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September 11, 2001 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-11

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0i

Art video sneak peak...
Mel Chin, from the PBS series
on Art in the 21st century,
visits today. Museum of Art.
Noon. Free.
michigandaily.com /arts

IIJf Uidotgan ]Baal
ARTS

TUESDAY
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

8

'S oundrels' plays

'Secret' delivers guilty
pleasure for word lovers

'Scoundrels' plays
dirty with new
take on Revolution

By Andrew Field
For the Daily
"The Secret Lives of Words," Paul West's lat-
est non-fiction work, is a wonderful and guilty

pleasure. Though
g:
The Secret
Lives of
Words
Paul West
Grade: B
Harvest Books/ Harcourt
t.

hardly comparable, in terms
of universal appeal, to eat-
ing chocolate late at night
or reading shoddy romance
novels (which strike me, in
their sweaty and cheap dis-
regard for word-love, as Mr.
West's worst nightmare
come to life), the book is a
delightful volume of knowl-
edge.
It teems with fascinating
word-histories, abounding
with an obvious adoration
- more like obsession -
for words; their depths and
shadows, their hidden-
underneath-centuries mean-

an old printer's term that implies a "frying
noise."
However much fun these etymologies are,
the book, if read in succession rather than
chunks, dwindles in interest and grows tire-
some. Despite the bright and word-giddy intro-
duction, the passages themselves, after a long,
exhaustive succession of idle reading, were
better read daily, a few at a time so as not to
explode from the mind-boggling stew of lan-
guages, cultures, history (OK, pretty much
everything) that goes into the murky, entangled
construction of one word.
West does raise some very thought provoking
questions. One, which I found highly appropri-
ate to the material was: How much work is too
much?
Though West is referring to his own fanatical
research (in the opening paragraph he com-
pares his eccentric fixation, among other color-
ful descriptions, to leaving a room with the
light on: "Thus managing to install in your
wake a patch of clutching, nagging brightness
that a few yards further on you feel impelled to
return to and deal with"), he also makes a
canny inquiry into what constitutes a "good
reader."
West also questions: is a highliter thus a nec-
essary tool? Does stopping to think in the mid-
dle of a book steer you away from the grips of a
narrative, or does looking up an unknown word
clog your brain with too much data?
Of course not. In West's passion, as with any
deepening interest into something that moves or
touches you (music, art, film, etc.), the idea dri-
ving him on (or me on), needling him constant-
ly like some craggy nit-picking relative, was
that knowledge should not be checked (no Per-
sian reference. intended) but rather greedily
devoured. It is a shame to read, or view or listen
blindly; and that there are worlds of undiscov-

By Ryan Blay
Daily Arts Writer
In the classic play and film
"1776," John Adams (portrayed so
well by Feeny, William Daniels,
from "Boy Meets World") made
the foot-dragging Continental Con-

*I

Last
Refuge of
Scoundrels
Paul Lussier
Grade: B+
Warner Books

gress approve
the Declaration
of Indepen-
dence and fully
support George
Washington
and his Conti-
nental Army.
Thomas Jef-
ferson was a
violin-player
who longed for
his wife. Ben-
jamin Franklin
was a wise-
cracking yet

ings and subtleties.
In other words, avocado means testicle.
(Because of its shape, derived from the Latin-
American Indian word ahuacatl, and later into
English, transformed into alligator pear, which
the author claims is still in use, and which this
reviewer find charmingly accurate as a descrip-
tion.)
m. West has chosen a creative and eclectic com-
bination of words, so reading what mrok means
(a greeting) might not induce the same lexicon
amusement as the fact that chess turns out to
be the Persian plural of the word checks. By
saying check, the king you have just warned
your friend to protect is actually an old Persian
Shah. And checkmate (shah-mat in Persian)
translates, solemnly, into: The king is dead.
A personal favorite would have to be cliche,

Courtesy of Harcourt
ered things between the lines, in the implica-
tions of a word, the white space of a poem, a
slight bodily gesture that speaks volumes.
Recently I had a rather drunken conversation
with someone my age, who insisted that litera-
ture was pointless because everyone has a dif-
ferent opinion. He argued, what's the point of
reading? (The sound of a "frying noise" comes
to mind).-
Well, what's the point of anything? West's
book can definitely be overwhelming at times,
especially for the non-word lover. It is, howev-
er, an intriguing study into what we say.
The mountains of time Oat have passed to
form a language we so often take for granted,
this book is a hysterical look into the "spastic
miscreants born to disguise and deformity."

politicians who control the means
for securing the Revolution.
Rather, it is the slaves, middle
class workers and prostitutes com-
manded by the sly Deborah.
There's nothing particularly con-
troversial about the romance
between the young "hooker with
the heart of gold," (Deborah) and
the naive but willing worker
(John).
What could ruffle some feathers
are passages suggesting American
envoy Franklin was doing nothing
more in France than making love,
Adams worked for the Revolution
to gain clients for his law practice
and Hancock smashed fine china
to soothe his fragile nerves.
As the Continental Congress
dragged and Washington was
being beaten soundly in nearly
every battle in which he showed
up, John and Deborah fight the
good fight through the under-
ground.
While every person awake in
U.S. history knows how the war
ends, few have seen this explana-
tion on the events during the war,
as well as such a unique side to
General Washington.
For all Lussier does to tarnish
the images of the Founding
Fathers, he writes a darn funny
novel. And, as Franklin quipped in
"1776," "We are not demigods. We
are men. No more, no less."
No doubt readers will come to a
similar conclusion here.

A

New Compaq iPac
a true pocket PC
By Matt Grandstaff
Weekend, Etc. Editor
Remember the time you walked into your Psych -11 class only to realize
that you had an exam? Have you ever needed to check an important email
but were nowhere near a computer? Or have you ever wanted something bet-
ter to do than the crossword puzzle in lecture.
If this sounds like you, you might want to check out Compaq's iPaq Pock-
et PC H3635. Similar to a Palm Pilot, the iPAQ offers a ridiculous amount
of features. More than just an everyday planner, this handheld organizer also
doubles as an mp3 player, a voice recorder, a word processor, an email sta-
tion and more. Not only does it offer a myriad of features, the Pocket PC's
display is full of vibrant colors and the backlight makes it easy on the eyes.
Powered by that little company known as Microsoft, the Pocket PC gives
prospective handheld organizers something that Palm Pilots and Handspring
Visors cannot offer - Microsoft Windows applications. Included software
includes Word, Excel, Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer. These
features all work surprisingly well considering how small the device is.
While the Windows features on the iPAQ are a nice thing to have, most of
them require additional accessories in order to truly appreciate them.
Straight out of the box, the iPAQ does not have enough memory to hold any
more than two or three mp3 files. In order to get closer to an hour of music,
however, the Pocket PC is compatible with Compact Flash cards. These
memory cards are also useful for storing digital photos, everyday files and
more.
Similar to the mp3 function on the device, programs like Word, Excel and
Outlook can be difficult to use with the stylus pen provided. These devices
work like a charm with the use of the available fold up keyboard. Costing
around $150 (the Pocket PC H3635 retails at $500), this keyboard makes the
iPaq live up to its name as a the Pocket PC.
As for the email and Internet options of the device, these options can only
be taken advantage of with the available 56k modem (also about a $150).
With the modem, the Pocket PC allows you to check your emails from pro-
fessors or check up on your favorite teams on ESPN.com.
Aside from PC functions of the iPAQ, the device is also an exceptional
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astute old man. John Hancock ably
controlled the Congress.
Well, anybody who starts read-
ing "Last Refuge of Scoundrels"
believing that those men were
noble, acting in the best interests
of the people, had better investi-
gate some revisionist history first.
For those of us who grew up
believing in the heroes of the
American Revolution, this novel,
even as a fiction, comes as quite a
surprise. This isn't patriotic propa-
ganda, but rather a look at history
in the style of Howard Zinn.
John Lawrence is the son of an
unscrupulous south-
ern merchant. Upon
arriving in Boston,
just ten years before
the outbreak of the
war, John immediate-
ly falls in love with
the city"- as well as
Deborah Simpson, a
prostitute and revolu-
tionary agitator so
elusive she should
have been nicknamed
"Swamp Fox."
Caught up in the
whirlwind of action
in the pre-war period,
John follows the love
of his life, the. Sons
of Liberty and the
Founding Fathers as
they break apart from f
England and start a
new nation.
It takes John a
while to distinguish
between the war and
the Revolution, and
to realize that it is
not the generals and

*1

Court0syoIarne

Courtesy of Compaq
"Dude, have you seen the size of that thing?"
organizer. For starters, writing with the stylus pen seems much easier than
Palm organizers. Rather than feeling like you are writing in a new language,
writing with the provided pen is rather easy to do. The only downside is that
is still takes a while to write stuff in. Any extensive writing with the Pocket
PC should be done with the available keyboard. In addition to writing notes,
the Pocket PC also has a voice-recording button on the side that is useful for
personal reminders, interviews and even recording lectures (extra memory
would be required).
Lastly, the Pocket PC is a great alternative to drawing three-dimensional
cubes and doing the crossword puzzle during classes. Featuring Solitaire and
Microsoft Paint, students can put the ease into Comm. 102 by playing
games. Aside from the games provided, additional games can be purchased
or downloaded from the web.
In the end, it is clear that Compaq's iPAQ is the mother of all pocket orga-
nizers. In tact, with the right accessories, it can be considered a pretty
decent computer as well. The only real downside of the device is that to
truly appreciate it, you need to purchase the keyboard, modem and memory
cards.
Adding up the total cost using the calculator program on the device, you
will find that you need to spend close to a $1000 to get the most out of the
iPAQ. For this reason, one must ask if a pocket organizer is really worth that
kind of money, when you could buy a good computer and a notepad for
around the same price. However, for those who cannot remember a thing or
just want to buy the ultimate portable gizmo, the Pocket PC H3635 is defi-
nitely worth checking out.

New Line greenulits
Austin Powers' sequel

By Lyle Henretty
Daily Arts Editor
Earlier this week, New Line Cinema
and comedian Mike Myers announced
that they are going to begin filming the
third entry in the "James Bond" spoofing
"Austin Powers" series. The
new film, to be called
"Austin Powers 3: Gold-
member" follows 1997's
sleeper "Austin Powers:
International Man of Mys-
tery" and 1999's blockbuster
"Austin Powers: The Spy
Who Shagged Me." After _
the surprise home video Courtesy o
success of the first film and Myers as Di
the more than $200 million domestic
gross of the second film, New Line has
been hoping to turn the film into a fran-
chise.
Originally hesitant to return, Myers will
make a reported $25 million to return in
four roles: The man of mystery himself,
Powers' archnemisis Dr. Evil, Scottish
heavy Fat Bastard, and the films title char-
acter, presumedly a new villian.

Myers (who also wrote the script) did
not elaborate, but the title seems to refer
to "Goldfinger," one of Sean Connery's
most famous "Bond" films.
Heather Graham, who played "Powers"
girl Felicity Shagwell in the second film is
expected to return for a cameo, leaving
room for another attractive
female to take Austin's side.
Also returning is director
Jay Roach ("Meet the Par-
ents"), who told salon.com
that the film will probably be
a prequel to the other films.
This would allow Powers to
be seen in his natural habitat,
ew Line Cinema London in the swinging '60s,
Evil, before being transferred to
the modern day (as in the previous two
films).
"Ain't it Cool News" reported uncon-'
firmed rumors that both Tom Cruise and
Connery himself were being tapped for'
cameos in the film. "Shagged" star Verne
Troyer, is in talks to reprise his role as Dr.
Evil's diminutive side-kick, Mini Me. The
film is on New Line's schedule for release
in 2002.

Ir.

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