KING OF HALLOWEENTOWN

by Devor M. Barton

Contributing Writer

With Tim Burton’s enjoyable <I>The Nightmare Before Christmas<P>, Walt Disney takes the lead in the field of stop-action animation.

Tim Burton, the producer of this film (<I>Batman<P>, <I>Beetlejuice<P>, <I>Edward Scissorhands<P>), began as an animator for Disney. Burton based the story and characters on ideas he created over a decade ago, but due to his recent commercial success, Disney finally took a chance on the project.

<I>The Nightmare Before Christmas<P> is about the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington, who is responsible for the proper terrifying success of Halloween each year.

After one Halloween, Jack reaches burn-out. In a night of introspection with his ghost dog Zero, Jack wanders aimlessly through the local forest, finally reaching a grove of trees sporting doorways to particular holiday lands.

Enchanted by a colorful Christmas tree, Jack finds himself in Christmastown, which appears to be just the change the king is searching for.

What follows is Jack’s attempt to capture the spirit of Christmas for himself and his townfolk. Unfortunately, they are all too accustomed to scaring people to adjust to a new concept, resulting in genuinely amusing and effectively emotional situations.

It’s hard to tell if this is a children’s movie or not. There’s a good reason the movie is being released before Halloween and not with all the standard holiday features: it’s terrifying nature will make it more successful as October fare.

Although its animation style is similar to certain popular Christmas specials, it very likely will frighten young children, with scenes like demented trick-or-treaters feeding "Santy Claws" to the Boogey Monster. Of course, if a kid made it through <I>Jurassic Park<P> without any difficulties, he or she should have no problem with <I>Nightmare<P>.

The music, written by Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo, is a bit too childish for anything but little kids. Elfman is also an associate producer, and does the singing voice of Jack Skellington and the voices of a couple other characters.

Other voices are done by Paul Reubens (best remembered as Pee Wee Herman), Chris Sarandon as Jack, and Catherine O’Hara (she of <I>SCTV<P> and the <I>Home Alone<P> films), who gives life to a rag doll named Sally, the love interest of the film

Above everything else, what <I>Nightmare<P> has going for it is that it has <B>the<P> greatest animation ever seen. It’s so smooth and well-done, they may be monsters, but they look absolutely real.

To keep adult interest, the film is a lot deeper than one would suspect. When the Pumpkin King presents the idea of Christmas to his citizens, he is confronted with the resistance from a thick-headed, single-minded populace that all leaders must face, and the depiction of the different towns fully captures the ideal spirit of the representative holidays.

<I>Nightmare<P>’s target audience may be questionable, but every audience should love it.

 

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BUDGET AX STILL SWINGING

by Rivka Gewirtz

Daily Cougar Staff

While the state budget ax did not cut UH as deeply as feared, the university still faces a large loss of funds that is impacting administrative decision making.

Provost Glenn Aumann met with the Undergraduate Council Wednesday to answer questions about professor evaluation and faculty workload.

Aumann said that the loss of funds and the possibility of greater losses in the next legislative session will effect decisions on faculty workload and professor evaluation.

Although Aumann has been asked to form a committee to review faculty workload, he does not think the committee would be relevant during times of severe budget cuts.

He said that it would be "premature to work on this thing" and that the committee should be "set aside" for now.

"The budget is going to drive how you spend your time," said Aumann, adding that few professors can be hired for tenure track positions.

He said that in 1995 a smaller number of professors will be teaching students.

Complaints about an unequal amount of classes and number of students per professor have been made in the past. Some professors say they have suffered from class and student overload.

Professor of Engineering John Hunsucker said that, even in times of financial trouble, a budget should not guide a university's mission.

"I figure out where I am going, why I am going and then I ask; 'do I have the money for this?" he said.

In the last legislative session UH was facing up to $20 million dollars in budget cuts, but was only hit by $8.5 million in losses. According to Rep. Garnett Coleman, D-Houston, UH lost less due to a legislative "hold harmless" clause that went into effect because the institution was losing significantly more than other Texas universities.

Aumann said that UH could face full budget cuts in the next biennium because the "hold-harmless" will not be granted again.

"If we don't do something different, we will go into 1995 with at least $4 million down. The number of students enrolled are down," he said.

UH President James Pickering agreed with Aumann's view of the budget in September's "State of the University Address," when he said that formula funding, a process in which the state decides institutional funding, looks bad for UH in the next biennium.

While Aumann said that it is premature to study faculty workload, he said that there is a committee that is reviewing professor evaluations. He said that most in-class review is done by students, who sometimes can not evaluate thoroughly.

 

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CHU CONTINUES TO SET RECORDS, MAKE HISTORY

by Annette Baird

Daily Cougar Staff

Paul Chu arrived in the United States from Tawain 27 years ago. He said he considered the move a golden opportunity, an opportunity of which he took full advantage.

Following his undergraduate work at Chengkung University in Taiwan, Chu studied for his Ph.D. at the University of California San Diego. He came to UH in 1979 as professor of physics. In 1987, the Texas Center for Superconductivity UH was created, and Chu was appointed director.

While a graduate student, he began investigating superconductivity under the guidance of his mentor, the late Bernd Matthias. "(Matthias) was the giant in superconductivity. He was always the record holder for raising the temperatures of superconductors." And like his mentor, Chu and his UH team now hold the record.

Lately, the temperature of superconductors has been raised to unprecedented heights. "Actually, about a week ago, we raised the temperature to 164(degrees Kelvin). That's really news," Chu said of his latest, as yet unpublished, discovery.

Over the last seven years, the temperature of superconductors went from 23K ( -418F) in 1986 to the present 164K (-263 F). In 1987, Chu and his team raised the temperature to 93K (-292F). With fierce competition from other groups around the world, Chu stays ahead for the moment.

The Kelvin scale is a temperature measurement favored by physicists. To put some perspective on the temperatures, a hot day in Texas is around 310K (99F). Water freezes at 273K (32F).

"We have raised the temperature by improving the compound used for superconductors and by applying high pressure to the material," Chu said. The revised compound is mercury-based, with the addition of barium, calcium and copper oxide.

Just what is a superconductor? It is a material that when cooled below a certain temperature will suddenly lose its electrical resistance.

At the moment, the compound, which looks like pieces of black rock, can only be made in minute amounts in the laboratories. Chu said the challenge for scientists is to make large scale production of superconductors into a practical form. Although far from finding a commercially viable superconductor, the technological implications are enormous, Chu said. "We have two goals; one is scientific, and the other is technological."

Finding the mechanism responsible for the increasingly high temperatures of superconductors is important for Chu. "There is no theory that can explain it at this moment. It is very exciting to find out why it happens," Chu said.

Technologically, Chu said many potential applications for superconductors have been proposed and even more applications will be possible as the temperatures get higher. Transmitting electricity over long distances without losing energy is one possibility. "For example, U.S. utilities companies lose tens of billions of dollars every year, because energy is lost when electricity is transmitted through the cables," Chu said.

The Superconductor Quantum Interence Device (SQUID), an ultra-sensitive detector, has already been in use to detect magnetic signals coming from our brain and our heart. Even more fantastic, superconductors have the ability to levitate trains because of their magnetic properties.

Chu credits the progress in his work to a great team. He mentions them by name and tells of their achievements and their contributions to the program.

Chu's pride in his team is echoed. "He is one unique guy. He cares about the people around him," said Jeffrey Clayhold about Chu. "His scientific input is what makes this place. He has a nose for where discoveries are going to be made ," said Clayhold, an assistant research professor.

 

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UH HAS CLASS, RAIN OR SHINE

by Karen Snelling

Daily Cougar Staff

Imagine sitting in a car, the rain pounding down. All attempts to drive are a joke because the sky is dumping buckets of water onto the roads turning them into instant rivers.

You've become a prisoner. Suddenly you feel water seeping through your shoes and socks, chilling your toes. You look down to see water rising up to your seat. It's time to bail out.

Abandoning your vehicle, you wade through water almost up to your hips – unless you're under 5 feet two inches, and then your hips are soaked.

You trudge to the nearest phone. If fate smiles upon you, you get a ride home and a change of clothes. If not, you proceed to your next destination, wet and cold. Either way, you pray that your car is salvageable and that you can get to it before a towing service does.

On Wednesday, many Houstonians experienced similar horror stories when an unexpected seven inches of rain fell in several parts of the city.

Many UH students with morning classes found themselves stuck on campus, while those arriving in the afternoon were late.

However, UH didn't close evening classes. The campus remained open because although slow going, many roads to the school were accessible, said Wendy Adair, associate vice president of Media Relations.

Students could get to UH via the Cullen and Calhoun exits off of I—45 headed south as well as McGregor.

The only impassible road was the underpass at Elgin leading to Cullen and Calhoun.

Adair said when weather threatens UH, UHPD monitors the roads and makes recommendations to President Pickering whether to close the campus.

"Road accessibility is a major factor determining whether the campus is closed," Adair said.

The president also considers advice from various environmental services and looks to see what other campuses are doing, she said.

"On Wednesday, UH Downtown was accessible so it remained open, but UH Clear Lake was flooded out so it remained closed," she said.

Despite Wednesday's dampening effect, the National Weather Service said the heavy rains have most likely brought an end to this year's 90 degree highs. Soon Houstonians might be reminded what fall weather really feels like.

 

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RAIN WON'T WASH OUT INTRAMURALS

by Ryan Carssow

Daily Cougar Staff

Despite the recent flooding rain, intramural flag football will march on through the muck this weekend.

"We're playing," said intramural director Mark Kuhlmann. "It's supposed to clear up this weekend, but we can even play in some rain if we need to."

The regular season concludes with this weekend's games. For teams vying for a playoff position, Saturday and Sunday represent their final chance to impress the Advisory Board.

The board, comprised of intramural team managers, will determine the playoff format and the number of wild-card positions available.

The top two teams from each division and all undefeated teams have automatic playoff bids. The Advisory Board determines the remaining positions.

"We make some strong suggestions to them," Kuhlmann said. "They also get feedback from other managers and the polls. It may depend on how many playoff spots they need to fill a bracket."

Teams with 3-1 and 2-2 records are on the bubble. Most of these teams must win this weekend to even be considered for the postseason.

* * * * * *

Intramural Soccer enters its second week with three matchups between undefeated teams. Dragons vs. MEUGHS, Arab vs. Foreign Legion and AlChE vs. International Alliance pit the unbeatens in what should be a sloppy, wet affair.

AEPi, Misfits and Delta Upsilon are also undefeated.

 

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COUGARS VOLLEYBALL SQUAD TO BATTLE FIRST PLACE TEXAS

Cougar Sports Service

The Houston Cougar volleyball team will face the Southwest Conference-leading Texas Longhorns at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Rec-Sports Center at Austin.

Texas enters the match with a 16-2 overall record, including a perfect 6-0 in the SWC. Texas head coach Mick Haley has his team poised to make a run at another title.

Houston head coach Bill Walton's Cougars sport a 7-12 record, including 3-3 in the conference, and are tied for third in the SWC. The Cougars are coming off a much-needed victory against the third-place Baylor Bears Wednesday night.

Junior outside hitter Lilly Denoon leads the Cougars with 263 kills this season and averages 3.87 kills per game.

 

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GALAS SQUARES OFF WITH AIDS

by shane patrick boyle

Daily Cougar Staff

"(If I were going to be in a movie) I would probably play a mean-spirited serial killer, because I think it's about they had someone in this role who's not a femme fatale," said vocalist Diamanda Galás who will be performing at 8 p.m. tonight at Cullen Theater in the Wortham Center.

Galás has no plans to become an actor, but her voice occasionally finds its way into films, as it has with Derek Jarman, Rosa Von Praunheim, Wes Craven and Francis Ford Coppola. Anyone who has seen <I>A Serpent And The Rainbow<P> or <I>Bram Stoker's Dracula<P> has heard her voice.

Casting of her voice in these films about the undead is quite appropriate considering her persona. Dubbed the Angel of Death, Galás makes piercing, confrontational music crying out in three and a half octaves of vengeance.

AIDS is the cause she said she will always be involved in as musician and activist. Her current work, <I>Vena Cava<P>, deals with AIDS-related issues.

The Angel of Death's future musical efforts include an adaptation of <I>Caligula<P> and her own work, <I>Insekta<P>, about extreme isolation and chemical and biological warfare. Galás said she looks forward to getting involved ACT UP-New York again.

On the subject of the future of activism in Bill Clinton's America, she said there is a tendency for activists to slack off when there is someone in office who seems to be doing something about AIDS.

"As soon as we (activists) go to sleep, they (politicians) go to sleep," she said, emphasizing the need for constant vigilance.

Galás said she respects a cappella performer Michael Callan for the work he has done for AIDS, "even though musically we couldn't be more different."

She is skeptical, however, of most AIDS benefits featuring popular performers. She said they are fine if the money actually goes to helping people with AIDS, but many people "use timely concerns of the population to make money."

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