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November 21, 2003 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-11-21

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ART S

The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 21, 2003 - 9A

Mysticism of Central Asia revealed in 'Sea'

By Matthew Grinshpun
For the Daily

Ostensibly, "Chasing the Sea: Lost
Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central
Asia" is a book about one of the world's
greatest ecological disasters. The once
proud Aral Sea, in 1960 the size of Lake
Michigan, has been
reduced to 30 per- Chasing the
cent of its former sea
volume, devastat-
ing the economic By Tom Bissell
welfare of the sur- Pantheon Books
rounding regions in
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Tom Bis-
sell, in his first solo book, bravely sets
out across this tortured landscape to
document the stunning misery left in the
disaster's wake.
Well, sort of.
Bissell's book is an unusual blend of
adventure travelogue, memoir and his-
torical study. His voyages throughout
Uzbekistan with his comical translator
Rustam consume most of the narrative
and provide a vibrant cultural panorama
of the country. Only in the final chapter
does he arrive in Karakalpakistan, the
region hardest hit by the drying of the
Aral Sea.
Bissell doesn't indulge in pomp; he is
forthcoming with his weaknesses. His
powerful narration is studded with can-
did - and often funny - admissions of
his humanity: His stomach is extraordi-

narily sensitive, his knowledge of Russ-
ian and Uzbek is limited and his first
experience in the former Soviet republic
was a woeful, aborted stint as a Peace
Corps volunteer.
These various side-tangents form a
series of compelling subplots laced with
a strychnine wit. His explanation of the
"Bald = Reform" theory of Russian
progress (hairless Russian leaders have
been the standard bearers of forward-
thinking political change), for example,
ends in a precious observation regarding
current Russian President Vladimir
Putin, in saying: "He looked bald but in
fact had a good amount of hair."
Bissell punctuates the frankness of his
narrative with many such barbs, granti-
ng his moral judgments a fellow-traveler
legitimacy of which he does not shrink
from taking advantage of. His descrip-
tion of the human rights situation under
the post-Soviet regime is horrifying and
poignant. Likewise, his tour of a tuber-
culosis dispensary in the final chapter
exposes health standards verging on the
surreal. These passages are conveyed
with sympathy and respect for the peo-
ple of Uzbekistan, whom he quotes
extensively. Bissell does not seek merely
to shock his readers, but to promote
understanding.
It isdingthe reconciliation of this lofty
goal with his humorous tone that Bissell
sometimes stumbles. Shrewd critics
have particularly noted that Bissell's
admitted lack of fluency in Uzbek or
Russian leads to some linguistic blun-

uurie~y or vwar
Education is important with the reading and the writing and the adding together of the numbers and so on and so forth ...
HE SAID HE'D BE BACK
SCHWARZENEGGER GOVERNS 'T3' DVD

T0M BISSELL ]
ders in his writings. In one instance, he
recycles the tired and false clich6 that
the Russian word "vodka" literally
means "little water."
Setting such minor foibles aside,
however, Bissell's book is a startlingly
clever entry in its subject. What
"Chasing the Sea" lacks in erudition,
it compensates for with smart, engag-
ing prose. While most readers aren't
immediately gripped by the idea of a
documented sojourn through a forlorn
Central Asian republic, Bissell pulls
his reader into the world of Uzbek-
istan and never completely lets go. In
the end, we are left feeling the persist-
ent tug of a tell-tale phantom limb.

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Writer
D VD R EVI EW
Arnold's back in the latest install-
ment in the "Terminator" saga. If the
recent gubernatorial madness failed to
satiate your appetite for the Austrian
muscleman, then "T3" serves as the
perfect dessert.
While not as Terminator 3:
thrilling or inno-
vative as the Rise of the
James Cameron- Machines
directed origi- Warner Bros.
nals, Jonathan
Mostow's film adequately lives up to
the name of its predecessors. The
themes of the previous films about the
ability to change the future have
instead been replaced with diatribes
on destiny and fate.
The action is frenetic and impres-
sive, characterized by a car chase fea-
turing a fire truck, a dilapidated van
and a tow truck (eat your heart out
"The Matrix Reloaded"). Arnold's
performance is as mechanical as ever
and the Terminatrix (Kristanna
Loken) is even more menacing than
the T-1000 in "T2."
The picture is pristine and the audio
track is Dolby Digital. The two-disc

set has enough featurettes, interviews
and commentaries to please even the
most hardcore "Terminator" or
Schwarzenegger fan. Arnold's com-
mentary is incredibly enjoyable, espe-
cially when discussing the
Terminatrix'seability to
enlarge her breasts.
While most DVD sets
offer numerous deleted
scenes, "Terminator 3"
only has one, a humor-
ous mock recruitment
video that shows the cre-
ation and development of
the first Terminator. The
scene would not fit in the
film and its comedic
nature makes it even more
out of sync with the tone
and seriousness of the plot.
A gag reel rounds out the
robust catalogue of supple-
ments and can be particularly
entertaining because of
Arnold's limited acting ability.
Even as a completely unnec-
essary and unwanted sequel,
"T3" did not ruin the franchise
or tarnish its legacy.
Schwarzenegger made the role
of the Terminator into one of the
seminal roles in American cine-
ma, a role he won only after the

producers deemed the leading candi-
date, O.J. Simpson, "too nice."

Movie: ***
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: ****

Nothing good at this family 'Reunion'

By Douglas Wernert
Daily Arts Writer
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, TV viewers
have few things to be thankful for. "Friends" is ending, "The
West Wing" is no longer worthy of being called Best Drama
and the month of November is chock full of useless televi-

sion. TBS Superstation continues the
trend with "National Lampoon's Thanks-
giving Reunion," a made-for-TV movie
that tries to copy the popular "Vacation"
series, but instead falls flat on its face.
Judge Reinhold ("Beverly Hills
Cop") is Dr. Mitch Snyder, an "anesthe-
siologist to the stars" who lives in his
luxurious California home with his typi-

National
Lampoon's
Thanksgiving
Reunion
Sunday at 9 p.m.
TBS

pie, half-redneck washing-machine repairman living in the
world's tackiest house. Accompanying him is his spiritual
gypsy wife (Penelope Ann Miller, "Carlito's Way"), a bitchy
daughter and a spider-crazed son. Needless to say, the Cali-
fornia Sniders can't adjust to the bizarre habits of their
Idaho counterparts, and immediately begin looking for any
excuse to leave.
As with any "National Lampoon" movie, the plot tends to
get a little bizarre. Mitch learns that Woodrow only wants his
money, yet oddly enough, Woodrow originally asks Mitch for
his kidney. The story only gets stranger, as the boys share
their love of insects, cars get stolen, the girls run away and
Uncle Mike finds love. The show tries to conclude with a pos-
itive message about family, but after an hour and a half of
tomfoolery lacking any comedic value, it's just not worth it.
The show is well-cast (could you ever picture Cranston as
anything besides a guy who's off his rocker?), but the charac-
^ters' potential is destroyed by poor writing. This movie lacks a
memorable classic scene like other "Lampoon" productions,
unless you count the sequence where the girls fight in the
mud or when Woodrow desperately attempts to fix his abun-
dance of broken washing machines. However, these can't
make up for all the lame gags and weak jokes "Reunion"
attempts. At least you can be thankful Chevy Chase chose
Aflac commercials over subjecting himself to starring in this
made-for-TV debacle.

cal blonde, pessimistic wife (Hallie Todd), his joking, wise-
guy son (Calum Worthy) and his popular teen-beauty-queen
daughter (Meghan Ory). When a postcard from a long-lost
cousin arrives in the mail, the family, along with an elderly
man affectionately called Uncle Mike, set off to Idaho to cele-
brate Thanksgiving with their unknown relatives.
But this isn't just any ordinary family. Woodrow Snider;
(Bryan Cranston, "Malcolm In The Middle") is the half-hip-

4 ---WC A
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UAG tE MUlSET PRIsIECr
ANKI FI

Words and Music by Richard Adler and Jerry loss http:Ilwww.umich.eduluaclomusket
Book by George Abbot and Douglass Wallop
Original Choreography by Bob Fosse A Michael Bolgar and Caitlyn Thomson Production

FRUIDAY9 HOWIEMBIER2fl

AT opm

SATURDAy, MOYEMDFER 22 AT 3M
BuHDAy, N(OEMIMER 23 AT 2PM
Power Centerror the Performing Arts
Tickets: $13 or $8 for students

Direction by Margo Brenner
Music Direction by Cathy S'Shaugnessy
Choreography by Jennifer Barber
Lighting Design by Christian Deangelis and Ian Hyatt
Costume Design by Catherine Silber

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