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March 20, 1989 - Image 12

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

4

Page 12- The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 20, 1989
Natural talent borne by poet Maria Tassi

BY JAY PINKA

TONIGHT, M.F.A. student Maria
Tassi joins the chorus of spring in
Ann Arbor, rejuvenating the literary
landscape with a reading of her po-
etry.
"I like to use nature in fresh and
startling ways," says Tassi. The
poet's sense of the potential for
playful exploration in language
shows as she converts spontaneous
energy into immediate "full-blown"
verse. "My best poems just come to
me... some odd time when I'm rid-
ing my bike home at midnight, I see
a branch in a tree... the moon," ex-

plained the poet.
She balances a responsiveness
with an ideological tone resonant
with unsentimental, "mournful" re-
flections on, for example, "lack of
communication."
"I write about relationships be-
tween mothers and daughters whether
I intend it or not," said Tassi, whose
mother is working on her third
novel. Though from a writing fam-
ily, she only experimented seriously
with fiction as a junior English ma-
jor at Columbia University's Barnard
College. After discovering the more
immediate "instant gratification of
coming to a complete poem," Tassi
chose poetry as her genre. Her work

in Professor Alice Fulton's M.F.A
class "taught me how to... slice
away inessentials."
"She is very rigorous, thorough
and detailed," said Tassi of Fulton.
Tassi has published poems:
She also course-assists two
classes, studies karate and bikes. Her
flexibility shows in her planned in-
tegration of her fall class "Poetry and
Playwriting" which will "focus on
both... bouncing off other art
forms." Tassi, grateful the "em-
powering experience of... the focus
on the power of woman" of her all-
female high school and undergraduate
school, liked her first year in a co-ed

atmosphere.
Tassi appreciates the "dark sensi-
bility" of Flannery O'Connor. "She
shows the undercurrents of human
nature in odd characters," explained
the poet. Tassi is currently inspired
by Olga Broumas. She admires her
"incredibly musical, sensual, erotic"
work. "It's really difficult to write a
good erotic poem," she said.
Tassi feels inexorably intertwined
with poetry: "This is something I'm
going to pursue for the rest of my
life."

N

MARIA TASSI will read from her
poetry at 8 p.m. tonight at Guild
House.
- usually

Elvis Costello
Spike
Warner Brothers
It's two years since Blood And
Chocolate poured out on to our turn-
tables, and Spike reflects the changes
in Elvis's life during this recording
hiatus. There seems to be more do-
mestic contentment; gone is the self-
laceration, gone
the angst-ridden
love songs and the
overwhelming
sense of claustro-
phobia. Elvis's
poison arrows are
not directed at
himsel fanymore;
the songs have ,
turned inside-out
and now he's
looking out rather
than in.
.On this rec-
ord, the lyrics are
given more room
to breathe. The
visceral thump of Cost

Comedy Co.'s Big Show funny, fresh

Y V

BY JIM PONIEWOZIK --
"LAUGH, you bastards, laugh!" came the in-
junction to the audience in the Comedy Com-
pany's opening number, "Opening Number."
And laugh they did - well, most of the time.
The Comedy Company's Big Show returned
this weekend for its ninth straight year. That's
long enough for any such troupe to become
steeped in tradition, and, sure enough, the show
featured its traditional episodic format, its tradi-
tional between-skit singalongs, and its traditional
occasional lapses of writing.
The first half of the show was by far the bet-
ter. Longtime CC writer/producer Jon Hein's
"High School Orientation" was among the most
clever Big Show skits I've seen. In "Orient-
ation," a high-school student-to-be meets, and is
foretold his pitiable future, by the best friend
who will later steal his girlfriend, the cheerleader
whose homework he'll do, and her Neanderthal

boyfriend who'll put him in the hospital the day
before graduation. Jason Dilly played the
neophyte with wide-eyed brilliance, and the actors
commendably avoided John Hughes-style
stereotyping.
The company did an excellent job of playing
around with conventions; several times, they
teased the audience with what seemed to be a
over-flogged comedy warhorse (The Dream Se-
quence, the Hear the Character's Thoughts Scene,
etc.), only to throw in a hilarious twist.
Example: the meta-theatric gymnastics of "All
the World's a Stage." An Omaha farm boy takes
off to Hollywood and lands in several bizarre sit-
uations, all of which turn out to be staged scenes
in a movie. The action is interrupted by a dress-
suited man delivering a deadpan Twilight Zone
monologue. But just as the audience started to
bristle at too-oft-raised ghost of Rod, he was
rushed off-stage by a director. The audience
shifted gears in mid-groan and laughed hysteri-

cally.
Occasionally, the writing stooped to pre-
dictability, however, such as hackneyed sex,
hick, and nerd jokes (four years after Ed Grim-
ley's ascendance, horn-rimmed glasses and Value
Village plaids do not instant humor make). Also,
several second-half skits fell flat, based on lone
jokes that weren't that funny (among them
"Bowling 101," "The Moody's," and "The Re-
verse Psychologist" - draw your own inferences
from the titles).
But the show was carried by spirited, some-
times ingenious, and almost entirely gaffe-free
acting. Scott Clement was wonderfully dorky as
the hayseed in "Stage" and as "The Incompetent
President," a "wacky head of state" who prank-
calls the U.N. and tries to long-jump the Cabinet
to "break Eisenhower's record." Susan Potok
mastered probably the evening's most tricky
piece of acting as a Soviet agent masquerading as
a subservient housewife in "Honey, I'm Sexist."

,
1

t

A., I

Does God Exist
H o w D o I K n o w f o r S u r e ? 97.. .e -e v d o
Two noted phiiosophers debated this subject in 1976. Come see the videotape.

The Warren/Flew Debates on the Existence of God

Jazz
Continued from Page 10
Band classics and original com-
positions of the band members.
Local professionals play at the
Bird of Paradise Tuesday from
5:30 until 7:30. Wednesday at 8
p.m., Ed Surath and Friends per-
form at Rackham Auditorium.
The University North Coast Jazz
Ensemble plays Thursday at 8
p.m. at Rackham. All perfor-
mances are free. Tax deductible
donations payable to the Univer-
sity Jazz Ensemble may be sent
to Jazz Tour Fund, Rm. 2270,
School of Music, University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
48109.

the Attractions has been replaced by
the free form, looser arrangements of
the musicians involved. Paul McCart-
ney, Roger McGuinn, Allen Tous-
saint, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and
members of Tom Waits group
t recorded Spike in London, Dublin,
New Orleans, and Los Angeles. This
t is reflected in the dazzling diversity of
the songs. The lyrics are simpler in
approach. Rather than baffle us with
his usual tricky wordplay, Elvis gives
us a more narrative approach - short
stories with a sting.
Elvis's best political writing is on
this album, political songwriting that
makes Lou Reed's New York droning
seem insipid in comparison. "Tramp
The Dirt Down" stomps very satisfy-
ingly on Margaret Thatcher (or Mrs.
Torture, as Salman Rushdie calls her
in that book.) I'd have to agree with
Elvis that in unreasonable times one
can't be damn reasonable and damn
liberal about things, and I'd join him
gladly in tramping the dirt down on
Thatcher's grave without a hint of
remorse. This is not a death threat (I
assure you!), merely a death wish. To
an exquisite tune heavy with Celtic
strains, Elvis sings: "When England

was the whore of the world/ And
Margaret was her madam/ The future
was as bright and as clear as the black
tarmacadam."
Another beautiful melody enfolds
the words of "Satellite" which reflects
on how omnipotent communication
systems make us more voyeuristic
and passive, less socially engaged.
The song points at the absurdity of bur
world, and this
theme runs
throughout the
record. Elvis is
like arock'n' rollG
Pynchon on songs
like "God's
Comic" and the
funky "Chewing
Gum," where he's
at his blackest and
funniest.
There will
always be partof
Elvis which
wants to write the
quintessential
soul ballad, and
ello "Deep Dark
Truthful Mirror" is a stunning attempt,
featuring some breathtakingly beauti-
ful rich piano from Crescent City
maestro Allen Toussaint. Similarly
gorgeous are "Baby Plays Around"
(co-written with wife Cait O'Rior-
dan) and the very Irish tunes "Any 1
King's Shilling" and "Last BoatLeav-
ing." Even on the fluffy "Veronica"
which he wrote with McCartney,Elvis
fashions a pop tune that wouldn't be
out of place on Rubber Soul or Re-
volver. Where, before, one was sonme-
times frustrated that great words chid
not have the musical arrangement to
match, on Spike Elvis has composed
his finest melodies.
All said and done, Spike is simply
the best "rock" record to have arrived
in 1989, and being Costello's most
musical album to date, it proves that
he is the greatest living singer-song-
writer in the English-speaking world.
There you have it: Elvis is King.
-Nabeel Zuberi
Michigan Daily
ARTS
763-0379

r

Held on the rmrsw of North Texas Sate
Urlversty in 1976, the debates lasted 4
nights. Each professor presented his
views on two propositions: I1know that
God does not exsr: Professor Flew
aflfrmed; Professor WMren denied; and 1
know that God does exist: Professor
Warren affirmed, Professor Rew denied.

# f/
040 4ff
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Mondays, March 6,13,20, and 27, 7-9pm
in the Michigan Union

For more information, call
662-2756.
Sponsored by the Students of the
Ann Arbor Church of Christ.

Check the sign in the first-floor lobby by the CIC Desk for location.

S Read Jim Poniewozik Every
AN,

IIIIL'kC

A
I N

CLASS

ACT

L I N E

F O R

' 8 9

W ,o
O 5 Mon-Thur 8:30-5:30
oFri 8:30-9
Sat 9:30-5
MARCH 20-25

I

Join the line-up
of activities on
Tuesday, March 21
in the Union,
on the Diag and
on North Campus.
10 am-4pm

Senior Advisory
Committee:

Thomas J. Bridenstine
Melinda S. Griffith
Amy Rose
Marisa R. Bahn
Julie Ann Barkin
Cristin B. Clauser
Cheryl Drongowski
Jill A. Freeberg
Kristin Gudan

Gail J. Herriman
John C. Koie.,
Lauren K. Lane
Jenifer J. Martin
Laurie J. Michelson
Pamela E. Michelson
William F. Spicer
Candy J. Steele
Laura A. Stuckey
Lynnette M. Tethal
Steve C. Vielmetti

r

I

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