Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Memorable Places

I was thinking this weekend, as my wife and I drove to Seattle for a weekend to celebrate our anniversary, about memorable sports venues. Great places that I've seen games and why they are great. It was on my mind because our trip to Seattle was to consist of going to the ballet on Saturday night, and the Mariners game on Sunday. And thus I was thinking about how the designers of Safeco Field really got things right. So, I wanted to run down some memorable sports venues from my life, in roughly chronological order:

Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii. Saw the Hula Bowl there when it was the premiere senior all star game. Got to see a Pitt running back named Tony Dorsett play.

Pirate Stadium, Coos Bay, Oregon. Home of the Marshfield Pirates and a GREAT place to watch high school football. The reserved seats on the south side, where my parents sat, would one day slide down the hill and be forever destroyed. When the fog came in late in the evening it was eerie cool. Though not football, a young brash distance runner named Steve Prefontaine made a name for himself on the track surrounding the field.

Main Gym/Boys Gym, Marshfield High School. Great older gym, kind of a "Hoosiers" feel to it. Really fun place to see basketball. Plus, it is located right next to a pioneer cemetary.

Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon. First college football game, went with a great older couple from our church, Stan and Inez, who were huge fans and season ticket holders. They also happened to own the local movie theaters in town and Stan was known as the Popcorn King. Vivid memories of driving up there with them and my friend Jay (they let me invite a buddy). Much later in life I'd become related to Stan and Inez by marriage when my sister married their grandson. Does that make me the Popcorn Prince-in-law?

Mac Court, Eugene, Oregon. "The Pit". Like the gym at Marshfield, a cool old school gym. Too bad it's falling apart and the Ducks will build a new gym soon. Oh, and it's across the street from a pioneer cemetary.

Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California: Not the best place to see baseball, necessarily, but the first place I ever saw a pro game. Flew down with my dad to go to a game with my grandfather. I still remember it vividly.

Maxwell Field, McMinnville, Oregon: Home of the Linfield Wildcats and a super place to see small college football. It's even better now that they've changed the grass field to field turf. And, starting next year we'll have night games under the lights! Too sweet. Oh, and I lived under the stadium for two years. No joke. After WWII Linfield wanted to build a new stadium but didn't have the money. They got a government grant to build a dorm and tacked a stadium onto it. In the mid-80's when my fraternity was founded they leased that dorm from the school. Truly one of the coolest fraternity houses in America. It's no longer our house, we bought one off campus, but definitely a great memory.

Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington. From the upper deck you can see the Cascades to the east, and the Olympic Mountains to the west, and it is tucked right on the bank of Lake Washington. Easily the most gorgeous view of any stadium in America.

Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington. In 2001, my dad and I planned a weekend trip in September to Seattle to see our first game at the Mariners new location. We planned to see two games, and for the first dad hooked us up with great tix from a friend of his who worked for the team. We were about 20 rows behind home plate. A few days before our trip, America was rocked to its core by the attacks of 9/11. Baseball games were suspended. The first game back for the Mariners was our first game of that two game trip. Emotional? That doesn't even touch the feelings at Safeco Field that night. God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch, the Mariners winning the game to clinch at least a tie for the division crown, and the players after the game walking slowly around the base path carrying an America flag, ending on the pitcher's mound. Amazing.

This weekend was my first game back to Safeco since then. And something near the end of the game reminded me of the joy and hope that sports can bring. It was the 9th inning and the Mariners were down by two, having rallied in the 8th to make it close. But now there were two outs and hope was beginning to fade. From behind us came the voice of an 11 or 12 year-old kid. "Two out rally!" he cheered. I turned to my wife and said "That's what is great about being a kid, you always have hope."

And when you go to a game, you're always a kid.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Chasin' Steelies

Took up steelhead fly fishing this year. It is something I meant to do last year after receiving a 9wt rod from my wife for Christmas. Perfect size rod for steelhead and smallmouth bass. Used it to catch a bunch of the latter on a John Day River float, but never went hunting the steelies. So this past February, a newbie fly fishing friend wanted to go out. Well, options for trout are slim that time of year, mostly just some stocked ponds. But a co-worker of his had a drift boat and offered to take us down the Clackamas River for winter steelhead.

It was fun, no bites from steelhead, but a good time. Even rowed a little, which believe it or not can be a lot of fun. As we approached the take out I had one exciting moment as my indicator went down and I set the hook. After some brief tugs I realized that it wasn't a monster steelhead, it wasn't fighting nearly enough. Got the fish to the boat, though, and saw that it was the biggest whitefish I'd ever caught. A relative of the trout, whitefish have small sucker-like mouths on the bottom, and I affectionately refer to them as "Uncle Whitey". They are a common catch in the winter on Oregon trout streams.

Then a couple weeks later, I had the opportunity to go out again, this time on a coastal stream, with a candidate who's campaign I am consulting on. After all, it was "work". Plus, he was more experienced and could teach me some stuff. The trip was a blast, though we went fishless again. Both of us did have "chasers" though, and I'll tell you the adrenaline starts a pumping when you see a big fish chase your fly. We fished the N. Fork Nehalem, and it was beautiful. These pics here are from that trip.

So, now that I sprung for the full year salmon/steelhead tag I'll have to get out more. They say summer steelies are a little more generous so perhaps there is still hope that I'll catch my first bullethead this year.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Couric Over-Under

What's the over-under on how long Katie Couric lasts doing "hard news" as anchor of the CBS Evening News?

I just don't see her cute bubbly schtick last more than 12 months. Give her two ratings periods.

And this has nothing to do with her being female. I think Matt Lauer would have similar trouble making the jump. And, yes, I know Katie did "hard news" at some point, but what was that 20+ years ago?

My wife is a big Couric fan so this post is going to go over like a lead zepplin.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Dreams Do Come True

Sorry I've been away. The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of meetings, trips to LA and tough life decisions. I guess that's what happens when your dreams come true. When I first starting writing a screenplay something like three years ago (seriously, so long that I can't remember if it was three or four years...) I hoped it would lead to something. But I always had that twinge in the back of my mind that it could lead to absolutely nothing.

So when an agent called a couple weeks ago I thought it was just a joke, a friend playing an early April Fools Day hoax on me. But 17 days, $100,000 for a spec script, and two trips to Hollywood later the reality is finally setting in.

The script is called The Placement Firm and it is based on a short screenplay I wrote earlier this year. My short film from last year and my first spec script got me the meeting, but then I had to pitch the new idea. They bought it, in fact if they like it then I'll be able to do the full trilogy concept that I have in mind. No pressure, huh? Now I have to just pump out a 120-page draft in three months, turning a nine-page short into full length movie.

April 1, 2006. The beginning of something new. An APRIL FOOLS DAY I'll not soon forget.