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September 29, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-09-29

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 5A

Paperback or bust

have a lot of problems with
Kindles and e-readers -
those e-inked, overpriced
metal boards masquerading as
books. The
e-reader just
seems un-book-
like. While I
can fit several
thousand digi-
tal books onto
this thing, it
seems like the WHITNEY
struggle of POW
stuffing a hoard
of six paperbacks in the back of
a suitcase should be an inherent
struggle ofbeinga book lover - I
will often forego packing extra
shirts in favor of bringing Adam
Gopnik's "Through the Children's
Gate" or David Foster Wallace's
"Consider the Lobster" with me.
Are e-readers adequate sub-
stitutes for books? The argument
here is about what characterizes a
book in the first place. Is a book
about having pages that turn?
Is a book about old book smell,
that vaguely coffee-ground-like,
musty smell? Or is a book, at its
core, really about experiencing
the thoughts of the writer and
the information and insight con-
tained within a book's pages?
Here is the definitional divide
between books as physical enti-
ties and books as informational
vessels. A book could be defined
as anything that can be read
that results in information being
passed on to the reader. This point
was anxiously pressed into my
head a year ago when I attended
the University's Book Publishing
Workshop. Editors and higher-ups
of publishing houses like Harp-
erCollins were frantically trying
to persuade workshop attendees
that the definition of the book
was changing and the booksell-
ing industry honestly isn't failing
(even though the reality of the
situation is quite different).
Even given this information,

my dow
ginia W
PDFs th
much u
paper b
I see th
But I
the prec
The coe
grab mo
digital b
its expe
are encc
paying f
are, in e
that thi
buy ano
novel of
is an exe
are goin
ries abo
rights o
want no
My fr
details a
in gener
is a tech
really w
my seem
port of t
held Sos
in my h

'nloaded copies of Vir- ingly marveled at the e-ink in its
'oolf's works are more strangely pigmented screen; it
ian books, in my mind. really did emulate the experience
g off of a screen (Kindle, of looking at a crisp sheet of paper.
er or otherwise) is very The words were defined and vis-
nlike reading from crisp, ible without a backlight, and the
e pages. I know that with cover was present on screen in a
ooks there are environ- clear yet colorless grayscale. Even
costs to worry about. though the controls were difficult
at paper books are not to navigate, it was thrilling to hold
the most efficient or con- a metal sheet containing enough
entities. books to satisfy me without weigh-
'l1 be damned if ing down my luggage or arms.
n.com, the leader in the No matter how persuasive the
r race with the Kindle, sets thing is, however, my verdict is
edent for books' future. that Iwill not buy an e-reader,
npany is attempting to even though it has seduced my
snopoly-like power in the utilitarian sensibilities. Given
ook selling industry with the confusing interface, the hefty
nsive e-readers and its cost and the screen's limited color
exclusive e-books, which palette (I don't think you can
ded in a way that no other truly enjoy book covers when you
r or computer can view. In are restricted to varying shades
or a Kindle e-book, you of gray and slightly lighter gray),
ffect, selling your soul to effortlessly toting a thousand
n piece of metal. After you books around with me is not worth
sacrificingthe comfort or simplic-
ity of a paperbound book. But if
'DFs aren't e-readers shape up to be more
wieldy and user-friendly, I might
etua1 pages. just re-consider.
So the question is: Are books
as we know them becoming obso-
lete? It all really depends on your
verpriced Stephen King attachment to the idiosyncrasies
f of Amazon.com, you are and experiences that come along
forced to read it from the with paper-book reading - shar-
pages of your nearly $300 ing and borrowing dog-eared
or any other reader Ama- books, writing little notes to some-
ordains holy. If the Kindle one in front covers when book-giv-
ample of the way books ing, getting coffee stains on your
g in the future, with wor- book, which end up being more
ut ownership and viewer's proud marks of use than defects.
ver one copy of a book, I Books, for me, are just as much
)part in it. about the experience of turning
ustration at Amazon.com the page as gleaning insight from
dows a lot of the finer writers and feeling the rhythms of
issociated with e-readers the stanzas, the details contained
al. The truth is this: There in paragraphs. For me, those $300
-savvy part of me that hunks of plastic, metal and wires
ants an e-reader, despite can wait.

"I'm telling you, if you think last night's storm was good, wait until you try Olive Garden!"
Cloudles kies

Despite a political agenda and a childish
premise, Meatballs' will appeal to all ages
By Timothy Rabb I Daily Arts Writer

A long, long time ago in a small
house far, far away (hold the
cynical remarks, it's a children's
movie), two young kids listened
as their Grandpa Henry told them
the story of
the town of*
low, where the aoud-vh
weather is con-
tingent upon a Chance of
the three meal MeatbaIs
times. Rather
than water, the At Quality16
rain consists of and Showcase
the libation of Columbia
various soups,
juices and
other potables from the sky. The
snow consists of mashed pota-
toes, and the wind's fury gives
way to flying hamburgers. While
these quirky weather patterns
provide a daily stock of food to
the land's inhabitants, they often
take on malicious manifestations
in stormy weather, inflicting daily
suffering on Chewandswallow's
residents in the form of tomato-
sauce tornadoes, giant meatballs
and pancakes.
All of these events, whether
happy or hapless, are detailed in
full in Judi Barrett's children's
book "Cloudy With a Chance of
Meatballs." Published in 1978, the

book's contemporary big-screen
adaptation retains many of the
printed version's positive aspects,
yet also attempts to present its own
politicized notions of America's
society of excess. The film seeks to
answer the question: How exactly
did the town of Chewandswallow
become an epicenter of tasty tor-
rents, succulent squalls and delec-
table downpours?
Enter Flint Lockwood (voiced
by Bill Hader, "Saturday Night
Live"), prospective inventor and
- in the eyes of many of his peers
- bumbling madman. His story
begins long before Chewandswal-
low met its palatable fortunes,
in a time when the town had "no
flavor" and survived solely on
sardines. Lockwood dreams of
a town in which his fellow man's
subsistence is no longer dependent
upon such a disgusting, fishy food,
so he makes the abrupt decision to
invent a machine that transforms
ordinary water into dream cuisine.
But before Lockwood's dream can
be brought to fruition, a freak acci-
dent results in the small machine's
projection into the stratosphere,
where it sucks in the moisture of
the clouds and creates catastrophic
food-storms that threaten human-
ity's very survival.
Granted, the film's premise is a

bit too extraordinary to appeal to
most adults, but audiences of all
ages will enjoy the fresh perspec-
tive offered by the 3-D graphic
design. The film's animators cer-
tainly didn't take full advantage
of the liberation from depth that
the 3-D animations granted them,
but their explorations of this new
graphical style are sufficiently
ambitious to merit a closer look.
The slapstick comedy marks a
delightfully nostalgic return to the
"old ways" of filmmaking. Over-
used? Maybe, but it would be nice
to pretend that we live in a world
in which all humor is not careless-
ly derived from sexual innuendo
and vulgar utterances.
Overall, the film's material,
though unlikely to amaze a prac-
ticing cinephile, is substantial and
worth the extra money paid to see
it. The political allusions to glut-
tony and excessive consumerism
may be overwrought ("WALL-E,"
anyone?), but one might venture
outside the realm of "political
correctness" to point out that the
film's contention with our way of
life is entirely true. Rather than
addressing the problem of a soci-
ety in which two-thirds of adults
are overweight, we continue to
exploit our abundance of resourc-
es to meet our own selfish ends.
Overwrought or not, "Cloudy with
a Chance of Meatballs" confronts
us all with a message that we are
more than willing to accept as
true, but unwilling to apply to our
daily lives.

ningly unflinching sup-
he paper-bound book. I
ny's new e-book reader
ands yesterday and chok-

Pow wants to burn a new
Kindle. E-mail her some
matches at poww@umich.edu.

'Good Wife' not
so good after all

Preserving and modifying a dying artistic medium

Daily TV/New Media Editor
Sex scandals and politicians go
together like peanut butter and
jelly. You really
know you're at
the top of the
political world The Good
when the entire
country gives a Wfe
shit about your Tuesdays
unlawful sex at1o p.m.
life. But while CBS
the cameras
flash and the
tabloids spew out the dirty details,
few people stop to think of those
affected by it beyond doling out the
obligatory statement: "Poor Mrs.
Politician and her kids."
CBS explores this untouched
area in its new show "The Good
Wife," which takes a look at the
other side of the political sex scan-
Non-descript political figure
Peter Florrick (Chris Noth, "Sex
and the City") has a couple wild
nights with a hooker, and chaos
ensues when the world finds out.
Peter lands himself in jail for being
involved in non-descript corrup-
tion and suddenly his wife, Alicia
(Julianna Margulies, "ER") has
to provide for the household, pro-
tect their children from the media
and mend her broken heart. She
returns to her old law firm with
the intention of bringing in some
more income and finds many cases
awaiting her.
This shit storm results in an odd
but effective blending of legal and
family drama. Legal drama is a
tricky genre and "The Good Wife"
doesn't quite pull it off. It's com-
mendable because viewers don't
need to watch the show regularly
- they can always just tune in and
watch a bunch of suits expose the
real criminal in a stabbing case.
But it's not so kind to rabid viewers,
because those who choose to watch
the show regularly are neglected -
every time they tune in it's a bunch

of suits exposing the real criminal
in yet another stabbingcase.
"The Good Wife" adds the ele-
ment of an overarching storyline.
It's more compelling to watch than
the average legal drama because
there is real plot advancement from
week to week. Despite the excel-
lent concept of adding soul to a
stagnant genre, the execution suf-
fers. The plot is confusing: It's not
clear who Peter Florrick actually is
or why he's in jail and it took a lot
more time and effort than it should
to figure out what Alicia Florrick's
first case was even about.
And with this addition of a real
and suspense that legal dramas
thrive on. Essentially, "The Good
Wife" is incredibly slow. The legal
system isn't always fast-paced and
exciting, but if the show's tempo
doesn't pick up, the channel will
Sex is like
peanut butter.
be changed long before any of the
characters get to the point. There
are a few biggish names in the cast
and the actors play their parts con-
vincingly, but thewriting and logis-
tics hinder what could have been a
very well-constructed show.
While "The Good Wife" doesn't
have a whole lot of flaws, it doesn't
particularly stand out either. Per-
haps CBS felt the show's- hook
would be relevant in today's politi-
cal world and that its concept alone
would propel the show to success.
But without a faster and more
comprehensible plot, the show
will more likely end up lost in the
shuffle of the new fall lineup. The
show may be able to survive if the
courtroom aspect is pushed aside
and the personal aspect is given
more focus. Otherwise, "The Good
Wife" will be gone as quickly as the
media circus surrounding any run-
of-the-mill political sex scandal.

Daily Arts Writer
Hipsters and nostalgia enthu-
siasts alike
mourned the
passing of Pola-
roid's instant Hand-Altered
film after it was Polaroid
last year. But PhotographS
those murky, Through Oct.12
faded instant Taubman Center
photos that
slowly materi-
alize in one's hand aren't entirely
gone from the world.
The place to relive Polaroid
glory, albeit in an entirely differ-
ent form, is at University Hospitals'
Taubman Center as part of the Uni-
versity Health System Gifts of Art
program. Award-winning artist and
Ann Arbor native Cynthia Davis
uses Polaroid SX-70 photographs to
create her work in the exhibit "Chi-
cago: Hand-Altered Polaroid Photo-

graphs" which runs through Oct. 12.
Davis manipulates the Polaroid
SX-70 film to produce photographs
that evoke the feeling of painting
without the use of paint. The work
continues after she takes the photo,
when she takes advantage of the
malleable consistency of the film.
She etches lines into the image with
fine utensils, creating texture and
blending colors.
"I was always drawn to the
alternative photographic processes
where taking the picture was only
the beginning of the creative pro-
cesses. I also was attracted to pro-
cesses where the human hand was
evident," Davis wrote in an e-mail
Though this exhibit centers on
Chicago, Davis has also done much
exploring in Michigan, sometimes
traveling by motorcycle to track
down the most resonant scenes.
One of her Ann Arbor works
almost makes Nickels Arcade look
like the Passage des Panoramas

in Paris with its dreamy, nearly
impressionistic quality. Her meth-
ods evoke the loose brushstrokes of
impressionism and lend an old-fash-
ioned quality to these well-trodden
city-scapes. These pieces of art take
the candid quality of Polaroids and
combine them with everything that
make cities the vibrant places they
are - streets, landmarks, distinct
neighborhoods and the way nature
interacts with the urban landscape.
Polaroids alive.
The effect is the same for the gal-
lery's famous scenes of Chicago -
the featured landmarks all acquire
tinges of whimsy in Davis's process
of altering the film. Tucked away in
the North Lobby of the Taubman
Center are these Chicago scenes,
which are enlargements from her

fifth book, "Chicago."
"I found I really enjoy physically
interacting with the photographic
emulsion," Davis wrote. "It brought
me back tomypaintingrootsyethad
the advantages of photography."
Altering Polaroids by hand is a
technique Davis has stayed with
for the past 25 years. But unfortu-
nately, it can't last forever. Davis
stocked up on the film when Pola-
roid stopped making it, but she is
realistic about its future.
"It is an art form that soon will
no longer be done," Davis wrote.
"Ultimately though, I am a creative
person and creativity is my life. I
am ready to move on to other things
if necessary."
Art is always changing and evolv-
ing: forms of art die and new ones
emerge to take their place. But for
now, this mixture of retro technol-
ogy and impressionism is something
unique, and something that may
grow in value and importance as the
Polaroid continues to disappear.

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