The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 17, 1999 ='
'77 mixes 911 with 'Melrose'
Reuss creates charming hero
By Anika Kohon
Daily Arts Writer
The Bad Mutha himself is back. Yes, "I'm talking
about Shaft, can ya dig it?" This time, however, Richard
Roundtree isn't fighting the mob, strutting his stuff and
getting laid. He plays the tough Captain Durfee on the
WB's "Rescue 77," Aaron Spelling's latest assault on
While the cinematography is good, the editing and
the plot fail poorly. The characters come across as one-
'dimensional stereotypes, and the editing is so rapid and
choppy it is dizzying. The viewer doesn't buy the dra-
matic tension because every move these all too glam-
orous paper doll people make is infinitely predictable.
While "Rescue 77" attempts to
increase its validity by updating
the viewer what time the calls
Resu occur, the very disorienting edit-
ing and unrealistic humans oppose
77 this attempt at reality. This is
"Rescue 911" set in "Melrose
The WB Place," so don't expect anything
Mondays at 9 p.m. clever, original or even entertain-
ing, and you might not be too dis-
Marjorie Monaghan joins the
cast as Kathleen Ryan, an overly
emotional woman returning to the
force after a stress-induced leave
of absence. She's fine if all you
have to do is look at her. Unfortunately, she speaks and
-she sounds like Brett Butler after sucking on an exhaust
pipe all afternoon.
Sadly, the male roles suffer a similar exhaustible fate.
These surfer pin-ups in paramedic uniforms probably
spend more time in the make-up chair than Tammy
Baker. Victor Browne (Michael Bell) was a runway
model in New York before appearing in his previous
melodrama, "One Life to Live." If it were possible, the
creators would probably find a way for this to be co-ed
If they're not getting up on poorly-scripted soap-
Reading the first novel of a novice author is always a dicey
proposition for the consumer. It takes an adventurous reader to
commit the time to exploring an entirely unproved author. It's
the height of rarity for a novelist to gobble up, on his first time
out, the kind of large readership that encourages purchases by
Frederick Reuss is a little-known name in publishing. For his
sake, at least, it is fortunate that his debut
novel is published in paperback by
Random House's consistently admirable
and discriminating Vintage label, a
mark of distinction which by itself may
get Reuss's foot in the door with savvy
book-buyers. Oh, yes -it's fortunate for
them, as well, because the book, "Horace<
Afoot' is one of the most charming first nov-
els a reader may run across.
One of the major virtues of the novel is its
depiction of the protagonist and narrator, Horace,
short for Quintus Horatius Flaccus. He is not the poet
of ancient Rome, but the armchair philosopher and ges-
ignated local eccentric of Oblivion, U.S.A., a place he
chose to live in merely for its name.
Horace is well-educated, physically adept and in the prime
of his life. Yet, he has no job, choosing to live austerely on the
interest from, evidently, an inheritance. As his own and the
town's names suggest, Horace is striving for a serene existence
as detached from civilization as possible. He is a conscientious
objector to much of the modern world -- especially cars, his
loathing of which inspires the book's title. (As one of his neigh-
bors decrees, "Never trust a man without a car.") The only per-
sonal contact he openly courts or seems to enjoy is dialingran-
dom phone numbers to ask people what they think about the
difference between illusion and reality
And, charmingly and compellingly, Reuss's novel spins the
story of how Horace gets drawn into the world against his best-
laid plans. It is a process of fits and starts, for Horace is slow
to countenance his own emotions and needs, and quick to
shrink from the desire for intimacy and connection that he can
never fully repress.
The unearthing of Horace's buried humanity is the basis of
the story, as well as the struggles with identity highlighted l y
Horace's habit for changing his name to that of his lt-
est literary avatar. (It used to be William Blake, bgt by
the end of the novel has become Lucius of
"Horace Afoot" has many recommend-
able qualities: grace, humor, empathy,
strangeness, thoughtfulness and linguistic
dexterity all come to mind. It does tread a
fine line between pleasantly ambling
and idly sputtering through its super-
ficially uneventful plot, with occa-
sional stumbles. Also, the first-
person narration is sometimes
clunky in expressing the arc of
Horace's nascent self-discovery;
spending so much time alone with Horace's thoughts, read-
ers may find themselves jarred by Horace's infrequent
spasms into personal awareness, which never quite seem to
comfortably take hold in the narrative. But Frederick
Reuss's writing career is a young and promising one, and
readers will have done themselves a favor if they can later
claim to have witnessed it from the start.
- Jeff Druchniak
The cast of "Rescue 77" may look tough, but they can't
save this show.
boxes, putting seasoned physicians in their places by
telling them how to handle medical emergencies or
engaging in hose duels with firefighters over
macadamia candy bars, they delve into weak romantic
"Rescue 77" tries to appeal to its demographic audi-
ence by incorporating Sarah McLachlan's "Angel," Bare
Naked Ladies' "One Week" and Third Eye Blind's
"Semi-Charmed Life" to enhance the viewing experi-
ence. Not even over-played, trendy, pop music can save
this painful experience. With medical drama and sub-
Book finds grossness of Hollywood
plots of domestic abuse, death and on-the-job romance, The GROSS: The Hits,
it's like "ER." But this show needs to be rescued. Stat! J he Flnn _-,ThM
Summer That Ate
" it Hollywood
St. Martin's Press
By Julie Munjack
,,daily Arts Writer
Living in a chaotic world in which
ildividuals wander silently past each
other, human beings yearn to have a
m , Squirrels
voice in society.
This human con-
dition is the cen-
tral theme of
which will be
is well known
both for his cre-
ations in theater
and on the
two writers are struggling with
writer's block. Art, an "experienced"
writer of 50, is striving to be heard.
He desperately wants to be discovered
by the world.
Subconsciously attempting to cope
with a moment from his past that has
kept his life at a halt, Art obsessively
writes simple stories about squirrels.
Simultaneously, his 25-year-old
apprentice Ed, also reaches for atten-
tion. Believing that anything is possi-
ble, he will stop at nothing to reveal
his overly optimistic and idealistic
dreams about would-be love.
Throughout the play, the Cleaning
Lady, viewing them with non-judg-
mental eyes, tries to help them learn
more about themselves and discover
for herself what is truly "good writ-
The cast of "Squirrels" is com-
prised of BFA Performance majors
from the School of Music. Philip
Pirkola plays Art and sophomore
Steve Best portrays the flighty Ed.
Earlier this year, Pirkola and Best per-
formed in "Split" at the Arena
Theater. Joining these two actors,
Sandra Abrevaya becomes the
Charlie Jett, a Music junior, makes
his directorial debut with "Squirrels."
He is attracted to Mamet's script
because he feels "it invites the audi-
ence to re-evaluate the way one
share's his or her life with others," he
Jett's interpretation of "Squirrels"
goes beyond the writer's block con-
flict. He believes that it is a play about
lost love and the struggles of relation-
ships. Jett describes Mamet's work as
"a story about the painful reality of
love. It confronts the experience of
losing love and the painful decision to
dwell on the past or to move forward
and to find someone else."
In spite of this, "Squirrels" is not
overwhelmed by melancholy and
hopelessness. It is a play about loss
and the new beginning that results in
the ending of an other. Jett urges peo-
ple to "look a little deeper within
themselves," and to discover what
they are dying to tell the world.
In "The Gross: The Hits, The Flops-
The Summer That Ate Hollywood,"
author Peter Bart delves into, among
other things, the reasons why "Godzilla"
was a failure, "Saving Private Ryan" a
success and so many people couldn't get
enough of "There's Something About
Mary." Bart examines most of the
prominent releases of the 1998 summer
movie season, following them from their
conception as ideas to the all-important
first weekend in theaters.
The majority of the first half of the
book consists of short segments dedicat-
ed to individual movies. They are rough-
ly 3-15 pages in length in which Bart
analyzes the circumstances surrounding
the various films before their releases.
This section is the most absorbing part
of the book and perhaps the most worth-
while to fans of the movies. Here, Bart
offers a variety of interesting details,
including that "Lethal Weapon 4" never
had a solid script before shooting began
and that screenwriters Robert Rodat,
Frank Darabont, Scott Frank and Matt
Damon all contributed to the Oscar-
nominated script for "Saving Private
The major problem with this part of
the book, however, is that while he gives
great attention to all of the blockbuster
movies of the summer, Bart ignores
many quality films that were passed over
by audiences. Yes, the book is about box
office receipts and the bottom line, but
some behind the scenes info on less pop-
ular films such as "Out of Sight,"
"Smoke Signals," or "He Got Game"
would have done measures to improve
After a strong beginning, the second
half of the book lulls into a week by
week summary of how the movies did at
the box office. While interesting fob a
time, the set up gets quite repetitive, in
addition to the fact that most readers
already know how much money differ-
ent movies ended up making. About the
only interesting aspect of this part is the
close coverage of the behind the scenes
sniping that went on after "Godilla"
tanked at the box office.
Following this, Bart tacks on a 40
page denouement where he analyzes
what went right and wrong during the
summer, what lessons were learned nd
what the future holds for the different
movie studios. This conclusion is barely
readable and comes off as nothing more
than a rehashing of what we've already
gleaned from the first 270 pages. So
while "The GROSS" is no "Godzilla," it
sure follows the movie's trajectofy: start
with a bang and end with a whimper.
marked by intensely confusing plot
lines and are praised for their innova-
Ove dialogue. His other plays include
'Olenna," "Speed the Plow" and
"Glengarry Glen Ross."
One of David Mamet's earliest
works, "Squirrels" is a play in which
Real Sex' offers erotic experience
Daily Arts Writer
E -If you thought HBO said all there
was to say about sex in their first 21
"Real Sex" episodes, you're wrong.
This month HBO
with its fresh,
* Real Sex of sexual delights
22 in "Real Sex 22."
The show offers
viewers an erotic
T. mo experience along
with a good
a-trois with a rub-
ber doll to a sex
farm that rede-
fines the meaning
of a petting zoo, "Real Sex 22" serves
up a bit of everything on its sexual plat-
Maintaining the tradition of street
Read the Daily.
interviews adds a little bit of normalcy
to the otherwise outlandish program. It
brings a nice touch and gives comfort to
know you don't have to have sex with
an over-sized Barbie to have an exciting
This is not to say that the segment on
the "Party Doll" is not intriguing. Au
contraire. Throughout the program, the
music enhances the viewing experi-
ence. Using the frivolous, catchy tune
"Party Doll, the song drums along
happily as a couple gets it on with a big
plastic doll. The music not only allevi-
ates the viewer's tendency toward dis-
comfort by making light of the visuals,
but it also provides humor for even the
seasoned sexual connoisseur.
The visuals are not the only humor-
ous element with a shot of one cow
licking another, intercut with shots of
wooden shoes and tulips leads the view-
er to wonder if he or she is going to see
Dutch animals mating. Instead, "Real
Sex 22" investigates "Fun for Two," for-
merly a barn in Holland, now an orgy
palace for couples.
There is also the wedding of Princess
and Thirteen of the "Impotent Sea
Snakes" at the Exotic Erotic Ball in San
Francisco. With wedding vows deliv-
ered by a silver satin and consummated
by cutting a cunnilingus cake, the drag
queen and his new bride become "man"
and wife. The satin minister's choice of
words comes probably more to clarify
that there is indeed a man involved,
since Thirteen dons earrings and a pink
wig as he says "I do."
Whether a man suspended from the
ceiling by metal hangers in his skin
turns you on or not, it is worth seeing.
"Real Sex 22" makes a fresh addi-
tion to the sometimes stale series. Its
witty blend of irony and humor with
sexually explicit material is as much
entertaining as it is erotic. Whether
you are aroused, offended or merely
amused, "Real Sex 22" will undoubt-
edly engender a reaction.