CHRISTMAS SEALS ADD RESPIRATORY AWARENESS TO HOLIDAY MESSAGES

by Joey Guerra

News Reporter

Candy canes and stockings, Santa Claus and Rudolph, tree decorating and ... lung disease?

While lung disease may not seem to be part of the normal Christmas tradition, it has played an important role in the holiday season since 1907. This was the year the American Lung Association issued the first U.S. Christmas Seal.

Since it was founded 90 years ago, the American Lung Association has recognized the toll lung disease can take on children and has worked endlessly to educate the public on prevention and treatment of breathing problems. The annual Christmas Seal Campaign serves to raise money to combat respiratory disorders and chooses a different focus each year.

"This year's focus is particularly on children and asthma," said Clare Dowdall, regional director of the American Lung Association.

The organization hopes to raise $865,000 in Texas this year and, according to Dowdall, "We already seem to be a little ahead."

More than 40 million households across the country will receive Christmas Seals this holiday season, which feature a design by the Franklin Mint.

"Kids will love the Seal this year, which shows a cuddly teddy bear getting his last three stitches from three busy elves," said Edward Carter, president and chief executive officer of the ALA office in Austin.

Also participating in the fight is Shari Lewis, an innovator in interactive children's television and star of PBS' popular <I>Lamb Chop's Play-Along<P>. Lewis is the 1994 Christmas Seals chairwoman.

Christmas Seals cannot be used as postage, but are for decorative use on letters and packages. Over this century, individual donations to Christmas Seals have supported the American Lung Association's education, research and advocacy programs.

A big part of the campaign is the annual Christmas Seal Walk. This year's event will be held in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

The goal is prevention, control and cures for lung disease, the third-leading cause of death in Texas. Public contributions and community volunteers help keep these life-saving programs alive.

To keep Christmas Seals a holiday tradition, or for information on the Christmas Seal Walk, call 800-LUNG-USA.

 

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UHPD RULES OUT ARSON IN TOWERS FIRE

by Robert L. Arnold

Daily Cougar Staff

A fire in North Moody Tower Wednesday morning was probably caused by residents' carelessness, UHPD said.

A small trash fire started in a garbage bin inside a locked room located at the end of a waste chute in the basement of the North Tower at about 1:30 a.m.

North Tower Area Coordinator Lisa Russell was the first to arrive on the scene and found the sprinkler system going off and the flames extinguished.

"I remember hearing a noise that was a mix between a buzz and rushing water; when I opened the door, the fire was already out," Russell said.

UHPD, which received an alarm and a call about the fire from a Tower resident at 1:37 a.m., investigated the cause of the fire and said there is no reason to believe arson was involved in the incident.

"We don't know what caused it; it could have been a number of things, but we (UHPD) investigated and found the most likely cause to be negligence on the part of Towers residents," UHPD Lt. Malcolm Davis said.

The trash bin is not accessible to Towers residents, but there is a trash chute that runs the height of the building. The doors to this chute are located on every floor of the Tower, but have padlocks on them. The morning of the fire, three of the floors did not have locks on the chute openings.

"We have no reason to believe the fire was started intentionally, but I have no basis to say whether or not it was arson; it may have been a cigarette that was not completely snuffed out; I don't know," said Towers Area Coordinator Karen Elkins.

After the fire was out, the Towers staff spent the next two hours mopping up the water that had accumulated as a result of the sprinkler system's activation.

"We were in ankle-deep water, and RAs used everything from a bucket to pushbrooms to clean up the mess," Russell said.

Because the basement of the North Tower is mainly cement, no damage occurred to the building, aside from slight water damage.

"I was really happy to see the staff and residents pulling together to help prevent a major crisis from happening; the staff was really prepared and did a great job," Russell said.

 

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Volleyballers fall to UCLA

by Daniel Scholl

Daily Cougar Staff

The Houston volleyball team's quest for a national championship came to an end Friday when the Cougars lost 3-0 to UCLA in the South region final in Gainesville, Fla.

The No. 17 Cougars (26-7) advanced to the round of eight by beating No. 14 Florida (28-6) the night before 3-1, but could not find their rhythm Friday and instead watched the No. 3 Bruins (31-3) advance to the Final Four.

Houston lost to UCLA by scores of 15-5, 15-7 and 15-12 and was out-hit .348 to .199. Houston head coach Bill Walton said the Bruins shut down the Cougars' strength – the middle attack.

Led by senior and All-Tournament-Team member Lilly Denoon-Chester, and sophomore Marie-Claude Tourillon, Houston has relied on their kills and running the slide all season.

"UCLA forced us to go outside," Walton said. "We never got comfortable playing."

Denoon-Chester still led the team in kills, but was nowhere near her average with only 13 on the night, a hitting percentage of .156, and eight attacking errors. Tourillon was second on the team in kills with 12.

The Bruins out-killed the Cougars 62-49 and had five service aces.

"We didn't get good swings from our service reception and digs," Walton said.

Houston's Carla Maul, who played her last game for the scarlet and white, was second in the Southwest Conference for the season in digs. She had seven against UCLA.

"If we had passed better to get our middle more in the game," Walton said, "I think we would have been right in there. UCLA was very beatable."

Another factor in the game was that Walton said UCLA looked past Duke, who the Bruins played Thursday, and spent all week preparing to play Houston, while the Cougars prepared for Florida, then only had one day to plan their attack on UCLA.

The Florida game saw a more standard Houston production, with Denoon-Chester recording 19 kills and the Cougars out-digging the Gators 64-47.

Walton said that in the first game, the team was extremely nervous, but took a 9-0 lead in the second game. The third game was close. The scores for the Florida match were 13-15, 15-6, 15-11 and 15-4.

"The defining moment against Florida came when Carla set the block, and Lilly closed and jumped over the net and stuffed (Jenny) Wood," Walton said.

Wood was the Gators' go-to player, with 51 attempts in the match. She recorded only 16 kills for a .176 hitting percentage.

Earlier this season, Walton said the only team he feared was Stanford. Now, he still maintains the Cardinal is the team to beat despite Nebraska being the No. 1 team in the country. But the Cougars finished the regular season No. 17, yet advanced to the Elite Eight.

"We're definitely one of the top 10 teams in the nation," Walton said. "A popularity poll of the coaches doesn't mean much."

Walton has maintained all season that only the West Coast teams get national press coverage and respect.

"People will just call us a fluke unless you do this year in and year out," he said. "You've got to earn the respect."

To continue advancing this far into the NCAAs, he will have to replace the all-time leading scorer for the Cougars, Denoon-Chester. But he is only losing two players in the starting rotation, Denoon-Chester and Maul. Reserves Heidi Sticksel and Christi Drier also ended their careers with the Cougars Friday.

 

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HOLIDAY BLUES MAY SIGNAL DEPRESSION

by Frank McGowan

Daily Cougar Staff

"I hate the holidays."

Have you heard this said by someone you know?

Although this sentiment is often stated with a touch of cynicism, for others, the stresses of the holidays become too much to handle and the result can be holiday depression.

According to Lynn Rehm, a UH psychology professor, holiday depression or holiday blues generally affects people who are already mildly depressed or prone to depression, therefore making the situation worse.

"When we talk about holiday depression, we are not talking about the fact that there are great increases in clinical levels of depression across the population. What we are talking about is the fact that the holidays are stressful in many different ways for lots of people," Rehm said.

Having an idealized or unrealistic vision of what Christmas and the holidays should be like is a major cause of the holiday blues, he said.

Rehm adds that families today rarely fit the "ideal model" due to instances of divorce, single-parent households, deaths in the family and geographic separation.

"Secondly, people tend to have unrealistic expectations or hopes for the holidays. Holidays are supposed to bring people together and perhaps overcome conflicts or disagreements that have characterized relationships during the year. Then this doesn't happen. People who are arguing continue to argue at Christmas parties," Rehm said.

Some warning signs of holiday depression include changes in mood and self-esteem as well as hopelessness, while physical indicators include sleeping problems, fatigue and changes in appetite, Rehm said.

Students may be at a slightly greater risk of holiday depression due to the added dimensions of stress at this time of year, Rehm said. In addition to exams, time constraints and preparing for the next semester, students returning home to the family can experience stress due to the change. He points out that any change, even if it is positive, can create stress.

Bill Crawford, a psychology intern and doctoral student with the UH Counseling and Testing Service, offers a workshop on dealing with holiday stress and helps participants identify the source of their stress.

"The holidays are often a time of reflecting on the past year. Many people have suffered a loss, and at this time of year, they look back and realize that they are missing something or someone or have not met a desired goal," Crawford said.

Often, the burden of trying to create a "perfect" holiday is the primary cause of the stress, but Crawford said he always asks the individual to define what the ideal is for them as well as the individual's reactions to these stressors.

"If they stay right there (emotionally), they, unfortunately, get caught in a cycle where the stressors trigger reactions which trigger the stressors being more problematic, which trigger deeper reactions, and we get into this cycle of stress," Crawford said.

Crawford recommends recreating the holidays in a more purposeful way. He said if the holidays have not worked in the past, then getting together with friends or groups who share a similar vision of the holidays may be an answer.

Byron Bloemer, peer educator and coordinator with the Counseling and Testing Service, supervises peer educators who offer seminars on dealing with holiday blues.

Bloemer advises that in order to deal with stress, students should spend time with people with whom they feel comfortable; however, this does not necessarily include family. Also, he recommends staying active and exercising.

Treatment for holiday depression can include attempting to regulate the stress, followed by psychotherapy or group therapy and in severe situations, drug treatment. Counseling services offered at UH are free for the first 10 individual sessions, and group-therapy sessions are always free.

 

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KIDS REACH OUT AND TOUCH SANTA

by Niki Purcell

Daily Cougar Staff

This season, instead of just writing to Santa, kids were able to speak to him personally on the phone.

Southwestern Bell sponsored a free bilingual Santa Hotline that was available to children and their parents up to last Friday for the first time in the Houston area. Members of UH's Kappa Delta Chi sorority helped staff the line.

St. Nick and Southwestern Bell were aided in this project by "elves," supplied by Talento Bilingue de Houston, which helped Santa find out who's been naughty and nice.

"We are pleased to team up with Southwestern Bell Telephone to spread the Christmas spirit through this innovative bilingual program," said Richard Reyes, TBH's founder.

TBH, in existence since 1977, is a nonprofit organization that produces Spanish/English-speaking theater productions to complement associated educational programs for at-risk youth.

Santa gave kids advice about being good and working hard in school. Information about free holiday activities for children was mailed to parents as well.

Gloria Delgado, Southwestern Bell's area manager for external affairs, estimated that the service received in excess of 800 calls.

 

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HOLIDAYS OF WINE AND ROSÉS: GIVE GIFT OF DRINK

by Lisa Mahfouz

Daily Cougar Staff

Instead of giving your dad another tie this year for Christmas, how about a bottle of 1991 Reserve St. Martin Chardonnay.

This holiday season, reap the fruits of being a well-educated UH student by giving the gift of pleasure and good health – wine.

Not only has the consumption of one to two glasses of wine a day been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks in a recent Harvard study, it also tastes good, and it is not expensive.

In addition to France, Bert Wheeler's, located at 3838 Westheimer, offers a variety of wines from Texas and, of course, California.

"Wine doesn't have to be expensive; it just has to taste good to the person drinking it," says UH alumnus and Bert Wheeler's foremost wine connoisseur, David Anderson.

Anderson suggests giving George Duboef Beaujolais from France, $7.59, to the "virgin" wine drinkers. It has a light and fruity character and is a step up from Beringer's White Zinfandel.

If you really want to impress without the expensive cost, Anderson recommends Meursault by Jean Claude Boisset, $13.99. This full-bodied, white burgundy from the popular burgundy region in France goes well with baked or roasted poultry and grilled seafood.

Barton and Guestier Beaujolias Nouveau is a fruity, light wine perfect to enjoy with holiday feasts. This wine is special because it is made from the first grapes of the harvest.

The Messina Hof winery, located right outside College Station, makes for a good Sunday afternoon trip and produces a Sauvignon Blanc for only $4.99, Anderson said.

Get out of the house during the holidays and visit the Pheasant Ridge and Llano wineries in the best growing region in Texas. These Texas wineries produce tasty grapes, including Pheasant Ridge Pinot Noir, $13.99, and Llano Merlot, $9.99. Saint Genevieve Winery in the Davis Mountain area near El Paso offers a reasonable chardonnay for $4.29.

Any wine list wouldn't be complete without California's Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley wines.

Jill Salomon, wine columnist for Houston Life, a magazine published as an insert in the Houston Post, can assist you with the perfect wine selection at Wines of America, 2055 Westheimer.

Salomon suggests a red wine from the Hess Collection, 1990 Napa Valley Cabernet, $17.99. These mountain-grown grapes provide a full-body, dry taste for a full-body meal – like red meat or pasta, Salomon says.

The 1992 Carneros Chardonnay, made from the thriving, burgundy grapes of the southern regions of Napa and Sonoma, also makes for an impressive gift that fits a college student's budget at $11.99.

1992 Cronin Chardonnay from the Santa Cruz Mountains, $21.99, is a rare find this season, Salomon said. It goes well with hearty foods and "if you don't like red wine, this rich, long-finish (the taste lingers on the tongue) wine stands up to big flavors," Salomon said.

Cronin compares to Kendall Jackson, a popular wine given and consumed during the holidays.

This new year, toast with a glass of real champagne. Mumm Cordon Rouge Brute from Champagne, France, is a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. It tastes expensive, but is only $21.99.

To tickle your nose this holiday season without leaving a hole in your wallet, Salomon recommends a sparkling wine from down under, Carrington Extra Brute, priced reasonably at $5.99.

Wines from America and all over the world can be found at Wines of America, and wine baskets made to order can be shipped anywhere.

Tantalize your taste buds every Friday in January with free wine-tasting at Wines of America's two locations, 2055 Westheimer and 6530 Woodway.

However, what you can't taste there are port wines. "With our liquor license, we can't sell port wines because of their high alcohol content," Salomon says.

Port wines come from Oporto, Portugal, hence the name "port" and possess a high alcohol content of 19 to 20 percent. Similar to cognacs, port wines are rich, after-dinner drinks. They can be served cold, warm, chilled over ice, or for best results, over ice cream.

These wines come in several variations and are for the advanced wine consumer. Amateurs, please don't try these alone at home.

Anderson suggests basic port wines, Cockburns Ruby and Tawny, priced at $9.75. The next step up is Fonseca Bin No. 27, $11.69, and Warre's Warrior, $12.99.

Stimulate your mind and taste buds over the holidays by learning how to make your own wine or beer with <I>Grossman's Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits<P> by Harriet Lembech. Or try perusing through Hugh Johnson's <I>Modern Encyclopedia of Wine<P>, everything you need to know about wine and more. Both books are informative and also make thoughtful gifts.

Wine is in! Any kind, color or at any price. It makes a great gift because you get to share in the joy of giving and receiving. The fortunate recipient may partake in the bottle of wine alone or share it. Some may even save it for a special occasion, like your graduation. Just imagine how sweet that glass of wine will taste to you and your family.

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

 

GRAPHIC BOX:

Texas Wineries: A Short Day Trip

Fall Creek Vineyards

Hill Country; Tow, Texas

(915) 379-5361

Messina Hof Wine Cellars

Bryan, Texas

(409) 779-2411

Saint Genevieve Winery

Austin, Texas

(512) 447-9555

Grape Creek Vineyard

Fredricksberg, Texas

(210) 644-2710

Bell Mountain

Fredricksberg, Texas

(210) 685-3297

Perdernales Vineyards

Fredricksberg, Texas

(210) 997-8326

 

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WORLD OF JOY

CHRISTMAS AROUND THE GLOBE A MOSAIC OF CULTURE

by Ivana Segvic

Daily Cougar Staff

With temperatures hitting the '30s and '40s, Christmas is unmistakably in the air. With glowing lights, Santa Clauses, reindeer and yuletide decorations, Houston is preparing for the greatest holiday of the season.

But somehow, the meaning of Christmas has been lost in the ringing of cash register bells and ads enveloping the city and its naive shoppers. It is becoming more and more difficult for parents to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas because of the immense commercialization of a day that a child, a savior, was born.

•Christmas in America: The United States has become known for its elaborate and long celebration of Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year and the beginning of the Christmas "season." But the story of Christmas in America goes back to 1492 and Christopher Columbus. On Christmas day, he made the first settlement in America on Santo Domingo island. His ship, the Santa Maria, had wrecked on that day, but because of the help of some kind natives, Columbus and his crew were rescued. To show his gratitude, Columbus named the fortress and village on Santo Domingo "La Navida," or the Nativity.

Today, we celebrate the joys of the birth of baby Jesus with gift-giving, feasting, singing carols and celebrating with the family. But perhaps what is more interesting is the way people around the world celebrate the holiday of Christmas.

•Christmas in the Philippines: Charlotte Chun, a sophomore RTV major, was born in the Philippines and has lived in the United States for 14 years. "In my home country, everyone partied throughout the Christmas holidays. Family, friends and neighbors gathered together and ate, drank and played with firecrackers," she said.

Christmas in the Philippines is celebrated on Christmas Eve, when the whole family gathers together and spends the evening together. "At the stroke of midnight, we would all gather together and open our presents. Today, we still celebrate the Christmas holidays the same way we did back home," Chun said. However, the Chun family decided to change one tradition this year. "In the Philippines, I don't know why, but there are never live Christmas trees. For the first time, my family and I decided to buy our first live Christmas tree," she said.

•Christmas in Germany: Even though it may seem like the Christmas tree has always been a part of American tradition, it was introduced to the United States by the Germans.

In Germany during the Middle Ages, it was customary to hold a feast day in honor of Adam and Eve on Dec. 24. Plays were performed showing the lives of the couple from the Garden of Eden. One of the stage props was an evergreen tree with apples portraying the fall of man. Eventually, the plays became a part of the past, but the "Christmas tree" became a tradition that soon the whole world would adopt. Peasants began setting up Christmas trees in their homes, and eventually, more decorations began to find their place on the tree. The lights used today on so many houses and trees originated from the candle sticks used to signify Christ as the light of the world. Cookies, which were later replaced by balls, represented redemption because of the roundness, like the Sacred Host.

One custom in Germany during the Christmas season deals with holly leaves. The leaves with spines were "he" leaves, and those lacking spines were "she" leaves. Holly was gathered for decoration, and when the collection was done, the leaves were divided into "he" and "she" piles and counted. Whichever kind was in greater number signified who would be the ruler of the house in the coming year.

In the 15th century, stories of a miracle traveled throughout Germany. Pilgrimages were made to Nuremberg to see the tree that bore apples the size of a thumb on the night Jesus was born.

•Christmas in Belgium: In Belgium, St. Nicholas is anticipated by the children. He makes his appearance on Dec. 4 to see if the children behaved, then returns on Dec. 6 to fill baskets and shoes with toys and candy.

To make sure St. Nick can find his way to their houses, the children leave hay, water and carrots near the door for his donkey. They knew if the good, old saint stopped for a visit by the appearance of their rooms. If everything is moved around, St. Nick had been there.

•Christmas in Austria: In Austria, St. Nick, along with his pal, Krampus, also arrive on Dec. 6. However, it is the Christkind, or Christ child, who brings gifts on Christmas Eve and even helps decorate the Christmas tree.

In 1818 in the small Austrian Alpine village of Oberndorf, a school teacher named Franz Gruber and Father Joseph Mohr, the village priest, coalesced words and music and wrote one of the most beloved Christmas songs, Silent Night.

•Christmas in Spain: Spain celebrates the <I>Nocha Buena<P> (good night), or Christmas Eve, with the children dancing to express their happiness for the coming of the Lord. Baby Jesus is welcomed with tambourines, guitars, rattles and castanets. The Nacimientos, or manger scenes, are set up in the best room of the house, and delicacies like almond soup, truffled turkey and chestnuts are served.

On Christmas day, the true fun begins. Gifts are exchanged, then the names of all the family members and friends are written on small pieces of paper.

Two names are drawn at the same time with a wish that they will be friendly during the next year. Many times, young lovers would take advantage of the old folk tradition and secretly cheat their way into being paired together. This way, they not only had an excuse to be together, but it was "suitable" for them to be together.

•Christmas in Sweden: Sweden never fails at having a white Christmas. The season begins on Dec. 13, St. Lucia's Day. Early in the morning, the eldest daughter of each family is transformed into "Lucia." The whole family is awakened by her in a white gown, wearing a crown of lighted candles and greenery and singing "Santa Lucia."

She serves a kind of breakfast in bed to the family, bringing them coffee beans and Christmas cookies. Christmas day is celebrated solely as a religious holiday, but the Swedish celebrate it in style with torches lighting the way.

•Christmas in Chile: Chile celebrates its Christmas much like we do in Texas – wearing shorts, T-shirts and bathing suits. In Chile, Christmas comes at the hottest time of the year.

Santa Claus, or Viejo Pascuero, rides through the starry sky with his reindeer hopping through the windows to leave gifts. Even though the children know he doesn't visit unless they are asleep, the sneaky ones leave building blocks under their pillows to stay awake.

•Christmas in Greece: Greece, being mostly Greek-Orthodox, celebrates Christmas on Jan. 6. Easter is celebrated with greater festivity than Christmas; however, Christmas is filled with celebration as well. Children go door-to-door singing Kalanda (carols) that depict the birth of Jesus and also call for good wishes for the family of the household.

Christopsomo, or Christ bread, is made and decorated with a motto showing the family's occupation. When the table is laid out, the husband makes the sign of the cross over the bread. Honey is eaten first, then the family lifts the table three times, saying, "Christ is born, joy has come to the world -- our Lady's table, Mary's table."

St. Nicholas is very important to the Greeks. Because December is the time of tempests and storms and is the month of St. Nicholas, St. Nick has become a patron saint of seamen. He is envisioned as saving sinking ships; therefore, no Greek ship travels without his icon.

When a ship is in danger, the skipper makes an oath to bring silver and gold tokens, called ex-votos, to the icon of St. Nicholas if the ship makes it to shore. The sailors and skipper then walk barefoot to a church where the Saint's icon is hung and place the ex-votos upon it. His icons are always covered with ex-votos, showing the many ships he saved.

•Christmas in Italy: Italy owes much of its tradition to St. Francis of Assisi. On Christmas Eve in 1223, he wanted to show what baby Jesus suffered as a newborn lacking basic necessities. He created a Nativity scene in the woods and invited the whole village.

The forest echoed with celebration, and a mass was even held at the spot. The people's eyes were opened to the meaning of Christmas. St. Assisi even opened the doors for artisans, who quickly began making cribs and miniature mangers for Christmas. The tradition has now touched most of the world.

Christmas around the world is filled with tradition and folklore from many civilizations and ages. In the United States, we are lucky to have so many ethnic influences to make our Christmas season one of many diverse cultures – a kind of global Christmas.

However, it is easy to get lost in the tinsel, lights, Santa Clauses and brilliance of the season. Perhaps we should step back a little and look at the true meaning of Christmas, "the mass of Christ," <I>Weihnacht<P>, "sacred night," and Noel, the "birthday" or "news."

In 1865, Boston's Phillips Brooks ventured to the Holy Land and was deeply moved by what he saw. On Christmas Eve, he sat in the fields outside of Bethlehem and in his little notebook wrote the beautiful words of "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Thinking back to that one night may make today's Christmases even more merry and bright.

 

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WORLD OF JOY

CHRISTMAS AROUND THE GLOBE A MOSAIC OF CULTURE

by Ivana Segvic

Daily Cougar Staff

With temperatures hitting the '30s and '40s, Christmas is unmistakably in the air. With glowing lights, Santa Clauses, reindeer and yuletide decorations, Houston is preparing for the greatest holiday of the season.

But somehow, the meaning of Christmas has been lost in the ringing of cash register bells and ads enveloping the city and its naive shoppers. It is becoming more and more difficult for parents to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas because of the immense commercialization of a day that a child, a savior, was born.

•Christmas in America: The United States has become known for its elaborate and long celebration of Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year and the beginning of the Christmas "season." But the story of Christmas in America goes back to 1492 and Christopher Columbus. On Christmas day, he made the first settlement in America on Santo Domingo island. His ship, the Santa Maria, had wrecked on that day, but because of the help of some kind natives, Columbus and his crew were rescued. To show his gratitude, Columbus named the fortress and village on Santo Domingo "La Navida," or the Nativity.

Today, we celebrate the joys of the birth of baby Jesus with gift-giving, feasting, singing carols and celebrating with the family. But perhaps what is more interesting is the way people around the world celebrate the holiday of Christmas.

•Christmas in the Philippines: Charlotte Chun, a sophomore RTV major, was born in the Philippines and has lived in the United States for 14 years. "In my home country, everyone partied throughout the Christmas holidays. Family, friends and neighbors gathered together and ate, drank and played with firecrackers," she said.

Christmas in the Philippines is celebrated on Christmas Eve, when the whole family gathers together and spends the evening together. "At the stroke of midnight, we would all gather together and open our presents. Today, we still celebrate the Christmas holidays the same way we did back home," Chun said. However, the Chun family decided to change one tradition this year. "In the Philippines, I don't know why, but there are never live Christmas trees. For the first time, my family and I decided to buy our first live Christmas tree," she said.

•Christmas in Germany: Even though it may seem like the Christmas tree has always been a part of American tradition, it was introduced to the United States by the Germans.

In Germany during the Middle Ages, it was customary to hold a feast day in honor of Adam and Eve on Dec. 24. Plays were performed showing the lives of the couple from the Garden of Eden. One of the stage props was an evergreen tree with apples portraying the fall of man. Eventually, the plays became a part of the past, but the "Christmas tree" became a tradition that soon the whole world would adopt. Peasants began setting up Christmas trees in their homes, and eventually, more decorations began to find their place on the tree. The lights used today on so many houses and trees originated from the candle sticks used to signify Christ as the light of the world. Cookies, which were later replaced by balls, represented redemption because of the roundness, like the Sacred Host.

One custom in Germany during the Christmas season deals with holly leaves. The leaves with spines were "he" leaves, and those lacking spines were "she" leaves. Holly was gathered for decoration, and when the collection was done, the leaves were divided into "he" and "she" piles and counted. Whichever kind was in greater number signified who would be the ruler of the house in the coming year.

In the 15th century, stories of a miracle traveled throughout Germany. Pilgrimages were made to Nuremberg to see the tree that bore apples the size of a thumb on the night Jesus was born.

•Christmas in Belgium: In Belgium, St. Nicholas is anticipated by the children. He makes his appearance on Dec. 4 to see if the children behaved, then returns on Dec. 6 to fill baskets and shoes with toys and candy.

To make sure St. Nick can find his way to their houses, the children leave hay, water and carrots near the door for his donkey. They knew if the good, old saint stopped for a visit by the appearance of their rooms. If everything is moved around, St. Nick had been there.

•Christmas in Austria: In Austria, St. Nick, along with his pal, Krampus, also arrive on Dec. 6. However, it is the Christkind, or Christ child, who brings gifts on Christmas Eve and even helps decorate the Christmas tree.

In 1818 in the small Austrian Alpine village of Oberndorf, a school teacher named Franz Gruber and Father Joseph Mohr, the village priest, coalesced words and music and wrote one of the most beloved Christmas songs, Silent Night.

•Christmas in Spain: Spain celebrates the <I>Nocha Buena<P> (good night), or Christmas Eve, with the children dancing to express their happiness for the coming of the Lord. Baby Jesus is welcomed with tambourines, guitars, rattles and castanets. The Nacimientos, or manger scenes, are set up in the best room of the house, and delicacies like almond soup, truffled turkey and chestnuts are served.

On Christmas day, the true fun begins. Gifts are exchanged, then the names of all the family members and friends are written on small pieces of paper.

Two names are drawn at the same time with a wish that they will be friendly during the next year. Many times, young lovers would take advantage of the old folk tradition and secretly cheat their way into being paired together. This way, they not only had an excuse to be together, but it was "suitable" for them to be together.

•Christmas in Sweden: Sweden never fails at having a white Christmas. The season begins on Dec. 13, St. Lucia's Day. Early in the morning, the eldest daughter of each family is transformed into "Lucia." The whole family is awakened by her in a white gown, wearing a crown of lighted candles and greenery and singing "Santa Lucia."

She serves a kind of breakfast in bed to the family, bringing them coffee beans and Christmas cookies. Christmas day is celebrated solely as a religious holiday, but the Swedish celebrate it in style with torches lighting the way.

•Christmas in Chile: Chile celebrates its Christmas much like we do in Texas – wearing shorts, T-shirts and bathing suits. In Chile, Christmas comes at the hottest time of the year.

Santa Claus, or Viejo Pascuero, rides through the starry sky with his reindeer hopping through the windows to leave gifts. Even though the children know he doesn't visit unless they are asleep, the sneaky ones leave building blocks under their pillows to stay awake.

•Christmas in Greece: Greece, being mostly Greek-Orthodox, celebrates Christmas on Jan. 6. Easter is celebrated with greater festivity than Christmas; however, Christmas is filled with celebration as well. Children go door-to-door singing Kalanda (carols) that depict the birth of Jesus and also call for good wishes for the family of the household.

Christopsomo, or Christ bread, is made and decorated with a motto showing the family's occupation. When the table is laid out, the husband makes the sign of the cross over the bread. Honey is eaten first, then the family lifts the table three times, saying, "Christ is born, joy has come to the world -- our Lady's table, Mary's table."

St. Nicholas is very important to the Greeks. Because December is the time of tempests and storms and is the month of St. Nicholas, St. Nick has become a patron saint of seamen. He is envisioned as saving sinking ships; therefore, no Greek ship travels without his icon.

When a ship is in danger, the skipper makes an oath to bring silver and gold tokens, called ex-votos, to the icon of St. Nicholas if the ship makes it to shore. The sailors and skipper then walk barefoot to a church where the Saint's icon is hung and place the ex-votos upon it. His icons are always covered with ex-votos, showing the many ships he saved.

•Christmas in Italy: Italy owes much of its tradition to St. Francis of Assisi. On Christmas Eve in 1223, he wanted to show what baby Jesus suffered as a newborn lacking basic necessities. He created a Nativity scene in the woods and invited the whole village.

The forest echoed with celebration, and a mass was even held at the spot. The people's eyes were opened to the meaning of Christmas. St. Assisi even opened the doors for artisans, who quickly began making cribs and miniature mangers for Christmas. The tradition has now touched most of the world.

Christmas around the world is filled with tradition and folklore from many civilizations and ages. In the United States, we are lucky to have so many ethnic influences to make our Christmas season one of many diverse cultures – a kind of global Christmas.

However, it is easy to get lost in the tinsel, lights, Santa Clauses and brilliance of the season. Perhaps we should step back a little and look at the true meaning of Christmas, "the mass of Christ," <I>Weihnacht<P>, "sacred night," and Noel, the "birthday" or "news."

In 1865, Boston's Phillips Brooks ventured to the Holy Land and was deeply moved by what he saw. On Christmas Eve, he sat in the fields outside of Bethlehem and in his little notebook wrote the beautiful words of "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Thinking back to that one night may make today's Christmases even more merry and bright.

 

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GOBBLE UP TURKEY CREATIVELY FOR A CHANGE

by Jessica Ellis

Contributing Writer

By now, you've probably just fed the last of the Thanksgiving turkey to your dog. You probably smiled gingerly to your mother and said 'Thanks' after she handed you a take-home doggy bag.

After a week of lunchtime turkey sandwiches, most people end up trashing the rest of the turkey, so what else is there to do with turkey besides sandwiches and soup?

Members of the UH community shared their leftover-turkey recipes to provide an alternative to the old turkey-sandwich thing. Some cooks were specific, while others had simple 'throw in'-style ideas for turkey leftovers.

Culinary experts at the UH Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management were ready and willing to offer their knowledge on the subject:

•<B>Turkey Turnovers<P>, by Mark Hamilton, HRM coordinator of graduate studies:

8 oz. turkey meat

1 cup Bechamel cream sauce

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables

6-8 flour tortillas

1 egg

1/2 cup water

Cook frozen vegetables and mix with turkey and sauce. Season mixture to taste. Put the mix in flour tortillas. Fold over and seal with one beaten egg mixed with water. Deep-fry until golden brown.

•<B>Turkey Pot Pie<P>, by Joe Bonaparte, HRM graduate:

1 onion, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

1 tbsp. garlic

3 carrots, peeled and diced

4 lbs. turkey meat

1/2 green pepper, diced

1/2 red pepper, diced

4 oz. butter

4 oz. flour

2 cups water or turkey stock

3 cups heavy cream

3 cups frozen peas

Sauté onion, celery, garlic and carrots in the butter until tender, add flour, stir, add stock, then bring to a boil. Add turkey, red and green pepper, heavy cream and peas and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Pour serving into bowl and top with cooked puff-pastry circle. Frozen puff pastries are available at grocery stores. Cut pastry into a circle a little larger than the bowl, then bake according to directions.

•To spice up their post-holiday blues, Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity members have an original recipe.

<B>TKE Turkey Shake<P>, by brothers Rob Willmore and Jeff Plank, both juniors, and alumnus Chris Burton:

3 oz. turkey

12 oz. any light beer

12 oz. any dark beer

2 oz. cranberry sauce

A dash of dressing

A shot of Grenadene

6 cubes ice

Blend to preferred consistency. Refrigerate for two hours. Serve chilled. Consume at your own risk.

Others like to experiment in the kitchen; scientists are not limited to toxic materials in their work. Senior English major Charlie Ebersbaker says, "Grind up (dice) the turkey, add it to fried brown rice and a fried egg."

In honor of the Christmas tradition, turkey-leftover recipes provide an alternative to wasting food and offer a way to entertain our spoiled taste buds.

To avoid turkey leftovers, consider adopting a new tradition for your Christmas meal by serving a different country's cuisine each year. Just imagine all the creative leftover dishes.

 

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WILL THE REAL SANTA PLEASE STAND UP?

by Sarah Fredricksen

Contributing Writer

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he works at the Galleria, Baybrook Mall, Almeda Mall and every other mall around the country.

Some parents say these men are Santa's helpers, his "elves." This is in response to curious children who point out the impossibility of one man being everywhere at once, no matter who he is. Others tell their children he's "just magic."

These men who dress up as this paragon of virtue every year certainly do deserve the title of "Santa's Helpers." They close down their businesses and put their jobs on hold every year at this time to share the Christmas spirit with children and an occasional pet.

"The kids are wonderful, and this is my favorite time of year. I just shut down my business, and I do this for six weeks," the Santa's Helper at Baybrook Mall said.

In each mall, Santa usually sits in a chair surrounded by poinsettias. Christmas carols from loud-speakers and local choirs add to the seasonal atmosphere and help keep the children's minds off the wait. Long lines lead to these jolly men – long lines full of children who believe this Santa is the one and only.

These men who "play" Santa take this unwavering belief seriously. The Santa at the Galleria refused to give his name as anything other than Kris Kringle. However, he does prefer to be called St. Nicholas. Even reassuring Santa that no children would see this article wasn't enough to convince him to step out of his role – that is, if he was playing one.

The lines to see Santa often stretch for long distances. Every line is filled with excited and expectant children – until the time comes to see him, that is; then they burst into tears when placed on his lap.

Some of the lines even contain family pets. Santa carefully poses with these dogs and cats, no matter what they do to his suit.

The children cry from fear or over-excitement, sometimes acting like groupies who scream and cry when confronted with the object of their affection. Their parents ooh and ahh over how cute their children look with Santa and beam proudly as their pictures are taken, sometimes rushing in for a quick hair adjustment which the children immediately ruin.

But the Santas love it. "I hope to keep on doing it because I enjoy it," the Almeda Mall Santa said.

He got his start playing Santa when he grew his beard "so it would look like a business card I drew for myself." His start was rather accidental, though; some children saw him running an errand and mistook him for the real thing. He thought, "Well, if I look that much like Santa Claus, I might as well get me a job."

The Galleria Santa says he has been Santa all his life, but he's been at the Galleria for five years.

The Santa who works at Baybrook Mall was inspired by

<I>Miracle on 34th Street<P> and has been Santa at Christmas time for nine years.

There are no cheap, fake beards for these Santas; every one of them has a real one. Even the whiteness is genuine because they all are age 60 and above.

"Years ago, I saw the movie <I>Miracle on 34th Street<P>, and at that time, I was just starting to grow my beard, and I thought, 'I would love to do that.' " He talked to several stores, and Almeda Mall hired him. He's been a Santa ever since.

Each of these Santas loves being Santa. They enjoy making children happy, and the spirit of Christmas is always with them. Why else would they give up their jobs and projects for six weeks to have screaming, shy and nervous children sit on their laps and yank on their very real beards? Simply because they love it.

"Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

 

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WILL THE REAL SANTA PLEASE STAND UP?

by Sarah Fredricksen

Contributing Writer

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he works at the Galleria, Baybrook Mall, Almeda Mall and every other mall around the country.

Some parents say these men are Santa's helpers, his "elves." This is in response to curious children who point out the impossibility of one man being everywhere at once, no matter who he is. Others tell their children he's "just magic."

These men who dress up as this paragon of virtue every year certainly do deserve the title of "Santa's Helpers." They close down their businesses and put their jobs on hold every year at this time to share the Christmas spirit with children and an occasional pet.

"The kids are wonderful, and this is my favorite time of year. I just shut down my business, and I do this for six weeks," the Santa's Helper at Baybrook Mall said.

In each mall, Santa usually sits in a chair surrounded by poinsettias. Christmas carols from loud-speakers and local choirs add to the seasonal atmosphere and help keep the children's minds off the wait. Long lines lead to these jolly men – long lines full of children who believe this Santa is the one and only.

These men who "play" Santa take this unwavering belief seriously. The Santa at the Galleria refused to give his name as anything other than Kris Kringle. However, he does prefer to be called St. Nicholas. Even reassuring Santa that no children would see this article wasn't enough to convince him to step out of his role – that is, if he was playing one.

The lines to see Santa often stretch for long distances. Every line is filled with excited and expectant children – until the time comes to see him, that is; then they burst into tears when placed on his lap.

Some of the lines even contain family pets. Santa carefully poses with these dogs and cats, no matter what they do to his suit.

The children cry from fear or over-excitement, sometimes acting like groupies who scream and cry when confronted with the object of their affection. Their parents ooh and ahh over how cute their children look with Santa and beam proudly as their pictures are taken, sometimes rushing in for a quick hair adjustment which the children immediately ruin.

But the Santas love it. "I hope to keep on doing it because I enjoy it," the Almeda Mall Santa said.

He got his start playing Santa when he grew his beard "so it would look like a business card I drew for myself." His start was rather accidental, though; some children saw him running an errand and mistook him for the real thing. He thought, "Well, if I look that much like Santa Claus, I might as well get me a job."

The Galleria Santa says he has been Santa all his life, but he's been at the Galleria for five years.

The Santa who works at Baybrook Mall was inspired by

<I>Miracle on 34th Street<P> and has been Santa at Christmas time for nine years.

There are no cheap, fake beards for these Santas; every one of them has a real one. Even the whiteness is genuine because they all are age 60 and above.

"Years ago, I saw the movie <I>Miracle on 34th Street<P>, and at that time, I was just starting to grow my beard, and I thought, 'I would love to do that.' " He talked to several stores, and Almeda Mall hired him. He's been a Santa ever since.

Each of these Santas loves being Santa. They enjoy making children happy, and the spirit of Christmas is always with them. Why else would they give up their jobs and projects for six weeks to have screaming, shy and nervous children sit on their laps and yank on their very real beards? Simply because they love it.

"Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

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HOLIDAY SHOPPERS: A CLINICAL STUDY

by Kristen Liebmann

Contributing Writer

Geez, it's that time of year again, the time when everybody suddenly turns into a grinch. No more merry spirits for this society. Christmas has made most everyone crabby for one simple reason: presents.

Starting as early as September, consumers have to begin thinking about what to get their loved ones. This means automatic stress on brain and pocketbook.

I always figured people would begin realizing Christmas is not really worth all the trouble we put ourselves through. The slew of crowds still invades the malls every year to deal with the same crap: crowds, lines, screaming children and inflated prices.

The main problem with these rude people is that it is their own fault for waiting too long. Lines do not decrease the closer Dec. 25 comes; they only get bigger and meaner. This is the reason why these slackers are so utterly terrifying to deal with.

From November to mid-January, I have decided, is the worst time of the year. For years, I have not understood why people wait until the last minute, then expect shopping to be stress-free. Are they crazy? Yes and no.

Yes, because anyone who would go to the mall during the Christmas season is clinical, and no, because some of the procrastinators truly have a hard time making decisions.

When I spoke with Charles Meisgeier, UH professor of educational psychology, it all suddenly became clear. Through the use of terminology and categorization, I realized most of these uptight, slacker shoppers are not really the jerks they appear to be. They just happen to have trouble with the decision-making process, Meisgeier says.

The reasons why these people wait until the last minute fall into two categories. There are the natural reasons, which include things like the weather. If it is nice outside, people might put off Christmas shopping to go to the park or beach.

The next category contains the logical reasons. This deals more with the person's economic strain and decision-making skills. Within the logical category is the personality amongst these procrastinators. There are two types of temperaments that go along with these Christmas shoppers.

The judgers are the ones retail people will seldom run into. They are the kind who feel stress until all the gifts are bought and wrapped. Usually, they tend to buy in the early months of the season, sometimes as early as July or August.

The opposite of the judgers is the perceivers, the people who make retail life miserable. They wait until the last minute because they are scared their options will go down after they have made their decision. In the end, they feel stress after they have purchased those socks or that sweater. "What if there is a sale?" "What if I missed that perfect gift in another store?" These are the worries perceivers face.

Although many look at them as lazy people, that is not the case at all. They like to wait until the very end so they can choose from the many options they have accumulated.

So once Dec. 24 rolls around, what do these people buy? People known as sensers will usually buy practical gifts that can be used in everyday life. Clothes and tools will be what they head for in the department stores.

The other type of decision-maker is the intuitive. This person is a bit more creative and will choose a gift that has no use at all. Sharper Image, a pricey gadget shop in the Galleria, is a good example of a store the intuitives might rummage through.

When I spoke to Vick Spence, assistant manager at Gloria Jean's Coffee Bean in Willowbrook Mall, I was told one year, a woman came in and bought a teapot that looked like a bunch of turds. The lady said the person she was buying for liked pumpkins. These intuitive shoppers may get a bit too creative, even delusional at times. Some of these stressed-out shoppers may not fall into either category. Many people in this society just cannot find the time to shop. The pressure of having a family and a job can sometimes be so great that last-minute shopping may not be the apparent cause of stress. Their overall lives are filled with tension, so that shopping is just one more thing added to their hectic lives.

For those last-minute shoppers who still have not started yet, shop with caution and be nice to the people shopping around you. You are all in the same boat.

 

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SIMPLE ACT OF KINDNESS BECOMES TIMELESS MESSAGE

by Bobby Summers

Daily Cougar Staff

As the holiday season continues, we could talk about the "Secret of Life." But, I confess, I haven't the slightest idea what it is. However, I do know that one of the secrets of having a happy life is that you receive in proportion to what you give.

This can apply to just about anything in your life: your job, studies, romantic interests, family, friends or the society and world in which we all live. At this time of year – a time of thanks and giving, a return to the touchstones of our lives like families, hometowns and memories of Christmases long past – let's consider what "giving" really means.

First, let me say that this is a true story ... a somewhat schmaltzy story (for those born after 1960, that means "sentimental" or "slightly exaggerated"), but nevertheless, this is a true story.

It was Christmas, 1948, in Tacoma, Washington: Janet Fox, a 7-year-old girl with a neuro-muscular disease (which today would have a fancy name, but then was generally called "spastic") looked forward each year to seeing the Nativity scene at a church near her home. Janet could not walk and had little use of her hands and arms. She was mostly confined to her wheelchair or her bed.

However, like many victims of adversity, she amazed everyone with her positive attitude about life. Janet was always cheerful and upbeat. She had a special gift of caring for other people and seemed puzzled that anyone would think she needed anything. The happiest time of the year for her was Christmas, when the family would go every night to visit the Nativity scene at a church near their home.

World War II had not been over for very long, and well-paying jobs were scarce. Janet's father, recently discharged from the military, worked long hours for little pay. Caring for Janet was a full-time job for her mother, so the family had to get by on little money.

But in the Fox home, mostly because of the power of Janet's love, the family was able to handle the trials of life. They gave thanks for having each other, and they gave what little they had, both material and emotional, to each other and to the people around them.

Every night after dinner, the Foxes put Janet in the car and drove over to church to see the Nativity scene. On Dec. 15 of that year, 10 days before Christmas, Janet's world was shattered.

The snow was falling heavily when Janet and her mother and father arrived at the Nativity scene. The lights shone brightly on the manger and the figures of Mary, Joseph and the Wise Men, but something was wrong.

Janet looked closely and couldn't believe her eyes. The figure of the Christ child was missing! Someone had stolen the figure from the scene. Janet and the other children were at a loss to understand who would do this, or why. Some adults commented that this was an equivalent outrage to stealing someone's American flag on the Fourth of July. Janet was deeply affected, but had already decided what to do.

(Now, I know what you're going to say: "You made up the next part," – but I didn't! It's all true.)

Janet Fox had a doll. It was not just her favorite doll; it was her only doll. Her mother handmade the doll and gave it to her at Christmas four years earlier when she was 3 years old. Worn by time and missing one eye, the doll was Janet's most prized possession.

After they returned home, Janet asked her father to call the church and offer her doll as a replacement for the stolen figure. Her father called the church. The minister, who already had another figure lined up, was touched by Janet's gesture and accepted her donation.

The rest is history. Janet's doll was placed in the Nativity scene that year and every year thereafter. Someone told the newspapers about it, and they printed the story. As a result, Janet's simple gesture of giving touched multitudes of people.

The moral? Perhaps it's too obvious, but just remember this holiday season to give of yourself to others. Volunteer your time, give food to a food pantry, help shut-ins and the homeless, visit a rest home or a hospital. It won't cost you anything but your time. Do nice things for people without expecting anything in return. You won't believe how good it will make you feel.

Remember, it's not the size of the gift you give, it's the size of the heart that gives it.

 

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CHARITY STRIPE FAVORS USC IN VICTORY

by Daniel Scholl

Daily Cougar Staff

The Houston men's basketball team played the part of the charitable host Saturday night when the Cougars sent Southern California to the free-throw line 34 times in a 95-89 losing effort by Houston in front of 3,118 in Hofheinz Pavilion.

The stat sheet looked almost the same for the two teams: USC had 17 turnovers, Houston had 18; USC had 23 personal fouls, Houston had 24; USC had 15 assists, Houston had 17; USC had 28 field goals, Houston had 30; both had 37 rebounds. Then there were the free-throw statistics.

The Trojans (3-3) hit 31 of 34 for a 91 percent free-throw percentage. The Cougars (1-4) hit 71 percent from the line, making 20 of 28.

"Our free throws were the difference in the game," USC head coach Charlie Parker said.

But Houston head coach Alvin Brooks disagreed.

"I don't think that (the free throws) decided the game," he said. "There were still a lot of things we could have done better."

One of those things would have been keeping a second-half lead. The first half ended with the Cougars leading the Trojans 53-50, but the score was closer than the game appeared.

The Cougars led by as much as 16 in the first half and watched as it dwindled over the last seven minutes.

With 6:51 to go, the Cougars were in the lead 44-33. The Trojans went to the line six times before the half expired, making 11 of 12. They only took three shots at the basket during that span.

The man who saw the charity stripe the most was USC senior forward Lorenzo Orr, who made 8 of 9 to make almost a third of his 26 points, after scoring only seven in the first half. Orr led a Trojan team that saw five players score in double digits.

The Cougars had three players go into twin digits and were led, as they have been all season, by forward Tim Moore, who went 10 for 15 from the field, including two 3-pointers, to score 28.

The Cougars went 3-point-crazy, taking 29 shots from beyond the arc, making only nine. Houston freshman guard Damon Jones scored the most from downtown, making 3 of 8 attempts, two of those coming in the first five minutes. In fact, the Cougars made six of their nine treys in the first period.

"We told our guys that unless they're a super-human team, they'll slow down," Parker said of the Cougars' scoring accuracy at the start of the game.

And he was right. The Cougars shot 56 percent in the first half and 36 percent in the second.

"Early, we were getting high-percentage shots," Brooks said. "We got a little away from what we were doing."

 

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CHARITY STRIPE FAVORS USC IN VICTORY

by Daniel Scholl

Daily Cougar Staff

The Houston men's basketball team played the part of the charitable host Saturday night when the Cougars sent Southern California to the free-throw line 34 times in a 95-89 losing effort by Houston in front of 3,118 in Hofheinz Pavilion.

The stat sheet looked almost the same for the two teams: USC had 17 turnovers, Houston had 18; USC had 23 personal fouls, Houston had 24; USC had 15 assists, Houston had 17; USC had 28 field goals, Houston had 30; both had 37 rebounds. Then there were the free-throw statistics.

The Trojans (3-3) hit 31 of 34 for a 91 percent free-throw percentage. The Cougars (1-4) hit 71 percent from the line, making 20 of 28.

"Our free throws were the difference in the game," USC head coach Charlie Parker said.

But Houston head coach Alvin Brooks disagreed.

"I don't think that (the free throws) decided the game," he said. "There were still a lot of things we could have done better."

One of those things would have been keeping a second-half lead. The first half ended with the Cougars leading the Trojans 53-50, but the score was closer than the game appeared.

The Cougars led by as much as 16 in the first half and watched as it dwindled over the last seven minutes.

With 6:51 to go, the Cougars were in the lead 44-33. The Trojans went to the line six times before the half expired, making 11 of 12. They only took three shots at the basket during that span.

The man who saw the charity stripe the most was USC senior forward Lorenzo Orr, who made 8 of 9 to make almost a third of his 26 points, after scoring only seven in the first half. Orr led a Trojan team that saw five players score in double digits.

The Cougars had three players go into twin digits and were led, as they have been all season, by forward Tim Moore, who went 10 for 15 from the field, including two 3-pointers, to score 28.

The Cougars went 3-point-crazy, taking 29 shots from beyond the arc, making only nine. Houston freshman guard Damon Jones scored the most from downtown, making 3 of 8 attempts, two of those coming in the first five minutes. In fact, the Cougars made six of their nine treys in the first period.

"We told our guys that unless they're a super-human team, they'll slow down," Parker said of the Cougars' scoring accuracy at the start of the game.

And he was right. The Cougars shot 56 percent in the first half and 36 percent in the second.

"Early, we were getting high-percentage shots," Brooks said. "We got a little away from what we were doing."

 

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WOMEN OF TROY SACK LADY COUGARS

HOUSTON FALLS TO USC IN MILLER TIME, 87-72

by Daniel Scholl

Daily Cougar Staff

Cheryl Miller was in the house.

When the Southern California women's basketball team (4-1) came to Hofheinz Pavilion Friday night and beat the Lady Cougars (3-2) 87-72, USC's head coach did more to affect the outcome of the game than just draw up plays.

Considered perhaps the best woman to ever play college hoops, Miller and her No. 24 Women of Troy seemed a little more like celebrities than opponents.

"We might have been a little intimidated in the beginning," admitted Houston forward Jerrie Cooper.

But USC's Tina Thompson said she couldn't tell from the way the Cougars played.

"I don't think they played intimidated," she said. "We had to work."

But Thompson's layup four seconds into the game proved to be the game-winning basket as the Women of Troy took a 2-0 lead and never relinquished it. They put five points on the board before Cooper made a layup at the 18:25 mark. Cooper would go on to lead all scorers with 29 points before a crowd of 222.

USC kept adding to its lead, taking as high as a 20-point margin in the first half. The teams went into the locker room with USC up 42-26.

The main concern for the Cougars became the number of fouls they were accumulating.

With only seven players on the roster, foul trouble is something which Houston head coach Jessie Kenlaw must always be aware. With 13:03 to go in the game, she saw Rosheda Hopson foul out. At the 1:23 mark, Jones took a seat, and Amber Byars followed with six seconds remaining, giving USC a four-on-five power play.

The Women of Troy were led by Thompson, who finished the game with 24 points and eight rebounds. USC out-rebounded the Cougars 60-43, showing its dominance of the inside game. The Cougars' tallest player, the 6-2 Hopson, grabbed only four boards. Cooper led with 13.

Houston will see the return of key players around Dec. 26, but for now must play with only seven, who are all new to the team. Kenlaw said having such a young squad – five of the seven are freshmen – face competition like USC is good for the team.

"It was a good test for us," she said. "It gives us an idea of what we need to work on."

 

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<I>NUTCRACKER<P> A DELECTABLE TREAT

<I>THE NUTCRACKER<P>, A CHRISTMAS TRADITION, RUNS THROUGH DEC. 30 AT THE WORTHAM CENTER'S BROWN THEATER.

Photo by Geoff Winningham/Houston Ballet

by Rosario Peña

Daily Cougar Staff

Christmas and fairy tales come to life as the Houston Ballet continues the holiday tradition of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's beloved <I>The Nutcracker<P>.

This classic tale is the story of a young girl, Clara, and the Nutcracker, given to her as a gift. On a snowy Christmas Eve, as the clock strikes midnight, Clara awakens to encounter a room filled with giant mice only to be rescued by the Nutcracker, who is afterward transformed into a handsome prince.

The Nutcracker Prince then proceeds to take Clara on a magical and mystical journey through the Land of Snow, across the Lemonade Sea and into the Kingdom of the Sweets. There they encounter the Sugar Plum Fairy, who treats them to a delectable mix of fun and dance.

This classical score was conducted by guest conductor Paul Connelly and beautifully choreographed by Ben Stevenson. The exquisite sets and costumes were designed by internationally acclaimed designer Desmond Heely, with lighting by international theatrical lighting designer Duane Schuler.

Some of the finest dances in Act II include the Sugar Plum Fairy (Dawn Scannell) and The Nutcracker Prince (Dominic Walsh) in a grand <I>pas de deux<P>. Other enjoyable performances include the following: Tea, a Chinese Dance; Chocolate, a Spanish Dance; and Coffee, an Arabian Dance. Other noteworthy dances are Madame Bonbonaire and her Clowns, a Russian Dance and the Waltz of the Flowers.

The Houston Ballet is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has brought <I>The Nutcracker<P> to life every year since 1976. New this year are five 6 p.m. show times to accommodate business professionals and families.

<I>The Nutcracker<P> runs through Dec. 30 at the Wortham Center's Brown Theater. Tickets cost $10-$55. For more information, call 227-ARTS.

 

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POP STAR BASKS IN CHRISTMAS

MARIAH CAREY IS SURE TO DRIVE AWAY THE COLD WITH HER CHRISTMAS ALBUM, <I>MERRY CHRISTMAS<P>.

by Joey Guerra

News Reporter

As the Christmas season rolls around once more, all you good little boys and girls can look forward to a few things: a truckload of gifts to return, at least one showing of <I>A Charlie Brown Christmas<P> on television and a dozen or so new holiday albums by multi-platinum pop artists.

Not one to be left out in the cold, Mariah Carey has just released her contribution to the holiday hoopla titled, <I>Merry Christmas<P>. The 10-track album is a combination of old favorites and original songs written by Carey and longtime collaborator Walter Afanasief.

Kicking off all this goodwill toward men is an old standard, "Silent Night." Carey is accompanied by a simple piano arrangement and a gospel choir. While these elements work together nicely, the song is done in the usual way – nothing special here.

As if to make up for the blandness of the first tune, Carey really lets loose on "All I Want for Christmas is You," the first of three original songs. The song is extremely festive and reminiscent of old Motown Christmas songs. Carey sings, "Santa Claus won't make me happy, with a toy on Christmas day," and we believe her. She wants love for Christmas.

The other two songs written by Carey and Afanasief could also become holiday classics. "Miss You Most (at Christmas time)" doesn't really sound like a traditional Christmas song, but it will definitely touch those who are away from loved ones this holiday season. It leaves you with a contemplative sadness and a longing to be with the one you love.

The final original song, "Jesus Born on this Day," consists of a simple arrangement with a repetitive melody and chorus, which works in its favor. The quiet lyricism of the song, mixed with Carey's vocals and a children's choir, is a real Christmas treat. The song ends on a truly beautiful note, capturing the spirit of Christmas with the lines, "He is light/He is love/He is grace, born on Christmas day."

Now for the old standards. Carey does well enough with "O Holy Night," which twinkles with a gospel influence. By the way, this is the only time Carey's trademark high-pitched shrill is heard, so don't worry about too many broken ornaments.

Also included on the album is Phil Spector's 1963 girl-group oldie, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." Strong backup singing adds to the warm, reminiscent feeling of this song, which is suited for Carey's vocals.

Carey strives for more originality with the classic, "Joy to the World," which was rearranged by herself and Afanasief. The song is now club-ready, complete with drums, percussion and bass programming by Robert Clivilles and David Cole.

Clivilles and Cole are the team behind C&C Music Factory and have worked with Carey previously. It is a bit disorienting to hear the words, "Joy to the world, the Lord is come," accompanied by a monster bass line, but Carey seems comfortable, and the track works.

Definitely in need of new arrangements are "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," which are suffering from bad cases of mediocrity. The chorus on "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" is almost identical to the superior 1987 Pointer Sisters rendition. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is also a dying flame in need of a spark. Perhaps Clivilles and Cole could spice these up with some club beats again.

Finally, the album ends with a true gospel number, "Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child." You can just see the churchgoers clapping along with the chorus, which swells with enthusiasm at the end of the song.

Although Carey is often accused of having a coldness and superficiality about her vocals, all that should change with <I>Merry Christmas<P>.

Never before has she sung with such emotion and warmth, and while a few of the tracks are a bit bland, the album was good enough to land Carey at No. 4 on the pop charts. So she gets her Christmas gift, and the public gets a very merry selection of Christmas tunes.

 

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'TIS THE SEASON TO RENT CHRISTMAS VIDEOS

<I>ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS<P>, A STUPID, BUT FUNNY MOVIE, IS AVAILABLE ON VIDEOCASSETTE AND CAN GET YOU INTO THE HOLIDAY MOOD.

Photo courtesy of Touchstone Pictures

by Jesse Handy

Daily Cougar Staff

It's the season to be jolly, and after you've stuffed yourself with a massive Christmas feast and unwrapped your mountain of paper and plastic, you and your snugglebunny can retire to the front of the glowing embers of electric images and watch what is becoming a new tradition: the Christmas video.

Certain films seem to epitomize Rockwellian Christmases. Here are a few that I'm sure you'll enjoy.

•<I>Miracle on 34th Street<P> features a young Natalie Wood as Susie, a little girl who refuses to believe a department-store Saint Nick is the genuine article. While <I>Miracle<P> has been revamped and re-released for the holidays, the original is still on tape, and if you're lucky, you can find it in black-and-white as it was before Ted Turner got his hands on it.

If you're like me and love Jimmy Stewart, you must pick up a copy of Frank Capra's <I>It's a Wonderful Life<P>. Stewart portrays the lovable nice guy George Bailey, who operates a small-town savings and loan, but is constantly plagued by nemesis Mr. Potter, convincingly portrayed by Lionel Barrymore (Drew's granddad).

George finds himself in the midst of a major financial bind (gladly assisted by Potter) and wishes he had never been born. His guardian angel, who incidentally botches Bailey's suicide attempt, shows our hero that while he may not have realized it at the time, his life has in fact made a difference. Like most films from the golden age of Hollywood, it has a syrupy, happy ending, but it gives one the opportunity to annoy the significant other with a really bad Stewart impression.

If you would rather indulge in classic Christmas fare, you might want to check out one of many versions of Charles Dickens' <I>A Christmas Carol<P>. Dickens' social commentary on the apathy of the rich and middle class toward the poor – remembered more as one man's life in retrospect – has been done more times than any Christmas story (other than the birth of Jesus) and has been everything from a serious drama, to a musical, to a cartoon.

Even Disney has done a version of the Dickens classic. I would recommend the Disney version because it takes a fairly satirical look at what Dickens intended to be a very serious work. In Disney's <I>Christmas Carol<P>, Mickey Mouse has the role of the long-suffering Bob Cratchet, who supports a massive family, including a son with polio. Jimminy Cricket plays the ghost of Christmas past, and Goofy makes fearsome specter Jacob Marley seem downright comical. Scrooge was, of course, represented by Disney creation Scrooge McDuck, who incidentally made his debut in the film.

If cartoons aren't your cup of tea, and you hate musicals, I recommend Bill Murray's <I>Scrooged<P>. Murray plays a Scrooge-like TV executive who reviews his own life and realizes he could be a much better person. It's funny, and John Forsythe, Bobcat Golthwait and Buster Poindexter make it a very likable film.

If your taste in film is far from cerebral, I highly recommend <I>Ernest Saves Christmas<P>. Shakespearean-trained actor (believe it or not) Jim Varney recreates the character Ernest P. Worrell. In <I>Ernest<P>, Worrell helps an outgoing Santa to find a replacement. In the mayhem that ensues, Santa's reindeer are confiscated, and he's arrested. Ernest must save Santa, find the new Santa, keep a troubled teen off the streets and harass his buddy, Vern, all in the course of a busy day. <I>Ernest<P> is, for the most part, a really stupid movie, but it's the sort of movie that's so stupid, it's actually funny.

Small children love Ernest, but they also love purple dinosaurs, so don't go by them. <I>Ernest<P>, while it's a really stupid film, has one extremely funny scene. Santa is in jail and surrounded by big, angry-looking men. The film cuts away for another scene, and when we return to Santa in jail, he's leading the prisoners in a cheerful rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

If you want to see the <I>Lion King<P>, but don't feel like going out, there is a solution. While the Disney film isn't on tape, the Japanese cartoon on which the <I>Lion King<P> was based, <I>The Adventures of Simba<P>, has been translated and is on tape. The animated series had been put on tape and released in the United States to coincide with the release of the Disney film. It isn't a Christmas film, but it's an enjoyable one.

If you don't like what the corner video store has to offer, make your own tape of the Christmas specials you grew up watching, i.e. <I>How the Grinch Stole Christmas<P>, <I>Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer<P> and <I>A Charlie Brown Christmas<P> to name a few.

You and your snugglebunny can enjoy hours nestled in your holiday cocoon if you choose your tapes wisely. Good luck, merry Christmas and happy tape hunting.

 

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OSCARWOOD

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS COMING INTO FOCUS

JOHN TRAVOLTA (CENTER) MAY BE NOMINATED FOR HIS HITMAN CHARACTER, VINCENT, FROM <I>PULP FICTION<P>.

Photo by Linda R. Chen

by Eric T. James

Contributing Writer

As winter supposedly overtakes fall, the movie world plans to launch its big Academy Award contenders into the cinemas.

Unfortunately, the '94 movie race has been as disappointing as the weather. As Leonard Maltin aptly pointed out on <I>Entertainment Tonight<P>, the quality of movies this year makes it difficult to find Oscar-winning films much less a top 10 list. However, because the Oscar season is upon us, I feel obligated to begin pre-nomination predictions.

Because the movies released thus far this year have been weak, finding a few stand-outs is not a difficult task. <I>Pulp Fiction<P> won grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, so expect to see that and its director, Quentin Tarantino, nominated.

<I>Quiz Show<P> is custom-made for the Oscar race, and it should come as no surprise to see it and Robert Redford nominated. The academy will also surely nominate <I>Forrest Gump<P> in the Best Picture category, as well as director Robert Zemeckis.

These films will probably generate the majority of Best Actor nominations. Expect Tom Hanks to land his second nomination in a row, but do not predict him to win. The academy is stingy when it comes to handing out more than one Oscar per person.

Ralph Fiennes will surely receive a nod for <I>Quiz Show<P>, and <I>Pulp Fiction<P>'s John Travolta should be nominated, if not actually win the statuette. Tommy Lee Jones will also land a nomination for his role as the infamous baseball player in <I>Cobb<P>.

The only actress who has a shot at landing a nomination from a film that has already opened is Meg Ryan from <I>When a Man Loves a Woman<P>. The holiday opening of her new movie, <I>IQ<P>, will also help the academy remember her.

Expect the other nominations to stem from films that will open in theaters in Los Angeles before Jan. 1, in order to qualify for this year's Oscar race, but they won't open around the country until after the first of the year.

Jodie Foster will surely land another nomination as Nell in the movie of the same name. Sigourney Weaver has a sure nomination for her role in <I>Death and the Maiden<P>, for which Glenn Close won a Tony on stage.

Jennifer Jason Leigh will also surely land a nomination for <I>Mrs. Parker and Viscous Circle<P>. Leigh won Best Actress at Cannes and might possibly win the Oscar. Remember that the last woman to win Best Actress at Cannes, Holly Hunter for <I>The Piano<P>, won the Oscar. The race will probably come down to Weaver, to whom the academy still owes an Oscar after cheating her out of one for <I>Working Girl<P>, and Leigh.

The other categories are not as apparent. Martin Landau is the one sure Supporting Actor nomination for his role as Bela Lugosi in <I>Ed Wood<P>. Paul Scoffield and John Turturro from <I>Quiz Show<P> and Terrence Stamp from <I>The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert<P> are possibilities. Chazz Palminteri should grab a nod for <I>Bullets Over Broadway<P> in the form of a Supporting Actress nomination.

Other nominations may come from some foreign films, like Irene Jacob in <I>Red<P> or Linda Fiorentino in <I>The Last Seduction<P>.

In addition, Mykelti Williamson could land a nomination from his cult status as Bubba in <I>Forrest Gump<P>, as could Gary Sinise or Robin Wright. Jessica Tandy has a chance at landing two posthumous nominations for <I>Camilla<P> and <I>Nobody's Fool<P>, which could also land Paul Newman another nomination. Finally, one of my favorite actresses, Kathy Bates, may also land a nomination for <I>Delores Claiborne<P>, which also stars Leigh.

Other possible nominations will become clear when more films open. The only way to predict nominations is to watch for reviews and other award shows. Keep an eye out for the precursor to the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the nominations for which come out this month. For now, if you can't get into the Christmas mood and refuse to sing carols, just hum that familiar song that goes, "Oscar! Everybody loves ya, Oscar!"

 

 

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