Page 8-The Michigan Daily-Weekend etc.-October 1, 1992
Visiting prof is Young at heart
Makeup artist Peter Montagna transforms Crystal into an aging comic.
Crystal 's a hit
behind the camera.
by Alison Levy
Once again, another actor feels that his presence on the screen is not
enough. He needs to write, direct, produce, and run the catering for the film as
well. Frequently the results are disastrous; just ask Eddie Murphy. But at other
times, the stars succeed a la Kevin Costner and Barbara Streisand. In his
directorial debut, Billy Crystal eclipses all of the Screen Actors Guild members
that have boldly gone before him with "Mr. Saturday Night."
The film focuses on elderly comic Buddy Young Jr. and his terminal career.
Told in flashback upon flashback the
story follows Buddy (Crystal) from
Mr. Saturday Night childhood living room performances
with his brother Stan (David Paymer)
Cryst , Lby Billy Cnan; rBi lo to his attempt to revive his failing
Mandel; with Crystal, David Paymer career.
and Julie Warner. Thanks to an accomplished script,
fine acting and extraordinary makeup,
Buddy comes off as more than just a schlocky comic whose favorite venue is
the ever-popular Pocanos. He is a vulnerable performer whose need for
audience adulation isolates his family, especially Stan and his daughter Susan
(Mary Mara) who feel that being the "wind beneath Buddy's wings" is not such
a hot job.
The screenplay is filled with so many one-liners that you're sure to miss a
few. And while comedy is his forte, Crystal handles the strong emotional side
without getting melodramatic and cheesy.
Most of the credit for the film's success goes to the superb acting. Crystal
becomes the multifaceted Buddy, acharacterhe created for an HBO special ten
years ago. Paymer ("City Slickers") does an excellent job of portraying Stan,
whose envy of Buddy's lifestyle keeps him from breaking free, but whose fear
of the stage prevents the realization of his dream. The two actors nail a variet y
of elderly mannerisms from licking dry lips to slurping hot tea.
One of Crystal's best decisions was hiring make-up designer Peter Montagna.
From big waxy ears to soupy eyes, liver spots and varicose veins, he captures
. However, I hate to say it, but Crystal does make one crucial flaw: a cameo
by Jerry Lewis.
So now I only have one question. Is Billy Crystal just going to host the
Oscars next year and bring home his own souvenir? Or is he in charge of the
lighting, costumes, and choreography too? Maybe he should be.
MR. SATURDAY NIGHT is playing at Showcase and the Ann Arbor 1& 2.
RESTAURANT. BAR & GATHERING PLACE
by Darcy Lockman
Sitting Pretty, the principal char-
acter in Al Young's novel by the same
name, has this to say about fame:
"Say you do get hold to a few things,
a good education, prestige, a taste of
power ... So what happen? You get
old, that's what happen. You get old
and, same as everything else, you
crumble away and turn to dust."
Anyone who meets Young and
speaks to him about his own percep-
tion of fame knows immediately that
Sitting Pretty is speaking not only for
himself, but for his creator as well.
"Writing can't be taken too seri-
ously. The minute you get pompous,
you stand the danger of losing the
soulfulness that powers creativity.
People who know who they are don't
fall into that trap. It's people who lose
touch with the part of themselves that
I regard as sacred, the soul, who be-
come pompous. We so worship ce-
lebrities now, that people buy into it,"
While Sitting Pretty's attitude to-
ward the relative unimportance of
fame may also seem like a cynical
perspective on life and its humble
endings, Young's zest for living is so
apparent that those who know him
would never interpret this excerpt in
At 53, his feelings about life are as
exuberant as those of a young child,
adding a Dickensian twist to Al
Young's name. "I've never gotten
over the wondrousness of being alive,"
he says. "Every day when I get up my
attitude is 'I wonder what's going to
happen today.' It's great."
Young partially attributes his zest
for life to meditation, something he
has been doing for the last 25 years. In
a society that engenders distraction,
and likewise one that does not put
much value on solitude, he finds that
ceasing to take in information, if only
for a little while each day, is very
This energy fuels Young's pas-
sion for writing. Perhaps it is because
he is so passionate and energetic that
he is often accused of being a little
'too' joyful for a Black writer. Like
other minority artists, Young is pi-
geonholed, and critics expect him to
write on the stereotypical 'Black' ex-
periences of crack houses, back alley
stabbings and economic despair.
However, Young chooses to deal
with his characters as people rather
than as stereotypes. Although the
people in his works are Black, they
come from backgrounds that extend
the periphery of the world of crime,
drugs and poverty.
None of this is to say that Young
ignores the Black experience, or is-
sues of race and racism in his work.
While he does tend to avoid blatantly
political messages in his stories and
poems, he responds to stereotyping
by creating characters that readers
cannot easily label as one 'type' of
African American or another.
Although Young encounters rac-
ism as a writer and professor, he has
learned not to internalize it, lest it be
crippling. It is obvious, with all that
Young has accomplished, that noth-
ing succeeds in disabling his creative
endeavors. Since 1969, he has pub-
lished four books of poetry, five nov-
els, four collections of musical mem-
oirs and many magazine articles, as
well as working on Hollywood screen-
plays with the likes of Bill Cosby,
Richard Pryor and Sidney Poitier.
"I love writing screenplays," he
says. "It's a pleasure to realize that
whatever you want to happen on film
Along with the silver lining of
writing for the silver screen, how-
ever, comes the dark cloud of corpo-
rate Hollywood. Young tells one story
of his work on the film "Bustin'
"I was working on a scene where
Richard Pryor falls into a vat of beer
in a brewery. I had been researching,
making sure that the whole thing
would be plausible, and I was in the
middle of setting it up when the pro-
ducer calls and says, 'Forget about it,
we don't have time to go to Milwau-
kee.' You can put days or weeks of
work and research into something,
and just like that, it's gone," he ex-
Young is currently working inde-
pendently on a screenplay based on
his novel 'Seduction By Light,' a story
about a domestic psychic in Beverly
Hills. He sees screenplay writing as
reworking a novel from a different
perspective, like standing on one side
of a room and looking at a table, and
then walking to the other side and
viewing it from there.
The ability to put a twist on per-
spective requires a shot of creativity,
something that Young sees a lack of
in today's world of remote controls
and computer data bases.
"We have all these 'best and bright-
est' coming out of universities, yet
look at the state of the world. We
should not have problems like hunger
and homelessness. I think we have
these problems because we've lost
access to creativity. Creative ap-
proaches would end them," he says.
While creativity may be no more
than an unfertilized seed for most
Americans of the late 20th century,
the same cannot be said for Young.
His latestcreative endeavor, 'Heaven,
Collected Poems 1956-1990,' is in
stores this month.
Young, while very much into not
taking himself and his fame too seri-
ously, does, when asked, offer some
advice to aspiring writers. He says,
"Listen and read. Write. Not in the
spirit of getting people to see how
cool you are, but with the idea that
you are the audience of your own
work. If you find that you love it,
you're a writer. A writer is someone
who loves to write."
By his own definition then, Young
is the epitome of writers. His joy in his
work creates a sort of inspirational
glow around his being as he speaks of
it. His zest for life carries over into his
love of writing. Or maybe it is his zest
in writing that inspires his love of life.
Either way, Al Young is a writer
because it is what he loves. As he
writes, Al Young immortalizes him-
self, and contradicts his own literary
voice. Sorry Sitting Pretty, he'll be
more than just dust in the end.
AL YOUNG, a visiting professor in
the creative writing program at the
University this semester, will be read-
ing from his work tonight at 5:40 at
the RackhamAmpitheatre. Admission
Author Al Young, visiting "U" prof and author of "Seduction by Light."
Boxing out for that last wing
Continued from page 2
There are several things you must
remember when eating at the Board-
walk. Stay away from food described
with the word "cream," e.g. cream
pies, creamy cole slaw, cream of left-
over soup. Free refills are a thinly
veiled attempt to quickly fill you up.
And the menu is purely decorative,
except for the "all you can eat" fried
shrimp specials - split an order with
your date for some added intimacy.
Boardwalk's crowd can get mob-
like and onerous at times. Irritability
reaches epic proportions when blue
chip items, like the potato salad, are
out. People start using salad tongs to
grab wings and the de rigueur clock-
wise marching around the buffet goes
to pot. Furthermore, there are regu-
lars here. They're the overenthusias-
tic ones waxing eloquent about how
the pork and beans are better today.
It's best to stay out of their way and
defer to them the plumpest chicken
The post-Boardwalk, bloated feel-
ing can be quite alarming at first. It's
especially nasty on hot days - the
blast of heat and light from the sun
can make even those with strong con-
stitutions mumble incoherently about
"pink parfaits." Bicycling or walking
back home is obviously a serious
health threat. The smart buffet-goer
will either take a bus or appoint a
In a world filled with California
cuisine, 31 flavored caviars, and pork
sushi (or whatever the latest trend is),
the Boardwalk is a refreshing change
of pace. Don't eat for a couple days,
truck on over there, and see what I
mean: hog heaven.
Boardwalk Buffet & Grill
Faux pas phrase: "Is this foie-gras?"
Acceptable etiquette: "Boxing out"
for that last wing.
No-no behavior: "Reconstructing" a
chicken with bones.
What to bring: A coupon.
Where to sit: At or in buffet.
TAKE IT TO THE MAX!
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