by Gram Gemotes

Daily Cougar Staff

The UH Drama Department's, Four by Tenn, is a collection of productions from famous playwright Tennessee Williams.

In This Property is Condemned, Paige Witte plays Willie, a convincing crazy person with a penchant for the dramatic. At a railroad embankment on the outskirts of a small Mississippi town, Willie meets Tom (Greg Stanley).

It seems poor Willie's home has been condemned, and she is content to wander the train tracks wearing her dead sister's ruined finery. Shoeless and covered with grease, Willie claims to have inherited both her sister's rhinestones and popularity.

Although charmed at first, the young Tom soon realizes Willie is hopelessly mired in a realm of fantasy. Tom recounts several rumors he has heard about the disoriented Willie.

She bristles at Tom's harsh words as she sings "You're the Only Star." Willie wanders off down the train track and back into her own world.

Witte is by far the most fascinating aspect of Condemned. Her performance is the obvious result of a careful and studied characterization. As the insane Willie, Witte walks off with all the honors in this smartly packaged drama.

27 Wagons Full of Cotton is the tragic story of a rural Southern couple and their neighbor, the superintendent of a cotton gin.

Jake Meighan (Van Farrier) is a desperate cotton gin owner with financial problems. In order to improve business at the gin, he sets fire to the gin of his neighbor, Silva Vicarro (Peter Baquet).

As a result of the fire, Vicarro is unable to gin his own cotton, requiring him to hire Meighan to gin it for him. Vicarro arrives on the scene with 27 wagons full of cotton, a financial bonanza for Meighan.

It seems that Vicarro suspects Meighan of arson and has come to justify his belief.

In an apparent act of revenge, Vicarro rapes and beats Meighan's innocent wife. When the ginning is done, Meighan returns home to find his wife in a bruised, scantily clad and mentally unbalanced state.

As the play closes, Meighan's wife gasps in terror as she realizes Vicarro plans to return daily, probably raping her on each visit.

Reese plays her handful of scenes as Flora Meighan heavily padded in order to appear overweight. She plays the frail, man-dominated character with incredible deft.

Confessional is set in an ocean side bar known as Monk's Place, so named after Monk (Al Alford), the owner. The bar is host to a wild variety of people from every walk of life who converges nightly to ease the pressures of loneliness.

Leona (Mary S. Mansoorian) is the resident mother figure who lends both advice and punishment to a brood of naughty children. She is a self-proclaimed loner.

Leona travels the country in her mobile home, and picks up Bill (Jason Douglas) along the way.

Bill is not the answer to any of her problems. Instead, he creates nothing but misery for the misguided Leona. He proves himself to be a scamp because he sexually pursues Violet (Donna McDonald), the resident bad woman.

This smartly packaged melodrama lacks any structured plot. Instead, it is a careful study of barflies. To add to the already-complex conflicts contained in the action, two homosexual males are introduced -- known simply as Young Man and Boy.

Confessional defies any rational modern interpretation of drama. The only way to understand and enjoy it is to see it. Through the course of the action, it is not hard to relate to at least one of the characters on a personal level.

As typical with any Williams script, Confessional exists as the combination of unusual people in a rather usual environment. It can be summed up as a dysfunctional episode of Cheers.

Set to run today through Sunday, Four By Tenn is well worth seeing. As always with UH productions, ticket prices are very reasonable.








Former five-term state legislator and UH student Al Luna is pursuing public office with a "new perspective."

Luna, a third-year law student currently on an excused leave-of-absence from the UH Law Center, is seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for U.S. representative of the newly created District 29.

Also competing for the spot in a field of five candidates are state Sen. Gene Green and outgoing City Councilman Ben Reyes. However, Luna said his leave from the political spotlight gives him an edge over other candidates.

"For the past two years, I have been an outsider instead of an insider (to politics)," Luna said. "Being an outsider has given me a different perspective on issues. It's easy to get out of touch with the people. Stepping out of office has given me a chance to understand government's shortcomings and areas that need improvement."

All politicians should try to get back in touch with the laws they've passed by stepping out of office for at least some period of time, Luna said. He added he would favor some form of term limitation in Congress.

Luna's campaign crew brings together some of Houston's best-known Hispanics and analysts. "Team Luna" features, among others, Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino as honorary chair, redistricting advocate and attorney Frumencio Reyes Jr. as treasurer, TV personality and owner of De Colores Production Betti Maldonado as media consultant, and Campaign Chair Marc Campos, who helped steer Bob Lanier to victory in the mayor's race.

"The people who are involved with my campaign I've known for many years, and each knows that I'm a leader and stand on the right side of the issues," Luna said.

In addition to having high-profile Hispanics on his staff, Luna picked up the endorsement of the Mexican-American Democrats of Harris County last week. He said he is also actively seeking support of other organizations and individuals.

"We're fighting hard to get the endorsements of the Harris County Democrats and the Sierra Club. We're also going out for grassroots support, block-walking, visiting precincts and talking to people about their concerns," Luna said.

However, winning people's support, Luna said, means taking stands on issues directly affecting them. Luna said he has given such issues as education and health care priority status in his campaign.

"Everyone agrees that a program like Head Start is great, but only 15 percent of children eligible for the program are in it," Luna said. "I'm committed to increasing funding for Head Start and starting more centers where they're most needed."

Luna cites such areas as Denver Harbor that need more support for education, but adds that all-out reform is a must. His plans include better teacher pay, putting tougher standards on students, emphasizing mathematics and science, and reducing the teen drop-out rate.

"Making America competitive means improving our education system. That's our new war -- to be globally competitive," Luna said. "Just as the Cold War drove us, so should the desire to compete and improve."

Higher education is also in need of reform, although more changes should be made in terms of priorities, Luna said.

"Tuition at most schools is increasing while we're downsizing grant programs," he said. "Many promising students are being squeezed out of financial aid, and it's becoming tough for students to go.

"I think kids in, say, Magnolia are just as bright as other kids, and everybody should get the opportunity to go if that's what they desire," Luna added.

Luna said he supports a national health insurance plan as a means of "bringing health care costs under control." Implementing this concept means ideas like putting caps on doctors' fees. However, making sure people are cared for properly should always be a priority, he said.

Actually putting his ideas into action, Luna said, requires that he try to influence the appropriations process, he said.

"There are no Democrats from this area on the Appropriations Committee. There is no one fighting to bring dollars into the area or acting as an advocate for veterans and the elderly. I feel that I could do that," Luna said.








Almost 11 months after members of the black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi leveled allegations of harassment at university police, the presidential task force formed to study the charges has published its findings.

While denying that its purpose was to investigate any particular incident, the task force instead set out to suggest a policy that would make UHPD's responsibility to enforce the law more congruent with the university's educational goals.

Much of the report's focus recommends alternative ways of handling minor student infractions, such as public intoxication or damage to library materials.

Vice President for Student Affairs Elwyn Lee, who played a major role in writing the report, said, "What we wanted to get to was a situation where we have some discretion, where some of these trivial things don't get prosecuted in an overburdened criminal justice system and we can handle them on campus."

The group concluded a conflict exists between UHPD's policy of prosecuting every infraction to the fullest extent of the law and the university's goal of educating and forwarding the cause of the student.

The report states that its suggestions "ensure the integrity of sworn peace officers, are consistent with views of the (Harris County) District Attorney, do not criminalize trivial matters, provide a structure internally for making a `campus only' recommendation, and reaffirm the integrity of campus codes and procedures."

Among the reasons cited by the report for UHPD's policy of prosecuting every offense, are:

It is against state law for anyone, including the UH administration, to attempt to influence a police officer's reporting of a crime to the district attorney.

Any preferential treatment given to students as opposed to campus visitors could be construed as discrimination.

While the task force found that it may be illegal for the administration to tell UHPD not to prosecute a particular offense, it concluded that individual police officers, in some cases, have some latitude in dealing with offenders.

With this in mind, the task force suggested that certain minor offenses could possibly be turned over to the university for internal corrective measures.

But the report also states there are crimes in which UHPD has no latitude, such as felony crimes against the state where state property is damaged.

The task force found in consultation with the district attorney's office that the university may make an appeal for a campus-only redress, which would allow UH to discipline offenders. The task force agreed that such a procedure should be outlined.

While the administration can make these suggestions, UHPD has the final say.

But Lee, who served as legal advisor on the committee, said the task force has been told by UHPD that its suggestions would probably be listened to.

UHPD Chief George Hess declined to comment on the document's suggestions.

One other complaint the Kappas had that the task force looked into was the procedure for filing harassment charges.

The Kappas pointed out that some students might feel intimidated by reporting possible harassment by the police to the police.

The report suggests such charges might be made to the assistant dean of students who would then work with the UH police chief to investigate the incident.

Kappa Alpha Psi President Andre Davis said his fraternity thinks the suggestions made by the task force are acceptable.

"I think it's good because it's not exactly what we wanted, but it's a start," he said.

Lee said that while the report was well-received by President Marguerite Ross Barnett, he does not anticipate any objection from now acting President James Pickering.








Who's the Black Sheep?

Simply the dopest new rap group since De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, created by the Bronx duo of Mistah Lawnge and Dres. They're the black sheep because they don't fit in conceptually with the rest of the unit.

"We can't help but be aware of how we are affected by our skin color," Dres said, "but we don't wear our blackness like a badge."

You may know them better by their last two hits that have taken over the airwaves -- "The Choice is Yours" and "Flavor of the Month." Their self-produced debut album A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, supported by their hip-hop videos, has brought Black Sheep a quick following and a chart-climbing hit.

What's the Black Sheep? According to Dres, they are the group that takes sampling to another level. "We don't use anything straight up. We try to dig and find new stuff; there's even rock hidden in there."

Their next hit is sure to be "Strobe Light Honey," which tells the tale of enounters with females who look like pearls from afar and clams up close.

"We came and attacked the street with our first two singles from our core fans, and this one's a more friendly song for a wider audience."

Where's the Black Sheep?

On their way to Houston with Ice Cube, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, W.C. and the Maad Circle, with special guest host Yo Yo to knock down the Unicorn this Sunday night.

The two New York homeboys are sure to prove that you should get with this, `cause this is where it's at.








Isaac Barr just wants to be surprised. But when he meets sexy Heather Evans, his Final Analysis is all too predictable.

What starts out as a fairly intriguing and suspenseful movie, finishes as a long, drawn-out melodramatic game.

Barr, played by Richard Gere, is a private psychiatrist and head of Forensics Psychiatry. One of his lovely female patients, Diana Baylor, is having strange dreams and episodic obsessive/compulsive behavior.

Diana, played by Uma Thurman, suggests Barr meet with her older sister Heather (Kim Bassinger) who has information about Diana's past. They meet late one night at his office and end up having an affair.

Maybe Gere just didn't have enough to do, but this really wasn't the role for him.

Basinger's Heather looks great in red, and that's all she needs to do in this flick. Acting certainly wasn't on her list of priorities.

There are some funny moments to lighten up this drab movie, but I really wouldn't waste my money on it. Final Analysis is a poor, Presumed Innocent rip-off.








Cash-strapped students may find themselves in an even tighter financial bind in the near future.

The UH administration held a special meeting with the Graduate and Professional Studies Council (GPSC) Jan. 8 to submit a proposal dealing with an increase in student tuition.

The proposed increase is in response to an anticipated state budget shortfall. The amount of the increase varies depending upon the severity of the shortfall.

The proposal supplies two different solutions to the fiscal crisis. The first solution requires a $4 per- semester-hour increase for both graduate and undergraduate students.

The second solution still calls for a $4 per hour increase for undergrads, but it also specifies that graduate tuition be raised from $34 to $48 per semester hour.

The GPSC approved the resolution, but not without a great deal of debate. Social Work graduate student and GPSC member Lloyd Jacobson said the committee debated the proposal for several hours.

GPSC committee Chair Paul Raffoul said the proposal offered little in the way of alternative funding sources. "The way it was presented, it seemed UH had already exhausted all other internal sources of possible revenue."

Harrell Rodgers, dean of social sciences, said UH will first have to make an internal decision on the proposal. At that point, it will then be passed to the chancellor and then to the board of regents for a final decision.

Once it reaches the regents, Rodgers is fairly certain it will be passed. "There's an awfully good chance it will be passed," he said. "The university's really got a dilemma on our hands."

Jacobson is even more succinct. "UH is in dire straits," he said.

Rodgers said the university's fiscal woes are an ongoing problem. "UH has lost 18 percent of its budget since 1985," he said.

Part of the pressure to increase the budget, Rodgers said, has come from the Texas Legislature. "It's hard to go to the Legislature and ask for money when we haven't raised the tuition to its limit.

"It kind of puts us between a rock and a hard place," Rodgers said.








Amidst all the current talk of hard times and the high cost of education, one Washington representative has come up with a bill that would make student loans more accessible to everyone while saving the government billions.

Representative Tom Petri, R-Wis., has introduced a plan to allow students, regardless of their parents' income, to borrow up to $70,000 for school.

The maximum for medical students would be $143,000. The innovation, however, lies in the fact that repayment is not through a check every month after graduation, but through each graduate's federal income tax withholding amount in their paychecks.

In a January release, Petri said his proposal is "simple, universal, makes sense and saves money. It will radically improve America's student loan system while saving the taxpayers billions of dollars."

The bill, known as the Income-Dependent Education Assistance Act (IDEA), would dramatically overhaul the existing system of loans, which now depends on a parent's income statement to qualify each student for aid.

In the existing program, each student pays a fixed payment every month to their lender after graduation. If the IDEA bill is passed, the repayment would come directly from a graduate's paycheck each week.

According to George Conant, Petri's legislative assistant, at the end of each tax year, the loan payments work just like taxes. "If a student paid too much on their loans, then the student is entitled to a refund as part of his or her tax return."

According to the release from Petri, current loan procedures cost the government a great deal of money because of waste and loan defaults. His IDEA plan, however, addresses these issues.

Loan default would be almost impossible since payment is taken out of a paycheck each week. "Because the loans are automatically rescheduled based on income, there would be no reason to default. Further, IDEA repayments are defined as income taxes. Evading repayment would be tax evasion. So there would be no opportunity to default," he said.

According to Conant, the bill has a "real good" chance of being passed. The Internal Revenue Service is amenable to the idea, and it looks like all of the details can be worked out, Conant said in a hearing Wednesday.

Conant said Petri discussed the bill with the secretary of education this week. He also said the proposal may be passed as soon as a few weeks from now but may not be passed until the end of this year. If passed, it won't take effect until 1993 or 1994.

He added, however, that students who are now receiving loans could still receive the benefits of the new bill.

"Even current students can take advantage of this, because if and when IDEA takes effect, their loans can be transferred over to the new plan and students could have their payments taken out of their checks."

Repayment would be according to income, with high-income earners paying more than low-income earners after graduation. The maximum to be borrowed each year is $6,500 for first- and second-year students, $8,000 for third- and fourth-year students, and $11,000 for graduate students.

The new bill plans for loans to be repaid within 12 to 17 years, and amounts left unpaid after 25 years would be wiped off the books.


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