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February 13, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-02-13

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The Michigan Daily Wednesday, February 13, 1991
Be a-Freud, be very a-Freud

Page 5

Steel, canvas reveal
the meaning of life

The NeverEnding
Story II
dir. George Miller
by Mike Kuniavsky
It's hard to judge a modern fable.
Is it bad if it's one-sided? The
Grimm stories and most other tra-
ditional fairy tales were com-
pletely one-sided - everything
was bad. Is it okay for it to be re-
ally violent? The Grimm stories
were damn violent and, further-
more, is it really bad to have vio-
lence in the first place? (CNN is
pretty much "worse" in that re-
spect than anything short of slasher
films.) But shouldn't we, now that
we have advanced to the fin de
siecle (Arthur Kroker's pretentious
but fitting term for our post-modern
time), be more advanced than the
medieval writers who gave us "a
pocketful of posy"? I mean,

shouldn't we have advanced be-
yond the basic, rather Freudian
morality plays of the 14th century?
Well, apparently not. At least
not if you ask the producers of The
NeverEnding Story II. They have
conjured up a sequel to one of the
more derivative, watered-down,
condescending children's films
with one that is even worse. The
basic plot is this: young Bastian
Balthazar Bux (the wooden John
Brandis), yearning for the loss of
his mother and feeling unloved by
his father (the cardboard John
Wesley Shipp), is called back to
Fantasia - "the land where all of
our stories live" - by The Child-
like Empress (the plastic Alexan-
dra Jones) to save the whole land,
and by extension, "all of our fan-
He is hampered by the sorcer-
ess Xayide (the plaster Clarissa
Burt) who is out to extend The
Emptiness (which had already

caught up with the film's screen-
writer) to all of Fantasia and im-
prison The Childlike Empress. In
his quest, Bastian must overcome
not only a series of Xayide's ob-
stacles, but his own fear and en-
croaching senility (also courtesy of
The Freudian interpretation of
this plot is pretty simple: Bastian,
with a serious Oedipal conflict and
invading hormones, is simultane-
ously drawn to and repulsed by the
apparent adulthood of Xayide (who
is the only human adult in Fanta-
sia and who shows a lot of cleav-
age) while trying to recapture the
pre-pubescent innocence of The
Childlike Empress (who, inciden-
tally, is imprisoned in The Ivory
Tower). In the end he succeeds,
but only in the fantasy world, be-.
cause in the real world he will
have to face his own encroaching
masculinity while rejecting his la-
tent homosexuality (exemplified

by his relationship with Atreyu,
"the boy-warrior of the Great
Plains") and his distrust of his in-
sensitive father.
Okay, so that may be pushing
it, but it is a very simplistic,
Freudian morality play. This gets
us back to the original questions.
The ideas that the film seems to
be stressing - the necessity of
courage, the escape/educational
value of books, the value of friend-
ship, respect for one's parents, etc.
- are all pretty old hat. Not that
we need any new morals now that
we've almost reached the fin de
In the real world he
will have to face his
own encroaching
masculinity while re-
jecting his latent ho-
siecle, but the old tried-and-true
ways of expressing them are not
applicable anymore. ,
The vehicles which are used to
convey the ideas in the film - the
evil witch, the beautiful princess,
the helpful comrades - are recy-
cled from countless stories. To-
day's kids are products of hyper-
TV and hyper-toys and the ways to
reach them are through similar
media, through similar vehicles. If
we look at the Teenage Mutant
Ninja Turtles and the Sesame
Street Muppets, what we see is
neither Snow White nor Winnie
the Pooh; it's a new genre, a new
way of communicating. The film-
makers here obviously don't see
that, and it shows.
Ultimately, the film's failings
are not terminal. The special ef-
fects and the constantly moving
plot (even though it constantly
moves through molasses) keep the
film's faults tolerable, but its in-
herent problems remain and make
the film boring for both kids and
being shown at Showcase.

by Laura Howe

My first impression of Things
and Junk About Stuff came from
a late-night voyeuristic glimpse
through the plate-glass windows
of the brightly lit Ann Arbor Art
Association. As the painter and
sculptor set up their exhibit, I
could see Michael Letts' mon-
umental canvases emerge as
blazing backdrops for the sil-
houettes of Dale Wedig's steel
Once I was inside the next
day, the work delivered what
my first impression promised:
the paintings framed the three-
dimensional steel assemblages
with color and caused the eye
to move from sculpture to paint-
ing and back again - a motion
which revealed an interesting
dialogue between the works.
Letts and Wedig say that indi-
vidually they often work with
the same forms, yet they did not
realize this until each had vis-
ited the other's studio. The most
striking example of this is the
occurrence of deer-like heads
and skeletal bodies in Letts'
paintings, which interact with
the deer form of Wedig's hilari-
ous "Mr. White Deer."
Perhaps this likeness of
ideas comes from their shared
attitude about art. In an inter-
view, both artists expressed a
loathing of neat and perfect
art. Letts' unframed canvases,
hanging from 2x4's, and
Wedig's various functional
chair sculptures both reflect
those beliefs. Being allowed to
sit in one of Wedig's chairs de-
stroys the "Do Not Touch"
taboo so often evident in art-
work. Furthermore, Letts' un-
framed works expose raw can-
vas edges - evidence of the
messy process of creation.
Wedig and Letts say they
create from an intuitive level;
neither starts with an isolated
intent of creating a specific

piece. Scavenged pieces of
metal, set aside as specific im-
ages, are transformed in
Wedig's imagination and then
welded into recognizable ob-
jects with an obvious humor.
His "Royal Asshole Throne" is
a massive chair with pick-axe
armrests, great spring legs, and
giant augers screwing off into
oblivion. In response to a com-
mon slur, the huge augers seem
to respond, "Screw you too."
Letts' canvases often evolve
into paintings entirely different
from his original image. Months
of energetic strokes laying down
thick globs of oil reveals a cre-
ative spontaneity, but also dis-
plays a consciousness of the
personal and political forces
which shape human experience.
"Strange Weather" is a huge
canvas covered with raging lay-
ers of black, pink, and grey. A
sinister face of yellow and
black peers down from a corner
at a tornado in the center of the
canvas. A blazing cauldron of
fire next to a small house in the
background heightens the un-
easiness of the image, playing
on those bad-weather feelings
we all have.
The texture of Letts' paint-
ings draws one close to the sur-
face of his works, but their
monumental presences demand
to be seen from afar as well.
Unfortunately, the gallery space
seemed confining for the power-
ful presence of these sculptures
and paintings. However, Wedig
and Letts have set up a fasci-
nating show of works which are
visually stunning. They also
convey the power of the artists'
personal dialogues of humanis-
tic and often humorous intro-
spection into the stuff of life.
STUFF will be at the Ann Arbor
Art Association Exhibit
Galleryj 17 W. Liberty Street,
through March 9. Admission is

Bastian (John 6
all of Fantasia.

. Got a minute to spare before they split?

by Kim Yaged
Politics, society, life... these are
the topics one is most likely to
discuss during a conversation with
lead vocalist Eric Oblander and
guitarist Andy Wendler of
Maumee, Ohio's Gone In Sixty
Seconds (G.I.S.S., affectionately).
With their "drink beer" attitude
and lust for fun, one might falsely
assume that G.I.S.S. is just a bunch
of long-hairs with nothing better to
do than pluck on some guitars.
That's not the case.
"[I saw] this like '73 Dodge
Charger all painted up: 'Stop the
War,' 'Our Children Won't Die for
Gas.' Okay, great. The car gets
about four miles to the gallon,"
laughed Wendler. "Everything is
just so hypocritical like that; you
i Wlch
Kevin Welch
Kevin Welch
Accordion + fiddle + mandolin +
slide electric guitar + harmonica +
fretless bass + acoustic guitar =
country - not necessarily, but more
than sufficiently. Kevin Welch, with
the help of his sidekick, the
Overtones, has compiled an album
of songs dating back to '84 that
successfully exhibits the many facets
of country music.

know what I mean?" Both
Wendler and Oblander find humor
in many of our society's para-
doxes, and hope to avoid falling
prey to them. "If I can get older
and keep living without getting on
that treadmill, I'll do it for as long
as I can," explained Wendler,
while Oblander shook his head in
G.I.S.S. originated about five
years ago, but the current line-up
has only been in existence for less
than a year. They have recently
signed a record contract with Get
Hip Records and are going into the
studio this week. Hopefully, they
will be touring this summer; they
haven't eliminated the idea of go-
ing to Europe if given the opportu-
nity. Things are really starting to
take off for them now, yet it still

doesn't seem as though they've let
the whole thing get out of hand. As
Wendler said, "I like to let the
chips fall where they may."
G.I.S.S. has high expectations,
possessing the same "we won't
sell-out" mentality that many
bands on independent labels hold.
"It's never been a goal of mine to
be like playing at the Blind Pig
three nights a week," Wendler ex-
plained. "There's bar bands... then
you have local bands... I've never
even considered that. I'm into
playing different cities every night,
and the only way you can do that
is you have to write an album."
Okay, so you're thinking, great.
They are a bunch of moral, deep,
thinking-type guys, but what about
their music?
"We're not trying like to be op-

pressive or teach you a lesson. It's
just something to rock to, have fun
with," Oblander explained. "That's
what we do. We don't try to put
heavy thoughts into it. We just try
to do as best we can.... If people
were to ask me what I think, I'll
tell them in an interview, but I'm
not gonna write about in it in my
song." He described the lyrics as
more of a stream of consciousness
- "words that sound good to-
gether" - than anything else.
"People pretty much just think
that we're ridiculous, drunk, loud
people, and that's about it," said
Oblander. According to Wendler,
"Generally, if people don't like us
it's because they're really uptight
about something that we thought
was just silly." "Like sticking pen-
cils in your nose," Oblander of-

The band from Ohio with little time -- catch Gone in Sixty Seconds
before they're out of it at Club Heidelberg on Valentine's Day.

Both agreed, "It's the groove
that matters.".

their ya-yas out at Club Heidelberg
Thursday night with RIGHTS OF
THE ACCUSED. Doors open at 10
p.m. with $4 cover.

"True Love Never Dies" starts the
album with a typical country kick.
"Till I See You Again" and "I Am
No Drifter," with its banjo-esque
racing guitar, follow to reinforce the
theme. "Praying For Rain," a
metaphor between lost love and the
"bone-dry fields," falls into this
category as well. You gotta laugh.
"Hello, I'm Gone," a narrative
about a woman leaving home, is as
powerful as any feminist song. "She
broke down in Lubbock... So she

hitched down the highway... She got was, 'Hello, I'm gone."' The idea is
to the station/ She stared at the a universal one.
phone/ She found herself thinkin' "Some Kind Of Paradise" is also
about calling for home... So she a narrativea, which is no surprise. It
dropped in a quarter, she made herself is about someone who must have
strong/ And all that she told him See RECORDS, Page 7
- -I

m -

FEBRUARY 14- 15, 1991


5TH AVE. AT LIBERTY 761-9700 -

A vaincre
peril, on
When there is no
peril in the fight,
there is no glory
in the triumph.
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