The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, January 27, 1994 - 5
Every position pitiable
Life, liberty and the pursuit of crappiness
If you happen to be graduating
college this year or know someone
who is or can conceivably imagine
graduating, you have surely felt at
some point the shocking imminence
of an uncertain future. As a graduat-
ing senior, I suddenly find myself
forced to have goals, to shape from
the malaise of disenchanted moder-
nity a set of values and a plan for
realizing them. Yes, "M*A*S*H" is
finally over, and the pointless, exis-
tentially absurd, Alan Alda-less days
of "After-M*A*S*H" have begun.
Now, please don't infer from the
above that I'm supposing college
graduates' privileged position to be
an especially or inherently pitiable
one. But in the spirit of fairness I
should say every position can be
equally pitiable, potentially. Neither
should you mistake the above for good
feelings about the time preceding
graduation, or for good feelings about
anything. I cannot be held respon-
sible for any impressions extracted
from this article other than those con-
sistent with a totally negative and
hopeless view of life.
I know what you're thinking.
You're thinking, "Nice attitude" and
"Lighten up" and "Gardner-White
Furniture! We're known by the money
you keep. Da. Da." Frankly, nay-say-
ers like you make me sick. I bet when
victims of the L.A. earthquake stag-
gered out of their destroyed homes in
tears you were there saying reproach-
fully, "Nice attitude."
For your information, Nice Atti-
tude Smurf, some of the most revered
and famous figures ever have sup-
ported the idea of the general
crappiness of things. Thomas.
Jefferson originally wrote in the Dec-
laration of Independence, "Life, lib-
erty and the pursuit of crappiness,"
but James Madison made him take it
out (even though he had to admit that
it would be funny to leave it). And
Ben Franklin, when he wasn't on the
professional wrestling circuit, was
fond of speaking at large gatherings
and saying, "You know, folks," and
then making fake farting noises with
his armpit, smiling from ear to ear.
(That doesn't exactly fit in here, but
it's an amusing bit of apocrypha for
I think a good metaphor for crappo-
life is summer day camp, as I remem-
ber it. For those of you that missed out
on this experience and the years of
psychotherapy that it necessitates,
summer day camnp is where you go
when you're little and your parents
think you need to get out of the house
but are too busy to torture you them-
selves for their amusement so they
pay summer day camps to do it. Orga-
nized by experienced Nazi war crimi-
nals, my camp day was broken down
into "periods," each designed in some
different way to permanently destroy
Period 1: morning line-up. Camp-
ers who had forgotten their lunches or
bathing suits were shot.
Period 2: swimming. After chang-
ing in the locker-room of the nearby
exercise center which was full of old
nude men whose penises had fallen
off, we were given swim lessons. The
head lifeguard would hold up this
sign that said "_ool," and he would
say, "This is our pool. Notice there is
no 'P' in it. Please keep it that way."
So I proceeded to pee in the pool, as
well as on the lifeguard, and was
summarily shot. Then we were in-
structed to tread water for upwards of
Period 3: baseball/ritualized hu-
miliation. I was particularly bad at
baseball compared to the other kids
who were already veterans of little
league. Because of my underdevel-
oped skills, my peers would ridicule
me and, after the game, engage in a
savage war dance in which I was
dragged across gravel.
Period 4: barium enema. After an
enema, everyone was shot.
PeriodS5: the "special" period.This
period was set aside for the day's
special treat. For example, our coun-
selors, if they showed up, might give
us a can of shaving cream and say,
"Have a blast." But that was way
more fun than usual. Usually it would
just be something like running away
from crazed animals or pelting each
other with dirt. At the end of the
summer we collected our experiences
with the help of our counselors and
wrote the famous book, "Lord of the
I guess I have a lot of anger built
up from my summer day camp days.
I have yet to find a good outlet for my
rage. The first thing I tried was cut-
downs, but I could never get them
quite right. Once I tried to utter the
standard retort, "I'm rubberand you're
glue; whatever you say bounces off
me and sticks to you." But I was so
flustered that I ended up screaming
confusedly at the top of my lungs,
"I'm rubber and you're made out of
metal; whatever you say bounces
around and sticks to a wall." The kids
looked at me quizzically and then
dragged me across gravel.
So, Happy-face Smile-a-lot Nice
Attitude Sunshine Smurf, here's the.
crappo creed for you: The pursuit of
crappiness is not a privilege. It's an
obligation. Meanwhile, live it up in
Imagine lying on the 'M" for eight hours on one of the cold days last week. Lillian Gish probably could have - she did the equivalent for "Way Down East."
Way Down East' revives silent, black and white film
By MICHAEL THOMPSON
1 Maybe you're new to the city of
Ann Arbor. Maybe you just don't go
to the movies. Or maybe you live
under a rock. Whatever the case may
be, if you missed the fantastic screen-
ing of D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance"
two years ago then you missed out. In
a big way. And let's say that you even
i Way Down East
Directed by D.W.Griffith; with
Lillian Gish and Richard
missed out on the screening of "Thief
of Baghdad." Yeah, the one with the
live orchestra. Yes, that's LIVE or-
chestra, as in real people and real
instruments. Oh, you were sick that
-onth. Okay, sure.
Whatever the case might have
been, now you've got anotherchance.
You see, you just happen to be lucky
enough to live in Ann Arbor. And
although the town is a far cry from
New York, Ann Arbor still gets its
fair share of great cinema. So don't
blow it this time.
The film is "Way Down East," a
classic by D.W. Griffith.,Who is D.W.
Iriffith? Well, he's sort of like the
father of film. You know, like James
Brown is the godfather of soul. You
get the idea.
Anyhow, the story revolves around
a young girl named Anna. She and her
mother are struggling to make ends
meet when they decide to send Anna
off to live with her rich cousin. Anna
becomes involved in a complex and
ambiguous marriage which will haunt
her as she struggles to live out her life.
Sure, it sounds banal enough, but
Griffith is behind the wheel so get
ready to be blown away.
Anna is played to perfection by
the talented Lillian Gish. Gish's gift
of being able to act with only her face
brings every emotion imaginable into
this character. Now if you haven't
seen a Lillian Gish movie then you
are just missing out. Yeah, Holly
Hunter was great in "The Piano," but
now look at a woman who had no
choice but to act without words. Anna
is innocent, tainted, fresh, exhausted
and euphoric several times over as the
drama plays out.
And Griffith piles on the drama.
Although there is some dispute to the
claims that Griffith "invented" much
of early film technique, there is little
doubt that anyone was a better direc-
tor at the time. This guy is to silent
film what Quentin Tarantino is to
crime film. Griffith's cross-cutting
and use of close-ups are legendary.
After seeing "Way Down East," it is
easy to understand why Griffith will
be studied (and worshipped) at least
as much as Orson Welles or even
But enough of all this film school
name dropping, let's get back to the
movie. Now, "The Fugitive" was
great, ladies and gentlemen, but in
terms of stunts it has little on "Way
Down East." Oh, I know what you're
thinking - how can a silent, black
and white film be more engaging than
Harrison Ford running from Tommy
Lee Jones in big, loud, full color?
Well, just watch the ice flow sequence
at the end of this movie and then try to
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tell me you weren't excited and won-
dering how the hell they did that. That
was a dummy they threw out of that
drainagepipein "The Fugitive," folks.
That's really Lillian Gish floating
around on a chunk of ice. Oh, you
don't believe it. See the movie and
And hey, "Remains of the Day" is
very romantic and sensual, but again,
"Way Down East" has it beat. Griffith
and crew create every kind of tension
known before the film is over. Will
Anna find the man of her dreams? Is
the baby going to live? Will the truth
destroy all? Will the poet finally wake
up to his true feelings? Is justice go-
ing to be served? And will anyone be
alive at the end to rejoice? Folks, this
film tries to have it all, and it just
about pulls it off.
So now you're wondering why
you shouldn't just rent this movie
instead of going to the Michigan The-
ater. Okay, first of all, it's not going to
look good on a small TV. That's a
fact, accept it. Second of all, it's not
that cold out anymore. You can go
outside without serious fear that your
lungs will freeze. Third, this is an
original print. This film isn't going to
be at the State or Fox Village in a
couple of weeks. This is your one and
only chance. Fourth, and most impor-
tant, there will be a LIVE orchestra
there playing the music for this film.
Just like they did it in the old days.
Now think about it, how many chances
are you going to have to see a film like
this the way it was supposed to be
seen? Not a whole hell of a lot. Be-
sides, you probably missed the other
two opportunities anyway. Yeah,
that's right, you get to be entertained
and you have a great experience also.
Now I know that this is Superbowl
weekend. And I know that many of
you are just going to stay home so you
can wait for the first annual
"ButtBowl" on MTV at halftime. Or
maybe you'rejust waiting to see what
banal TV show will be piloted when
the game ends. Folks, you can watch
the Superbowl anytime. If you'd rather
have an experience a little more stimu-
lating than drooling with your eyes
open, and I know that's the case, then
get down to the Michigan Theater.
WAY DOWN EAST is p aying at the
Michigan Theater Sunday at 7p.m.
Sessions with any package.
WANNA BE IN MOVIES??
1220 S. University C9
above McDonalds 747-9400 Expires 2-7-94
Hollywood talent agent and UM alumnus
answering questions and discussing:
Business, and Creativity in the Movie industry"
Friday, 28 January 1994
3:00 pm; MLB Lecture Room 1
University of Michigan
Winter Blood Drive
We need your blood! The American Red Cross needs U of M
students to help out. The sick and injured of Southeastern
Michigan are depending on us. Giving lood is easy and takes
Northwestern College of Chiropractic
is now accepting applications for its next three entering classes.
(April 1994, September 1994, January 1995)
Thursday, January 27, 1994