The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 5B
Finding life's lessons
on the Diag
By Dave Reap I Daily TV/New Media Editor
on't let school get in the way of your
That was the advice offered
to me one fateful autumn afternoon of my
sophomore year. It came from that endear-
ing fellow who sometimes plays the har-
monica outside the UGLi. He didn't speak
these words to me - his furry beard-laden
face was attached to the musical instru-
ment he was melodically implementing to
lift the spirits of passersby - rather, he had
scrawled his message in white paint on a
weathered piece of cardboard that sat at his
That piece of cardboard changed my life.
There I was, a sophomore who thought
he had it all figured out, only to spot this
guy's sign and realize that I knew nothing.
My life was blue books, mechanical pen-
cils and a GPA - there was supposed to be
more, but there wasn't. I thought to mysef
Here's the deal: The harmonica dude is
right. A college education by nature consists
of more than academics - in fact, the major-
ity of this education has nothing to do with
academics. So where does that leave us?
Really, a true college education is a collec-
tion of all those things you've learned that
you considered relatively useless.
The active ingredient for me in "learn-
ing" has been the people around me - it's
truly amazing what you can pick up from
others. After being inspired by one musi-
cally-minded buddy, I took guitar lessons,
and later recorded a song with this same
friend - the song was awful. A certain
Albanian acquaintance taught me how to
take a hookah hit. I was schooled in the
art of television criticism by two mensches
with whom I'd watch "How I Met Your
Mother" and "Heroes" every Monday. Upon
one friend's encouragement, I discovered
that "Sweet Caroline" is the perfect kara-
oke song. I learned to love the comic book
writer Mark Millar because of the owner of
the Vault of Midnight. One of the kids I sit
with at Michigan hockey games taught me
the "C-Ya" chant. I learned to smoke ciga-
rettes, and, shortly thereafter, learned I
didn't like cigarettes. A girl from one of my
film classes "reminded" me how to paral-
lel park. One former managing arts editor
helped me inject attitude into my televi-
sion reviews. And so on like you wouldn't
So this is what I've learned, and what I've
used to learn about myself - introspection
is a beautiful, and very collegiate, thing.
To you freshmen who might be reading
this: Expose yourself. Wait, that came out
wrong. But joking aside, look up from your
books occasionally and ask your roommate,
Getting an arts
education from the
most unlikely places.
best friend or whomever to give you the
low-down on a new album, hacky sack move
or whatever else you crazy kids are doing
these days. Don't wait for a cardboard sign,
To you soon-to-be graduates: We have
a challenge ahead of us. How the hell can
we keep up these shenanigans once we're
plopped down into the real world? (Note:
MTV should really make a show called "Real
World: Real World" - the true story of seven
unemployed recent graduates struggling to
find purpose. Damn, I still got it.) We clearly
still have some growing up to do, and thank
God for that. Keep rediscovering yourself,
no matter where you wind up next.
As for me, well, I have only this left to say:
Thanks, it's been one heckuva ride.
Batman's first day of class.
By EVAN MCGARVEY
Daily Arts Editor
June 19, 2005 - All it takes is the first
10 minutes of "Batman Begins" - when
a shockingly grizzly
Christian Bale fights
off a dozen men in a *
rural Chinese prison e
courtyard, mud streak-
ing his face, the sky Begins
covered in steely grays Warner Brothers
and washed-out blues
- to make the audience
forget a series of corpulent, peevishly
Technicolor Joel Schumacher-helmed
Batman McMovies and submit to direc-
tor Christopher Nolan's rejuvenating,
grimy and psychological take on one of
America's most emblematic heroes.
Bale ("American Psycho"), with a
diamond-cut jaw line and perfect WASP
features, was born to play Bruce Wayne.
While his voice as Batman doesn't reach
the dark heights of Michael Keaton's
original take, Bale simply looks exactly
as we'd imagine Bruce Wayne - after all,
Bale has done idle yet deeply flawed rich
For those of you who were denied the
singular pleasure of Batman comics by
your parents, here's an unjustly quick
primer: Gotham City is America's largest
metropolis with a beyond-seedy under-
belly. Nice, old-money, philanthropic
Wayne family goes to opera,, Momaand,
Dad are killed by a mugger. Son watches
parents die, spends formative years on a
spiritual quest in Europe and Asia com-
plete with martial arts training and gen-
eral trust-fund spending. Boy returns to
Gotham, puts on big, black rubber suit,
redirects newfound thirst for vengeance
and decides the only way to clean up his
fair city is to catch the criminals that the
corrupt city police are too lazy to catch.
Phew. 30-plus years of America's great-
est comic book in a single paragraph.
Frank Miller's gothic, exquisite
graphic novel "Batman: Year One" (on
which David S. Goyer and Nolan's admi-
rable script is loosely based) makes a fine
introduction, but many might find it an
even more compelling purchase after
seeing the film.
Nolan gets infinite credit for not sur-
rounding Bale with random ingenues
but instead leaning on a bevy of fantastic
Gary Oldman ("Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban"), with his finest
performance in recent memory, nails
the dually idealistic and battle-hard-
ened Lieutenant Gordon. Michael Caine
("Secondhand Lions") is a stately Alfred
Pennyworth, loyal butler and eventual
co-conspirator to Bruce Wayne. Mob
boss Carmine Falcone, the thinnest part
of the villains, still manages to come to
weary, casually violent life thanks to
Tom Wilkinson ("Eternal Sunshine of
the Spotless Mind").
And lest we forget the Scarecrow.
Cillian Murphy, previously seen fight-
jogi Zombie-infested Europe (n, they
weren't bored kids studying abroad) in
"28 Days Later," not only gets the best
costume in hero-movie history, but gen-
uinely disquiets everyone he touches on
With his macabre burlap-patchwork
mask and canisters of hallucinogenic
toxin lurking under the guise of psychia-
chew scenery - he maliciously chomps
it. If Nolan has any one major fault in
plotting, it's giving too much weight to,
a more standard, grand-destruction plot
(dutifully carried by Liam Neeson and
Ken Watanabe) and not enough screen
time to Murphy's gleefully warped men-
tal health professional/villain.
Fitting for the plot's emphasis on
Gotham's disparity of wealth, the scen-
ery looks like a mash-up of Hong Kong's
skyscrapers and slums and Los Angeles's
sprawl, all topped off with a post-indus-
trial shade straight from Detroit. The
technology is reasonable, the stock bad
guys are frighteningly like the everyman
and the most gloomy character is Bale's
Batman. It's notenough that;helooks like
he should be Batman; it's clear he genu-
inely wants to become Batman.
Refreshing how after four movies
stffed with ,action-figure repetition,
Bale looks like a fan. And hey, with fans
like Bale and Nolan, how could this
movie have possibly gone wrong?
One art student's
By Bla eGoble Eaily Arts Write'
t took me a little too long to realize how
grand it's all been.
Yes, we've all got our "Michigan-
changed-our-life" stories, but hear mine out.
I made my mistakes. I learned and I grew. I
made leaps and changes that will benefit me
for the rest of my life. I can't honestly say
I'm certain of the picture Shead (not enough
of us are), but I feel OK about it regardless of
the outcome. I know Michigan has done me
I came to the University somewhat reti-
cent of an Ann Arbor education. Navy blue
shirts, hard work and the 'occasional party
would suffice. What can I say? Nepotism
left me jaded at times about the whole aca-
demia thing. I'd seen enough. I was totally
... emo. When you have three older siblings
pass through the very same university, you
assume that you understand it all and noth-
ing's going to be that different. Not true.
Maybe it took me two years too long to
realize it, but ... I'm really gonna miss this
joint. Not only does it have possibly the best
tasting Kool-Aid in the world, but the Uni-
versity really allowed me to become myself.
There's no other cult of personality I'd rather
be involved in than U of M.
About four years ago, I was Blake Goble,
the chlorine-headed, flakey, floating art stu-
dent, complacent with trying to take pictures
and getting paid for it someday. (Well, I'm
still kinda flakey.) Then two things hap-
pened: (1) The darkroom at the art school
was greatly diminished, and (2) I got the big
bounce from the photo section of this paper.
Drag. But you know the concept of doors
opening and closing? The film section of this
paper was wide-open.
It changed everything. It made me' into a
person. In two years, I went from a complete
putz to a fully fleshed out human being with
abilities and interests. I became "By Blake
Goble." I wrote countless pieces for this
paper, learning how to better articulate my
ramblings on Bay or Cassavetes. And people
have responded in kind.
I became an art student who used his pas-
sion for film-as-art to guide him through four
years of projects and thesis work. I cared about
writing, speaking out and getting out. And I
have actually been able to use my experiences
here out there in the world. The only catch? I
still can't write a proper essay for shit. Damn
Daily colloquial style. Can't we just talk?
I guess I have to reflect upon these things,
because, where else am I going to have all
these resources and opportunities again? I'm
petrified of post-grad. But optimistic, too.
One might argue I could have gotten the same
experience at Iowa or Texas or ITT Techni-
cal Institute. And maybe I could have.
Even the Kool-Aid
tastes better here.
But where the hell else can I do a Stock-
well breakfast, go get obscure movies at the
library, see us whomp ass in a football game
(a Carr game, that is), take a blue-blanketed
nap, go write 800 words on Paul Newman,
do a lecture on Batman and German opera,
eat at Pizza House, buy hype glasses from
Middle Earth, skim a book at Borders, get a
free swim in and then go buckwild from 11
p.m. till 4 a.m.?
Like I said: Michigan Kool-Aid tastes
the best. Come on, my e-mail address is
And I'm really gonna miss it.
The morning after a night at Rick's.
By BLAKE GOBLE
July 20, 2008 - There's a moment
when the Joker, in a nurse's uniform,
exits a hospital just as
it blows up behind him.
It's a chaotic scene,
yet it's filmed with a
perfect narrative flow The Dark
and style, something ngh
that characterizes the W
film as a whole. Over
the top, elegant and
intriguing - it's perfect.
"The Dark Knight" is not merely great,
it's an arguable masterpiece. No, this is
not the immature ranting of a child in
Batman underwear. "Dark Knight" is a
savvy, high-minded drama that just hap-
pensto revolve around men of sensational
character. It might justbe the best film of
2008 thus far. This is dark horse awards
material, and possibly the greatest comic
book movie ever, easily improving on the
already outstanding "Batman Begins."
This is the yin to the "Superman: The
Set a year after the events of "Batman
Begins," criininals now live in fear of
what the night summons. Batman (Chris-
tian Bale, "3:10 to Yuma") is doing good.
He may also be able to hang the cape up
soon, as the new district;attorney Har-
vey Dent (Aaron Eckhart, "Thank You find a place here. The script is almost
for Smoking") is busting crime without poetic in its willingness to articulate
spandex. Both are men of principle in a hard ideas, courtesy of director Chriso-
disruptive world. But anarchy is com- pher Nolan and brother Jonathan's writ-
ing. The nefarious Joker (Heath Ledger, ing. English majors writing comic book
"Brokeback Mountain") is the ultimate, adaptations? It ought to happen more.
maniacal antithesis to them, looking to That's not to say this is ostentatious.
ignite chaos in the city. The expected romance and humor is
But there's more. present and strong. The music pul-
Batman/Bruce Wayne must balance sates with neoclassical gusto. Digital
his two lives, while upholding his rules. effects marry practical stunts together
Dent slowly embraces the dark within in impressive action set pieces - so do
his dawning hero. The Joker is a man yourself a favor and wait for those IMAX
with no rules, making it almost impos- seats. It's worth it.
sible to fight him without compromising
one's sense of justice.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Gordon (Gary
Oldman, "Harry Potter and the Order Ledger's haunting
of the Phoenix") is struggling to main- anc
tain order. Noble butler Alfred (Michael perform ance
Caine, "Children of Men") must convince
master Wayne to stick with his responsi- is no joke.
bilities. Crime lords are recovering from
a recession brought on by the Joker. The
death toll rises. Violence in the street is
reaching a boiling point. Panic and mass "Knight" is a pop culture icon, and
hysteria ensue. And 200 other things Nolan has taken the opportunity to bring
(all engaging) happen before the credits. big ideas to its large audience. Not every-
This is a movie about "more." thing is answered, but that just leaves us
If that sounds a bit hectic, well, that's wanting more.
because it is. But "The Dark Knight" Seeing "The Dark Knight" is like
makes every second count. watching "The Godfather" or any other
Themes rarely considered in the comic ; great crime story for the first time. And
genre such as duality 4nd self-sacrifice there's still plenty to talk about.
This is not Blake'Goble.