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October 19, 1993 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-10-19

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ThMchgn aiy ,Tusa, Ocober

Cheap portrayal
elacks heroic themes
By ALEXANDRA TWIN
Heroes. Who can agree on how to define them? They come in all shapes
(Barney) and sizes (Herve Villachez). Theycome frompoverty (JackKerouac)
and from wealth (Edith Wharton). They come from all walks of life (hustler,
soldier, movie star).
They are famous (Bette Davis), and infamous (Al Capone). They are
overlooked (Hal Hartley), and they should be overlooked (Bruce Willis).
Regardless of your personal preferences, all heroes are relevant and inspiring
o someone, no matter who they are and all deserve recognition. Yet, differing
degrees of heroism require differing de-
rees of acknowledgment. Some require
Rudy two to three hour film epics made out of
Directed by David Anspaugh; their lives (Malcolm X), some don't
written by Angelo Pizzo; with Sean Rudy).
Astin, Ned Beatty, Charles S. Dutton This is not to say that Daniel "Rudy"
tuttieger, a small, big-dreaming, not
very talented athlete, who pulled him-
self up from the trenches and made it both into Notre Dame and onto its
elebrated football team atalater age than most, isnotdeserving ofourrespect,
admiration and patronage.
This is not to say that Rudy's contribution to college football wasn't
significant to many, particularly as a result of his unusual last game of the
season experience. This is not to say that Rudy isn't "special."
But, come on, there are a lot of "special" people, a lot of guys who worked
their way through college and came out o.k. Are we to have two hour epics
about all of them? "Pete," "Jim," "Ned," "Bob," "Yohann." This could
literally go on indefinitely.
It doesn't help the participants, or the alleged legend of Rudy, for that
atter, that they are given both such a lousy script and such a lousy lead actor.
ean Astin, who plays the title character, is this week's recipient of the Keanu
Reeves award for consistently shitty on-screen acting. So he can muster up a
tear or two. Big deal. He is as deep and emotive as a clump of watery tofu, and
about as appealing.
The rest of the cast manages not to embarrass themselves, even when
uttering lines as banal as "You were born to wear that (Notre Dame) jacket,"
or "Don't give up, Rudy!" Particularly good are Ned Beatty, as his mill-
working dad Daniel, Lili Taylor, as his girlfriend Sherry and Charles S. Dutton
as Fortune, a man'who guides and befriends the tenacious, yet somewhat
clueless Rudy, once he gets to school.
* Yet, good supporting actors are not enough to save a film. Nor is it
sufficient to hope that blaring, surging opera music will cover up hopelessly
cliche dialogue and sentiments. The real Rudy may be a hero, but there's
nothing heroic in this cheap and overdone portrayal of his life. Here's hoping
that his legend both outlives and crushes this film's dubious box-office
duration. Judging from the size of the audience, it shouldn't be a problem.

"Vs.," the new album from Pearl Jam has some disappointing moments, but overall, Eddie Vedder and company still sound pretty dam good.
PeVarl Jam's s. overcomes weaesses

RUDY is playing at Showcase.
fim Rose Circus
Sideshow
Jim Rose Circus Sideshow
Video
American Recordings
Ranging from the silly (eating
bugs) to the disgusting (lifting con-
crete blocks with nipples), the Jim
Rose Circus Sideshow is a pleasingly
*ifferent from the mindless drivel
people are generally required to un-
derstand as the substance of a circus.
An independent freak show, it travels
to clubs and its performers amaze
audiences with their feats of pain and
humiliation while the Enigma plays
eerie, tinkling carnival music on a
synthesizer.
While fairly well-known because
f their spot on the second stage of
ollapalooza '92, therehaspreviously
been a noticeable lack of recordings
of them. This video corrects this trag-
edy.
Presented are the five staple per-
formers of the Sideshow: Jim Rose,
Mr. Lifto, Torture King, Enigma and
Matt "the Tube" Crowley. Each has
their special way of inflicting pain on
inself. Rose puts his face in glass,
ifto lifts heavy things with hispierced
body parts, Torture King shoves a
meat skewer through his cheeks,
Enigma swallows swords and
Crowley puts a tube into his stomach,
injects then sucks out a vile concoc-
tion of beer, ketchup, Peptoandchoco-
late sauce. Ah, the suffering! The
backdrop of twisted carnival music
and crazy fans simply adds to the
#eird display.
There is something unspeakably
basic about the human desire to view
suffering; this is a good place to view
it.
- Ted Watts
iceburn
Hephaestus
Revelation
0 Could Utah be the next Seattle?
Probably not, but grunge ain't dead
yetfolks! In fact, if this SaltLake City
based outfit continues in this bizarre
direction, it might expand the genre.
Straight off the label run by John
Porcell from the legendarv Youth of

comparisons will be forthcoming,
their original compositional style
should attract some attention. Iceburn
works best when it teeters on con-
trolled madness. To document the
twists and turns that this record takes
would be impossible, so let's just say
they're the Mr. Bungle of grunge. j
Iceburn's compositions are origi-
nal, but the overall moods of many of
the parts are often reminiscent of
Fudge Tunnel, Helmet and Primus.
The lyrics, which are belched out by
singer/guitaristGentry Densley, take
aback seatto themusic andrightly so;
they are poorly sung and either in-
comprehensible or too "deep." This
band sounds young and undoubtedly
has not achieved their potential. How-
ever, if you have an open mind and
you'd like to hear something new and
interesting, it's worth a shot.
-Gianluca Montalti
Dave Hole
Working Overtime
Alligator Records
Contemporary blues fanatics, put
down your Eric Clapton and Jirni
Hendrix CDs for a minute. "Working
Overtime", a screeching, whining
slide-guitar creation from Dave Hole,
demands attention from blues aficio-
nados and guitar theorists alike.
Hole, entering the arena of genu-
ine honest-to-goodness blues music,
has some enormous shoes to fill. Fol-
lowing in the footsteps of traditional
blues greats such as Blind Willie
Johnson, Elmore James and Muddy
Waters (he even covers Waters' "I
Can'tbe Satisfied"),Holemerges rock
and blues elements, a combination
which exemplifies the modern blues
movement, characterized by bluesmen
such as Jimi Hendrix and, more re-
cently, Stevie Ray Vaughan.
In "Working Overtime," he dif-
ferentiates himself from these giants
with his screeching slide guitar tech-
nique. However, that's where the dif-
ferences end. He rarely strays beyond
traditional 12-barblues theory, which,
although it is the essence of blues, can
become monotonous.
While it is rare that blues lyrics
venture beyond generic, plebeian
themes Hole dnesn't even make an

By TOM ERLEWINE
Nirvana may have broken open the doors to the
mainstream for alternative bands, but Pearl Jam
made the music mainstream. With their clean,
riff-oriented hard-rock, Pearl Jam had a sound
that appealed to a broader base. And they have a
Pearl Jam
Vs.
Epic Associated
dynamically charismatic energetic frontman in
Eddie Vedder. Without Vedder, Pearl Jam would
never have achieved their success - he is the
focal point for the band's occasionally meander-
ing grooves. Paradoxically, Vedder's lyrics were
not the driving force of the songs on "Ten;" on
most of the tracks, he added his vocals and lyrics
to pre-existing backing tracks. Combined, the
music and vocals had an unstoppable force that
connected with a wide audience. Because of the
album's monster success, Vedder was viewed by
the media as a new rock messiah, on the level of
Bono or Pete Townshend - someone who could
change the world. But the simple fact was, most
Pearl Jam's audience couldn't care less about
what Vedder was actually saying, all they cared

about was the sound of the record. Why else
would Stone Temple Pilots, a thoroughly medio-
cre band by any measure, sell millions of records
with the catchy, banal Pearl Jam rip-off "Plush?"
The Top Forty audience is hungry for the sound of
"Ten," not the message.
Still, Vedder is fighting success, convinced
the fans also view him as a god. Quite frankly, the
rest of the band doesn't seemed bothered by their
success. Yet it tears at Vedder, who has always
considered himself a punk rocker. It is an act of
denial on his part, because Pearl Jam has always
been an original yet conventional hard-rock band,
working off of the sound and structure of arena-
rock; it was Vedder's angst and anger that made
them an alternative rock band. While their second
album, "Vs.," isn't as explicitly cynical or de-
manding as Nirvana's "In Utero," it is clear that
Pearl Jam (and Vedder in particular) are question-
ing the roots of their success and asking their fans
to follow them into unfamiliar territory.
"Vs." veers away from the murkily elegant
guitars of "Ten," preferring punchier, brutal chords
to the big riffs of their debut album. "Go," "Ani-
mal," "Blood" and "Leash" are throttling in their
intensity, harder and more savage than anything
the band has recorded before; the ballads are
strong, highlighted with folkier guitars and mes-
sages. Where the album starts to falter is during

long, politically-oriented rants such as the mean-
dering "W.M.A." and the silly anti-hand gun
anthem, "Glorified G." Occasionally, Vedder's
lyrics leave out important details, robbing such
songs as "Indifference" and "Elderly Woman
Behind the Counter in a Small Town" of their
potential power. Such lapses strengthen the im-
pact of "Daughter," "Animal," "Dissident" and
the stunning "Rearviewmirror."
Even though it is an accomplished, exciting
album with a number of high points, "Vs." is
bound to disappoint many fans of "Ten." By and
large, Pearl Jam has abandoned the big rock & roll
of their debut for a brighter, rawer sound. It
doesn't sound like a different band; all of their
trademark musical elements - the loping fretless
bass, free-form guitar jams and riffs, Vedder's
fiery vocals - are out in full force. Some of the
experimentation falls flat and some of the hooks
and melodies are slightly below par - there is
nothing that carries the sheer weight of "Black,"
"Evenflow," "Alive" or "Jeremy." Yet the album
stands as a cohesive whole, with many satisfying
songs and moments. "Vs." is a transitional album,
with the band trying to see if they can indeed fulfill
their fans' expectations as well as their own. And
the best moments on "Vs." -"Daughter," "Ani-
mal," "Dissident," "Go," "Leash" and
"Rearviewmirror" - prove that they can.

Debt: Poems
Mark Levine
William Morrow
If incoherence and sustained con-
fusion are tenets of modern poetry,
Mark Levine may be the Robert Frost
of the '90s. In "Debt," Levine's first
full-length poetry collection, the poet
sparks up a few good fires, but he
often loses the reader in the smolder-
ing ashes of his bizarre poems.
Levine's poetics achieve the best
results when he writes of his Jewish
background. In the poem "Occupied
Territory," he writes, "I'm looking
for remains. A body. I'm looking for
bodies." This seems to be his thesis in
the section of poems about his heri-
tage. Levine is looking for the re-
mains of the Holocaust, looking for
what's left of what he identifies as
being Jewish. Levine suggests that
being Jewish is no less condemned
than it was in the days of Hitler. "Each
of us holds / the other's starred birth
papers. / My God, what we've got on
each other" closes the poem, "Notes
on the Pyramids (II)." These poems
ring true with the authority of some-
one who knows all too well the sub-
ject about which he writes.
The other poems are generally in-
coherent, though Levine does create
some startlingly original images. He
tells how his "daughters grow preg-
nant like envelopes," and describes a
man as "once trigger-happy; now, a

as our reflections." This line conveys
a powerful image that gives the reader
pause for consideration. But the next
lines read, "like people gripping the
wing of an airplane / waiting for the
airplane to stop." From one line to the
next, Levine shifts from the poetic to
the pedestrian, able to hit great image
or line, but seemingly unable to main-
tain it.
Levine also lights up his poems
with some terrific dead-pan humor..
In "Intervention," he writes, "I am, at
bare minimum, a two-headed mon-
ster." The problem is that whi!- this
line is funny taken by itself, the con-
text in which it appears makes it seem
more like a plea to the reader to go
along with the senseless mess of poem
that the line inhabits.
In "Warrant," Levine tells the
reader that "Everything sounds the
same / when it burns, like newsprint,
like the telephone book..." This anal-
ogy works in the poem, but fails to
describe Levine's poems as a collec-
tion. The Jewish heritage poems and
a few others burst into fiery light on
the page and draw the reader in. Un-
fortunately the other poems leave the
reader wondering why these great
images and lines of humor were left
smoking on a pile of otherwise un-
burned lines.
-- Matthew Thorburn
SeinIaniuage

after him on NBC. Seinfeld plays a
limited role in the show as a stand-up
comedian, but his co-stars - Jason
Alexander (George), Julia-Louise
Dreyfus (Elaine) and Mike Richards
(Kramer) - have helped make the
show a success.
His new book, however, has abso-
lutely nothing to do with the televi-
sion show. Instead, "Seinlanguage"
is entirely about Jerry Seinfeld and
his comic mind. It offers a chance to
focus on Seinfeld's own talents and to
see exactly how funny he can be. The
result is a hilarious look at life and

everyday situations with which ev-
eryone can identify.
"Seinlanguage" consists of hun-
dreds of short stand-up routines used
by Seinfeld in concert and at the be-
ginning of his television shows. The
routines deal with relationships, en-
tertainment, travel, sex and all sorts
of aspects of the human existence. Of
course, Seinfeld's unique blend of
sarcasm and insight make for excel-
lent laughs. For example, in the sec-
tion on friends, Seinfeld writes, "My
See BOOKS, Page 8

I Im

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