More trouble is brewing for the now-defunct UH chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

A former officer of the fraternity has filed a civil suit against his former SAE president and the national fraternity for personal assault.

Christopher Shaw is suing Stephen Ferro and the national fraternity for bodily injuries brought on by a "brutal and vicious attack upon his person" by Ferro, states the suit, filed Feb. 10, 1992.

The altercation between the two SAE members occurred on Feb. 25, 1990, when Ferro allegedly exploded and attacked Shaw when he asked Ferro to remove his vehicle, which was blocking other cars from the SAE house's driveway.

In his suit, Shaw holds the SAE National Fraternity responsible for physical injuries on him caused by Ferro. The suit charges that the national chapter failed to take any action to remove Ferro from the UH chapter.

The suit claims Shaw suffered "serious and disabling personal injuries which included a crushed skull and a hole in his skull due to the battery."

According to the suit, because of the physical attack by Ferro, Shaw suffers from numbness in the upper right side of his face due to nerve damage, and despite extensive surgery, his face and skull are permanently disfigured.

Shaw is suing for punitive damages in excess of $2 million.

Shaw's attorney, Hugh McKenney, said he is optimistic that Ferro and the national fraternity will be held responsible for the injuries based on evidence he has uncovered in his ongoing investigation.

Ferro was also involved in a highly publicized altercation last August at one of the fraternity's parties. He allegedly bit off the finger of Carrin Huber when she intervened in a fight between Ferro and her boyfriend, Kevin Schramm.

Criminal charges were brought against Ferro by the state, and a trial date for the case will be set on May 29.

SAE National Fraternity Director of Risk Manager John Perkins said the national chapter did not learn anything about the assault on Shaw until the suit was filed.

"It's something that doesn't happen very often," he said. "The publicity surrounding the incidents (Shaw and Huber's assaults) are things we're not happy about, but we're working with the situation as best as we can."

The national fraternity intends to reorganize its Houston chapter in about four years, but SAE's former neighbors hope if it does regroup, it will not return to its S. MacGregor Way residence.

"We are very pleased that the national chapter suspended the organization in Houston. We hope that the four-year hold on their charter will be permanent," said Paul Pendleton, who lives next door to where the SAE house was.

"Considering the amount of violence perpetuated by the SAE members, I'm thankful that no one in the neighborhood fell victim to the violence, and the injuries inflicted on Huber and Shaw should be sufficient reasons to permanently disband the organization from UH."

Pendleton recalls meeting Shaw when he came over to his house to apologize for his brothers' disruptive behavior.

"When he lifted his sunglasses, I saw the damages inflicted on him. He mentioned that he was considering some course of action against the fraternity brother who caused him bodily injuries. He expressed his extreme displeasure and disappointment with Ferro and the degeneration of the local SAE chapter," he said.






Does getting money for college by eating fast food sound like a grease-induced daydream? Imagine how much money you would have for tuition if a company put 15 cents in a trust fund every time you'd eaten a fast-food hamburger, bought a car, had a soda or bought name-brand sneakers.

Two new companies are trying to do just that. K. J. Laessig, president of Promot Inc. in Los Angeles, said by September, his company will have corporate sponsors in place to begin the tuition-for-purchases program.

Once the programs begin, parents can sign up children for an individual trust fund by the child's social security number. Once in place, each purchase the parents make of a corporate sponsor's product will increase the amount in the fund, which remains in place until the child enters college.

The sponsors will be "category-exclusive," Laessig said, meaning there will be only one fast food, footwear, soda or airline sponsor in each category. The fund will grow as parents send in 20 purchase-proofs-at-a-time for consumer goods, and service companies, such as telephone companies, send magnetic tapes to Promot with the amount used by each customer.

Laessig speculates an average child can earn $8,500 over a 15-year period, while a family who sticks exclusively with corporate sponsors will earn as much as $12,000 in the same time period.

A similar program is being put together in Chicago, said Cynthia Harrington of the National Education Access Fund.

Their program, called Tuition Access, will distribute "points" instead of percentages, and each "point," earned through corporate sponsor-spending, will be turned into dollars.

Tuition Access won't necessarily require purchases, Harrington said. "We're trying to develop the program so consumers can even earn points from test-driving a car instead of just renting or buying one."

Harrington said these programs benefit both the consumer and the business sponsor; Laessig agrees.

"We help brand loyalty among consumers, and help pay tuition at the same time," he said.

Harrington said studies show that children who know there's money for college available have different study-habits than children who don't. "This will really instill peace-of-mind in families with small children."

"This addresses a major emotional and financial concern of families with children," Laessig said.






The Campus Ministry Association is holding a campus-wide memorial service at noon Monday, May 4, in the large chapel of the A.D. Bruce Religion Center.

Hugh Sanborn, director of campus ministries for the Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ, said the service is in memory of students, staff and faculty who have died during this academic year.

The non-denominational service has been an annual event at UH for the past eight years, Sanborn said. However, he said the memorial may be receiving a little more attention this year because of the death of President Marguerite Ross Barnett earlier this semester.

"The service is not designed to honor Dr. Barnett only. It is an equal kind of thing to honor all those who died this school year," Sanborn said.

The Campus Ministry Association contacts each UH department to find out who has died during the year, he said.

The 30- to 45-minute service will include readings from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths, family members will light a candle in memory and the names of the deceased will be read off. A UH student will accompany the service with a violin piece.

Sanborn said there may be a brief summary of the lives of the deceased after their names are recited. Regarding whether accomplishments of Dr. Barnett's life would be included here, however, Sanborn said time may not allow for this.

"We've got a large list this year. Over 20 people are going to be honored at the memorial," he said.

A reception will follow the memorial at 12:30 p.m. in front of the A.D. Bruce Religion Center. The reception is open to all students, staff and faculty, even those who didn't attend the memorial service. Cake and punch will be served at the reception.

The Campus Ministry Association, which is a conglomeration of the many faiths on campus, meets regularly to discuss what is happening in each denomination, said Bob Budewig of the Lutheran Campus Ministry.

"The memorial service is one of the things that the Campus Ministry Association does for the school. It's a chance for people of all denominations to get together," Budewig said.

UH senior psychology major Lisa Westfield said she is attending the memorial service to honor the memory of Barnett.

"I was always an admirer of Barnett, and this is how I can show my appreciation of her life and what she did at UH," Westfield said.

Even though Westfield is going to the memorial to honor Barnett, she said the idea of having a memorial for students on campus is a great idea because students devote so much of their time to school.






Have you noticed that people don't seem to refer to UH as "Cougar High" any more? Well, it might have something to do with how much more "well-endowed" we are than in the past.

In 1980, UH had only $5 million in endowment funds, but that's grown to over $170 million today. An endowment is money that stays in a permanent fund in support of the university, with the annual income from investments partly spent and partly reinvested each year.

John Scales, UH System vice chancellor for institutional advancement, said building endowment funds is a good way to build a university's reputation.

"Endowments guarantee stability and attract the very best faculty and students because endowment funds represent guaranteed annual income," Scales said. "This allows for the capability of having tremendous financial security and improved reputation."

He said earnings on endowments have averaged about 17 percent over the last five years. Of that, 4.6 percent is distributed to the university, and the difference is returned to the principal of the endowment. Every six or seven years, what's been given in an endowment doubles in value.

"As an example, if someone gave a million-dollar donation for an endowment, in a 20-year period, we would actually distribute a million and a half to the university from the interest, and the endowment, itself, would grow to two-and-a-half million," Scales said.

"Endowment money is not money that we're receiving and spending and it's all gone, but rather permanent support," he said.

Richard Levy, director of communication for the UH System, said Scales has been a big factor in the push to increase UH endowments.

"Prior to hiring Scales in 1987, fund-raising efforts were not centralized," Levy said. "In 1988, the Board of Regents officially authorized a UH System-wide fund-raising effort, and Scales initiated the Creative Partnerships Campaign, which has produced $120 million of the total $170 million UH endowment funds.

According to Scales, an endowment is "the best gift that anyone can give."

Private donations are especially important since state money cannot be used for endowments. Endowment funds can only be obtained from the private sector.

"In some ways, we're going through some growing pains right now because we're in the early stages, and state funds are tight," Scales said. "Twenty years ago, people weren't thinking about endowments that we need today. Now we're thinking of both the short term and the long term."

He said while UH is still developing its base of endowment funds, most major universities have endowments that are extremely large.

Greg Marshall, director of university relations for Rice University, said Rice has endowment funds of $1.07 billion.

"But that figure is as of June 30, 1990," Marshall said. "It's grown since then."

Scales said as people continue to give to UH endowments, "and we do a good job of investing and managing," they will grow.

"The only way we will ultimately have strength and stability as a university is from endowments," Scales said.







Frustration and anger, tempered by the hope found through social workers' growing political activism, permeated the Social Work Futures Conference held on campus April 23 and 24.

Social service issues relating to women and children were examined, and recommendations were made at the seventh annual conference sponsored by the Graduate School of Social Work.

Speakers alerted the audience to available social services and provided insights and descriptions of injustices experienced by women and children.

Issues discussed in the 12 workshops ranged from the hunger experienced by elderly Houston women to the hesitancy of doctors to deal with pregnant women who have AIDS to the difficulties lesbian women encounter during child custody battles.

The speakers' messages frequently brought understanding nods and, at other times, bursts of outrage from the 95 social workers, primarily from Harris County, who attended the conference.

"I see the anger as positive because I think you've got to get people angry to get them moving.... It was the decade or more of apathy that concerned me," said Karen Haynes, dean of the Graduate School of Social Work.

To provide a productive channel for their anger, much of the conference focused on how to change government policy and public attitudes through political activism.

Haynes urged social workers to press for changes and not to run away from conflict, even though they may not be popular in doing so.

Texas State Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, a former social worker, said an entire generation of young people is at risk.

For every dollar spent now on education, the state saves almost $5 in the long run, citing Texas minority drop-out rates of around 60 percent in Dallas and Houston.

Setting budget priorities is "a question of basic values," Rodriguez said.

The money is out there, he said, but it's made available for other problems. Social workers need to organize and help influence budget priorities, he said.

Maryann Mahaffey, a Detroit councilwoman and social worker, urged social workers to work with community coalitions to develop state and local "alternative budgets" as a way to influence the budget process before it's set.

The alternative budget does not have to set line-item dollar amounts to be effective, she said.

"It's a statement of principles; it's a statement of priorities. It's a screen, if you will, for examination of that budget," Mahaffey said.

Community activists managed to get a public hearing in Detroit this year to help set budget priorities before the City Council got into departmental debates, Mahaffey said.

She praised the few government leaders who not only take the time to listen to their constituents, but also attempt to educate and explain the issues to them in a way that enables them to envision the personal impact of a piece of legislation.

She also recommended social workers and government use systems analysis techniques to uncover the root-causes of social problems.

In direct response to recommendations received from social workers at prior conferences, the Graduate School of Social Work restructured its curriculum this year and included a political social work concentration area.

"To our knowledge, we are the only school with a full specialization in political social work," Haynes said.

The purpose of this specialization is to more directly teach people empowerment and advocacy skills, not just to those in the political arena, but also to social workers who work with clients who may have been victimized or oppressed, she said.

Also, the school strives to teach its students a systems perspective, which Mahaffey referred to, whereby, an individual client problem is analyzed in the context of problems with a spouse, extended family, workplace or the impact of state and federal legislation.

At the state level, it's more difficult to use a systems perspective to solve problems, Haynes said.

Legislators tend to want problems solved in two years, just in time to get re-elected, she said.

Also, court orders increasingly force social service decisions. For instance, a systems perspective would suggest that more money be budgeted for schools and social services to prevent children from becoming criminals as adults, yet massive amounts of money are instead being spent to build more prisons as a result of a federal court order.

"Part of my long-term concern is to get social workers literally more in the elected arena either as aides or as politicians, to hopefully be more effective in helping people to see those systems' linkages, to finally be able to make some determinations that you are going to pay now, or you are going to pay later," Haynes said. "There is no cheap way to fix some of the problems that we have."

Also, Haynes and others have been working to get social workers in public schools to provide counseling and to link children and their families to supportive services. This has been done in some other states.

"You can't send kids to school who are hungry or abused or neglected and then expect that in the school system, only focusing on academic skill-development, you're going to change their entire life around," she said.

more "I try to continue to be optimistic. It's not always easy," Haynes said.

Within the profession, she said she sees signs that more social workers are seeing the big picture, making connections and becoming more involved. For example, social workers are more likely today to pick up the phone and call their legislators.

Also, social-work schools are returning to a mission related to social justice, whereas, in the '70s, they started to concentrate more on the administrative aspects, such as accountability and evaluation.

For a while, schools and social workers lost the notion of "Why are we doing this?" Haynes said.






About 30 students gathered in the Embassy Room of the University Center Thursday to listen to what was intended to be a two-sided panel discussion on the UH-ROTC's compliance with the Department of Defense's policy of banning homosexuals.

But only one side showed up.

The National Organization for Women's Gay/Lesbian Rights Task Force, the event's host, invited the ROTC and Military Science Head Lt. Col. Robert Shaffer and a UH administration spokesperson to participate as members of the panel in support of the policy. Both declined to participate.

Shaffer explained in a letter to LGRTF that his "department's charter and the review of such policy is essentially a political question, the department's involvement in which would be inappropriate."

The U.S. Army and the ROTC ban homosexuals from their ranks because "homosexual behavior is inconsistent with maintaining good order and discipline," Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Colin Powell has said.

Representatives from the Gay and Lesbian Students' Association, Mandamus (the UH Law Center's gay and lesbian rights group) and NOW agreed that the Department of Defense policy must be altered.

"It has become clear to us that the ROTC policy is a prime example of what we aim at eliminating from the higher learning institution," said Suzanne St. Clair, president of LGRTF. "The ROTC policy blatantly discriminates against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and is in direct conflict with the university's own non-discriminatory policy."

LGRTF listed three demands they hoped would be met by the UH administration:

The university should take action to eliminate the ROTC policy or its program.

The ROTC policy should be mentioned in all university and ROTC promotional material until the policy is changed to support the belief of the university's non-discriminatory policy or until the program is removed.

The UH administration should publicly recognize that ROTC policy is in direct conflict with UH's non-discrimination policy.

The consensus among the panel members, including GLSA president Adrian Ozuna, Mandamus member Rusty Bienvenue and UH-NOW's president Catherine Nelson-Archer, called for a plan that would either change the current policy to allow homosexuals into ROTC or remove ROTC from campus.

The proposal was given three years to be completed, allowing students already in ROTC to graduate without fear of losing their scholarships.

"We have to get the university behind its own non-discrimination policy," Bienvenue said. "Rather than throwing off ROTC ... I think we can get the university to work with us; work in conjunction with a lot of other universities that have the same non-discrimination policy in order to change the Department of Defense policy by hiring people to lobby constantly (and) by educating people."






The acquittal of the policemen involved in the Rodney King beating set off a wave of violence and protests in Los Angeles, spreading to all portions of the enormous L.A. area.

On the Westwood campus of UCLA, approximately 700 students and faculty members formed a protest rally at the administration building, said Sandra Lee, staff writer for the Daily Bruin.

The ethnically-mixed group spouted such slogans as "No justice -- no peace" and "We want another trial," she said.

Lee said many UCLA employees had left the campus early, many instructors cancelled mid-terms and some are arranging "teach-ins" to protest the verdict.

"(Teachers) will be a lot more understanding right now. I know I couldn't concentrate on studying today," she said. "I think a lot of students felt the same way (I did) as indicated by the turnout at the rally."

A 7:30 p.m. curfew has been imposed on the entire city, Lee said.

Most of the rioting and looting is occurring in South-Central Los Angeles. About 35 miles away in Pasadena, Clark Charles, an employee of a mortgage company, said the violence has spilled over into his town.

He had heard shots fired by a sniper at a nearby mall, he said, and almost all businesses were shut down or locked up.

"They're telling us not to go out to lunch," he said. "My bank's right down the street -- I can't get there."

Charles could smell the fire and see the smoke in South-Central Los Angeles, he said.

"I've read about the Watts riot," he said, "and I've heard about it in Falcon and the Snowman, but I never thought I'd see it again."






With few exceptions, members of the UH community have expressed outrage at Wednesday's outcome of the Rodney King trial.

"Something like this makes me sad that I'm white," said Jana Lewis, a senior history major. "It reminded me of the Houston police of the 1970s.

"I think it's very sad that in 1992, blacks do not get justice to this day."

A mostly-white jury acquitted four white policemen of assault charges in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King.

L. Renee Brasher, a senior pre-pharmacy major, said she was so angry, she couldn't sleep Wednesday night. She expressed her feelings by painting a T-shirt.

The front asks "What's it gonna take!" while the back answers "you & me," and shows the Statue of Liberty shedding tears of blood. Nearby, stars and stripes are falling off the American flag, and a purple mountain is erupting.

Brasher said her first reaction was "What?" She said she never expected all four officers to get cleared of the charges.

"I can't say as I know exactly what it's like to be black, 'cause I'm not," she said, "but I understand the rage. I can understand the frustration, but I imagine if I was black, it would be tons worse."

Joel Richards, director of the Council of Ethnic Organizations, said he was angry, but not surprised, upon hearing the verdict.

"I think that the only difference between this and hundreds of cases that go unreported is that this was captured on videotape," he said. "I've had friends that have had similar incidents, maybe not that severe, right here in Houston."

Richards acknowledged blacks were treated worse before the 1960s.

"You don't see people hanging in trees any more and laying on the side of the road," he said. "But it's still unacceptable. If there's two incidents a year, that's two too many.

"As long as the courts, by their decisions, continue to support these actions, this type of thing will continue to happen."

Morris Graves, associate director of African-American Studies, called the jury's decision a "travesty of justice."

He said in many ways, blacks' situations are improving, but today, they face what he called a "new racism," a misconception by whites that poor blacks have only themselves to blame for not moving up the economic ladder.

Graves said a different way of seeing things has caused a rift between the races.

"White America, to a large degree, believes that racism only takes place when it's consciously done, or when it's intentionally done," he said. "And the fact that this one jury found these four police officers not guilty reflects the different perceptions."

Taking advantage of students' outrage, several members of the Socialist Workers Party stationed a table by the UC-Satellite and distributed leaflets.

Matt Herreshoff, manning the table, said the verdict gives a green light to the country to brutalize more poor people.

"The rise of police brutality is part-and-partial to the growth of attacks on our rights and the growth of right-wing, fascist-minded politicians like (Republican presidential candidate Pat) Buchanan," he said.

Joe Rice, professor of technical writing, said the verdict was "demoralizing," but Americans should have been more prepared for the possibility of an acquittal.

"I wish that people wouldn't air inflammatory statements the way they do during the last several hours," he said. "All of us, no matter our race, should not make inflammatory remarks that then become part of the folklore of what's happening, and I guess that bothers me also."

Dennis Longmire, professor of criminal justice at Sam Houston State University, said he was shocked and fearful after he heard of the "not guilty" verdicts.

He said the fact that no blacks served on the jury suggested some problems in the selection process. He added that watching the videotape over and over may have desensitized the jury to its impact.

"They watched the tapes so much, they looked beyond the criminality," he said.

Longmire noted that everyone in law enforcement he had talked to said the incident was not a general thing.

Some campus denizens were not so quick to condemn the jurors for their decision.

Bobbie Bowen, a junior majoring in training and development, said after rewatching the videotape, she had questions as to how badly King was hit.

"It was from a distance, so you can't tell," she said. "It definitely looked like exaggerated movement and exaggerated force used, but my thought is that I don't want to be second-guessed if I'm on the jury. He looks pretty guilty, but I don't believe in trial by press."

Bill Cook, president of the UH Faculty Senate, said his first impression of the incident after seeing the tape was the police had done something wrong. But he said both sides of the story are evident after viewing a longer part of the tape that has recently been released.

"One can still be incensed about the thing," he said, "but I think it shows the power of that medium of being able to portray the true story, or at least, it convinced the jury of the true story."






What multicolored object squawks like a flock of chickens, attracts plastic flies, has taken four trips across the States, waves an American flag, balances a globe on its nose and has spinning flowers on top? I'll give you a clue. Its initials are VW.

If your response to this question is "Oh my God!" -- you are correct.

"Oh My God!" is the name, and an accurate description, of Harrod Blank's artcar. It is a 1965 VW covered with objects like a globe, a mailbox with the address "Planet Earth," a television set, plastic flies and rubber chickens. It also makes a fowl sound.

Blank is an artist and filmmaker whose documentary, Wild Wheels, makes its Texas debut this weekend at The River Oaks Landmark Theatre. The film, about artcars and the artists who drive them, will run through May 7, but it kicks off Friday with a big party at Birraporetti's on West Gray across from the theater.

The entire parking lot will be blocked off for this party that features two bands (Moe N Lawn and Sunset Heights) and about 15 artcars.

Blank and "Oh My God!" will be there as well. Blank also will attend every screening, not just opening night, and talk to the audience afterward.

The filming took about three years, four cross-country trips and more than 50 tickets -- for everything from carrying an unsafe load to impeding the flow of traffic.

Some of the film was even shot in Houston.

The opening sequence features footage from "The Roadside Attractions Parade," sponsored by The Orange Show during the Houston International Festival.

Two cars appearing in this sequence, "Insectmobile" and "Cargoyle," were constructed by UH student Troy Engel. "DC-12," another car featured in the film was recently reconstructed on the UH campus, and the result, "DC-13," was driven in last year's parade.

Blank's documentary is not just about the cars, it is also about the creative urge which drives the people who build and pilot the cars.

Some of the artists have a single concept and a clear direction in mind before they begin their cars, Harrod said in a telephone interview, but for the others, the concept continues to evolve as the car is built.

Like other art forms, some of the cars were designed to communicate messages.

"I don't make art that has gender attached," she said in the film.

John Seed, another artist in the film, painted the simple message "Stop Extinction" on the back of his "Earth First Rainforest Van."

For H.L. Gandy, who puts scriptures and pictures of Jesus on his truck, a vehicle for transportation can also be a vehicle for witnessing. "Sometimes, it's the only Bible people read," he said in the film.

About his own car, Blank said, "There is no one, overriding concept," though it does make some social commentaries with its Planet Earth mailbox on top, and the message about over-population, depicting rats in the process of mating, on the trunk.

"There are too many people in the world," he said, on the topic of population. "Everyone needs to use rubbers or stop having sex."

About the possibility of doing other cars, Blank said, "I'd like to, but I haven't had time."

He said this one isn't yet finished.

"I started working on the car some more last night (after hearing about the acquittal of the four LAPD officers who beat Rodney King)," he said Thursday. "I was up until two in the morning. I just wanted to lose myself."

As far as other film projects are concerned, Blank has plans for two more films. Broke Dick Dog will be "a tri-cultural sex comedy," and Homosapiens is going to be a documentary about the symbolic attachments given to uniforms.

His first film, In the Land of the Owl Turds, has received several honors, including a Gold Award at the 1988 Houston International Festival.






WorldFest Houston concludes this weekend with a variety of films for all tastes. Tonight, two classics are featured in the Martin Landau retrospect.

Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest and Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors, for which Landau won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, will run through Friday night at the BelAir Theatre at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

For those seeking foreign entertainment this evening, there are eight French films, one from Colombia and one from Taiwan. Genial, Mes Parents Divorcent, one of the abundant French films, follows sixth-grader Julien as he copes with the divorce of his parents.

In what is billed as a comedy, two factions develop at school between children of divorced parents and parents who are still married. The victor of the war between the parties gets to claim Penelope, a girl whom Julien has a crush on, as the prize. Genial debuts at 5 p.m. at the AMC Greenway.

Pushing Hands, the Taiwanese film, tells the story of a retired tai-chi master who must readjust his life after relocating from Beijing to New York. Hands runs at 7 p.m. tonight at the Greenway.

Confesion a Laura depicts the throwing together of two very different people amidst war-torn Bogota in 1948 following the assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. Confesion will be shown at the Greenway at 9:30 p.m.

Saturday's features include a documentary on the making of the recent David Cronenberg film, Naked Lunch. The film, Naked Making Lunch, features clips of William Burroughs discussing his novel interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage of the film. It's a must-see for those who caught the real thing at the River Oaks and enjoyed it, 5 p.m. Saturday at the Museum of Fine Arts.

On Sunday, a couple of upcoming releases are highlighted, along with a gem of an independent feature. At 5 p.m. at the Greenway, C. Thomas Howell, (The Outsiderslfinally moves beyond the low-grade, B-movie doldrums with a kindhearted movie called Nickel and Dime.

Howell plays Jack Stone, a smooth-talking hustler who makes his money finding bogus heirs to inherit unclaimed fortunes, reserving a cut for himself. Lately, he hasn't been succeeding enough to make ends meet, and this has gotten him into trouble with an accountant and the IRS, to name a few of his problems.

Jack's accountant dumps his nephew, Everett, on Jack to sort out Jack's tax messm, and Everett becomes enthralled with the fly-by-night manner Jack supports his senile father, discovering there actually is a method to his madness.

Jack's ex-fiancee, Cathleen, enters the scene, as does Destiny, a prostitute who helped Jack dupe a family out of some cash. Nickel and Dime is sweet, funny and utterly harmless comedy. Wallace Shawn, ever the put-upon actor, finally gets a chance to be in the spotlight. Lise Cutter and Lynn Danielson add nice touches as Cathleen and Destiny.

Becoming Colette, debuting at 7 p.m. Sunday at the BelAir, tells the story of Gabrielle Colette, an innocent who was forced by her husband, Henry Gauthier-Villars, to publish her diary under his name. The film follows the events that unfolded after that publication.

Becoming Colette was directed by Danny Huston and stars Mathilda May, Virginia Madsen and Klaus Maria Brandauer.

At 9:30 p.m. Sunday at the Greenway is Where the Day Takes You, an independent film that will be released later this year. The film tells the tale of a band of runaways living on the streets of 1992 Los Angeles. This film boasts a cast of rising young actors including Sean Astin, Dermot Mulroney, Lara Flynn Boyle, Alyssa Milano, Wil Smith, David Arquette, Ricki Lake and Balthazar Getty.






Mayor Bob Lanier's recently formed Bicycle Task Force will be encouraging biking instead of driving by developing bikeways and promoting cycling safety.

The 18-member, volunteer task force intends to further bikeway development by identifying existing and potential bike paths and improving them if necessary.

"We want to make Houston bicycle-friendly," said Jae Norris, coordinator of development users services for the UH System and a member of the task force. "The whole idea is alternate transportation. We hope to get more people out of their cars."

Bicycles provide a cheap, quiet, non-polluting and healthy way to get around, said Sandra McMurtry, president of the Houston Area Bicyclist Alliance and chair of the Bicycle Task Force.

"I hope such a plan would help make our employment centers, and various points in between, compatible for use by cyclists," Lanier said. "It would certainly help encourage commuter cycling and help us further the goals of the Federal Clean Air Act."

The Federal Clean Air Act mandates a 65 percent reduction in Houston's air pollution over the next 15 years. Since more than 50 percent of all daily car trips are less than five miles in length, cycling these short trips can significantly reduce air pollution and traffic congestion.

"I think this will help in bridging the environmental/business gaps in Houston," Norris said.

The force also will focus on promoting bicycle-safety programs for school children and public-awareness programs for motorists.

"People must first and foremost understand that a bicycle is a vehicle," McMurtry said. "Cyclists have a right to be on the street just as cars do, and, granted, they must obey the same traffic laws."

The bicycle task force will be an ongoing project, and the hope is that a full-time bike coordinator will eventually be appointed.

"There is no end in sight," Norris said. "I don't think the mayor intends this to be a pet-peeve project."

Bicyclists, as well as members of city departments, make up the task force. Other groups represented on the task force are the Houston Police Department, the city's Department of Parks and Recreation, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Public Works Department, the Texas Highway Department and METRO.






This weekend, UH will host a symposium at the Hilton commemorating Spain's discovery of America.

Spain's involvement in North America, from the early explorers to the Revolutionary War, will be discussed, as well as Hispanic influence in modern American politics and culture.

"Spain, the Hispanic Borderlands and Anglo-America 1763-1836," begins April 30 and will run through May 2.

"American historians have forgotten the history of Spanish involvement," UH Spanish professor Harold Raley said. "During the Revolutionary War, Spain was one of our staunchest allies. Bernardo Galvez (for whom Galveston was named) was probably a greater hero than Lafayette ... He had the first integrated army," including Negroes and Hispanics.

Spanish philosopher Julian Marias from the Royal Spanish Academy, a witness of the Spanish Civil War, is scheduled to give the keynote speech Thursday.

Marias points out that Spain settled and explored America a century earlier than the Pilgrim settlements in the 13 colonies. "Viceroys administered the territories as kingdoms, not colonies," he said.

"Spain was a neighbor of the U.S. ... The rulers of Spain were interested in the independence of the U.S. The Court of Aranda foresaw great immigration and a chance for developing art and literature. It expected the United States to be a free and stable country.

"Spain had a reaction to the U.S. Constitution. It had great sympathy and hope for the future of the U.S.

"He (Julian Marias) looks at the consequences of transplanting a culture. We transplanted an entire culture in America," Raley said, referring to the first European colonies. "The Hispanic worlds had pre-existing cultures. When the cultures were grafted, differences evolved as a result."

History professor Stanley Payne from the University of Wisconsin will deliver the keynote speech at 8:30 tonight entitled, "American Empire and Domestic Modernization in Eighteenth-Century Spain."

UH Spanish professor Nicolas Kanellos, publisher of Arte Publico Press, will speak at 2 p.m. today on his multi-million dollar project, "Recovering the Hispanic Literary and Historical Heritage of the United States."

"This is a large, national project," Kanellos said, "to locate all historical documents and Spanish literature, making them accessible and preserving them." Research material comes not only from the United States and UH's Arte Publico, but also from Mexico, Puerto Rico and Spain.

"A couple years ago, I approached the Rockefeller Foundation with the proposal ... They gave us $10,000 with which we pulled the staff together." The project is expected to take 10 years to complete at a cost of $20 million. The Rockefeller Foundation has pledged $2.7 million so far.

UH assistant history professor Susan Kellogg's speech at 8:30 a.m. Saturday is "Early and Late, Center and Periphery: Spain in the Americas, 1492-1820."

The symposium ends at noon Saturday.






The UH System Board of Regents took steps at its April 22 meeting to continue the university's expansion plans.

Regents gave the go-ahead to spend $255,000 to purchase properties on Calhoun Road and Wheeler Street and $85,000 to acquire land near Elgin Boulevard. The purchases were part of an ongoing plan to improve and enlarge the university.

Renee Block, assistant director of Real Estate and Risk Management for UH System Facilities Planning and Construction, said UH is actively purchasing property adjacent to and near the campus as part of the plan.

"We recently acquired five properties along Wheeler, and we're in the process of buying 36 residential properties in the Elgin Triangle, an area bordered by Elgin, Scott, Cullen and Holman," Block said. "We hope to have purchased all of it by October.

"If the (Texas Higher Education) Coordinating Board approves it, we would also like to purchase, over the longer term, some properties around the campus which would develop more insulation from the criminal element in the area," Block said. "We're working on cleaning up the campus neighborhood and making the surrounding area more secure."

UH also is trying to purchase the Pizza Hut and Rother's Bookstore properties on Calhoun, the only commercial property UH does not own in that area.

"And we're doing some face-lifts to improve the appearance of the commercial properties we do own," Block said. "For example, UH owns the Black-Eyed Pea property, and it will have new awnings and some parking-lot improvements soon."

Block said she has had calls from developers looking at building grocery stores and restaurants in the area, but studies have shown there is not enough interest to yet warrant such development.

"When the university's six-year master plan is updated for 1993, we can take another look at where we want to go. The property around the university could be used for a green-belt zone, or it could be commercially developed," Block said. "You have to look at where you are and where you want to be and what kind of university you want to be."

Ernie Arwell, executive director of the Dowling Area Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization involved in rejuvenation projects in the Third Ward, said UH and Texas Southern University are the only real developers in the community.

"TSU just built an apartment complex for student and staff housing," Atwell said. "It was a tremendous boon to the area, both in terms of jobs and because the new construction displaced a long-vacant building where three people had been found killed in the last 18 months.

"The new housing UH built also helped the neighborhood," Atwell said. "The people who have lived here for years are thrilled with it, not just for economic reasons but also because it beautifies the area."

Mashid "Shishi" Ahmadi, director of Architectural Engineering at TSU, said the neighborhood around the universities has "a lot of potential" even though the commercial community is generally poor.

"Even without a lot of financial resources, we can still play an active role in developing this community," Ahmadi said. "For example, TSU has educational outreach programs like our family-planning center that deal with the social development of the people in this neighborhood."

Ahmadi said the ethnic make-up of TSU may have something to do with its willingness to look at itself as a part of the surrounding community rather than just a "financial institution."






We are living in a recession. Workers are losing their jobs every day. Times are extremely tough. People are just watching out for themselves. Nobody has the time or money to help their fellow man.

If this is true, someone forgot to tell Laccarda Williams.

Williams, who graduated in 1986 from UH with a degree in finance, has donated $500 of his own money in the form of a scholarship for students in the School of Business.

"I felt the need to serve as an inspiration to other UH alumni so that they would follow my lead and also donate scholarship money," Williams said, when asked why he decided to set up the scholarship.

The name of the scholarship is the Laccarda Williams Grade Improvement Scholarship, and it will be implemented this fall. All accounting, finance or management information system majors are eligible if enrolled in the College of Business and have a minimum GPA of 2.5.

"I think Mr. Williams is setting a wonderful example for other alumni," said David Doll, president of the College of Business Alumni Association.

When an alumnus donates time or money, it seems to encourage other alumni to do the same. It becomes a win-win situation for the alumni and the school, Doll said.

Williams, 31, is currently a staff accountant for the Small Business Development Center. The SBDC works with small-business owners and offers them advice and counseling, Williams said.

When he was a student at UH, he founded the Young Entrepreneur Society and was a member of the finance organization.

"I wasn't the best student," Williams said, "but I was internally motivated to make something of myself."

Williams also serves as a mentor for the mentor program at UH.






Choreographer, writer, director, dancer and teacher David Rousseve will be performing with his dance company REALITY on campus at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Cullen Performance Hall.

Rousseve, a native Houstonian and Princeton graduate, is the leader of REALITY, the dance company he founded in 1986. Performances by the company incorporate Rousseve's Creole background with elements of contemporary African-American life.

Some of their multimedia performances, such as Pull Your Head to the Moon ... Tales of Creole Women (1989) and Pighead in the Dining Room: Creoles, Civil Rights, and Blood Sausage (1987 and 1988) combine text and video with the dance routines.

Rousseve also collaborated with filmmaker Mollie Davies on Mana Goes to the Moon (1990) and with a visual artist on Silent Years (1986).

Saturday's performance is Colored Children Flyin' By. This piece, first performed in New York City two years ago, is part of a six-part series chronicling the lives of Rousseve's grandparents, John and Thelma Arceneaux.

Rousseve has been honored with awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ford Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts and other institutions.

He is currently a member of the faculty at Princeton University.

Tickets for Saturday's performance are $10 for the general public and $9 for DiverseWorks members and UH students. For more information, call DiverseBooks at 228-0914.

The event is co-sponsored by DiverseWorks Artspace, The Houston International Festival, Kuumba House, Several Dancers Core, the UH Dance Department and the National Performance Network.






No matter how much dazzling scenery, difficult stunts or hard bodies are put into a movie, if the script is bad, the movie will be, also.

is the perfect example of a good movie-idea massacred by a bad script. The plot is so bad, if the actors had no lines, the movie would have been better.

It seems as if the producers wanted to make a movie that would do for mountain-climbing what Point Break did for skydiving. Unfortunately, their attempt failed miserably.

The movie begins with Taylor Brooks (Michael Biehn) and Harold Jamison (Matt Craven) scurrying up

the side of a mountain faster than lizards on a hot rock. The two meet up with a group of climbers who are going to the top to check out their gear for a future expedition, so Taylor and Harold join them on the way up.

As luck would have it, two from the six-member team they join are killed in an avalanche, and Taylor and Harold join the group on an expedition to climb the second-highest and most difficult mountain in the world, K2.

When they arrive at K2, the team is plagued with problems from the beginning.

The porters they hire re-nig on their deal to carry supplies up the mountain, one member never quite adjusts to the elevation and two more members die.

The cheeziest scene in the movie has to be when Taylor and another member of the team (chez Sparticus) are taking a Japanese bath when the porters decide to abandon the expedition for good. Taylor jumps out of the bath, moons the camera and rushes to stop the porters from leaving.

Biehn has the starring role in this would-be thriller and could have pulled off the job of carrying the cast had the script been better-written. Instead, he ends up looking like a neanderthal in Wayfayers and snow boots.

It's too bad this actor cannot seem to find parts better-suited for him. Maybe he should go ask James Cameron to hurry up and write the third movie for the Terminator series and bring his character back to life. (Hey, it's science fiction; anything can happen.)

The only people who would like K2 are mountain-climbing buffs, so everybody else save your money and wait for the video.






Students planning to attend graduate school may soon find taking the Graduate Record Examination's general test (GRE) a little easier and a lot more convenient.

The Educational Testing Service, who administers the examination, will be releasing a computerized version of the test in October.

"We are one of the four sites in the nation for pilot-testing the computerized GRE," said Patrick Daniel, associate director of counseling and testing at UH.

Students who have recently taken the paper version of the GRE are being asked to return to take the computerized version. The test scores from both are then compared to determine differences.

The UH counseling and testing center already has five of the computers necessary to administer the test, but expects to eventually have 20 or 30, Daniel said.

"I think it's a great idea," said Jennifer Swantkowski, a senior psychology major planning to take the GRE. "One of the biggest problems with this kind of test is that you are easily distracted. I think a computerized version will hold your attention."

The current GRE costs $45; the computerized version will cost $90. Students will still send in their money to the Educational Testing Service, but they will receive a certificate and can then make an appointment to take the test at their convenience.

The current test is only offered five times a year on a nationally set date.

"It will be very flexible and convenient for students," Daniel said. "It will be available any time we decide to give it, depending on what days we are open and our office hours."

Another plus to the computerized version is that test scores will be returned to the student in 15 days rather than four to seven weeks.

One drawback is that the new version may slow some students by forcing them to figure out problems on scratch paper and transfer their answers to the computer.

Students will still have three-and- a-half hours to take the test, 30 minutes for each section, but there is a difference in procedure.

"Taking the paper version, when you finish a section you cannot go on to the next section until the 30 minutes is up," said a spokesperson for the Educational Testing Service.

"With the computerized version, if you finish early, you have the option of going back and reviewing the section or going on to the next one, regardless of whether or not the 30 minutes is over."


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