AAS OFFICIAL CANNED AFTER 5 MONTHS

HEAD OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES ASKS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR TO LEAVE

by Clydenestra Brooks

News Reporter

When Morris Graves, former associate director of the African American Studies Program, left last semester, so did some of the morale and student participation, Graves said.

Edwina Henry of Wayne State University in Detroit came to UH to become the new AAS associate director. Five months into her position, she has been asked to step down by her superior, Linda Reed, director of AAS.

According to Henry, Reed contacted her last September, informed her of the available position and chose her after conducting interviews.

Henry’s complaint is that Reed has not been active in AAS since December; therefore, she doesn’t feel Reed can make a decision regarding her employment.

Last December, Reed took a leave of absence to work on a book. At the beginning of this month, Henry said she was given a choice "to resign or be fired."

"Not once during the interview in September, nor during the fall semester, did she (Reed) say that she would be taking leave in the spring," Henry said. "In fact, it was in December that she announced she was taking leave and didn’t want the staff to know.

"This doesn’t sit well with the program, and what we should be concerned with is the mission of the program. We are not here to be loyal to one person, but to the program."

Henry’s major concern, she said, is that she is being asked to leave.

"I have only been here five months, and she (Reed) is trying to have me fired now in order to circumvent having to show just cause."

James Pipkin, dean of the College of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communication, said, "It is university policy that for the first six months, employees have a probationary period. If their superior wishes to terminate them, they may do so without giving cause."

Pipkin added, "After the probationary period, employees can then be counseled about their discrepancies in performance so that the employee can improve."

The employment and employee relations section of the UH Faculty Handbook states an employee may be terminated at any time during the probationary period with or without cause.

Graves, who left the department after three years as associate director to head the Urban Experience Program, said, "AAS was my life. I put my entire being into it. I've spent too much sweat and blood to see this program dissolve."

He added, "The program has been up and down since she's (Reed) been there. I think she makes decisions first, and then finds facts to support them."

Henry said Reed has called the office to check on her.

"I informed her (Reed) that I was under the direction of Tyrone Tillery, the acting AAS director, and she stated that he would no longer be acting director," Henry said.

Tillery, who also came from Wayne State University, sees Henry as a major asset to the program.

"When I told Reed of her (Henry's) qualifications, she responded by contacting her. Henry was moved down here, and everything seemed to be going smoothly," Tillery said.

"When I was informed of the decision Reed had made (to terminate her), I was surprised and perplexed. As for the six-month probationary period, I think it's too short. Besides, with Reed gone, I don't think Henry has gotten that time. Reed hasn't been able to supervise Henry, and this is an extraordinary case," Tillery said.

With the situation as it stands now, he said, "It's a credit to the level of professionalism how she (Henry) is able to work under these circumstances. I'm glad she's here because I need her.

"When I asked Reed on what basis she wanted to terminate Henry, she (Reed) could only cite a few grammatical errors on a document that wasn't even privy to her (Reed)," Tillery said.

"There should be another place on campus for a person of her (Henry's) caliber to work," he said. "If not here, somewhere else. This decision may work as far as university policy is concerned, but morally, it doesn't."

Reed refused to comment.

 

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BUY, SELL TEXTBOOKS VIA PHONE BUDDIES

 

by Jennifer Smith

Daily Cougar Staff

Are you tired of buying books at the bookstore at high prices and getting a pittance when you sell them back?

A possible answer lies in a phone-accessible system on which individual students can advertise to sell their books and search for books for sale as well.

Book Buddies, an on-line textbook resale service, went up March 15, but because of poor publicity, there are no subscribers yet.

There is no charge to search for a book on the system, and books may be called up by course title, course number or by ISBN.

The regular price to advertise a book will be $2.50 per book. For the remainder of this semester, UH students can receive a discount price of $1.50 per book by entering the code UOFH (8634).

Information can be added to the system by phone, and payment mailing instructions will be provided.

Book ads submitted this semester will run until the subscriber notifies the system the book has been sold, or until the middle of fall 1996. Notification of a sale can be made by a phone call.

People calling the system to search for a book will be given the phone number of the seller. Names will not be put on the system because of privacy considerations.

Customers must arrange a price and meeting time with the sellers. Book Buddies only serves as an information service, not a sales agent.

The phone system can be accessed by calling 550-4468. Like the VIP registration system, Book Buddies guides customers through their call with voice menus.

Because of the benefits that come from campus organization sponsorship, e.g. the right to put up fliers on campus and a reduced advertising rate in The Daily Cougar, Book Buddies has been seeking sponsorship since last semester.

Book Buddies sought to gain sponsorship from the Students' Association, but after consideration, SA denied sponsorship, saying that to sponsor a for-profit organization might leave SA open to future commercial exploitation.

An Asian interest sorority, Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, has agreed to sponsor Book Buddies this semester. Spokeswoman Michelle Shen said, "They came to talk to us. We discussed it and felt it was a pretty good idea. We pay a lot of money (for books) and get back not even half."

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NO SA PRESIDENT YET: PROBLEMS ARISE AGAIN

MORE DISPUTES OVER SA ELECTION PUT GARIBAY'S PRESIDENCY ON HOLD

by James V. Geluso

Daily Cougar Staff

A last-minute complaint caused the cancellation of the first meeting of the new Students' Association Senate Monday.

Arthur White III filed a complaint with the University Hearing Board, charging that problems with polls opening late had swayed the election in favor of C.L.A.S.S. party candidate Giovanni Garibay, who won the runoff against Peoples' Party candidate Henry Bell.

Because the election has been called into question, SA is currently without a president, according to Kay To, the outgoing director of finance.

Without a president, the first meeting, which according to the SA Code should have been held Monday, could not take place.

Neither White, who ran for senator on the Peoples' Party and lost, nor Garibay could be reached for comment.

Election Commissioner Robert Kramp said his response to the complaint had been that neither candidate was really helped by the polls opening late.

"Garibay won by a 100-vote margin," he said. "I don't think the polls opening late had anything to do with that."

Kramp said the polls opened late because some poll workers failed to show up on time.

The hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Assistant Dean of Students Kathy Anzivino said it would probably be held in the UC Regents Room, but no room had been confirmed at press time.

 

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HRM'S GOURMET NIGHT RAKES IN FOOLS' GOLD

 

by Jennifer Smith

Daily Cougar Staff

The Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management had its annual fund-raising event, Gourmet Night, Saturday. The 25th anniversary of the college was celebrated as well.

The $100-a-plate dinner and the silent auction accompanying it probably brought in around $30,000, according to Albert Hasse, this year's general manager. After expenses are covered, the event will probably clear around $6,000, he said.

Profits from the event go into an endowed scholarship fund. The Gourmet Night Scholarship will be awarded for the first time next year.

Most necessary services for Gourmet Night, including administrative duties, waiting tables and cooking, were provided by volunteer students. Approximately 210 students donated their time to serve 287 guests, who enjoyed dishes like crawfish wontons and Fiddle Head ferns with goat cheese.

The theme was Night of Fools, in relation to the April Fools' Day date. Entertainment included piano-playing by a Liberace impersonator, complete with Christmas lights on his long, white cape, and a stand-up comedian who talked about her experiences in the hospitality industry. (She's a mom.)

Hasse, a graduate student, said that when he originally became interested in participating in Gourmet Night, he thought about working in the kitchen. E.P.J. Morgan, this year's executive chef, advised him to apply for the general manager's position.

Hasse said, "It's a nice opportunity (for undergraduates) to speak with graduate students on the same level."

Another reason to participate in the Gourmet Night event is to gain experience that can be valuable later. Hasse said companies are looking for the kind of people who will volunteer their time. "They (the companies) sometimes need people who will work overtime, people who don't always ask, 'What's in it for me?' " he said.

Yvonne Silva, last year's Gourmet Night general manager, said the event helped her gain her current job as a supervisor with the Westin Hotel chain. "It really helped. There are lots of people who come for recruiting purposes," she said, adding, "We don't raise that much money. The purpose is getting our college out into the industry."

Industry successes present included the general manager of the Four Seasons, the owner of the Pappas chains and the owners of the Sunbelt hotel chain.

Hasse said, "There's not as much networking as you might think. It is more exposure to the quality of the students and the effort put forth." He said the event provided exposure to employers about programs like the college's.

He did say, however, that his experience with Gourmet Night was a discussion point while interviewing for his current position with a hospitality advisory service.

Still another reason for participation was given by executive chef Morgan, who said he wanted to meet people.

Rick Byrnes, a 22-year-old junior who waited tables at the event, said his comparatively short-term commitment looks good on his resume. He said he hopes to move up the totem pole at next year's Gourmet Night. "It would be rewarding to gain experience in managing people."

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UH UNSURE WHO WILL TAKE MOUND AT LAMAR TONIGHT

by William German

Daily Cougar Staff

After a four-game sweep at the hands of the Texas A&M Aggies this weekend, the Houston Cougars baseball team will attempt to halt its losing streak when it travels to Beaumont to take on the Lamar Cardinals at Vincent-Beck Stadium today at 7 p.m.

The Cougars, who fell to 16-20 -- 0-11 in the Southwest Conference in dropping back-to-back doubleheaders to the Aggies, have now lost 11 of their last 14 games.

Head coach Rayner Noble was looking for a starting pitcher going into practice Monday, as his staff was battered by A&M hitters for 44 hits and 30 runs in the four games.

"I'm not real sure who's going to pitch," Noble said Monday. "We used so many pitchers this weekend, I'm going to have to see who's got an arm today."

Among those being considered to take a turn are reliever Brad Dornak (1-0, 5.54 ERA) and, no kidding -- first baseman Carlos Perez.

The senior, now at .315 with five homers and 22 RBI, is 0-0 this season, having pitched one inning, allowing a solo home run.

Noble and his team will face a 22-9 Lamar team that finished 36-23 last year, losing to Arkansas State in the Sun Belt Conference Championship.

The Cards did not gain an NCAA regional bid despite that performance and have come back with a vengeance this season. Outfielder Eric Mapp, a .239 hitter in 1994, has put up a .372 average with nine homers and a stunning 45 RBIs in 30 games his senior year.

Starters Mike Pasqualicchio and Eric Cammack have combined to go 10-1 with nearly identical ERAs. Lefty Pasqualicchio is posting a 2.77 mark, while righthander Cammack is at 2.75.

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THE FANS' STRIKE SHOULD BEGIN RIGHT ABOUT NOW

BASEBALL OWNERS ONLY SHOWED WEAKNESS BY LETTING GREEDY PLAYERS BACK INTO GAME

O.O.C. with Chris P.

Now that the baseball strike has been semi-settled, we know that someone will begin the season batting 1.000.

For the eighth time in eight tries, the owners have succumbed to the whims of the players to whom they pay millions of dollars.

The owners sold out on a perfect opportunity to shove their agenda down the players' collective throats.

After seven-and-a-half months of hardball, the owners decided it was safer to bring out the wiffle bats and let the players take control of the game they run.

I'm not a strict owners advocate, but I certainly have no sympathy for the players, who walked away from the game; the fans; and thousands of people who depend on them for the bulk of their livelihoods.

Throughout this labor action, the players have given the impression they are above the game, rather than a part of a whole.

Once again, with all due respect to the sports editor of <I>The Houstonian<P>, I say emphatically that the players and the union are greedy.

Whoever says the owners shouldn't control the financial welfare of their investments is more out of control than I.

The players should make what the owners want to pay them, not what Donald Fehr thinks they should make.

In case you've been sleeping for a really, really long time, the minimum annual salary for a major league baseball player is about $160,000.

What poverty.

The truth is that the majority of the players make well over the minimum; thus, only a few are at the bottom of the pay ladder.

The owners may not sell out a game anytime soon, but they've already sold out their integrity, their resolve and their credibility.

If the owners, as they've said all along, cannot survive under the old system, why are they not challenging the injunction handed out against them Friday?

Why, all of a sudden, is acting commissioner Bud Selig smiling at the news that the owners have agreed to accept the players' back-to-work proposal?

Selig was one of the small-market team owners who was instrumental in carving out the owners' policy in this whole mess.

So why are you giving up so easily, Bud?

I can see it now: Fehr and his union cohorts are giggling uncontrollably because the U.S. legal system has thrown the players a slow straight one right down the pipe, and they've cranked it over the 450 sign in center field.

I don't understand why the players are always getting the breaks. This only hurts the game.

But, stupid me, it's not about the game, it's about Fehr, the union and money.

The game is what should count, but somehow it, along with the fans, is forgotten come strike time.

I guess the union thinks the fans will always be there, and I seem to think they're right.

Heck, with the replacement players, the Astros could have gone all the way and maybe brought Houston its second sports championship in as many seasons.

The Astros had one of the best teams in replacement ball, and who knows, we may have had an all-Texas World Series as the Texas Rangers also had a strong replacement team.

But now, thanks to the collective wimping out of owners like Selig, and I'm sure the big-market honchos like the Yankees' George Steinbrenner, the Astros will have to start all over with their "real" team.

God save us all because this is one fan who will not be going to a stadium near you anytime soon.

Thanks, baseball bosses. You doomed yourselves. The next time the players demand more, you'll have no choice but to give in.

If you all give in right away, you'll prevent another public relations nightmare like the one you created during this fiasco.

As for now, the only thing for which I'll ever use a ticket to a major league baseball game is the coupon on the back.

Pena is a junior RTV major who thinks 15 percent off his next meal at KFC is finger-licking good.

 

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ALL PHOTOS BY JOHN SWISS

Top Left

CUTLINE: Rachel Tamayo, winner of the "Biggest Bonnet" contest, made her own colorful hat out of plastic eggs, crocheted baby chicks, Mardi Gras beads, topping it off with a small purple stuffed bunny.

Bottom Top

CUTLINE: Proud winners pose while wearing their creations, which were entered into several different categories for the Easter bonnet contest.

Bottom Bottom CUTLINE: Members of the UH public relations campaign class get the senior citizens of Wesley Community Center to wiggle-wiggle-wiggle during the Chicken Dance.

PR class puts on cotton-tails for senior citizens

by Christen Hanlon

Daily Cougar Staff

Easter came early for Houston-area senior citizens when students from a University of Houston public relations class had a chance to take their experience to the streets.

The Public Relations Campaigns class is a journalism class at UH taught by Phil Morabito, president of Pierpoint Communications.

The students in the class form groups of four to develop a public relations campaign for an organization with a public relations need.

One group from the class chose the Houston chapter of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, who help sponsor an annual "Easter Party and Parade" for Wesley Community Center senior citizens.

On March 24, approximately 75 Houston-area senior citizens had fun dancing and socializing, but the highlight of the day was the parade of hand-made Easter bonnets.

The bonnets are original designs made with Easter grass, yarn, plastic Easter eggs and other mementos. The seniors paraded their hats in front of several judges.

Contestants were awarded Fiesta gift certificates for several categories.

"I already knew what I was going to do on my hat last year," Rachel Tamayo said. She was awarded "Biggest Hat."

Sam Jefferson, from The Anchor House in Houston and winner of the most macho bonnet, said he made a hat last year as well.

Mike Viator, president-elect of the Houston chapter of the Texas Society of CPAs, helped judge the Easter bonnet contest and also briefly modeled his own unique hat for the seniors.

The festivities continued with seniors forming a circle to do the "chicken dance." "After all this dancing ... wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, I'll need some Ben Gay," Jefferson said.

The seniors enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and snacks, including nachos provided by Randalls. "I should have put in my good teeth today," one senior said.

For nearly a century, Wesley Community Center has been providing social services to residents of Houston. Wesley is supported by the United Methodist Church, the United Way, and concerned citizens and organizations like the Houston chapter of the Texas Society of CPAs.

The UH student group, which consists of Stacia Jones, Tricia Walker, Lady Oliver and John Swiss, worked with two other sponsors, the accounting firms of Michael Jones & Co. and Null and Associates, to make this event successful.

Through these students' efforts, the "Easter Party and Parade" received local media coverage from Channel 45 and Metro Video News, which was contracted by NBC affiliate Channel 2.

 

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WALT DISNEY CARTOON ANOTHER ROARING GOOD TIME

Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Co.

<I>The Lion King<P>, which features the voices of Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Simba and Jeremy Irons as Scar, is now on video.

by Eric James

Daily Cougar Staff

<I>The Lion King<P> is the fourth film in what could easily be termed the golden age of Disney. Not that there has ever been a bad animated film from Disney, but <I>The Little Mermaid<P>, <I>Beauty and the Beast<P> and <I>Aladdin<P> can easily be called its greatest achievements. <I>The Lion King<P> equally matches the greatness of these films.

The film begins with a wonderful song written by Elton John and Tim Rice (who wrote the Oscar-winning lyrics for "A Whole New World") titled "The Circle of Life." This song and the scenes of all the animals of the African savannah are breath-taking. The intensity of the music and the beauty of the art in this film never lose the magnificence of this opening scene.

The film revolves around Simba, the lion cub who is set to be king. Simba's voice is done by Jonathan Taylor Thomas of <I>Home Improvement<P> and later by Matthew Broderick. His father, Mufasa, is done by James Earl "The Voice of God" Jones. Jeremy Irons provides the voice of Scar, Simba's uncle, who was next in line to be king until Simba was born.

Not to spoil any plots, let's just say that Simba is chased away from Pride Rock, their kingdom, and Scar takes control.

While away from Pride Rock, Simba becomes friends with Pumbaa and Timon (voices by Ernie Sabella and Nathan Lane, respectively). These two friends teach him the lesson of "Hakuna Matata," or "no worries." Simba eventually loses his identity and decides never to take his rightful place as king.

Nala (voice of Moira Kelly) is the lioness who acts as Simba's love interest and provides an outlet for the film's Oscar-winning love song, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight."

The movie also has the voices of Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings as Scar's hyena henchmen; Robert Guillaume as the wise, old baboon, Rafiki; and Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) as the sarcastic bird, Zazu. All these characters are hysterical.

This film suffers the same problem from which most Disney films suffer: The supporting characters are 10 times more interesting than the leads. Watching the games played by Timon and Pumbaa and hearing Timon with all his bad vaudevillian jokes make the audience laugh more than anything Simba and Nala ever accomplish.

The true star of the film, however, is Irons as the voice of Scar. He's hip, he's sarcastic and he even does a play on the "You have no idea" line from <I>Reversal of Fortune<P>. He is truly the best Disney villain ever created. Just watch and see.

The film includes a wonderful, Academy Award-winning score by Hans Zimmer, plus songs by Rice and John. Yes, Alan Menkin is nowhere to be found in this production.

The cast of voices is top-notch and outshines any previous film. When Jones says, "You are my son," it's just as powerful as when he says it in <I>Star Wars<P>.

A case can be made that the film is sexist, but on the African savannah, the male lion does rule over the lioness. I'm not saying that's right, but it's reality. If the film revolved around humans, then it would be sexist. Just remember, it's a cartoon.

<I>The Lion King<P> is a superb Disney work of animation and will easily become a classic. The story about coming to terms with your true identity and facing up to your responsibilities may not be as interesting as the "Look past the superficial outside" moral of <I>Aladdin<P> and <I>Beauty and the Beast<P>, but it makes for a good film. It's just a lot of good ol' wholesome Disney fun.

 

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REALISTIC <I>WILD<P> WESTERN RIDES AGAIN

 

by Barry Tipton

Daily Cougar Staff

In the opening sequence of <I>The Wild Bunch<P>, director Sam Peckinpah builds such an intense mood of suspense that the viewer is immediately swept up in the story. Scenes of laughing children feeding a scorpion to a nest of fire ants are interspersed with: a group of men riding on horseback into the town of Pecos, a meeting of the Texas Temperance League, armed men hiding on the roofs of the town's wooden buildings and a group of customers waiting in line at a bank.

As these elements come together, frenetic music adds to the building tension. The riders, dressed in military uniforms, dismount, help an old woman across the street, then hold up the bank.

The Temperance League begins to march down the center of the street with the giggling children in tow. The men on the roof begin to lose patience, fondling their weapons with murder in their eyes. A racing heartbeat can be heard under the manic music, perfectly enhancing the atmospheres. Inevitably, the shoot-out that follows is a bloody explosion of frenzied violence.

For 1969, when <I>The Wild Bunch<P> was released, the gory realism of the gunfight is astonishing.

William Holden gives his usual impeccable performance, as Pike, the brooding leader of the gang. Ernest Borgnine's portrayal of Dutch, Pike's right-hand man, is perhaps the best of his career. They are fading men, trying to live in a world that is changing around them, making them obsolete.

They're out to make one last big score, then retire with the money. Along the way, they come up against bounty hunters and the U.S. Army, and get mixed up in a Mexican civil war.

Peckinpah's attention to detail adds graphic texture to the turn-of-the-century Wild West world in which his characters live and breathe. Accidents happen, and mistakes are made in this world, much as they are now. The consequences are brutally just.

Don Jose (Alfonso Arau), an elder in a Mexican village, tells Pike, "The worst of us want to be children again, to find innocence." For Pike and his followers, however, the innocence they seek can only be found in death.

<I>The Wild Bunch<P> is a precursor to the gritty, realistic films of today. Like <I>Pulp Fiction<P> or <I>Natural Born Killers<P>, this film is driven by characters trying in vain to escape the tragic destiny they themselves have shaped.

Stars: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine

Director: Sam Peckinpah

3 1/2 stars

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SAY NO <I>THANK YOU<P> TO ROYAL TRUX'S LATEST

ROYAL TRUX WILL BE PROMOTING ITS <I>THANK YOU<P> RELEASE TONIGHT AT URBAN ART BAR.

Photo by Catalina Leisenring/Virgin

by Sean Fitzpatrick

Daily Cougar Staff

<I>Thank You<P>, the Virgin debut release by Royal Trux, desperately wants to be the connection between the Rolling Stones-cranky-white-blues tradition and punk.

Although arguably long on ambition, Trux is decidedly short on invention. Neil Hagerty's guitar solos go to some unexpected places, but they take too long to get there and aren't much fun on the way.

Unfortunately, he doesn't have much source material with which to work. Much of the melodic blame can be placed on the vocal cords of lead croaker Jennifer Herrema, who does her damnedest to sound like Mick Jagger after a fifth of Chivas, but falls flat on her curled lip.

This was recorded live in Memphis, Tenn., which suits the gnarled precision of Trux's rhythm attack. But the refried Stones/Black Crowes hash (all of the bluesy excess, none of the licks) tires quickly, and <I>Thank You<P> ends up sounding like one long Drivin' 'n' Cryin' B-side.

All in all, Royal Trux pretty much sucks, but if you want to take a listen for yourself, Royal Trux will be performing tonight at the Urban Art Bar.

 

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WATERBOYS <I>SECRET<P>

CAPTIVATING

by Jim Presnell

Daily Cougar Staff

Sure, you could buy the recently released <I>Best of the Waterboys<P>, yet anyone familiar with the band might rather take home the collection <I>Secret Life<P>, which brims with early hits and rarities from what some term this seminal Irish rock-folk band's golden age, the early years, from 1981-'85.

The Waterboys created a whole new realm of Irish rock and seemed sort of like a genetic experiment in which the Chieftains get spliced with U2.

Imitators followed, yet none concocted this unique mix of music: the provincial Irish tunes one hears on fiddle and pan flute with the electric-guitar-driven workouts that characterize modern rock 'n' roll.

Mike Scott and crew here assemble an eclectic collection of rare Waterboys B-sides, unreleased alternate takes, live performances and broadcasts from England's famed BBC radio's new music showcases.

This music comes off fresh and vital, hypnotic and bracing, orbiting Mars yet firmly rooted in mother Earth, all at the same time.

Besides Scott, players on these tracks include the intensely talented Karl Wallinger (who later forges his own much-adored band, World Party) and Television's (the band) founding member, Tom Verlaine, on guitar in one case. Stalwarts of the Waterboys lineup also featured here include Anthony Thistlethwaite, Steve Wickham, Roddy Lorimer, Kevin Wilkinson, Chris Whitten and Martyn Swain.

Highlights include an up-tempo version of "This is the Sea," featuring Verlaine on guitar, retitled "This Was the River." Also included is "Love That Kills," an emotionally charged unreleased cut; "Savage Earth Heart," recorded on the band's first American tour; and "Bury My Heart," a tribute to the book, <I>Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee<P>.

Essential stuff. So get it, and look out for these guys on tour. This music might change you.

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PORN STAR TURNS TECHNO DIVA

by Joey Guerra

Daily Cougar Staff

Traci Lords. What does that name say? Past porno princess? <I>Melrose Place<P> resident? How about dance club diva?

Yes, everyone's favorite ex-adult movie star has recorded an album, and brace yourself for another shocking revelation: It's actually not bad!

Lord's album, <I>1000 Fires<P>, is a collection of techno-dance numbers tailor-made for club play. Drum machines and electronic sound effects run rampant and once in awhile, she sings!

The album starts with "Control," a seven-minute throbbing dance number. This is club music pure and simple, and Lords seems to know what works on the dance floor. Her breathy vocals are perfectly in sync with the beat, and while the lyrics aren't exactly award-winning, the focus is smartly kept on the music.

The beat goes on with songs like "Fallen Angel," a tribute to the late Kurt Cobain, and "Good-N-Evil," both of which offer interesting variations on Lords' limited vocal range. This is probably more studio magic than anything else, but it works, nevertheless.

Spanish, flamenco-like influences are evident in "Fallen Angel," and the song is reminiscent of the work of B-tribe.

As the album progresses, flavors of romance and seduction become evident in the lyrics. "Fly" includes the request "Touch me with your soul/Bless me with your smile/Give to me all your love/Baby, watch me fly." Vocally, Lords sounds like a hybrid of Juliana Hatfield and Madonna, when she was "Like a Virgin."

A departure from all this electronic ecstasy can be heard on "Distant Land," an attempt to create a techno-ballad. After a too long intro, the song settles nicely into its own niche. Lords' vocals meander over the keyboards, and while the bareness of the musical arrangement emphasizes her sometimes helium-like vocals, it is a nice little song.

"Outlaw Lover" is a humorous story about a scorned woman you would never want to cross. A male, operatic voice and the sound of a cracking whip add to the song's campy humor. It is these little touches that create a mood of fun and generate overall success.

Her voice was made for club music, the kind you love when you're dancing, but don't know the name of or ever hear on the radio. This is fine, though, because the audience being aimed for is club-goers and DJs, not your middle-of-the-road listener, who may find the album repetitive and unnerving.

The autobiographical "Father's Field" is told in an eerie spoken word and has a hallucinatory, almost hypnotic feel. As you listen, you realize Lords is describing a rape -- she is being raped. The effect is chilling as the music continues, hypnotic and dream-like.

With splashy stints as the incredibly ditzy waitress Staci on <I>Roseanne<P>, and as the oh-so-crazy cult member, Rikki, on <I>Melrose Place<P>, she seems ready to move on with her career. While this won't be the album that wins her that Grammy, it is a legitimate piece of work.

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