The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Friday, A pril 2, 2010 - 5
Dance, thought and keytars
"Please, sir; can we have some more?" "No.,
'Food, 'glorious Food'
Jamie Oliver tries to
revolutionize the way
By ANT MITCHELL
Daily Arts Writer
Jamie Oliver gets emotional
about obesity in America in his new
- like, really .
emotional. all e Oliver's
Then, America Food
gets defensive Revolution
about being fat.
The result? An Fridays at 9 p.m.
hour's worth of ABC
frustrating, yet well intentioned
reality television. Reshaping an
American town's eating habits can
be far more entertaining than sim-
ply watching a bunch of parents and
It's probably prudent to just come
out and say it: Jamie Oliver ("Jamie
at Home"), while a sincere man who
is genuinely concerned with the
state of health in America, is kind
of nuts. Impassioned in the face of
heart disease and diabetes, he flips
out when confronted with the "Alad-
din's cave of processed crap" (a.k.a.,
the freezer of an elementary school)
and angrily bitches at the kids when
they throw out their healthy food
in exchange for pizza. "You didn't
want your kiwi, didn't like your
fruit, didn't like your bread roll" he
rants, aggressively bangingthe trays
of food into the trash while the chil-
dren look at him like he's crazy. A
superhero of such intense and righ-
teous anger, he's comparable to Mor-
gan Spurlock from "Super Size Me"
when he threatens to smack his kids
every time they see a McDonald's.
While it's true that he does get a
bit extreme - telling a woman she
was killing herself and her children
with their eating habits - he does
make a number of excellent points.
And he clearly means well, as you
can tell from his red face and teary
eyes. While looking through the
elementary school cafeteria and
observing what's in the chicken
nuggets and potatoes, he concedes
that he understands he's bitching
about it. But he goes on to justify his
anger by saying: "If you're a parent,
it should piss you off too."
Oliver is faced with quite a stub-
bornly defensive town. There are
a lot of set-in-their-ways school
lunch ladies who don't want their
meal plans screwed around with,
and more than a few who believe
he can't accomplish actual change.
Yet this opposition isn't completely
unfounded. There certainly is some
doubt as to whether Oliver can real-
ly accomplish what he means to do,
especially when the school principal
has him serving his healthy food as
an option alongside the lunch ladies'
chocolate milk and pizza. Even an
idiot knows you don't give kids a
choice if you want them to make the
However, this feeling of futil-
ity and his underdog status does
make us root for him, even when
he repeatedly shouts "welcome to
America" in his frustration. We get
it Oliver, you're British. If the two or
three times you mentioned it didn't
get the point across, your accent
surely did the trick.
But most people of the town do
seem to need, and often genuinely
want, the help. Huntington, W. Va.
is introduced as one of the most ram-
pantly obese towns in America. Many
locals seem to be looking to change.
Even if they're sometimes skeptical,
there's a glimmer of hope. Few are as
enthusiastic about having the show
in town as the local preacher, who
says "I believe that God has you guys
here." It's difficult to question the
good intentions of a show that seeks
to teach healthy eating habits, even
taking into account the financial dif-
ficulties this can present.
All in all, "Jamie Oliver's Food
Revolution" is surely worth awatch.
However, you may want to peel a few
carrots and eat an apple in lieu of
popcorn, unless you want to be cow-
ering terrified behind your couch by
the end of the show.
By KRISTYN ACHO
Having just arrived in Maine
for a show at Bates College, Tyler
Duncan, the founding member
of the Ann
Arbor- My Dear Disco
My Dear preSeli:The
Disco, had DanceThink
the point of Tiathion
exhaustion. Tonight, starting
But that at5 p.m.
didn't stop Various locations
him from and prices
ing a call.
My Dear Disco,-a band com-
posed of University alums, is one
of the most buzzed-about bands
in Ann Arbor's burgeoning music
Starting tonight, My Dear
Disco will host "My Dear Disco
Presents: The DanceThink Tri-
athlon," an event that has been in
the works for the last two years.
The event will highlight the
diverse music community that
exists in Ann Arbor.
The triathlon will have three
parts: a pre-party at BTB Cantina
featuring DJ Seek Selekta, DJ
Malvin and Draconum; the main
event: My Dear Disco live at The
Michigan League Ballroom; and
an after party at The Circus fea-
turing resident Ann Arbor pow-
erhouses Body Rock and Jamie
Register and Glendales.
The Daily recently spoke with
Duncan about his enthusiasm for
the band's Ann Arbor roots, their
innovative, self-defined music
genre and why April 2nd's "My
Dear Disco Presents: The Dan-
ceThink Triathlon" is ultimately
the precursor to the next step for
My Dear Disco prides itself
on creating its own music genre,
often describing its sound as
"DanceThink." It's virtually
impossible to scan the indie
music blogosphere without being
bombarded by intricately and
sometimes ridiculously defined
music genres like "Lo-fi chill
no pop." My Dear Disco hasn't
been cornered by media misla-
"We're at a point today where
the genres created are starting
to become more and more obso-
lete," Duncan said. "With the
ability to create music across the
entire world, the influences that
are coming out are becoming so
large that it can't be put under
My Dear Disco, complete with
a laptop-composed sound juxta-
posed with the occasional bag-
pipe, most certainly refuses to be
placed under one specific genre.
Except for their own, that is.
"The 'Dance' part refers to the
techno elements of our music
and the 'Think' portion refers
to the University and our time
at the music school and that fact
that we are students," Duncan
"As a band we're like techno,
pop, funkjazz and Irish bagpipes
- and French - and we're get-
ting into using the megaphone,"
he added. "So it's basically an
umbrella for the description, and
it's also something that we can
grow and evolve underneath."
Tonight's performance will
enable the band to present its
ever-evolving sound to a budding
"We have definitely grown,
and this show is going to be a
really good example of that,"
Duncan said. "We want to pres-
ent the next version of My Dear
Mark Saunders, who worked
with the likes of Shiny Toy Guns
and The Cure, produced My Dear
Disco's debut album Dancethink
LP. There's a fun electro-pop
dance vibe to their tracks, but
also hints of brooding punk-rock
"The new sound is definitely
homing in on a specific, nuanced
and even more identifiable style
that we're developing," Dun-
can said. "It incorporates a lot
more idioms of dance. We're also
focusing a lot more on the emo-
tional content of our lyrics."
Sure - these key components
of the band's progression are
admirable, but their homemade,
harmonious "keytar" puts them
all to shame.
"Our singer Michelle (Chamu-
el) is using a homemade 'keytar'
to home in on the harmonies to
synthesize her voice," he added.
"It basically sounds like an entire
orchestra with her voice behind
When asked how his time at
the University influenced the
band's sound, Duncan gushed
about his experience as a student.
My Dear Disco was formed while
the band members were sopho-
mores, and Duncan has plenty of
fond memories of his first flirta-
tions with the concept of becom-
ing a musician.
Duncan recalls his favorite
undergraduate memory - their
first show was sold out at The
Blind Pig - as the ultimate wake
"The place was packed and
filled wall-to-wall with UM stu-
dents," he said. "I remember
peeking out behind sound-check
thinking, 'You got to be kidding."'
But Duncan didn't rely just on
his musical talent throughout
college. He also put his intellec-
My Dear Disco
presents a three-
tual pursuits and proficiency to
good use in crafting a sense and
appreciation for music.
"We're definitely an intellec-
tual group of people," he said.
"We analyze pop tracks and
the radio and we'll spend hours
talking about it - what it means
and doesn't mean and analyzing
Michael Jackson tracks and Daft
Punk tunes. So there's a lot of
thought and effort that goes into
music and that can definitely get
Tonight, My Dear Disco
is excited to return home for
what they expect will be a well
received, raucous performance.
Duncan raved, "Ann Arbor just
has a great energy and our fans
have been extremely loyal and
enthusiastic, which is more than
we could ask for. "
Percussion Ensemble makes worldly beats
By BRAD SANDERS
Daily Arts Writer
This performance, titled "Introduc-
tions," mixes sounds that are uncommon-
ly heard together and
derived from countries
all around the world. Percussion
The ensemble's con- Ensemble
ductor, professor of IntoductionS
music Joseph Gramley,
recently took over the Saturday
role of his colleague, at 3 p.m.
professor of music E.V. Moore Building
Michael Udow, who Free
directed the ensemble
for 28 years. Gramley
has traveled abroad
with other groups and has recorded
music with Grammy award-winning art-
ist Yo-Yo Ma.
"Percussion music has been around
I for centuries and was one of the first
examples of what we might call cham-
ber music," Gramley said. "Someone like
Yo-Yo Ma who thinks outside of our bor-
ders and is about cross-pollination is the
perfect example of what we're doing in
this ensemble, which is to branch out and
play music from all over."
Being acore part of the percussion per-
formance major in the School of Music,
Theatre & Dance, the members of the
ensemble put hours of practice into form-
ing a successful performance, on top of
"We practice three days a week in class
time, but also the students have to learn
their parts in their own time," Gramley
explained. "It's a deep commitment that
these students have, and you have to have
that in all of chamber music to succeed
and to communicate that to the audience."
Included in the performance will be
pieces composed in Ann Arbor, New York,
Tokyo and New Zealand, with instru-
ments ranging from marimba to micro-
The percussion ensemble's perfor-
mance will highlight the talents of 20
guest performers, including Dan Pic-
colo, a University alum and founder of
the group Starbrand, a local percussion
"The ensemble will be playing a piece
that I have written specifically for the
event, titled 'PTA,' " Piccolo wrote in
an e-mail interview with The Michigan
Daily. "It will feature members of my
group Starbrand, which includes some
members of the local group 'My Dear
Disco,' who are all University alums. I
will be playing tabla (the hand drums of
North Indian classical music) and two
members of my group, Mike Shea and Bob
Lester, will be playing the drum set and
This particular song includes custom
instruments designed specifically for
the piece, including six PVC tubes, vari-
ous sizes of wooden boxes and a Rube
Goldberg-style machine (which performs
a simple task through a complex process)
with several objects attached to it and
hooked up to contact microphones.
mixes sounds not
"The piece is inspired by drum and
bass music and uses mostly acoustic per-
cussion instruments to mimic the unique
sonic texture of the style," Piccolo wrote.
"The sounds from the custom instru-
ments are electronically processed to
produce some really exciting sounds. The
music for the ensemble is quite challeng-
ing, mostly due to the speed at which very
intricate rhythms need to be played."
In addition to the performance, the
ensemble is also recording a CD set to
come out in September consisting of
music all composed by University alumni.
"We received a grant from the UM
OVPR (Office of Vice President of
Research)," Gramley said. "UM is a world
leading research university, and some of
the music school's research can be perfor-
mance. It is produced by Block M Records
and will be released online and available
Gramley has encouraging words for
those who may not want to trek to North
Campus in order to see the concert.
"I want students to embrace some
music that they may never have seen
before, and not to be afraid to come on
the bus to see us," Gramley said. "This is a
new genre of music."
ARTS IN BRIEF
A morning after with
'How Love is Spelt'
How Love is Spelt
Tonight at 7 and 11 p.m.,
tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Walgreen Drama Center
Almost everyone has experienced, or at
least heard of, an awkward morning-after
story. In Basement Arts's latest produc-
tion, "How Love Is Spelt," students get to
see this scenario explored (many a time)
in emotional detail through lead charac-
ter Peta (Tedra Millan, Music, Theatre &
Dance senior), upon her arrival in London
"The show is important because it is
relevant to the collegiate lifestyle," wrote
director Laura Winnick, LSA junior, in an
e-mail interview. "(Chloe) Moss's writing
muses on topics far too familiar to the Uni-
versity demographic - in general, the con-
sequences of going out, getting drunkand
returning home with a stranger."
"(The show) explores drunkenness,
inhibition, love, relationships, sex and
identity," Winnick added. "It explores
being alone and scared in a big city and
turning to strangers for guidance."
Each scene brings in new characters,
whose interactions with Peta range from
"ridiculous to heartfelt," according to Win-
nick. As the situations unfold, audiences
will see that Peta has been hiding some-
thing from herself, and each new char-
acter helps her realize it. Through witty
dialogue and heart-warming moments, the
play delves deeply into the idea of relation-
ships and what we seek to gain from them
- whether it be from a stranger or a close
As the semester winds down, time is
running out to see the free student-pro-
duced theater put on by Basement Arts.
"People should see it because it is a shame-
less way to reflect on their own morning-
after experiences," Winnick wrote, "without
having to send the awkward 'What's your
name again?' text message."
Kirstie Alley returns with
Bg LifeA' and little motivation
By CHRISTINA ANGER the lives of people trying to lose weight of yo-yo dieting, and her seven minute
Daily Arts Writer - in the same boat as shows like "Biggest of exercise with five-pound weights isn
As a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig,
Kirstie Alley has
alreadylost 80 pounds.
In the past, she has
been the butt of tab- Kirstie Alley's
loid and talk-show
jokes, and in response, Big Life
she defiantly lost the Sundays at
weight. But now Alley 10nd.M a
is back to fat, and she 10p.m.
isn't afraid to say it. A&E
"Kirstie Alley's Big
Life" on A&E chronicles her second round
of weight loss, shedding light on the ups
and downs of a formerly thin celeb gone
big again. Alley is again discouraged by
the paparazzi's obesity obsession, but that
doesn't stop her from pulling a self-directed
fat joke in almost every scene of the show.
After the first few times, it sounds less like
a joke or personal motivator and more likea
coping method that isn't working.
Alley has a crazy, complicated "Big
Life," just like more than half of America.
A&E's new show is just another look into
Loser," "Ruby" and "One Big Happy Fam-
ily." Nobody said those shows were good,
but they do have one thing that "Big Life"
The pilot episode shows Alley doing
literally nothing to jump-start her weight
loss. One scene finds her on the floor of her
exercise room, admitting that she worked
out for just seven minutes. Even her two
grown kids, Lillie and William, don't seem
to encourage her at all. When Alley asks
them to work out, they decline. And even
better, when she asks them if her being
fat embarrasses them, her son shrugs and
gives her a resounding and helpful "not
One thing's for sure: Alley has the same
kooky attitude she has always had. She's
loud and fun - albeit a bit lonely - but
she just doesn't seem serious enough. And
neither do many of the people around her.
"Big Life" feels likea lazy look into weight
loss, in which there's the obvious goal
to be thin, but no interest in the benefits
that come with a healthier lifestyle. Alley
never once mentions the medical dangers
If seeking motivation to lose weight,
"Big Life" isn't the place to turn. Sure,
Alley can shed the pounds, but it takes
more than a scale and a smaller dress size
to measure success. Any well-informed
trainer will advocate a change in lifestyle
over any fad diet, and that's where Alley
Seven minutes of
exercise does not a
This is why "Big Life" inadvertently
works against Jenny Craig. The diet obvi-
ously doesn't support a continuous healthy
lifestyle once the pounds are shed. Alley's
show is one big oxymoron, but if half-
hearted weight loss sounds interesting,
go for it.
JOIN DAILY ARTS. FOR REALSIES
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for
information on applying.