February 14, 2005
arts. michigandaily. com
0 offers up
By Kevin Hollifield
Daily Arts Writer
a When thinking of the Old West,
ra certain scene comes to mind: a
heroic sheriff standing up to a mob
and restoring law
and order to the
are shattered in
such as Calamity
Jane are here, but this is far from any
romanticized, Disney rehashing.
"Deadwood" uses history books
as a springboard, centering on the
last bastion of the American fron-
tier. Leaving his post as a lawman
in Montana, Seth Bullock (Timo-
thy Olyphant, "Go") and his busi-
ness partner Sol Star (John Hawkes,
"Taken") start anew in the Black
Hills of the Dakota Territory. They
find the gulch already awash with
others seeking a fresh start in the
hopes of striking it rich as gold pros-
The town is overrun by a wide-
range of characters, including ruth-
less saloon owner Al Swearengen,
played by Ian McShane in a Golden
Globe-winning role. Also among
the residents are rich, drug-addicted
widow Alma Garret (Molly Parker,
"Iron Jawed Angels") and Wild Bill
Hickock (Keith Carradine, "2 Days
in the Valley"). The most famous of
Wild West legends, Hickock is now a
boozing, gambling, washed-up sher-
iff, a shell of his former self.
"Deadwood" challenges the
expectations of the Hollywood
Western by avoiding the portrayal
of the Old West clearly delineated
between good and bad. "Deadwood"
represents a realistic portrayal of
desperate characters who are more
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The late
Ray Charles's duets album "Genius
Loves Company," recorded during the
final months of his life, led the Gram-
mys with seven wins last night.
The sentimental favorite won record
of the year and best pop collaboration
for his ballad with Norah Jones, "Here
We Go Again," as well as best pop
album. Charles also was contending for
album of the year.
"I think it just shows how wonderful
music can be," Jones said as she accept-
ed the trophy for record of the year.
Other winners included Alicia Keys
and Usher, each nominated for eight
Grammys. By mid-evening Keys had
won four while Usher had three. They
shared one award, for best R&B perfor-
mance by a duo or group with vocals for
their No. 1 duet, "My Boo."
U2 also had three awards, includ-
ing best rock performance by a duo
or group, while Green Day, the most
nominated rock act with six nods for
their politically charged punk rock
opera "American Idiot," won best
"Rock'n'roll can be dangerous and
fun at the same time, so thanks a lot,"
lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong said as
he accepted the award.
Keys was chasing a record Gram-
my haul - she could have won more
than any other woman in one evening.
In 2002 Keys won five Grammys for
her debut album, "Songs in A Minor,"
becoming only the second woman to
self-serving than upstanding. Their
language is profane and their actions
are ruthless. The dialogue is also
reflective of the period, but charac-
ter quirks sometimes render it inau-
The first season DVD includes all
12 episodes in their vulgar, graph-
ic glory. The illegal town, built on
Sioux land, grows from a group of
tents with "no law at all" to a thriv-
ing settlement organizing to a gov-
ernment as the season progresses.
The show's presentation adds to
its realism. The vastness of the fron-
tier is presented in widescreen for-
mat, richly depicting the lush wagon
trails which contrasts the monochro-
matic dustiness of the town. The
sound, represented in multiple lan-
guage tracks, is just as good.
The DVD set contains a separate
disc devoted to extras featuring the
cast and crew who comment on the
production and historians who shed
light upon the town and characters'
histories. The most interesting and
in-depth of these are two lengthy
interviews with series creator David
Milch and actor Keith Carradine,
who discuss the show's genesis and
its degree of realism. Audio com-
mentaries with Milch and various
cast members also allow for even
While extras are lacking in quan-
tity, the included material is filled
with information that adds to the
"Deadwood" experience. Instead of a
rehashed, idyllic West, the episodes
give a realistic, gritty portrayal of a
bygone American era.
MEDIOCRITY MARS PUNK-ROCKERS' SOUND
"If we look
will buy our
By Aaron Kaczander
Daily Arts Writer
For a band that supposedly helped sculpt the Califor-
nia skate/punk scene, Unwritten Law has made a record
that sinks in the heavily treaded
blueprints of their anti-authority
predecessors. Their sixth studio
album, Here's to the Mourning,
revels in the all too familiar terri-
tory of hookless punk rock.
Fellow San Diego locals
Blink-182 have had little trouble
conquering the major label punk
Here's to the
live sing-along hit, "Get Up" offers one of the minor
pleasures of the album. The closer, "Walrus," is another
enjoyable track with its bouncy acoustic guitar riff,
swooning string section and commanding presence
from singer/guitarist Scott Russo.
Yet clustered around these two tunes is a smattering
of mediocre pop-metal material. The trite "Because of
You" has the lyrical depth of a bubble-gum teen idol,
with Russo musing "Because of you / My dreams
come true" over and over. "F.I.G.H.T." hits hard with
an arena-sized metal riff, but then fails to impress with
a chorale section of children spelling out the word. The
album's lead single, an alternative radio-friendly ditty
titled "Save Me" is the most interesting aspect of Law's
Mourning repertoire. Though it is admittedly catchy,
the song was co-penned by established songwriter
Linda Perry in an obvious bid for crossover appeal.
The collaboration lends to the suspicion that record
company executives needed an alternate way for Law
to conquer the charts with their anticipated comeback
album. Either way, the track fits the pop-metal blueprint
to a tee, complete with the introspective verse, sugary
chorus twice and an acoustic refrain ready to bring a
tear to a high schooler's heartbroken eye.
Here's to the Mourning comes off as unnecessarily
frantic and loud. Perhaps this is to be expected after the
2002 MTV special From Music in High Places, the
show which literally placed the boys atop a rocky perch
map, and a bit farther north Green Day maintained a
virtual pop-punk monopoly. Unwritten Law, though,
have used their new album as a jumping point for the
thrash of big metal riffs and raspy choruses that usually
aren't found in a genre that's thrived on a trend of whiny
vocals and catchy guitar hooks.
While a small handful of the 12 tracks are enjoyable,
the majority of the record is coded with "whoa oh oh"
choruses and crunchy guitar work. The album opens
with a confusingly short electronica track that transi-
tions nicely into the anthemic "Get Up." Laced with an
infectious chorus. drippy lyrics and the feel of a surefire
for an intimate acoustic performance at Yellowstone
National Park. This collecon of ongs from Elva, their
most successful album to (ae, sowcased their pol-
ished work, but left rabid Law ians look ing for a newer,
harder offering from the veteran group. Here's to the
Mourning may quench the thirst of the fanatical pop-
metal rocker, but for an offering from such a seasoned
band, the record su f fers from a spell of mediocrity.
Acclaimed writer returns flawlessly
Green Day accepts the Grammy for Best Rock Album.
win that many in one night. (Lauryn
Hill won five in 1999; so did Jones
The most nominated artist of the
year may be the most multifaceted
- Kanye West, the songwriter/pro-
ducer who made his rap debut in 2004
with the cutting-edge CD "The Col-
lege Dropout." West was nominated
for 10 Grammys, including album of
the year. In the pre-telecast ceremony
he won two, including best rap song
for "Jesus Walks."
But he was upset in the best new art-
ist category, losing to Maroon 5 in a
race that also included country singer
Gretchen Wilson, the Los Lonely Boys
and soul siren Joss Stone.
Maroon 5's Adam Levine seemed
almost apologetic after winning.
"Kanye West, I want to thank you so
much for being wonderful," he said. The
camera cut away to West, who looked
less than pleased.
Some expected West to have a melt-
down like at the American Music
Awards, where he complained bitterly
backstage after losing the same award
to Wilson. But on Sunday night
on to deliver an eye-popping
mance of "Jesus Walks" and a
tional acceptance speech for the
After referencing the car ac
few years ago that almost took
West promised to live life to the
"I plan to celebrate and scream,
champagne every chance I get!
I'm at the Grammys, baby!"
He also referenced his A:
Music Awards embarrassment.
body wanted to know what woul
I didn't win. I guess we'll never
he said, holding his trophy up hi
At least West didn't have
decades to get a trophy, as did sc
erans finally honored by the Re
Steve Earle's left-leaning "Th
lution Starts ... Now" won for<
porary folk album. And Rod
- who had complained in rece
about never winning a Grammy
for traditional pop vocal album
standards recording "Stardust
Great American Songbook Vol.
By Will Dunlap
Daily Arts Writer
In the town of Gilead, Iowa, an old man is bearing his soul.
His heart failing, Reverend John Ames addresses a letter to
his young son, recounting the history of his God-haunted life.
Weaving together past and present, the reverend's sprawling
letter takes on the form of a novel. And
what a novel it is. With the critically
acclaimed, "Housekeeping," Marilynne Gilead
Robinson established herself as a major By Marilynne
American writer. More than 20 years Robinson
have passed since "Housekeeping's" Farrar, Straus
publication, but time has done nothing and Giroux
to diminish Robinson's extraordinary
talents. It is hardly a surprise that "Gil-
AP PHOTO ead," Robinson's magnificent and long-awaited second novel,
succeeds on so many levels.
he went As in "Housekeeping," Robinson gives readers an American
perfor- portrait steeped in myth. Central to this portrait is the narrator's
n emo- grandfather, an abolitionist who went west to Kansas after a
best rap vision of Jesus in chains. From these reactionary roots, Ames
traces his family's religious shift to pacifism in the years follow-
cident a ing the Civil War. In the process, he chronicles nearly a century
his life, of American history, describing a nation wrought by racial and
fullest: religious tensions.
and pop Division, as a theme, is ever-present in "Gilead," and nowhere
because is this truer than in the case of the narrator. In giving thanks for
the "miracle" of his late marriage and young child, Ames must
merican first reflect on the solitude of his midlife. Through his reflec-
"Every- tion, readers are allowed a rich portrait of a lonely man bent on
Id I do if preaching God's goodness. Though "Gilead" is rich with bibli-
know," cal imagery, Ames's earthy, conversational style avoids preachi-
igh. ness. Throughout the novel, Robinson's prose shines through,
to wait dazzling the reader one sentence at a time.
nme vet- Structurally, Robinson works wonders. Ames's entries are
cording never dated, making for an unaccountable passing of time
between the letter's beginning and end. Such a technique allows
le Revo- the narrative a meditative quality that faithfully recreates the
contem- ponderings of the human mind. Ames leaves some stories unfin-
Stewart ished, only to return to them pages later. Beneath this guise of
nt years individual reflection, however, is the structural authority of a
- won master craftsman. Robinson's pacing never falters and makes
for his for a beautifully satisfying narrative arc.
The At its heart, "Gilead" explores what it is to be a father and
III." a son. Though named for his grandfather, John Ames has a
namesake of his own in John Ames Boughton, the favored,
yet troubled son of a lifelong friend. Young Boughton returns
home and becomes the central point of Ames's ruminations
as the novel progresses. Through the act of confronting a man
whose name is his own but whose personal history appalls
him, Ames must come to grips with what it means to forgive
In this sense. "Gilead" isa book abut the making of memo-
ry just as it is a book about love or God. But to pigeonhole such
an all-encompassing work with any one of these thematic labels
would be to miss the heart of Robinson's achievement. Mari-
lynne Robinson's novel is an exploration of what it means to be
human. and her authorial grace seems nearly limitless. "Gilead"
is the very definition of a masterpiece. a novel of singular heart
and intelligence - in short, a revelation.
s klW B r, wr . ' r .. 4 ,
By Abby Frack an
Daily Arts Writer
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