UH TO OPEN MEN'S HEALTH CARE CLINIC

by Shahida Amin

News Reporter

When Floyd W. Robinson became interim director of the University Health Center a year ago, he had one thought: "We have such an outstanding women's clinic -- why not do this for men?"

Exactly one year later, Robinson's dream is about to become a reality.

The clinic, the first of its kind on a university campus, should open by July 1, Robinson said.

The Health Center fee will not increase for students, said Robinson. "The funding is already here. Our only problem is to find people to staff it," he added.

The clinic will try to teach men how to take preventive measures, such as giving themselves monthly testicular exams or exams to detect breast cancer in males.

The clinic will offer inexpensive check-ups, treatment for STDs and confidential exams, he said.

Educating men about health issues will be the clinic's priority. "It's not going to be just a clinic where a man gets treated for STDs, but a center where we can teach them how to stay healthy," Robinson said.

"I think as men, we are just not comfortable in dealing with our health. We tend to wait a long time," he said. "(Men) can go with a chest pain and think it's a pulled muscle, but it could be indicative of something more serious. Men and health care -- I don't know if we are intimidated by it or if we fear it."

Through the clinic, Robinson said he wants to counteract this attitude by making men more knowledgeable and promoting a healthy male population.

"We (men) die at a younger age because we don't take care of ourselves," Robinson said. "But it doesn't have to be that way. If we can teach men how to remain healthy, we may live as long as women."

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UH FORENSIC SOCIETY RANKS HIGH IN CONTEST

by Shahida Amin

News Reporter

Earning its highest national ranking in individual events in school history, the University of Houston Forensic Society ranked 13th in the nation at the 1995 American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament.

UH Team Captain Chris Aspdal ranked fifth overall in the nation out of more than 700 competitors, becoming the first student from any greater Houston university to rank among the Top 20 competitors at any national forensic championship tournament, said Michael Fain, UH Forensic Society director of Individual Events .

Nine UH students participated in 30 events from 11 different categories in the competition, said Ron Ragston, assistant director of Individual Events.

"The largest team at the competition had 60 entries that qualified for nationals," Fain said. "For us to have had 30 made us one of the largest teams that qualified to compete in the national championship."

Aspdal placed fourth in Informative Speaking, fifth in Dramatic Duo (with partner Jason Cryer), ninth in Poetry Interpretation and ninth in Dramatic Interpretation.

"Last year when I had gone to the national tournaments, I had taken five events," he said. "I had only broken in poetry. This year, I was hoping to only break in two (events). I didn't think I would do as well as I did."

In addition, Jason Cryer took fifth place in Dramatic Duo and John Dies took 11th in Extemporaneous Speaking.

Raymond Blanchard, Gretchen Denker, Charity Lakey, Andrea Rachiele and Latasha Smith each earned first and/or second place rankings in the preliminary rounds of the competition.

"What is amazing about UH is that we advanced people in all events," Fain said. "We have one of the most versatile teams in the U.S."

Fain said the team excels because members often perform their own work. Six members wrote original material presented in the national competition.

"In many cases, it helps to write your literature because it helps you get your message across," Aspdal said. "There are so many things that performers feel they want to say. The closest way to do it is to write your own stuff."

With only Dies graduating this year, Fain said he is enthusiastic about next year's team.

 

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UH FORENSIC SOCIETY RANKS HIGH

by Shahida Amin

News Reporter

Earning its highest national ranking in individual events in school history, the University of Houston Forensic Society ranked 13th in the nation at the 1995 American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament.

UH Team Captain Chris Aspdal ranked fifth overall in the nation out of more than 700 competitors, becoming the first student from any greater Houston university to rank among the Top 20 competitors at any national forensic championship tournament, said Michael Fain, UH Forensic Society director of Individual Events .

Nine UH students participated in 30 events from 11 different categories in the competition, said Ron Ragston, assistant director of Individual Events.

"The largest team at the competition had 60 entries that qualified for nationals," Fain said. "For us to have had 30 made us one of the largest teams that qualified to compete in the national championship."

Aspdal placed fourth in Informative Speaking, fifth in Dramatic Duo (with partner Jason Cryer), ninth in Poetry Interpretation and ninth in Dramatic Interpretation.

"Last year when I had gone to the national tournaments, I had taken five events," he said. "I had only broken in poetry. This year, I was hoping to only break in two (events). I didn't think I would do as well as I did."

In addition, Jason Cryer took fifth place in Dramatic Duo and John Dies took 11th in Extemporaneous Speaking.

Raymond Blanchard, Gretchen Denker, Charity Lakey, Andrea Rachiele and Latasha Smith each earned first and/or second place rankings in the preliminary rounds of the competition.

"What is amazing about UH is that we advanced people in all events," Fain said. "We have one of the most versatile teams in the U.S."

Fain said the team excels because members often perform their own work. Six members wrote original material presented in the national competition.

"In many cases, it helps to write your literature because it helps you get your message across," Aspdal said. "There are so many things that performers feel they want to say. The closest way to do it is to write your own stuff."

With only Dies graduating this year, Fain said he is enthusiastic about next year's team.

 

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TUITION-HIKE BILL IS WEIGHTED WITH AMENDMENTS

CHANGES TO ALLOW UNIVERSITIES TO DISTRIBUTE FEES THROUGHOUT SYSTEM

by James V. Geluso

Daily Cougar Staff

A surprise amendment to a nonresident tuition-hike bill would allow university systems to collect fees at one university and distribute the money to other universities in the same system.

The amendment was added to the bill by Sen. John Montford, D-Lubbock, at the request of the University of Texas System. It would allow fees collected in excess of $12 per credit hour to be redistributed among the universities in a system.

If the bill passes, the UH System would be allowed to redistribute about $10 million from UH to the other universities in the System, according to Fall 1994 statistics.

The UT System asked for the amendment so that it can issue bonds for capital improvements at some of its smaller campuses, said Tom Scott, assistant vice chancellor for Governmental Relations at UT.

The bill was passed by the Senate Finance Committee Thursday and is expected to be heard on the Senate floor next week.

The amendment was one of many attached to the bill as it moved from the Texas House of Representatives into the Senate. Sen. Teel Bivins, R-Amarillo, who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, added several provisions to the bill before it was submitted to the Senate Finance Committee. The resulting bill contained 16 sections, much more than the five sections it had when it passed the House.

The amendment came as a surprise to UH administrators, who have not yet decided whether UH might take advantage of the provision.

"We're monitoring the bill as it goes through the Senate," said Grover Campbell, vice chancellor for Governmental Relations, Friday. "There is no official policy on that (amendment), except that it gives the board a greater amount of flexibility within the System."

"It would be a decision that the leaders of the institutions, the presidents and the Board of Regents would make together," said Wendy Adair, interim vice chancellor for System Relations.

The bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Bob Junell, D-San Angelo, was originally meant only to raise nonresident tuition rates. As it is currently written, it also raises the general resident tuition rate by $2 every year, which was passed by the House in a separate bill last week, and provides for a number of specific fees at various universities.

Also included is a provision allowing universities within 100 miles of a state boundary to request a lower nonresident tuition rate.

Because it was so heavily amended, the bill is likely to go into a conference committee if it passes the Senate.

 

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SA SENATE PROPOSES BILL TO FLY FLAG AT HALF-MAST

by James V. Geluso

Daily Cougar Staff

The University of Houston will fly its flag at half-mast Monday in honor of the students and professors persecuted in Nazi Germany, if President Pickering signs a bill passed Monday by the Students' Association.

Sunday is the 50th anniversary of V-E Day, when Germany surrendered after nearly six years of war. The Senate decided to observe the occasion Monday while students and faculty are on campus.

The bill was introduced by Shane Schiermeier and passed by a unanimous vote after a long debate about the protocols of lowering flags to half-mast. The bill originally called for the UH flag, the Texas flag, and the American flag all to be flown at half-mast.

Technology Sen. Scott Gorrell objected to the lowering of the American flag for the occasion, saying that flying a flag at half-mast is meant to symbolize a period of mourning. "It's inappropriate to fly the American flag at half-mast for a war the United States won," he said.

The commemoration was one of three pieces of legislation that Shiermeier introduced in a speech as "past, present and future." The other two were resolutions by which the Senate would adopt "Together, We Can" as a motto, and encouraging the hanging of national flags over the World Affairs Lounge to commemorate the international diversity of the student body.

Sen. Andrew Becker introduced a bill allowing the Campus Connection card, which is carried by on-campus residents, to double as a university ID and library card.

The Senate also made appointments to some understaffed university committees. Former Sen. Clarissa Peterson and Donna Patterson were appointed to the Undergraduate Council, and Peterson was also appointed to the Library Review Committee.

 

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TRUEBA PROMISES IMPROVED FUTURE FOR UH FACULTY

by Bobby Summers

Daily Cougar Staff

UH faculty members will play an increasingly important role in the future of the University of Houston, said UH Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Henry Trueba.

In a meeting last Friday with faculty members of the College of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communications, Trueba said, "The next few months may be a bit rocky.

What I'm really saying is that you are going to be facing a number of crises in the near future. The most important factor now at UH is for the faculty to construct their own future. The faculty are no longer sitting and waiting for plans to be made for them. They have spoken out. They expect the administration to be accountable. They felt free to express their concerns to the management audit team."

Citing the current UH System Management Audit, the Building Assessment Audit and the changes in UH and the UH System that will likely occur as a result of these studies, Trueba told the HFAC faculty that the coming months will be a critical time for faculty-administration cooperation and trust.

"In the next eight to 10 months, there is going to be more conviction that the faculty members are in control," Trueba said. "Now is the time for us to come together and see how we can do things better. My most important concern is how to go about implementing an intellectual climate in which the faculty can produce outstanding work."

Trueba then asked the faculty members, "Can we do something better to reward the faculty and staff? To what extent can we create opportunities to recognize those people?"

Trueba said, "Because in doing this, the students are going to benefit enormously. The students will recognize that they really are in a top institution and that they have an opportunity to learn from truly outstanding professors."

Trueba said the level of respect given to UH faculty by the Board of Regents and the administration will increase in the future.

He also urged faculty members to continue to suggest changes to the administration, changes that will help the university operate more efficiently and successfully.

"Whatever changes take place, it is important for the faculty to retain their cohesiveness," Trueba said. "If we retain that kind of stability, we will be in a much better position to make the right kinds of decisions in the next few years. That is, of course, something that has been purchased at a very heavy price from the efforts of yourself and the people before you who have been demanding information and accountability."

Trueba also brought the group a bit of bad news, saying, "We still have no decision as to where the money is going to come from for salary increases."

The provost also reported that the preliminary figures from the Building Assessment Audit suggests the cost of repairing existing UH facilities could be in the neighborhood of $45 million.

Trueba, who has been meeting with various faculty groups on campus over the past months, thanked the HFAC faculty for their dedication and interest in the future of UH.

"I can tell you for sure that if you look around a year from now, and if I have the privilege to still be talking to you, we can be pointing together to many accomplishments," Trueba said. "There is one thing for sure. You are the blood and the energy and the life support of this institution. You are the brains. You are the honor. And I want to tell you that I feel extremely honored to be a colleague."

 

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TIME FOR MAKING UP

COOGS, CARDINALS HIT IT OFF IN BEAUMONT AGAIN AS PRELUDE TO RICE

by William German

Daily Cougar Staff

The Southwest Conference baseball race is set for the coming weekend with Rice, Texas A&M and Texas Tech all having shots at the title.

Houston isn't contending –last in the SWC with a 5-16 record – but it will be a key figure in the contest, as a three-game weekend series at Rice remains on the schedule.

Before that showdown, the Cougars will look to improve on their 24-27 overall record when they take care of a little unfinished business against the Lamar Cardinals today at 7 p.m. at Beaumont's Vincent-Beck Stadium.

The game was originally scheduled for April 4, but was rained out twice.

"Lamar's still in the running to go to the (NCAA) regionals," said Cougars third baseman Tom Maleski, who leads the team with a .326 average. "They're gonna come out full force. They need the win."

Houston is coming off a doubleheader sweep of Baylor Saturday. Pitching led the way, as David Hamilton logged 6 1/3 innings to get a win in the first game, and Jason Farrow saved both games with scoreless final innings in each.

Brad Towns enjoyed success as a hitter vs. Baylor Saturday (combined 2-for-5, three RBIs in the two games), but the senior will be taking the mound tonight, where he has posted a 2-2 record and a 5.40 ERA.

With his two saves, Farrow tied the UH record for saves in a season, held, interestingly enough, by his coach, Rayner Noble (set in 1983), and by Kevin Rupp (1976).

The man behind the plate during these accomplishments, catcher Brandon Milam, moved to left field in Saturday's second game. He has boosted his average to .303 on the season after a 6-of-10 series.

Milam also has the second-highest on-base percentage of any Cougar, not so much due to walks as to being hit by pitches. He has been nailed 12 times this year for a new school record and threatens the career record of 19 HBPs held by Joe Betters and Chris Tremie.

The Cougars beat the Cardinals 5-4 at the official opening of the new Cougar Field March 14. Center fielder Dustin Carr won the game in the bottom of the 10th with an opposite-field solo home run.

The Cardinals (28-18) have taken a tumble in the Sun Belt Conference standings to fall to 15-9 after a 10-2 start. The loss of freshman righthander Eric Cammack (4-0, 2.75 ERA) to injury has been a big factor.

Possible starters for Lamar include junior lefty Kevin Lane (2-4, 5.71) or right-handed freshman Jeff Dinkins (2-2, 4.11).

The offense for the Cardinals is no mystery. Outfielder Eric Mapp has slugged his way to a .343, 11-homer, 58-RBI season. He has been aided by contact hitter Will Cook (.410 average, 46 walks, only 14 strikeouts in 134 at-bats).

Lamar finished 39-23 last year and missed a trip to the NCAAs, so there will likely be no letting up on its end.

"They're going to come to play," said Cougars head baseball coach Rayner Noble.

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RECRUITS FLOODING INTO UH

by William German

Daily Cougar Staff

Although Houston is slated to lose 11 seniors from its 1995 squad, the list of this year's Cougars baseball signees is growing.

Robb Kirkland, a left-handed pitcher from Tyler Junior College, was recently added to a fine crop of pitchers and other recruits that now totals 12 in all.

"(Recruiting) is the most important thing we're doing right now," said assistant baseball coach Trip Couch, who is one of three men – head coach Rayner Noble and pitching coach Tim Peters are the others – responsible for the influx.

Noble, of course, was out recruiting late Monday.

"We're already starting on next year's (recruits)," Couch said. "This year's is pretty much done."

The two high school players signed during the spring are outfielder Steve Solis from North Shore High and Conroe High hurler Bruce Nance. Nance was second team all-district as a sophomore and junior and vaulted to all-county status as a senior.

Junior-college transfers include local hero Jason Schreiber, formerly of Bellaire High. The 1993 Houston Player of the Year as a senior at Bellaire, Schreiber has since played a year each at Kansas and at San Jacinto Junior College, where he was a pitcher/outfielder last season.

Lefty Wade Higgins and right-handed pitcher/first baseman Scott McLeod from Blinn Junior College are two more potential moundsmen. McLeod, though, hit .310 with eight homers and 38 RBIs at Blinn in an offensive role.

The fall has already brought pitchers Art Dillahay from the College of Southern Idaho, Mark Manbeck from Round Rock High, Tommy Marik from Blinn and Jason Belin from New Caney.

Shortstop Tony Peasley from Southern Idaho and Mayde Creek third sacker Chris Hill will hope to shore up an infield, which now consists of four seniors. Michael Medrano, an outfielder from Pearland High, also signed in the fall.

 

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ENOUGH OF THE APRIL SHOWERS -- IT'S TIME

FOR SOME MAY FLOWERS

(NO PHOTO CREDIT SHOULD BE GIVEN!!!)

PHOTO CUTLINE: Gardeners, start your planting!

by Frank McGowan

and Valérie C. Fouché

Daily Cougar Staff

Summer has arrived, allowing for time to relax and get back to nature. Whether you have a large backyard or flower boxes on the patio, now is the time to start that garden you've always wanted.

For novices, the choices of when and what to plant can be confusing, but by learning a few simple terms, the beginning gardener can soon sprout a green thumb.

Perennial and annual are two terms that can be defined simply, but cause bewilderment for many. When you consider that the same plant can be both an annual and perennial depending upon its environment, the confusion multiplies. In South Texas, during mild winters, begonias are perennial but in colder regions like Dallas and Amarillo, begonias are annuals.

According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, a perennial is a plant that persists from year to year. Herbaceous perennials survive each winter underground as roots, bulbs, rhizomes or tubers. Foliage and flowers die back during the winter months.

Trees and shrubs, both deciduous and evergreen, are woody perennials. These perennials have woody stem tissue that persists above ground each year.

Most perennials are easily propagated by division, seed or cuttings. Division is particularly successful since it not only provides new plants, but is necessary for the plants' continued vigor. Numerous perennials will tolerate relatively poor growing conditions, but all respond favorably to well-prepared planting areas containing high percentages of organic materials and moderately high fertility rates. Perennials also assure the gardener of adaptability.

Annuals are plants that live their entire life in one year. They germinate, grow, leaf out, flower, produce seed and then die. Many readily re-seed themselves, leading you to believe the plant grew from its original roots. Not so. An entirely new plant grew from seed.

Both perennials and annuals have a variety of landscape uses and offer an infinite number of combinations. Container gardens, color gardens, borders and cut flower gardens can all be created with the use of perennials and annuals. Keep in mind that perennials grow year after year and often require less maintenance than annuals.

•Cutting gardens: Cutting gardens provide the flower lover with abundant material from which to fashion their arrangements. By providing a special cut flower area, the gardener can anticipate and plan for these needs without disturbing or diminishing landscape plantings. Another advantage of this garden type is that annuals and perennials may be conveniently and efficiently grown in rows where they are easily gathered and maintained. Cutting gardens need not be unattractive, but it is sensible to locate them so they are not the focal point of your landscape.

•Container gardens: Effectively selecting and placing container plants is a practical way to replace lost ground space in our urban environments. Container culture of perennials, roses and annuals allows one to control soil quality, watering and plant placement. Most containers are relatively portable and may be grouped or moved to take advantage of seasonal displays. Hanging containers add another dimension to the landscape. When used with restraint and scaled to the surroundings, cascading annuals and perennials can be significant additions to courtyards, entrance areas and terraces.

•Pockets of color: Perennials and annuals provide seasonal color change. By enlarging planting areas in front of evergreen shrubs, it is possible to prepare modest-sized spaces for clumps of seasonal color. Make sure to plant sufficient quantities of the flower to create a real impact and not just a "spot" in the overall picture. Use color pockets around outdoor living areas, swimming pools and entrance courts, where they may be enjoyed most.

•Borders: Perennial borders, inherited from England, evolved during the 17th and 18th centuries. These borders extended the growing season from a few months in spring and summer to year-round through the use of bulbs, ornamental grasses, annuals, perennials and herbs. English borders were limited in space by walls or hedges, giving continuity to the discord created by the use of wide variety of plants, each displaying different colors, forms and textures. These herbaceous borders require considerable space, with dimensions of at least 5-6 feet wide and 20-30 feet long. Wider and longer borders offer more opportunity for manipulation and gradation of color, form and texture.

Perennials and annuals abound, and only imagination will limit their varied uses. Given a few growing seasons and some experimentation, even novice gardeners can create lush, tranquil landscapes in the urban jungle.

 

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ART GUYS GIVE MUSEUM GOERS SOMETHING TO THINK TWICE ABOUT

"METAPHYSICS" is just one of the many pieces from <I>The Art Guys: Think Twice<P> exhibit made up of odds and ends.

Photo courtesy of Contemporary Arts Museum

Who: The Art Guys

What: <I>The Art Guys: Think Twice<P>

When: now through June 25

Where: Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose

How Much: Free

by Joey Guerra

Daily Cougar Staff

Think David Letterman with a touch of Pee-Wee Herman (before the playhouse became the porn house), and you won't be far off the mark. Who am I talking about? The Art Guys, of course, who are being presented by the Contemporary Arts Museum in an exhibit titled <I>The Art Guys: Think Twice<P>.

The survey includes 87 works of sculpture, drawing, photography, installation and video created by the Guys, Michael Galbreth and Jack Messing, over the past 13 years. For those who aren't in the know, this dynamic duo combines wit and humor with everyday objects and materials to create a tongue-in-cheek approach to issues like consumerism and greed. The exhibit runs through June 25 and will include periodic public appearances by the Art Guys themselves.

Visiting the exhibit is like entering some sort of surreal funhouse where anything and everything goes. The first thing that pops into view is a piece from <I>Suitcase Arches<P>, which entails, well, an arch made out of suitcases. The piece is over 20 feet high, and you can walk right through this hemisphere of travel trunks.

Another notable piece of luggage is <I>Product Test #1: Suitcase Drag, Houston to San Antonio, Highway 90A, 234.7 Miles<P>. This is an actual suitcase that was attached to a truck bumper and dragged the entire 234 miles! When you see the piece sitting there in the museum, you can't help but laugh.

The issues take a turn toward seriousness with <I>The United States of America<P>, a portrait of the U.S. made out of dollar bills. These types of works comment on the greed and obsession with money people in America have today. Also quite effective is a piece called <I>Ashes of the American Flag Rearranged into Three Other Easily Recognizable Symbols<P>. The work is pretty self-explanatory: an American flag, burned to ashes, then rearranged into symbols including a cross and the Coca-Cola logo. Perhaps patriotism has stepped aside for soft drinks, which are as widely renowned as symbols of freedom and justice. You decide.

Something that will definitely "blow" you away is <I>The Big Sneeze<P>, an enormous nose that is almost six feet high and more than four feet wide. For your listening and viewing pleasure, this huge honker emits sneezing sounds while spraying "viscous colored liquid" from its nostrils. So don't stand too close -- you might get slimed.

Also approaching the grotesque is <I>Bubble Gum Chair<P>, which could be called an interactive art exhibit. Started in 1991, visitors are encouraged to place their very own wad of gum on the chair, which is covered with the stuff. The sight is pretty gross, with old, dried up pieces of Dentyne or Bubble-Yum or whatever on the top and bottom of the chair. For your convenience, a gumball machine is located near the entrance of the museum just in case you didn't bring some from home.

It is impossible to accurately describe the exhibit, which ranges from hilarious to goofy to gross to just plain weird. One thing is for sure, though -- you will laugh. I can't remember when I walked into a museum where every visitor was giggling out loud. There are dozens of other pieces, covering every subject and using every material imaginable. Birdhouses, toothbrushes, pennies, beer bottles and even dead insects come into play. (You have to see some of this stuff yourself to believe it.)

Perhaps the most important message that comes across in this exhibit is the statement that art is everywhere. In the home, on the road, in the bathroom, The Art Guys seem to be saying that art can be anything you make it and can be made out of anything you choose. Who says great works must be somber paintings or classically-carved sculptures to be viewed with great seriousness in a stuffy old museum? Art, in this case, is something fun, something to make you feel good and something to make you think a little, too, and there's nothing wrong with that.

The Art Guys work can be seen in a book, also titled <I>The Art Guys: Think Twice<P>, published by The Contemporary Arts Museum and meant to accompany the exhibit. It can be purchased for $19.95 when you visit the museum. Admission is free, and for more information, dial 526-0773. Catch the exhibit while it's in town, and be sure to bring your bubble gum!

 

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CORBIAU'S <I>FARINELLI<P> HITS HIGH NOTE

Stefano Dionisi (left) plays Farinelli, and Enrico Lo Verso plays his brother Riccardo in the true story <I>Farinelli<P>.

<I>Farinelli<P>

Stars: Stefano Dionisi, Enrico Lo Verso

Director: Gerard Corbiau

Stars: Three and a half

by Eric James

Daily Cougar Staff

<I>Farinelli<P> is one of those wonderfully twisted films that appear to be too odd to be true, until you realize that it is based on a true story.

The film revolves around two brothers, Riccardo (Enrico Lo Verso) and Carlo (Stefano Dionisi) Broschi. Carlo is blessed with a tremendous singing voice that is discovered when he is still young. His older brother, Riccardo, meanwhile studies musical composition. Even then, people realize how much more gifted Carlo is than Riccardo.

Carlo's voice inspires the plot because in the 1700s, people took extreme measures to ensure a young singer keeps his voice throughout his lifetime. Carlo becomes a <I>castrata<P>, or a eunuch. The act of his castration saves his beautiful voice forever.

Carlo thus takes the stage name, Farinelli. He and his brother promised their father before he died that they would never part. Farinelli, therefore, sings his brother's music and makes both the Broschi brothers famous.

The most interesting aspect of the film is the relationship developed between the Broschi brothers and the brilliant composer, Maestro Handel. Handel wishes Farinelli to sing his music. He, as well as everyone else, understands that Riccardo's music is a far cry from anything brilliant. It is excessive and full of insipid flourishes. The only reason his music receives such acclaim is because of Farinelli's awesome voice.

Riccardo despises Handel for his brilliance and insolence in hoping to steal Farinelli from him. Farinelli is faithful to his brother while he wishes to escape his mediocre compositions and sing for Handel.

Dionisi is perfect as the martyr brother. He causes women to swoon, and you understand why. The moments when Farinelli confronts his brother and the weakness of his compositions are powerful.

Lo Verso is equally as brilliant as Riccardo. He is nothing more than a leech who is too blind to realize his own mediocrity. He makes statements like, "They want to hear <I>us<P> sing," and he even goes so far as to share his brother's lovers.

This adds the nice erotic undertone to <I>Farinelli<P>. Farinelli seduces the women with his voice and lures them into bed. He spends time with them and then allows Riccardo to enter the bed and finish the act. This is the ultimate example of how Riccardo uses his brother to further his personal interests. The end explains his ultimate betrayal of his brother.

Jeroen Krabbe, previously of <I>The Fugitive<P>, is deliciously wicked as the egomaniacal Handel. He spews off lines like, "Your voice is the only justification for your existence," and, "I need nobody." He refers to Farinelli and "his kind," but he ultimately realizes that Farinelli would add final perfection to his compositions.

In fact, when Farinelli finally sings a Handel piece, voice provided by digitally fusing the voices of a counter-tenor and a soprano (Derek Lee Ragin and Ewa Mallas Godlewska, respectively), it is so beautiful and so powerful, you realize what his voice was always meant to do.

<I>Farinelli<P> is a brilliant study of trust and faith between brothers and the men and women who would tear them apart. It is an erotic and touching tale that is haunting because of the fact that these <I>castrati<P> existed and were forced into this life against their will. It deservedly won the Golden Globe this past year for Best Foreign Language Film and received an Academy Award nomination.

 

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SLASH'S SNAKEPIT TO SLITHER INTO ABYSS

by Jim Presnell

Daily Cougar Staff

Much as one may despise some aspects of Guns 'n' Roses, reasons to like this record, <I>It's Five O'clock Somewhere<P>, abound; a fun, noisy package, it bristles with generous helpings of the lead guitar Slash does so well.

Free from the pressures of a Guns 'n' Roses record, Slash gathers some friends, like former Jellyfish guitarist Eric Dover on vocals, former Guns rhythm guitarist Gilby Clarke, Guns drummer Matt Sorum, and Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez.

The results? An unpretentious mix of blistering guitar, heartfelt vocals and good rockin'.

Many aspects of the L.A. scene come into view. Slash described "Good to Be Alive," for instance: "It's very sarcastic. It's about the average skirt you see hanging around in L.A. We've all hung out with them, and you see them at hotels all around the country." What a cultured dude, huh?

Yet serious sides exist to the Snakepit experience: "Lower" talks out the topic of suicide, and "Soma City Ward" describes someone being sedated to death.

"Jizz Da Pit" comes off as a credible instrumental despite the cheesy title, though it comes with Slash's disclaimer that "Mike wrote the moody part." Because of a studio error, the guitar solo was totally lost and had to be ad-libbed later in the mastering process. "It'll be fun to play again," says the master of 300 snakes.

Slash's Snakepit: fun, no matter how you feel about reptilian life forms.

Once upon a time, Axl Rose got mad at a broken microphone in a Dallas stadium sometime just after the first album went multiplatinum and told the audience to fuck off after four and a half songs. "There's just been too many limousines and jets, too much cocaine, too many chicks," he slurred, or words to that effect.

Slash just kept on playing until his buddy pulled him off stage. And so may it always unfold.

Slash's Snakepit will perform Wednesday at the Abyss.

 

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HOUSTON GRAND OPERA TACKLES BARBARIC ATTILA THE HUN AND WINS

OPERA STAR SAMUEL RAMEY IS ATTILA IN HOUSTON GRAND OPERA'S PRESENTATION OF <I>ATTILA THE HUN<P>.

Photo by Jim Caldwell/Houston Grand Opera

by Ivana Segvic

Daily Cougar Staff

The Houston Grand Opera has taken a trip to A.D. 452, traveling with Attila the Hun and experiencing the strength, courage and barbarity of one of the greatest warriors and leaders in history. It might have been considered a gamble to place <I>Attila<P>, one of Verdi's not-so-often-performed operas on stage. However, with bass Samuel Ramey and soprano Maria Guleghina, the opera could not miss.

<I>Attila<P> is the best-cast opera of the season. This opera has no mismatched divas with tenors or basses that are too weak. Guleghina and Ramey sing with unity and equality, never casting a shadow on each other.

Verdi created <I>Attila<P> in 1864, when he was 33 years old. The opera opens in A.D. 452. Attila the Hun, the "scourge of God," has invaded Italy, sparing no lives. However, Uldino, his slave, allows a group of women, who fought against the Huns, to live. Odabella, their leader and daughter of the Lord of Aquileia, whom Attila killed, impresses Attila with her courage and bravery. As a gift, he gives her his sword.

Foresto, leader of the Aquileias, and Odabella's betrothed, wishes she were dead and not in the barbarian hands of Attila. Odabella and Foresto meet, and she swears to get her revenge on Attila. But her actions prove different when Foresto attempts to poison Attila, and Odabella saves his life. This sparks a love within Attila's heart and he asks for Odabella's hand in marriage. A battle ignites within her, but even though she says yes to Attila's proposal, she still pursues her fatal promise of revenge. On her wedding night, she avenges her father's and her people's death, by stabbing Attila with the sword he had given her.

Attila is sung by the world's top and most recorded bass, Samuel Ramey. A native of Colby, Kan., Ramey has taken his talented voice across the world, singing sold-out performances in the most famous opera houses and major capitols of the world. When Ramey sang the first note in <I>Attila<P>, a powerful silence seized the audience. A voice with such virtuosity comes only once in a lifetime.

Soprano Maria Guleghina sang Odabella with emotion and power. Her similarities with Maria Callas could not be overlooked. Born in Odessa, she has been praised for her performances in leading theaters, including La Scala, Milan and the Metropolitan Opera, among others. Her title role in Puccini's <I>Tosca<P> has achieved her great acclaim. In the 1993-94 season, she appeared as Tosca at the Met opposite Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Her expressive Odabella is memorable and passionate, yet it sustains the power of Ramey's loud bass.

American tenor Franco Farina and Italian baritone Roberto Servile sang Foresto and Ezio. Although their voices carried the expected notes, the power of their voices was still a step below the voices of Guleghina and Ramey. Farina had moments of beauty and emotion come forth from his voice, but he was outshined by the brightness of Ramey and Guleghina.

Perhaps some of the greatest talent of this season came from the chorus. The chorus, along with the HGO orchestra and the superb conducting of Maestro Vjekoslav Sutej, added to this exquisite production of an opera, too often forgotten and too little-known --<I>Attila<P>, closing HGO's 40th season with elegance and style.

<I>Attila<P> will be at the Wortham Center's Brown Theater at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and May 9 and 12. Discount tickets are available for students. For more information, or to order tickets, call 227-ARTS.

What: <I>Attila the Hun<P>

When: May 3-12

Where: Wortham Center's Brown Theater

Phone: 227-ARTS

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