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October 28, 1997 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-28

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8 - The Michigan Daily -1

Actor Davis lights up as Cancer Man

By Gabriel Smith
Daily Arts Writer
During a sitdown interview last week, William B.
Davis did the unthinkable ... he laughed.
After a lively debate about alien abduction, Davis,
best known for his portrayal of chain-smoking villain
Cancer Man on "The X-Files,"
sat down out of character to talk
about everything from the acting R
school he founded, to the enigma
that is Cancer Man.

Mlchael Downing reads at Shaman Drum tonight.
Downin reads from
eC nove tonight

Davis said he started acting at Peas
age 10 in the basement of aP
Toronto summer stock company
with his cousins. Years later, after
acting and directing in his native Canada, Great
Britain and the U.S., in 1989 opened up his own act-
ing school.
He beamed from ear to ear when he talked about the
most famous graduate of the William B. Davis Center
for Actors' Studies - Lucy Lawless, the star of the hit
television show "Xena: Warrior Princess."
"Lucy Lawless just keeps getting more and more
famous," he said, grinning. "In the business section for
USA Today, she was on the front page and I thought
to myself, what is she doing there?"
Though Lawless has many fans, the growth in
enrollment at Davis' school is due in large part to the
popularity of the ruthless villain of "The X-Files."
Along with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson
(Agents Mulder and Scully, respectively), Cancer Man
definitely ranks among the show's most intriguing
characters. Some fans have even argued that Cancer
Man surpasses them.
Davis said Cancer Man's popularity is definitely
linked to his dark side.
"People like villains" he said. "There can be a level
of sophistication and mystery. People think that the
bad guy can be reformed. Cancer Man is misunder-
stood in many ways."

For the fifth season of "The X-Files" which pre-
mieres Nov. 2 on Fox, Davis said there will be a
changing role for the character. He said his character
will undergo a complex metamorphosis.
Davis is keeping busy with the new season of
"The X-Files," even jetting back to Vancouver to
redo some scenes two weeks
ago. Davis said he plans to con-
E V I EW tinue acting and occasionally
teach and hopes for new oppor-
Cancer Man tunities to direct theatrical pro-
e Auditorium, EMU ductions. At 58, retirement is not
an issue for Davis.
Oct. 21 "In this business, you never
have to retire," he said. "Sir John
Gielgud is in his nineties, and he's still acting."
Despite his character's evil demeanor, in person,
Davis displayed the warmth and compassion of a
father figure. In fact, he's not even a smoker - it's
been 15 years since his last off-camera cigarette.
But fans need not worry, Davis's evil side will
return this season on new "X-Files" episodes and a
feature "X-Files" movie slated for next summer,
where he will don his crisp suits and bring the slow
drag of the cigarette to the big screen.
In his role as moderator of last Tuesday's debate on
alien life at Eastern Michigan University, "Aliens: The
Truth Is Out There," Davis added his own views.
"You could say I am an alienist. My work as an
actor leads me to skepticism."
Despite the extensive credentials of panelists Dr.
John Mack and B. Gentry Lee, Davis still received
the most accolades as he strode onstage after a
jazzy rendition of "The X-Files" theme. Dr. Mack
is a Pulitzer Prize-winner and a professor of psy-
chiatry at Harvard Medical School. Lee collaborat-
ed with sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke on four best-
sellers, worked with the late Carl Sagan on
"Cosmos" and was the chief engineer of the Galileo

The evening was surprisingly entertaining as Lee's
oratory skills were clearly excellent and Mack started
off his opening comments by donning a shirt with the
words "My views do not necessarily reflect that of
Harvard University."
The debate forum quickly turned into a discussion
as audience questions were few and far between.
But Lee summed up the entire forum with his o
ing remarks.
"There exists no proof that there has been contact
between humans and aliens," he said. "It is more like-
ly to walk out of the auditorium and get struck by
lightning than to be abducted by aliens."
Like the show's motto proclaims every week; the
truth is out there.

By David Erik Nelson
For the Daily
Fact: The circular saw, washing
machine and clothespin are all non-
patented Shaker inventions. The
Shakers don't believe in patenting, pre-
ferring to think of their inventions as
gifts to the world.
With the lives and wisdoms of
Shakers in mind,
Michael Downing®
reads from his gift PR
to the world --his
third and most MICh
recent novel,
P e r f e c t
,Agreement" - ________
today at Shaman
Although his first two novels,
"Mother of God" and "A Narrow
Time' received somewhat mixed
reviews, it is widely agreed that his
ability to accurately and evocatively
depict the complexities of human rela-
tionships is superb. His writing is witty
and ironical, with a twist of modern
"Perfect Agreement"'s central narra-
tive is that of the Shakers of Pleasant
Hill, Ky., and their struggle to maintain
coherence and integrity immersed in a
hostile world.
This central plot is framed by the
story of the narrator, grammar and
spelling professor Mark Sternum, who
has found himself out of a job and in
the center of a political imbroglio
because "I was the guy who refused to
pass a so-called-black female student
on the spelling portion of the
Competency Achievement Test (CAT)
and thus prevented her from entering
her junior-year practice-teaching expe-
rience. It turned out all right in the end

manual labor is neither punishment nor
necessity, but rather gift.
But why the Shaker hoopla? They are
a truly American phenomenon and yet
mysteriously absent from the American
psyche. The Shakers run contrary to
many of the axioms that we, as
Americans, are raised to believe:
Private enterprise is integral to techno-
logical develop-
ment; the American
E V I E W mindset once com-
pletely accepted
el Downing racial and gender
Tonight at 8 p.m. subjugation; com-
Shaman Drum munism is implicit-
Free ly bound for swift


William B. Davis is not related to Ann B. Davis.

G. Love makes perfection look easy on Yeah

collapse; the sex
drive is the central motivating force in
90 percent of all human actions.
In our present historic moment, in
which we are desperately trying to
simultaneously unify and maintain
every tiny facet of our individuality, we
should perhaps reflect on the Shaker
history, which is our birthright as
Americans. This tolerant, shared
humanity is more ours than the nation-
alities of our grandparents.
The Shaker tale and Mark's tale are
ultimately not unconnected. Mark com-
pletes each chapter with a brief lesson
in grammar.
Downing explained it as an attempt
"to put Mark on equal footing with the
Shakers (who lived by laws), to say that
he too is living by rules which have to
be revised, and which he cannot revise
himself, and which will otherwise con-
tinue to limit him."
Although it sounds gimmicky, this is
quite successful, accentuating the
novel's more subtle theme: the need for
fluidity and willingness towards infi-
nite refinement if one wants to swim
rather than sink in this world.
It is-rigidity, perhaps, that ultimately
undid the Shakers and is quite possibly
undoing America.
Despite a slight bogging down near
the end and an unevenness of dramatic
tension, owing to the strange, yet affect-
ing marriage of two disparate world-
views, Downing's "Perfect Agreement,"
is a perfect environment for just such an
Downing reads tonight at Shaman
Drum, and his erudite and insightful
prose, and charming presence, are not
to be missed.

This brouhaha prompts the return of
Mark's father, who abandoned his fam-
ily in favor of the Shaker Family just
after Mark's birth. And thus the Shakers
enter Mark's life.
The two narratives may seem some-
what disjointed, Downing explained: "I
.really wrote this book twice. I did write
the Shaker story first, so I think of it as
very much a book about the Shakers."
Fact: among the Shakers' tenets
(other than their notorious celibacy) are
a steadfast and functional equality of
genders and races and the belief that

G. Love & Special
Yeah, It's That Easy
OKeh/ Epic Records
Genre-hopping in the world of con-
temporary music has become such an
accepted form of musical expression in
the '90s that it soon will need its own
section in your local record store.
We have Beck to thank for that. It is
because of this influx in "fun lovin,"'
category-defying artists that only a
handful of them come across as having
any originality in their flavor.
Philadelphia's G. Love & Special
Sauce prove to be an exception to the
rule. By fusing a hybrid of blues,
hip-hop, funk, folk and
rockabilly, G. Love and
his talented backing
musicians have a
sound that's entirely
unique to them,
which they have
affectionately classi-
fied as "rag mop:' On
their new release, "Yeah,
It's That Easy" G. Love &
Special Sauce both expand and
retain the musicianship of their two pre-
vious albums by keeping the production
to a bare minimum so as to let their
grooves seem as natural, untainted and
free flowing as possible.
By employing the use of turntables,
backup singers and a piano/organ play-
er, G. Love finds himself going in new
directions with this new release, and the
results definitely pay off. The moods
range freely on this record as G. Love
waxes poetic on love, friends and city-
living Philly style.
The album even takes an uncharac-
teristically dark and introspective tone
with its best track, "Slipped Away,"
while comforting its listener with the
ultra-hooky and groove heavy first sin-
gle, "Stepping Stone."
The trio ultimately returns to its
trademark style in the title track, which
plays like a bass-laden rhythm being
painted over by G. Love's scat-rapping
and harmonica slurs.
The record's ultimate charm lies in
the speak-easy voice of its lead singer
as he belts out rhymes in a manner that
is somewhat comparable to that of a
city street performer who is merely

commenting on what he sees, whether it
be the bum sifting through your trash or
the close friends he's got crowded
around him.
While coherency has never been G.
Love's lyrical strong point, the cocksure
swagger in his voice let's you indulge in
his band's appeal, one that sounds like a
couple of close friends getting together
in a small basement for a weekend jam,
allowing for their funk and blues roots
to seep through on record.
Any G. Love fan will tell you that
you haven't experienced the true
essence of their "sauce" until you have
seen them live, which you can do on
Nov. 16, when they come to Hill
With the eclectic "Yeah It's That
Easy," G. Love & Special Sauce
provide a healthy introduc-
tion to any listener inter-
q ested in hearing a band
that draws from its
influences as much
as they expand on
- Lucas
The Murmurs
Pristine Smut
It's too bad when an album starts off
with a kick, then leaves you dry for
almost 10 songs. "Pristine Smut"'s
opening track, "Big Talker" is a smooth
and provocative ditty that gave me high
expectations for what was soon to
The slightly jazzy, pop rock num-
ber works as a great hook with the
two Murmurs, Heather Grody and
Leisha Hailey, tossing out funky
riffs, a nicely blending wah-wah
guitar rhythm track and a distinc-
tive, Natalie Merchant-like chorus.
The hint of disappointment comes
when one of the two comes in with
the solo, which sounds like a warm-
up exercise for a beginning gui-
tarist. Before long, the music as a
whole resorts to primitive, light
grunge rock.
Pristine Smut is the band's second
release on MCA; the third since its
independent label debut.
The female duo started by playing in
New York subway stations, which prob-
ably gave rise to the more appealing
tracks on the album, like "About
Nothing" and "Country Song," both of
which are acoustically based. These
slightly country, slow-moving,
unplugged ditties display a different
side of the duo.
The listener can find some originali-
ty in the midst of the worn-out grunge.
The finale, "Sleepless Commotion," is
a provocative, lighter-swaying ballad
that provides an emotionally moving

"Squeeze Box Days" is a stereotypi-
cal, tormented female, angst rock com-
position that tells the tale of a rocky
one-night stand. "Sucker Upper" slips
into the mundane category, but contains
exceptionally sprightly harmonies and
amusing lyrics.
Larry Klein and k.d. lang have pro-
duced a somewhat tight album, but
should have taken better advantage of
Grody and Hailey's sweet, natural voic-
es and notable harmony capabilities.
The two have a lot of flair and musi-
cal tact that could help them cultivate a
better sound.
With more effort in the songwriting
stage and a more novel approach to the
performance, The Murmurs could make
a name for themselves in the current
music scene.
- Ryan Sherriff
Jars of Clay
Much Afraid
Essential Records
Considering some of the crap that
comes out of the music business,
it's not surprising that I have pro-
ceeded to borrow my friends CDs
rather than buying an album and
being disappointed with a majority
of it.
On Tuesday, Sept. 22, Jars of Clay
finally gave me a reason to walk to the
store to buy a CD.
Their second album, "Much Afraid,"
well surpasses their debut album in
almost all facets.
First of all, they added a real drum-
mer on most of their tracks, which is a
welcome change from the drum
machine they used on their debut
The music grooves a hell of a lot bet-
ter, and the added sound of acoustic
drums creates a fuller texture that is
more pleasing to the ear. Secondly,
they've added a lot more of the key-
board effects that previously made Jars
one of the few original bands out on the
market. Track 9, "Truce," is a great
example of these "modernized" effects,

G. Love & Special Sauce unleash the amazing "Yeah' It's That Easy."

Jars adds to this "newer" .sound -by
using the electric guitar a little nre
throughout the album, which adds as
much intensity to other songs as it did
on "Overjoyed" and "Fade to Gray'
The album concludes slowly with
title track, "Much Afraid," and a-beau -
ful guitar/vocal melody, "Hymp."
Ending with a slow, reflective song
seems to be a characteristic of Jarsand
a lot of other Christian bands: Speaing
frankly, I wish that more bands would
use songs like this to finish, their
albums. It's a lot more peaceful,. and
will relieve any amount of stress.
But one part of the CD did bqther
me, and that was the fact that corpo I
America was able to weasel their
on to the record; specifically- Arnijca
Branded with AOL's recognizable
logo, the CD also contained ;4OL
access software and "special deals-for
free hours.
Why is this necessary?
There are plenty of ways to get
free AOL software and hours, so
there is no need to advertise and
access software on a CD that cani
in the absence of a crappy online ser-
Jars, being one of the most popular
Christian rock groups, also has a large
fan base for people who purchase, their
music more than it's meaning.Faliing in
between these two sides myself; I can
say that the shear talent involved in their
music is reason enough to buy "Much
When you add in all the other qua
characteri tics that make Jars- of Clay
the group that they are, everybody
should at least open their mind and take
a listen. 4
Also, having seen them live,. l.,can
honestly say that it is another experi-
ence of which anybody curious about
Jars should take advantage.
Jars of Clay play the Royal Qak
Music Theater on Nov. 9.aSp
-AlanE S pe
See RECORDS, Page 9


~oo p SO.

Wll lesnt
with special guest
Wives of Bath
.,eas_ SALE ONLY!



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