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November 14, 2001 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-11-14

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 14, 2001

ARTS

Ehrlich makes trek
from arctic to 'U'

By Beatrice Marovich
Daily Arts Writer
After being struck by lightning
several years ago, essayist, poet
and fiction writer Gretel Ehrlich
found herself traveling to Green-
land to "get
above tree-line."
Greenland,
the world's
Gretel largest island
Ehrlich (Australia,
being a conti-
Shaman Drum nent, does not
Tonight at 8 count) is
beyond cold,
constantly cov-
ered by ice and
. untouched by
modern society.
Inuit hunters
still travel by
dogsled and many inhabitants have
never seen a tree.
On assignment for Islands Maga-
zine during her first visit, Ehrlich
said, "before the first week was
out, I knew I could write a book
there." Having worked on a
Wyoming ranch for seventeen win-
ters, Ehrlich was unfazed by the
cold that never goes away. She had
an intense fascination with the ice
and the culture, which was only
magnified the longer she stayed.
Seven years later, Ehrlich can say

that she was able to experience
almost every aspect of the modern
Inuit lifestyle. She was there during
the times when the sky was com-
pletely dark, 24 hours a day for
four months. And, conversely, she
was there when the sun refused to
set all spring.
She went on long, nomadic hunt-
ing expeditions by dogsled, sleep-
ing in a tent on top of the snow and
eating whenever one of the hunters
spied a seal soaking up sun near its
bathing hole. Her journey brought
her to small islands with less than
50 inhabitants and places such as
Qaanaaq and Siorapaluk, the north-
ernmost villages in the world.
The book that resulted from her
travels, "This Cold Heaven" is hard
to pin. At times a chronicled travel-
ogue, at other times a philosophic
and poetic pondering, her journey
is always spirited and personal.
Her one companion on the other-
wise solitary excursion is the Dan-
ish-Inuit explorer and ethnographer
Knud Rasmussen, who spent years
earlier this century (between 1917
and 1924) traversing the Arctic
wilderness. He is somewhat of a
folk-hero in the region and Ehrlich
had already poured through the
travel diaries and journals of his
trip before she arrived in Green-
land. Several chapters are dedicated
to his expeditions and his own
experience with the Inuit people,
many of whom, before his arrival,
had encountered few, if any Euro-
peans.
But Rasmussen, having grown up
in an Inuit village, spoke their lan-
guage and was often a welcome
visitor. His adventures are remark-
able, from brushes with death and
starvation to seances with native
Shamen. With Rasmussen's assis-
tance, Ehrlich is able to give an
accurate depiction of how much,
and sometimes how little, the Eski-
mo life has changed in over sixty
years.
"This Cold Heaven" is an incred-
ible and enlightening enterprise. It
is a revealing look at a life about
which, here in America, we know
almost nothing. Ehrlich's prose is
as sharp and radiant as the Arctic
landscape. She has truly thrown
herself into another way of living,
as well as a new culture. Her
reflections on life and death are not

*1
: h
Courtesy of Pantheon Books
Ehrlich gears up for a Michigan Winter.
left unexplored and tested by her
experience and she searches for
metaphors in the terrain.
Ehrlich, born in California, has
degrees from both Bennington Col-
lege and UCLA film school. Film-
making was her chosen occupation
until 1978 when she began to write
full-time. She is a prolific writer,
having published over a dozen
books including three books of
poetry, two books of narrative
essays, a book of short stories, a
novel, a novella for young adults, a
biography of naturalist John Muir
and two memoirs.
"A Match to the Heart" describes
her experience of being struck by
lightning. "Questions of Heaven"
follows a Buddhist pilgrimage of
sorts that she made through the
mountains of Western China.
Her work has appeared in
anthologies such as, "The Best Col-
lected Essays of the Century". She
is often published in periodicals
like, The Atlantic, The New York
Times, Time, Life, Audubon,
National Geographic Adventure
and Outside. Her books can be read
in German, French, Italian and
Japanese.
Ehrlich has been awarded a NEA
Writing Fellowship, a Whiting
Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship
and a Harold D. Vercell Award from
the American Academy of Arts and
Letters.
She reads tonight at Shaman
Drum at 8PM from the recently
published "This Cold Heaven."

Kline, Christensen shine in
near-perfect 'Life as a House'

By Wilhelmina Mauritz
Daily Arts Writer

The film "Life as a House" is
one big metaphor. It works well

Life as a
House
Grade: B+
At Showcase
and Quality 16
i

most of the
time because it
has a decent
story line
backed by some
fine actors. The
setting of the
movie is visual-
ly stunning as
well, for most
of it takes place
on a cliff off
the ocean. The
film itself is not
all that realistic

else he knows and loves. The whole
project is the symbolic re-growth
that clearly needs to happen
between these characters. As
George so blatantly states to Sam
before tearing down the first wall
in the house, "this all has to come
down until we can build again."
If this sounds a little sappy, that
would be because it is sappy.
Movies having to do with death or
dying usually are. If someone sat
down today and really thought what
it would be like to only have a few
months left to live, he might get a
little sentimental himself.
This film may well have been a
superb movie if it had simply been
toned down a few notches. There
are several unnecessary plot devel-
opments that distract from the
story. A significant one involves
Sam's dealing in minor prostitu-
tion. As if Sam sniffing everything

he can get his hands on and listen-
ing to a lot of Marilyn Manson
wasn't enough? There is a twist at
the end that tries to get the audi-
ence to laugh at his actions, but it
only serves to remind them what
should have been left out in the
first place.
Like the major metaphor in this
movie, everything else about "Life"
is a little too perfect. Everything is
laid out a little too neatly for the4
audience, which means that there is
no-actual need to think or connect
with the movie; It is too simplistic.
Watching the movie, it is easy to
predict that all the problems these
people have will eventually be
solved by the end. Some may find
this a flaw while others may
embrace the inevitability.
The latter are the people who
will really cherish "Life as a4
House."

(on a number of
levels), but it draws you in and
brings you along on its emotional
roller coaster.
The story is about George (Kevin
Kline), an architect, who has for-
gotten what it feels like to be alive,
until he finds out that he is going to
die in three to four months. He
decides there is nothing he would
rather do with his remaining days
than build his dream house with
Sam (Hayden Christensen), his
deviant son.
George, and everyone else in his
life, including his ex-wife (Kristin
Scott Thomas), have all forgotten
what it feels like to care passion-
ately about anything or anyone.
They are all dead inside. George
changes all of this with his sudden
zest for life and his newfound
interest in transforming his broken-
down house into an unmistakable
masterpiece.
George's project gets not only his
son involved, but also everyone

Courtesy of New Line Cinema
Kevin Kline pausing to wonder why he's gave up "Hamlet" for this.

Give Me Buddyhead: Raucous
Icarus Line plays The Shelter

By Keith N. Dusenberry
Daily Arts Writer

"Out of frustration, we felt we had to do something,"

says Icarus Line
The Icarus
Line

guitarist Aaron North. Though he's
referring to the bands' destruction
of a faulty PA system at the previ-
ous night's concert, North might as
well be describing the reason
behind the Los Angeles-based
hardcore band's origin. The Icarus

night." And if any girls do ever find their way across
the Icarus Line, they're welcome to come along for the4
ride, but they will have to work for their spot in the
van. "Yeah, there's room [in the van]. She'd have to
pull her weight, though, you know. She'd have to like
sell merch or something," North quips.
If the rumor that girls like bad boys has any truth to
it, tomorrow night's Icarus Line concert at the Shelter
in Detroit should find the band getting a bit more
female attention. North says, with a hint of rebellious
pride, "the other night, we broke the stage." So ladies,

Line destroy more than sound come to the Icarus Line show and le
The Shelter equipment. Their raucous live bunctious rockers pop your eardrum
Tomorrow at 7 p.m. shows often leave band members hearts. For once, getting Mono is actt
bruised and bleeding; and if CDs :: : :
had arms, the Icarus Line's latest
entitled Mono, could pummel cor-
porate nu-metal without scratching
its jewel case.
But since Mono doesn't have
comprehensive national distribu-
tion yet, that fight might be a little
hard to find. "If you look around, you can find it,
North promises, and one place to look is at the website
buddyhead.com. Co-founded by North and friend
Travis Keller, Buddyhead is the Icarus Line's internet
home away from home, and a project that keeps North '
and Keller (also the Icarus Line's concert merchandise
pusher) busy when they're not on the road with the
band.
On the road, North, his four bandmates, Keller and
their road manager all sleep in a van in classic indie
style. Though he admits that they've, "had it a lot
worse" and current touring conditions as they are (in a
borrowed van, as compared to previous tours in small-
er cars and trucks) North claims that, "this is like
gravy." Still, a month and a half sleeping on a van
bench is a month and a half sleeping on a van bench, .. :
and North tries, "to spend much of the time comatose"
so that he doesn't "have to think about the long, weird
drives." Since he doesn't do drugs, North explains, "I
like to go to my little dreamland, you know, hang out
with trolls and fairies, and cartoon characters. There's
beautiful women in my dreamland."
There are apparently no ladies really at the Icarus
Line shows, however, as North notes that on this tour
with hardcore friends Cave In, "it's been pretty much a
sausage party ... so far, it's been a sword fight every North tearing up the riffs (and the stage).

et hardcore's ram-
as and break your
ually desirable.

CuU rt syoTh Icaruiny

Becer Tasting
Wednesday, November 14th
7-9 pm
Fea turing
Micha el Ja cks on's
Real Beer Tour
The tasting will feature six beers collected from Michael Jackson's
(world famous beer critic) Real Beer Tour. These beers are unavailable
from retail outlets making this a truly unique tasting!
Casta Morena a Scottish accented ale from Mexico
Mash Beer an English golden lager
Vrak a Swedish wheat beer
James Squire Porter from Australia

I.I

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