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September 23, 1998 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-23

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 23, 1998

Johnson to fly high at Borders
Brad Johnson
The Bird That Flies Highest

Tih year is 2013 The oldies station on the car radio
hums to the sound of the Mghty Mighty Bosstones. And
w hile there aie no kids nding around on flying skateboards
or wearing inflathable jackets as "Back to the Future" pre-
dicted, the world has changed dramatically. In his new
thriller "The Bird That Flies Highest," Brad Johnson
reveals his predictions for the frightening future of the
Johnson's novel has been characterized under the new
genre of "mindtrigue" which combines global suspense,
science fiction and insight into a fast-paced cliff-hanger.
Johnson masterfully weaves a tale that is realistic
enough to cause a pang of anxiety to run through all
that read the book. He tackles the issue of personal
emptiness while grasping the larger concept of global-
ization. There are many subtleties that are woven
through the book, each chapter adding another dimen-
The future, for the average man, does not look
bright. Intranational trade wars between the 48 con-
tiguous United States are raging. All the power in the
world is controlled by the government, virtual corpo-
rations and, most important, the media. But it is far
worse than the media of the 20th Century. It is media
that not only controls what is broadcast to the masses,

Courtesy of ABC Television
Peter Gallagher, Miche Rouse and Brad Whitford reveal the secrets of men.
Sitcom doesn't offer seCrets

By Chris Cousino
Daily Arts Writer
"Vegas baby, Vegas,"Vince Vaughn
utters to his buddy Jon Favereu near
the beginning of the Doug Liman
film, "Swingers." Now if Liman
made this film ten years later, these
guys would probably be crying,
"Alimony baby, alimony." And, voila,
that's the premise of the new ABC
comedy "The Secret Lives of Men," a
half hour of "Swingers"-turns-35
from Susan
Harris, creator
of the charming
show, "The
Secret Uves Golden Girls."
of Men These men,
however, are far
from golden,
ABC, Wednesdays lacking a charas-
at 9:30 p.m. matic Vaughn
crooning, "Our
baby's all
growed up."
"Secret Lives"
follows the lives
of three middle-
aged, divorced
buddies leaning on each other as they
bounce to and from favorite guy
places like the bar and the golf
Like "Swingers," which also show-
cases the putting green and the pub,

there are two scenes in the premiere
episode that highlight an answering
machine, not to mention the Dean
Martin-esque songs that play when
the show cuts for commercials. But
Favereu plays no part in the poor
writing of this underachieving sit-
The premiere episode focuses on
Michael, played by "While You Were
Sleeping"'s Peter Gallagher.
Gallagher's acting is way over the top
as he learns that his ex-wife plans to
marry his best friend and move to
Los Angeles, taking his kids. He
shakes his head in amazed disgust,
but is Mike disgusted with his wife,
his life, or is it Peter who's disgusted
with himself for sinking so low into
the abysmal television sitcom:?
Joining Gallagher for this
mediocre mecca are his two buds,
Andy and Phil, played by Mitch
Rouse and Brad Whitford. Harris cre-
ates similar characters comparable to
the Betty White and Estelle Getty
roles of Rose and Sophia in "The
Golden Girls," with the clueless
Andy and the wise-cracking, sharp-
witted Phil.
The Phil character brings the only
laughable grace to "Secret Lives,"
sharing his insight on the benefits of
being divorced by claiming, "I'm
finally able to take a nice, peaceful

Another one of the minimal laugh-
out-loud moments occurs when Mike
explains who his ex-wife is seeing
and Phil blurts out, "Son of a bitch!"
Funny, but resorting to lines from
other shows (like, I don't know,
"South Park") is pretty low.
But the show's writers don't fail
completely. In a following scene, Phil
and Andy confront Mike's back-stab-
bing best friend Barry, a commercial
director, and Andy ironically decrees,
"Ya know, you're lucky you're mov-
ing to Hollywood cause guys like you
do very well out there. It's great to
see Hollywood poke fun at its cut-
throat self.
Other than these few scenes,
though, "Secret Lives" dies. There's
nothing secret in the lives of these
men who frequent the aforemen-
tioned typical guy places. "Lives"
provides no new insight into the life
of the American male and doesn't
even resort to having its characters
banter about the enjoyable, over-dis-
cussed topic of women. They just
make crack after crack about each
other and let the always-annoying
laugh track yuk away. If you're look-
ing for a far better comedic look into
the real secret lives of men, go rent
"Swingers." Don't waste your own
life with this mediocre wannabe.

Friday at 7 p.m.

but edits the news as they see fit,
no matter how false a story
becomes. It is a press that
answers to no one.
Johnson introduces a group of
characters, the majority of whom
are caught in the relentless
machine that keeps them working
ever harder for some sort of
advancement. The result is a
group of characters who, though
human, more closely resemble
androids who look and talk like
humans, yet have no emotions.
While they are still people and do
feel, they are so far removed from
are distanced even from themselves.
the character known simply as
the one character who embraces

'C"our"esy"of N"""i"" Duv" l
Brad Johnson wig visit Borders on Friday.
try not to be preachy in my books. I try to bring up
issues and show all of the sides. I like to be subtle a
let the reader make the connections."
In discussing the issue of globalization as a threat to
the future, Johnson says, "we accept globalization as
this unstoppable train," He continues by saying how
society today thinks one must either be pro- or anti-
globalization. det Johnson says that is not even the
question, "the question is what form will it take." Such
are the types of inquiries Johnson hopes to extract
from his readers; he wants them to think.
Johnson's novel will certainly thrill all who read it.
He has mastered the art of the science fiction novel,
and his works resembles those of Orwell !n
Bradbury. But much of the technological jargoni
enough to send t:he readers mind into information
overload. Although perhaps this is necessary to accu-
rately describe thiE future corporate takeovers, and
even to prove their realism, it is enough to dull some
of the suspenseful edge. The reader is so busy trying
to decipher what Johnson is saying that part of the
message is lost.
While "The Bird that Flies Highest" might fly over
the heads of many, k is still important to read either i
a warning, or for entertainment. As Johnson sums
his book he says, "it is just a small piece to give peo-
ple an opportunity to think about things more global-
ly." Well, Mr. Johnson, you have achieved your goal.
Though a novice to the literary world, Johnson has
entered the realm of Huxley, while adding a dimen-
sion of realism that its lacking from the others' works.
Johnson's predicted future is not only one that can
exist, but will exist unless readers heed his warning.
Just as Orwell's "1914" will be ever-pertinent, so will
Johnson's 2013 soar ever higher into the future,
Brad Johnson will be reading and signing copies
his book Thursday at Barnes and Noble from 7 p.m. -
9 p.m. and Friday at Borders from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
-Corinne Schneider

the trutht

that theyc
there is
ie is

humanity as it is known today. lie feels and he cares;
his mission is to show truth to the masses so that they
might enjoy the world around them. By those seeking
control of the world, Baruch is described as "danger-
ous to the establishment as Dr. King was." Johnson
says of his main character that he is a "compellation of
the best of everybody I know. He is witty, intelligent,
subtle and powerful." Baruch is the enigma that draws
the readers ever deeper into the plot. Though Johnson
created the character, he said, "the best moment in the
book for me was when I myself figured out who
Baruch was."
Johnson wrote this book to be both an enjoying read
and a warning. However, Johnson does not throw the
issue in the readers' faces, but rather allows them to
take froin his message what they will. As he says, "I

Activists condemn new

UPN comedy for c

September 24
Ann Arbor Theater (II)
Cardmembers get two compli-
mentary passes to a preview
screening of Universal Pictures'
new film Antz to be released Oct
Just bring your American
Express* Card and your
student ID to the location
listed below to pick up your
Receive 2 complimentary pass-
es when you apply for the
American Express Credit Card
for Students (stop by the loca-
tion listed below).
Antz is one in a series of three
major motion pictures to be pre-
viewed on your campus this
year, compliments of American

activists are condemning "The
Secret Diary of Desmond
Pfeiffer," an upcoming UPN com-
edy set during the Civil War, say-
ing that it makes fun of slavery.
"This show desensitizes the
pain and devastating suffering of
slavery," said Ron Wright, pastor
of the Emmanuel AME Church in
Los Angeles.
"There is no compromise on
this. This show need not air," said
Danny Bakewell, head of the
Brotherhood Crusade civil rights
Bakewell and Wright said they
plan to organize a protest to
demand that the show be kept off

the air, and say they will target
advertisers if it does appear.
The network has no plans to
yank the show, UPN President'
Dean Valentine told the Los
Angeles Times. "We have nothing
to feel bad about," he said. "They
can march up and down the street
all they want to."
The series, set to debut Oct. 5,
is a farce about a black English
nobleman who winds up as a ser-
vant and adviser to Abraham
Chi McBride, who plays
Pfeiffer, said he anticipated the.
controversy but stands by the
"If this were a comedy about

~ivi1 rights
slavery, I would not be involved,"
he said.
There are a few jokes referring
to slavery in early episodes,
including one in which Lincoln's
chief of staff sees the title charac-
ter relaxing in the kitchen a*
remarks: "The slaves haven't been
emancipated yet, Pfeiffer. Get
your f t off that table."
Val ptine said the pilot was
show , to black groups, who
"found it incredibly funny."
He said the network has gone
out of its way to avoid alienating
"The ast thing we want to do*
offend ; n important part of our-
constitu ncy."

See the world from
a whole new perspective.


IZ COMING10-2-98

t'9ACTW /4

Iwww.pepsimcm/antz -

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