papers!" Arlington, a creative writing

student insists, "You're not supposed to
understand (my story), like with your
mind or anything, you're supposed to
groove on it.... The warp and woof of
word texture." Alas, Eliot does not suf-
fer fools gladly, and he begins to feel
like the least grotesque element in an
environment of fatuous spaced-out
liberals, a man simmering in his own
private hell.
Compounding Eliot's personal
problems is his errant cynicism which
alienates all but his most zealous sup-
porters: during one of their final
-arguments before Eliot finally moves
out on her, Erica complains, "All of a
sudden your cruddy old (wife) becomes
real interesting." He grasps her hands
earnestly and replies, "Really in-
teresting. Real is the wrong part of
speech. What you want here is an ad-
verb." He later interjects, "I was
unable to resist a short lesson in usage
when she informed me in a shaky voice
that she was 'nauseous.' ".
It's an act of tense, baffling

aficionados used to g
copies of Asimov and
display our Ellisons
with the hip pride th
seeing oneself metam
kook into a tastemake
moneymen hav
trendy crest of the new

sports Car

An, encounter with...


heartbeat. Francis Coppola may
never get around to finishing Apoc-
alypse Now, but America's other
breathlessly awaited surreal wonder
has arrived at last: Close Encounters
of the Third Kind premieres tonight.
A CTUALLY, it's still a frustrat-
ingly belated situation. I was set
to attend a special press preview of
Steven Spielberg's film in Detroit a
week earlier, but earthly distortions,
in the form of an eight-inch snow
storm, ragingly intervened. I've thus
been forced to wait another six days.
In truth, it's not that much of an addi-
tional hardship; many science fiction
fanatics, myself included, have al-
ready hungered for this moment for
more than two years, ever since
Spielberg announced his super-celes-
tial project concerning our first
direct contact with alien beings. And

shamefacedly endured as an aber-
rant stepchild of both literature and
cinema, a loony deviation shuffling
along in step with the horror film, the
beach party film and other gimmicky
mutants geared to sparsely select
groups within the film-going public -
works seldom taken seriously either

guiltily hide our
Clarke, we now
s and Delanys
hat comes from
iorphose from a
llywood's stodgy
ve grasped the
wave. How sweet
Fox V
to clari
The ov
'Close Ei

R i

1 p/v/

F., I

Stevenson S lonely

By Brian Blanchard
By John Barthlow Martin
Doubleday: New York, 1977
I N HIS CHRONICLE of the 1960
presidential campaign, T. H.
White observed that Adlai Stevenson
drew the same lines between public
affairs and politics that some people
use to separate love and sex. White
observed that the Democrat who ran
for President two-and-a-half unsuc-
cessful times ('52, '56, '60) paid
dearly for his influential role in
diplomacy and policy making by
having to participate in the messy
business of politics.
Stevenson's image of the reluctant
politician has become almost a cliche
today. While'searching for a volume
of Stevenson's papers at a local book
store recently, I overheard one
employe inform another that "Ste-
venson was more of an intellectual
than a politician."
The Origins of this widely-held
notion about the former governor of
Illinois are clearly documented in
John Barlow Martin's second Steven-
son volume, Adlai Stevenson and the
World. Toward the beginning of this
946-page biography that covers the
three campaigns and later years as
the American UN representative,
one of Stevenson's closest friends and
advisors recalls, "There was (the
urge to be a) gentleman, the high-
Brian Blanchard is a Daily staff

class, civilized, intellectually-mind-
ed man. The other was the desire to
hold public office in a particular
country where the candidate has to
comply with the rules. They were
always in conflict."
White's "Making of the President"

f' .
'. C,
fPt" '.
.,31 ^

for many years, has illustrated how
the method of day-by-day scrutiny
can beyreadable and significant. Mar-
tin's well-researched two volume set,
(the first was Adlai Stevenson of
Illinois) could be the best biography of
an American politician yet.
IS SUCCESS lies at least in part'
H1with the nature of his subject.
Over and over, Stevenson missed
opportunities to inspire crowds and,
win votes because of his pride of
authorship and his care with words.
His staff criticized him ,repeatedly

for working up to the last minute on
speeches instead of using an all-
purpose text or speaking extempor-
aneously. He also seemed more
interested in having his audience
digest his ideas than in warming
them up, pacing for applause, and
playing the games we've come to
expect from politicians of every
stripe, from professors in large
lecture halls to presidential candi-
dates. ,
This perfection in style was sympt-
omatic of Stevenson's larger inabil-
ity to yield to the limitations of
politics. He never quite learned the
art of compromise. For example,
during the first critical primary of
the '56 campaign Stevenson refused
to endorse a farm price support that
Minnesota's farmers wanted. He had
grown corn in Illinois and said that he
knew price supports weren't the
answer to grumblings in the bread-
basket. Minnesota rewarded Estes
Kefauver with the primary victory.
But it is a measure of Martin's skill
as an author that I just barely
resisted the urge to turn to the book
store employe who had called Steven-
son an intellectual to tell him he was
wrong. Stevenson brought.breadth of
knowledge, integrity, and facility
with language back to American
politics during the McCarthy years. I
would, however, have referred the
salesman to his shelves to read
Martin: "Wanting to read a book was
something to talk about but not do.
He was not really an intellectual."
The diary of Stevenson's life in in-
ternational politics until his sudden
death in 1965 is in some ways a sad
one. He participated in many cor-
respondence relationships, keeping.

1 +s-=
f, ,

fl J

it suddenly is: no more campy mon-
sters and shoestring budgets, no
more special effects so inept that a
five-year-old would burst out laugh-
ingwhile watching them. No more
Plan Nine From Outer Space or
Catwomen on the Moon - we've
finally gone legit. Kubrick blazed the
initial trails, Lucas brought the genre
financial credence, now Spielberg
will hopefully lift it to philosophical
Basking in this wave of cult
vindication, I make plans for the even-

be jam
out to
to tall
then b
how ti
the irid
I st

dt _ l
. .. --->


ken parsi ian

. . .

T T WAS THE last round of the chal-
lenge match and tensions were run-
ning high. The event had been billed
"The ultimate test of luck versus skill,"z
and, so far, it had lived up to its name.
For example, on one early hand Mark
managed to bring home a tenuous
grand slam via a double guard squeeze,
but it was all for naught since Jim gar-
nered the same result with three
finesses and a three-three break in
The lead shifted back and forth with
Mark's team-Mark, Frank, Jeff and
Alan-bidding and playing flawlessly,
but often being sabotaged by the in-
spired inanity of Jim's foursome-Jim,
Mitch, Jack and Greg. For the final
hand I was seated behind Mark, who sat
nervously summing the score while his
left-hand opponent opened this auction:
W(Mitch) N(Frank) E(Jaek).. AMark)

3C DBL. 3D 4NT
5D Pass 6D ?????
Mark knew this call would probably
decide the match, and he peered at his
cards, hoping for some inspiration. This
was his hand:
SK lox xxx
He wasn't pleased with his own 4 no
trump bid, but he was behind in the
match, and since his counterparts in
the other room would undoubtedly bid
and make game in either hearts or
spades, he decided to take a shot at a
small slam. The prospects, however,
were not good. Frank's pass was-a con-
ventional call showing an even number
of aces (when the opponents interfere
over Blackwood 4NT you Double with
See BRIDGEPage 8


' is

009 1

series has been criticized for pushing
the orientation of campaigns, and
now politics in general, away from
issues and towards personalities with
its trivial lists, menus, and schedules
of the candidates. Martin., who knew
Stevenson well and worked as an aide


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