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September 08, 1995 - Image 13

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-08

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- -- - - 7 r - - n

The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 8,1995 -13

Nowhere'
)IZarre and
Ted watts
fly Arts writer
The United ParamountNetwork had
idea. It was something like this:
ice, our ratings on everything but
tarTrek: Voyager'stink.Pretty much
erything is a comedy. Let's scrap
erything except 'Voyager' and get a
neh ofdramatic shows." So they did,
rapping their lineup, including the
ry funny "Platypus Man," and get-
ig a bunch of new one-hour weekly
wias, including "Nowhere Man."
"Nowhere Man"isthestory ofpho-
rapher Thomas Veil (Bruce Green-

Nowhere Man
Starring Bruce Greenwood
UPN Network, 14 on cable
Mondays at 9pm
od). Veil, beinganinternational pho-
ournalist, took a picture, entitled
[iddenAgenda,"of an execution. One
ht at a restaurant, he leaves his wife
the table, and when he returns finds
it his wife has been replaced by an
ler couple. He proceeds to find his
has been erased. His wife and ev-
one else he knows say they don't
ow him,allithe locks he has keys to
ve been changed and "Hidden
enda"has disappeared.
Taken to a sanitarium, Veil finds a
nterforhis paranoia about his erasure
the psychiatrist assigned to him, Dr.
ellamy (Michael Tucker). Veil con-
rues to resist his erasure. Veil ulti-
ately escapes and retrieves the nega-
te for "Hidden Agenda," which he
d, conveniently, hidden.
Facedwith havingtorunfromwhat-
er shadowy entity erased his exist-
ice in the first place, the series has an
ment of the TV show "The Fugi-
re Veil will, week to week, have to
n from whatever arm of the con-
iracyhe can find. At the same time, he
ill betryingto find a wayto get his life
ck, although he doesn't have the

Todd D. Brown
E,nsfrom a Hot ,k
Notebook
Washington Square Press
Rememberwhenyouwere fourteen
and you had a mad crush on your his-
tory teacher ora classmate? Young Ben
Smith is undergoing those same hor-
monal longings with one twist. Ben
Smith is a gay pre-teen living inthe very
poor and very homophobic Tranten
Township. He stillremembers the highly
degrading assault of a gay schoolmate,
Dion Hatch, at the hands of his own
brother, Jeff, and some friends. Dion
killed himself two months later.
Ben won't let that happen to him.
He does his best to stay as far in The
Closet as he possibly can, only writing
down his true feelings in his makeshift
diary, a highly symbolic hot pink note-
book (the store had no other colors
available). These notebook entries tell a
heart-wrenching story of love, hate and
betrayal.
Being poorand gay, we would hope,
wouldbeBen'sonly concerns, but that's
just scratching the surface. Ben lives
above a gas station with an alcoholic
father who betrayed the family in the
most painful way only to be given a
second chance by his spineless mother.
His grandmother, who lives with the
family is a religious fanatic and a bully
for a brother who thinks everything will
be handed to him on a silver platter
since he's his ChappaquaHigh School's
star athlete.
Ben does have some things going
for him: Mag, his best friend, Marsha,
Jeff's newest girlfriend who turns out to
be one of Ben's strongest allies and a
richboyfriend, Aaron. But, asBen learns
often, sometimes the bestthings in one's
life can turn ugly, fast.
Reading the delicately woven sub-
plots conceming each of the books mi-
nor characters, it almost passes belief
that author Todd Brown could bring
them together to a highly climatic and
beautiful ending with Ben coming to an
understanding of self-love and self-
pride.
Everyone, gay and straight, would
benefit greatly from "Entries from a
Hot Pink Notebook." It's lessons will
lean heavily upon your conscious and
cause to rethink old prejudices and be-
liefs - not only about gays, but about
everyone-by causing youto dwell on
a central, unanswerable theme, that
flows throughout the novel but is best
stated inBen Smith's June second diary
entry.
"I keep trying to figure out what I
did wrong. I had a (gay) relationship ...
We kissed. We talked. We made each
other happy. What wasso wrong about

that? It's crazy the way people's minds
work. We got caught. Suddenly it be-
came this horrible, wrong thing. I don't
understand. What's the crime? Tell me,
please."
-Eugene Bowen
Everything Scrabble:
The Definitive Book
on Scrabble
Joe Edley and John Williams
Pocket Books
One word: Scrabblicious!
(With a triple word score and one
double letter score that adds up to 64,
plus gets rid of all my letters. Screw
you, video game boy, this is where the
action is! It ain't no "Chenga," baby,
but it still brings down the house.)
-Kirk Miller
Made in America: An
Informal History of
the English Language
in the United States
By Bill Bryson
William Morrow & Co., Inc.
Though it purports to be "An Infor-
mal History of the English Language
in America," an equally appropriate
subtitle for this tome would be "An
Anecdotal History of the United
States." More often than not that is the
form that the book takes: A collection
of stories out of American history and
folklore which sometimes have to do
with the history of American-English
words and phrases and which many
times do not. Indeed, at times author
Bill Bryson seems to forget that he is
writing, as he himself puts it, "a book
on the history and development of the
English language in America."
Embracing this aim whole-
heartedly for the first twelve chapters
or so, "Made in America" is a virtual
fountain overflowing with linguistic
history. He lets us know, for example,
that the term "caucus" has been Angli-
cized (a not uncommon practice in
American English) from the
Algonquian word for tribal leader,
"cawcawwassoughes." Similarly,
"squash" evolved from
"isquontersquash," which itself is
somehow derived from
"askutasquash."
Curious as to the time when.
Americans were first referred to as
"Americans"? Look no further than
page 28 and the War of Jenkins' Ear,
an actual conflict that occurred be-
tween the Spanish and British in
1739, following the former's dis-
memberment of the ear of one Ed-
ward Jenkins, a member of the latter.

The actual "war" was short-lived;
however, it marked the first time that
the Britishbeganreferring to the col-
nists (or "colonials" or "provincials")
as "Americans." On page 158, we "
come to know that the practice of
these ex-provincials driving on the
right side of the road originated, sup-
posedly, with the Conestoga wagons
of the 19th century (from which the
term for a cigar, a "stogie," is also
derived). For some unknown reason,
the wagons were equipped with run-
ning boards on the left side, thus caus-
ing their drivers to perch themselves
on the left and, for optimal vision, to
navigate the opposite side of the road.
And soBryson continues cutting his
path through American history, telling
his word-history tales and dispelling
the many myths that have laid unques-
tioned in American history textbooks
and popular culture. (The Boston Mas-
sacre, he says, was far from an unpro-
voked British attack; mid-nineteenth
century immigrants arriving in New
York were not treated as poorly as is
commonly believed, nor, until 1897,
were they herded through Ellis Island.)
But somewhere around the time of
Thomas Edison, Bryson stops discuss-
ing word derivation and focuses almost
solely on general American history. For
the times during which he turns towards
language, he relies almost solely on
drab catalogs of words and the years in
which they first appeared.
He fails to explain this transition
(the notion that in the late 1800s words
were simply not being derived as much
as previous years is an unlikely one);
still, he (or rather, his subject matter)
does not fail to charm. Consider, for
example, the brieflist that Bryson gives
of candy bars ofthe early 1900s that, as
their names might suggest, never quite
made it: "Big Dearos," "Fat Emmas,"
"Milk Nut Loaf' and the "Vegetable
Sandwich." It is the entertaining nature
of such anecdotes, the manner in which
they allow us to look back on ourselves
and laugh (and to wonder also whether
we might be laughed at someday
ourselves),that keeps "Made in
America" moving. There is a wealth of
information here, both interms ofword
history and general American history,
and enough of it to overshadow the
overly-wry tone that Bryson is fond of
taking at times and his chapter titles
("We're in the Money: The Age of
Invention"; "What's Cooking?: Eating
in America") that get to be to cutesy for
their own good. "Made in America" is
not a scholarly work, but it should do
fine for anyone with a casual curiosity
in word origin and American history by
story-telling.
- Matthew Benz

Hello, this will be nowhere in a week. It's on UPN, after all

luxury of looking for a one-armedman.
The show resembles "The Prisoner"
more than "The Fugitive," however. The
unknown enemy with the power to com-
pletely remove a life (erased in "Nowhere
Man," removed to the Village in "The
Prisoner"), the figure of authority from
unknown higher powers that is there to
break the hero(Dr. Bellamy and Number
Two)andanultimateshadowyheadofthe
unknownpower (The Director and Num-
ber One) are all important elements found
in both series. "Nowhere Man" is practi-
cally a rewriting of "The Prisoner" for the
U.S. of the '90s.
But the show has its own quirks
as well. For whatever reason, people
consistently drop things off camera
only to have the next shot be of them
cleaning up while Veil watches. Ad-
ditionally, the primary agents of the
conspiracy seem to only smoke ci-

gars with the ends hollowed out by
a pencil. These things might be
metaphoric or just stylistic touches,
but either way they add an eerie
twilight zone feeling to the series
that makes it spooky instead of silly
or just dramatic.
Oddly enough, "Nowhere Man"
may be better than its lead-in, "Voy-
ager." As it concentrates on one man's
journey through a twisted world not
that much unlike our own, it succeeds
in representing both Veil's character
and the strangeness better than "Voy-
ager" does for its crew or setting.
Who'd believe that it's produced by
Walt Disney Television?
So, while UPN may have cut a
worthwhile show or two, at least this
replacement is as worthy or better.
"Nowhere Man" is both bizarre and
interesting, and that's all it needs.

RECORDS
mtinued from page 12
arious Artists
zdeo Soak Best Soulfthe
1s (volumes1 & 2)
hino Records
For 15 years now, BlackEntertain-
ient Television (BET) has grown in
spect and popularity by publicizing
te artistic("OntheGroove")andaca-
:mic (Emerge and YSB magazines)
'orks of Black Artists. Now, with a
ttlehelp from Rhino Records, BET is
it again producing a two-volume
>llection of some of the most memo-
ble works of R&B art.
Remember the upbeat songs like
rup" by the (regrettably) now-de-
IntPointer Sisters, Club Nouveau's
mae of "Lean on Me," The Time's
eli-known "Jungle Love" or Ray
ier, Jr.'s "The Other Woman"?
Better yet, who could forget the
ow stuff? Youknow, like The Man-
ttans' "Shining Star," the Crover
rashington, Jr./Bill Withers duet,
ust the Two of Us," another big
ret, "Baby, Come to Me" by Patti
ustin and James Ingramand "When
e WasMyGirl"bytheFourTops."
All these songs - and others, of
urse -have found their way onto
te of those two BET/Rhino CD's,
id they're just waiting to bust out
ito your player. "Video Soul" is the
pe of collection which needs no
ib. The cuts will sell themselves to
iy serious collector of old-school
&B.
-Eugene Bowen

Anonymous 4
haves Illusion
harmonia mundi usa
Anonymous 4 isn't into providing us
with the answers to all of life's questions.
By digging into music from the past, the
four-woman group finds new quandaries
to sing about. Continuing in their medi-
eval mode, the ensemble tackles true love.
"Love's Illusion," contains French motets
fromtheMontpellierCodex,aprimesouxve
of 13th century polyphony. Although all
29piecesrecordedshareathemeofcourtly
love, there is great stylistic variation. Of-
ten, two or three poems are sung simulta-
neously, creating a classic musical and
literaryeffect. In one case, a mournful love
song, a denunciation of hypocrisy and a
drinking song, are all performed at once.
The choice of music is great and
Anonymous 4 is even better. The music
is interesting enough to be intellectual,
simple enoughtobe accesible and beau-
tiful enough to tug at the heartstrings.
- Emily Lambert
Various Artists
Johnny Mnemonic: Music From
The Motion Picture
Columbia
Soundtracks are almost always dan-
gerously variant affairs. Generally, there
are at least six awful songs for every
good song. This soundtrack happens to
have two very good songs : "3 AM
Incident" byCop Shoot Cop and"Com-
plete" by Helmet. "3 AM Incident" is
marked by CSC's trademark heavy bass
and particularly growled vocals and
"Complete" features Helmet's well-
used srtucturing of grinding sections

followed by speedier sections. The rest
of the tracks on the album are fairly
average. The KMFDM track is good,
but comes from the album "Naive."
The overall impression is that the music
has been chosen for it's perceived asso-
ciation with cyberculture of a harder
style. If you like that type of thing, go
for it.
- Ted Watts

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