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January 26, 1988 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-01-26

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ARTS
Tuesday, January 26, 1988

The Michigan Daily

Page 7

It

sure

beats

Saturday

morning

By Andrea Gacki
If you've ever witnessed the hor-
ror of Saturday morning cartoons and
commercials plugging action figures
and "cartoon" cereal, you may well
fear for the future of the art of ani-
mation.
However, The Festival of
Animation, playing through the
week at the Michigan Theatre, will
restore your respect for this medium.
The Festival is a compilation of the
best in animated films from over the
years, representing a wide scope of
styles, themes, and cultures.
The shorts range from the
humorously poignant Sunnyside Up
by Paul Driessen, a story of a des-
perate man trapped on a desert island,
to the hilariously witty child's eye
view of SDI and the environment in
Oh, Dad. Different styles are also
represented, from the rollicking ani-
mation of Face Like a Frog to the
ingenious stop-motion of Traveling
Light. There is indeed something
for everyone.

A particularly fascinating part of
the festival is the computer anima-
tion spot presented by Pixar and
Disney Animation. These shorts,
however, are reminiscent of the first
"moving pictures;" people were so
overwhelmed by the sight of those
films that plot was virtually non-
existent and almost distracting. But,
of course, who needs plot in the
computer animated film of Peppy -
the singing pineapple?
Many foreign animated works are
also represented. The festival in-
cludes Academy Award-winning
shorts like Fredrec Rofusz's The Fly
and Zbigniew Rybczynski's Tango,
both veritable treasures of anima-
tion.That's Not The Same At All is
the first Russian film in 10 years to
be in a touring festival. Also present
is the recent Grand Prize winner at
Annecy, France (animation's
equivalent to the Academy Awards),
a Bulgarian short entitled Crushed
World.
Stunning art abounds in these
films, but audiences also expect an-
imation to be funny. In this festival,
you won't be disappointed. Two

works by Andrew Stanton particu-,
larly stand out. His film Somewhere
in the Arctic, depicting the chase of
a polar bear by three inept Eskimos,
puts the Roadrunner and Wile, -E
Coyote to shame. Stanton's other
work, A Story, follows the adven-
tures of an ordinary, ostracized kiid
named Melvin who's pulled into TV
land (he gets a concussion as he
crashes through the screen) and i
hilarious in its rejection of the
fairytale norm.
If for no other reason, go to the
Festival of Animation to find out
what happens when Bambi Meets
Godzilla, the animated short-by
Mary Newland. Anyway you look at
it, even this carnage is eons ahead of
G.I. Joe and other Saturday morning
characters.

T HE FESTIVAL OF ANIMA-
TION kicked off at the Michigan
Theatre Sunday. night, and will run
through Friday. Showtime is 7 p.m.
each night. Tickets are $2.75 for
students and $3.50 for adults.

Peppy the Pineapple is one of the many stars of The Festival of Animation showing this
Michigan Theatre. The quality is better than Saturday morning cartoons and you won't have
early to watch them, either. Fruit Loops are optional.

Nveek at the
to wvake up

Books

Voices and Visions:
The Poet in America
Edited by Helen Vendler
Random House
$29.95/hardcover
Voices and Visions: The Poet in
America, a collection of essays on
13 American poets, is described as
the companion text to the PBS series
of the same name which begins
tonight at 10 p.m.
However, it is much more than a
cursory glance at American poetry.
Edited by Helen Vendler, a Harvard
professor and poetry critic of the
New Yorker, it is a massive under-
taking that sometimes succeeds, in
the words of Wallace Stevens, in
taking an "answering look" back at
American poetry. However, it also
blinks a few too many times in its
view of American poetry.

Voices begins, as any American
poetic study must, with the founder,
Walt Whitman. In the essay on
Whitman, Calvin Bedient asserts,
"There could not have been a Whit-
man before the 19th century in
America, when material progress and
idealism were for the first and last
time in an exuberant accord that
seemed to strike hosannahs out of
railways and factories as well as
stars."
Although Bedient correctly as-
sesses this point in American his-
tory, his own poetic writing style -
"strike hosannahs" - at times deters
from his objective: to show Whit-
man's creation of the American po-
etic tradition.
It is ironic that the most disap-
pointing essay in the book is on
Robert Frost,. the unofficial poet
laureate of the United States. Richard
Poirier overstates the importance of
the conflict between Frost's tradi-

tional verse and Eliot's High Mod-
ernist work. Poirier writes, "Frost
was far too intelligent to set himself
up as a public alternative to Eliot or
to Eliot's modernism." For the first
portion of this essay, the reader
wishes that Poirier followed his
subject's action.
Mercifully, Poirier does an excel-
lent job of discussing the underlying
complexities of Frost's deceptively
simple verse - "What must be
learned is a proper wariness of all
metaphors, which is what [Frost's]
famous 'mischievousness' in the
management of his own poems is
most significantly about."
The biggest surprise and biggest
success of Voices is the treatment of
the New York school of Marianne
Moore, Wallace Stevens, and
William Carlos Williams. The three
essays especially stress the impor-
tance to all three of examining the
ambiguous place of art in society and

creating a new poetic
on Stevens' belief that'
are things as seen."

form relying
"Things seen

The study fades considerably in
the last five essays, which cover
more contemporary poets. Alan
Williamson's essay on Hart Crane is
well done and shows why Hart Crane
might be worthy of inclusion in the
collection. However, Crane died at
the age of 31 after publishing two
books of poetry, so it seems unclear
what, if any effect, Crane had on
American poetry. Even Williamson
admits, "When I teach him, I often
make one or two immediate con-
verts; but for the majority of stu-
dents, he requires patience, study, and
suspension of prejudices."
Arnold Rampersad's essay on
Langston Hughes is the most inter-
esting of the last essays, perhaps be-
cause Hughes' life and poetry is the
most interesting and influential of
the other three - Elizabeth Bishop,

Robert Lowell, and Sylvia Plath.
However, to be fair, these three poets
are given only 100 pages out of a
500 page study - not enough to do
either the poets or the reader justice.
Voices must also be viewed as a
study in critical styles.The two es-
says to read for the critical approach
are by the famous critics Hugh Ken-
ner and Frank Kermode. Kenner be-
gins his essay on Pound in a
promising way, but in characteristic
Kenner fashion, branches into a
philosophical treatise of Pound's
theories and loses any reader that
does not have an extensive knowl-
edge of Pound.
Kermode is more accessible in his
treatment of Eliot. He anticipates ar-
guments about the inclusion of Eliot
in an volume on American poetry
and points out that after years of
writing of drought, spiritual agony,
and physical malady, Eliot's last
poem, "The Elder Statesman," is a

love poem dedicated to his second
wife. Kermode explains, "To write
such a poem was, for this poet, an
act of originality, another surprise,
something new. And since the desire
to do things in verse is as we all
think, American, we can end by say-
ing that after all, and in spite of it
all, he was an American poet."
Although Kermode is able to fo-
cus on Eliot's place in American
poetry - not an easy task -- a ma-
jor problem of Voices and Visions
is that those who should be easier to
place within American poetry are
not. The focus on the poets' influ-
ence on American poetry is often
lost in philosophical discussions too
in depth for an introductory text, and
the "answering look" backward be-
comes an introspective reflection to-
wards the individual poet. However,
it is definitely a study to be read by a
scholar of American poetry or any-
one interested in these poets.
- Lisa Magnino

Game Theory encountered
Murphy's Law Friday night

By Brian Bonet

Friday night was Bargain Night
at the Blind Pig. Four dollars to see
one of Ann Arbor's finest bands, the
Folkminers, open for cerebral pop-
sters Game Theory, whose latest LP
Lolita Nation is currently gaining
both national and critical attention.
However, consumers have to be
wary of bargains like this because
they often fall short of th e ir
promise. Unfortunately this was the
case with Game Theory's very aver-
age Friday night performance at a
"more crowded than I've ever seen
it" Blind Pig.
The spotty performance wasn't
wholly the band's fault, though.
Perhaps it had something to do with
Game Theory missing a sound
check because the Pig's happy hour
band was performing when they ar-
rived for one. Rhythm guitarist
Donette Thayer's vocals sounded
fine when backing u p
singer/guitarist Scott Miller, but her
lead vocals were barely audible dur-
ing "Look Away," forcing the band
to shorten the song into an instru-
mental. Also, the band suffered from
tuning problems all night, adding to
the sound problems.
The Pig's low ceilings didn't al-
low Game Theory to air their MC5-
type amoeba films which have been
travelling with them on this tour,.

and the five band members seemed
claustrophobic on the bar's confin-
ing stage. And just when Game
Theory got into a groove shortly
after one of the night's too few
highpoints, "Friends of the Fam-
ily," the sound system overheated
and a five minute break ensued. You
almost couldn't believe another
thing could go wrong until Miller
confirmed, almost apologetically,
"The systems are overheated. We'll
have to take a five minute break -
I'm serious!"
Needless to say, Friday night's
hindered Game Theory performance
was not their best, but it was far
from a disaster - thanks to the tal-
ented and witty Scott Miller. At the
beginning of the show he asked the
crowd how the sound was. When
louder vocals were requested he re-
sponded, "You don't know what
you're asking for!" But after hearing
him perform his show-saving solo
efforts during the frequent tuning
breaks, it appeared that the crowd did
know what they were asking for.
While the rest of the band mem-
bers occasionally stopped to tune
their instruments, Miller impres-
sively poured out his "She'll Be a
Verb" and "If and When It Falls
Apart," and also did a sampling of
songs by his obvious influences,
Roxy Music and Alex Chilton. He
played Chilton's "You Can't Have
Me" solo, but got some impromptu

audience participation from local
musician Yuji Oniki on guitar dur-
ing "September Gurls." Likewise, a
much needed, energy-filled cover of
Roxy Music's "Remake/Remodel,"
featuring guitarist Matt Smith of
It's Raining, scorched.
Ann Arbor has become a staple
stop on Game Theory tours - this
is the third year in a row they have
played the Blind Pig. And each time
they have been well received, not
disappointing their many fans here.
Maybe this is why Friday night's
show was lacking. The sad thing
was that Game Theory did not have
control over most of their pitfalls.
However, their set was shorter than
last year's, and the band occasion-
ally conveyed a "let's get this over
with" attitude.
But thanks to Scott Miller, the
show did have its bright moments.
Even though Game Theory were not
at their best, they are welcome proof
that the future of pop music is not
necessarily ripped jeans and Debbie
Gibson, or shopping malls and
Tiffany.
ID
this

Doily Photo by ALEXANDRA BREZ
Singer/songwriter Scott Miller of Game Theory saved his band from disaster Friday night with his
spontaneous soloing efforts. The band was plagued by numerous sound and tuning problems, the
worst occurring during 'Look Away,' when rhythm guitarist Donette Thayer's lead vocals were
barely audible.

UM News in
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