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January 13, 2000 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

6B:: t, Michigan lDaly, - l , MaZ -,- Thr y, Jo! pry 13, QQQO.



Thte Michigan Dd;-- Weekfnd, et


etc.1999 - The Year In Television
Specks of light invade otherwise bafflu

There are few better feelings than
finishing up your last exam of the
fall term and leaving town for the
holidays. For a solid two weeks (or
even more if you draw a lucky hand
for your final exam schedule),.
you're free of school and campus-
related hassles with only matters of
rest and relaxation to occupy your
But, if you're anything like me,
even that period of peace has a dark
lining, because when you return to
school, there's simply no escape
from that most pervasive of ques-
"So how was your break?"
You see, I feel like small talk is a
plague upon humanity. For me, it
ranks just under teeth-pulling in
terms of uncomfortable life experi-
ence - only with small talk you
don't even get any anesthetic (per-
haps idle conversation would be a lot
livelier if we were all loopy on
nitrous oxide).
And at no time is small talk at
such a cringe-inducing height than
at the start of a new semester.
Everybody returns from wherever it
was that they were, chock full of sto-
ries of the exotic things they did
over the vacation - and, needless to
say, just dying to share them with

every Randall, Joaquin, Bessie and
Trudy on campus.
But it would be rude to simply
start blabbing about your fabulous
fortnight spent in merry olde
England, so we first inquire about
our counterpart:
"So how was your break?"
Here's a filthy little secret:
Nobody ever really cares about the
other person's break. The words
mean almost nothing anymore -
they're asked as casually and as
superficially as "Pickup or deliv-
And you know what? The
response is often no less fake than
the inquiry. When asked about their
break, 99 percent of students (sure,
that's an actual figure) will simply
respond "Good," punctuated with a
little nod.
They may have spent their entire
break in a tropical paradise being
fed peeled grapes by scantily-clad
exotic beauties, but they always just
say "Good." And worse yet, they
always quickly follow it up with the
obligatory "How was yours?"
The post-break small talk schema
basically looks like this:
Person A: Hi! How was your

Person B: Good! How was
Person A: Good!
The whole exchange is like most
Super Bowls - over almost before it
starts and
painful for all
those who wit-
ness it.
The thing is,
we keep doing
it out of habit.
Lt's almost
expected of us,
like some con-
g ratutity
required of all Chris KUa
good citizens.
And though I Unsung
hate these situ-
ations almost Ant) Arbor
as much as I
loathe Sugar
Ray, I even find
myself taking part in this little dia-
logue just to get it all over with as
quickly as possible so I can avoid
yet another long, pointless conversa-
And that's another thing: Most of
this small talk torture occurs with
people to whom you have nothing to

say in the first place. With real
friends, you don't need to use trivial
lines like "So how was your break?"
You just speak and listen, and vice
That's something I have no prob-
lem with - we're always interested
(well, generally interested) in hear-
ing what our true friends are up to.
It's with these nameless acquain-
tances that we have our small talk
You really have nothing to say to
them. They really have nothing to
say to you. But you had that class
together, so you feel like you should
say something. But what?
"So how was your break?"
And this kind of indecision brings
up problems in other areas, too. such
as appropriately handling of the
"turn" when walking past one of
these acquaintances on the street.
You all know what I mean: You're
heading one way, they're going
another, you both make eye contact
and acknowledge each other -- but
do you leave it at that, or do you
make "the turn" and stop to talk to
When both parties aren't in agree-
ment about "the turn," this can be
one of the most horribly awkward
moments in life. Imagine this: You

see the person, smile and nod and
keep walking past them, but they
exclaim "Hello!" and wholehearted-
ly make an 180 degree turn, expect-
ing you to stop and converse with
Do you pull a Christopher Walken
and ignore them like the cold-heart-
ed bastard you are, or do you
begrudgingly make "the turn" even
though you only know them as "the
girl from down the hall during fresh-
man year"? And if they mean so lit-
tle to you, what can you possibly say
to them?
"So how was your break?''"
It's a never-ending story, and I'm
not talking Falcore.
So for the next few weeks until
this back-from-break small talk non-
sense subsides, walk with your head
down and don't be afraid to hide
behind a tree or duck into a nearby
bookstore if you wish to avoid an
awkward conversation with a dull
And at the same time, prepare
yourself for the grim future:
"So what are you doing for spring
-Chris Kula can be reached at
cku/aqunich.edu and if you ask 1im
about his break, he 'll tel/ ou that it
was good.

By Caitlin Hall
Daily Television Editor
Although several programs _ on
television are changing the quality
of TV for the better, overall televi-
sion in 1999 was a year for dumb
people. Between Regis Philbin's
immense success and the cancella-
tion of "Action," it is undeniably
clear: TV rots your brain.
No longer do people watch game
shows, such as "Jeopardy," to marvel
at intelligence and rare facts. Thanks
to Regis, the intrigue of the new
breed of game shows is all about the
Benjamins. "Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire," Regis Philbin's new
game show, made people with
extremely common (in every sense
of the word) knowledge very rich.
The program was so popular as a
serially running sweeps special that
it is now being added as a regular
program on ABC. The national buzz
created by the hit show went some-
thing like this: "It's so easy, even 1
know that!"
Needless to say, there are now
plenty of spin-offs. For example,
NBC is reviving "Twenty-One," the
once-rigged game show that inspired
the film "Quiz Show." The appeal of
the new version is the stakes are
even higher than Philbin's modest
million dollar prize. Though it is sad
to see the television public respond
so strongly to something so simple,
at least "Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire" takes the spotlight fur-
ther away from Regis' once-insepa-
rable sidekick, TV personality/
sweatshop entrepeneur Kathie Lee
Even if game shows were the big
TV story of 1999, everyone seems to
be excited about new episodes of
"The Sopranos" arriving this month
on HBO. After its bravura debut run
from January to June, the organized
crime ensemble drama, along with
other original HBO programs such
as "Oz," was loved by critics and
embraced by the general public. It

drew relatively little fire for the per-
vasive vulgarity and violence of its
realistic milieu that would make it
untenable on virtually any other net-
This was part of the quality pro-
gramming that appeared this year.
But not every show fared so well.
Fox's Hollywood satire "Action,"
starring Jay Mohr, was a critical suc-
cess from the beginning but was
cancelled. swiftly due to poor rat-
Though it is difficult to combine
quality shows with mass appeal, the
WB network has been on a roll in
recent years with "Dawson's Creek,"
"Felicity" and "Buffy The Vampire
Slayer." The success of these shows
has so remarkable, the WB this year
introduced a Buffy spin-off,
"Angel." While many more estab-
lished shows are holding strong, the
WB has ventured into a new,
younger teen market.
Another big story in the entertain-
ment world this year was the youth
takeover of Hollywood. Judging
from the WB's success and new pro-
grams like "Popular," it looks like
the youth-driven market is getting
even younger.
Since national tragedies are now
broadcast minute by minute, they
were definitely part of television in
1999. The Columbine shootings
dominated the news for weeks and
even affected how youth were por-
traved on television and film. Katie
Holmes' film "Teaching Mrs.
Tingle," had to be changed from
"Killing Mrs. Tingle." The concern
the shootings sparked over cultural
attitudes towards violence also
caused the WB to cancel an episode
where Buffy and her friends
destroyed their high-school with
guns and bombs.
The link between entertainment
and news was also blurred by con-
stant coverage of stories that were
not fully developed. The lead story
for almost a week this summer was

Attention All U of M Students'
It's a New Year
and a
New Century.
Start a New Beginning
with the Student Organization of Your Choice at...
XI New tBeginnin2
* nformcatve O w or o~
*GreatOp ,t4r68'
* a y Przs!
*Hot Chocolate & Cidr!
Tuesday, January 18, 2000
T 1:O0am-3:O pm
Michigan Union, 2nd Floor
t or more information, contact Student Activities & Leadership at 763-5900

Continued from Page 2B
from any violence, instead employing


his art in per-
suasion to be
heard. Pate
brings out the
stereotypes of
each culture in
an honest
attempt to
alleviate those
The Asian,

by Alexis D. Pate

Jenny, is a
quiet young
women who
uses her sexu-
ality to make a few extra dollars. The
black girl, Marci, is jealous of the atten-
tion given to those white girls lacking
the "butt" that black women are
endowed with. The Native American,
Herm, is an earth-loving, yet intimidat-
ing man. The white girl, April, is trying
to be compassionate, but lacks the skin
color to understand the way many need
to be understood. And lastly, Icky, the
black man who abandoned his son, con-
curs with the image black men have for
their fatherless black families. Yet

together they band; together they
resolve that they will make a difference.
They were going to tear down those
stereotypes that so conveniently form a
ceiling just below the floor of the white
upper-middle class. Pate, as Icky, elo-
quently states in the novel, "we all
hoped there was a reason to have hope."
They were to transform the present
society to one that stood for true equal-
While Pate's novel clearly has many
strengths, it is somewhat flawed in
length. Throughout the 241 pages, Icky
prolongs the climax of the story until
almost the very end. While this usually
serves the purpose of added suspense,
the story does tend to run on. However,
if Pate's true character is portrayed
through the fictional Icky, he provides
his own self-criticism on this very point
in the novel.
Regardless of this flaw, Alexs D. Pate
succeeds in providing a symbolic novel
about American society today.
Embracing honesty, irony and humor,
Pate's satire, "The Multicultiboho
Sideshow," sends a message aiding
many cultures facing the struggle for
equality in society. By working togeth-
er as one multicultiboho tribe, the one
goal, justice, can hopefully be accom-

that there were no new developments
in the search for JFK Jr.'s missing
plane. Even though the story was
important, devoting the majority of a
news broadcast to old, unchanged
news was a mark of news coverage
this past year.
For example, throughout the year,
and especially in the weeks leading
up to Jan. 1, 2000, television was
crammed with Y2K coverage. This
was also newsworthy, but the feature
stories highlighting people who
were not worried and not stock pil-
ing flour and sugar were laughably
Only one related feat was more

impressive than en
onslaught of gratuitou
The logical climax to th
Jennings' 24-hour broad
News to cover the new
around the globe,
required weeks of
David E. Kelley sta
strong, earning Emn
comedy and drama. He
not do as well in the ne
as he was perhaps gr
tomed. He had two sho
and "Ally," flop, but is
his Emmy-winning "A
and "The Practice." '

David Kelley's "Ally McBeal" kept its devotees, but his attempt to air an


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