To see or not to see? That is the question.

The answer is an emphatic yes. The Houston Shakespeare Festival, now in its 17th year of free performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park, is worth attending.

The two Shakespeare plays in production this year are The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Merchant, starring Tom Klunis as Shylock and directed by Drama Department Head Sidney Berger, is the story of Antonio, played by Timothy Arrington, who borrows a few bucks from the Jewish loanshark, Shylock, so that a friend of his can bag a babe.

Merry Wives is directed by Rutherford Cravens and is set in the waning days of the roaring '20s. Windsor, England, has become Windsor, Louisiana, and the play follows the rotund antics of Sir John Falstaff, played by James Belcher, and his attempts to woo the women of Windsor.

Merchant opens this Friday while Merry Wives premieres Saturday.

Free reserved seating is available on the day of the performance at the Miller Theatre Box Office from 11:30 to 1 p.m. For more information, call 720-3290. Or you can sit on the hill and enjoy a picnic with old Will.








This is the deal. If you didn't like Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, you can quit reading immediately. If you found it sophomoric, juvenille, pedestrian and generally moronic, turn this review off now.

However, if you enjoyed the clever wit, the lunatic pacing and the absurd scenarios played out by some of history's distinguished luminaries in the quest to help Bill and Ted pass history, you're not alone. And you should sally forth to your local monster cineplex for Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.

This is the summer's other mega-sequel, and like the latest installment of The Terminator, it is a totally non-heinous and most excellent elaboration on the original theme.

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves return to reprise the roles of Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted "Theodore" Logan in a continuation of the odyssey which finds the pair on track to become the unlikely foundation of spiritual future throughout the universe.

Much of the charm of the first movie was based in the low budget unpretentiousness which served as a unifying thread among the numerous historical scenarios and incisive commentary on pop culture.

Bill and Ted maintained a particular joie de vive and naive ebullience during their trials which prevented their adventure from ever taking itself too seriously or falling into the stew of ridiculous sexist pap which rots the core of most teenage comedies.

And despite a tremendously larger budget and considerably more pressure for success, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey never loses that fundamental element.

However, the road our heroes take in their latest travels is of a much different nature. Whereas the Excellent Adventure concerned itself primarily with time travel, the Bogus Journey features the gregarious Bill and Ted traipsing through a heaven, hell and purgatory that look like something Dante might have cooked up after a particularly horrendous acid trip.

Most of the movie revolves around their attempt to get back from the afterlife in order to kill evil robot doubles of themselves sent from the future and bent on destroying their potential legacy of positivism and excellence.

If this all sounds a bit confusing, you might want to pick up a copy of Excellent Adventure lest you wind up completely baffled by much of the humor and plot, both of which rely on events of the original film, setting the way for Bogus Journey.

In the process they dance with the devil, also known as the "Ugly Red Source of All Evil," confront their own personal hells, take Death in a best of seven series of board games, and gain a personal audience with God. All in a days work for the super--slackers from beautiful San Dimas, Ca.

William Sadler plays the insecure and overly sensitive Death to the hilt. Complete with a bad eastern European accent and stark white clown makeup, his character provides the perfect complement for Bill and Ted while they race to save the history of humanity. The game scene, in which Bill and Ted attempt to win a chance to return to life, is one of the funniest comedy sketches to cross the silver screen in a while.

Unlike much of the big budget drivel always tossed on the public during the summer, this film is definitely worth the price of admission. If you liked the first effort, you'll love this one. So party on dudes and, as always, be excellent to each other.








UH police were called to the University Center early Sunday morning to intervene when fights erupted at a fraternity party.

Police were notified of the first fight at 12:40 a.m. by patrons of Alpha Phi Alpha's party, which was being held in the Cougar Den.

When officers reached the sight where they thought the alleged altercation occurred, everything was over, Assistant Police Chief Frank Cempa said.

"But you can see on the body language that there were at least 10 to 12 individuals involved in a fracas of some some sort," he said.

The suspects were immediately escorted out of the event, and Lt. Brad Wigtil ordered the party to shut down at 1:15 a.m.

"He allowed the stall time to get those 10 to 12 combatants out of the area before telling the whole group to come out," Cempa said.

As the party disbanded, Cpl. Robert Finley indicated that another fight was in progress in front of the UC involving several individuals.

Finley was in the process of breaking up two people fighting when one of them fled the scene, Cempa said.

Finley pursued him but lost sight of the suspect around Farish Hall.

At the same time there were also other skirmishes going on, Cempa said.

A complainant told officers at the scene that when he tried to break up a fight involving his friend, he was kicked and stomped on, he said.

The complainant, indicated on the police report as Paul Lynn Eaglin, identified that there were four or five black male suspects that jumped his friend and then assaulted him.

Later Eaglin identified two people at the scene who kicked him in the face.

"But there were back-and-forth arguments of `No he didn't do it, he was with me,' " Cempa said. "There were too many conflicting stories. The crowd was volatile."

According to two sources, there was allegedly a gun in the crowd, Cempa said.

"We're concerned with the safety of the students. I hope things can be remedied before it reaches any fatalistic proportion. But I think with the way things are going right now -- the chemistry with some of these fraternity events -- it's building to a point where you have some type of fraternity rivalries and folks are getting carried away," he said.

The situation was so volatile and confusing that UHPD could not determine at the time who was involved in the altercations and how they began, Cempa said.

Officers are currently questioning party patrons in the investigation, said Cempa.

Cempa added that charges of evading detention will be filed against the suspect who fled from Finley.








AUSTIN -- Although not as dire as previously projected, higher education is not out of the woods yet.

UH administrators initially projected a loss of more than $30 million for the university under state Comptroller John Sharp's Texas Performance Review -- based on a current funds base.

Sharp has since announced he calculated his cuts from current services budget, which allows additional funding for increases in enrollment -- but state universities still face $600 million in overall revenue reductions.

Both the House and the Senate have started work on current services-based bills, the House with a tentative funding increase of 9.3 percent for UH, and the Senate with only a 2 percent increase.

Social Sciences Dean Harrell Rodgers, chair of UH's Legislative Relations Committee, said the 9.3 percent increase will keep UH afloat, but it won't make up for lost ground.

"They're trying to apply a band-aid to a hemmorage," Rodgers said.

"Faculty and staff raises are not an agenda item right now," he said, adding that Texas faculty are the worst paid in the 10 most populous states. "If our staff didn't get raises, or if they get low raises and insurance increases, they've had a bad year -- a real bad year."

Rep. Roman Martinez, D-Houston, said that out of all Sharp's proposals, his 100 percent tuition increase is of primary concern to legislators.

Martinez said any revenues from a tuition hike should go directly back into higher education -- not to fund other state services -- as originally proposed by Sharp.

Executive Director of the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors Wanda Mills said the House Ways and Means Committee deliberated Monday night on a tuition hike, likely to be about $4, which would bring state tuition to $24 a semester credit hour.

Martinez said he is concerned that low faculty salaries and morale are preventing Texas from recruiting top-flight instructors, adding he would make a comittment to push for faculty and staff raises.

Sen. Ken Armbrister, D-Victoria, said that although faculty/staff raises are not currently an item, it "seems to be a common concern" among legislators.

A member of the Senate Finance Committee, Armbrister said the committee agrees not to siphon off tuition hike revenues into other state services.

Rep. Al Edwards, D-Houston, however, said higher education may have to brace itself.

"I think when it's all over, some schools will have to make adjustments no one will look forward to," he said.








Five visiting students from the Madrid Business School in Spain were arrested on two consecutive nights at Cougar Place for public intoxication, UH Assistant Police Chief Frank Cempa said.

The Madrid Business School students are all currently living at Cougar Place and will be there until August 1.

Three of them were arrested on July 12 and two more on July 13. The first three were given residential life referrals, and the last two were given residential life referrals plus Class C citations for public intoxication. Their names were unavailable at press time.

For the past three years, students from Spain have been taking classes at UH during the summer.

The Madrid Business School students are here to take courses in the UH business school. They are being housed in Cougar Place.

Cougar Place Area Coordinator Ray Domingue said there have been a number of incidents during past summers involving Madrid Business School Students.

Last summer, he said a volleyball net was burned by students in the program, and one of them urinated off of a balcony.

In the past, high school students have participated in the Yago program and have taken college preparatory courses. They have been housed in Moody Towers.

The students in the Yago program last summer vandalized a floor of the Moody Towers, throwing garbage everywhere and writing graffiti on the walls, including anti-American slurs and Nazi swastikas.

Domingue said the students in the Madrid Business School program behaved well this year until the public intoxication incidents.

"The students involved have been informed that we will not tolerate that again and that punishment will be more severe next time," he said.

Domingue said he believes the problems stem from a culture clash.

"I see it more as a social and cultural problem. In their society, it's perfectly alright to drink alcohol, but it's not permitted at Cougar Place," he said.

He added that customs are very different in Spain.

"They do have a problem in dealing with authority. In Spain, they can buy their way out of situations or use a family name. They have tried to use their name here, but I don't care what their name is if they are breaking rules," he said.

Domingue said this summer he has two staff members on duty who speak fluent Spanish to help break down cultural barriers.

"We've learned a lot from them and it's nice to have them here. They were much more prepared and cooperative this summer," he said.








Houston police have asked the UH French Department to translate letters found in the car of a UH alumna who was stabbed to death Monday in hopes of shedding light on the incident.

Claude Caux, a UH drama professor of French descent, has been charged with first degree murder in the stabbing death of actress Mary Chovanetz.

HPD Sgt. H.L. Mayer said police have asked the UH French department to translate one-page letters addressed to family and friends found in Chovanetz' car near the scene of the stabbing in the 7700 block Picnic Lane.

The French department refused to comment on the letters.

The stabbing occured at 2:45 p.m. in Memorial Park. Witnesses said the two were arguing, but friends and colleagues of the two say they knew of nothing wrong between them.

The actors and their families were friends.

Chovanetz was a student at UH off and on from 1977 to 1989 as a drama teacher education major and took all of Caux's classes. Chovanetz was a senior but never received a degree from UH.

On Saturday night, both families attended the marriage of Caux's son Patrice, who is a lecturer in the UH French department.

The younger Caux is currently on his honeymoon and had not been reached by press time.

Police say they have no information on what the argument was about.

Chovanetz was stabbed about 15 times, Mayer said.

"Some of those were defensive wounds where she was struck in the hands and arms trying to defend herself," he said.

No one came to the aid of Chovanetz until one unidentified Samaritan started attacking Caux with a large stick, said Mayer.

The man fled the scene after the incident and police have no leads on contacting him.

"We're hoping he comes forward. I mean he's a good Samaritan. He has nothing to fear. He probably just got scared. Without citizen's cooperation it would be very difficult to close cases," Mayer said.

After disengaging Chovanetz, Caux turned the four-inch switchblade on himself stabbing himself two to three times in the chest and abdomen.

Hospital officials say Caux is now in surgical intensive care and in poor condition.

Mayer said the first officer on the scene thought the two had been attacked together until Caux gave a spontaneous confession. Caux later gave formal confessions, Mayer said.

"He (Caux) was wanting to die last night (in the hospital). He told us he had done a terrible thing and he wants to die," Mayer said.

Cecil Picket, a theater instructor who knew both actors, finished a private acting lesson with Chovanetz at 2 p.m. on Monday. The actress then went to meet Caux.

"There was never anything, not even an inkling of anything like this. I don't think that anyone who knew these two knows what this was (about)," he said.

Caux teaches stage movement and combat at UH and is an expert fencer. Besides his work at UH he was working on the current Shakespeare Festival at Miller Outdoor Theatre.









After three years as UH vice president for student affairs, Roland Smith has accepted the same position at the University of Oklahoma.

Smith, who will officially begin his new job Sept. 1, will rejoin long-time associate and former UH president, Richard Van Horn, who is currently OU president.

"We've worked well over the years together," Smith said.

However, Smith pointed out that he believes Van Horn had little to do with his selection by the school's committee.

"A search committee made the decision," he said. "Dr. Van Horn had a minimal influence at best."

Smith, 55, was first hired by UH in 1985 as the school's associate vice chancellor by then UH President Van Horn. Smith assumed the vice president position in 1988. His last official day at UH will be Aug. 31.

"It's a new challenge, a new set of opportunities," Smith said. "It's been an exciting three years. We've accomplished a lot."

Among Smith's many feats were his reorganization of the Division of Student Affairs; his development of a Six Year Strategic Plan; and his spearheading an effort to finish the construction of Cambridge Oaks, the new, 210-unit student apartment complex.

"My time here has been a great preparation for the job I will have to do there," said Smith, who listed a number of reasons for accepting the move to a new home and a new office.

"It's a different kind of institution. OU has a more traditional student profile." Smith said. "It's the major research university in the state."

Smith said he has family and friends in Oklahoma.

Smith's appointment was approved by the OU Board of Regents in July. Smith's primary responsibility at the campus located in Norman will be to oversee all student services including Housing Programs, Minority Student Services and Student Health Services.

Van Horn said that the addition of Smith to the university will be a major boost for the school.

"We are close colleagues who have developed a fine working relationship," he said. "He really understands the relationship of student affairs and the academic environment."

Before coming to UH, Smith worked with Van Horn at Carnegie-Mellon University from 1979-85 as an assistant to the president and as an associate provost for academic affairs. Smith also taught a number of history courses at Carnegie-Mellon for six years prior to his promotion.

UH spokesman Eric Miller said it would take between six months to a year to find Smith's replacement.









Since last week, two parole violators, one possibly in possession of crack cocaine and the other a wanted robbery suspect, were apprehended on campus by UH police, Assistant Police Chief Frank Cempa said.

Two UH police officers were injured during the apprehensions.

On July 20 at 1:25 a.m., Officer Christopher Hendricks stopped two suspicious males who were walking in Lot 15D along Holman St., Cempa said.

After Sgt. Colonel LaMunyon and Officer Matt Stewart arrived as back-up, the visitors were checked for outstanding warrants, he said.

Both of them were wanted for parole violations by the Texas Department of Corrections.

One of the suspects, James L. Kemp, 25, was voluntarily put into custody, but the other suspect, Robert Miller Jr., resisted arrest and had to be forcefully restrained by all three officers, Cempa said.

During the struggle to handcuff Miller, Hendricks received a severe left wrist sprain which had to be treated at Ben Taub Hospital.

In addition, LaMunyon received scratched hands and a scraped knee after his pants were torn.

After the apprehension, a routine search revealed that Miller was in possession of a matchbox containing what UH police believe to be at least three crack cocaine crystals and a crack pipe, he said.

Cempa said if the lab results come back positive, charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia will be sought.

Statements by Kemp have led UH police to believe that Miller was under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of the arrest.

Both men are being held in the Harris County jail without bond.

Cempa said the parole violation warrants were issued last May. "This is an example of turnstile justice in the criminal justice system," he said.

Last week, Keith Williams, a man wanted for robbery in Oklahoma, was also arrested by UH police in Lot 1A.

He was driving a stolen vehicle, an Isuzu Geo Tracker Jeep, which was taken from the robbery scene, Cempa said.

Williams is currently being held with a $25,000 bond.

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