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February 01, 2005 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-01

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Tuesday
February 1, 2005
arts. michigandaily. com
artspage@michigandaily.com

dEEt RTSq

8

- -- - -

BERNIE
NGUYEN

Lunch with literature

J ust like every other student on this
campus, I have a busy schedule
- classes, meetings, homework,
exams. I'm a busy girl. Despite this, I
managed - by sheer determination -
to never eat lunch by myself my entire
freshman year. I would hike 15 minutes
in the bitter cold to Stockwell just to eat
with my friends so I wouldn't be one of
those losers who eat by themselves.
This year, however, is different. Even
though I tried to arrange it so that I
could eat lunch everyday in the compa-
ny of a friend, I somehow ended up with
three days out of my week in which I
eat - horrors! - alone. "No big deal,"
I said to myself, "I'll just figure out the
best way to do it."
After studying the different tech-
niques of solitary dining, I've discov-
ered the one thing that solo lunch eaters
have in common: They have managed
to give off the appearance of hurried-
ness (see? I'm eating by myself because
I'm in a hurry) by reading. The strange
kid in the corner with the "Communist
Manifesto," the girl surreptitiously hid-
ing the cover of her forbidden romance
novel and the rushed business types
with their crisp copies of the "Econo-
mist." All of them have perfected the art
of appearing too involved in their read-
ing material to care that there is no one
else at the table.
In the interest of the dining public,
I've compiled a list of a few books appro-
priate for when you're stuck eating your
mashed potatoes without company.
"War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy:
This prodigious tome is the perfect way
to impress any distant acquaintance
who might observe you while you're all
by your lonesome. You don't even really
have to read it. Just clip a few articles
from Sports Illustrated and slip them
between the pages. Say you're using
them as bookmarks if asked.
"How to Talk to a Liberal (if you
must)" by Ann Coulter or "Dude,
Where's My Country?" by Michael
Moore: There is nothing like scathing
political commentary filled with "facts"
to help make the meatloaf easier to
digest.
"Fast-Food Nation: The Dark Side
of the All-American Meal" by Eric
Schlosser: This happy, upbeat book
about the shady side of the meat-pack-
ing industry will keep you company

while you have fun with your french
fries and hamburgers. Just kidding.
"Calvin and Hobbes" by Bill Wat-
terson: Tiger and boy wreak childhood
havoc in black-and-white cartoon land.
Need I say more?
"Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark
Tales" by Stephen King: Appetites may
be lost, but with the type of food the
cafeteria is putting out these days, that
might not be a bad thing.
Sometimes, even reading will not
save you from the profound embar-
rassment of knowing that people are
darting glances at your back, thankful
that they have friends to sit with. It's
enough to make you want to shout, "I
have friends! Really, I do! But they're
all at lab!" This humiliation can be so
overwhelming that I've actually seen
students pull out the big guns: their
laptop computers. After all, you can't
feel sorry for someone whose English
paper is so pressing that they need to
work on it over turkey tetrazzini. I'm
sorry, wait - yes, you can.
To my surprise, however, I've found
that I like eating by myself; at least, as
long as it's not in the dining hall. There
is a strange and distinct pleasure in grab-
bing a table all for myself at Noodles
& Company, eating my soup without
feeling the pressure of forced conversa-
tion or uneasy banter. In defiance of all
logic, the empty seat across from me has
somehow morphed into a relaxing and
ergonomically practical foot rest. The
broad expanse of unoccupied table is no
longer the evidence of a lack of dining
companion; rather, it is a space for me to
put an extra napkin and enjoy the star-
tling peacefulness that sitting by myself
affords.
And so I've decided that if I have to
eat lunch alone, I'll do it in a restaurant.
Never again will I suffer the humiliation
of hating cafeteria food on my own. If I
have to be a lone ranger, I'll do it with
good food in front of me. What's a few
extra dollars if it saves me from hav-
ing to face a noisy crowd of judgmen-
tal, cereal-eating morons while eating
lunch?
Just don't get me started on dinner.
- Bernie loves reading and eat-
ing alone and is thinking of starting
a club for like-minded people. Con-
tact her at banguyen@umich.edu

'EVIL
UNDEAD
SURVIVAL-HORROR
GENRE TAKEN TO A
WHOLE NEW LEVEL
By Jared Newman
Daily Arts Writer
VIDEO GAME REVIEW
Up until now, no one has been able to perfect the
formula for survival-horror
video games. Some of them Resident
are drenched in plot and atmo- Evil 4
sphere, but turn the action into
a chore. Others focus too heav- Gamecube
ily on fighting and become just Capcom
another gory action title. With
"Resident Evil 4," the recipe has
been refined.
The latest installment stars secret agent Leon Ken-
nedy, a former cop who was promoted after "Resident
Evil 2." He and a couple of no-name officers are sent
to an undisclosed village in Europe to investigate
the kidnapping of the U.S. president's daughter. Of
course, the officers are knocked off quickly, leaving
the task to Leon.
"RE4" doesn't feel like most survival-horror games
because players are encouraged to fight, not flee. An
over-the-shoulder view has replaced the fixed camera
angles of the series' previous installments, boosting the
action appeal, adding precision and pulling the player
further into the environment.
The game's many weapons are balanced perfect-
ly: The handgun, for example, is weak, but ammo is
scattered liberally, while the shotgun can clear out a
roomful of attackers, but should be conserved for those
specific kinds of situations.
Despite the game's many firefights, "RE4" doesn't
feel like most action games either, probably because

"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

of its unique controls. The stripped-down set of move-
ments - notably the absence of the ability to strafe
or move while aiming - makes the game feel less
like a shoot-em-up and more like its predecessors.
The "Action Button" has been given new life as well,
prompting players to perform special maneuvers such
as jumping through windows or kicking stunned
enemies instead of simply opening doors or climbing
ladders.
"RE4" is rife with cool graphic effects, such as
the splashing water when fighting a giant monster or
the blur of the zoom scope when Leon aims his rifle.
Still, the occasional jagged edge or clipped texture are
reminders that making this title exclusive to Gamecube
seems like a charity act from Capcom: Just imagine
the quality of graphics that an Xbox would provide.
The sound in "RE4," with the exception of mediocre
voice acting, is extraordinary. Rarely in a video game
has the sound of a reloading gun been this realistic, and
the actual gunfire sounds are even better. Of course,

the sickening growls and droning, gloomy soundtrack
that have always accompanied the series are back, and
they're the scariest aspects of the game.
The enemies that Leon fights in "RE4" aren't quite
zombies this time around. Sure, they move slowly
and display a tolerance for bullets, but they also wield
weapons, communicate with each other and follow
the orders of a mysterious figure named Lord Saddler.
Although the story behind Saddler and his minions
seems unoriginal at first, bizarre twists become plenti-
ful as Leon explores further.
This is why the action is so important: Where most
survival horror games assume that a suspenseful plot
is enough to keep the gamer interested, "RE4" takes
the next step by constantly littering the path with fresh
challenges, whether it be a fortress full of fireball cata-
pults, a roomful of hooded zombie-priests or a giant
with hands the size of a human being. After defining
the survival-horror genre nine years ago, the latest
"Resident Evil" has raised the bar once again.

I

Classic movie monsters
face off again on DVD

By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer

Woven Hand miXes
religion and folk music

Blatant Hollywood cash-ins - sequels,
spinoffs and the like - get a bad rap.
They get ripped for weak plots, bad act-
ing, a lack of continuity and a not-so-hid-
den desire to profit
from a good thing.
And while these are Alien vs.
all valid criticisms, Predator
there's no rational
reason they should 20th Century Fox
be levied on sequels
and cash-ins any
more than on the original. Let's face it
- it's not like the original "Speed" had
significantly more noble ambitions than
"Speed 2: Cruise Control." So it goes with
the "Alien" and "Predator" franchises,
two sci-fi steeds that have been flogged so
often that their calluses have grown thick
enough to bruise the whips.
"Alien vs. Predator" was blasted so
thoroughly by film critics upon its release
that it failed to do even a fraction of the
business that its name-brands should've
brought about automatically. And it's a
damn shame, too, because "AVP" is a
surprisingly watchable monster mash.
Though it lacks the hard-fought haunted
house tension of the original "Alien" and

the delectable "governor vs. nature vs.
intergalactic space assassin" appeal of the
original "Predator," "AVP" gets by on a
suitably ridiculous - though not totally
incoherent - plot and just enough beast-
on-beast action to satiate anyone lowbrow
enough to get past the title.
Just how does director Paul W.S.
Anderson manage to weave together
two completely unrelated storylines? A
heat-imaging satellite owned by billion-
aire Charles Weyland (Lance Henrik-
sen, "Scream 3") spots a temple buried
beneath miles of ice in Antarctica. Wey-
land, seeking one last thrill in his old age,
gathers a band of adventurers to excavate
the mysterious structure. The snarky ice-
climber Alexa Woods (Saana Lathan,
"Out of Time"), the hunky archeologist
Sebastian de Rosa (Raoul Bova, "Under
the Tuscan Sun") and the father-of-two
scientist Graeme Miller (Ewen Brem-
mer, "Black Hawk Down"), among oth-
ers, fill out his confused but suddenly
well compensated band of experts. Of
course, Anderson kills off all except
Woods almost immediately, and her
romp around the temple with a teenage
predator participating in a once-in-a-cen-
tury alien-killing ritual leaves her with
graciously few lines.
The film proceeds from there in a most-
ly predictable, though ultimately enjoy-
able series of Alien/Predator wrestling

By Lloyd Cargo
Daily Arts Writer
When David Eugene Edwards took a
break from established alt-country rock-
ers 16 Horsepower
in 2001, he took
on the moniker Woven Hand
Woven Hand as an Consider the Birds
outlet for his pro-
lific song-writing. SoundsFamilyre
,On Consider the
Birds, his third solo
;release, Edwards crafts another unswerv-
ing ode to God that invokes power, love
and glory through dark American folk.
The son of a traveling Nazarene
preacher, Edwards's Christianity is a
'theme that runs throughout Consider
The Birds. The name Woven Hand is
taken from the image of hands entwined
in prayer. But like labelmate Sufjan Ste-
vens, when Edwards talks about God, the
;message is clear without being preachy.
That isn't to say Edwards isn't forceful
with his faith. On "Down In Yon Forest"
when he eulogizes, "Down under that
bed there runs a flood / Bells of paradise

"My, what big teeth you have."
matches and coming-from-a-mile-away
ambushes. But while the movie exceeds
expectations, the DVD leaves a lot to
be 'desired. The "alternate beginning"
promised on the packaging is nothing
but a poorly executed attention-grab-
ber, mercifully omitted from the actual
film. The commentaries - one featur-
ing Anderson, Henriksen and Lathan, the
other with some of the movie's anima-
tors and computer whizzes - are mostly
unwatchable. The former features inane
from-the-set trivia, the latter improves on
it only slightly as the filmmakers spend
the entire runtime pointing out which
sets/creatures are computer generated
and which aren't. Fans of the long-run-
ning comic book crossovers will find
some goodies, but nothing to get terribly

excited about.
"AVP" was unfairly maligned upon its
release, the victim of overanxious film
critics and impossible-to-please fans of
the two excellent sci-fi series. It is a silly,
flawed film, but it never feels like it's drag-
ging on and remains eminently enjoyable
throughout. The DVD release is ultimate-
ly guilty of the sort of reviews the movie
was pinned with. Much to the critics' cha-
grin, there are fans of both "Alien" and
"Predator" out there, and while these nuts
were perhaps unfairly judgmental of the
film, they deserve better than this half-
baked DVD.

0

Film: ***
Picture/Sound: ***
Features: *

M83 synthesizes singular vision with sound

I hear them ring / Half runs with water
/ Half runs with blood / And I love my
Jesus above everything," the weight of
judgment can be felt with each strum of
his guitar.
The only thing holding back Consider
the Birds from being a great record is the
analogous composition. On most of the
tracks, Edwards performs all the instru-
mentation himself, and the songs all end
up sonically similar. The tracks that really
stand out are the ones where he lets other
musicians flesh out his arrangements.
But even by his lonesome, Edwards still
conjures up epic folk hymns.

By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Music Writer

the same type of lunatics who get off
on My Bloody Valentine's epic guitar

Starting an album with someone
saying, "Raise your arms the highest
you can / So the whole universe will
glow," is a little bit like guaranteeing a
Super Bowl victory: Back that shit up
or end up embarrassed. Most artists
would drown in the sea of pretension
that M83 has stirred for himself. His
guitar and keyboard epics appeal to

maelstrom and
fall headfirst into
Sigur R6s's winter
romanticism.
On his last
album, Dead Cit-
ies, Red Seas
& Lost Ghosts,

M83
Before the Dawn
Heals Us
Mute

French artist Anthony Gonzalez lost
himself in a world of heavy synthesiz-
ers, approaching the sonic fullness of
the legendary MBV as well as anyone

in the last decade. The album felt like
a rural meditation on life's hugeness.
Vocals were sparse, keyboards were
stacked' and guitars were indecipher-
able. On Before the Dawn Heals Us,
Gonzalez refines his approach, mov-
ing forward both the sonics and the
atmosphere of his soundscapes.
Before the Dawn Heals Us is an
upbeat, life-affirming joyride. Gon-
zalez scales down the dark under-
tones that occasionally reared their
head on Dead Cities. The new work is
warmer and happier, but never loses
the grandeur that makes M83's sound
so singular. On the impossibly huge
"Don't Save Us From the Flames,"
Gonzalez blitzes something like 70
guitars at angels repeatedly sighing
"Tinaaaaa." Anyone not on board at
this point misses the train altogether:
Rock bombast, heavenly choirs and
'80s synth glitzes are the building
blocks of Before the Dawn.
Given the potentially explosive
materials he's mining here, Gonzalez's
success rate is remarkably high. "Can't
Stop" relies on vocals more than any-

thing else in M83's catalog, and it
thrives on miles of childish naivete
and charming repetition. Gonzalez is
so on target throughout the album that
he makes the lyrics of "Teen Angst"
("How fast we burn! / How fast we
cry! / The more we learn / The more
we die!") sound passable over a bed of
palpitating drums. Even the monolithic
album closer, "Lower Your Eyelids to
Die with the Sun" never falters, lapping
up a bearish 10 minutes with an ava-
lanche of slow-groove electronics.
Not everything works. The ridicu-
lous narrative of "Car Chase Ter-
ror" finally trips up Gonzalez with its
sub-B-movie screams, but even this
misstep fails to bring the rest of the
album down to earth. The bright city
lights on the cover of the album are
a fitting analogy for the songs: never
close enough to truly grasp, never so
far as to become indiscriminate. M83's
sound is mountainous, humorless and
unforgiving, but never intimidating or
unbelievable. Seldom do huge prayers
to the night, the city, the heavens sound
so eminently welcoming.

0

I

I

"tel l - &

Located in the heart of JViracle Strip

__

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