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October 08, 2004 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-08

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October 8, 2004
arts. michigandaily. com

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"I can't believe they have cars ... and showers ..."

Detroit country band
plays hallowed Hill

Courtesy of ABC
"Let me read you
this letter from
my backwoods
friends ..."


By Amos Barshad
Daily Arts Writer
The phrase "Detroit band" invokes
a specific image these days. Blanche, a
Detroit quintet fronted by Dan Miller and
his wife Tracee, bear the burden of that
image while bearing no resemblance to it.
Trying to play your own strange blend

By Doug Wernert
Daily TV/New Media Editor

"Desperate Housewives" isn't your ordinary tele-
vision program. For one thing, a central character
kills herself in the opening minutes of the first epi-
sode. While this might seem
tragic to some, the nosy next-
door neighbor's reaction is Desperate
relief that now she doesn't have Housewives
to return the woman's blender. Sundays at 8 m.
It's this tone that establishes A 8
the backbone for "Desperate ABC
Housewives," a new comedy
that doesn't take itself seriously and uses its humor-
ous writing and outlandish atmosphere to create one
of this season's most surprising, unique programs.
"Housewives" may best be best described as
"Arrested Development" meets "Sex and The

City," as the show follows around several mar-
ried women who are frustrated for one reason or
another. Tying it all together is Mary Alice Young
(Brenda Strong), the dead woman who serves as the
narrator for the series and for her friends' eccentric
day-to-day lives. This cast of peculiar women all
have their fair share of problems.
First, and most importantly, is Susan Mayer (Teri
Hatcher), the divorced mom looking to get with the
new neighborhood hunk (James Denton). While this
seems to be the primary storyline, a second plot line
with an overly sophisticated mother (Marcia Cross)
who drives her family crazy is also entertaining.
Whether it's Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria), the
sex-crazed model who hooks up with her gardener,
or the career woman (Felicity Huffman) who is
now overwhelmed by her four kids, each of Mary
Alice's friends are totally different and likable in
their own way.
The show manages to bring a fresh come-
dic approach without being so over-the-top that

the gags become inane. Sure, the flashbacks of
Susan's enemy Brit (Nicollette Sheridan) seducing
everyone from the cable guy to the neighborhood
priest are silly, but this storytelling device moves
the plots along and helps the viewer keep all the
women straight. The men are simply there to either
frustrate, annoy or intrigue the women. Gabrielle
mowing the lawn in her evening gown so her hus-
band won't find out about her affair is downright
hilarious. After all, they're desperate housewives
for a reason.
Both the characters and the humor are given
ample time to develop and that's the powerful com-
bination that made "Desperate Housewives" used
to be the top-rated show in the country last week.
The group conversations they have scream "Sex
and The City," but these are kept to a minimum
so the show can develop it's own personality. It's
already off to a tremendous start and as long as the
show keeps the originality and the sex appeal flow-
ing, viewers will continue to tune in.

of twisted country
in a city feeding on a
steady diet of garage
rock can, appar-
ently, pose some
problems. It takes
courage to "play
real quiet beautiful

Sunday at
7:30 p.m.
At the Hill Auditorium

parts with just an autoharp and a voice,"
especially in "these crappy P.A. places
in Detroit, where every other band was a
garage rock band," Dan Miller said.
Tracee Miller talked about the band's
rise through the Detroit club circuit as
more a rite of passage. Playing shows
with a less-than-ideal sound situation
forced the band to adjust to the point
where Blanche's style was fundamen-
tally altered. "If we only played sit-down
type places, I don't think we would have
come across how we really wanted to ...
the messiness adds to the band instead of
Blanche's album, If We Can't Trust
the Doctors... was re-released on major
label V2 records Set. 28th and they will
open for Wilco at Hill Auditorium on
Sunday. While Dan Miller is certainly not

adverse to playing shows with bands such
as Wilco or Handsome Family, which
are often times categorized as alt-coun-
try, he explains that he clearly feels that
Blanche's appeal does not lie only in that
particular audience. "We can tour with the
Handsome Family, we can tour with The
White Stripes, we can tour with Calexi-
co," he said. "It's not one specific kind of
thing where you can only play to acous-
tic singer/songwriter type crowds but you
can play to 15-year-old kids that like punk
rock, that they're gonna look at this weird,
countryish band from Detroit, and they're
gonna be open to that."
While they might be too laid back to
contend otherwise, it seems that the couple
feels that the alt-country tag is not appro-
priate. As Tracee Miller somewhat pas-
sive-aggressively put it, "We all have our
different influences - Gun Club, Nick
Cave. I really don't listen to that much alt-
country music."
To some, the idea of a band from
Detroit playing what can be at least loose-
ly described as country is blasphemy. But
Dan Miller is completely appalled by the
whole idea of someone dismissing his
music on such terms. "Thinking about
Billie Holiday, with a song like 'Strange
Fruit' that was written by a Jewish guy
in New York, that doesn't make the song
any less beautiful or sad or gripping.
I think that anyone who plays country
music or blues music, is anyone who's
been devastated by tragedy and sadness.
That's something we definitely went
through when we were working on this

Innovative dance company takes the stage at 'U'

By Rachel Berry
Daily Arts Writer
More than 55 years ago, swimmer Paul Taylor
auditioned at The Julliard School in dance and blew
the faculty away. Now, he claims two companies and
a repertoire of 120 pieces that
have been performed around
the world. His main company is Paul Taylor
celebrating its 50th anniversary Dance
by touring all of the 50 states in Company
one year. Today at 8 p.m.
The Ann Arbor stop holds and Saturday at
significance as the alma mater 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.
of one of the company's 16 Tickets: $20-$44
members, Julie Tice. In addi- Saturday matinee:
tion to two full length shows, Adults $16, Children $8
the company will hold an At the Power Center
abridged "Family Show" Sun-
day afternoon, a master class led by Tice, a youth
performance for K-12 school groups.
Tice decided to move to New York and start taking
classes with Taylor after one of his company members

chose a piece for her and other University dancers in 1997
during her senior year. She soon made it into "Taylor 2,"
Taylor's second company, and she has been performing
with the main company for the past five years.
Tice encourages audience members to watch in
order to see what moves them. She says, "He likes
the individual to come up with their own ideas about
what the dance is about." Consequently, there are no
program notes. The Paul Taylor Dance Company is
known for portraying emotion. "The thing that is so
fantastic in this vocab that he has developed is the
large range of emotion and feeling that can be con-
veyed," Tice said. "Let yourself be taken to another
world for an hour and a half."
Tonight's performance is scheduled to include the
classic "Cloven Kingdom" (1976), "Eventide" (1997)
and "Promethean Fire" (2002). "Cloven Kingdom"
addresses the animalistic tendencies in humans. In
contrast, "Eventide" is a beautiful piece about a cou-
ple going through different stages in life and their
relationship. "Promethean Fire" is a passionate piece
that relates to Sept. 11.
Tomorrow evening's performance is scheduled
to feature the classic "Arden Court" (1981), Taylor's
newest work "Dante Variations" (2004), and "Le

Shock-rocker Manson
collects catalog's 'Best'

Courtesy of UMS
The Paul Taylor Dance Company celebrates its
50th anniversary this year with a performace at
the Power Center.
Sacre du Printemps" (1981). "Arden Court" is joy-
ous while "Dante Variations" is about Purgatory.
"Le Sacre du Printemps" (The Rehearsal), is the
only piece that will be performed that has something
resembling a plotline. Tice is in all of the pieces
tonight and tomorrow. While the two performanc-
es have different programs, both nights "show the
breadth and range of (Taylor's) work, from the comi-
cal to the more serious," Tice said.

By Michael Martin
For the Daily
Controversy can produce surprising
things. Take, for example, the main-
stream success of Marilyn Manson,
whose abrasive persona and music

don't seem logi-
cally capable of
generating hits,
Manson (with
producer Trent
Reznor) somehow
managed to do
just that, creating
memorable, if not

Lest We Forget:
The Best Of

'Spader makes his return in latest ABC drama 'Legal'

tracks are covers. To his credit, "Per-
sonal Jesus" and "Tainted Love" blend
in well among everything else, but his
re-imaging of The Eurythmics' "Sweet
Dreams (Are Made of This)" as a plod-
ding goth-rock ballad - replete with an
all-screaming coda - makes one won-
der if Manson knows how absurd the
concept is.
Merely listening to the album on its
own is half-fulfilling; Manson became
famous primarily because of his image.
Is it feasibly possible, then, to listen to
"The Dope Show" without picturing
that androgynous, "nude" body-suit?
Something common among much
of what Manson produces is a lack of
content. In the liner notes, there is a
picture of a Manson powdered white
from the waist up, holding a sheep in
one hand and a shotgun in the other. He
is screaming. This photo doesn't actu-
ally indicate anything; it is a metaphor
only Manson himself could understand.
Similarly, song lyrics like "I'm not a
slave to a God who doesn't exist" make
statements but neglect to explain their
underlying meanings - the listeners
are never informed of, or persuaded to
believe the things he says. Listening to
Marilyn Manson means sifting through
his ramblings in desperate search of a
message that never comes.

By Stephanie Rosen
For the Daily

The last time J
cast as a lawyer -
"Secretary" (2002)
normal law office
of E. Edward Grey
slip, at an ever so
disarming a pace,
into a den of sado-
masochistic fan-
tasy realized. The

ames Spader was
in the feature film
- we watched the
Boston Legal
Sundays at 10 p.m.

naked from the waist down before the
opening credits roll. Were this "Ally
McBeal," a past David E. Kelley cre-
ation, such a flight to the surreal would
conclude with a shot of the smirking
character who had just imagined it. But
in "Boston Legal," there's always an
explanation grounding the inexplicable
in the same plane of reality at which
the show functions; that is, in the thin
air high above the mundane world of
actual civil law practice.
Often, that explanation is two words:
Denny Crane, the senior partner played
by William Shatner. Crane specializes
in making the impossible possible, but
the inflated name encases an aging and
hollow character who struggles with
his identity in the pilot and looks to do
so all season. The series, a spin-off of

"The Practice," will also struggle with
this, but more in the style of Spader's
Alan Shore, who craves meaning,
and whose peaceful, arrogant expres-
sions indicate a depth lacking in those
around him.
Stylistically, the show is unique.
Choppy, handheld, and unconven-
tional camera work is a perfect fit
in this unpredictable fictional world.
Quick cuts used to transition scenes
equally match the show's multiple
fast-paced plots.
The females prove lacking as char-
acters in the pilot, and the writing is far
tighter when the men converse. If the
women - a paralegal and love interest
to Shore named Tara (Rhone Mitra),
and a lawyer named Sally (Lake Bell)-
-are to blossom, it will be through Alan

Shore, who has already shown compas-
sion for a mother cheated of custody,
a child actress hurt by discrimination
and also fellow partner Brad Chase
(Mark Valley), the hyper-masculine
but highly ineffectual lawyer that will
serve as a tireless joke for Kelley and
his writing team.
The ensemble is not equal, but the
series is promising enough with as the
comedic and dramatic catalyst. "Bos-
ton Legal" will be another hit about
lawyers in Beantown.

totally accessible, songs addressing top-
ics like Satan and fascism.
Manson's roots lie in the "shock rock-
ers" who came before him, most nota-
bly Alice Cooper (who, like Manson,
was merely in a band whose name he
would later adopt as his own). At times,
with Lest We Forget, Manson allows
his many influences to get the best of
him. "The Fight Song's" verse sounds
bizarrely similar to "Song 2" by Blur
while "Get Your Gunn" pilfers the main
riff of Metallica's "Enter Sandman."
More puzzling is the fact that, on this
greatest hits collection, three of the 17

pilot of "Boston Legal" takes much
less time to get weird.
A senior partner at Crane, Poole
and Schmidt - the law firm that is
the drama's setting - enters a meeting

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