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December 02, 2010 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-12-02

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2B - Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com I

Judging A Book
By Its Cover
Why read a single page when the cover
tells the whole story?


J. Cole's success just affirms that
the rap game is changing. No lon-
ger is hip hop ruled by the street
lore of stand-
ing on the cor-
ner hustling and
writing rhymes J. Ce
on brown bags
before getting "Tat Deep for
that big record theintro"
deal. Where was
J. Cole before he became the first
artist signed to Jay-Z's burgeoning
label Roc Nation? On scholarship at
St. John's University, cracking the
books and graduating with highest
"Too Deep for the Intro," the
first song off J. Cole's most recent
mixtape Friday Night Lights, is

more of his familiar blend of hon-
or-student ruminations and open-
diary anecdotes. Over a wonderfully
chilled-out beat that samples the J
Dilla-produced Erykah Badu track
"Didn't Cha Know," he rhymes,
"Should I admit that a slutty bitch
was my first smash?" and then goes
on to describe the episode in detail.
The self-consciousness of the line
(and the song in general) leaves him
vulnerable, like any artist airing it
all out for the sake of art. It's the new
generation of "keeping it real": Share
the truth, regardless of how reveal-
ing it is. While not the most lyrically
impressive J. Cole track, "Too Deep"
reaffirms his position as the hot up-



Before "In the Beginning," the
Dexter team said, "Let there be
Lumen," and she was good. But by
this week, Julia
Stiles's role as **
Dexter's vengeful
partner in crime Dexter
has worn its wel-
9n the
come. She contin-
ues to serve almost Beginning"
no purpose except Showtime
making Dexter
(Michael C. Hall) re-explain all his
methodology that fans already know.
To the show's credit, the story-
lines are beingweaved together more
intricately than in any prior season.
All of the relationships, whether they
be professional, familial or intimate,
serve some purpose in the grand and
imminent climax.

But looking ateach plot on its own,
things moved too slowly and predict-
ably. Season villain Jordan Chase
(Jonny Lee Miller) is setting a com-
plex trap rather than taking care of
business the simple, murderous way.
General menace Stan Liddy (Peter
Weller) has learned some pretty
damn compromising information but
is just sitting on it. The only break-
through is the newfound intimacy
between Lumen and Dexter - but
it doesn't feel believable coming so
soon after Lumen's trauma.
"In the Beginning" goes to show
that building tension does not always
make for entertaining television.
With so little time in the season, the
shit needs to start hitting the fan



If you're looking for mystery,
intrigue and spicy recipes, look
no further than world-renowned
chef Barbara Hot's latest mem-
oir, "Sexy Hot Tales." Part erotic
nonfiction, part cookbook, "Sexy
Hot Tales" offers a much-awaited
glimpse into Hot's turbulent past.
Barbara grew up in the slums
of Nashville, Tennessee, but
always found solace and peace
in watching her mother cook -
especially spicy food. When Bar-
bara entered her adult years, they
told her she couldn't make it as a
chef, so Hot was forced to turn to
a life as a call girl. She remained
optimistic and found new and
inventive ways to work vegeta-
bles into her new c areer, eventu-
ally resulting in a Nashville-wide
vegetable fetish epidemic. one

night, luck came knocking as
Barbara entertained Guy Fieri
for a steamy evening of food and
fun. Before Hot could say "I ant
the cover of mny memoir to have a
steaming chili pepper," she was
cooking ineals for the Queen of
There's no doubting Hot's tal-
ent as a chef or sex artist, and
her writing ability is just another
talent she can add to her resumd.
Her use of gustatory imagery
is the stuff only a prostitute-
turned-chef could write. The
recipes following each chap-
ter beautifully complement the
chapter's theme, and are tasty to
boot! Look for more from Barba-
ra Hot because this call girl/chef/
author is on fire!

The new trailer for "The Lincoln
Lawyer," based on a Michael Con-
nelly book, is none too subtle about
the morality of its
protagonist. Want **
to know how he
got his name? He The Lincoln
gets chauffeured Lawyer
around L.A. in a
shiny black Lin- Lionsgate
coln paid for with
bribes from his clients. Oh, and the
license plate reads "NTGUILTY." A
sleazy lawyer? In Hollywood? Well,
I never.
But the biggest giveaway to the
Lincoln Lawyer's shady underpin-
nings may be that he's being played
by Matthew McConaughey ("Fool's
Gold"). One glance upon McCo-
GATE naughey's carefully permed locks,

one gaze into his inexplicably glis-
tening face (glistening with acting
intensity, of course) and you'll know:
This dude means business. He's
totally the kind of guy who could
pass the California bar exam ... with
extreme prejudice. And having him
star alongside Marisa Tomei ("The
Wrestler") can only mean one thing:
Somebody's gettin' nekkid.
Where this preview does win
restraint points is in the closing sec-
onds, when McConaughey pulls out
a gun from his suit's breast pocket,
then locks eyes with Ryan Phillipe
("Stop-Loss"). No actual gunshots
nor loud noises necessary. If after
this promising moment, "Lincoln
Lawyer" still ends up being the
cheesiest legal thriller ever, I'll sue.

Stunts and swordplay in the Ring.

The Ring of Steel
stages combat all
over Ann Arbor
DailvyArts Writer
The sun is shining as LSA Pro-
fessor David Doris leads his class
into the Law Quad for an exercise.
Suddenly, a large group of dis-
guised figures appears from out
of the distance and charges the
unsuspecting students, engag-
ing in simultaneous sword battles
around them. Once finished, the
attackers flee, leading their wit-
nesses to wonder what in the
world just happened.
They will later learn that this
was a staged event set up by their
professor and The Ring of Steel, an
organizationoncampus that focus-
es on learning various aspects of
staged combat from different eras.
The members of The Ring of Steel
mostly use their talents to cre-
ate fight sequences in local films
and professional theater, like the
Michigan Opera Theatre, and to
create live performances of their
own that can be seen at Renais-
sance festivals, haunted houses,
science fiction conventions and
even weddings when the bride is

kidiaped from the altar.
"Ring of Steel" refers to the
group's pride in its swordfight-
ing abilities, as well as to its social
"We're swinging swords at 200
miles an hour at each other's head
and if I can't trust you, I can't per-
form with you," said Christopher
Barbeau, the organization's mae-
stro. "It's a double entendre - it's
a ring of friends, and it's also the
sound that steel makes when it hits
"I've come about three days
a week for the last three years,
and picked it up relatively quick-
ly because I came from a dance
background and had the physical
coordination skills," added Diane
Miller, the student president and a
junior in the School of Music, The-
atre & Dance. "That helps a lot with
martial arts. My favorite weapon
is broadsword because it's big and
heavy and barbaric."
Members can learn a variety of
martial arts techniques includ-
ing aikido, jiu-jitsu and tae kwon
do, and can also take advantage
of the group's collection of 2,000
weapons, including whips, visu-
ally stimulating light sabers and
semi-automatic guns with plugged
Aside from weapons, The Ring
of Steel also focuses on stunt work.

During fight sequences, it is not
uncommon to see one of the com-
batants fall off of a high surface,
jump off of a mini trampoline and
flip in midair, break through sheets
of glass or be completely enveloped
in flames.
To be lit on fire, the actor must
wear underwear made out of
Nomex - the material worn by
racecar drivers - and get soaked
in heat-resistant stunt gel applied
to many layers of clothing. The
actor must then be covered in rub-
ber cement. Once the heat is felt,
the actor falls to the ground and is
extinguished by multiple onlook-
"We can pretty much do every
burn in the movies," Barbeau
explained. "There's a little bit of
timing and skill on your part in
how you move because it's real
flames. You have to make sure the
fire doesn't go in your face."
For some of its other stunts, The
Ring of Steel uses special equip-
ment not commonly found on a col-
lege campus.
"We use quick-release shackles
(for entrances by flight) that aren't
intended for human use," Barbeau
said. "We're all using it for human
use but it's manufactured for
releasing a sail. They're learning on
professional-level equipment. This
is what is used in Los Angeles."
With all of these dangerous
weapons and stunts, one may won-
der how many injuries can result
from being a member of The Ring
of Steel. However, each of the fights
are calculated and rehearsed, with
the actors memorizing each physi-
cal movement, fall to the ground
and drop of their weapon.
"In telling the story of a fight,
we have to make it bigger and a
little slower than a real fight, and
we can build in safety protocols,"
Barbeau said. "So this is kind of
like wrestling your dad over actual
"I've got a couple sword scars,
but to be honest I probably have
more scars from my cat," added
Dave Melcher, a 'journeyman' in
The Ring of Steel, or the equiva-
lent of a second-degree black belt.
"Like any sport, injuries do hap-
According to Barbeau, theatri-
cal combat is one of the earliest
forms of drama, with documented
pictures of cavemen reenacting


of Steel performs at Renaissance festivals, haunted houses, science fiction conventions and even some weddings

their victory over thousand-pound
bison. From here, The Ring of Steel
has marked the evolution of staged
combat over 1,800 years, learning
the styles of each era leading up to
present day. In addition to fighting,
members are expected to perform
to music and participate in small
skits that inspire battle.
"You can't certify fights with-
out having a performance because
that's the ultimate integration of
things," Miller explained. "You
have the martial arts, then the
ancient swordplay techniques,
then the musical elements of
rhythm and ... the choreography
and then on top of the pyramid is
acting, so you have to be able to
keep everything in your head and
recite things."
"There are stuntmen who learn
to perform stunts at a high level
and ... they're just doing a stunt
anyway, but they have to learn
martial acting," Barbeau added.
"Like reacting to head punches and
things like that. They have to sell
being in pain from a bad landing."
The Ring of Steel prides itself
on performing scenarios from a
variety of different genres, usu-
ally customizing its shows to the
type of event and audience. In the
past, The Ring of Steel has created

shooting battles in the Wild West,
medieval swordfights and rendi-
tions of Shakespearean plays such
as "Romeo and Juliet." Barbeau
alone has choreographed more
than 500 stage performances in
his 39 years as The Ring of Steel
For LSA senior Breezy Mullins,
her favorite performance was set
outside of the Quality 16 movie
theater for the premiere of "Indi-
ana Jones and the Kingdom of the
Crystal Skull." The show, themed
around the movie, featured Mul-
lins as a cleaning lady whose mop
was stolen by Indiana Jones.
"It wasn't like other perfor-
mances where you fight and sit
down; this one was constant, it was
to music and it made you feel like
a Hollywood stunt person, because
it was at the level of Hollywood
stunt work," Mullins said. "We did
gun work, explosions, fire, sword
work, high falls, rolling, a little bit
of everything."
The Ring of Steel will put on a
series of performances entitled
"Midnight Madness" on Main
Street every Friday in December
outside of The Black Pearl restau-
rant. Viewers will be taught about
staged combat and will be able to
watch three- to five-minute skits

lasting for a total of about two-
and-a-half hours. Playing off the
name of the restaurant, the group
will fight as pirates and and will
also perform scenes with muske-
teers and "Star Wars" light saber
"Our big theme right now is
pirate shows, my favorite show in
our repertory theater," Miller said.
"There was this one that had a
four-way fight - there was cutlass
versus rapier and dagger. We had
two of those going at the same time
and then at one point they inter-
sect. That's a fun show."
For many members of The Ring
of Steel, the organization is more
than just a local group of stu-
dents and townies. Melcher has
been with the group for about 11
years, and with all of that train-
ing, according to Barbeau, still
only knows about 70 percent of
what The Ring of Steel is capable
of. Even Barbeau admits that he is
still learning new techniques after
almost 40 years of experience, and
continues to find new excitement
every year.
"Light us on fire, throw us
through a third-story plate glass
window while we're swinging a
flaming broadsword," he said, "and
we're very happy people."

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