Saturday, August 30, 2003

Seeing Tiger

Yesterday, I saw Tiger Woods at a golf tournament.

He was in Norton, Massachusetts, at the Deutsche Bank Championship. I bought a ticket for the first round of this tournament the day they went on sale in April.

Tiger was the main and only attraction. When I arrived at the course, I saw that he was approaching the 9th green. I rushed over to the 10th tee. The tee box and grand stand was full, and I had to wait in a distant spot. As the throng waited for Tiger, putting on the 9th, his security entourage paced the gallery waiting on the 10th. Then, like a stampede, a herd of people started to line up along the cross walk between the 9th and the 10th. They bulged forward as Tiger strode to the 10th tee. He was a rock star, a messiah, his flock quietly but determinedly dogging his every step, as far as they were allowed.

His tee shot on 10 was a thing of wonder. A long iron that went nearly the distance of the woods that his playing partners hit (Roger Allenby, Kaname Yokoo). Straight and accurate. As the players strode off, his gallery, his band of people strode off with him.

I skipped past the crowd to the 11th tee box. It was a par 3, and I saw Tiger at some distance hit a reasonable shot. Tiger marched forward. So did his partners. So did the huge gallery, the huge controlled mob.

And then I decided to stay at the 11th tee. All that was left were a handful of people. I moved to a spot right next to the tee markers. The next group of golfers sauntered into the tee box, among them the 1995 U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin. Then the next group came, among them the 1998 Masters champion Mark O'Meara. There was no crowd to speak of. We at the tee could hear the golfers and their caddies fall into a banter of yardage, and club selection. I stayed long enough on the 11th to see the eventual leader of the tournament Justin Rose tee off.

I did make one more effort to get up close to Tiger. I managed to stand at a crosswalk, waiting for him to get to the next tee. I was an arm's length away from him, watching him walk past me. He was slim, but not slight. His head was bowed (he wasn't playing well today), but his eyes were alert and wary underneath the brim of his cap. There was a contained ferocity, a fierce concentration. The greatest golfer in the world strode past me; I won't be forgetting his eyes.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Step Into Liquid

I watched Step Into Liquid this afternoon, my first matinee of the year. I have read a few reviews in which the director Dana Brown was taken to task for making the movie too preachy or for adding too "religious" a gloss on this sport. I disagree. This is a movie that is filled with joy.

"Step Into Liquid" has beautiful images. It is also well-paced. You moved easily from one band of surfers to another. From Wisconsin, to New Zealand, to Hawaii, and of course, to California. From rank amateurs, and people who have never stepped onto a wave, to professionals, men and women, boys and girls. I'm glad I saw the movie in the day; it would have been jarring to step out of the theater into night, after basking in the brilliant sun soaked images.

The slow-motion cinematography heightened the grace and talent and skill that these surfers brought to each ride. The choice music also added to the impact of the images. The documentary spent time on people well-versed in the sport, and each of them gave a good sense of what the fuss was all about. Every one of them was stoked.

When I lived in Southern California, going to the beach was part of the weekend ritual. I rented small body boards, so I could glide along the smaller waves. I can easily recollect the thrill of catching a good wave, hitting the board at just the right angle so I could ride it all the way to sand. The wave propelled me forward, with a speed I couldn't control. Everything around me rushed past in a blur, all the sound seemingly hushed by the wind and gurgling water. I remember the feeling: pure joy.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Little League World Series

Alas, the little league baseball players from Saugus couldn't defeat Boynton Beach, Florida in tonight's U.S. Championship game. Congratulations on a super effort, Saugus!

Florida will play Japan for the World Series title.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Little League World Series

A thrilling victory by the local team from Saugus, MA over Lamar National of Texas in tonight's semifinal match of the Little League World Series (baseball). The box score is amazing:
                                1 2 3 4 5 6 7   R  H E
US Southwest - Lamar National 0 2 0 1 1 6 3 13 13 2
US New England - Saugus Amer. 2 2 6 0 0 0 4 14 12 4
Reading this carefully, you'll see that New England was up by eight runs going into the fourth inning. It was over. I was already cueing up the DVD for the evening. But then Texas chips away, until they score four runs with two outs in the final inning, to tie the score (in the Little League World Series, teams play only six innings). In extra innings, Texas put up three runs. But New England was able to put up four runs in the home-half of the inning to take the win.

The actual baseball was quite good. These kids are a slower and smaller version of pro baseball. However, I did see a handful of dropped fly-balls (considered a blooper in the majors), a badly judged throw to home plate (a fielders choice that should have been an easy out to first), and a player get caught in a pickle, but the fielders couldn't get the out.

The coaches exhortations to the players were broadcast over the air: "I don't want you feeling pressure. Just swing easy!" "Hey, that play is in the past now. Just concentrate on this out." Aren't professional managers saying the same thing?

It was a great game. These kids played hard. Neither team gave in; one team just ended up scoring more runs.

Congratulations Saugus! They'll play for the U.S. Championship on Saturday.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Ideas for Writing

Ideas. I seem to keep coming up with them. Snippets of dialogue. An opening sentence. A concluding sentence. I want to write write write write them all down. Sometimes I do. On little pieces of paper. In my car. Sometimes on the PC. Invariably, they make their way into a file folder, which has dozens of little bits of writing. Ideas for stories. Ideas for movies. Ideas for scenes. I'm anxious in front of the blank stare of open writing space on my computer. Will the words from my folder ever come out? Are they worthy? Maybe. Maybe.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley died August 16, 1977. I'll be kicking out the current music in my car's CD player (Coldplay), and replacing it with Elvis' "Kentucky Road", and "Suspicious Minds."

Friday, August 15, 2003

Maile Meloy

We're halfway through August.

In today's NY Times, I read a beautiful essay by Maile Meloy about summer in Montana. There, the brief summers are earned after nine long months of winter. It was a perfectly evocative article.
All winter, it had been below zero for weeks at a time. ... Windshields had to be scraped, and nothing in town was far enough away for the car's heater to warm up before you got there.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

The Drowning Machine

The NY Times quote of the day was from Lt. Fred Larow:

"They call it a drowning machine. The water was so turbulent and aerated that there was no way they could stay above water."

He was referring to the river water in which four boys drowned. The boys affectionately called one another the Baco boys, and in a reunion of sorts, they visited their childhood haunt, Split Rock Falls, 20 miles miles east of Lake Placid. One of them, David Altschuler, slipped and fell into the Boquet River. The recent rain water and the nearby water fall churned up the high water so much that the body's natural buoyancy was defeated. "Even the strongest swimmer in the world couldn't have survived it," Lt. Larlow continued.

The three other men, Adam Cohen, Jonah Richman, and Jordan Satin, friends since youth, jumped in. They all died. They were all 18-19 years old.

Ever since reading The Perfect Storm, I've always thought that drowning would be the worst way to die. There's the struggle, as the body attempts to preserve itself. But then the lungs fill with water. Choking. More struggle, then the brain shutting down, the body fighting less and less.

One of the Baco boys was co-captain of his swim team. They were all athletic. Did the three who jumped in to rescue their friend realize they were diving into a drowning machine? It's numbing thinking about it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003


According to this page, I'm not affected by the latest Internet worm because I'm running Windows 98. For once, having an older system is paying off.

Friday, August 8, 2003

Harvey Pekar

It doesn't surprise me that Harvey Pekar has a BLOG. This is a man who's made his life available to others in illustrated books. How could he resist blogging?

It's so easy to get caught up reading about Pekar's life in American Splendor that it's easy to forget that folks who blog are doing something very similar. Here's a very slim slice of my life, on the web, for you, the random reader, to either enjoy or press the "Back" button.

In the last comic of The New American Splendor Anthology, "Meet Colin Upton", Pekar poses the question: "How can a democracy function in a nation full of people who believe that their lives and their neighbor's lives are insignificant?" His answer? "Imperfectly at best."

Harvey Pekar

I spent the past three days reading Harvey Pekar's book, The New American Splendor Anthology. Pekar's stories are illustrated, so it seems like I've been reading a comic book. A bleak comic book.

It's like reading Lynda Barry, or Bill Griffith's Zippy. You know these kinds of comics: they're in the back pages of your city's weekly magazine, the kind that's given out for free at bus or train stations.

Pekar's book is a mesmerizing look at his dilemmas and quandaries. He's a crank. He's compulsive. He's obsessive. He's a nine-to-fiver. He's a music fiend, a book hound, and he's always looking for a good deal. It's good stuff.

I got put onto to Pekar because his life has become a movie, and it opens this month.

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Flash Flooding

When I got home, the TV weather that I watched reported flash flooding in the town where I work. The meteorologist was saying something about three inches of rain in one hour. I can agree: it was torrential. On the way home, I had the wipers at its highest tempo. The area of torrential rain was very small; once I emerged from this weather cell, the air was quickly dry, and rain-free.


It's pouring now. A heavy, dark rain. I have a window seat at work, and despite the awful looking weather, I wish I were out there now.

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Two Keys

I've been seeing television advertising for a credit card small enough to fit on your key chain.

I don't have a key chain. I carry two keys with me during the day: my car key, and my house key. And sometimes, I can leave the house key at home (because Jenn will be home). I carry these keys separately.

I can remember carrying multiple keys in high school: the two or three keys to open up our house, the keys to the car, the keys high school newspaper office. I had the same keys issue at college: one for the dorm, one of the magazine office. I associated keys with responsibility. I marveled at those guys who seemed to carry dozens of keys; usually they were custodians, but often they were fellow students like me, who happened to acquire keys as they acquired jobs.

Two keys. That's all I got.