The Daily Cougar

‘Understudy’ reveals UK singer’s raw potential

Up-and-coming U.K. artist Låpsley packed the full force of her musical prowess into her four-track electronic R&B EP “Understudy.” A recent XL Recordings signee, 18-year-old Låpsley has recently gained popularity thanks to BBC Radio.

Soft tones and steady tempos dominate “Understudy.” Låpsley’s vocal talent overshadows the lyrics, which don’t discuss anything novel in themselves. The positive vibes and upbeat tempo of “Brownlow” makes up for some of the other themes that don’t have pleasant endings.

Låpsley’s vocal talents are best heard in “Falling Short,” in which she sings long harmonies and chop vocals. Though it lacks the synths, it still has a lot to offer with the organic percussion and piano. It’s the best track “Understudy” has to offer.

“Falling Short” may give listeners a good impression of Låpsley’s vocal skills, but “8896” sports more electronic music and best represents Låpsley as an artist. The echoing vocals, soft synth sounds and strings make up Låpsley’s exclusive sound.

In “Dancing,” Låpsley gives listeners a preview of her storytelling abilities, singing about being caught in a love triangle and unaware of what direction she’s heading in.

The young artist’s EP is impressive, considering that she signed on at 18 with an impressive record label. Each track of “Understudy” offers potential.

As an EP, “Understudy” does everything necessary to get the listener’s attention. The EP itself is not a standout, but Låpsley is, and the EP is still worth the listen as she no doubt works towards future music with more potential for her unique sound.

arts@thedailycougar.com


‘Understudy’ reveals UK singer’s raw potential” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar

Provost Short named one of Houston’s most influential women

Paula Short

Provost Short has been at her position since June 2013 and has implemented several successful initiatives, including the new UHin4 program. | File Photo/The Cougar

Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Paula Myrick Short has been named one of “Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2014″ by Houston Woman Magazine.

“Those selected as Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2014 are individuals who have earned and possess an expertise in a particular field,” said Beverly Denver, publisher of Houston Woman Magazine in a press release. “The thoughts and actions of these women influence the thoughts and actions of others. It is our distinct privilege to be able to introduce these remarkable women to the community.”

Houston Woman Magazine has published a special edition featuring “Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of the Year” every year since 2008.

“I am humbled and thrilled to be honored for my work at the University of Houston,” Short said in a press release. “I’m proud to know it has positively affected the lives of our students and faculty.”

Short has been at her position since June 2013 and has since implemented various initiatives, including the UHin4 program and the Provost Summer Read Program.

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Provost Short named one of Houston’s most influential women” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar

Gibbs to seek new opportunities after bowl win

Houston Athletics announced Monday that UH’s interim head coach and defensive coordinator David Gibbs is currently pursuing other coaching opportunities after two seasons with the Cougars.

Gibbs led the Cougars to nationally acclaimed defensive performances in Houston’s two most recent seasons and led the Cougars to a 35-34 victory over the Pittsburg Panthers in the 2015 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my two seasons at Houston and appreciate the efforts of our student athletes, especially that of the Third Ward Defense,” Gibbs said in a press release. “While we’ve had positive discussions with Tom Herman and a great opportunity at UH, my family and I feel it is time for a new challenge and are looking forward to the next steps in our journey. I’d like to thank Mack Rhoades for his trust in naming me interim head coach during my time at Houston.”

With the absence of Gibbs as defensive coordinator, incoming Houston head coach Tom Herman selected Utah State defensive coordinator Todd Orlando to fill the void, which was announced by UH Athletics Monday evening.

The Utah State defense reached the national rank of 12th in scoring defense in 2014 with 19.7 points per game and seventh in 2013 with 17.1 points per game.

Orlando brings many promising figures to UH as his defense this past season at Utah State totaled 49 sacks on the year, putting them in fourth nationally, as well as 114 tackles for loss to reach the rank of second.

“When you look at the success Utah State has had defensively over the last two seasons, we are excited to add Todd Orlando as our defensive coordinator,” said Herman in a release. “His defensive style is both aggressive, as evident by the sacks and tackles for loss number, and opportunistic, ranking among the nation’s best in turnovers.”

In addition to Orlando, Herman also brought in Craig Naivar as assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach, Jason Washington as special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach and Drew Mehringer as wide receivers coach. Corby Meekins was named tight ends coach, according to an announcement by UH Athletics Monday evening.

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Gibbs to seek new opportunities after bowl win” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar

Tom Herman set to put Houston at the top

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Former Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman met with the Houston football team before his press conference on Friday and looks forward to creating something the city can be proud of. | Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

On the quest to becoming a Tier One school and a Top-20 football program, the University of Houston went on a hunt to find something new – the perfect fit – to propel a program that had already began a turnaround into one whose name would be recognized as one of the nation’s premiere schools and programs.

The search didn’t last very long.

Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhodes said athletics spoke to people throughout the country and had an “unbelievable pool of candidates,” however, his meeting with Herman, which lasted from 10 p.m. Tuesday until 2 a.m., was enough to end the search. The perfect fit was right before him.

“We talked about that competitive fire, and him and I kind of locked eyes,” Rhodes said. “I knew that this was somebody who wants to win as bad as I do, and I want to win as bad as he does. The competitive fire, but the process and the plan, and the vision that he has for this program was tremendous.”
Tom Herman was the right guy.

After looking at Herman’s experience, one would note that he has been successful wherever he has been. Herman has helped develop explosive offenses throughout his 10 years as an offensive coordinator, and was also dubbed “the quarterback whisperer” due to his ability to develop three different quarterbacks and have them all prepared to where Ohio State is able to play in the College Football Playoff with their third-string QB.

He is ready to bring even more for the University of Houston.

“Let me say this, I am excited to be the head football coach at the University of Houston,” Herman said. “This is a dream come true for me and my family. I have always admired this program from afar. It is really surreal almost to know that now I will be leading the charge. I’ve learned a couple things in my 16 years as an assistant. Most of them were the last three years under (Ohio State) head coach Urban Meyer, who is a fantastic mentor to me.”

Herman is now ready to establish a culture and bond with his inherited team, and plans to build a player-coach relationship that is earned through trust.

“I met with our team this morning, and I asked them to trust me,” Herman said. “That’s really, really hard to do. You’re a 19-year-old young man, your college career might be kind of flipped on its side a little bit right now, and you’ve got this guy coming in for a 15 minute meeting asking you to trust him. Again, I ask you guys to trust me. Trust the plan. Trust the process, and eventually that trust will go from blind trust to earned trust, and we will build championships here together. I will give you every single tool, by any means necessary, to be successful not only off the field, but off the field, and in life as well.”

For Herman, success is owed to the city of Houston. With 11 years of experience in the state of Texas, he feels as though Houston needs a hometown college football team to be proud of.

“Everybody keeps telling me about all the pro sports teams in Houston,” Herman said. “They do a great job, and there is nothing wrong with that, but we will exhaust every opportunity, and we will take any measure necessary to make sure that the city of Houston is proud of this college football team.”
He promises to recruit “some of the finest talent in the state of Texas,” and says they will do nothing short of competing every single day.

“From the time you wake up and brush your teeth until the time you lay your head down on the pillow, and every now and again, you might want to compete in your dreams too,” Herman said. “The toughest coached team always has a chance to win the game regardless of talent. One thing we will be is tough. We will be physically and mentally tough, and that comes from preparation and training. We have the ability to be the most physically and mentally tough team in America.”

From player enthusiasm to aggressive style of play on offense, defense and special teams, Herman says the Houston Cougars will be exciting to watch, and ready to win.

President of the University of Houston, Renu Khator said Herman has shown her that he “has fire in the belly,” and that he wants to win more than she does, and that is the kind of person she likes to have on her team.

Welcome to Houston, Coach Herman.

“We have a long way to go, but the expectations have been set very high, and should be. We’ve got some culture things to change. We’ve got a vision that needs to be aligned throughout the staff, and throughout the department. That takes time, but I will tell you this, the expectations of winning and competing for championships in the months of November and December are expectations that I as well, feel are reachable here in the near future. Again, I want to thank you, and I’m excited to be the head football coach for the University of Houston, and we will give the city of Houston, and the great state of Texas, a college football team that they can be proud of. Go Coogs!”

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Tom Herman set to put Houston at the top” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar

‘Exodus’ big on budget, small on execution

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“Exodus: Gods and Kings” is another swords-and-sandals epic from director Ridley Scott, and Scott is off his game when it comes to accuracy, intrigue and proper use of effects.

In spite of the bigger budget and longer run time, “Exodus” doesn’t add anything new to a story recognized by many. The film sparked controversy for its blatant Anglification of Egyptians, which wasn’t remedied by performances that couldn’t move the plot forward to make it worth three hours on the screen. The film is described as epic when the parting of the Red Sea was treated like an ordinary occurrence. The film does not try to convince viewers that what they’re seeing is important or spectacular, which is hard to enjoy.

Scott, however, does take his time with the progression of the plagues, showing how exhausting they are instead of running through them to speed up the escape. He takes creative liberties, but they don’t detract from the story, which is already detracted by its pace. Though the action moves quickly, the story does not.

Joel Edgerton does his best to make Ramses more human, and his acting abilities lend to his facial and vocal expression. Christian Bale’s Moses is hard to read as he questions his heritage and struggles internally with God. The pair make for grave and entertaining scenes. The cast performed well, but overall the film is more of a biblical bust than a biblical epic.

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‘Exodus’ big on budget, small on execution” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar

$1.5 M grant awarded to study Chinese-American breast cancer survivors

Qian Lu, an associate professor of psychology at UH, has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in order to study the effects of how going to a social support group affects Chinese-American breast cancer survivors.

The survivors will participate in a support group named the Joy Luck Club, named after the 1989 book of the same name. Lu will lead the study, which will follow the participants for five years.

“The goal for the study and one of the reasons why the NIH funded the study is not only to figure out the benefits for women, but to figure out the difference ways we can evolve the field,” Lu told China Daily USA about the study. “We’re doing something that nobody was doing before, so we’re able to learn new ways of doing things and understand the unique needs of the Asian-American population and how we can help them. In a sense, we have to explore what the best ways are. Nobody has done anything like that with Asian Americans.”

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$1.5 M grant awarded to study Chinese-American breast cancer survivors” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar

Festive recipes for the holiday season

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There are so many things about the holiday season that brighten people’s spirits – cold, crisp winter weather, family gathered around a warm fire, sparkling lights, tinsel and holly that adorn Houston homes and the all-around spreading of holiday cheer. But the best part about the holidays is not the quality time you spend with your family or the fun lights – it’s the food and more specifically, the desserts. With thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, these holiday-themed desserts are the perfect addition for your holiday table.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sugar cookies are a classic holiday treat. Not only are they simple to make, they are both easy and fun to decorate. Cookie-cutters come in all shapes and sizes – snowflakes, reindeers, sleigh bells –the hardest part is choosing which ones to use! Pillsbury classic sugar cookie dough is the way to go – cut out some cookies and throw them in the oven for 10-12 minutes. If you’re more ambitious, make the dough from scratch for a real holiday treat. After the cookies cool, get creative with your frosting and you’re good to go.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Gingerbread houses are one of the best parts of the holidays. They are great for parties with friends or just a night in with your significant other. There are tons of kits you can find just about anywhere with step by step directions that make this holiday treat a cake-walk. Also no oven is required, so you don’t have to worry about burning the house down.

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Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

If you haven’t heard of Hersheys’ Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies, you have not truly lived. These cookies are the ultimate treat for the holidays – best served warm, these treats feature a Hershey’s kiss pressed into the middle of sweet, crumbly peanut butter dough that’s sure to have your taste buds tingle. To add some holiday flare, use peppermint Hershey’s kisses instead of milk chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • 48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Additional granulated sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.
  2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 48 cookies.

Recipe courtesy of Hershey’s

Peppermint_Bark_(3197351955)

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Peppermint bark is another classic holiday treat. It’s perfect with hot cocoa around a warm fire and is a great gift idea. This treat may take some extra time and skill – check out Food Network’s take on the perfect piece of peppermint bark.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 pound good-quality white chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 candy canes or 12 round hard peppermint candies, crushed

Directions:

  1. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil, shiny-side up; smooth out any wrinkles. Heat 1 inch of water in a saucepan over low heat until steaming.
  2. Put all but 3/4 cup of the semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan of steaming water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until one-third of the chocolate is melted. Remove the bowl from the saucepan; keep the steaming water over low heat. Gradually stir the reserved 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate into the bowl, a few pieces at a time, until all of the chocolate is melted. Return the bowl to the saucepan, 5 to 10 seconds at a time, to help melt the chocolate, if needed. Do not rush this step: It may take up to 10 minutes to melt the chocolate.
  3. Wipe off any moisture from the bottom of the bowl. Stir 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract into the chocolate, then quickly pour into the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer. Firmly tap the dish against the counter to remove any air bubbles. Set aside at room temperature until almost set, about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, put all but 1 cup of the white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and repeat the melting process over the steaming water; dry off the bottom of the bowl. Stir in the remaining 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract; pour over the semisweet chocolate and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle immediately with the crushed candy canes, gently pressing them into the white chocolate. Set aside at room temperature until firm, about 1 hour. Lift the bark out of the pan using the foil and break it into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine

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Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Pumpkin pie is a classic Thanksgiving dessert. Pie can sound daunting, but Pillsbury has you covered. Try their easy-as-pie recipe.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 ¼ cups evaporated milk or half and half
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Pillsbury™ Pet-Ritz® frozen deep-dish pie crust

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. In large bowl, mix filling ingredients. Pour into pie crust.
  2. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F; bake 40 to 50 minutes longer or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 2 hours. Serve or refrigerate until serving time. Store in refrigerator.

Recipe courtesy of Pillsbury

arts@thedailycougar.com


Festive recipes for the holiday season” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar

Honors students selected for European travel scholarship

For two UH honors students, Christmas came a little early this year.

Chloe Stowell and Samantha Noel were recently announced as winners of the Honors College’s Faber-Economon European Travel Scholarship, or FEET. The scholarship, made possible from the generosity of two Honors alumni, Hanneke Faber and Aris Economon, will grant the girls a chance to discover Europe for themselves, complete with airfare to and from Europe, a 3-week Eurail pass and a €1000 stipend.

“I am truly honored to have been selected,” communication disorders sophomore Noel said. “When I first saw my name listed as a FEET scholar I had to pause and make sure I had read it correctly. My next reaction was to dance around my room. A lot.”

The scholarship also recognizes four runners-up who receive a $1,000 stipend that can be applied to another study abroad opportunity. The runners-up this year were Jacob Wagner, Kyle Knight, Nathan McMullin and Amani Jlassi.

Requirements for the scholarship include a 3.5 GPA, completion of the Honors College’s Human Situation sequence, an enrollment length of at least 3 semesters at UH and to have never traveled to Europe, including the United Kingdom. This last requirement makes the FEET scholarship unique; the sole purpose is to introduce a student to a completely new atmosphere in hopes that they will gain a better “global perspective.”

“The Faber-Economon family are graduates of the honors college and started this scholarship because they believe, as we do here in the honors college, that study abroad is a crucial part of the educational experience,” said Keri Myrick, executive assistant to the Honors College dean. “Students who participate in FEET come back as mature, informed and responsible global citizens.”

Stowell and Noel will explore Europe for a little over 3 weeks, from May 18 to June 7. The first week they will stay with the donor family, and for the following two weeks the girls will be on their own. They are required to create a travel and lodging plan with the help of Myrick and the donors prior to their departure. They are also required to chronicle their experiences in a journal or blog that describes the challenges and benefits of unguided travel.

“For the bulk of the trip, they must learn to navigate on their own,” Myrick said. “The purpose of the trip is to assist students with adjusting to the real world while affording them the opportunity to study critical aspects of European history and culture.”

Noel said she is excited to explore different European cuisine and visit cultural landmarks, like the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

“I think it would incredibly powerful to see the actual site where she and her family hid,” Noel said. “I am truly just excited for the chance to experience new cultures. I hope I will return wiser and more aware of the world around me.”

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Honors students selected for European travel scholarship” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar

Tony Levine fired as head coach

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After three winning seasons as Houston football’s head coach, Tony Levine has been relieved of his coaching duties as announced by UH Athletics Monday morning. | File Photo/The Cougar

Tony Levine will no longer serve as the school’s head football coach, Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades announced on Monday morning.

After three years with the Cougars, Levine led Houston to a 21-17 overall record and a 14-10 conference record over the three seasons. Despite leading the Cougars to back-to-back bowl appearances, the 2014 BBVA Compass Bowl and now the 2015 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, UH Athletics has chosen to move in a different direction.

“Coach Levine and I met several times throughout the season, and again late last night, to discuss the state of the program,” Rhoades said. “Last night I informed him we will be moving in a different direction with our football program.”

Houston now begins the search for the program’s 14th head coach while defensive coordinator David Gibbs will serve as the Cougars’ interim head coach through their appearance in the Armed Forces Bowl against the Pittsburgh Panthers, until a new coach is hired.

“Coach Levine is an outstanding leader and over the last three years he has demonstrated great commitment to our student-athletes and has been an outstanding role model for our young men,” Rhoades said. “He has left the program in a better situation than it was when he inherited it.”

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Tony Levine fired as head coach” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar