The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 19, 1990 - Page 9
Authors create fantasia out of the ordinary
BY JAY PINKA
REMEMBER the days when the only book you
had to open was an illustrated edition of Grimm's
fairy tales or Mother Goose's nursery rhymes? Read-
ing for the simple pleasure of it might seem like a
long-forgotten fantasy world while we're machine-
gunned with deadline after deadline. Can we experi-
ence that "cozy joy" of the past, when we sunk our
heads into our pillows, letting words and images
flow into our eyes and ears as Mom or Dad read us
those "good ol"' bedtime stories like "Chicken Lit-
tIe" or "Goldilocks and The Three Bears?"
The answer is yes, according to writers Susan
Weiner and Alison Hagy. While Hagy supplies us
with the simplicity of elemental rural life, Weiner,
with her vignettes about "people and feelings and ex-
periences," transforms ordinary moments into con-
As a psychotherapist, Weiner gathers her stories
from her exposure to the personal conflicts and ad-
ventures of people's inner (and outer) lives. Her char-
acters, often in a space of three or four pages, "are
people learning things about adversity." Her vi-
gnettes, colored with "the joys and sorrows of who
people are," bring out listeners' sympathetic interest
time and time again.
"People who hear it feel some recognition or
identification with it," says Weiner, "Often times...
people say, 'I remember that, I've experienced that."'
"Humanness is what unites us all as people," she
continues, "It's about people, and we're all con-
nected." Weiner says she does not have a premedi-
tated plan when she sits down to write. Rather, she
transforms the feelings and events from her life into
very "personal" fables which often "teach a life les-
"I sit down and I just start writing things... about
what is going on around me" says Weiner, "I don't
know where I'm going (with it)." Having made a
commitment to writing two years ago, Weiner says
she enjoys "choosing to fit" the art of storytelling
into her life, so she is looking forward to tonight's
"I like watching people respond to it," she says of
her works. It is this desire to communicate through
writing that contributes to her magic.
If you're looking for the rural landscape of the
tales of your childhood, Alison Hagy is a ready sup-
plier. But trying to find Hagy under her books just
might be like finding the needle in the haystack.
"The real genesis in me for becoming a writer is
reading," says Hagy, who considers herself "a South-
ern writer." "I have always loved it." Hagy, who has
been a journalist and a high school teacher, says she
is grateful that she can exercise "one of the great
passions" of her life.
"I'm glad I found a profession where I get to do it
all the time," says Hagy, who recommends reading
to beginning writers. Hagy says she is particularly
drawn to the work of Flannery O'Connor, Eudora
Welty, Carson McCullers and William Faulkner.
Having grown up on a farm in Virginia, "the lan-
guage in their stories and characters - the way they
spoke - struck a chord in me, of the sense of oral
tradition in the South," says the University creative
"It absolutely comes from the way I was raised,"
she adds. "The way people live in rural towns is dif-
ferent from how people live in the city.... Some-
thing about people who live off the land - human
relationships seem to stick on in relief with a back-
ground like that."
SUSAN WEINER and ALISON HAGY will read at
Guild house, 802 Monroe, at 8:30 p.m. tonight.
Charlie Sheen has traded in the suit and tie from his Wall Street days for the much more becoming knickers and
lad erhosen, so as not to clash with Juliette Caton's Swiss-attired Heidi.
Swiss family fare
dir. Ch ristopher Leitch -
BY W ENDY S HA NK E R
A few years ago in Rolling Stone,
a reviewer writing about the new.
Dennis DeYoung record suggested
that it would be a good thing if Styx
got back together. One may wonder
how this nauseating proposal could
' be anything but catastrophic. Well,
that way there would be less solo
records by former members, or
"Styx-related product" on the market.
Instead of hearing three pseudo-
Styx records a year, we would only
be subjected to one. Good idea for
Styx, but not for Bauhaus. I know
that a lot-of people are going to
jump all over me for saying this,
but I'm glad Bauhaus broke up. Now
we have two "Bauhaus-related
products," in the form of Love and
Rockets, and Peter Murphy.
Deep finds Pete in just the gosh-
darn happiest mood yet (although I
use the word "happy" in a relative
sense.) The songs are upbeat for the
most part, with nary a trace of that
old Bauhaus doom and gloom busi-
ness. This progression has been seen
in many artists, most notably in the
evolution of Joy Division to New
Order, and the results have usually
been lackluster. Pete is an exception
to this rule, however. His voice
sounds the absolute best it ever has,
and the songwriting has reached a
new level of sophistication and ma-
turity. So what if it's kind of happy?
That never killed anyone.
The same musicians from 1988's
Love Hysteria are back and it ap-
pears that Pete is pretty happy with
them as they're "introduced" as One
Hundred Men. And the results show-
that Pete does indeed have much to
be happy about. There is a great deal
of stylistic similarity with the last
record. But where Love Hysteria
only had its moments, Deep is a
solid work. From the techno crunch
of "The Line Between the Devil's
Teeth" and "Shy" (which has Pete
doing something that borders on
rap), to the almost R.E.M.-influ-
enced "Crystal Wrists," the music
and the production are both better
The lyrics? Well, I'm not even
going to attempt to interpret them.
Suffice it to say that they're the
usual Murphy brand of cerebral po-
etry. And they show remarkable
growth; seven years ago, the thought
of him doing a serious, acoustic gui-
tar/voice ballad would have seemed
laughable. But now he pulls it off
with ease in "A Strange Kind of
So is Deep a masterpiece? Well,
I wouldn't go that far, but it is the
best work Murphy has yet done.
Although it lacks Bauhaus' quirky
originality, it more than makes up
for it in tight playing, great songs
and an incredible vocal performance.
And it beats Styx any day.
How long has it been since you've seen a movie
when the bad guy wasn't a drug lord, or at least a cor-
rupt politician? When the biggest stunts didn't include
helicopters, Porsches, or Uzi submachine guns? When
you sat on the edge of your seat waiting for love's first
kiss instead of love's first orgasm?
Courage Mountain tells a new story about Heidi
(made famous by Shirley Temple), an orphan who lives
in the Alps with her grandfather. Director Christopher
Leitch unravels further adventures about Heidi in her
adolescent years. After receiving a large inheritance,
Heidi (Juliette Caton) decides she must leave her tiny
Swiss town of Dorfli to travel to an Italian boarding
Jane Hillary (Leslie Caron), the head of the school,
makes Heidi feel comfortable among the girls there. The
evil Signor Bonelli (Yorgo Voyagis) sweeps up the
girls and takes them to his rat-infested orphanage. With
Heidi as their leader, they must escape his devilish do-
main. Heidi's friend Peter (Charlie Sheen) and Jane at-
tempt to rescue the group on a journey into the Alps,
with Signor Bonelli close behind.
Courage Mountain takes the best of Annie, The
Rescuers, and The Sound of Music, melting them to-
gether with high adventure and beautiful photography.
Innocence beams through the entire film. When the
group of escaped girls spot a couple in a tight embrace,
one schoolmate vents her disgust. The others respond,
"What's wrong with it? They love each other." At the
site of a lost battle, one girl asks, "Are they Austrians
or Italians?" Heidi slowly shakes her head and says, "It
doesn't matter. It doesn't matter." These touching
scenes illustrate to a young audience that war brings no
Charlie Sheen plays the hero and relative stud of the
film. He is the piece that doesn't fit the puzzle. His,
"Hey dudes, I'm an American" accent sounds out of
place among the delicate English of Heidi and the
schoolgirls. Sheen also looks much older than Heidi,
another mismatch. ("He's very old," Heidi explains to
her friends. "He's 18.") One gets the feeling he's just
there for sigh value.
A big-brown-eyed Kathryn Ludlow, who plays the
youngest orphan in the group, gives an innocent and
endearing performance. Two-time Academy Award nom-
inee Leslie Caron does a great Audrey Hepburn imita-
tion as Jane, the caring schoolmistress. But the excel-
lent untouched mountain locations take top billing in
This is not a movie that would make a great double
feature with Lethal Weapon kind of flicks, but for a
sweet change of pace (or a way to keep your little sister
occupied for a couple hours), see Courage Mountain.
The bad guys are really bad, the good guys are really
good, and seeing Charlie Sheen in Swiss knickers
might be worth-letting your little sis drag you to the
COURAGE MOUNTAIN is playing at Showcase
Step By Step
Step By Step is a marvelous solo
effort by 25-year-old, singer/song-
writer Clive Griffin. Griffin, a
former London session singer and
lead vocalist for the 18-piece group
Bandzilla, enlisted the help of some
seasoned musicians to make this LP
a reality. Playing guitar is David
Williams, who has performed with
Michael Jackson and Madonna. Eric
Clapton's bassist Nathan East and
the Average White Band's drummer
Steve Ferrone lay down solid rhythm.
tracks. James Ingram also appears,
providing doses of background vo-
cals throughout. But these musicians
do not 'steal the focus from Griffin,
whose powerful and passionate voice
remains the center of attention.
Lyrically, the songs vary. "The
Way We Touch," is sensual ("when
you surround me, I hear the eagles
cry... within your body I start to
fly"); "Don't Make Me Wait" is
compellingly desperate. Griffin urges
his love interest to "reveal (her) se-
cret heart and end the misery that
tears (his) soul apart." And there is
even a share of the prosaic; on "Love
Street," Griffin sings "just like a
flower you need a loving touch" and
"why waste this precious time when
all the world is yours and mine."
Even though the lyrics are at
times ludicrous, the instrumentation
is still phenomenal. "Dancing After
Dark" starts off with a dazzling
combination of bass and brass. Intri-
cate guitar work and a great horn sec-
tion stand out on "Try to Be.
Happy." Even the most disappoint-
ing song on the LP, the long and
repetitious "Head Above Water,"
ends with some brilliant piano play-
ing. The album closes with the title
track. At first, "Step By Step"
sounds like a ballad. But after a few
bars, the song picks up and borders
on being funky. Strong bass, gleam-
ing horns and sparkling keyboard ad-
Step By Step, which also includes
the romantic "Lonely Lady," the ex-
tremely soulful "Be There," the ca-
lypso-like "In Another Lifetime" and
the slightly depressing "By Heart,"
is a substantial LP. Whether a ballad
or a dance track, each of Griffin's
songs is laden with irresistible
hooks that are not easily forgotten.
-4lyse R. Shanz
Happy Anniversary, Charlie
Aside from two tracks, this al-
bum is a huge disappointment. That
fact is quite astonishing considering
the lineup of talent featured: B.B.
King, Dave Grusin, Joe Williams,
Chick Corea, and several others.
The title refers to the 40th an-
niversary of the Peanuts comic
strip. The music, though, comes
from the series of Charlie Brown an-
imated television specials that have
been produced since "A Charlie
Brown Christmas" in 1965. Most of
the scores for these shows were writ-
ten and performed by jazz pi-
anist/composer Vince Guaraldi until
his death in 1976. For the recent
series "This Is America Charlie
Brown," Dave Brubeck, David
Benoit, and Grusin were recruited as
It is a shame that Guaraldi's de-
lightfully melodic music (represented
on eight of the 12 tracks) is given
such shallow treatment by the per-
formers on this album. Oh, to be
sure there are a few high points.
Corea, on acoustic piano with drum
and bass accompaniment, gives an
energetically swinging version of
"The Great Pumpkin Waltz." And,
in what is easily the highlight of the
album, baritone sax player Gerry
Mulligan delivers a cool, laid-back
version of "Rain, Rain, Go Away."
From wistful beginning to the
lose any sense of direction. King
shows little spirit in his vocalizing
or guitar playing on "Joe Cool," and
Williams fares slightly better sing-
ing the humorous "Little Birdie."
Some of the synthesized accom-
paniments of the vocals lack a
warmth that could have been more
inspirational to these three singers.
The non-Guiraldi tunes, "History
Lesson" and "Breadline Blues" (with
a repetitive cold-toned solo by
Kenny G.) are trite productions that
are quickly forgotten. "Benjamin," a
rhythmic Dave Brubeck original, is
the best of the bunch but even it is
If you enjoy the music in the
Charlie Brown television specials,
get the soundtrack to "A Boy Named
Charlie Brown" (Fantasy 5F-8430)
or the beautiful "A Charlie Brown
Christmas" (Fantasy F-8431). Both
of these recordings feature the Vince
Guaraldi trio and they are both far
superior to the boring electrified
funk on the commemorative album.
I mean, good grief, Chuck and his
pals deserve better.
Continued from page 8
manhood. Tiburon now has the right
to make things equal with Cochran
(has him beaten to a bloody pulp and
left in the desert to be covered with
bugs) and Miryea (has her drugged
and put in a whorehouse and forces
her to have sex with obese Mexican
men). But the bad guy always goes
too far (kills Cochran's dog), giving
the hero an excuse to become fright-
eningly obsessed with revenge.
Now this is the point where
someone like Arnold Schwarzeneg-
ger would slap on the grease paint,
sharpen his favorite machete, and
hunt down and kill Tiburon and ev-
ery member of his gang. But instead,
Costner makes a few friends and