Students given head start on way to business world

by Jennifer Smith

Daily Cougar Staff

Margeaux Nguyen's dream is to open a balloon, flower, card and gift shop all in one. The College of Business Administration's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is helping her achieve her dream by teaching her the skills she needs.

The Entrepreneurship Program, as it is called, seeks to help students who aspire to start their own businesses through practical advice and academic theory. The selective program, which hopes to become a major if approved by the Texas Legislature, helps Nguyen and others like her to connect with real-world entrepreneurs who give advice.

Nguyen is now taking the next-to-last class in a six-class sequence designed to train the entrepreneurs of today – and tomorrow.

She and her class are the first graduates of the program, originally founded in 1993. Some of the class members have already started businesses, while others, like Nguyen, hope to start businesses soon.

Nguyen, a soft-spoken Vietnamese American woman with a fascinating accent, discovered when she was in the ninth grade that there were limited opportunities for a foreign-born woman to control an already established company.

"I thought, 'I must be head of my own company,' " Nguyen said. "That was the only way I could achieve my dream of being the leader of a company.

"When I went to college, there was nothing offered to help me achieve my goal," Nguyen said. "Then I learned about the Entrepreneurship Program."

Nguyen, who works as an administrative assistant for the program, is enthusiastic while discussing it.

"The classes are team-taught," she said. "There are academic professors who teach theories and facts, and there are entrepreneurs who tell you how those facts and theories relate to the real world. The executive professors (the outside teachers) tell stories, from which we learn."

Nguyen said she was excited as she explained about the mentor program.

"Every person admitted to the program is assigned a mentor," Nguyen added. "The mentors are successful entrepreneurs who advise us. I would describe it as not just a friend relationship, nor as a teaching relationship, but rather as a caring-teacher relationship.

"They are not just interested in your business development, but in your personal development as well. They advise you about how to handle your business relationships and answer your questions," she said.

Nguyen says of her own mentor, Heida Thurlow, head of the successful Chantal Housewares company and 1994 Business Woman of the Year, "We see each other about twice a month. She's really busy, but when we talk, she gives me a lot of advice, sometimes in stories about personal experiences and sometimes in general conversation."

Nguyen wants to start a one-stop party shop, with balloon and flower arrangements made to order and a card and gift section. She said she hopes to open her business in the next year.

Most of her companions in the program, she said, expect to start their new businesses at about the same time, if they haven't started one already.

"I have most of the equipment already," Nguyen said. "I will be doing the decorations for the center's Class of '96 induction ceremony in December."

With the help of two other students, Nguyen said she hopes to make a splash with her flower and balloon arrangements.






by Tanya Eiserer

Daily Cougar Staff

Coming on the heels of the university's electronic registration system, this semester, students can call up their grades on the Voice Information Processing system.

The news about VIP came in a University Planning and Policy Council meeting in which Sharon Richardson, associate vice president of enrollment, gave a 20-minute visual presentation on enrollment processes and telephone registration called "A Campus Wide Service."

"We have done a lot of work in the last few years on getting feedback on student expectations," Richardson said.

Until 1994, when the university started its long-awaited VIP system, it was hailed as a godsend for students tired of waiting in five different lines and being sent all over campus to get through the enrollment process.

"We hope it (VIP) means 'very important person,' " Richardson said. She added that several new processes – including allowing students to order transcripts, make appointments with advisers, file degree plans and make financial aid inquiries – are other possible additions to the system.

Plans also include adding different methods of using VIP, including fax machines, networks, student work stations and other forms of electronic-data transfer.

A recent survey of 3,000 students, with 1,560 returning the questionnaire, showed: 90 percent found the instructions were very clear, 89 percent thought the system was easy to use and 70 percent did not get a busy signal the first time they called.

During 1994 spring and summer registration, VIP's 96 lines took 211, 672 calls, with 13,000 calls coming in on the busiest day. The system was up 900 hours, with each call averaging 5.98 minutes.

Mario Lucchesi, director of Registration and Academic Records, demonstrated to the council how the system works.

"What used to take three to five trips for each student can now be handled with one phone call," Lucchesi said. "Students do not have to go to even one office to make an Add/Drop transaction."

From 1970 to 1985, the university essentially had the same enrollment processes until UH replaced the student financial aid system and the student billing system. Up until then, student bills were processed manually.

"We were way behind the curve," she added. In 1991, the university continued the updating process by integrating the admissions, registration, billing and advising procedures.

"It took us 20 years to get the new system, plus three years of refinement. We can't wait another five years to be competitive," Richardson said. "In terms of technology, we are behind (other institutions). Students need to be able to access information by fax, network, gopher or whatever."

After Richardson's presentation, Patrick Daniel, director of Learning Support Services, gave the results of a pilot summer survey of 116 graduating seniors.

The survey showed that almost a majority of those students surveyed paid for their education from personal savings, employment and loans, and that more than half work more than 20 hours a week.

Daniel cautioned that the survey sample was small and that not too much emphasis should be placed in its results except to use it as a reference point for future studies.

"We definitely need larger numbers before we can draw conclusions," Daniel said.

In the survey, students also pointed to various problems, including the perception that teaching assistants cannot speak English and the continuing belief that staff members are "clerical," "usually very rude" and "forever passing the buck."

Shirley Ezell, associate vice president for Academic Programs, said the university plans to eventually give the survey to all graduating seniors after further revisions are made.

The last presentation of the day focused on several of UH's retention programs, which included a five-member panel with Elwyn Lee, vice president of Student Affairs, acting as moderator.

Sylvia Foster, director of the Scholar Enrichment Program in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, said the program was for the "retention of minority students" and offers 12 enrichment workshops in calculus, freshman chemistry, organic chemistry and physics for 300 students.

Another retention program led by Louis Williams, an associate professor of pharmacy, called the Pharmacy Success Program was started to attract and keep minority students in the College of Pharmacy. Since 1991, the program has served 44 students with a 77.3 percent retention rate.

Frank Anderson, director of the federally funded Challenger Program for at-risk students, said his program also provides academic workshops and tutoring programs.

"Most students come to us with academic programs," he said. Anderson added that 37 percent of Challenger students had GPAs of more than 3.0 and that 18 students graduated with honors.

Other panelists included Daniel and Hyland Packard, assistant vice president of University Studies.








by Niki Purcell

Daily Cougar Staff

"You know, they say your life is not your own. In a way, it's true. But luckily, what I am doing in this year is what I would normally be doing anyway."

This is the viewpoint of 23-year-old UH student Nichol Bradford, also known as Miss Black Houston 1994-1995.

Bradford began her reign Aug. 8 when she competed against 43 other women between the ages of 18 and 24 at the Miss Black Houston Pageant, held at Texas Southern University.

Beauty contestants have a reputation for being a bit light in the intelligence department, but Bradford proves there are exceptions to every rule.

"A lot of people think of pageants as being very frivolous, but it is an extremely difficult process, mentally, physically and emotionally. (The contestant) can be asked anything in the interview from 'What's your favorite color?' to issues on global policy," she said.

So what questions did Bradford get asked?

•1. If you were in charge of U.S. foreign policy in Rwanda, what would it consist of and why? •2. What is the first part of the newspaper you read?

•3. If you were the first female president of the United States, what would be the first thing you would want to accomplish and why?

•4. What advice would you give to the young women of today about life?

"They were very tough and thought-provoking questions. You have to have an opinion on anything and know about everything. You can't just memorize something that you've already read," she said.

Recalling fond memories while laughing, Bradford said her pageant coach would call her at all hours of the day and night just to pound her brain with questions.

Bradford, a marketing major and an art history minor, will graduate in December.

"Right now, what I am really focusing on is working with young women," she said.

She has just completed a seminar with 70 girls at Houston's Dodson Elementary School.

Robert Reid, a former Houston Rocket, has adopted the school. Every week, he brings in someone from the community to talk and be a role model for the young students. The school had dress-up day – all the girls wore dresses, and the boys wore suits – when Bradford went to speak.

"They asked me to come and talk to the girls about sitting like a lady, standing like a lady and talking like a lady. Then we talked about self-respect and how if you walk, act and talk like you respect yourself, then only the people who treat you with respect will be able to be involved in your life," she said.

She believes that only through respect for one's self will a person be able to accomplish goals.

On average, she is required to make two to three appearances a week in addition to three to four hours of community service. However, she would be volunteering time in the community even if she was not Miss Black Houston, as she has been volunteering her entire life. Her mother was involved in political activities and, according to Bradford, dragged her and her sister to political rallies and the like.

"My parents raised us that you always give back to the community and that you always serve. So no matter where I go or what I do in life, I'll always be volunteering somewhere," she said. One of her favorite volunteer endeavors is with young teenage girls.

"It's really difficult to get through to them at times, so you have to have something that will catch their attention right now ... like (the tiara). Then you can sneak in things like self-esteem and goal-setting," she said.

The Miss Black Houston Pageant, held in August since 1984, was Bradford's first appearance at any pageant.

"I was absolutely shocked (when they called my name). Some of the girls I was sure were going to be in the top 10 were not. That's when I had no idea what the judges wanted and that I wasn't competing against anyone. I just told myself that I was going to do the best I could do, and I prayed constantly while I was up (on stage)," she said.

A few of the prizes she was awarded include a coat, a TV, a VCR, make-up and the following for a year: hair dresser, nail technician, makeup artist, clothes person, correspondence person and manager.

"It's kind of fun being wisped away every once in a while."

Even though Bradford was born in Detroit, she considers herself to be a native Houstonian and Texan. She moved here when she was 3.

"My final one-on-one on-stage question was, 'If you were hired by the Houston Visitors and Convention Bureau to do a 60-second commercial on Houston Proud, what would you do – the tape is rolling now,' " she said.

Bradford, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, laughs about what beauty contestants have to go through to look the way they do on stage.

First, to keep the swimsuit from riding, contestants' butts must be sprayed with Grip and Stick, a glue-like substance, by a very, very, very close friend. Then, to keep that perfect, perpetual smile, Vaseline petroleum jelly must be put inside the entire mouth from the cheeks to the gums to the teeth.

"It keeps your mouth from drying out, so you can smile," she shows the contestant smile, "forever."

Through this experience, she has learned not to be afraid of that moment in life when all things collide.

"When it comes down to it, in life, you are really not competing against anybody but yourself because there isn't anyone who can make you excel or fail like you can. I want to excel," Bradford said.







by Chris Stelmak

Daily Cougar Staff

The HIV virus has taken its toll once again. Pedro Zamora of MTV's <I>The Real World<P> passed away Friday. He was reportedly surrounded by his loved ones – family, friends, his husband and castmates from the show. Zamora was 22.

He was born in Havana and moved to the United States in 1980 via the Mariel Boat Lift. He left behind his family in Miami to move to San Francisco. While there, he worked as an AIDS educator, speaking in front of organizations and schools.

Zamora contracted the HIV virus when he was only 17 through unprotected sex. When Zamora found out he had the HIV virus, all he wanted to accomplish was to graduate from high school.

After he graduated, he decided he wanted to openly speak out against unprotected sex. His role on the third season of <I>The Real World<P> gave him that chance. The cast during this season's run handled Pedro's disease, his relationship with his lover and even their decision to marry with genuine sincerity and concern.

The White House was moved by Zamora's death. "Pedro was particularly instrumental in reaching out to his own generation, where AIDS is striking hard. Through his work with MTV, he taught young people that 'The Real World' includes AIDS and that each of us has the responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones," President Bill Clinton said in a release.

"Today, one in four new HIV infections is among people under the age of 20," Clinton continued. "For Pedro, and for all Americans infected and affected by HIV, we must intensify our efforts to reduce the rate of HIV infection, provide treatment to those living with AIDS, and ultimately, find a cure for AIDS."

Doug Herzog, MTV's vice president of programming and production, added, "With incredible courage and honesty, Pedro shared his life with millions on <I>The Real World<P>. We will truly miss him."






by Ivana Segvic

Daily Cougar Staff

Ramon Vargas is said to be the next Placido Domingo. His voice carries power and such beauty that it is difficult to overlook his talent. Even though he is singing the womanizing, self-centered role of the duke in Houston Grand Opera's production of <I>Rigoletto<P>, the audience can't help but love him.

"I was born in Mexico City. I always loved to sing since I was 4 years old. I used to stand in a chair and sing for my family. Later when I was in the chorus, I was in heaven," he said.

At 17, he began to study music and singing and soon after began winning contests in Mexico City and Europe.

"I didn't know until I won the first competition. I didn't know opera before. I only knew the music. But now it is in my soul."

Vargas had one influence that mattered a great deal in the formation of his career – the Madonna. "I had many influences, but the first and most important was the Lady of Guadelupe. She joined my heart and my singing. Also, my teacher was the second most important because he saw that I have talent for music."

However, he had many battles to win before he would reach the top. In 1984, Vargas lost his voice and was on the edge of losing everything for which he had worked.

"I didn't want to sing, and I couldn't sing. It was a bad period. But a friend, he helped me and told me that I am only in a bad period. He worked with my voice, and I managed to get it back."

He says he doesn't have a favorite role. "Roles have a lot to do with evolution. It depends on a period in life. I enjoy singing one role at one time and another later. But one day, I would really like to sing Don Carlos, but not now. I have time."

Being a homebody, Vargas finds it very difficult to travel. "I spend maybe two weeks at home. I am a house person. I like my chair, my books, so I hate being away from home for so long. I miss all of my things."

He not only has a difficult time because of his homesickness, but he also has a 1-year-old son. "My wife and my boy travel with me everywhere. It is just hard with small babies to travel. At least we are together all the time," he says with his charming accent.

Vargas tries to look at the positive side of being an opera singer, and says that most of the time, the positives outweigh the negatives.

"The most exciting thing is to offer something to the audience. They can forget real life and have other sensations (that) only the voice can do. It (the voice) is very spontaneous, very low, and it comes really from the body. I like to give that to the audience."

Vargas wishes to see more young people at operas. "Nobody can love something they don't know. I invite you all to go with the mind open, to hear and to have new sensations. Opera is tragedy. Sometimes it is hard and very brutal and shows what power and money can do. I think it is something that art has for people to present something in life. It is a comparison in life."

One quality Vargas says is of tremendous importance to him is honesty. "You have to be honest with yourself with everything – your job, your study, yourself. You have to have the right vision on life and work. Success and all of those things are not the most important. What is, is your life."

Vargas won't be having much of a chance to sit in his favorite chair. His schedule for the upcoming months includes stops in the most famous opera houses – the Metropolitan and La Scala, along with many others. But somehow, it all seems worth it to him.

"Opera is the union of many arts – the theater, acting, singing, ballet, the orchestra, conducting. I love to be a part of that. All together, it produces simple, pure beauty. That is magic!"






Logjam atop SWC leaves plenty of room for speculation

by Jason Paul Ramírez

Daily Cougar Staff

With two weeks left to play in this season's Southwest Conference race, the league's Cotton Bowl representative is still yet to be decided.

With Texas A&M having been eliminated from the race due to NCAA violations prompting probation, it has left 1994's race one of the zaniest in years.

Look at it this way: Texas Christian (3-2 in SWC) can still win this thing. In fact, this year's race faces the possibility of not having an outright champion.

Five teams (Baylor, Texas Tech, Rice, Texas and TCU) could all tie for the top spot with records of 4-3 – not the type of competition you would want having to compete in one of college football's three most traditionally prestigious bowl games.

"We are not looking to play the role of spoilers," Houston head coach Kim Helton said earlier last week. "We just want to win our last (two) football games. If we don't win (the conference), then I don't care who wins it."

If one thing is for sure, however, Houston is one of three teams (Rice and Southern Methodist are the others) officially eliminated from the race, meaning anything can happen to prompt one of the other four schools to make an appearance in Dallas Jan. 2.

But Baylor and Tech remain the favorites.

The Bears (4-2) have a tough game Thanksgiving morning with Texas in Waco. If the Longhorns win, both Baylor and the Horns (3-3) could end up tied at 4-3, with Texas gaining the tie-breaker edge based on head-to-head competition.

In that case, the SWC scenario would favor the Raiders, who still have the Cougars this Saturday, then TCU in Fort Worth. All Tech would have to do is win both games to clinch the title at 5-2 because it beat both Baylor and Texas.

"We may be in the driver's seat," Tech coach Spike Dykes said. "But we still have to get the car started."

The only way the Bears can win the conference is if they beat Texas and hope Tech loses one of its last two games.

Texas can still make an appearance, but it must beat Baylor and have Tech lose its final two games. The Longhorns lose out on a tie-breaker with the Red Raiders because of an Oct. 29, 33-9 loss in Lubbock.

The other dark horse in the race is TCU (3-2), which has No. 9 A&M in College Station Saturday. The only way the Horned Frogs can be Dallas-bound is if they win over both the Aggies and the Raiders and have Baylor lose to Texas.

In other words, stay tuned.






As the Houston Cougars wind up their struggle through the next-to-final season of Southwest Conference football, many students and faculty are asking pointed questions about our football program, questions the administration and the athletic department do not want to hear, let alone answer.

The questions involve the ethics of the program, possible NCAA violations during the John Jenkins era, sagging ticket sales, the suggestion that UH athletes are held to different standards than the rest of the student body and, bottom line, the future of intercollegiate football at UH.

The primary reason the administration and the athletic department do not want to hear the questions is because the answers are so obvious. Truthful, realistic answers would be an admission of the dismal failure of the UH athletic department to carry out its assigned mission: to educate and graduate student athletes from the university.

Everyone knows that big-time intercollegiate athletics is big-time business. Television contracts and ticket sales are expected to produce major revenue. Unfortunately, we have to have a good product to sell in order to attract national television exposure. Needless to say, having a good product is also necessary if the school expects to sell many tickets.

Sports fans are much more unforgiving than most entertainment buyers. They could care less what a team did last season, or, for that matter, over the last 10 years. Make no mistake, sports are far removed from the arena of "school spirit." The ticket sales that fuel football programs at traditionally strong football schools like Texas A&M and the University of Texas consist of tickets purchased by alumni and fans. A very small percentage of ticket sales at most Southwest Conference schools are generated by active students.

The University of Houston has small alumni and fan bases. As a result, a much larger percentage of tickets to UH football games go to students. Unfortunately, not that many students have the desire to see the Coogs play. Consequently, UH football games at the Astrodome often sell fewer tickets than high-profile high school games played at the same venue.

News clips shown in October on local television stations of Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell "demonstrating their blazing speed" on kiddie bicycles in front of rows of empty seats at the UH-TCU game did not generate the type of publicity UH needs. It did not elicit images of sell-out crowds and roaring enthusiasm associated with college football as seen on Saturday afternoon television.

Beyond the obvious questions regarding the money generated by UH football, the status of the new conference and the level of football being played by the present Cougar team is the growing discontent of UH faculty and nonathlete students.

The academic community, including nonathlete students, has the perception that there are different academic standards for athletes than there are for other students. Granted, this is not just a problem at UH. It is a pervasive problem with athletes at almost every university in the country, but it is certainly a valid concern for students who sweat over their books and try to be prepared every day for class, while athletes seem to find ways to avoid the same requirements for the same classes.

As UH meekly admits past NCAA violations during the John Jenkins era and allegedly asks for "voluntary probation," perhaps now is the time to totally re-evaluate the UH football program.

There is still a possibility that the NCAA will impose the "death penalty" on UH football, but beyond that possibility, the questions remain unanswered, and the answers are painfully obvious. Even though UH's "See Red" marketing campaign is one of the best promotions produced in years, the future does <I>not<P> look rosy for UH football.

The university community is "seeing red" all right! We are seeing "red" ink as football continues to bring in a lot less than it costs. We are seeing and hearing the "red"-neck philosophy of the athletic department when it comes to defending their right to continue to exist despite flagrant abuses of existing NCAA and university rules. And finally, we are seeing and getting the "red" ass watching (some of us do attend games) the Coogs lose most of their games to schools that have managed to recruit more blue-chip players.

This is not the fault of Cougar football players. They play their hearts out each week. No, it is merely a symptom of a disease affecting football programs at many schools – a "win-at-any-cost" attitude athletic directors and coaches interpret as a license to "bend" the rules to fit the occasion. In order to win, it seems, schools have to violate NCAA rules to acquire the best players. Just look at A&M! Athletic directors and coaches look at getting caught and being sanctioned as just "the cost of doing business." Some people would say we would have more blue-chip players if we "bent" more rules.

The UH athletic department and administration need to do some serious soul-searching. It might be a bitter pill to swallow to give up intercollegiate football, but trust me, the pill is not fatal.

Seattle University was faced with the same problem many years ago. The football program was losing big bucks every year. Despite loud and indignant protests from SU alumni, the school closed the football program and invested most of their resources into their basketball program. Today, football is hardly missed at SU, and the basketball program enjoys a reputation as one of the best college basketball programs in the Northwest. They also sell out their games consistently.

The University of Houston needs to consider the long-range future of the many, not the immediate future of a few. Let's realistically evaluate the future of football at UH.

Bobby Summers is a football fan and a junior journalism major.






Cougar Sports Service

For the first time in a while, this week's injury report isn't as bleak as it has been for the Cougar football team this season.

Head coach Kim Helton will see the return of two players this week, including season-opening starting quarterback Chuck Clements, who was thought to have been lost for the season when he broke his throwing hand on the helmet of an Ohio State defender, and who saw light action in Tuesday's practice for the first time since the Sept. 24 game.

Coach Helton said Clements will not be fighting for his starting position, but will be used as the emergency quarterback to ensure that freshman Larry Oliver and sophomore Brad Woodard keep their redshirts.

"Chuck threw in practice today," Helton said. "He'll dress out for the game, but I will only use him if (quarterbacks) Clay (Helton) and Chad (O'Shea) get hurt."

O'Shea is still suffering from a concussion he received in the Texas game Saturday, so Clay Helton will get the start Saturday against Tech.

The other player to return to practice Tuesday was senior defensive tackle Eric Harrison, who missed the Texas game due to knee problems.

Junior linebacker Chris Jones, who has been out with a hamstring injury, is listed as doubtful for Saturday's game.







by Valérie C. Fouché

and Lisa Mahfouz

Daily Cougar Staff

Just imagine ... infinite life, an ageless, timeless world without end, death without mortality – such is the life of a vampire, particularly the vampire Lestat.

Lestat flows through the years on a river of his victims' blood, blood which sustains his very existence. When he desires, he awards his victims with the magic of vampire immortality – whether they wish it or not.

During the late 18th century, Lestat encounters Louis de Pointe du Lac, a mortal man who has been devastated by the loss of his wife and daughter. Two-hundred years later, during the late 20th century in San Francisco, Louis decides to tell his story to a young, unsuspecting journalist. He tells a vampire's story of desire, love, yearning, grief, terror and ecstasy.

<I>Interview With the Vampire<P> is the highly anticipated film version of the first volume from Anne Rice's acclaimed <I>Vampire Chronicles<P>, starring Tom Cruise as Lestat; Brad Pitt as Louis; Stephen Rea as Santiago; Antonio Banderas as Armand; Christian Slater as the interviewer; and Kirsten Dunst as Claudia.

The movie – filmed on location in New Orleans, San Francisco, Paris and England – brings visual stimulation to anyone who has read the novel – as Rice wrote the screenplay version.

The provocative nature of Rice's <I>Vampire Chronicles<P> has kept it a widely read piece of fiction for nearly 20 years. Through the myths, folklore, literature and films of the past century, the image of the vampire has proven to be one of the most enduring. From Victorian novel to classic horror film, the vampire's vicious figure of power and immortality has captivated audiences worldwide. This vampire movie, however, entices the viewer's thoughts on what it would be like to become a vampire.

<I>Interview<P> uniquely portrays flesh-and-blood humans transforming into eternal, blood-sucking monsters while at the same time allowing them to remain vulnerably human in character. This vampire story will go down in film history as one of the best. It teases the idea that vampires really do exist and makes being one appealing.

Director Neil Jordan's work frequently explores such themes. <I>Interview<P> provided Jordan with an ideal opportunity to explore those depths of emotion in human – and inhuman – nature. "It's a disturbing movie because it's told from the point of view of monsters," Jordan said. "These are people who live off other people's blood and kill to live. They are the heroes of this movie, which is a really horrifying, but very original, perspective."

Counting on fans' familiarity with the fantasy-thriller genre, the filmmakers recognized the need for originality.

"There are things within our film which I have never seen on the screen anywhere before. We wanted it to be a great horror film that will scare people, but we also wanted it to be a great fantasy movie and to have things that are not just violent and savage, but also gentle and subtle and perhaps unique. However, the mood of the film follows Louis' journey from light into darkness," Jordan said.

As everyday mortals, we entertain the thought of never-ending life. We struggle with the pain life can bring and search for the light of hope. The vampire Lestat feeds off these desires and gives you the choice, death or the eternal living dead – which would you choose?


Stars: Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt

Director:Neil Jordan





by Robert L. Arnold

Daily Cougar Staff

Tis' the season to be jolly, when wind-swept dreams take a child's mind away toward the North Pole. But this season, Santa dons a new suit and personality in Disney's latest, <I>The Santa Clause<P>.

This satirical version of Santa plays on the question all children have concerning how ol' St. Nick is able to deliver those presents every year, and what would happen if Santa were gone.

Tim Allen, star of the hit TV series <I>Home Improvement<P>, plays a career-oriented salesman, Scott Calvin, who is trying to rebuild the strained relationship he has with his son.

This heartwarming picture begins on Christmas Eve, with Allen accidentally causing the "real" Kris Kringle to fall off his roof.

At this point, the already strained relationship Allen has with his son, Charlie, played by Eric Lloyd, becomes worse when he realizes Santa is dead.

After severe prodding from Lloyd, Allen then climbs onto the roof, aided by a magical ladder made by the Arose Suchaclatter Co., to inspect his rooftop.

With the help of brilliant special effects by The Character Shop, Allen finds Santa's sleigh complete with eight reindeer awaiting instructions. Allen then sports the traditional Santa suit and is whisked away, very reluctantly, to deliver Christmas presents.

After all the presents are delivered, he and Lloyd are taken to the North Pole, where Allen is told about his new responsibilities. Enter The Clause.

Allen is told by Bernard, the head elf, played humorously by David Krumholtz, that because he put on Santa's suit, he has to forfeit everything in life to take on the task of being Santa Claus.

Allen is then told he has 11 months to get his personal affairs in order before he begins his new "job." Some of the funnier scenes in the movie come when Allen takes on the transformation to "fill Santa's shoes."

Linda Notaro is the key makeup artist responsible for designing the four "fat suits" Allen wears throughout the movie. Some of the funnier scenes come when Allen realizes he cannot control his unexpected weight gain and growth of white facial hair.

Allen does a wonderful job in his film debut, bringing a child-like charm to his role. Judge Reinhold adds to the degree of humor, playing the husband of Allen's ex-wife.

Exquisite set designs do a tremendous job of giving a realistic atmosphere to Santa's workshop and home. Another realistic touch given to this movie are the thousands of little rosy-cheeked children used to play Santa's elves.

This film is done in the true style of Disney productions and will bring plenty of smiles to viewers' faces. Even though the movie does drag in spots, Allen's performance is enough to quicken the pace.

This is a movie for all ages and does provide a spectacular array of special effects that will entertain everyone. <I>The Santa Clause<P> is definitely a way to put movie-goers in the Christmas spirit and possibly even make them believe in Santa again.





by Ericka Schiche

Daily Cougar Staff

Noisecore quartet Girls Against Boys, monikered after a Spanish television novella, renders music that veers somewhere between aural assault and sonic obliteration.

During its headlining gig Friday at Urban Art Bar, Girls Against Boys played its brand of kinetic, energy-injected hardcore, giving the audience a respite from its relentless musical drilling by slowing down with a relatively soft Sebadoh cover. The band, touring on the strength of its latest recording, <I>Cruise Yourself<P>, performed about six songs from <I>Cruise<P>, including "Tucked In," "Cruise Your New Baby Fly Self," "Kill the Sexplayer," the implicitly sexual undertones of "Explicitly Yours," the mock lament/I'd-like-to-be-gregarious tone of "(I) Don't Got a Place" and "Raindrop."

The band's previous recordings include the debut EP <I>90s VS 80s<P>, <I>Tropic of Scorpio<P> (perhaps a subtle reference to literary softcore porn demimonde Henry Miller), the "Bulletproof Cupid" 7-inch single, <I>Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby<P> and the "Sexy Sam/I'm From France" single.

Although the tolerable quartet Black Train Jack lacked stage presence and originality, the monotony of quasi-punk quartet Down By Law – whose lead singer sported a gauze patch over his eye and whose bassist told a lame Texas joke – made some in the audience even more anticipatory. (A massive herd of alterna-junkies, who missed the best and loudest set of the triple bill, left after Down By Law's set).

Raspy-voiced vocalist Scott McCloud warmed up with "Magattraction" (a single featured on the Jabberjaw compilation disc <I>Good to the Last Drop<P>), but decided to cut it from his set list. His not-so-anemic lyrics and blistering power chords are infectious and copacetic, and don't be fooled by the martini set against a blood-red background of munitions and a firearm (pictured on the <I>Cruise<P> cover) – Girls Against Boys is not a smooth lounge act.

Other band members – including drum-meister Alexis Fleisig (sporting a nifty Dunkin' Donuts T-shirt), bassist/keyboardist Eli Janney and bassist Johnny Temple – effected a certain amount of naughty, bookish boy swagger.

McCloud dedicated a song to two sunglass-and-polyester-wearing 60s mod Heino impersonators.

Girls Against Boys' stage presence is incredible, and members were so often absorbed and lost in the music that a hyperactive stage diver – who tried in vain to insinuate himself into their thoughts and annoy them – didn't get their attention.







by Lisa Mahfouz

Daily Cougar Staff

Rock 'n' roll living legends, the Rolling Stones, cast a magical spell over an audience of 40,000 Sunday night in the Astrodome with its "Voodoo Lounge" tour.

Fire exploded from the towering spaceship-like structure that hovered over the Stones in the middle of the 220-foot-wide, 92-foot-high stage of steel. The brightness of 1,500 lights illuminated the band as the Stones entered the hyper-techno plane to greet the awaiting masses.

"Not Fade Away" was a befitting opening song for the classic rock band that has done just that. By the second song, "Tumblin' Dice," the crowd seemed to be in a trance, mesmerized by the awesomeness of the stage and the performers on it.

Three generations of music unfolding before their eyes, fans knew they were experiencing rock 'n' roll history.

Ticket sales for the tour, launched Aug. 1, have surpassed the advances for "Steel Wheels," to date the most successful concert tour of all time.

The crowd went nuts watching consummate rock star Mick Jagger dance, skip and jump from one end of the massive stage to the other. With twisting arms, puckered lips and a gyrating lean body, Jagger can still rock it!

Die-hard Stones fans began their "Voodoo" journey at about 7 p.m. Sunday night in the Dome with Texas' very own Ian Moore Band. The audience, jump-started by the end of Bryan Adams' set with "Summer of '69," cheered as it rose to its feet.

The crowd was blown away by the 1.5 million-watt Prism sound system that charged the Stones. The 170-ton, steel-and-aluminum set, an engineering masterpiece, was designed by Mark Fisher, creator of the recent Pink Floyd set.

With enough aluminum to manufacture 275,000 cans of Budweiser, the sponsor of the tour, the stage exemplified the recycling endurance of the Stones.

Jagger said the set design is a metaphor for the turn of the century. Fisher said he had only two requirements for the design of the stage: a stage Barbara Streisand wouldn't be able to sing on, and that Prince Charles wouldn't like.

The stage literally came alive during "Sympathy With The Devil." Larger-than-life blow-up figures of Elvis, the Virgin Mary, a voodoo priest, a cobra, a Hindu queen, a rosary and others surrounded the immense video screen.

Rejuvenated by the new blood of Daryl Jones – new bassist for the world's greatest band – Mick Jagger, vocals, guitars and harmonica; Keith Richards, guitars and vocals; Charlie Watts, drums; and Ron Wood, guitar and peddle steel, rocked and shocked younger fans with their age-defying energy.

Veins pulsed as Richards' hands mastered the strings of his guitar. Wood nonchalantly smoked his cigarette while slamming the peddle steel. Watts received the most applause for his relentless rhythm on drums. It looked like Jones, 32, was struggling to keep up with the pace of Jagger and the Stones.

Also accompanying the band were Chuck Leavell, keyboards, and Texas' own Bobby Keys, saxophone. "Brown Sugar" wouldn't be the same without the sexy saxophone seduction of Richards' guitar.

The mix of classic songs with new tracks from <I>Voodoo Lounge<P> marks a new era of live performances by the Stones. Its debut album with Virgin Records, <I>Voodoo Lounge<P> is being hailed as its best ever.

After 30 years of writing songs, touring and solo albums, the Rolling Stones are united as one. Each member of the band seems to have found the fountain of youth in rock 'n' roll.





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