PERFECT WORLD NEAR-PERFECT AS IT GETS

 

Starring: Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood

Director: Clint Eastwood

by Glenn R. Wilson Jr.

Daily Cougar Staff

Every once in a while, Hollywood surprises you. Just when you think you know exactly what to expect they spring <I>A Perfect World<P> on you.

<I>World<P> is director Clint Eastwood's follow-up to his Academy Award-winning <I>Unforgiven<P>, which would also fit into the category of a pleasant surprise.

<I>A Perfect World<P> stars Kevin Costner as Butch Haynes, a prison inmate in Huntsville who escapes along with another prisoner.

While making their getaway, the other inmate breaks in on a mother making breakfast for her family and gets both himself and Haynes into all sorts of trouble.

They are forced to take a hostage to help with this second escape and Haynes chooses the mother's young son, Phillip.

This is where the movie could have gone Hollywood and turned into just another manhunt-across-Texas movie, instead it focuses on the relationship between Haynes and his young hostage.

This is not an escape film, it’s a buddy film. Both characters look out for each other and develop a real friendship based on a common background.

Haynes has a deadbeat father who ran out on him twice when he was younger. Phillip has never known his father, but hangs on to his mother's promise that someday he will come back to the family.

Their friendship grows stronger as Haynes begins to allow Phillip the opportunity to take part in activities his religion had prevented him from doing (Phillip is a Jehovah's Witness).

Haynes allows Phillip to dress up for Halloween and go trick-or-treating, even though it is a day late. He straps the boy to the hood of a car and shows him what a roller-coaster feels like. Haynes gives Phillip all the things that a growing boy should have the chance to do.

All of which would be idyllic if it weren't for the fact that Haynes is still on the run from the law. Eastwood plays the Texas Ranger hot on his trail.

The performances are all right on the money but special praise goes to Costner who brings just the right mixture of guilt and innocence to Butch Haynes.

Despite its overwhelmingly decent message about friendship, the film never apologizes for the Costner character. He is bad –often for no reason.

And here is where Eastwood deserves special credit.

The tendency among most directors in Hollywood is if you have to make a big star the bad guy, make his character sympathetic. But as he has for most of his career, Eastwood steers clear of the formula and goes on to produce one of the best films in recent memory.

 

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BIG SWITCH

President takes Vivarin, coffee,

notes from winner

by Stori Carpenter

News Reporter

UH President James Pickering gave up his title and briefcase Wednesday in exchange for a student's backpack and a few survival tips from Pat Brown, a senior marketing major, vice president of the Students' Association and winner of the Big Switch contest.

The Student Foundation, sponsor of the event, sold holiday theme cups that made purchasers eligible to enter the drawing.

Pickering agreed to switch places with a student for one day to experience first-hand what students go through while the winner played president.

Before the day's event started, the two participants exchanged the equipment needed to survive their temporary role reversal.

Brown gave his rusty counterpart a backpack along with a bottle of Vivarin to help him stay awake, Visine to keep the red out and keep him looking sharp and a list of useful note-taking tips.

As Pickering departed from his familiar surroundings he promised to take good notes for Brown. "I'll have to take good notes because Brown has a test and I would hate to have that monkey on my back if he failed," Pickering said.

Inside Pickering's briefcase was antacid for his frequent stomach aches, Excedrin to ease the accompanying headaches and a copy of <I>The Law and Higher Education <P> to handle the numerous law suits brought to his office, Pickering said.

When Brown eased into the large brown, leather, presidential chair behind the president's paper-littered desk, he asked what to do with the mess in front of him.

Pickering said, "Do what I do: First stack the papers on one side of the desk, when that side is full, move them to the other side, when the entire desk is full, then you can either give them to the secretary to file or place them in the wastebasket."

After trading places, Pickering headed to the University Center game room to play a few video games before going to Brown's classes.

"I wasn't too sure how to work any of the computerized games, and I forgot how to operate the pinball machine," he said, after an onlooker showed him how to use it.

While Pickering attended marketing classes and tried to keep track of his backpack, Brown met with six of the top campus administrators.

Brown said, "This can be a hairy job, because you never know who is going to want something next."

His most challenging question during the day was asked by Acting Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Glenn Aumann.

"(Aumann) wanted to know how to keep an outstanding faculty member who has a high market value on staff. And 'if you do keep him, how would you justify his salary to other faculty members,'" Brown said. "I had no idea."

Pickering agreed that similar difficult questions arise every day. "It's the president (that) people call on for all the answers, but sometimes you just don't have them," said Pickering.

Pickering said he realized several things during his experiences as a student, which proved that even though he wore tennis shoes and carried a backpack, he never took off his president's cap.

He said the coffee at the American Cafe was the best he ever had.

He said the students in the classes he attended were wonderful, and he enjoyed listening to the interaction between the students and the professor.

He said the professors were excellent at delivering information by using real-life examples.

 

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VP UNLOADS THOUSANDS ON OFFICE REMODELING

by Annette Baird

Daily Cougar Staff

New doors, drapes, marble floor tile, coffee bar and carpet were all part of the more than $17,000 deal for renovating the office suite of Vice President of Student Affairs Elwyn Lee.

Because Lee is in charge of a maintenance division and because renovations were needed to the Moody Towers restaurant at the same time, Lee was able to bootstrap his office renovation to the work done on Moody Towers.

"Dr. Lee's situation is unique. If you have a maintenance division under you, you're going to use it," said Ahmed Kashani, assistant director of Residential Life and Housing. "Maybe (Lee) took a short cut. Everyone was aware of it. When work slowed down in Moody Towers we came to Dr. Lee's office to work on it."

Lee said he wanted to improve the utility and efficiency of the office. "We could have gone another year with the office the way it was. You'd think it looked nice. But we decided to take advantage of the Moody Towers renovation," Lee said.

"Ordinarily we use the physical plant outside the residence halls. We didn't think they would do what we wanted them to do," Lee said.

"The money was wisely spent. We saved a lot of money because we were doing things in-house," Kashani said. "Dr. Lee's whole concern was not to do something extravagant. Traffic flow was improved. (The renovation) was cost efficient and durable," Kashani added.

Problems with the carpet puckering, moisture, noise and traffic flow prompted the office renovation.

Marble tiling covers the area between offices because, Lee said, moisture collects in that area. Duraplex cover the walls because it is better able to withstand moisture, although the ceiling still leaks. Two new doors were put in to cut down on inter-office noise.

Lee said the office is really functional now. "It look's glitzy, but it's utilitarian."

Lee approved the budget for the renovation. He said the residence hall's budget is more than $10 million per year, and $17,000 is not so much, especially with what they got for the money.

Professor Martin Adams disagrees. He runs the Communication Disorders program, which is trying to locate space so the program is not phased out when its current housing -- the South Office Annex -- is torn down.

"I think it's horribly bad timing. I don't care how the vice president managed to get money for the renovation, he ought to walk around the campus and look around at the inhospitable conditions that some faculty have to work in," said Adams, suggesting Lee should start with the South Office Annex.

Lee said "this is not my office. It's the university's office. A large proportion of this job is sharing and collaborating."

The money Lee used to renovate came from what's called Leger 3 money, said Geri Koniksberg, director of Media Relations. Leger 3 money comes from generated revenue, such as Moody Towers and the University Center.

Records at the Physical Plant show the last time the office was renovated was in 1984, according to Holly Sterneckert, associate vice president for Plant and Operations.

However, Adrienne Peck, Lee's business manager until about a month ago, said she remembered the carpet was replaced three or four years ago because it was a safety issue. Officials were unable to locate records for the carpet purchase.

"It is not my impression that it was redone," said Lee. "I'm ignorant of that. I'm not aware of any rule that says how often you should get your office done. It's common sense. You can't renovate on a whim."

Sterneckert said with procedures for projects under $300,000, the Physical Plant makes an assessment on whether to do it internally. If it is done internally, there is no bidding process. When it comes through a department, the department transfers the required amount of money. "We set up a project account."

 

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CLINICS HAVE NATIONAL SCOPE

by Ambir Davis

Contributing Writer

Houston currently holds the fifth position among cities in the United States for the highest number of reported AIDS cases, according to the Design Industries Foundation for AIDS (DIFFA).

Despite intense research around the country, doctors have yet to uncover a cure for Human Immune deficiency Virus (HIV); the virus recognized as the primary agent of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Many drugs, and combinations of drugs, are currently being tested at hospitals and universities throughout the country. Houston is among those cities contributing to the research in hopes of finding a cure. DIFFA recently donated almost $24,000 to the Houston Clinical Research Network for medical equipment needed to conduct local clinical trials.

According to the HIV Clinical Research Directory, the Houston Clinical Research Network is currently conducting three primary therapies and 24 various studies involving individuals who have HIV and AIDS-related infections and conditions.

The Thomas Street Clinic, exclusively for poverty stricken Harris County residents with HIV and AIDS, is also conducting clinical trials. Susan Von Blon, senior project coordinator of the clinic, says, "We've got something like 28 (trials) on going right now. Most are two year studies. That's usually the standard."

The Thomas Street Clinic was established in May, 1989, and was the first HIV out patient facility in Texas. Currently the clinic treats about 3,700 people.

Carolyn Barrett, clinic director, says people should be tested for HIV every six months. "The incubation period (for HIV) is three to five years. A negative test does not mean that you should breathe a sigh of relief."

According to the Bulletin of Experimental Treatments for AIDS (BETA), one of the primary targets of HIV are T-lymphocytes. These are more commonly known as T-helper cells. As the virus advances, the T-helper cells begin to deplete. This leads to serious deficiency of the immune system.

Dr. William Lang at Zirx Hospital in San Francisco, Calif., says, "The medical community at large judges the degree, or stage of the disease by the T-cell count." When an individual's cell count falls below a given number, a physician may decide to administer medical treatment.

Dr. Lang advises, "When (HIV is) detected early on, people who have between 500 and 200 helper cells can begin using AZT (azidothymidine), or a combination of AZT and ddI (dideoxyinosine), or AZT and ddC (dideoxycytodine). This probably gives them an advantage. Using combinations of drugs, when the cell count drops, is an alternative to managing HIV and AIDS."

AZT is the most common drug used to treat the HIV virus. Recently, it has become the subject of controversy. The results of a three year European study known as the Concorde AZT Trial, published in BETA, indicate that there is no benefit from early AZT treatment in individuals who are HIV positive.

Dr. Lang says this study does not prove AZT is an ineffective treatment. "It only tells me that AZT to the HIV infection, is not like penicillin to pneumonia."

Von Blon agrees with Dr. Lang. "I think you have to consider individual patient response. Everybody's body is so different. Some people respond well, and some don't."

Barrett adds, "It depends on the condition of the patient...if they begin treatment when they are malnourished, or if they are using drugs and alcohol, they may not have the same success. We've had good successes, and some have been horrible."

The treatments for HIV and AIDS not only achieve inconsistent results, but many also cause undesirable side effects. AZT often causes myopathy, which BETA defines as an abnormality, or disease of the muscle. Both ddI and ddC cause peripheral neuropathy. This is a disorder of the nerves characterized by a numbing, tingling, or burning sensation of the feet, hands, legs and arms. It may also result in sharp pains, and weakened reflexes.

Despite the fact there is no cure, and the drugs used to treat HIV and AIDS often achieve inconsistent results with various side effects, Von Blon says that it helps patients to know they are receiving some treatment. "It makes the patient feel better. I don't mean to sound like Mary Poppins, but a positive attitude really helps. When you take the proactive approach, you do so much better."

Barrett adds, "There is no cure, but many of the treatments improve quality, and quantity of life."

According to BETA, AZT is the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the initial treatment of HIV. Von Blon and Barrett were in agreement that ddC has just recently been approved as a combination therapy. Barrett says many doctors are using drugs that are effective treatments, but have yet to be approved. "By the time you go through all the red tape of getting a drug approved, it sounds horrible, but, the patient might be dead."

Von Blon advises students to be careful. "You can't tell people not to have sex, because that's not realistic. Just practice safe sex, and get tested (for HIV) early." Von Blon explains that safe sex means no unprotected sex.

Barrett says that abstinence is always best. However, those individuals who wish to lead active sex lives should use latex condoms every time.

Barrett also says Thomas Street Clinic needs the community's help. Anyone interested in volunteering their time should contact Jean Bennett at 546-5737.

 

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ORIGIN OF AIDS: A THEORY

by shane patrick boyle

Daily Cougar Staff

The AIDS pandemic continues to grow every year, but the origin of the virus is still a mystery. Many theories have been posited, but none have been proven.

One of the more highly publicized and highly criticized theories was popularized by a local writer.

The theory, presented in a March 1992 Rolling Stone article by Tom Curtis, a Houston-based freelance writer and a former senior editor of Texas Monthly is that that the virus was transmitted through polio vaccines cultured in monkey kidney tissues and administered in Africa in 1957.

AIDS was officially recognized in the United States in June, 1981, but has been traced to the Congo region of Africa as early as 1959.

In 1985, scientists discovered a virus similar to the Human Immune-deficiency Virus in African monkeys. Since then, most theories have been based on the premise that the Simian Immune-deficiency Virus was somehow transmitted to humans and evolved into HIV.

Theories have attributed the transmission to an African ritual involving the introduction of monkey blood to thighs and pubic areas, monkey bites and the eating of poorly cooked monkey meat.

The cut-hunter theory, which originated with prominent AIDS researcher Robert Gallo, suggests that a hunter was cut in the process of skinning a monkey and the monkey's blood entered the open wound.

Another theory presented in <I>Nature<P> suggests the cause was a malaria experiment involving the injection of monkey blood, conducted in Africa between 1922 and 1955.

Curtis said in an interview that all these theories are "possible" but they do not involve enough people to account for AIDS becoming as wide-spread as it is today.

He said the rituals and hunting have been going on for thousands of years, while AIDS is a recent disease.

In his article, he discredits the malaria experiment theory, because it involved approximately 70 people whereas the polio vaccine was administered to between 325,000 and 500,000 people from 1957 to 1960 in the area that is now Rwanda, Zaire and Burundi.

The hypothesis, however, did not originate with Curtis. It was suggested to him as a topic for an investigative report by Blaine Elswood, a San Francisco AIDS treatment activist who worked with "guerilla clinics" that use Di-Nitro Chloro Benzene, a drug not yet approved by the medical establishment. Elswood is not a doctor but has written for medical journals.

Curtis said he later learned that Louis Pascal, an independent scholar, formulated the same theory earlier and published a working paper with the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, a few months before the Rolling Stone article appeared.

Reaction to Curtis' article was mixed. The Wistar Institute, manufacturer of the polio vaccine in question, took the theory seriously enough to form a committee to look into it.

Some scientific journals gave serious consideration to the theory, but others treated it with skepticism. Science magazine lambasted Curtis and his research in an article published the same month as Curtis' article.

"(The magazine) couched it in terms of conspiracy theory," Curtis said.

Curtis acknowledged that the article's appearance in Rolling Stone affected the scientific community's response to the article.

"Undoubtedly, the fact that it appeared in Rolling Stone made it easy for people to denigrate it," Curtis said.

He added, however, that "prior to the time I wrote the article, (the theory) had not appeared in a scientific journal.

"It got a great deal more attention from doctors than it did previously," he said.

Curtis said there is another reason for reluctance to consider the theory. "The polio vaccine is a sacred cow of the medical establishment," he said.

He explained that the polio vaccine was one of the biggest successes of medicine "and it's very troubling for a lot of people to accept that there could be a dark side."

One of the responses to the article was a lawsuit filed by Dr. Hilary Koprowski, one of the vaccine's developers. Koprowski sued Curtis and Rolling Stone for defamation, but settled out of court.

Curtis said the intention of the article was not to place blame, and that the theory was presented as theory, not fact.

"If (transmission of AIDS through polio vaccines) happened, it was clearly not intentional," he said.

He added that there was no way of knowing about AIDS at the time. "If you don't know something exists, you can't test for it," he said.

Curtis said the suit had a "chilling effect." He said he was surprised that a scientist would try to silence discussion of a hypothesis.

Curtis continually pointed out that it is only a theory, but said it is a theory that needs to be tested.

Dr. Robert Bohannon, a molecular biologist at Baylor College of Medicine volunteered to test the theory if he could be provided with frozen samples of the vaccine either from the Food and Drug Administration or the Wistar Institute.

His recommended method of testing was a Polymerase Chain Reaction test which, he said, can detect any minute amounts of viruses and amplify their genetic codes.

"I'm willing to do it if they're willing to supply it," he said.

Bohannon said he contacted Congressman Tom Delay, of the 22nd District of Texas, for assistance in obtaining samples of the vaccine.

Delay sent the FDA a letter in July of this year regarding their "refusal to release poliovirus samples to (Bohannon)."

The FDA responded with a letter saying the samples they had were limited, and recommended contacting the Wistar Institute.

A spokesperson for Delay's office said Delay was not able to help Bohannon further, because Wistar is a private manufacturer and not affiliated with the government.

On Oct. 22, 1992, the seven-month-old Wistar Institute Advisory committee studying the theory issued a stattement on its final report.

The committee's report concluded that "almost every step in this hypothetical mode of transmission is problematic."

Reasons given were: "The concentration of SIV particles, if present at all, is likely to have been extremely low," "the chances of SIV or HIV being successfully transmitted through oral ingestion are extremely rare," "While HIV 2 is closely related to SIV, ... a retrovirus closely related to HIV 1 has never been in monkeys" and it is believed by experts that evolution of SIV into HIV 1 "was a long process, measurable more in decades or centuries than in a few years."

The report said "the most conclusive evidence refuting this origin of AIDS theory" is that the earliest documented HIV 1 case involved a merchant marine in Manchester, England, who died in 1959.

The man was known to have traveled to Africa in 1955 and returned by early 1957 before the polio vaccine trial in the Congo.

Curtis said, however, that the various AIDS origin theories are "not mutually exclusive."

He said, "There may have been multiple infections from multiple sources."

He also said that since the committee's study did not include a test of the vaccine, it was like "a jury coming to a verdict before the most important evidence is heard."

The committee did, however, recommend that testing should be conducted by or under supervision of the World Health Organization or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in order to "leave no stone unturned."

But almost two years after the publication of Curtis' article the test has still not been conducted.

Dr. Warren Cheston of Wistar said the CDC was contacted, and agreed to participate in the testing with the assistance of a laboratory independent of Wistar.

He said Wistar contacted six laboratories recommended by the WHO and the Wistar committee, but five declined and one is still considering the offer.

Cheston also said Wistar has only one sample that "may have been related to the Congo vaccine."

The Wistar committee concluded its report with the statement, "We are pessimistic that such testing, even if performed by the best labs using the most appropriate techniques, will produce conclusive results."

Meanwhile, the origin of AIDS still remains a mystery.

 

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MOMMA SAID THERE'D BE DAYS LIKE THIS

Spaniard follows maternal advice, trades soccer mud for pristine basketball

 

by Jason Paul Ramirez

Daily Cougar Staff

Angel Sanz never dreamed he would be where he is today.

And he owes it all to one-too-many dirty uniforms.

Last January, the 6-4 sophomore Cougar guard came to Houston from Madrid, Spain, with the hopes of getting a good education and making it on the basketball team.

And now that he has had almost a year to get acquainted with the American college atmo-sphere, Sanz can look back and wonder about what might have been.

"When I was younger, I used to play soccer all the time," he said. "Never did I think I was ever going to be playing basketball. But when I was thirteen, I used to come home with muddy soccer uniforms. My uniforms got muddy a lot.

"So after my mother got fed up of washing all of my dirty uniforms, she suggested that I try a cleaner sport.

"She thought I was tall and strong and then suggested that I play basketball."

The rest is history, so far.

Sanz admits that his parents were always looking out for his best interests when he was younger, even though the younger Sanz always had the last word.

"My parents gave me a lot of freedom. They never told me to do this or that," he said. "They always asked me first. It feels great knowing that I did things because I wanted to and not because they told me to."

But there was one thing his parents, particularly his mother, made Sanz do.

"My mom made me learn English," Sanz said.

As a youngster, Sanz attended an Irish pre-school where he was able to learn his native Spanish language and English at the same time.

However, Sanz's mother still felt like her son needed to spend more time with his English.

"After school, my mother made me work on my English for two hours a day. I didn't want to, but looking back, I'm glad I did."

Now, Sanz is glad to say that he owes everything he has to his parents.

"My mother took great care of me and my father never missed a game I played in Spain."

Unfortunately, Sanz's father has missed all the games his son has played in the United States.

"That is one of the only things I miss," Sanz said. "Everything here (in Houston) has been great except for the fact that my parents can not see me play.

"But I understand that it would be too expensive for them to make the trip to America."

His parents don't know what they're missing.

After basically sitting on the bench all of last season, Sanz has become a part of coach Alvin Brooks' guard rotation. He is averaging 14.5 minutes and 3.5 steals per game over the Cougars' first two regular season games.

"Angel is a player who provides depth at the second guard position," Brooks said. "He is also one of the hardest workers on the team."

If Sanz is to improve on his game in hopes of one day becoming a starter, he knows that he will definitely have to work.

"I'm still learning (the system) everyday. But unlike last year, I can be more active on the court," he said.

Sanz also hopes to be active in the classroom, which is the main reason he wanted to come to America.

"School is the most important thing," he said. "If I go back to Spain without a degree, my coming to Houston will have been a failure."

But whether he succeeds on the court or in the classroom, Sanz can be sure that he won't have a problem keeping his clothes clean.

 

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LADY COOGS TOP TIGERS 78-67

by Heather Ellis

Daily Cougar Staff

Freshman Pat Luckey scored a collegiate career high 29 points in the Lady Cougars' 78-67 romp over the Texas Southern Lady Tigers Wednesday night at the Health & Physical Education Arena.

Sandra Perkins, almost recovered from a knee injury, dumped an additional 18 points in the Cougar baskets, giving Houston the edge down the stretch.

"She will definitely see a lot of minutes," coach Jessie Kenlaw said in reference to Perkins. "She and Pat really did the job for us in the end."

After being down 38-33 at halftime, the Cougars rebounded in the second half, relying heavily on their inside game.

With 8:52 to go in the half, Luckey hit a jumper that brought the Cougars within one of TSU 53-52. Perkins missed a free throw, but Luckey picked up the offensive rebound and scored for two.

The dangerous missile for the Tigers was forward Kimberly Jeffery. Jeffery had 29 points and eight rebounds on the night.

Tiger coach Starr Williams has high hopes for Jeffery.

"I will do everything I can to make sure she will be noticed," Williams said. "She is one of the best kept secrets around."

It was no secret that the Cougars would finish out the game on a high note. Even though Houston shot just 14 of 40 from the field, their big guns came through in the end.

"I was not disappointed in the team tonight," coach Kenlaw said. "I am kind of hard to please, so I expect a lot out of them."

One thing Kenlaw does expect is for the press to stay strong and not let opponents slip by. The Tigers were able to capitalize on the Cougars' mistakes in the second half, shooting 50 percent from the field.

"I preach to them all of the time about defensive intensity," Kenlaw said. "Our bread and butter is our defense and we can't let other teams break our press."

The game proved to be a mini Cougar reunion of sorts with former Houston basketball players Craig Upchurch and Bo Outlaw showing up.

Outlaw, fresh from playing ball in Spain, came home to reacquaint himself with family and friends.

"I'm just here to see how everybody is doing," Outlaw said.

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