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October 13, 2010 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, October13, 2010 - 7A

Sufjan's new Age'

COURTESY Of TL(
You ever notice how people in jerseys don't wear aprons? What's the deal with that? And what's the deal with tailgate food?
TLC fumbles 'Kick Off

By BRIANNE JOHNSON
DailyArts Writer
A pinch of melodramatic sus-
pense and a dash of desperately
cast, overpaid
stars are all
that's needed
to concoct TV's K Off
latest reality
drama. No, not Cook Off
"The Hills" - it's Thursdays
TLC's "Kick Off at 10 p.m.
Cook Off." Prom-
ising action-
packed episodes
of pre-game cuisine and hearty
competition, "Cook Off" is an
obvious attempt to lure the male
demographic (because "Say Yes to
the Dress" apparently just wasn't
cutting it), but it drops the ball
entirely.
Surrounded by yards of green,
the contestants are challenged
to fire up their grills and create
the ultimate fan's food. Three
teams sprint for the $1,000 prize
as they cook through various
stages of meals, judged by res-
taurant owner and past "Top
Chef: Miami" contestant Brian
Malarkey as "cheferee" and ESPN
reporter Erin Andrews as host.
The two are charming and cute as
they brave undercooked chicken
and gag-worthy meat sushi. Of
the three teams, TLC relies heav-

ily on ti
sports
RondeI
Giant a:
caneer,
Phillips
San Die
talents,
nudge
friendly
"Coo
a reel c
grams
compet
by as t
inexper
about s
It seem
just plu
a spatu
take th
than th
con
St
of hors
barbecu
by herc
into the
it on n
shamela

he appeal of a much-hyped vored chicken, blackened in ash,
star duo. Twins Tiki and is "supposed to look like that."
Barber, a former New York The program would find more suc-
nd current Tampa Bay Buc- cess scouring college towns as the
respectively, and Shaun tangy, barbecued talent floating
and Stephen Cooper of the from the grills of fraternity porch-
ego Chargers display their es far exceeds the show's pathetic
outside of the stadium and hopefuls.
the show along through "Cook Off" chooses to neglect
teasing and taunting. the cooking and instead focus
k Off" is unique among solely on the football, spotlighting
sf fellow competition pro- the mere presence of athletes and
- in that it lacks actual twisting phrases into sports puns
itiveness. The minutes lull or references at any and every
:he clearly untrained and chance. Points are deemed "touch-
'ienced contestants fumble downs," and as one team is caught
habby squares of kitchen. cheating, they are ushered to the
s the producers seemingly sideline for a ten-minute penalty.
cked the nearest guy with And the show is so desperate for
la in hand, as the players action that all conflicts even seem
e show no more seriously staged. The program is plagued by
ey would. a rousing game anticlimactic suspense and Erin
Andrews's hyperbolic expres-
sions. Her look of shock and dis-
gust at the cheating incident is
Even the so excessive, it could only be the
result of hours of practice. And
itestants can't another contestant is subject to an
omach this equally malicious Andrews glare
* as the host gets corrected: "It's
beef, not pork."
While some programming can
eshoes at a weekend family clear a room, TLC's "Kick Off Cook
ie. One woman, disgusted off" could clear stadiums. Boring
own meal, gags and vomits and idiotic, "Cook Off" floats by on
nearest trash can, blaming the presence of big-name athletes,
erves. Another contestant yet still leaves a bad taste in view-
essly insists his beer-fla- ers' mouths.

Indie superstar
returns, but without
his signature style
By EMMA GASE
Daily Arts Writer
After five long years of silence,
with only the occasional tantaliz-
ing collaboration
or side project,
Sufjan Stevens
bestows upon the $u an
musical world
his first official Stevens
full-length LP The AgeofAdz
since. 2005's Illi-A
nois. Huzzah! AshmaicKity
Though Age of
Adz is coming right off the heels
of Steven's behemoth of an EP, the
hour-long AllDelighted People, this
is still cause for celebration.
Adz is a bold move, to say the
least. Fans salivating for more
quaint, meticulously composed
ballads ("Decatur," "Casimir
Pulaski Day") or swelling, oth-
erworldly anthems ("Chicago")
should readjust their expectations.
No strategically placed banjos or
tasteful accordions are found here.
Don't be fooled by album
opener "Futile Devices." Sufjan
deceives listeners with a sig-
nature two-minute folksy treat
showcasing his angelic falsetto
akin to Illinois's "John Wayne
Gacy, Jr." The poignantly over-
lapped finger-picked acoustic and
electric guitars form the founda-
tion of the song. Stevens' subtle
addition of piano, picked violin
and reverb make an otherwise
simple folk song into something of
quiet majestic beauty.
"Too Much" is more indicative
of the album's sound. It begins in
a jarring blur of strange sounds
akin to an upset stomach (or the
Flaming Lips circa Yoshimi).
once the odd gurgling subsides,
it transforms into an electronic
hip-hop beat that Stevens sings
over in a jaunty up-tilt. Standard
Sufjan horns permeate the mid-

Madz Men - Cowing soon to AMZ.
dIe of the song, but soon listen-
ers are back into WTF territory.
Out of nowhere, the song morphs
into something that would suit a
James Bond chase scene complete
with iflutes and strings. How did
this melodic song become a high-
intensity, instrumental hot mess of
ominous urgency a'la "Live and Let
Die?" Or, more importantly, why?
The opening orchestral notes of
the title track are in this same vein.
"Age of Adz" sounds more like the
score to a horror movie when the
main character first discovers the
psycho axe murderer than a Sufjan
Stevens song. The chorus provides
a welcome foray into melodic ter-
ritory when Stevens strains "This
is the Age of Adz / Eternal living
/ When it dies, when it dies / It
rots." Archetypal Stevens horns
add jazzy flavor to cushion the
depressing lyrics.
After listening to Age of Adz's
drum machines and spacey elec-
tronica amblings devoid of any
semblance of verse-chorus-verse,
one may wonder why someone like
Stevens, who so obviously has a

God-given gift for melody, would
choose to divorce himself from
a model that allows maximum
appreciation of that gift.
The album is dripping withbold
risks and brilliance, but has only
brisk flashes of effortlessly enjoy-
able listening. It is not easy to love
the songs like it was on Illinois.
Look for easy tuneful pleasure
elsewhere.
Age ofAdzrequires patience and
an educated ear. Few things will
draw you in; the lyrics are desolate
and extremely personal, the songs
stretch from seven to 25 minutes,
often with lengthy instrumental
interludes. Though most signs
point to self-indulgence, somehow
Stevens shirks that notion almost
entirely. Perhaps because he slips
in enough melodic genius to dis-
tract us from the abrasive electron-
ic beats and peculiar intermittent
sonics, we forgive him the same
way we forgive a band for notplay-
ing our favorite song until the very
last encore. Because in the end,
like Age ofAdz, it turned out to be
worth the wait.

TV Land proves genuine
*love is actually boring

By JACOB AXELRAD
For theDaily
In an age that's witnessed Brit-
ney in rehab and Lohan in jail,
the public today
is accustomed to **
outlandish celeb-
rity exploits in
the media. Yet
Harry Hamlin LOam Lisa
("L.A. Law") Wednesdays
and spouse Lisa at10 p.m.
Rinna ("Melrose
Place") hope to TV Land
reveal the qui-
eter, more mundane side of what it
means to be a celebrity with their
new show "Harry Loves Lisa,"
which premiered on TV Land on
Wednesday. The show centers on
the couple's relationship as they
navigate the ups and downs of
raising a family in the frenzied
Hollywood lifestyle, but it fails in
one very important aspect: These
are not two celebrities we care to
know anything about.
Hamlin is a stay-at-home dad
who left acting behind to raise the
couple's two daughters. The pilot
shows Hamlin facing the pivotal
decision of how to break back
into the industry he left behind.

He cut:
ing cla
mix itL
success
tine. Ri
plagued
woes: A
er actr
her, she
of lovin
wife, bu
about tI
oh-so-is
Whil
for a r
lack of
is also
flaw. N
are fam
to warr
their
Yo
mf
agonize
Rinna,
feels li
tion of
with "

s his hair, attends an act- 25 years. The interviews with
ss and finally decides to Hamlin and Rinna that are lit-
up by performing a mildly tered about the episode are almost
ful stand-up comedy rou- as bland as Hamlin's trademark
nna, on the other hand, is expression of dumbfounded con-
I by her own set of celebrity fusion. And since there's no gim-
.PR issue regarding anoth- mick to the show (it's literally just
ess comes back to haunt their everyday lives) the conflict is
e struggles with the roles practically nonexistent.
ig mother and supporting Granted, at times it's endear-
it most important she frets ing to watch the two care for each
he size and the shape of her other in a sortof genuine, albeit all
mportant upper lip. too stereotypical celebrity-couple
e it's refreshing at times way, but it's not enough to hold the
eality show to be so, for viewer's attention. Both Hamlin
a better word, real - this and Rinna seem to walk through
the show's fundamental the episode as though it's merely
either Hamlin nor Rinna a stepping stone to landing their
nous or intriguing enough next jobs, which in all likelihood
'ant an entire series about is exactly what they think.
lives. Watching Hamlin But like the episode's main sub-
jects, the viewer finishes feeling
tired and guilty (and not in that
good "guilty pleasure" kind of
u are tearing way) for devoting a full half hour
t L to the lives of two boring celeb-
e apart, Lisa. rities. As Hamlin himself men-
tions in his short-lived stand-up
routine: "I'm not a comic, I'm an
over an audition and actor." Well maybe they should
deal with her PR issues have kept at it, because any char-
ke an awkward combina- acter's life would be far more
HBO's "Entourage" mixed interesting than Hamlin's and
The Real World," aged by Rinna's.

Want to make an impact on education?
Want to be a teacher?
Or a college administrator?
Enjoy working with children?
Care about schools?
Interested in Teach for America?
SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
O PEN HOUSE.
October 21, 6:00 p.m.
Schorling Auditorium
610 E. University Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Explore the fields of education! Learn more about our
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both psychology and English, and our partnership
with Teach for America. Refreshments will be served.
Register at soe.umich.edu/openhouse

ARTS IN BRIEF

TV REVIEW
Cartman's capers
South Park, season 14
Wednesdays at10 p.m.
Comedy Central
After a five-month hiatus that
felt much longer, "South Park" is
back with the second half of its 14th
season. In recent years, episodes
have tended to be hit or miss. Fortu-
nately, this was a definite hit - and
hopefully a sign of hits to come.
Stan and Kyle find Cartman cry-
ing over his realization that he'll

never achieve his lifelong dream:
becoming a NASCAR driver, appar-
ently. The only thing stopping him
is that he's not "poor and stupid
enough." But Cartman sets out to
make his dream a reality, ingesting
Vagisil to induce short term memo-
ry loss, adopting a redneck accent
and even running over Danica Pat-
rick, along with many spectators on
the racetrack.
"South Park" has always tried
to tackle real-life issues - such as
Facebook and HIV - in its own
comedic way. But often, there was
an integral piece missing to those
lofty episodes: Cartman. Many
of the fanbase's favorite episodes
revolve solely around Cartman and
his debacles (Scott Tenorman, any-

one?). When Cartman doesn't take
a lead role in an episode, something
just doesn't feel right. Watching
him act like the stereotypical red-
neck is testament to Cartman's abil-
ity to make "South Park." He might
be one of the most racist, disgusting
and immoral characters on televi-
sion,butyou can't help but love him.
It's great to see Cartman finally
return to the spotlight of "South
Park," and when he stays there,
there is little reason to believe the
episode will be anything short of
successful. Though the show is not
completely dependent upon Cart-
man's edgy antics, we can only hope
he stays the central character this
season.
! -ALEX USS

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