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February 04, 1998 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-02-04

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 4, 1998

WB offers comedians creative freedom'

The Baltimore Sun
For Carol Leifer, it's the opportunity for a creative
carte blanche.
For Robert Townsend. it's the chance for some tal-
ented black directors, writers and actors to hone their
And for Ed McMahon, it's the chance to serve as
father figure to a bunch of young kids anxious for the
big time.
For all three, working for the WB is working for the
new network on the block, a reality that may translate
to fewer viewers and less exposure but brings with it a
host of other benefits.
"It kind of appealed to me that (the network) is in
the evolutionary stages." Leifer said. "It can be a little
intimidating to go on a bigger network and maybe
know that if you're in a bad time slot or don't deliver
in a couple weeks, you're off the air. There's not that
kind of pressure here. They've really let me do what I
want to do. I like being a pioneer."
As do they all, apparently.
Townsend, who rose to film fame as an

actor/writer/director ("Meteor Man," "Hollywood
Shuffle"), says he was drawn to television because of
the potential for maximum exposure - important for
a man who believes his work provides more than just
"As an African American especially, there aren't a
lot of positive role models on T" Townsend said,
"and there aren't a lot of shows that teach as well as be
funny. My whole career has been built on stuff that has
been funny but has something to say.
"I never want it to be a preachy show, but I think
that it is needed," he said. "Certainly, in this day and
age, when people have gotten so far away from values
that you can't sit at 8 o'clock and watch television
with your kids ... that's the reason that I created this
"The Parent 'Hood," in which Townsend stars, is the
'90s equivalent of such family shows as "Father
Knows Best," "The Andy Griffith Show" and
"Cosby." And those are comparisons Townsend relish-
"The real reason I created 'The Parent 'Hood,"' he

said, "is because there's a whole generation that's not
growing up on what I grew up on, unless it's on Nick
at Nite. Mlaybe it's corny, maybe it's sappy; those
shows I grew up on. they always had a happy ending
but at the core was a real message" Tlevision. he
said, offers the best medium for getting his philosophy
across. "I can get a message to millions and millioi
of people ... every week."
McMahon. who's been in the entertainment busi-
ness for nearly half a century, gets a real kick out of
his status as senior statesman at WB.
"There's a lot of reverence and a lot of respect for
me, which I really think is great," McMahon said, who
co-stars on "The Tom Show" with Tom Arnold. "Onc
day, the stage manager came in and started to tell mne
something, and Arnold comes up to him and says:
'Get off the stage. This man has 50 years of experience
doing this; you don't even speak to him."'
McMahon laughed as he told the story, a lau4
familiar to nearly everyone, that's what 30 years sitting
alongside Johnny Carson does for a man's career -- a
career that now calls the WB home.

courtesy of WB Network
"Airight Already"'s Carole Leifer enjoys the creative freedom of working for upstart
WPNetwork. Her critically acclaimed show airs on Sunday nights.

'Chess' deserves royal treatment
A1 a ft-clifts. Yf'

'Fabric' weaves realistic theory

Power LChess vas
Win 95 CD-ROM

"Power Chess '98" helps PC chess
shed the 'cold calculator' image it
acquired when IBM's Deep Blue beat
world champion Gary Kasparov.
One of the main criticisms against
Deep Blue
Was that it ran
off cold cal-R
culations and?
thus lacked
the human;T
clement that%
is as integral?
to chess as
moving the F. .
The same argu-
ment was threaten-
ing the home computer
chess market ... until now.
Enter the new breed of computer
chess with "Power Chess '98" from
Sierra leading the way.
"Power Chess" invents a royal
family of opponents. In most chess'
tames of the past, the game itself
was the opponent. Now, there is
the Power Chess King and Queen,
prince, princess, commoners and
nobles - which you create -
against which the player's skills
can be tested. Each opponent has

its own distinct playing stylc. The
Queen is the true master of the
game here and is really the main
character behind Power Chess.
although the King was meant to be
the main opponent. The playing
styles of the prince and princess
mirror their crow ned counterparts,
but they don't have as much skill
as their elders.
In the past, chess games weren't
really educational, despite the com-
panies' attempts to use
that as a sales pitch.
More often than not.
this educa-
tional aspect
D IA waslimited
to a "hint"
feature per-
taming to
what move to
s make next.
While the,
suggested move
was normally very
good, the computer
never explained why the move
should be made, so the player was
forced to draw their own conclu-,
sions. That was fine for more
advanced players, but never really
helped the beginner. "Power
Chess" teaches every player a little
something and can be extremely
useful to the beginner.
When a game against the Power
Chess King ends, the Power Chess

Queen reviews the game, move-by-
move. She analyzes the majority of
the moves and gives feedback as to
whether or not the player, or the king,
made a good or bad move.
But most importantly she tells
why certain consequences'
occurred, then proceed to show
you what probably would have
happened if a certain move had
taken place, instead of the move;
that occurred.
This is very much like playing
with a chess instructor since it
gives you a deeper understanding,
of the game. There are three differ-
ent levels of detail on which you
can have the Queen explain her
analysis of your game.
For example, on the highest level
of detail, she will tell you the names
of some openings as well as the his-
tory behind them.
When you play the Power Chess
King, the King will always have a
flaw in his game that you should try
to recognize and exploit. Once you do
so, the King will adapt, and never
make that same mistake again. There
is an entire series of matches for you
to play against the king.each one pre-
senting a new flaw for you to learn to
If you're not learning enough in
class, "Power Chess '98" will give
you a nice lesson so you. too, can
become a master.
Deveron . Sanders

The Fabric of Reality
David Deutsch
Bantam Publishing
In his latest book, "The Fabric of Reality," David Deutsch
confirms that "the truth is out there." But, unlike Mulder and
Scully, he is not looking for it in the crop-circles and muddled
alien-abduction accounts of middle America. Deutsch, a
renowned quantum physicist, makes the far-more-shocking-
than-"X-Files" claim that we. as human beings, already have
all of the tools to construct a unified, scientific explanation of
Everyone who has ever had even the slightest interest in
science fiction (and who hasn't seen "Back to the Future" and
argued the various ramifications and paradoxes inherent in
the misadventures of Marty McFly?) will be awe-struck by
Deutsch's chapter on time travel.
"The study of time travel provides an arena- albeit at pre-
sent only a theoretical, thought-experiment
arena - in which we can see writ large
some of the connections between what I
call the 'four main strand.'" Drawing from
established fact in quantum mechanics,
Deutsch illustrates that past-oriented time
travel would not be paradoxical (even thew
Johnsonian "kill my parents before they meet"
situations) and that "changing the past is no differ-
ent from changing the future, which we all do all the
As a layman's science book, "The Fabric of Reality" is
very well thought out: Each chapter ends with a brief sum-
mary and a glossary of new terms introduced in that chapter,
both of which are invaluable aids. Additionally, Deutsch's
writing is concise but never textbook-like. In his arguments
and explanations lie paints a graceful and persuasive arc.
Deutsch's only real stumbling block is a slight unevenness in
his choice of focus: lie indulges in several laborious and
unconvincing refutations of a commonly bandied-about phi-
losophy but then merely glides over far more esoteric fields
(e.g. quantum computation.) Deutsch explained, in a recent e-
mail interview, that "the imbalance is caused by a policy deci-
sion that I made early in the writing process. I decided that I
would only explain what was necessary for the understanding
of the book's central thesis. Everything else, I ruthlessly cut
All things considered, "The Fabric of Reality" is a fresh,
clear demonstration of the far-reaching implications of a con-
certed scientific understanding of the Universe. It is definite-
ly worth a look.
- David Erik Nelson

Western Swing
Tim Sandlin
Riverhead Books

"Western Swimg" is a love story that begins with a fissure
between Loren and his wife, Lana Sue. This fissure startsvwith
a Vision Quest and a Toyota spitting gravel and deals with the
various bumps and roadblocks of marriage, loss and memory.
Sandlin explores, with humor and raunch, what people -do
to each other and themselves by love -- not Harlequin
romance love, but love for someone's singing on the tait
The kind of love that's given to objects of desire like a litt
boy whose best friend is a clamshell or I ana Sue who looks
for cowboys when her husbands fail.
III "Western Swing," there is a subtle but important focus
on the differences in how people deal with their past: The past
as something tainted that one should move past, the past as
something to be explored and explained. Along with thisare
anecdotes that anyone whohas encountered suspicious
green-marshmallow salad at family reunions or who
has worked as a dishwasher will identify with.
For this era, in which "multiculturalisnfl
tracing family roots and clog-dancing becaus
your great-grandpa was Irish are the norms,
the subtext of how we deal with the past
has particular importance. History -
... personal and otherwise - is an issue pee-
ularly endemic to our own, post-modern
America. Loren's particular reaction to these
norms is to visit authors' graves and talk to them.
The process of retelling shows how Lana Sue and Loren
come to terms with the past by tallying up losses and wins.
Sandlin has the ability to eviscerate people and their past a-'
present actions while leaving them looking somewhat pretty
the end. Ultimately, Sandlin seems to be writing beyond these
two characters and addressing Americans in general.
Loren, the main character, has the quirk of not really being in
his own life, watching or commenting about himself' as if lie's
another person. It's as if Loren has been cloned and one of them
serves to watch the other. It's remniscient of people in high
school, in a setting where the image supercedes the person.
Sandlin doesn't show a "normally" functioning human
being. But then again, that view is also endemic to our cul-
ture, to which no one is free from Oedipus or Proz
"Western Swing" is either written by a freaky author abof
ordinary folks or by an ordinary author about freaks. Sandlin
captures the space between the individual and the action -
singing on the toilet, because what else are you supposed to
do?- and weaves it out for you.
- Cara Spindler







"The price of success is hard work."
- Vince Lombardi

Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity is looking for men who:
want to succeed academically
* want to serve their campus and community
* want to be leaders
VI * want to have fun
Join us for an informational
session tonight at 6:00 p.m.
in the Wolverine Room of the Union
to learn how you can become part of
this select group of men.

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