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December 08, 1994 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-12-08

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4-- The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, December 8, 1994
Weird Al showcases his true talent

By BRIAN A. GNATT
If Michael Jackson is the King of
Pop, then "Weird Al" Yankovic must
be God of All Music. The most popu-
lar, and easily the most talented of all
parody artists, Weird Al is simply a
genius.
For 15 years, Weird Al has been
recording his awesome satirizing pop
music, and for those 15 years, he has
been charming music lovers of all ages.
From his early days on the Dr. Demento
Show, to seeing his face on MTV every
hour, Al has been a immense part of
pop music throughout the '80s and far
into the '90s. To celebrate the exist-
ence of this comedic polka hero, Al
has released "Permanent Record -
Al In The Box," a mind-blowing four
CD box set that is a superb retrospec-
tive of his best work.
"Weird Al" Yankovic's talents run
deeper than the typical poking fun at
pop icons. He rips them up, eats them
alive, spits them out, and then gives
them a big, fat kiss. And they let him do
this? The 60 page book that accompa-
nies the discs explains how Al con-
tacted some of the artists to get their
permission for the remakes.
For one of his more famous paro-
dies, Al contacted Kurt Cobain to get
permission to use "Smells Like Teen
Spirit" as a basis for his hit, "Smells
Like Nirvana."
"I heard that Nirvana was going to
appear on 'Saturday Night Live,' so I
phoned Victoria Jackson (who was in
the cast at the time and had also been
in 'UHF') and asked her to grab Kurt
Cobain and put him on the phone with
me," Al recalled. "It turned out that
Kurt was familiar with my work, and
when I asked if I could do a parody of
'Smells Like Teen Spirit' he agreed

it going to be a song about food?' and
I said no, in fact it's going to be a song
about how nobody can understand
your lyrics, and he said 'Oh, that's a
funny idea, go ahead!'"'
Of all his work, Weird Al is prob-
ably most famous for his parodies of
Michael Jackson. Being one of his first
major hits, "Eat It," a take-off of "Beat
It," got Al recognized as a sharp-
witted musician, and the song won
him a Grammy for Best Comedy Re-
cording. Years later, Al once again
parodied Jackson, this time with his
rendition of "Bad." "Fat" once again
showcased Al's awesome talent of
making fun of the funny.
"Permanent Record" features a
countless number of other Weird Al
classics. Some of the better known
tracks are "Like A Surgeon" (Madonna,
"Like A Virgin"), "Living With A
Hernia" (James Brown, "Living In
America"), "Yoda" (The Kinks,
"Lola"), and "Achy Breaky Song"
(Billy Ray Cyrus, "Achy Breaky
Heart").
The box also has the rare "My Bo-
logna," Al's first and only single re-
leased on Capitol Records, a parody of
The Knack's "My Sharona." "Perma-
nent Record" also has one new track,
"Headline News," a take-off of Crash
Test Dummies "Mmm Mmm Mmm
Mmm." The song rocks in the typical
Weird Al fashion, and plays on this
year's favorite topics like Tonya and
Nancy, the Bobbits and bad Ameri-
can teens who spray paint cars in
foreign countries.
Besides the charming parodies,
Weird Al has a number of equally as
funny originals. Songs like "You Don't
LoveMeAnymore," "Good Old Days,"
and the eternal "One More Minute" are

famous songs. Al sings "I'd ratherjump
naked on a huge pile of thumb tacks /Or
stick my nostrils together with crazy
glue / I'd rather dive into a swimming
pool filled with double-edged razor
blades / Than spend one more minute
with you / I'd rather rip my heart right
out of my rib cage with my bare hands
and then throw it on the floor and stomp
on it 'till I die / Than spend one more
minute with you."
To complement his off the wall
songs, Al has created some of the best
music videos ever made. From "Fat" to
"Eat It," and who could forget, argu-
ably the best video of all time, "Smells
Like Nirvana," Weird Al's videos are
just as bizarre as his music. "Smells
Like Nirvana" used the same set as the
original, casted the same janitor and
many of the same extras. It also added
Dick Van Patten, farm animals and
dozens of other hysterical additions.
Cobain later said in an interview that
was the one moment when he felt he'd
really made it, when Weird Al did a
parody of him.
Al's illustrious creativity goes far
beyond his goofy music. Besides the
records, he has starred in his own phe-
nomenal comical movie, "UHF"about,
what else, a television station with a
few minor problems.
Alfred Yankovic has accomplished
much more than the average accordion
player ever does; then again, Weird Al
isn't your average polka hero. Al's
brand of clean and fun humorous mu-
sic has touched millions, and will hope-
fully continue as long as there people
who need to be made fun of.
"Permanent Record - Al In The
Box" is exactly what its title claims - a
permanent record of pop music history
and the remaking of that history, writ-

0

Michael Douglas and his parasitic twin Demi Moore pose in front of some cool b
Crichton'sca

By JOSHUA RICH
A multi-cultural cop duo teaming
up to bring down Japanese corporate
terrorists? Dinosaurs running amok in
Central America? A male corporate
executive accusing his new female boss
of sexual harassment? Obscure sce-
narios indeed. Nevertheless, they are
the bases for some of the most enter-
taining and popular motion pictures of
the past three years.
This is the high-intensity, fictional
world of author-turned-director-turned-
pop-icon Michael Crichton.
And with the release of "Disclo-
sure" tomorrow, Crichton may enjoy
the continued success of his work. This
new addition becomes the third film
adaptation of one of his best selling
novels in as many years. But while
anotherpopular Crichton novel-and
now Hollywoodjuggernaut-"Juras-
sic Park," may be his most famous
work to date, it is merely the latest in a
long string of Crichton-conceived
blockbuster films.
Born in Chicago in 1942, and edu-
cated at Harvard College and Harvard
Medical School, Crichton rose to fame
with his classic 1969 novel, "The An-
dromeda Strain." He immediately
emerged as a Hollywood production

force when the film version of the same
title was released a year later. Thus, in
his prosperous 1970s and early-1980s
this author continued to write generally
scientific novels and expanded his tal-
ents to directing movies.
From 1973 to 1984,Crichton wrote
and directed a plethora of films includ-
ing the movie adaptation of his novel
"The Great Train Robbery" (1978) star-
ring Sean Connery and Donald
Sutherland; the 1978 medical thriller,
"Coma," with Michael Douglas; and
one of the first of many Tom Selleck
star vehicles, "Runaway," also starring
Gene "The Heavy Metal Clown"
Simmons. But as the banality of
Crichton's projects became increas-
ingly unpopular, a lull in his mass film
production began as he dropped out of
the Hollywood limelight to focus on
writing books.
Eight years later, after having
authored a series of hit novels,
Crichton's "Rising Sun" (1992) came
to the big screen. It was a turning
point for this author who had not
conceived the plot for a successful
film in almost 10 years. It was also a
turning point in his abilities as a story
creator; his work became less techno-
logical (although his three latest works
still incorporate scientific innova-
tions) and more diversified.
Following the capitalist tirade on
Japanese corporate take-overs in "Ris-
ing Sun" came "Jurassic Park" (1993),
the most popular Crichton film and

linds in "Disclosure."
~ti1 rsing
most successful motion picture ever.
Yet while this movie is rich in com-
puter animation and special effects, it
is nevertheless poor in execution. The
extremely outlandish story - about
the re-generation of dinosaurs through
DNA replication- that Crichton pre-
sented with intrigue and horror in his
novel was compromised like none of
his books before.
Incorporating science and tech-
nology into a diverse range of themes
and story lines, Michael Crichton has
made a career of writing best selling
novels which are adapted into gener-
ally engaging films.
His style of fiction interests areader
or movie-watcher who seeks action
and adventure along with intellectual
and engaging drama. And his recent
recognition as a popular cultural icon
has helped to extend Crichton's reper-
toire to television, where his hospital
emergency room drama creation,
"E.R.," is a hit.
Although the quality of his movies
and novels has certainly varied over the
past few years, Michael Crichton's
work still remains interesting and ex'
citing entertainment. So let'sjust hope
his commentary on sexual harassment,
"Disclosure," (as well as the film ver-
sion of another bestseller, "Congo,"
which is set for release in the Summer
of 1995) re-generates the magic
Crichton last possessed with "Rising
Sun." This author-extraordinaire is
undoubtedly far from extinction.

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