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November 04, 1997 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-11-04

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 4, 1997 -9

4Vora visits 'Aunt Carmen'

By Jessica Eaton
Daily Books Editor
There are only two possibilities for a book titled "Aunt
Carmen's Book of Practical Saints." It can either be really,
really amusing or really, really awful. It can be an innova-
tive work of lyrical genius, or it can be a book that, well,
hould be left to gather dust on the shelf in a convent
16mewhere.
While "genius" is a very strong word, Pat Mora does
manage to create a witty tongue-in-
cheek portrait in a book of poetry that P
conveys the life and faith of an 80-
year-old woman. This is, admittedly,
an extremely subdued subject, but as
Mora wil demonstrate in her reading
at Shaman Drum this evening, in this
book the subject never attempts to
take itself too seriously.
' Aunt Carmen has been cleaning the church for years, and
er prayers have become nothing but a thinly disguised veil
of her life story. She has prayed since the age of 16 for "a
handsome man who would never stray," but now she delights
only in the: birth of her grandchildren and in the fact that the
local priest is afraid of her. Her life story, in muddled
Spanish and English, is that of feisty independence and
extreme stubbornness ... hardly what you would expect from
an old wife and mother.
But then, Aunt Carmen is very rarely what you would
expect. As she says, "I know about scaring men. Haven't I
*en married for 60 years? Marriage works best when men
think we're volcanoes .... Los hombres walk more carefully
around us then.' Perhaps she doesn't always fit the tradition-
al mold. Perhaps she does.
Mora, the author of "House of Houses," writes each
entry of Aunt Carmen's life using a varied conglomera-
tion of traditional poetic forms, each meant to suit the

O

background of Carmen in a different mode. Each struc-
ture, like its subject, is stubborn and inflexible, yet for-
giving of the diversity of language and emotion which
Carmen possesses, and in her language Mora creates a
lyrical past for her.
"Aunt Carmen's Book of Practical Saints" is a thin
volume, with an illustration fitting nearly every poem
and pages containing a variety of color and light. The
book's appearance fits its contents, and its contents fit
its author, and its author fits its sub-
E V I E W ject. This is the only order that should
exist in a self-respecting book of
Pat Mora poetry.
Tonight at 8 Mora has been called "one of the
Shaman Drum most significant Chicana poets of our
Free time," but she is, more appropriately,
an author of the past, one who is able
to appreciate convention and her own ancestry. And as
such, Aunt Carmen, with her grandmotherly rebellion, is
all the more endearing. "Let me bring you down to smell
these roses from my garden," she says. "I tell them about
you. Like children, they like a story."
This is not delicate, writing-journal poetry. This is poetry
to be read aloud, read by a strong woman with a rich, laugh-
ing voice and a Spanish lilt to accentuate the rhythm.
It is poetry to be read over a cup of steaming tea by some-
one who will divert onto tangential stories about their child-
hood and their memories of the book's illustrations. Its only
drawback is that there aren't enough of those stories around
anymore.
Mora has been the recipient of a Kellogg Leadership
Fellowship, Southwest Book Awards, and a National
Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
"Aunt Carmen's Book of Practical Saints" has the same
sort of homespun, good old-fashioned magic, and is an
unusual treat of New Mexico tradition.

Andy Richter and Conan O'Brien show off their musical prowess. Thankfully, they're not included on Conan's "Uve from 6-A."
Conan gets cool w1th Lve album

Brilliant'Newsradio' broadcasts
on a gimmick-free frequency

By Michael Galloway
For the Daily
Ever wonder why some shows catch on and other shows
don't? I started to when I was watching "Newsradio" the
other night.
Here's a well-made comedy in which I have hardly ever
een disappointed, and yet I won't schedule my week around
it.
Then I started thinking about the
shows I have made an effort to record or R
be home in time to see - "Hercules"
"Xena: Warrior Princess," and (only for a
while) "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer."
Though I'm proud I've never fallen into
the pit of "Beverly Hills 90210," "Party
of Five," or "Melrose Place," plenty of
her people have.
So I wonder - is "Newsradio" lacking something that
these rather insipid shows have?
"Newsradio" has a great cast comprised of veteran come-
*dians, but I only remember three of them from other shows.
Dave Foley often gave a more realistic portrayal of a
woman than many actresses I have seen while he was on "The
Kids in the Hall." Phil Hartman was one of the bright lights
of "Saturday Night Live" (my personal favorite being his Ed
McMahon impersonation, "YES! You are correct, sir!"). And
Andy Dick served a term on the short-lived but innovative
Ven Stiller Show."
"Newsradio" has great writing and directing, as
creator/executive producer Paul Simms and Bernie Brillstein,
.both from "The Larry Sanders Show,"
collaborate with Brad Grey on produc-
ing wacky hi-jinx inside an office at a Why has
news-radio station.
James Burrows, co-creator of sodeed
"Cheers" and "Frasier," directs the plight
of a young news director, Dave Nelson time-slot
(Dave Foley), as he tries to manage his
ofy co-workers and maintain his own in three,
nity._
He gets no help from his boss, Jimmy
James (Stephen Root), the epitome of a clownish executive
and also the most fun character to watch. Jimmy is hardly the
only reason to watch, nor is he the lone source of Dave's
problems.
Matthew Brock (Andy Dick) is remarkable as a neuroti-
cally sensitive street reporter who worships the incredibly

I

egotistical Bill McNeal (Phil Hartman). Then there's Beth
(Vicki Lewis), the sassy and offbeat secretary who can't be
put down in a couple of phrases, and Joe Garelli (Joe
Rogan), the blue-collar jock and electrician with his slightly
imperfect gadgetry and an infatuation with alien conspiracy
theories.
And there have been great episodes. In one, James Caan,
who is supposed to be studying Bill
McNeal for an upcoming movie,
E V I E W becomes enthralled with Matthew, who
is in his words, "the single strangest
Newsradio son-of-a-bitch that I have ever seen."
NBC Matthew ends up vomiting on him.
Another episode has a "Mission
Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. Impossible" break-in to the boss' office
to recover a commandeered Dilbert doll.
Then there was the time Jimmy James ran for president in
order to meet women ....
There have been love affairs, but they aren't as immediate
to the plot as in other sitcoms. They're also a trifle more orig-
inal.
Dave bickers as much as he makes out with feisty fellow
reporter Lisa Miller (Maura Tierney), who constantly chal-
lenges his authority. Theirs is a refreshing TV relationship
because it doesn't involve the cliche of opposites attracting.
Of course, the relationship between the sophisticated news
anchor and woman of color, Cathryn Duke (Khandi
Alexander), and Joe, the Caucasian electrician, does just
that. Still, the interracial angle of this affair isn't played up,

various Artists
Live from 6A: Late Night
With Conan O'Brien
Mercury Records
It's 12:35 a.m. on a week-
day night. There are two
cures for your comedy-
viewing needs: Conan.
O'Brien or the ever-
popular David
Letterman.
"Late Night with
Conan O'Brien" seemed
doomed to remain in the
shadow of David Letterman's
"Late Show."To try and set the O'Brien
show apart, producers struck a deal
with Mercury Records to create an
album culled from musical perfor-
mances on the show.
The album "Live From 6A: Late
Night With Conan O'Brien" compiles
some of the best performances from the
show.
"Live from 6A" is for those who can
handle a little of the mainstream. A few
of the songs are on the verge of being
overplayed on the radio and nearly
every artist on the album has been fea-
tured on MTV.
The album includes tracks from plat-
inum artists such as 311, soulful
rhythms from Jamiroquai and Soul
Coughing, and critical faves such as
Ani DiFranco.
It mixes a little old with the new.
Bjork brilliantly performs "Human
Behavior," off her first album, "Debut,"
and Elvis Costello beautifully plays the
title track from his new album, "All
This Useless Beauty."
Matthew Sweet performs the only
cover track. His rendition of the Electric
Light Orchestra's "Do Ya" is a fun
flashback to the early '70s.
The CD represents what the Conan
O'Brien Show tries to do: Give voice to
up-and-coming talent. The collection of
music is by people who definitely
deserve to be seen and heard.
O'Brien suggests that the artists
signed to his CD aren't huge - he must
be crazy if he thinks names like David'
Bowie and Elvis Costello won't attract
sales.
Other than the classic performers, the
unique and unforgettable sounds of
Bjork, Jamiroquai and the Squirrel Nut
Zippers will undoubtedly catch the pub-
lic's attention.
The man just seems to want some-
thing more to whine about.

Mercury hopes its "Late Night" col-
lection will spawn R&B and country
sequels.
I'm sure that O'Brien will go out and
purchase his own copy of Letterman's
collection to see the competition's final
product. And if Letterman is ever
interested in listening to
O'Brien's cool compila-
tion, I'm sure he can
find someone to give
him a copy.
- Marquina /liev
Charlie Parker
Yardbird Suite: The
Ultimate Charlie Parker
Collection
Rhino Records
Perhaps Miles Davis said it best
when he wrote "... all they could do
was try to get Bird's approach, his con-
cept ... Nobody could play like Bird,
then or now."
Now, thanks to those re-release
geniuses at Rhino Records, the unparal-
leled alto saxophone playing of Charlie
"Bird" Parker can be found in a new
two-CD boxed-set compilation,
"Yardbird Suite: The Ultimate Charlie
Parker Collection."
It truly is a Herculean task to assem-
ble the "best" works of a musician so
versatile and highly regarded as Bird.
The fact is, there are few recordings of
his that are not fantastic.
Regardless, this compilation opens
up with "Groovin' High," a tune record-
ed with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie in
typical fashion; the two musicians seem
to meld together for a fantastic song.
After all, it was playing in the same
band that made these two famous.
Some of the best work on the first
disc is a session recorded in '46, with
an incredible band including trumpeter
Miles Davis and tenor-man Lucky
Thompson.
This group really grooves on the
three classic Bird cuts, "Moose the
Mooch" "Ornithology" and the title

track, "Yardbird Suite:' None of these
are especially new, but they all are well
played and, more important, they sup-
port some of the lesser-known pieces
with their classic appeal.
Unfortunately, they are placed in the
middle of the line-up, so their impact is
noticeably weaker.
One reason why Bird is so well
respected, despite his extensive drug
habit, is that he had a yen for creativity
and a sense of humor. This trait is evi-
dent in the collection. Bird frequently
steps aside to let the younger members
of the band have moments alone to
wail. Miles Davis, Bird's most famous
pupil, comes across well in his, most
notably on "Dewey Square." This
swingin' piece seems to take off and
never come down. One gets the feeling
that the musicians are having a ball
making this recording.
The second CD lacks a bit of the
intense emotion that is prevalent in the
first. Still, a handful of tracks stand out
as truly incredible. In "Parker's Mood,"
Bird teams up with pianist John Lewis
of Modern Jazz Quartet fame. The bal-
lad moves gently as Lewis, who was
classically trained, leads Bird intol a
more tame rhythm.
If nothing else, this track shows
Bird's versatility in the way he can
switch from fast-paced Be-Bop tunesto
sweeter ballads. "My Little Suede
Shoes" is a true change of pace for avid
listeners, as Bird incorporates bongos
and conga drums into the mix, for an
Afro-Cuban sound. "A Night In
Tunisia" rings with this same sultry,
Latin feeling.
"Yardbird Suite" stands out as one of
the best retrospective box-sets in a
seemingly growing sea of such pre-
packaged gold mines. All sidemen are
given fair playing time and the mix of
different recording sessions works in
the compilation's favor.
The booklet that accompanies the
discs is a great resource for casual listen-
ers and ornithologists alike. If perhaps
your wings have been clipped or your
feathers ruffled, Bird will know how to
get you flying again. It seems as if once
again the adage is true: Bird lives!
-Aaron Rich
See RECORDS, Page 10

j
hl
hI
YO

and I would prefer it that way.
This unspoken acceptance is a sign of
maturity, but this method doesn't boost
3 show the ratings either.
So maybe that's the answer. Why has
ad four a show so good had four time-slot
changes in just three years? Because
Cha~ngeS there's no gimmick.
Nope, no focus on actors' sex appeal,
ears? nor is there an effort at keeping the
audience in suspense as to whether the
main characters will ever fall in love.
No "Ross and Rachel" romance, nor sexual preference
announcements by office co-workers.
Not to say Ellen's "outing" wasn't historic, but it was also
a great way to take a larger ratings share.
No, "NewsRadio" is just a funny, well-made show, but
without the gimmick, I'm not sure if it will ever catch on.

i'

clw i0*

pre-med
at nyu

The Department of Philosophy
The University of Michigan
announces
THE TANNER LECTURE
ON HUMAN VALUES
X1997-98
Antonio R. Damasio
M.W. Van Allen Professor of Neurology
University of Iowa S{
EXPLORING TIHE
MINDED BRAIN
Friday, November 14, 4:00 p.m.
Rackham Auditorium,
915 East Washington Street

+ Principles of Biology
I and II
" Human Physiology
" Human
r Reproduction and
Development
" Biochemistry I and II
* Genetics
" College Chemistry
I and 1I

e Introduction to
Lab Techniques
* Organic Chemistry
and Lab I and II
* Introduction to
Quantitative Analysis
* General Physics
I and II
* Calculus I and I1

PEACE CORPS
INFORMATION SESSION
Peace Corps is currently placing college seniors in posi-
tions that begin in the spring and summer of 1998. For
information about current openings, visit the
University of Michigan campus representative at the
International Center, 603 E. Madison Street. v

summer
intect
iNew York University

SYMPOSIUM ON THE
TANNER LECTURE
ANTONIO R. DAMASIO
RICHARD DAVIDSON
Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry
Laboratory of Affective Neuroscience

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