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April 19, 1999 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-04-19

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10 -The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 19, 1999

'Curveball' takes game to Cuba

Divas unite on VH1 sped

Tim Wendel
Castro's Curveball
Ballantine Books
Baseball is back. And with the big
leaguers kicking off their season over
the past week, America's game is once
again in the spotlight. Taking advantage
of the sport's rejuvenation is author Tim
Wendel with his new novel - "Castro's
Curveball." This fictitious story springs
from the variety of tales circulating in
Cuba about Fidel Castro's prowess on
the mound in his younger days.
The plot follows protagonist Billy
Bryan as he returns to Cuba in an
attempt to answer lingering questions
that remain from his time spent in the
'40s as a catcher for the Havana Lions.
Through the flashbacks of his playing
days we learn how Bryan becomes
acquainted with Castro and ends up as a
liaison between the pitcher and the

Washington Senators. When he hooks
up with Castro, Bryan's time as a pro-
fessional ballplayer is almost over and
he sees the prospect as a way to prolong
his career a few more years or get one
last shot at the big leagues.
Complicating matters in the flash-
back sequences is the woman, Malena,
who falls between the catcher and the
revolutionary. Malena is a photographer
who seems willing to risk it all for the
right shot and she's torn over whether to
continue covering the situation in Cuba
or to follow Bryan back to the United
States at the end of his season.
The novel's main weakness is the
unnecessary details about Bryan's past
that come to light towards the end of the
story. These happenings are pretty pre-
dictable and give the book a softer end-
ing than it needs.
Wendel's experience covering base-
ball, he writes for "USA Today Baseball
Weekly, comes through during the
game sequences. He knows the sport,

and this helps him create realistic, read-
able contests on the playing field and
makes it easier for the reader to visual-
ize the events of the game.
A firm familiarity with Cuba is
another strong point of Wendel's which
makes the setting seem authentic and
believable. Wendel has been to Cuba
three times (including once to do
research for "Castro's Curveball'" and
most recently to cover the exhibition
game between the Baltimore Orioles
and the Cuban national team) and it
shows.
According to the author: "Baseball is
just as much the national pastime down
there as it is here, but for completely dif-
ferent reasons. (In Cuba) it was the
game you played if you were a young,
hip, radical Cuban who wanted a free
Cuba. Baseball here (in America) is
mom and apple pie." So dig in and see
what America's pastime is like in the
land of Castro.
- Matthew Barrett

By Anika Kohon
Daily Arts Writer

Feathers, gold foil skirts and sassy
women in tight leather pants set the
tone for VH 1's "Divas Live '99."
The show appropriately begins
with the camera following the most
famous legs in rock, as they propel
Tina Turner to the stage. Happily, this
old school rocker has not lost her
touch. Energetic, and passionate,
Turner's performance is the best of
the program. No one else matches her
charisma or her attitude, though
Houston does come close.
Don't turn off the television after
Turner, though. VHI1 lines up a long
list of heavy hitters including
Whitney Houston, Cher, Chaka Khan
and the adolescent divettes: LeAnn

F II

Divas Live
'99
VH1
April 13, 1999

TANNING SPA
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Rimes and
Brandy.
If you can
accept Elizabeth
Hurley's state-
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Elton John is
" B r i t a i n 's
Greatest Diva,"
then his pres-
ence is warrant-
ed, and his per-
formance, good.
That is, of
course, if you
like Elton John.

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Brandy and Faith Hill put forth the
weakest duet as they fail to harmo-
nize on Bryan Adam's dreadful bal-
lad, "Everything I Do, I Do it For
You." Presumably intended as a
homage to the other seasoned artists
featured in the concert, they fall flat
essentially because their voices do.
It's as if they never rehearsed togeth-
er. Though talented, Brandy reminds
everyone she is still young with her
exaggerated, almost comical stage
antics.
Even when she performs by her-
self, Faith Hill seems out of place.
Her "This Kiss," is a bland, emotion-
less song devoid of intelligent lyrics.
Wisely, VH 1 follows her song with

t
j

Y
Courtesy of Repis
Cher and Chaka Khan graced VH3 with their presence at "Divas Live '99."
some self-adulation. Since the pro- the spontaneous feeling and thv
ceeds generated by the concert bene- editing is smooth. Visually, as w as
fit "Save the Music," the producers aurally, this concert is well construct
plug the cause with a glorified com- ed. Despite a few weaker perfor
mercial detailing the success of the mances, VH I skillfully puts togethe
charity thus far. an entertaining blend of artists.
Whitney Houston gets the concert The finale of "Divas Live '99
back on track when she comes out brings all of the women on stag
dressed in red leather attire reminis- (except Turner and Sir Elton) to sin
cent of Michael Jackson. For a Houston's anthem "I'm Ever
change of tone and pace, she brings Woman." It may be predictable, but i
out Naughty By Nature's Tretch to is appropriate nonetheless. The
contribute on vocals. is as Turner describes it hersel
The fte-moving cameras enhance "Divas and bitches. My goodness"
s' records '70s politics
Kissinger to refute the charges, which will occur to many o
those who once criticized his policies (or continue to), th
his thorough detailing of his misfortunes with the publict
a smokescreen. The possibility looms large that Kissir'
true goal is precisely to ameliorate his reputation byb s
representing his diplomatic activities behind closed door
crossions on differ- because there is no way to verify the truth of these account
et ways. The vast (which are most of the meat of the book). Historians hay
of Renewal," how- no access to the sources and government records tha
on: their arm hurts. Kissinger, as a former public official, ostensibly used for hi
h to frighten small research.
nishing Ilh00-plus Perhaps someday these records will be publicly available
Kissinger intends it Kissinger will likely be dead by then, but then scholars will b
r of his public and able to vrifyp his version of events like the covert and blood
efforts of the CIA to remove popularly supported, c ei
ct essentially unri- Marxist, governments in Chile and Angola. Kissinger is hn
oaphy. The curious means juvenile enough to supply simple interpretations o
t arrives a full 17 these doings, but he seems to feel he was hamstrung by-con
ave long since dis- gressional concern for public image and the dense jungle o
at makes this inter- internal CIA operation, for which he took most of the blame
with the disgrace At no point does he seem to feel regret that the U.S. executiv
,nt Richard Nixon, branch considered the governments of these small, underde
e as Secretary of veloped nations so vitally important to global politics an
American welfare.
creas the first two This is not the proper place to enter into an intellectua
he Nixon adminis- showdown with Henry Kissinger. That's because there is n
rank (from nation- such place, any more than there is a good way to chalm
and public stature, Mark McGwire to an arm-wrestling match. It is simply 'te
en Kissinger with- worthy that the context of Kissinger's project places hi:
ever greater criti- account of history conveniently beyond practical reproach.
xon administration With this objection duly noted, it should be recognized tha
ining symbol. Kissinger does much to engage the reader with his biting por
le hesitation that traits of world figures and occasionally glistening prose
an by writing this Kissinger is by no means a natural wordsmith, and in such
tone of the author glut of pages there are bound to be intervals of drought forth
d be admired for so reader. But the author has worked hard, and his work ofte

sion of his prestige bears visible fruit in what will be an important part of the his
is a facet unfamil- torical record.
ly associated with That is, once it really is a part of the record, as opposed t
ion of the truth. the whole shooting match.
is impossible for - Jeff Druchnia1

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Henry Kissinger
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majority of the people who pick up "Years
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That's because this book is heavy enoug
children. Not only does it cover an astoi
pages, one quickly discovers that Henry F
as the third and final volume in a memoi
diplomatic career.
That makes this the capstone of a proje
valed in scope among modern autobiogr
thing about "Years of Renewal" is that i
years after the first two volumes, which h
appeared from the shelves of Borders. Wh;
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and resignation of Kissinger's boss, Presid
and continues through Kissinger's tenur
State for Nixon's successor Gerald Ford.
What that turns out to mean is that wh
volumes dealt with Kissinger's service in t
tration, during which time he ascended in
al security adviser to Secretary of State)
the new book covers a period of time wh
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So it is perhaps with understandab
Kissinger has finished the course he beg
book, and the pensive, bordering-on-grim
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iar to most memoirs, which are common
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But there, as they say, is the rub. It

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