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November 05, 1997 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-11-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Get into the 'Swing'
Uorit miss a special presentation of 1996's sleeper hit "Swingers."
Playing tonight at Hillel, the film launched the careers of director
Doug Liman and stars Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, who also wrote
the script. "Swingers" follows a group of friends as they haplessly
swing through the Las Vegas and L.A. nightclub scenes looking for
love. 9 p m. at Hillel Foundation, 1429 Hill St. Free.

Wednesday
November 5, 1997

5

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Sarah soars at Fiox s .

By Michael Zilberman
Daily Arts Writer
Concert reviews rarely capture the spirit of a missed con-
cert. In fact, they're at their most useful if the show in ques-
tion was not up to standards - then they at least put you at
peace with having missed it.
ell, I'm not performing that service here. Those who
skipped Sarah McLachlan's Fox
Theatre appearance on Nov. 2, blew a
near-perfect affair, its grandiosity bare- R
ly hinted at by the singer's two previous
area appearances. .Sarahn
Flanked by fellow songwriters both
at the last year's tour with Patti Smith Fox Ti
and this summer's Lilith Fair,
McLachlan performed laconic six- or
seven- song sets with relatively spare orchestration. Sunday
i~t at the Fox, she had the time to spare and her entire cat-
alogue to revisit - and seemed elated at the opportunity:
"It's so much fun to have so many albums to choose from,"
the singer gushed, in an uncharacteristically upbeat stage pat-
ter.
Rather than mixing the material from the latest release,
"Surfacing'" with older songs, McLachlan chose to perform
in extended blocks. After ripping through a sped-up version
of "Building A Mystery" (while the audience's eyes were still
adjusting to the stage and light setup, simple and elegant amid
the ludicrous decor of the Fox), she turned to highlights from
3's "Fumbling Toward Ecstasy."
his was followed by several new numbers; then, the focus
of the concert shifted to songs going as far back as "Into The
Fire," the singer's first semi-hit served up as dynamic, U2-ish
arena rock.
Compared to McLachlan's acoustic guitar- and piano-dri-
ven VH I concerts, the general direction of the night's sound
was faster, thicker and louder. Two lead guitarists juggled at
least four axes each - one periodically stepping up to a pedal
steel, the other serving double duty on keyboards. Yet anoth-

E
'he

er keyboard player worked a synthesizer in the smoky back-
ground, freeing the singer to exercise some surprising rock-
star microphone moves.
One thing that tends to get overlooked in revies is that
McLachlan is a hell of a lead guitarist herself when she dons
a Gibson and she had a couple of brief opportunities to prov e
it. But yes, for the major part of the evening she was confined
neither to a piano nor to her acoustic, hap-
pily shedding a singer-songwriter image
V I E W for that of a true band frontwoman, even
trying an occasional little dance (of a rela-
McLachlan tively tame, Natalie Merchant variety).
The new songs from "Surfacing" contin-
atre, Detroit ued musically in the same vein as
Nov. 2, 1997 "Fumbling Toward Ecstasy" perhaps with
more accentuated beat (courtesy of the
singer's drummer-husband Ash Sood), sometimes even bor-
dering on trip-hop. The themes, however, were kept the same
- love, loss, redemption -- and McLachlan's vocabulary
hasn't changed much: at least five songs revolved around the
keyword "heaven.:"
Yet even the weakest lyrics were lifted from mediocrity by
the voice that suited an inhabitant of the keyword.
The emotional peak of the evening came with a unique ren-
dering of the older album's "Fear." Everybody who's heard a
Sarah McLachlan song knows that the singer's vocals exist on
two different planes: a rather subdued soprano and a full,
breathy lilt she summons at will, usually for a chorus. "Fear'
after a slow, creeping intro, was sung entirely in that piercing
"second voice."
The audience was understandably transfixed. To almost
everybody's deepest chagrin, a couple of I-love-you-Sarah's
wafted in during the concert's softer moments, once even
prompting a dismayed remark to the effect of "Are you alright
out there?"
"Alright"incidentally, appeared to be the evening's official
state of the soul. Even the gloomiest material was sung with
a kind of a bemused throwaway grin tossed at the audience at

Sarah McLachlan transfixed a sold-out Fox Theatre crowd on Sunday night with intoxicating sounds and upbeat conversation.

the line breaks; "Hold On," an ambience-drenched excursion
into despair, got suddenly reincarnated as a relaxed folky
number. At times, that sweet, laid-back approach seemed to
put a bit of a distance between the singer and the song -
especially if the latter dealt with a subject matter darker than,
ah, ice cream.
In that case, though, every corny little concert trick was
appropriate -- even the audience's own allowed rendition of
the chorus. The fact of that cute a trifle as "Ice Cream"
inevitably striking that deep a chord in listeners' hearts, seems
to continually bemuse McLachlan, who chose the song to

usher in a generous double encore.
The full band returned for a taut rendition of "Sweet
Surrender" punctuated by bleeping, techno-inspired guitar
styl ings.
A shriek- and applause-filled minute later, McLachlan
returned to the stage with a special guest who thankfully did-
n't sing or played a note: Her big black dog. The dog patient-
ly sat through the master's solo version of "Angel" and left by
McLachlan's side, anxiously glancing at a gathering of peo-
ple that would by now gladly inhabit its shaggy persona for a

Vonnegut's

' uake' proves earth-shattering read

TimeQuake case, not overwhelming the reader and
Kurt Vonnegut not just blowing off the question either.
Using the structure of the timequake,
Putnam Publishing Vonnegut plays with the notion of free
*** will - if there is such a thing, or if
humans are all just caught in a big time-
The year is 2001. The universe is still quake or maybe something in the mid-
rapidly expanding from the big bang. dIe.
Computers are processing an amount of Fact and fiction are constantly put
information historically unprecedented. side by side, fact often seeming the
Kilgore Trout, the obscure science fic- stranger of the two. Through this,
tion writer and Kurt Vonnegut's Vonnegut is able to elucidate the
alter ego, takes his resi- craziness of the world
dence in the former -_ for instance the
Museum of the commandeering
A m e r i c a n of a college
Indian, now a football stadi-
homeless shel- um for a place
ter. to make the
Suddenly, the world's first
universe decides to atomic bomb.

motel clerk in small town, late '80s
Michigan - pregnant, aborted and wed
by high school graduation - who side-
lines as a prostitute. Yes, it sounds like
tripe of the
"Stri ptease"/"Showgirls"/"Pretty
Woman" school. This appearance is
only encouraged by the cover blurb,
describing "Suspicious River" as "an
exploration of the legacy of abuse and
violence." But hold your groans and
keep reading.
The fly-by plot summary makes the
book sound like a groaner because in all
honesty we, as the entertainment con-
suming public, are sick of hearing about
prostitutes.
But she avoids traveling already-cov-
ered literary and entertainment ground
by not writing a "hooker with the heart
of gold" story. "Suspicious River" is not
a story with a prostitute but rather a
story about a person who has (and note
this next word well) chosen to be a
prostitute. In contrast to stock prosti-
tute, Leila has freely chosen her
descending career path.
Thus it is clear from the start that
Leila's motivations are more deeply
rooted than the simple cause-and-effect
economics displayed in "Striptease"
and "The World According to Garp."

Kasischke frames Leila as someone
very human, very like ourselves at our
best, when we work for something more
numinous than the base wages we
receive.
Kasischke's novel is, in its 271 pages,
as boiled-down as it can be. Kasishchke
has smoothed her work such that the
critical crow-bar can find no purchase.
It's sturdy and durable and, despite the
boring rigidity of lots of sturdy, durable
things, is beautiful. There is zero per-
cent loss of energy. The novel is fabu-
lously, tightly wrought. "Suspicious
River" is good because it tells a story in
the shortest, most powerful possibly set
of words.
Kasischke's book is ultimately life-
affirming. This affirmation is not at all
after-school special-like, nor irresponsi-
bly pat. It is a problematic resolution in
the way that real life lessons are prob-
lematic.
Leila ultimately reduces her seem,
ingly prime, boundless internal con-
flicts down to their lowest common
denominator - the basic struggle it
always was - child abuse, cheating
mom, boredom, fugue, apathy and
prostitution aside. It is this struggleo
from which none of us are distant.
- David Nelson

Kirstie Alley whines about everything from husbands to underwear in "Closet."
bon't bother opening
Alley's whiny 'Closet'

By Julia Shih
Daily Arts Writer
I remember Kirstie Alley as Ted
son's whiny sparring partner on
eers." I remember her as a nearly
identical whiny chick from "Look
Who's Talking" and "Sibling Rivalry."
Wouldn't it be fair then, to expect (and
hope) that the actress who has won an
Emmy, a Golden

meeting a $10 hooker wearing hun-
dreds of dollars worth of Victoria's
Secret lingerie, we still know trash
when we see it. Produced by the same
people who brought you "Friends" and
"Dream On""Veronica's Closet" is not
something that Bright, Kauffman and
Crane are going to want to put on their
future resum6s.
Much of the

Globe and a
People's Choice
Award to actually
show her range and
f once, act a lit-
Apparently, the
powers-that-be are

REVIEW
Veronica's Closet
NBC
Thursdays at 9:30 p.m.

problem has to do
with the fact that
everything about
the show tries to
succeed but falls
limp. Particularly,
the writing is so
horrific and banal

switch directions, con-
tracting back to the year 1991.
Humanity must then watch every
excruciating detail of their lives
replayed; they must make the same mis-
takes, eat the same things for breakfast
until once again, in 2001, free will takes
over.
In the finished product,
"TimeQuake" takes the juiciest chunks
of this narrative and mixes them with
Vonnegut's own observations, anec-
dotes and history concerning both him-
self, his family and the wily Kilgore
Trout. The moments of Trout's life are
linked together in a hilarious free form
complete with his own versions of what
happened in the Garden of Eden, the
last moment's of Hitler's life and why
viruses are running amok.
"TimeQuake" is filled with
Vonnegut's witty and often thought-pro-
voking ideas on popular culture and life
in general. He even proposes several
constitutional amendments.
Overall, "TimeQuake" is a book
about what it means to be human, or in
the words of Kilgore Trout, how
humans deal with the fact that "being
alive is a crock of shit." Vonnegut
delves into such weighty topics as the
meaning of life with a characteristic

Though always sarcastic
and skeptical about life,
Vonnegut's work ultimately has a posi-
tive outlook, emphasizing the worth of
our relationships with each other.
"TimeQuake" is a must for all
Vonnegut aficionados and a good read
even for those who have never encoun-
tered his work before. His voice is fresh
and engaging, giving the reader the
effect of sitting across the room, listen-
ing to a man well versed in the art of
conversation. He does, in his own eclec-
tic way, accomplish his definition of the
goal of art: "to make people appreciate
being alive at least a little bit."
- Steve Deckrow
Suspicious River
Laura Kasischke
Houghton Mifflin Company
"Suspicious River" is the first novel
by Michigan-based, multiple Hopwood
Award winning poet Laura Kasischke.
It is the story of Leila, a 20-something

U

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really laughing it up about this one,
because we get to put up with Alley as
yet another whiny character in her new
sitcom,"Veronica's Closet."
Alley plays Veronica "Ronnie"
Chase, the owner of an upscale lingerie
company and author of self-help
mance books. Having just broken up
th her philandering husband, Alley
gets not only the spotlight, but also
free-reign to whine until the cows come
home.
She whines about everything includ-
ing relationships, her now estranged
husband, the antics in the workplace
and her underwear riding up her crack.
Her acting range, as exhibited on this
show, consists of her going from whin-
and complaining to occasionally
eaking out into manic tears.
Fortunately, Alley's whining detracts
attention from the fact that the show has
nothing with which to back her up. Like

that people can't help but expect some-
one to come in and deliver the disgust-
ingly corny, yet popular, sitcom line,
"What's the number for 911."
The other employees at the lingerie
company include Chase's sympathetic
top executive, Olive (Kathy Najimy);
her uptight assistant Josh (Wallace
Langham); the company's publicist,
Perry (Dan Cortese); and the marketing
manager Leo (Daryl "Chill" Mitchell).
This group of talented and not-so-tal-
ented actors are a combination that
have the potential to make the show
semi-worthwhile, but don't even bother
trying.
Dan Cortese is the show's designated
heartthrob whose character prances
around flaunting the fact that he used to
be an underwear model. The former
pretty-boy of "MTV Sports," Cortese
proves that his skills don't go much far-
ther than smiling for the camera. In one
marking exchange between his charac-
ter, Perry and Josh, Josh asks, "Isn't it
enough that you're pretty?" Cortese
answers, "Evidently not:'

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