ARCH PROF PUTS SOME LIFE IN TOMBSTONES

by Niki Purcell

Daily Cougar Staff

Professor Burdette Keeland's fascination with the aspects of the living and in the final resting places of the dead has led him to some concrete projects.

Keeland, a 30-year UH architecture professor, has been designing tombstones for five years, honoring the wishes of living clients for personal gravesites when it's their time.

He said he believes his clients' personality should shine through, no matter how whimsical or blue-blooded the motif.

"Through architecture and art, you can make a statement (with your tombstones) about what type of person you are," he said.

One tombstone he designed resembles an old clock without hands to signify timelessness. Another was designed for a couple with black marbles identifying him and a white marble for her connected with a steel rod overhead.

He said he first discovered his grave obsession in 1968 in Milan, Italy, when he was touring and became lost.

"I saw some nuns next to a six- to seven-story building that was surrounded by a cemetery. I took about five slides of the gravesites," he said.

Since then, he has taken over 10,000 photos of tombs throughout the world and has become somewhat of an expert on tombstones.

"The tombs give a very good description of the cultures of the different countries," he said.

Instead of cold, gray slabs of cement above your head, how about a splash of pastel colors, circular designs and cemeteries with a picnic-like atmosphere?

His cryptic ideas are catching on – he has already designed 12 tombstones so far this year.

"My goal is to have people design their tombstone before they die. The tomb is an expression of who they were," he said.

"It's nothing scary. You design a house to live in ... why not design something that will be with you for all eternity?"

Apparently, people agree. Construction on a Keeland-designed cemetery in Bay City began in late July.

The project will feature European-style fountains surrounded by cypress trees, color-coded crepe myrtles and Roman sculptures.

Keeland said people have a strange mental hang-up when talking about death, but pointed out it will eventually come to all of us.

"Why not leave something behind that will keep people talking?"

Keeland also served as the chairman of the City Planning Commission under former Mayor Kathy Whitmire.

The tombstones have a lasting quality that he said he likes.

"They cannot be destroyed. It's the safest thing an architect can design. Nobody will destroy a cemetery. Buildings ... they can be destroyed, but cemeteries ... never," he said.

He laughingly added that the architect can afford to be more creative for death because the client cannot gripe about the roof leaking or a cold draft.

Keeland said his inspirations in designing the tombstones are the pyramids and the Taj Mahal – two of the world's major tombs, he says.

"After all," Keeland explains, "your tombstone is your last hurrah."

 

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ARCH PROF PUTS SOME LIFE IN TOMBSTONES

by Niki Purcell

Daily Cougar Staff

Professor Burdette Keeland's fascination with the aspects of the living and in the final resting places of the dead has led him to some concrete projects.

Keeland, a 30-year UH architecture professor, has been designing tombstones for five years, honoring the wishes of living clients for personal gravesites when it's their time.

He said he believes his clients' personality should shine through, no matter how whimsical or blue-blooded the motif.

"Through architecture and art, you can make a statement (with your tombstones) about what type of person you are," he said.

One tombstone he designed resembles an old clock without hands to signify timelessness. Another was designed for a couple with black marbles identifying him and a white marble for her connected with a steel rod overhead.

He said he first discovered his grave obsession in 1968 in Milan, Italy, when he was touring and became lost.

"I saw some nuns next to a six- to seven-story building that was surrounded by a cemetery. I took about five slides of the gravesites," he said.

Since then, he has taken over 10,000 photos of tombs throughout the world and has become somewhat of an expert on tombstones.

"The tombs give a very good description of the cultures of the different countries," he said.

Instead of cold, gray slabs of cement above your head, how about a splash of pastel colors, circular designs and cemeteries with a picnic-like atmosphere?

His cryptic ideas are catching on – he has already designed 12 tombstones so far this year.

"My goal is to have people design their tombstone before they die. The tomb is an expression of who they were," he said.

"It's nothing scary. You design a house to live in ... why not design something that will be with you for all eternity?"

Apparently, people agree. Construction on a Keeland-designed cemetery in Bay City began in late July.

The project will feature European-style fountains surrounded by cypress trees, color-coded crepe myrtles and Roman sculptures.

Keeland said people have a strange mental hang-up when talking about death, but pointed out it will eventually come to all of us.

"Why not leave something behind that will keep people talking?"

Keeland also served as the chairman of the City Planning Commission under former Mayor Kathy Whitmire.

The tombstones have a lasting quality that he said he likes.

"They cannot be destroyed. It's the safest thing an architect can design. Nobody will destroy a cemetery. Buildings ... they can be destroyed, but cemeteries ... never," he said.

He laughingly added that the architect can afford to be more creative for death because the client cannot gripe about the roof leaking or a cold draft.

Keeland said his inspirations in designing the tombstones are the pyramids and the Taj Mahal – two of the world's major tombs, he says.

"After all," Keeland explains, "your tombstone is your last hurrah."

 

 

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CAMPUS VOLUNTEERS GEAR UP FOR ANN

College Democrats organize to support candidates' races

by James V. Geluso

News Reporter

As Election Day draws near, some UH students are working hard to see that Gov. Ann Richards is re-elected over Republican challenger George W. Bush.

The UH College Democrats have been working both on-campus and with Ann Richards' Harris County campaign office, as well as for Senate candidate Richard Fisher and congressional candidate Ken Bentsen.

The College Democrats sponsored a voter registration rally in Lynn Eusan Park earlier this month. They also held a debate-watching gathering Friday night, during the only gubernatorial debate of this election.

A few students braved the weather to stay "Up All Night for Ann" last Tuesday, then cast their votes Wednesday morning, the first day for early voting.

Off campus, college volunteers have been a crucial part of the governor's campaign, said Dottie Newton, volunteer coordinator for Richards' Harris County campaign. "We just couldn't get along without them," she said.

Newton said she has noticed that students are more interested in the campaign than in years past. "A few years ago, it was obvious that the students didn't really care," she said. "Today, they're really getting into the effort."

Clarissa Peterson, chairwoman of the College Democrats, attributed this enthusiasm to Richards, herself. "Ann Richards isn't just some politician that we only see on TV. She's been out there block-walking with us," Peterson said, adding that getting students interested in the other candidates has been more difficult. "It's hard to get students interested in legislative races because everybody lives in different districts."

Peterson said that since the Democrats running in the 18th and 29th Congressional Districts have large leads, the only district of concern is the 25th, where Democrat Ken Bentsen is running against Republican Gene Fontenot. "A lot of students have been individually working on that campaign, and we're looking at doing some things as a group there," she said.

Senate candidate Richard Fisher has seen less support than Ann Richards from students. "It's been a lot harder to get people out there for Fisher simply because they can't relate to him as well," she said.

"Issues that students are concerned about, like funding for the university, are state issues, not federal issues," Peterson said. Because of that, students are more likely to come out for the gubernatorial race than for a Senate one.

Newton said that although many volunteers are there because of class requirements, some have become more involved in the campaign than they might have planned. "Some have even gone on to run for precinct chair," she said.

"The ones that put in 12 or 16 hours, they're here long enough to see what the campaign is really like," she said. "They're here when we're not just doing mailings or busy work, and we're just talking, and a lot of times, they stick around."

 

 

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CAMPUS VOLUNTEERS GEAR UP FOR ANN

College Democrats organize to support candidates' races

by James V. Geluso

News Reporter

As Election Day draws near, some UH students are working hard to see that Gov. Ann Richards is re-elected over Republican challenger George W. Bush.

The UH College Democrats have been working both on-campus and with Ann Richards' Harris County campaign office, as well as for Senate candidate Richard Fisher and congressional candidate Ken Bentsen.

The College Democrats sponsored a voter registration rally in Lynn Eusan Park earlier this month. They also held a debate-watching gathering Friday night, during the only gubernatorial debate of this election.

A few students braved the weather to stay "Up All Night for Ann" last Tuesday, then cast their votes Wednesday morning, the first day for early voting.

Off campus, college volunteers have been a crucial part of the governor's campaign, said Dottie Newton, volunteer coordinator for Richards' Harris County campaign. "We just couldn't get along without them," she said.

Newton said she has noticed that students are more interested in the campaign than in years past. "A few years ago, it was obvious that the students didn't really care," she said. "Today, they're really getting into the effort."

Clarissa Peterson, chairwoman of the College Democrats, attributed this enthusiasm to Richards, herself. "Ann Richards isn't just some politician that we only see on TV. She's been out there block-walking with us," Peterson said, adding that getting students interested in the other candidates has been more difficult. "It's hard to get students interested in legislative races because everybody lives in different districts."

Peterson said that since the Democrats running in the 18th and 29th Congressional Districts have large leads, the only district of concern is the 25th, where Democrat Ken Bentsen is running against Republican Gene Fontenot. "A lot of students have been individually working on that campaign, and we're looking at doing some things as a group there," she said.

Senate candidate Richard Fisher has seen less support than Ann Richards from students. "It's been a lot harder to get people out there for Fisher simply because they can't relate to him as well," she said.

"Issues that students are concerned about, like funding for the university, are state issues, not federal issues," Peterson said. Because of that, students are more likely to come out for the gubernatorial race than for a Senate one.

Newton said that although many volunteers are there because of class requirements, some have become more involved in the campaign than they might have planned. "Some have even gone on to run for precinct chair," she said.

"The ones that put in 12 or 16 hours, they're here long enough to see what the campaign is really like," she said. "They're here when we're not just doing mailings or busy work, and we're just talking, and a lot of times, they stick around."

 

 

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UH SELECTS TOP SMALL-BUSINESS LEADERS

by Terri Garner

Daily Cougar Staff

Cheers sounded and small businesses gave themselves a pat on the back as Houston's top 100 small businesses were named by UH's Small Business Development Center at a luncheon co-sponsored by the Greater Houston Partnership and Southwestern Bell.

The Houston 100 Awards Luncheon was held to honor the Houston area's top private businesses and leaders in products and services, with Jones Business Systems topping the list with a reported 3,316 percent sales growth from 1991 to 1993, distinguishing it as Houston's fastest-growing private company.

Jones Business Systems is a computer hardware and software distributor that provides repair services, custom programming, training and consulting services for its customers.

JBS President Scott Shadle attributes the company's success to the diversity of its ownership. "Other start-up companies in our industry have retained total control ownership and have remained small as a result."

The Houston 100, which began in 1990, is designed to recognize the important economic contributions that Houston's small-business community makes to the economic vitality of the Houston area.

The Houston 100 includes service, manufacturing, construction, distribution and retail industries boasting a total of 3,559 new jobs created in the Houston-area economy. This figure is down from last year's 3,747 new jobs.

Betsy Gatewood, director of the UH Small Business Development Center, attributes this decline to two factors: efficiency and economic uncertainties.

"The data suggest that these private companies may be operating more efficiently or they may be outsourcing their work to contract labor." Gatewood also speculates that "...with continuing economic uncertainties, companies may also be more conservative about hiring."

"The Houston 100 acknowledges the fastest-growing, privately-held companies that are creating jobs and fostering economic development in our region," said George Beatty, senior vice president of the Greater Houston Partnership's Member Services Division. "We believe this new wave of entrepreneurs is representative of the many companies that are shaping Houston's future today."

 

 

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FRESHMAN FOSTER STARTS CAREER EARLY

Defensive end gets repetitions instead of red shirt

by Jason Paul Ramírez

Daily Cougar Staff

Rusty Foster is not supposed to be getting this much playing time.

But as it is, the Houston Cougars don't really have a choice.

Due to several of the injuries sustained to the Houston defensive unit this season, the freshman has been called on to pick up some of the slack in hopes that the unit will still be able to stay competitive.

"It's very unfortunate that (Foster) has had to start as a true freshman," Houston head coach Kim Helton said. "I would have liked for him to be about 265 (pounds) and a redshirt even though I'm sure he's loving it."

Indeed, Foster is third among Cougar freshmen in tackles as he has made 25 putdowns.

The 6-3, 235-pounder collected his first career sack Saturday night, tackling Texas Christian quarterback Max Knake for a seven-yard loss in the 31-10 Houston defeat.

"Though I expected to play some this year, I don't think I expected this much," Foster said. "It's been a good experience for me going into next year."

Foster came out of Garland, where he played his high school ball at Garland High. As a senior, Foster was named the district 12-5A defensive player of the year, totaling 127 tackles, 11 sacks and 10 passes broken up.

Foster was also his team's receiving leader as he caught 20 passes for 483 yards that season as Garland's tight end.

"(Foster's) the kind of guy that will turn this program around because he's a tough, honest, gifted athlete," Helton said. "And because of our injuries, we've been able to see that."

With Saturday's season-ending injury to Otis Grant at left defensive end, Foster's role will become more demanding as he is quickly becoming one of the most "experienced" position players left even though that was not the forecast at the start of the season.

"I expected Jason Brown to be starting this year, but then he got hurt," Foster said.

Brown sustained a season-ending sprained ankle in a practice following a Cougar loss to Kansas Sept. 1.

Because of the surplus of Houston injuries, Foster is also one of eight true freshmen who have seen significant action this season.

"We are one injury away from starting (freshman running back) Aaron Bluit at middle linebacker," Helton said.

 

 

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NETTERS NEED WIN TO TIE, LOOK TO TECH FOR CHANCE

by Daniel Scholl

Daily Cougar Staff

When the Houston volleyball team hosts Texas Tech at 7:30 p.m. today in Hofheinz Pavilion, it will be playing for the chance to secure a tie for the Southwest Conference title.

The Cougars (14-3 overall, 7-0 in the SWC) face the Red Raiders (12-11, 4-3) for the second time this season. When the two teams last met Oct. 5 in Lubbock, the Cougars won 3-2, the only match in which the Cougars have had to go three games since their 11-match win streak began when they defeated Memphis on Sept. 17.

With the polls coming in Tuesday, the Cougars jumped two spots and are now the No. 20 team in the nation.

Historically, the Raiders have proved to be a problem for the Cougars, even before head coach Bill Walton came to Houston, Walton said, adding that the last time they met, the Cougars had problems with the short serves and right-side attack of the Raiders.

The Raider offense is led by sophomore outside hitter Lacy Nye, who is eighth in the SWC with kills, averaging three a game. She has 219 for the season (all stats are as of Oct. 20) and is second in the league in digs with 3.75 a game.

Teammate Jennifer Cohn, a middle blocker, is also among the SWC leaders statistically as she is ninth in kills (2.96) and sixth in blocks (1.00).

"They had a winning streak for awhile," Walton said of Tech. "They lost to some teams they should have beat. We don't want to look ahead to Georgia (Saturday) and forget about Tech."

To win, the team has to stay healthy. It has had bouts with the flu this year and remnants still remain, Walton said. Senior hitters Lilly Denoon-Chester and Carla Maul are still a little sick.

Denoon-Chester, the team's top player, leads the SWC in kills per game and blocking. She is ranked 13th in the nation in kills.

The Cougars lead the league in hitting percentage, kills and blocking. They are second in assists.

The Raiders are last in hitting percentage and blocking; they are second to last in kills, but lead the league in digs.

 

 

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<I>PULP FICTION<P> CONTAINS PLENTY OF GRITTY FIBER

by Ericka Schiche

Daily Cougar Staff

The Sodom and Gomorrah evoked in the exoteric <I>Pulp Fiction<P> resembles the seamier side of the hellacious City of Angels.

However, auteur Quentin Tarantino's film is concerned less about the vice-ridden city than it is about the fleshy denizens of it. The film, which follows his debut cult classic <I>Reservoir Dogs<P>, is an anthology (scripted by Tarantino and former fellow video store clerk Roger Avary) of three stories in which 12 characters try to suss out the meaning of life.

As the opening credits appear larger and larger, the audience gets a kick out of listening to Kool and the Gang's "Jungle Boogie." Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), two hitmen, want to figure out if there's life beyond a hit.

One of the biggest ironies of the film is that the biggest heathen, Jules, thinks of himself as sacrosanct. Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), the stalwart, bald-headed black crime boss, often takes a no-holds-barred approach and tries to reorder his life after he is caught in a vulnerable position. Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), the pugilist who's plagued by neuroticism and cannot rest, crosses Marsellus by refusing to go down in the fifth round of a fight – he chooses instead to win. A family heirloom, a watch, becomes the center of his life, and he always seems lost and distraught without it, after Captain Koons (Christopher Walken) explains the timepiece's significance.

Mia (Uma Thurman) is one of Tarantino's least-developed characters. Part of Vincent's duties is to baby-sit the spoiled, third-rate actress. The weird aspect of this character is that she is part mannequin, part flapper, part innocent '60s naif who's willing to spend $5 on a milkshake.

Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) decide to take the lesser-traveled fork off the bifurcated crime road – instead of robbing the traditional places, i.e. liquor stores and convenience stores, they decide to hold up a restaurant. Their story ostensibly serves as the frame story, and the audience has practically forgotten them until the climax of the film.

Other characters like Lance (Eric Stoltz) and the body-pierced Jody (Rosanna Arquette); Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros), Butch's flame; and the resourceful mob facilitator Wolf (Harvey Keitel) serve important supporting roles in the human conundrum.

Tarantino's film emerges stylistically from the Nouvelle Vague and noir movements. The script is characterized by lapidary phrasing, nonlinear plot movements, spiels and diatribes, and is punctuated with black, sardonic humor – it's a lurid tale of lives lost in the labyrinthine house of desire.

A racist character sodomizes Wallace, and it's brilliantly metaphorical in one sense, quite poignant in another. The interstices of the script also leave room for the viewer's imagination. Each major scene is introduced by a blackened screen, on which white letters are emblazoned.

Some characters attempt to placate Marsellus Wallace, whose patina of tough-guy Himesian resolve eventually wears off. His dolorous wife, Mia – who's suspended in a state of drugged inebriation along with Vinnie – is not so much objectified as she is locked in a holding pattern.

Tarantino's Los Angeles is stuck somewhere between visions of mystery writers like Hammett and Mosley, the futuristic vision of Mike Davis' <I>City of Quartz<P>, the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" video and, in a peculiar way, fictive filmic landscapes similar to Robert Townsend's films.

The blaxploitation era of American cinema gave rise to much criticism about minstrelsy redux and stereotypes, but the black characters in <I>Pulp Fiction<P> are not merely caricatures. In fact, Marsellus is an enigmatic crime boss who speaks authoritatively, and Jules is rather loquacious and grandiloquent in many situations. Bonnie, a nurse who appears only briefly, never utters a word, but she also wields some authority.

That there is humor in <I>Pulp Fiction<P> is no small feat. The audience laughs when Jules and Vinnie debate the merits of foot massage and what it signifies. This scene occurs just prior to their bloody encounter with some bright college naifs who probably should have stuck to the books instead of venturing into a life of underground crime.

Tarantino's direction is excellent. References are often made to his evocation of Peckinpah or Kubrick, but he's definitely inimitable himself. He brings the characters to life out of an existential void in the tradition of pre- and post-WWII low-brow garishly illustrated crime fiction works. The performances are also excellent, especially Jackson's, Travolta's, Willis', Rhames' and Plummer's. Cinematographer Andrzej Sekula's work is quite amazing – he appropriately captures the characters in the dark pockets of their lives.

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