HOUSTON'S DREAM COME TRUE

by Marlene Yarborough

Contributing Writer

It has been eight years since the Boston Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets in the 1986 National Basketball Association Championship.

But this year, the Rockets, save Hakeem Olajuwon, have a completely different makeup as a team and their center, Olajuwon, has been named the NBA's Most Valuable Player.

Once the San Diego Rockets, the Houston Rockets have blasted off and fizzled out during the series with the New York Knicks.

Olajuwon, often referred to by his moniker, "the Dream," towers over most players at 7-feet tall. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria, where his father owns a prosperous concrete business. He is the third child of a middle-class family of five boys and one girl. Olajuwon is a devout believer in the Islamic faith.

Besides his skills as a shot-blocker, rebounder and scorer, Olajuwon is a collector of abstract art. He paints in oils for relaxation. With Houston architect John McGee, he helped design his own home, which lies on the outskirts of Houston.

He speaks English, French and four Nigerian dialects. In 1993, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He has one daughter, Abisola, whom he visits with once a month.

Olajuwon began playing basketball at 15. In 1980, a United States State Department employee, Chris Pond, arranged for Olajuwon to visit several United States college campuses.

When he enrolled at the University of Houston in 1980, he was incorrectly referred to as Akeem. In 1991, he wanted the correct Arabic spelling of his name–which means "doctor" or "wise one."

In his first season with the Houston Cougars, then-basketball coach Guy V. Lewis held Olajuwon back from competing to teach him the fundamentals of the game. "He didn't know how to post up. He had no turnaround shots. He could jump, but he didn't know when to jump or where to jump," said Lewis during a New York Times interview on April 4, 1983.

During his sophomore year, Olajuwon played with more control. He was the starting center for the Cougars. The team was nicknamed "Phi Slama Jama" or "Texas' tallest fraternity" in the 1982-83 season because of the above-the-rim style of Clyde "the Glide" Drexler, Larry Micheaux, Michael Young and Hakeem "the Dream" Olajuwon.

In 1983, Olajuwon was the first UH player to be named the Most Valuable Player of the NCAA Final Four. He again received the honor in 1984. In both of those seasons, Olajuwon topped the nation in blocked shots.

He decided to surpass his last year of college eligibility to enter the NBA. In the 1984 NBA draft, Olajuwon became the first Southwest Conference player to be the first selected in an NBA draft – he was chosen by the Houston Rockets over the talent of Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.

In his rookie year he lead the team to the play-offs. After many ups and downs, he assisted the Rockets in reaching the 1986 NBA Championship, in which they were defeated by the Boston Celtics in six games.

Now Houston is back, fighting the Knicks for the NBA Championship. This year the competition seems to be a duel, not only between the teams, but also the reprising of the match-up of Olajuwon and Knicks Center Patrick Ewing, an alumna of Georgetown.

 

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HONORS COLLEGE CHANGE RESIDENCE

by Tiffany Vaughner

Daily Cougar Staff

Although last semester's proposed move of the Honors College to Oberholzter Hall was deemed unpopular with many students and some faculty, the move is proceeding as planned.

Vice President of Student Affairs, Elwyn Lee, said a few details still needed to be ironed out, such as finding a place for the administrative staff of Residential Life and Housing, who will be displaced by the move.

The only change in the moving plan is the Exxon sponsored Scholars' Community move to Law Hall instead of the basement of the M.D. Anderson Library, where the Honors College is now situated. Students were originally told the reason for the Honors College move from the library was to make room for the Scholars' Community program.

Lee said the program would be moving into Law Hall instead of the library because it would allow the program to start in the Fall, as originally planned, and that the space in Law Hall would be easier to renovate if necessary.

Susan Coltharp, assistant director of Residential Life and Housing, was unavailable to comment on why moving plans have been changed.

Three hundred students will start the Scholars' Community program in September. Exxon donated $500,000 last semester and an additional $1.5 million will be raised from private companies and philanthropic donations.

The Honors College will be moved into rooms on the second and third floor of OB. The dorm houses about 34 students. When the move transpires, about eight to 10 students will have to find new homes.

The university might suffer a loss of revenues from programs cut out as a result of the move. According to the proposal made last semester, the university may lose $575,000 to summer guest losses and $31,600 to annual ballroom and sleeping-quarters rentals. These figures are considered "worst case scenarios" and depend on whether or not non-Honors events can be held in the multi-purpose programming space in OB (ballroom rooms 3A and 3B).

Last semester, Honors students were asked their opinion on the move and most disagreed with it. Those that disagreed said they thought the move would widen the rift between Honors and non-Honors students.

Others thought the move was simply a waste of money. Some students thought the Exxon program should be moved in to empty space in the UC.

Students who were for the move said they liked the idea of having their living quarters and classes in the same building.

 

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CLINTON EXTENDS MFN STATUS TO CHINA

by Naruth Phadungchai

Daily Cougar Staff

Citing the importance of a close relationship between the United States and China, President Clinton last month extended a Most Favored Nation status to that country for another year, beginning on June 3.

"This decision . . . offers us the best opportunity to lay the basis for long-term sustainable progress in human rights, and for the advancement of our other interests with China," said President Clinton at a press conference on May 26.

The MFN status means goods imported from China are assessed low tariffs. Trade with the United States is important for China to continue its economic expansion and reform, which began in 1978.

In May 1993 President Clinton said renewal of the MFN status "will depend upon whether China makes significant progress in improving its human rights record."

However, President Clinton decided last month not to link trade with human rights. The president said, "will we do more to advance the cause of human rights if China is isolated, or if our nations are engaged in a growing web of political and economic cooperation and contacts. I am persuaded that the best path for advancing freedom in China is for the United States to intensify and broaden its engagement with that nation."

Some members of Congress wanted the president to deny China the MFN status because China has continued with human rights abuses. Senate Democratic leader George Mitchell said he wants to impose trade sanctions on China if the country does not cease those abuses.

When asked if he was capitulating to pressure from United States businesses, the president denied the charge, saying that changing conditions in China and notably the conflict with North Korea require that the United States change its policy towards China.

President Clinton also denied that he is yielding in to Chinese leaders. He emphasized that the United States should not pressure China by sticking to a timetable for human rights improvements, thereby risking the chances for those improvements.

Said President Clinton, "[China] is going to have, inevitably, a reluctance to take steps which are right if it looks like every step that is taken, is taken under the pressure of the United States."

In a press conference following the president's announcement, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John Shattuck said there are several ways in which the United States can act to improve human rights in China.

He said, "For example, we believe the business community can and should help. The president is going to sit down and talk with the business community and see whether we can develop a set of principles for operating in China. It would be voluntary and it would be cooperative."

Other options include more broadcasts of Voice of America, a new program called Radio Free Asia, and more support for human rights organizations operating in China.

Nation Security Advisor Tony Lake summed up the president's decision to extend the MFN status to China despite a lack of human rights progress by saying, "the point here is that we have a very important strategic objective here, and that is to build a relationship with China within which we can seriously pursue human rights as well as our other security and economic interests."

Regarding security, Mr. Lake said, "Certainly issues like Korea, issues that come up at the United Nations, the Chinese vote and veto at the United Nations--all of those things reinforce the importance of our having a positive, constructive relationship with China--issues of nonproliferation [of nuclear weapons]."

China has so far refused to go along with efforts to impose economic sanctions on North Korea. The sanctions are meant to punish North Korea for closing its nuclear facilities to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

As for trade with China, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Bob Rubin said, "there is a broadly-held view that sometime in the next two or three decades China is likely to be the largest economy in the world."

He said, "I think business in this country has been somewhat held back in terms of developing markets in China because of the uncertainty of the relationship. But I think that with the steps the president has taken today, there will be all the more incentive for developing markets in China. I think it will become an ever-larger and ever more important trading partner . . ."

On how President Clinton finally arrived at his decision, Mr. Lake said, "There were pressures . . . from a lot of different directions. And at a certain point, after you have consulted and heard different points of view, you simply sit down and decide what is right; what is the best approach to advance our interests, including human rights. And that is precisely what the president did."

 

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MOONLIGHTING PROFS TABOO

Cougar Staff Report

A huge increase in the amount of professors who do off-campus consulting has appeared in the past decade, but universities have reacted quickly to stop faculty from neglecting their campus responsibilities.

Forty percent of faculty members nation-wide practice some form of consulting in contrast to 10 percent in the early seventies.

Consulting work includes everything from helping corporations train their employees to doing scientific research to invent new products. Some psychologists also help companies solve employee conflicts and train people in cultural sensitivity.

In the sixties and seventies most professors who were involved in consulting were in the physical or natural sciences. According to a UCLA report, everyone from music therapists to sociologists have now entered the field.

Large corporations are the biggest employers of consultants. They hire scientists to create and administer experiments for new products and music therapists to find music that will influence customers to buy the products.

With the large calling for professors who moonlight, universities quickly went about setting time limits and constraints on the amount of hours a professor can spend doing off-campus work.

Sixty-five percent of universities have time requirements, most of which were formed in the past 10 years.

U.S. Department of Education reports say most universities do not let professors practice more than eight hours of consulting per week.

University of Houston guidelines, published in the Faculty Handbook, require professors to keep their consulting down to one day, or eight hours per week, all of which must be reported to the dean of the individual college.

UH policy also asks that all consulting must "benefit the institution" and must "contribute to the professional development of the individual."

Reports show that consulting can benefit a university by "drawing attention" to faculty members and helping them keep up with the trends in their fields.

Scientists who are experimenting in the field, or sociologists who study entire communities for poll purposes, can share the newest information with students in class.

UH's Office of Media Relations publishes a book called <I>Faculty Experts<P>. The book is meant to help both media and businesses find professional advice from UH faculty.

But universities have not always been comfortable with professors doing outside consulting. In fact, universities feared they would lose on-campus time from professors because they make so much more money consulting.

Research shows consulting fees prove to supplement professors' salaries enormously.

Studies show 37 percent of professors said they charge $300 or less per day, 39 percent said they charge from $301 to $600 per day and 20 percent said they charge more than $600 per day.

Many professors do consulting work to make up for what they believe are low salaries they receive working for universities said President of the Texas Faculty Association Charles Zucker.

"The average salary for full-time Texas faculty is $60,000. The average for all faculty in Texas is $43,000," said Zucker.

Professors' salaries are often much less than people with the same level of education who are practicing in their given fields, Zucker added.

Zucker said consulting may be even more important for Texas faculty, who make less than other professors and instructors from around the country.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, faculty in Texas make about $5,000 less than their counterparts from states like New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.

Sixty percent of professors reported to a UCLA poll that they were "very dissatisfied" with their salaries. Only 40 percent said they were "satisfied" with the money they make.

While professors complain their salaries are too low, they make more than many professionals and people who have highly dangerous jobs. Professors sometimes double the salaries of HISD teachers and police.

 

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GOOD OLE BOY JUDGE POE, WALKING TALL

by Bridget Baulch

Contributing Writer

Ted Poe, UH Law School graduate and 228th Criminal Court Judge, is like the decor of his office, bright and casual.

I expected to meet an old wise stoic man whose inner sanctum would be lined with law books and dark paneling. What I found was an exterior office decorated with photographs of old Texas buildings, and an inner office with walls filled with photos of the four young Poe children. Poe himself doesn't look like a man who has 12 years of judicial experience, but then Poe at 32 years of age was the youngest man ever to be appointed to the bench in the United States.

Poe has a smooth, relaxed manner about him even as he positioned his trim 6-foot-2-inch angular frame into a small chair, choosing the more informal chair over the larger one behind his desk. Although 44 years old, Poe has boyish clean cut looks and a face that breaks into a smile frequently. He doesn't look like a judge who presides over a court which is described in a previous interview by county jail-mates as the "Black Hole of Harris County."

"I love to take pictures of my children and old Texas buildings, especially churches. I started this hobby in the early 1980s," Poe said. On a shelf behind his desk is a picture of a happy 5-year-old boy with bright eyes. "He's not mine. He was the murder victim of the very last case that I tried as a criminal prosecutor in the District Attorney's Office. I keep that picture to remind me of why I do this work," he said.

Poe's Texas heritage is reflected by the gray cowboy boots he wears underneath his gray pinstripe suit. "I only own cowboy boots and running shoes. I even have a pair of boots that go with my tuxedo for more formal occasions. I wear boots because I don't want anybody to think I'm from New Jersey," he said.

Poe sentenced a wealthy Detroit woman to six months in jail after she verbally smeared the state of Texas in his courtroom. She was angry that he had handed her brother a 20 year sentence for murder. "She told me she hated Houston, me, dumb southerners and the blankety blank state of Texas. I told her I wouldn't tolerated anyone bad-mouthing the good state of Texas. She appeared the next day in court in a chain gang and apologized to me and the good people of the state of Texas. I told her I would release her from her sentence only if she left town by sundown and never set foot in Texas again. Two constables put her on a jet back to Detroit that afternoon," Poe said.

When Poe's not wearing his cowboy boots, he has on his running shoes. He runs three miles at Memorial Park everyday during his lunch hour. He has participated in hundreds of fun runs. Runners' World Magazine did a feature story on him.

"I started running when I was 32. I had just been appointed judge and I wanted to keep my dockets current. I worked myself and my staff everyday during lunch hours. Finally one day, my aide, Elaine, pleaded with me to let the staff go to lunch and she suggested that maybe I could take up running during my lunch hour. I really enjoyed it and found it very therapeutic in dealing with stress." Poe said.

Although a graduate of the affluent Memorial High school in west Houston, Poe's childhood home was in a modest Spring Branch neighborhood. "I guess you would say we were a lower middle class family. My dad worked all his life for Southwestern Bell. My parents were very strict with my sister and me, but we had a good family life. We grew up in the church," Poe said.

"My grandmother was the biggest influence in my life. She was 49 when she lost my grandfather in an automobile accident. Even though she never held a job outside her home, she managed to get one selling clothes at Montgomery Wards. She worked there until she was forced to quit at the age of 76," he said. Poe frequently visits his 91 year old grandmother.

As a boy, Poe fantasized about being a race car driver like A.J. Foyte. He followed his calling to be a lawyer while attending Abilene Christian University. "I didn't find much meaning in writing up contracts that's why I went into criminal law. Being a judge is not a job. If I wanted a job I would work for a law firm making $300,00 to $400,000 a year. I really want to make the world a better place. I believe we are put here for a reason," he said.

Poe describes himself as a "Don Quixote." When asked about the rumors of his political aspirations to be Attorney General he said, "I will probably move on to some other battle–some other windmill. There always will be some giant to slay."

On the wall of Poe's office is a copy of a letter written by William Barret Travis, the commander of the troops at the Alamo. Poe said, "Travis is my idol. I'm impressed with people who will take a stand, even if I don't agree with them. I read the letter sometimes for inspiration."

"I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Ana. . . I shall never surrender or retreat. I am determined. . . to die like a soldier who never forgets what is due his honor or that of his country." signed William Barret Travis, Commander of the Alamo.

Poe, like Travis, is a man committed to never retreat from his enemies. "The battles never end–the enemies just change," Poe said.

 

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THE GAME THE WHOLE 'WORLD' WATCHES

by Olivia Clark

Contributing Writer

The most watched sporting event in the world arrives at Texas' doorstep on June 17. On Friday the World Cup comes to Dallas, with a match between South Korea and Spain at 6:30 p.m.

Yet what is all this soccer mania about? With Rockets fever gripping Houston it is easy to forget that there are only four days until the greatest soccer event kicks off in our own backyard. Twenty-four teams will play 51 matches in nine United States cities in a soccer extravaganza lasting four weeks.

Soccer has little coverage in the United States yet millions of people all over the world will be avidly watching their television screens, passionately supporting their nations' teams. Despite this, no games at the Cotton Bowl are sold out and American support for the United States is lukewarm.

Even if you can't make it to Dallas, all the games are going to be televised, so to make this little sporting event a touch more interesting, here are a few basic facts you will need to know.

The tournament is broken up into six groups. America is in group A, one of the toughest groups which includes such teams as Romania, Switzerland and Colombia, the favorite.

Their first match is against Switzerland on June 18 in Pontiac, Mich. and will be shown on ABC.

Despite the lack of soccer tradition here, the United States has a moderate chance of proceeding on to the second round and shocking the many disbelievers. The American team is made up of many players from overseas, which should help experience-wise.

The top two teams of each group and the four third place teams with the best record advance to single elimination matches.

The field at the moment is wide open. Italy is the favorite going into the tournament. Defending champion Germany, which won the cup back in 1990, also stand a good chance, although recently they were beaten at home by Ireland, 2-0.

Argentina and Brazil are also contenders. Argentina just sneaked into the tournament by beating Australia however, and Brazil often runs hot and cold. Argentina's Diego Maradona is not likely to play, which is a severe loss to their side.

The actual game consists of two 45 minute halves with 11 players on each side. Only two substitutions are allowed per game from three reserves.

The most commonly used formation on the field is the 4-4-2 formation--four defenders, four midfielders, two forwards and a goalkeeper.

Players receive a yellow card for fouling. Two yellow cards results in a red card and the player is ejected from the game. A particularly bad foul will lead to an immediate red card.

This is the essence to soccer mania, so plan a road trip or relax in front of your television, grab a couple of beers, and enjoy the 1994 World Cup.

 

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BASEBALL'S DEMISE EXAGGERATED: JUST ASK YOUR LOCAL SDY

by Daniel Scholl

Daily Cougar Staff

From Left Field

As I looked over <I>The Daily Cougar<P> from last week, I noticed that the other sports columnist chose a baseball reference to name his column. I then realized that I had done the same, so had one of the columnists from the semester before.

What does this mean? It means that baseball is still alive and well; despite what many want you to believe. How so you maybe thinking, questioning my logic. Well, I'll tell you.

It occurred to me that many of the colloquialisms that Americans use are in terms found in the national pastime.

Take for instance the title of my column "From Left Field." It means that something came out of nowhere and surprised them. Everyone knows exactly what is being said.

The exciting thing is, if you're a baseball purist like I am (damn Wrigley for putting in lights, damn them, damn them), it's also a baseball term.

The youth that baseball is trying so hard to capture already has hardball on their mind, whether they know it or not.

Think about it. What young boy has not used the baseball metaphor to describe his latest sexual exploits? Guys, remember this conversation:

Sexually Deprived Youth 1: <I>So how did it go last night?<P>

Sexually Deprived Youth 2: <I>Yeah, did you score?<P> Compulsive Liar: <I>Wouldn't you like to know.<P>

SDY 1: <I>Come on dude. How far did she let you go? Did you get to first?<P>

SDY 2: <I>Or did you strike out?<P>

CL: <I>Please. She intentionally walked me to first.<P>

SDY 1: <I>No way.<P>

CL: <I>Way.<P> (Sorry about that but I couldn't resist. I'll try to tone down the cheesy movie lines.)

SDY 2: <I>So did you steal second, or did she pick you off?<P>

CL: <I>With my moves, she couldn't keep me on base even if she wanted to.<P>

SDY 2: <I>Dude, you're such a stud.<P>

SDY 1: <I>So did you clear the bases, or were you left stranded?<P>

CL: <I>I'll tell you when you're older. When you're in the major leagues, like me.<P>

SDY 2: <I>Ah man. She sent you to the showers. And you took a cold one.<P>

CL: <I>You wish. I hit a home run that cleared the park, with bases loaded, in the bottom of the ninth, down by three, in the seventh game of the World Series, against a three-time Cy Young Award winner.<P>

SDY 1 and 2: <I>We're not worthy. We're not worthy.<P> (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

Okay, maybe I took the metaphor a little too far, but you see what I'm talking about.

There are so many baseball phrases that have infiltrated our language, we have no choice but to be fans of the game.

What American does not identify the words "Cold beer! Get your cold beer here?"

That's what I thought.

From the game that brought you words like "benched", "sent down to the minors" and "stepping up to the plate" it has also given us an everlasting love that even free agency, expansion, diluted pitching and the designated hitter cannot destroy.

For example, the Colorado Rockies are drawing fans like Bill Watterson draws Calvin.

So the next time you're about to <I>go to bat<P> against the game that James Earl Jones said, would stand the test of time, remember that you will probably <I>whiff<P> because baseball has <I>covered all its bases<P> in order to keep their opponents <I>chasing the high fast ball<P>.

 

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DISC REALLY BITES

by D. McAdams

Daily Cougar Staff

<I>Reality Bites<P>. Does it really? Silly us.

Here we were going through life thinking what a joy it was to deal with crap every single waking moment, but little did we know that life just wasn't very nice. If we didn't know life was not nice, then we were certainly given a crash course on the matter when we listened to this CD.

I've been resisting the urge to say it because it is such a bad pun, but, this CD bites. Why did RCA even release this? To take more of your dollars of course.

This is how it works: Hollywood recognizes the so called "Generation X." Movie studios break their necks attempting to make <I>the<P> movie that defines this generation. Lesser studios make movies with comparable themes to get into the "let's go see a movie about our generation" twenty-something market that go to see such asinine films.

Somebody says, "Hey, we could make even <I>more<P> money if we released a soundtrack defining the music of this much maligned generation. And voila -- the public is given <I>Reality Bites<P>, the soundtrack.

And the music? To be fair, there are a few tracks worth a listen, one of which was released before the whole "Generation X" garbage began to proliferate the mass media's vocabulary.

Naw, I ain't talking about the Knack's hideously irritating "My Sharona." U2's "All I Want is You," Lenny Kravitz's "Spinning Around Over You," The Juliana Hatfield Three's "Spin the Bottle" and Dinosaur Jr.'s "Turnip Farm" are all excellent tracks. Everything else is filler.

Some of the lyrics are so amazingly pretentious, they make one believe their writer had absolutely no respect for the intelligence of the average American. Ethan Hawke's "I'm Nuthin'" illustrates this point well. It seems Ethan took a course on actors who feign disillusion with the system and would give their right arm to be the next Kurt Cobain.

Ethan croons, "I ain't no Republicrat, I ain't no Demoican." Obviously the man was a political science major, or a student of Hemingway, the above line being so complex, so deep, so full of anger and passion against the American political structure. Move over Thoreau, Ethan Hawke is the new political philosopher in town.

This is only a small sampling of the brilliance which resides in <I>Reality Bites<P>. If you have a molecule of intelligence in your body, avoid this CD like the plague. To buy this CD would encourage RCA to print more copies of it, an act which would be a horrible waste of precious resources like the plastic used to make the CD casing.

 

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SOONERS LAY CLAIM TO NCAA TITLE, 4TH INNING FATAL FOR TECH IN CWS

Cougar Sports Service

The wait is finally over for Oklahoma baseball coach Larry Cochell.

The Sooners' head coach had taken three different teams to the College World Series, the only coach ever to do so, yet had failed to win the national title.

But after the Sooners (50-17) severely beat Georgia Tech 13-5 in the championship game Cochell was able to take the trophy into his hands.

"If you had seen us six weeks ago, we might not have been the best. But we played the best when we had to and won the national championship," he told reporters after the game.

The game turned into a nightmare for the Yellow Jackets (50-17), who made four errors on the day. Georgia Tech's starting pitcher, loser Al Gogolin (12-3), gave up five runs, but only one was earned.

The critical inning was the fourth. The Yellow Jackets made three errors and gave up five runs, all unearned.

The disastrous frame saw Georgia Tech mishandle a line drive that turned into a two-base error, boot a grounder to third, throw away the ball on a pickoff attempt and have the left fielder watch a blooper bounce off his glove.

The Yellow Jackets also walked in a run and gave up an infield hit on what was supposed to be a sacrifice by the Sooners' number nine hitter.

This inning also had a disputed call. When the Sooners' Chip Glass, the CWS most valuable player, ran through a stop sign at third, he slid around all-CWS catcher Jason Varitek. The umpire ruled that Glass avoided the tag, but Tech's head coach Danny Hall argued the call.

The score was tied 2-2 going into the inning, but the Sooners never looked back after the fourth.

They added four more insurance runs in the sixth and two more in the eighth.

The Sooners, the hottest-hitting team in the tournament, had 16 hits on the day, tying a championship game record.

The 13 runs they scored was also a record for the final game, as was the combined score of the two teams.

This was Oklahoma's second College World Series title. They last won in 1951.

 

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RED ROCK WEST

Downtrodden Cage and crafty Boyle make film fine

by shane patrick boyle

Daily Cougar Staff

Money is what it's all about.

That's what Nicholas Cage learns in John Dahl's <I>Red Rock West<P>, though not quickly enough.

Cage plays Micheal, a good guy in a bad jam. He just can't seem to get ahead.

He served his country in Lebanon and was rewarded with a bad leg. On the home front, he loyally worked an oil rigging job in Texas and for his hard work, the company gave him his walking papers after the oil bust.

It is under these circumstances he finds himself in Wyoming with five bucks and some odd cents to his name when the film opens.

He shows up there to apply for another oil rigging job. The job is in the bag until he lets the cat out of the bag by telling the truth about his physical condition. (Apparently, this takes place before the Americans with Disabilities Act.)

The road to poverty, it seems, is paved with good intentions. So, apparently, is the detour to Red Rock.

Red Rock is where he goes to look for another job, not because it's a town of opportunity, but because it's as far as he can get with five-dollar's worth of fuel in the gas tank.

He might have gone farther if he wasn't too honest to liberate a wad of twenties from the gas station's unattended register.

But even good guys can only hold out for so long. His moment of weakness comes when a bartender (J. T. Walsh) mistakes him for someone who was supposed to show up for "a job."

He needs the money, so he pretends like he's "Lyle from Dallas." The pay starts at five. Not five dollars an hour. Five thousand dollars up front and another five when the job's done. Obviously it's not a bartending position.

Micheal/Lyle is hired to kill the bartender's wife, Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle). When he tries to warn her, instead of killing her, she doubles the money and reverses the instructions.

It seems the best option is to take the money and skip town before somebody (Micheal for example) gets hurt. But a funny thing happens on the way to the bank, and doing the right thing sends Micheal back to Red Rock where he comes face to face with his employer and the real Lyle (Dennis Hopper).

What follows is an intricate web of plot twists unravelling the secret past of Red Rock's richest couple.

The stakes get higher, but Micheal wants no part of it. He just wants to get the hell out of Red Rock.

Who can he turn to? Maybe the sheriff. Maybe not.

Micheal struggles to maintain his integrity and his life, even though he comes to wonder if good guys can ever win in a world driven by money.

Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, the seductive Lara Flynn Boyle proves that even if a nice guy can't get ahead, at least he can still get head.

Boyle makes a good bad girl. She always manages to play the same type of role, but never fails to give the audiences a few surprises.

In this movie the plot and acting are guaranteed to make it a classic in the same vein as <I>Reservoir Dogs<P> and <I>Blue Velvet<P>, the only thing to complain about is the title. Red Rock would be sufficient Wed Wok West is too much of a mouthful.

 

 

 

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