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February 09, 1999 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-09

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R Check out the Blind Pig Showcase Night. Tonight's showcase
features the talents of Colonel Sun and Sickend. There is no cover
and the evening begins at 9 p.m. Nineteen and older only.
'8 February 9, 1999


Comorrow in Daily Arts:
Check out Daily Arts' coverage of the Oscar nominations,
which were announced this morning.

#24 Caveman e.xamines gendrwr

Courtesy of Miramax

Matt Damon and Gretchen Mol star In "Rounders," now on video.

Damon gambles
for tition dollars

By Christopher Tkaczyk
Daily Arts Editor
For centuries, men and women have
been trying to determine their biggest
difference. Obviously, the largest differ-
ence lies in the physical. But more
importantly, in order for men and women
to cope with their roles as warriors for
procreation, they've needed to come to
some sort of understanding as to how to
live with each other's foibles and faults.
Marriage counselors and relationship
therapists have written countless books
that pinpoint the particular errors in gen-
der interactions. Leave it to a comedian
to actually find the heart of the matter.
Rob Becker
first wrote
"Defending the
Caveman" nine
Defending years ago, when
the Caveman his baby boom
generation was
Fisher Theater leaving behind the
Feb. 2, 1999 socially inept atti-
tude of the '80s
and stepping
towards the posi-
tive po-mo fad of
the '90s. The play
is still keeping
audiences rolling
in the aisles - a strange feat, consider-
ing that the perception of gender roles
and relations has changed a bit during
the past years, somewhat due to the rise
of Jerry Springer, among others.
When it first appeared, Becker's one-
man show was original and unique, not
to mention witty. In fact, it may have
been too modern in its thought, and has
since prospered due to its exactness of

flavor and reality.
The actor/comedian uses the age-old
addage of "opposites attract" to explain
his profound philosophy. In the opening
videotaped sequence, a bouncy Paula
Abdul sings her hit tune from the late
'80s, recalling the sad sounds that
plagued airwaves. In as much as Abdul
damaged American pop culture, her
catchy tune does bear some truth.
But Becker goes further, past the '80s
(was there such a time?), and explains
that modern man's problems can be
answered with a bit of strategic help
from the manly man's forefather, the
caveman. Becker himself is a modem
caveman, complete with beer belly,
receding hairline and a passion for tele-
Scientists have determined that,
throughout the prehistoric dawn of time,
food and game were not vast commodi-
ties shipped into party stores via semi-
trucks and airplanes. Back in the day,
food was only possessed through the
means of hunting or gathering. Becker
explains that these innate skills are still
prevalent in today's minds, and are the
reasons for most of gender-related prob-
Becker, even though he throws the
notion out the window, admits that the
rise of the '70s "sensitive male" is only
an insult to personal identity. He claims
that men, in order to become better men,
must learn more about the mental work-
ings of women, and in turn, determine
how to communicate with them, making
for a perfect union of souls. Duh. And
vice versa.
Further comparing gender differ-
ences, Becker takes a slightly stereotyp-

Courtesy of Joan Marcus
Rob Becker wrote and stars in "Defending the Caveman" at the Fisher Theater.

By Matthew Barrett
and Kristin Long
Daily Arts Writers
Squares need not apply for
"Rounders," a hip poker picture star-
ring the ever-so-fine Matt Damon,
tle ever-so-talented Edward Norton
and popular character actors John
Malkovich, John Turturro and Martin
Landau. Bubbly blonde Gretchen
Mol tries her best to drag the movie
down, and just about pulls it off.
Damon plays a gambler-turned-law
student who struggles to stay away
from the table. His life is complicat-
ed when his best friend Worm

New On
Video This

(Norton) is
released from
jail and seeks his
help to settle old
debts. Look for
dealing, the four
aces and the
ever-present five

The computer animation here is a
significant step-up from that in "Toy
Next stop is Wonderland if you're
headed to video counters this week.
Starring Hope "Floats" Davis and
Philip "Scotty" Seymour Hoffman,
"Next Stop Wonderland" is a roman-
tic comedy that hits shelves just in
time for Valentine's Day. Those with
no hope should snuggle up to this
touching story about the days of
dreamer and nights in between.
One question, video preview fans
(the both of you), who's the big win-
ner? Once again it's Vince Vaughn,
who steals the show, this time in
"Clay Pigeons." Here, he plays oppo-
site his "Return From Paradise" co-
star Joaquin Phoenix ' and Janeane
Garofalo as a loud and proud psycho
serial killer. But the role is really
only a warm-up for Double V's goofy.
turn as stormin' Norman Bates.
For those of you still looking to
celebrate Halloween or thirsting for a
warm cup of blood, jump to the near-
est video store and sink your teeth
into "John Carpenter's Vampires."
James Woods plays a Vatican-spon-
sored vampire slayer who hunts for a
little more than good will. This
movie should not be screened during
the day, as it gives vampires some-
thing besides the sun and garlic to
hide from. Lestat, Dracula and Count
Chocula, be forewarned.

PBS to air Death Row documentary tonight

ical approach by explaining that men
hold the distinction of being hunters and
women contribue to the circle of life
through a gathering existence. He goes
on to relate this difference on a working
level through a parable about an empty
potato chip bowl.
Becker explains that when a group of
women are sitting around and socializ-
ing and one of them realizes that the
bowl is empty, they will rise together, as
a group, to gather more chips. Men's
rationale, on the other hand, will resort
to providing excuses as to why he
shouldn't be the one to get more chips.
It becomes a test of masculinity - the
man who provides the weakest excuse
loses, and must go out and hunt for
more chips.
Thankfully, Becker doesn' resort to

Los Angeles Times
Less than 24 hours after convicted double murderer
Jaturun "Jay" Siripongs is scheduled to die by lethal
injection in California, PBS will air an extraordinary
documentary examining the life and crimes of Clifford
Boggess, says reporter Alan Austin in "The
Execution," was "an artist, a musician, a Bible scholar
and cold-blooded killer, a monster who spent his last

of spades.
Just when you thought it was OK
tostep on the bugs and other unwant-
ed visitors in your crib, "Antz"
comes through with a personalized
look at the insects. Featuring the
voices of Woody Allen, Sharon
Stone, Gene Hackman, Jennifer
Lopez and Sly Stallone, this endear-
ing comedy examines the life of a
lonely ant, Z (Allen), struggling to
find his voice in a colony of millions.

Tonight at 9

silly predictable gender jokes, such as
the timeless toilet seat argument, which
grew out of fashion the year Michael
Jackson donned his whiskers and red
"Defending the Caveman" is laugh-
out-loud hilarious. Good theater causes
its audience to look at itself more close-
ly and thoroughly. "Defending ,
Caveman" does just that.
Hopefully, years from now, men and
women of the 400th Century won't~be
looking towards the 1980s for all the
"Defending the Caveman " runs
through Feb. 21. Tickets can be pur-
chased by calling (248) 645-6669 For
more information, call the Fisher
Theater, 2011 W Grand Blvd., Detroit,
at (313) 8724 1

years looking for redemption."
On June 11, Boggess was put to
death in Texas, which bumps off
convicted killers by the dozen. In
1986, he had left behind two bod-
ies in a couple of time-capsuled
Texas hamlets that could have
come right out of "The Last
Picture Show."
But from where did the killer's
demons come? And were they still
festering inside him when he died,
despite his contention that a
newer, gentler Boggess had taken
There's potential sustenance
here for both the eye-for-an-eye


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betrays no agenda beyond getting a story. "I came to
Texas' death row in 1995 wondering if there weren't
something important still to be learned," he explains in a
voice-over after noting how comfortable most Americans
are with capital punishment. "I wanted to find a typical
murderer, find out everything I could about him and his
crime, and see if it still made sense to kill him."
Did it? Ninety minutes later, there is no clear answer
but much to chew on, including the capacity of Boggess
to chillingly straddle what Austin calls "the horrible and
the ordinary."
Austin is especially interested in the makeup - the
Why? and What for? - of his subject, although he nat-
urally compares Boggess the bloodless monster with
Boggess the intelligent, artistic, witty, charming, buoy-
ant, prayerful, devoutly Christian death row inmate
whom we meet.
And he wonders, ultimately, how much is an act.
Prison interviews are perilous. Was murderer Karla
Faye Tucker as demure and saintly as she seemed -
attaching a haunting face with dark curls to her crusade
against dying - in her telegenic CNN interview with
Larry King on the eve of her own execution in
Huntsville, Texas, a year ago?
And were the prison inmates I interviewed as a cub
reporter in Joliet, Ill., many years earlier as earnest as
they appeared? A prison chaplain had taken the kid
reporter under his wing and advised skepticism, remind-
ing him that he was speaking to shrewd, manipulative
criminals on their turf, an environment with a reality
apart from that outside the prison walls. The chaplain was
Whether in a cell, through bars or in an interview room
with bulletproof glass between them, there's a surreal fla-
vor, too, to Austin's many chats with Boggess, whom he
calls "that rarity on death row, an admittedly guilty man."
Just as profound, though, are Austin's numerous meet-
ings outside the prison with the killer's family and former
girlfriend, who turned him in, and with the still-grieving,
still-bitter families of the victims.
First to die was Frank Collier, an 82-year-old store
clerk in Boggess' hometown of Saint Jo. Boggess, then

21, stole a few hundred dollars from the store after
repeatedly stomping on the old man's chest and slitting
his throat, a premeditated murder he describes to Austin
with no more emotion than a chain smoker reading the
health warning on a pack of cigarettes.
I "cut his throat and then just for overkill ... I -
ceeded to stab him in the Adam's apple and larynx area
five or six times."
Less than a month later, in Whitesboro, Boggessbast-
ed Roy Vance Hazelwood twice with a sawed-off double-
barreled 20-gauge shotgun only minutes after the victim
had shooed his unsuspecting 16-year-old granddaughter
out of the general store, perhaps to save her life.
What struck him, Boggess tells Austin with his usual
curious detachment, was that the shooting was nothing
like TV or Hollywood. "It was as if you had a pup. on
a string, and someone just cut the strings. He
that quick. He just crumpled completely."
Austin wonders: "How did the smart, talented, sweet
little boy become such a man?" On the screen is a soap-
shot of that sweet little boy at age 4. So cute, so innocent,
so cuddly.
And was he able to exorcise it finally on death row,
after finding Jesus and becoming a talented prison artist
who worshiped Vincent van Gogh and earned money
from the sales of his own paintings?
Boggess wasn't fooling Jack Collier.
At age 95, he returns with Austin to where Bofs
murdered his brother, Frank, and seems stunned aft 311
these years. He still tends Frank's beehives, and has told
Austin that his goal is to outlive his brother's slayen
Back on death row, his appeals exhausted, Boggess is
almost cheerily ticking offthe days to getting the big nee-
dle on June 11, and he's flashing his dark wit. "Hume,
sweet home," he says about his small cell as if heading
for two weeks in Hawaii. "This is what I'm leaving
Boggess tells Austin that he expects to see Jesus after
dying, and that he expects to go to heaven. You wongif
he got there. And if so, whether the men he gruesomely
murdered, Frank Collier and Roy Vance Hazelwood,
were there to greet him.

crowd and those believing that even the most heartless
criminals can make dramatic U-turns in their lives while
on death row. Yet don't tune in to tonight's "Frontline"
program expecting a polemic for or against capital pun-
ishment, especially as it relates to cases pending in such
death-penalty states as California.
For one thing, Boggess had only the wickedness of his
acts in common with Siripongs, a Thai citizen sentenced
to die for the 1981 murders of a Garden Grove, Calif,
store owner and her clerk.
For another, "Frontline" correspondent Austin appears
almost inscrutable during the three years of filming that
make up this documentary and lead to the execution of
Boggess, who had never denied murdering two elderly
Austin is the classic observer whose stony demeanor


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