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September 02, 2003 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-02

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ART S

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 2, 2003 -11A

Swo fford gives an inside
look at the Marine family
By All Ahmad
For the Daily

The many faces ofJennifer Garner

By Katie Marie Gates
Daily TV/New Media Editor
DVD REVI EW
The average college student can
hardly imagine receiving an offer to
work for the CIA, but Sydney Bristow
(Jennifer Garner) is far from average.
She speaks a dozen languages and
sports even more varied hairstyles.
With impeccable instincts, she runs,

Anthony's Swofford's "Jarhead: A Marine's Chroni-
cle of the Gulf War and Other Battles" is about the
process of becoming and the practice of living as a
Marine. The cover image of a lone Marine watching
burning oil wells is
telling: Here, the gulf warr
mainly acts as the back-
ground for a story about
the Marines, both as indi-
viduals and as a group.
Swofford offers a
poignant, honest and
sometimes disconcerting d thM
depiction of the Marine a
Corps, commenting on the
fraternal order of soldiers
who became part of a tra-
dition that itself became
an indelible part of who
they are and who they SWOFFORD
wanted to be.
Swofford pulls no punches, recalling not only the
daily humiliations and frustrations of being a Marine
but also the related lows of his personal life, thus
revealing a vulnerable side with which readers can
readily empathize.
"Jarhead" is very readable, because Swofford writes
with a candor and honesty that makes his own charac-
ter quite likeable. Indeed, sometimes one wishes he
had held something back, perhaps keeping some of
the sadder incidents to himself. To read how Swofford,
motivated by fear of an unknown war and despair over

she fights, she
makes grown men
cry and she man-
ages to return
home each time
unscathed. After
seven years of

Alias: The
Complete
First Season
Buena Vista

ence hoping the storylines will seem
more realistic. His jump from the angst
of "Felicity" to the action of "Alias" is
astonishing. At any rate, watching
Golden Globe winner Jennifer Garner
run around in ridiculous costumes
fighting for God-knows-what can be
entertaining and thrilling.
Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1
Surround Sound and widescreen for-
mat, "Alias" plays more like a movie
than a television show. The DVD set
mimics that idea with more special
features than most other television
dramas. Abrams and Garner provide
the conventional audio commentaries
on the first episode and director
Michael Bonvillain, producer Sarah
Caplan and creator Ken Olin speak
over the second. The former is more
interesting while both describe the
motives behind each scene and
humorous tales from filming.
The true treasures of this set are on
the sixth disc where lively audio
commentary by eight cast members
is supplied for the last episode and
bonus features are bountiful. They
include a brief gag reel montage, six
deleted scenes, an interesting ten-
minute stunt documentary, an exten-
sive pilot production diary and
various commercials for past
episodes, an upcoming video game

working for a covert CIA branch, she
finally tells her fiancee of her involve-
ment in spy operations. When he is
killed, Sydney discovers the people she
works for are not the good guys after
all. Now, her only chance is to report
the enemy organization, SD6, to the
real CIA. Thus, the young super spy
begins her life as a double agent.
The first season of ABC's "Alias,"
now available on a six disc DVD set,
follows our heroine through one far-
fetched and often confusing, situation
after another. Perhaps creator J.J.
Abrams intentionally baffles the audi-

and the second season DVD.
While the premise is far from realis-
tic, even absurd, as Abrams comments,
this impressive set amply matches the
above average heroine of "Alias." It is
a worthwhile watch for first-time
viewers and will become a favorite to
fans who long for the exciting life of
agent Sydney Bristow.
Show: ***
Picture/Sound: ***i
Features: ****i

Rock over London, rock on Heaven

an unfaithful woman, placed an M-
16 in his mouth, seconds away
from a suicide but was saved by a
fellow Marine and miles of "lap
therapy" in the Saudi Arabian
desert is to receive a small window
into life in the Corps. It is a pleas-
ure to read such an honest account,
and yet sometimes it feels like an
almost guilty one.
Swofford makes the admittedly
cliche observation that a combat

Jarhead: A
Marine's
Chronicle of
the Gulf War
and Other
Battles
By Anthony Swofford
Scribner

his old unit, most notably the funeral of a comrade
killed in a car accident, begin with drunkenness and
frequently end in violence. The bond between the
Marines is self-fulfilling and circular: Brotherhood is
not just about what is shared between fellow Marines;
it is also about how this bond pushes them away from
everyone else.
To the outsider most familiar with the Marine
Corps from sanitized images of almost-too-young
Marines walking down Iraqi streets, "Jarhead" gives
the reader some sense for that part of military life
that will likely never make it into the news cycle.
And yet it is the most lasting part of the experience
for the soldiers actually involved. The effect of the
experience never fully wears off; in an April Slate
magazine article, Swofford wrote of the experience of
seeing his old training ground in San Diego after
more than a decade: "I cried for the boy I once was
and for the Marines who died in the last few days,
and their families, and their brother Marines who
might at this moment be fighting close quarters. The
Marine Corps breaks my fucking heart. I still love it
and hate it."
At its essence, Swofford's book is about both the
physical experience of being a Marine and the emo-
tional burden of remaining part of the corps, and
"Jarhead" gives us some sense for the depth and
nature of this defining bond.

By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Editor

schizophrenic had a whole legion of indie followers hum-
ming the words to "Rock N' Roll McDonald's" and "I
Wupped Batman's Ass."
In early June, Willis was rushed to the hospital with inter-
nal bleeding. News slowly hit the Internet. The little blurbs
that appeared on music websites could have easily registered
as non-stories, but a quiet yet loyal fan base passionately
responded on message boards, like the one on Punknews.org,
and with get-well cards to the hospital. The online sentiments
were mixed in with the perplexed rants of non-Willis fans,
lost in their attempts to understand how others could care so
much for an artist whose "every song sounds the same."
While a novelty act to most, Willis' two-minute rants were
perfectly suited for the Napster era, providing the quick
mindless bursts of riotous joy that fit right into any playlist.
Standing six-feet five-inches tall and weighing over 300
pounds, Willis never played the part of rock 'n roll god, but
always served as a reminder of the joys of pure personal
rock expression.
. Often labeled as an "Outsider Artist," the debate has raged
for years about whether Willis' fans laughed with or at him,
but the singer's beloved habit of distributing handshakes and
headbutts to anybody who was willing showed that Wesley
had a real affection for the people who liked his music.
Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label will release
Willis' "Greatest Hits Vol.3" on October 7th.
"Rock over London, Rock on Chicago."

unit is like a family, but then adds the important
insight that "the best unit works like a dysfunctional
family, and the ways and means of dysfunction are
also the ways and means of survival." Preparing for
war means suppressing one instinct for another,
replacing fear, doubt and youth with machismo, over-
confidence and fraternity. However, this change is
not without costs; after the war there is a sense of no
longer belonging to a group and rejection by society.
These themes underlie many of the civilian experi-
ences of Swofford's Marine Corps friends and help to
explain why so many of the post-war reunions with

WESLEY WILLIS
1963-2003

Wesley Willis, the '90s wonder of rock fanaticism and
comic book envy with a simplistic approach to guitar play-
ing and lyrics, died last Thursday from complications of
chronic myelogenous leukemia. Willis never rose above his
underground cult status, but thanks to some high profile
fans (Jello Biafra, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam) and a
much publicized record deal with Rick Rubin's American
Recordings, the one-time homeless man and certifiable

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