Teaching morality sparks public policy war

by Tawanta Feifer

News Reporter

The controversy over Spring Branch Independent School District's Aug. 22 decision to integrate "the teaching and modeling of values and ethics" into its curriculum continues to incite controversy.

The Spring Branch Board of Trustees unanimously (6-0) passed a resolution to "prepare students to become productive members of a democratic society" by integrating 20 life skills into its curriculum.

The values include honesty, integrity, responsibility, respect, perseverance, initiative, courage, cooperation, citizenship, organization, common sense, problem-solving, patience, friendship, curiosity and a sense of humor. The values "will be modeled by district personnel and integrated into the curriculum across all grade levels and subjects."

Mark Ramsey, president of the Spring Branch Board of Trustees, said there will be no specific course offered. He said character education will be taught in conjunction with the regular curriculum starting this school year.

"Personally, as a father, a taxpayer and a citizen, I saw a concern on the face of the constituency about the rising violence, crime and general deterioration of the morale of our youth," he said.

He said establishing the resolution and the subsequent policy was a cooperative effort among all departments in the school district. The superintendent and 12 Cabinet members, along with the Board of Trustees, began researching moral education in May 1994.

An ad-hoc committee researched articles and books on the subjects of virtue and moral education. Some of the sources included <I>The Book of Virtues<P> by William J. Bennett and <I>ITI, The Model<P> by Susan Kovalik. They used literature received from the Center of Ethics in Boston and the American School Board Journal.

Ramsey said the committee studied similar resolutions in Plano and Irvine, California. He said these resolutions pointed toward a general direction for schools.

"We have an actual policy (character education policy) of 20 life skills that will be implemented and integrated into the curriculum. That's what makes us different from all the others," Ramsey said.

He said three public hearings, instead of the required two, were held during the summer for citizen response. The public response to the resolution was 95 percent favorable, including a 756-signature petition, Ramsey added.

The Texas State Teachers Association opposed the resolution because the school board has not developed an objective appraisal method, said Sam Blackman, uniserve for the Spring Branch TSTA. He said because the policy requires employees to exhibit the enumerated characteristics, it may be used against the teachers by students and administrators.

"That is totally untrue," Ramsey said, adding that the district is mandated by the state to use the Texas Teacher Appraisal Service to evaluate teachers. "I am absolutely certain that the hearings complied with school board requirements for open meetings.

"They (meetings) were in technical compliance," attorney Thomas Kajander said, adding that the 756 signatures on the petition came out of one church and that the public hearings were purposely held during the summer when teachers were inactive and parents were on vacation.

Kajander said he disagrees with parts of the resolution because it contains "a lot of buzz words that are keywords of groups with certain agendas."

He said he further disagrees with the resolution because it does not include equality, tolerance, acceptance and community as some of the values to be taught. "It doesn't teach that people are equal or tolerance for other groups of people," he said.

Ramsey said those values are encompassed by citizenship, respect and value of human life, honesty and cooperation.

"That's a bunch of crap," Kajander said. He said people live in a racist society and that Spring Branch does not come right out and say it's in favor of equality.

Kajander said some of the values could be taken straight out of the Catechism. He said it is a matter of church vs. state.

"(By teaching abstinence) they could possibly justify other religious teachings or have a basis to say they (the district) don't need to teach sexual education because they teach abstinence," Kajander said. "Sexual abstinence before marriage is a religious value, not a societal value."

Ramsey attacked Kajander's suspicions of covert religious teaching by suggesting Kajander's disapproval of the program was politically motivated.

"That's absurd. He (Kajander) is way off base. He's running for the school board and is using inflammatory comments for his own benefit. The resolution is a general statement as to the direction the school would like to go; the policy includes the values that will be incorporated into the curriculum," Ramsey said.

He said they are mandated by the state to teach about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, but that if mandated to teach sex education, the district would encourage abstinence. "That's the only stance we can take," he said.

"This is not a religious issue, this is a health and economic issue," Ramsey said. Without abstinence, teen pregnancies, abortion, welfare recipients, single parents, STDs and the taxpayer's burden rises, he said. "Yes, the virtues we embrace are considered religious ideals, but they are also the ideals of any free and orderly society."

Lynn Mitchell, a resident scholar of religion at UH's A.D. Bruce Religion Center, said people always claim it's a violation of church and state when a church supports a moral issue.

"A lot of people believe that separation of church and state means that religion should keep its mouth shut. That's nonsense. The church doesn't vote. The individuals of a church vote (and they) cannot be kept from voting – it's their children," Mitchell said.

He said the doctrine of separation of church and state was designed to protect religious and nonreligious groups from government interference.

"There have always been people who've had sex in high school. If there's nothing wrong with 13- and 14-year-olds having babies, then it's not a moral issue," Mitchell said.

He said society can't enforce abstinence, but it can encourage it, adding that said values grow out of culture when people come to a consensus about what's moral and immoral.

He said the public school system belongs to teachers and parents, and that they should have some say in what is taught. Mitchell said people who don't support abstinence should go to the school board and express their opinion, but not get upset at the other side for expressing opinions.

"If a school cannot promote moral character, then reasonable people shouldn't send their children to school," Mitchell said.

Michael Glassman, UH assistant professor of Human Development and Family Studies, said morality is a reflection of the entire society. He said children learn morality at home, at school and by interaction with society.

Glassman said it's good to take responsibility for our children, but that character education could be detrimental because it offers an easy solution for the problem.

To say, "Be good, moral and virtuous is an easy out," he said. "Morality really comes from the golden rule. It's learned by how people treat each other."

Glassman said that if a child is taught to follow the rules in school and at home, when he enters a society that doesn't follow the rules, he becomes cynical.

He said Spring Branch's character education is an ineffective solution because no extra effort, money or time is involved on the part of the teacher or school. To promote a socio-moral atmosphere, character education must include the parents and the school working together as a community within a larger community, Glassman said.

Kajander said he knows at least 20 people who are not satisfied with the resolution. He said he is sure "the issue will be revisited" and that he will be more involved in school board activities.

Ramsey said the policy has received a tremendously positive response from parents, students and the education community. He is scheduled to present the district's character education policy Sunday at the state convention of the Texas Association of School Boards in Dallas.






by Bobby Summers

Daily Cougar Staff

Heavy rains and high water effectively extinguished the fireworks that were expected at Wednesday's Faculty Senate meeting.

A resolution calling for the censure of UH President James Pickering, which Senator Robert Palmer planned to introduce for consideration at the meeting, was tabled until the Nov. 16 meeting because of the weather.

Palmer, a Cullen professor of history and law, said, "I had several calls this morning asking me to postpone the introduction of this resolution because of the effect the weather might have on attendance at this meeting. I believe that this resolution is of sufficient importance that people should have time to be here during the discussion."

Following Palmer's announcement, the Senate heard from Henry Trueba, UH provost and senior vice president for Student Affairs. The provost also appeared at the September meeting, fielding tough questions and criticism from faculty.

Trueba announced plans to begin construction on a new high-tech building in the near future. He also discussed the progress of the search for new deans in the College of Education and the UH Law Center.

"It is moving well," Trueba said. "We are trying to move a little more quickly now because of the competition. There are several other schools across the country looking for deans."

Trueba also reported that the recently organized task force made up of the deans of the various UH colleges is looking into the allocation of available money at the university.

Trueba drew praise for his candor and sincerity in his last appearance before the Senate. Once again, he faced probing questions about funding, especially concerning lobbying efforts for funding from state and federal sources. He also listened to criticisms of university enrollment losses to local community colleges.

The Senate unanimously passed a resolution thanking the UH student body for its imaginative and vital support of M.D. Anderson Library through student fees.

The resolution, presented by the budget committee, thanks the Students' Association and other student leaders for advice, help and support in maintaining the library's collections and services. The committee reported that student fees and the university's matching funds now provide 33 percent of the library budget.

The committee's report also discussed falling enrollment at UH, especially at the graduate and doctoral levels. The report said enrollment losses will adversely affect UH's formula funding, causing a greater loss of funding in the next biennium. The committee suggested that the university needs to provide more support for graduate students.

The report touched off a debate among the senators as to what factors are causing the enrollment losses. Some senators suggested the university is losing students to local community colleges because those schools offer comparable classes that are reputedly easier than those offered by UH.

It was also asserted that grading is more liberal at the smaller schools. Other senators observed that perhaps UH doesn't offer classes at a time of day convenient to students who work and might prefer night classes or Saturday classes.

Senator Kent Tedin, professor of political science, refuted those arguments, saying UH has offered classes at every conceivable time and found very little change in the enrollment numbers. Tedin did agree UH grading is generally tougher than community colleges.

One of the more bizarre arguments for falling enrollment was one senator's suggestion that The Daily Cougar was partly responsible because the paper accepts advertising from community colleges.

Trueba said he believes enrollment fluctuations are a "predictable trend," rising and falling with the local economic environment, and are not a result of the quality of education offered by UH. Communications Professor Garth Jowett questioned Trueba's assertion, noting that compared with just a few years ago, the university is now educating 8000 more students with 200 fewer faculty members.

The debate over falling enrollment and funding losses will likely intensify in the coming months as the beginning of the new legislative session approaches.

In other Senate news, the group heard from representatives of the Creative Partnerships Campaign, a partnership between UH and local businesses that helps to secure funding for the university.

Lee W. Hogan, campaign executive chairman and president and COO of HI Energy, and Susan H. Coulter, associate vice president for Development, presented an overview and status report of the program, which has raised $222.1 million for UH since September 1989.





From rafting to wine-tasting, town never dull

by Lynn Reinhardt

News Reporter

Rainy weather got you down? Too many classes, term papers and not enough time? Stir crazy and it's not even December? Does Spring Break seem like a distant dream?

Well, transport yourself. Pack your bags and grab a stack of novels and favorite CDs. Head for the city limits and hit I-10 West. Flip on the cruise control until you reach Seguin. Take the New Braunfels exit (Texas Highway 46) and get ready to kick back in the Hill Country for a couple of days.

German food, outlet malls, the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, and Gruene's Historic District are all within minutes of each other.

In New Braunfels, landmark hotels like the Faust and Prince Solms Inn provide a welcome retreat. Make breakfast something to get up for and plan a visit to the locally renowned Naeglin Bakery on the town square. Treat yourself to fresh, homemade fruit, poppy seed and sausage kolaches, molasses bread, cinnamon rolls and/or bear claws.

Just 160 miles from Houston, New Braunfels celebrates its 33rd annual Wurstfest Nov. 4-13 with a heritage exhibit, German food, singing, dancing, and arts and crafts on the Comal River. (For additional details about the Wurstfest, call 1-800-221-4369).

Spring and summer are a great time to experience white-water rafting, the Schilitterbahn Waterpark and Resort, or a float down the Prince Solms Tube Chute. Nearby are the Natural Bridge Caverns, Landa Park and Golf Course, the Hummel Museum and antique shops, so there's plenty to do in cooler weather.

Hunger pangs? Try the Smokehouse, Oma and Opa's, or Krause's famous German food downtown.

Four miles away, the little town of Gruene (pronounced Green by the natives) celebrates Old Gruene Market Days with dozens of arts and crafts exhibits the third weekend of every month. Home to the Guadalupe Valley Winery, wines form around the state are available to tickle your taste buds in the wine-tasting room.

Texas' oldest dance hall, Gruene Hall, features live music and longnecks on weekends. A huge, 100-year-old cotton gin, located beneath the water tower on the banks of the Guadalupe, houses the Gristmill Restaurant, known for great burgers, steaks and fish. In addition to tube and raft rentals, nearby specialty shops offer pottery, T-shirts, sportswear, jewelry, a general store, country store and emporium.

Too many activities, places and people? Relax and come with me, while I take you on a three-and-a-quarter-mile canoe trip down the Comal River.

Winding through the center of New Braunfels, a part of the Edwards Aquifer, the Comal River is fed by clear, cold, bubbling springs that keep the water temperature constant year-round.

Pulling the canoe into the river, small, black, speckled bass and minnows scatter like coins, darting off into the bubbling springs. A high, steep cliff parallels the river bank on one side, with glass-front homes and a golf course on the other side.

Close to the banks along the cliff are lush, green elephant ears that grow with wild abandon. Nearby, two small, foliage-covered islands complete a perfect backdrop for a lush, tropical jungle setting and provide a glimpse of nature almost totally undisturbed prior to the devastating floods that occurred in the early 1970s.

Paddling toward Landa Park, ahead to the right is a rock ledge, where a twisted, worn rope swing dangles form an old oak tree, whose enormous roots have grown down into the water's edge.

Rowing close to the banks of the golf course, my eyes eagerly search the waters for Oma and Opa, two huge orange carp that usually glide back and forth in the shade of the deep green waters under the overhanging trees.

A purple-blue water heron, perched like a still-life water color on a nearby tree log, momentarily arrests my attention. It eyes me curiously, standing on one pencil-thin leg, with the other bent as if in a courtly bow.

Quietly paddling toward my favorite spot on the Comal, the oars come out of the water, as I soundlessly float around a bend in the river. Its curve is covered with many old tree logs, crisscrossed back and forth like children's Tinker Toys.

A knowing, happy smile comes to me. More than a dozen small, medium and large dull-green, soft-shell turtles are lazily stretched out on the logs, basking in the early morning sun. Suddenly, sensing the canoe's presence, one by one, they splash into the water.

Approaching Landa Park, the familiar, weather-worn wooden gazebo, located on a point of land that curves into the river, comes into view. Hearing the soft whir of Landa's glass-bottom boat long before I see the ripples of its gentle wake, I quickly maneuver the canoe out of its path.

Circling the boat dock, orange paddle boats approach, creating Pandemonium. I am greeted by the shrieks and squeals of laughter from children, as they vigorously paddle and splash about, determined to get as wet as possible without falling in.

Snow geese, mallards, swans and hybrid water fowl line the banks of the water, eagerly seeking bread crumbs from weekend visitors. Landa's little red train circles a bend down by the water's edge, and friendly families wave as the canoe floats by.

Turning the canoe, I'm ready to head back down to the other end of the river, refreshed and ready to hit the books a little harder.

For additional information on year-round events, call the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-572-2626.






UH prof's book tackles behavior

by Patricia Davis

Contributing Writer

Eating, drinking, smoking and/or spending too much? Want to do something about it?

Carlo DiClemente, a UH psychology professor, has spent the last 15 years working on a model for change in habit and has come up with a common-sense application for the public with his new book, "Changing for Good: The Revolutionary Program that Explains the Six Stages of Change and Teaches You How to Free Yourself from Bad Habits" (William Morrow & Co.).

The book is a collaboration among DiClemente; James O. Prochaska, University of Rhode Island; and John C. Norcross, University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

DiClemente said the book shows how to move through six stages of change. The book also has a section for partners or friends.

Joseph Peraino, a clinical psychologist in Houston, said people change because they are not happy with the way things are currently.

"People see some negative effect; if they change, they see more possible, positive outcomes. Without a possible, positive outcome, people won't change," Peraino said.

DiClemente said he sees the process of change as events, or phases, all separate and requiring their own processes.

The first stage is the pre-contemplation stage, in which the person won't consider changing or is ignorant of the problem.

"It's the 'No, hell no, I won't change' phase," DiClemente said.

The second stage is the contemplation stage, in which the person begins a cost/benefit analysis. He or she examines the positives and the negatives and if the positive exceeds the negative, the person keeps on doing whatever it is he of she is doing.

"The person wonders what would life be like if he makes this change," DiClemente said.

Following the contemplation stage, the person will enter a preparation stage, in which the person develops a plan of action. DiClemente said this phase is crucial because without adequate preparation, the change process is doomed.

"It's a clearing-the-decks process, planning for change and setting up a time to go into action," DiClemente said.

The action stage is when the person actually breaks the habit or makes the change. Here he or she makes an effort, although it may not always succeed. The person may go back to the old behavior.

"There's a lot of relapse," DiClemente said. "If you're successful, the action phase takes three to six months."

Peraino said people approach the action stage in a variety of ways.

"It depends on what fits the person – what is his cognitive style," Peraino said.

Next is the maintenance stage, when temptation becomes less frequent, and the person begins to move out of the process.

"After several years, there may be no more temptation, although some may still be in maintenance after 10 years or more," DiClemente said.

However, relapse can happen during this stage. There may be some emergency, some event or stressor that triggers old patterns. Also, there may be a sense of missing the habit and an erosion of the newer behaviors.

Finally, there is the termination stage, when the person moves out of the process. He has concluded the cycle.

Peraino said he agrees people can move out of the change cycle.

DiClemente said there are different tasks and processes at each of the different stages.

DiClemente is a clinical psychologist as well as a full professor. He conducts a graduate seminar on addictive behaviors and research around how people change. He also works on Project Match, the largest study on alcohol and alcoholism in the country. He has also done research on tobacco and other drug addictions.







Injuries, not floodwaters, make problems for O’Shea, Williams

by Daniel Scholl

Daily Cougar Staff

Following the Cougar football team's first victory of the 1994 season, Wednesday's practice was decidedly upbeat.

"We've had good practices (this year), but any time you can practice with a smile on your face, it helps," head coach Kim Helton said. "It was a good, spirited practice."

Still, there was a dark side to the practice, which was forced inside the Astrodome due to a certain rainstorm that hit the Houston area earlier this week. Injuries and the common bang-ups that accompany six football games have started to take their toll.

The most prominent injuries have been in the quarterback area. The starter at the beginning of the season was Chuck Clements. He went down with a broken hand after the Sept. 24 game against Ohio State and was lost for the season.

Second-string quarterback Clay Helton left the Texas A&M game with a sore shoulder, and third-stringer Chad O'Shea came in to start the Southern Methodist game last weekend. He broke his left (nonthrowing) hand and must play with a splint.

During part of the practice, O'Shea was taking snaps out of the shotgun, but when the game situations came about, he went back under center. The Cougars have not made much use of the shotgun formation this year.

Last week, the decision to start O'Shea was made at the last possible moment. Coach Helton said the decision will be made on game day again this week.

"If Clay is healthy, he'll start," the elder Helton said.

Clay Helton and O'Shea took about the same amount of reps in practice, but Clay got in more work with the first team during drills. During game situations, they both put in the same work with the same squads.

Against SMU, O'Shea was 17 of 27, with two touchdowns and one interception. He had 246 yards passing on the day. Going into the game, he was five-for-nine with one pickoff and one touchdown. Clay Helton is 14-of-26 with 104 yards, one interception and no touchdowns for the season.

A big name missing from part of the practice was running back Jermaine Williams. The Cougars' leading rusher suffered bruised ribs against SMU and did not participate during the game-situations part of practice. Instead, freshman Jay McGuire received the majority of the reps.

"Williams is not real good," coach Helton said.

He ran all over SMU, racking up 215 yards on 25 carries. For the season, he has 541 yards on 97 attempts. He has three touchdowns on the year.

McGuire has the second-highest total of rushing attempts for the Cougars. For the season, he has 109 yards on 33 carries, but has yet to get into the end zone running the ball. However, he did have a touchdown catch against the Mustangs.

Wide receiver Ron Peters, suffering from a sprained ankle, did not wear pads and walked laps around the field. Peters leads the team with 21 receptions, which he has turned into 269 yards and two touchdowns.

"People don't realize that we're both young and beat up," Clay Helton said.

Despite the seemingly solemn situation with the injuries, coach Helton said it was the best practice of the year. "There's nothing like the taste of victory."






First victory gives Houston shot at SWC title, bowl

by Jason Paul Ramírez

Daily Cougar Staff Bang! It's over! Unbelievable!

The Houston Cougars have done it! After an 0-5 start, they have done it! Houston has knocked off the Rice Owls 26-10 and is on its way to its first Mobil Cotton Bowl since 1985. Look at these fans, all 55,679 of them, go wild in the Astrodome! In convincing fashion, the Cougars... (dream chimes ring).

MOM: Jason? Jason?

JASON: Wha...? Huh? Oh, I must have dazed off.

MOM: Well, you better get up if you want to make it to tonight's game.

JASON: That's right. Houston is playing the Texas Christian Horned Frogs in the Dome.

MOM: Well, let me make you something to eat. By the way, what's your prediction?

JASON: Houston 45, TCU 42.

MOM: How can you be so sure?

JASON: I dreamed about it. In fact, in my dream, the Cougars ended up going 6-1 in conference after an 0-5 overall start. Yes, they even beat Texas and Baylor.

MOM: Wow. You must have been dreaming.

Could this actually happen? I know I could really be dreaming, but the Houston Cougars are actually in a serious position to win this thing.

Look at it this way: Texas A&M, though 3-0 in league play, is out of it because of NCAA probation.

Remaining favorites Texas and Baylor both have one loss under their belts.

It's not likely Rice (2-0 SWC) could keep it up. And Southern Methodist, TCU and Texas Tech, all under .500, may already be out of it.

That means Houston (1-1) could very well challenge for the top spot going into the meat of its conference schedule.

A few things must happen, however.

•1. <B>A win over TCU this week is imperative.<P> With Texas and Baylor still looming, Houston cannot afford to lose a game at home to an 0-2 opponent. Houston could go over the .500 mark in conference and could be in a four-way tie for first should they defeat the Frogs. Furthermore, a win would put TCU's chances of challenging down for the count with an 0-3 record.

•2. <B>Start Chad O'Shea.<P> Forget the starter-should-not-lose-his-job-to-injury mentality. Taking nothing away from Clay Helton, O'Shea's toughness and poise starting at quarterback have proven to be a secret ingredient in Houston's sudden offensive attack. And it's important to go with what has been working recently.

O'Shea's touchdown drive in his first series of the season in the Cougars' 38-7 defeat to the Aggies and his 17-of-27, 246-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Ponies both stated his case as an offensive leader on the field.

•3. <B>Keep Jermaine Williams healthy.<P> Another 150-yard-plus outburst against the Frogs Saturday could go a long way in proving to the rest of the conference that the Cougars can indeed move the football.

Also, Texas, TCU, Baylor and Tech have all given up an average of 195 yards per game on the ground this season.

•4. <B>The defense has to keep making big plays.<P> The defensive unit gave up over 400 yards to the Aggies, but held A&M to only 17 points through three quarters.

The Cougars then surrendered almost 500 yards to SMU Saturday. In fact, the Mustangs scored on every second-half drive until the end, when Houston clamped down and stopped the Ponies from scoring and taking the lead in a 39-33 victory.

The way to make big plays is to continue putting heat on the quarterback in long-yardage situations, along with putting more defensive bodies at the line of scrimmage on short-yardage plays. The defense will improve dramatically.

•5. <B>Continue to mix it up on offense.<P> Houston threw the ball 27 times while totaling 38 rushing attempts against the Mustangs.

Numerous times, the Cougars passed on first down and ran on third. The unpredictability worked like clockwork, as it kept the SMU defense guessing to the tune of 474 offensive yards. This was the first time all season the Cougars were so nonconservative.

Should the Cougars continue to follow this simple five-step formula throughout the rest of the season, a conference title may not be that far out of reach. And if it doesn't happen, hey, it's fun to be able to dream.

Wake me up when it's over.






Sandra Bernhard will be performing at the Arena Theater Saturday night.

Photo by Ellen Von Unwerth/Sony

by Terri Garner

Daily Cougar Staff

What's the difference between Sandra Bernhard and a blown-out tire? They both make loud, screeching noises, but the tire will eventually run out of air. Such is not the case with Sandra Bernhard on her latest release, <I>Excuses For Bad Behavior, Part 1<P> on Sony 550 Music. Yes, Sandra, there are excuses for bad behavior, but there are none for bad music.

This 17-song release leaves no musical genre unbutchered, from disco to rap. Bernhard does not discriminate in her vocal massacre of great music, including her whining medley of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Everything's Alright" from <I>Jesus Christ Superstar<P>; Jimi Hendrix's classic, "Manic Depression"; and Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover," in which she changes the words from "...slip out the back, Jack..." to "...hang up the phone, Joan... ." Paul Simon should sue.

Just when dogs howl and ears bleed does Bernhard slap listeners with her monotone rendition of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil." Please Sandra, give us a break.

Bernhard also makes an attempt at singing original songs, like "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" with prolific lyrics like "... you looked across the room and your heart went zoom..." and "Lonely Town," in which Bernhard cries, "...when the morning comes and you see my makeup run... ." The mental pictures are terrifying.

Bernhard also proves that bad singing in a foreign language is possible with "La Lupe," which seems to serve no purpose on the album, much like Bernhard's voice. This audio assault finally ends with "The Woman I Could Have Been," and by the end of the album, it is a well-known fact she should not have been a singer.

<I>Excuses For Bad Behavior, Part 1<P> is a musical vivisection of some cornerstone rock 'n' roll tunes, leaving the listener praying there is no Part 2.

Sandra Bernhard and the Strap-Ons will be invading Houston Saturday at the Arena Theater, a show that should be just as insulting as the album.





April's Motel Room will be promoting its debut album, <I>Black 14<P>, tonight at the Urban Art Bar.

Photo by Humphrey/Epic

by Chris Stelmak

Contributing Writer

<I>Black 14<P>, April's Motel Room's debut release, contains a varying style of music, ranging from light rock to rock 'n' roll to hard rock. The band has a wide variety of Christian-influenced songs, and the music is mostly based on the loss of identity of every generation.

April's Motel Room consists of John Baffa on percussion, Mike Hoolihan on bass, Tom Kelly for vocals and guitar, Sam Nickell on guitar and vocals, and Aaron Zidenberg on drums.

April's Motel Room made its start in Los Angeles clubs. <I>Black 14<P> was put together with the help of Matt Hyde of Porno for Pyros and produced under the Immortal record label.

It is just another Christian rock band. The album consists of a few good heavy songs, but many are slow and just plain boring.

The album started off with its two best songs, "God" and "California." The guitar is smooth, yet it has hard-rock rhythms. The lead singer's voice flowed and mixed harmonically with the rhythms. After the first two songs, I was ready for more music in the same upbeat-rhythm vein. Instead, the album contained eight slower, dull songs. Toward the end of the album, the songs came close to the caliber of the first two.

"We have a lot of different music, that's what's cool. We have one song that's almost like a punk song, and another that's almost country-western, but they all sound like April's Motel Room," Kelly said.

The album is annoying because of its varying style. April's Motel Room seems to play half-hard and half-soft songs. Varying styles can be a good thing, but this band varies way too much. I found it hard to appreciate both types of music. It seems to be a band based on only a couple good songs. April's Motel Room has talent, but it just needs to define its style.

April's Motel Room will be performing at Urban Art Bar Thursday with Royal Jelly.

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