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October 05, 2006 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-05

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the b-side
COOLER THAN THOU
How TO ACT BORED AND SUPERIOR AT A PARTY
By Kimberly Chou Associate Arts Editor

Thursday, October 5, 2006 - The Michigan Daily - 3B

"See? Pluto is definitely not a planet."

Farm boys and
their superabilities

scl

Unless it's your first year
here - actually, especial-
ly if it is - you should
know this: Parties are overrated.
Whether dealing with keggers at
musty, beer-soused fraternities,
claustrophobic house parties or
awkward apartment get-togethers,
don't dare act as if you're enjoying
yourself. Acting bored and supe-
rior isn't just the new cool - it
always has been.
If you're not already lighting up
a Gauloise and muttering about
absurdist theater and the evolu-
tion of jazz, here's necessary help.
So maybe you don't know Samuel
Beckett from Sidney Bechet -
you can pretend.
Step 1: Isolate yourself. Noth-
ing says distant and aloof like
being physically distant and aloof.

Choose your space wisely: At a
party, a dark corner or back porch
will suffice. Too many Midwest-
ern sorority girls will be smoking
in the front.
Step 2: Wear dark clothing,
preferably something black or
form-fitting. Resembling a Beat
Generation writer/Stephen Malk-
mus amalgam creates an adequate
level of pretension. Stark, rectan-
gular-rimmed glasses and slip-on
shoes are permissible accessories.
Step 3: Smoke cigarettes, lots of
cigarettes - specifically brands
that utilize timeless marketing
aesthetics. The better the box, the
bettcr you look. Lucky Strikes
are the obvious choice; Gauloise
comes in second, pushing ahead
of the rest of the pack because

they are French.
Step 4a: With the privileged few
you allow into your elite circle, dis-
cuss modernist and post-colonial-
ist literature, or, at the very least,
suggest that you do. Be seen with
select volumes in your back pocket
or messenger bag. Try W.S. Bur-
roughs's "Naked Lunch "Black
Skin White Masks" by Frantz
Fanon, anything Gertrude Stein.
Step 4b: If caught in a discussion
about music, never admit your
personal tastes first.
Step 5: If you must talk to other
people, here are conversation
starters:
"My interests? Mozart, James
Joyce, sodomy."'
"It made a lot more sense after I

read 'The Decameron' for the sec-
ond time - there's just so much
missing in the English transla-
tion."
"But I also think Phil Collins
works best within the confines
of the group than as a solo artist,
and I stress the word artist. This
is 'Sussudio,' a great, great song, a
personal favorite."2
Step 6: Wait for it. Don't pick up
girls/guys. They will come to you.
Step 7: Learn to appreciate satire.
Congratulations - you are now
bored and superior.
1. Bastardization ofa
Woody Allen line, Annie
Hall" (1977). 2. Quotation
fron "American Psycho"
(1991), by Bret Easton Ellis.

By Christina Choi
Daily Arts Writer
After Iread Roald Dahl's "Matil-
da" in the fifth grade, I desperately
wanted to be telekinetic. If scrap-
py little Matilda could move stuff
with her mind, why couldn't I?
Although I was forced to abandon
this dream after several frustrat-
ing attempts with trying to levitate
an unwilling pencil, it's comfort-
ing to imagine that the creator of
"Heroes" probably leapt off his
parents' roof when he was a child
with a red bath towel tied around
his neck. It just makes sense.
So does the healthy popular-
ity of television's newest sci-fi
adventure. Last week more than
14 million viewers witnessed a
tiny blonde cheerleader casually
shove a couple of bloody, cracked
ribs back into her body. But that
was nothing compared to this
week, when a man was discov-
ered frozen and lobotomized, his
wife tacked to the stairwell with
kitchen knives - all presumably
a result of their telekinetic daugh-
ter's handiwork. Is it wrong to be
jealous?
Childhood fantasies aside, the
last time I was this mesmerized
by such hopelessly unreal televi-
sion was when a helicopter blade
lopped off Dr. Romano's arm on
"ER." As shocking as these scenes
may be, they hardly faze the audi-
ence of "Heroes," which is quickly
becoming a primetime hit.
Despite its unavoidable tacki-
ness, the show doesn't just give
us equal parts action, mystery and
drama topped off by a narrator
with a roguish accent. It gives us
the glorious illusion of an escape
from the dry and depressing events
of life that CNN regurgitates each
night. By brilliantly deleting
the prefix of "super" in the title,
"Heroes" brings the audience into
a world where anyone can sudden-
ly become extraordinary.
When looking at the show's
cinematic predecessors, this for-
mula seems foolproof. While the
much-hyped "Superman Returns"

of this summer boiled down to a
hunk of eye candy with an emi-
nently safe plotline, it also raked
in a solid $200 million at the box
office. Although not all of this can
be attributed to the swanky 3-D
glasses that accompanied the pric-
ier IMAX distribution, it's clear
that America still loves its resident
Kansas-bred alien, no matter how
flat his dialogue may fall.
The reason why Superman
endures in our nation's culture is
simple. Deep down, we all know
he's just good old Clark Kent, a
bumbling reporter who knows
what it's like to be an unappreci-
ated soul slaving away behind a
desk. "Smallville," a series that
depicts the wildly fantastical
adventures of a younger Clark,
already successfully capitalized
on this appreciation of the famil-
iar and is heading into its sixth
season.
But perhaps mutants trump
aliens after all, considering that
"X-Men: The Last Stand" grossed
$34 million more than the boy
wonder this year. These mutants
are also played off as ordinary
people who just happen to possess
incredible powers such as the abil-
ity to obliterate others with just
the sheer strength of their minds.
Ring a bell?
Perhaps this is where "Heroes"
finally lands, in a niche with
ample room to chronicle each of
the pseudo-unique characters'
humble beginnings. This wouldn't
be too far of a stretch considering
the "X-Men" comic-book archives
contain just about every imagin-
able special power out there. And
if it worked for "Smallville," why
shouldn't it work for "Heroes"?
If this week's episode is any
indication, "Heroes" will safely
play its teasers and thrillers to the
oohs and ahs of an audience raised
on an extremely palatable form of
science fiction. But before I spend
any more time debating whether
or not the telekinetic girl really is a
psychopath, tonight I have plans to
watch a certain flannel-clad farm
boy once again save the world.

h

'Cradle' shows working-dlass uprising

By Whitney Dibo
Daily Arts Writer
If you haven't made it to the
new Walgreen Drama Center
yet, now is
your chance The Cradle
to rediscover Will Rock
the bus sys-
tem and see Thursday at
7:30 pm
some good Friday and
theater. The Saturday at 8 p.m.
School of Sunday at 2 p.m.
Theater and This and next
Drama's pro- weekend
duction of $tt
"The Cradle Students $9
Will Rock" At the Walgren
opens tonight Draa ntrti
in the brand-
new facility - and it's definite-
ly worth the commute to North
Campus.
The show, a musical about the
rise of labor unions during the
1930s, evokes nostalgia for the
days when honest blue-collar
men and women still made fiery
speeches in front of town halls.
Working-class rights, small-
town inspiration and good old
fashion unity shine in this little-
known show - as do the The-
ater and Drama students.
And don't be confused when
you're directed into the scene
shop for the show's prologue. In
an attempt to recreate the his-
torical events surrounding the
opening night of "Cradle" in
1937, director Robert Benedetti
begins his production as a play-
within-a play.
The original opening of
"Cradle" in New York City was
nearly thwarted when at the
last minute the Workers Prog-
ress Administration revoked
the show's funding and Actors
Equity forbade the actors from
performing. The production
staff quickly found a new space
- a full 22 New York City
blocks away - but the actors
weren't allowed to take any
} set pieces, costumes or props
along.
But, as they say, the show
must go on - and in 1937, it
did. Hundreds of people walked
the distance to see the opening,
marking a historical moment for
both theater and union member
rights. That walk is simulated
in this upcoming performance,
as the audience marches with
the cast down the hallway of the

Walgreen Center, singing "This
Land is My Land" towards the
theatre.
It's an innovative start - one
that instantly welcomes the
viewer as part of the audience-
friendly production.
The story then unfolds in
Steeltown, USA, as the usual
suspects (prostitutes, hustlers
and the like) are dragged in
from the streets to spend yet
another night inside the cold,
unjust walls of the county jail.
They are loveable lawbreakers
from the onset, particularly the
broketbut beautiful Moll, who
would rather sell her body than
sell out.
The plot thickens when the
jailhouse is suddenly inundated
by a crowd of unlikely criminals.
As it turns out, an officer has
mistakenly arrested members of
the town's prestigious Liberty
Committee - an ambiguous
name for the group in charge of
combating the union epidemic
- and has thrown them in jail
for disturbing the peace. These
characters are wonderfully
funny symbols of "the enemy":
They are big business, country
clubs and fancy universities
wrapped into one song-prone
villain.
But it soon becomes clear
through a series of flashbacks
that this Liberty Committee
isn't exactly acting on free will.
It appears that a certain "Mister
Mister" - the head of the steel
business in Steeltown, USA
- has been making a few threats
the upper-class citizens cannot
withstand.
A definite highlight is the
sudden appearance of the show's
protagonist: the elusive leader
of the labor rally, a dashing
young steelworker. He's thrown
onto the stage, bloody and beat-
en after a night of interrogation
(sound familiar?), bearing a
striking resemblance to paper-
selling Christian Bale in "News-
ies" - and after his entrance, the
show really flies. It's one great
number after the next, until
finally the Liberty Committee
has a collective epiphany about
the error of their ways.
After a while, Cradle does
begin to feel more like a rally
than a musical - which is actu-
ally refreshing, considering the
heavy drama that seems to per-

vade theatre nowadays
The show is also dotted
throughout with off-beat musi-
cal numbers, which mostly
chronicle the Liberty Commit-
tee members' various expla-
nations for their behavior and
their fall from grace into the
hands of "Mister Mister." And
let's remember, these are acting
students - not musical theatre
majors. The Theater Depart-
ment certainly threw their stu-
dents a curveball.

The unique blend of history,
music and drama in "Cradle"
brings to life an important part
of America's past - while still
remaining light and comical
throughout. "History is a tre-
mendously significant part of
theatre," said Benedetti of the
Department's choice to pick
"Cradle" as the season's opener.
So don't be scared off by the
subject matter. You may just find

the Great Depression makes you
want to sing and dance.

"l

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