Monday, June 29, 2009

Sky Sox splash

June 29, 2009

The Portland Beavers and Colorado Springs Sky Sox had a rousing game of back-and-forth baseball going when Ma Nature intervened and sent us all scrambling for cover at the Sox's Security Service Field in Colorado Springs. There was thunder and lightning in the metropolitan area, and on the field, as the Beavers built a 7-6 lead after four and a half innings before some real weather hit, drenching the field and, after several hours of pondering by umpires and managers, causing the contest to be called off and replayed as part of a twin bill tomorrow.

Security Service Field is in a lovely setting in Colorado Springs. The drawback is that you can't see the nearby Rocky Mountains and Pike's Peak from the grandstand, which faces to the east and south. Facing west, into the Sun, would be detrimental to hitters. According to the club's Web site, the field, at 6,531 feet above sea level, is at the highest elevation of any professional ballpark in the U.S.

Apparently they also have lots of thunderstorms in the area, including a "gullywasher" that blew through before the game could be declared official. The photo at right does not do the storm justice. It was raining HARD. None of this sissy Seattle sprinkly stuff.

One big black mark for the Sky Sox experience: my Sweetie, the official scorer, is not at all pleased that you could not get a sheet with the team rosters anywhere in the ballpark. They did have free programs, but those only featured Colorado Springs players, and didn't have their numbers. This led is to an interesting discussion of what is most preferable: a ballpark with roster sheets but no beer, or a ballpark with beer but no roster sheets. We've got another thousand miles of driving to work that one out!

Those following this adventure know that I griped at some length that beer was not available in Orem. Well, I'm pleased to report that it is available in Colorado Springs. Naturally, I didn't have any. We'd had a fairly hefty dinner with family who live in the area before going to the game. I was planning to have a refreshing brew... about the sixth inning or so. Alas. but it was comforting just to have guys wandering the park bellowing, "ICE cold beer!!" Speaking of concessions pitches, here's one we heard: "Cotton Candy! You can hit people with it and it won't hurt."

One guy probably happy that the game was washed out was Sky Sox starting pitcher and former major leaguer Adam Eaton, who was cuffed around for seven runs on eight hits in five innings. He wasn't helped at all by his defense, which committed three errors behind him that led to five of the runs being unearned. Journeyman catcher Sal Fasano started for the Sox and hit a towering three-run homer that capped a five-run first. A note for Mariner fans: former M's manager Rene Lachemann is the hitting coach for the Sky Sox.

We had a great time despite the weather, but are probably not going back for the twin bill tomorrow.

Orem Owlz 8, Idaho Falls Chukars 7

June 27, 2009

Brent Brown Ballpark, on the campus of Utah Valley University in Orem, is in a close battle with Boise Memorial Stadium for the title of prettiest setting yet visited on Weisenheimer baseball tours. We saw the homestanding Orem Owlz fall behind 6-0 in the fourth, then come from behind by twos, defeating the Idaho Falls Chukars 8-7 on Justin Bass's two-out, two run double in the bottom of the ninth.

One would think that a rousing come-from-behind win on a gorgeous evening in a beautiful little ballpark would be the recipe for a totally delightful outing. Alas, there were a lot of negatives about Owlz baseball, starting with the fact that you can't buy a beer in the ballpark. Baseball=warm evening+hot dog+brew. Maybe some peanuts. I reckon that, being in Utah, I should have expected this. But it honestly didn't occur to me until I was at the counter. The rest of the concessions at BBB were so-so at best. The "Hootz" dog, a foot-long frank, was good in itself, but the bun was toasted to a crunchiness you really don't want, perhaps from being in the heating tray since Thursday. The bottled water was tasty, but the corn was popped some time during the Nixon administration.

Did I mention there was no beer?

Even getting to the ballpark was a challenge. The whole addressing and street-grid layout of the greater Salt Lake City area seems designed to confound even the finest GPS system and befuddle visitors from blue states. Even when we could actually see the yard it still took us 20 minutes to get there. Winding one's way onto the campus and then finding the ballpark was not intuitive.

Did I mention there was no beer?

My Sweetie, the official scorer, gives the Owlz a D+ on their lineup announcing. They never gave the batting order for the Owlz, instead announcing them by defensive position as they ran out for the top of the first. They did announce slowly enough so that one could write the lineups down.

Did I mention there was no beer?

In the bottom of the first a couple of guys turned up wanting our seats. I'd ordered in advance on-line and got front-row seats just to the left of home plate. Sure enough, the late-comers had the same two seats on pre-printed tickets; they must have been season tickets or something. There were plenty of seats nearby so it wasn't a problem.

Did I mention there was no beer?

As for the game itself, it was a doozy. The Chukars took a 2-0 lead in the third on a home run by Deivy Batista, who also hit a triple in a four-run fourth as Idaho Falls jumped to a 6-0 lead. Orem got them back two at a time before winning in the ninth. Chukar closer Cole White has a little Nuke LaLoosh in him -- a live arm, but he's not always sure where it's going. He walked the bases loaded in the eighth before fanning Dillon Baird for the final out. In the ninth he walked Richard Cates with two out and a man on to set up Bass for the game winner.

Despite the glitches it was a fun time out at the park. A beer would have been nice, though.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chukars chuck it

Seven hundred eighty-six miles driven. Blue skies and warm weather in Idaho Falls, a perfect night for a game between the home-standing Chukars and the visiting Casper Ghosts (I kid you not!), arch rivals in the Pioneer League. Sure, there were some ominous thunderclouds in the area and a few sprinkles as we made our way up from Pocatello. But the last thing we expected when we arrived at Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls was a hand-scrawled sign on the gate that the Friday night contest had been washed out.

But that's exactly what we got. The gate to the field was open, so we got in to look around anyway. This photo by my Sweetie, the official scorer, reveals that there may indeed have been a few issues with the playing field. But hey, we've been driving for about 14 hours... what's a little ankle-deep water in foul territory? Hit it fair and let's get a game on! We met one other couple also taking a look around in the park. They'd only driven a couple of hours, though. Pikers!

The ballpark reminded me a lot of "The Crater," home field of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Built just in the last several years, a few "luxury" boxes, and looked pretty comfortable. They should have thought to put in a few storm drains while they were at it. I don't think they'll be playing any games here for a few days at least.

The history of minor league baseball in Idaho Falls goes back to 1940. But, alas, no game on this otherwise lovely night in 2009.

Well, we're off to Orem, Utah tomorrow where, weather permitting, we'll see the Owlz play... Idaho Falls.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Thriller is gone

Funny how news travels in 2009. Michael Jackson died today. I found out from some people who use this thing called Twitter. They found out from a Web site called TMZ, which bills itself as "celebrity gossip and entertainment news." TMZ beat the MSM to the story so badly that some of the MSM were relegated to reporting on what a celebrity gossip blog had posted. Several of the Tweeple I follow passed along an apparent comment from MSNBC that, "If the LA Times confirms it, then we believe it; they're a credible source." Sorry, all you "credible" news organizations--TMZ was first and accurate. They kicked your butt.

The other odd thing about the news coverage is that my sweetie, the official scorer, didn't find out about the news until after 9 p.m. when I remarked that I wished we had some MJ tunes on CD for our upcoming road trip. It was apparent she didn't grasp the gravity of the situation and hadn't heard, though she's a totally wired news consumer. As I thought about it this afternoon, I realized that, 90 years ago, none of us would have known about this yet, not until we received our morning newspapers. The news cycle sure is faster these days. Being first and accurate is hard work.

As for Jackson, I'll always remember that his megastardom hit just as I was getting started with my radio career. I was working overnights at KPLZ-FM in Seattle, "The Music Magazine," and was the local producer for the RKO syndicated show "Night Time America." The DJ on the show, Bob Dearborn, really hated the "rap" between Jackson and Paul McCartney at the end of "The Girl is Mine," and so would back-time the song at the end of the hour so he would have to drop the ending! Funny stuff. Thriller is one of the all-time great records (yes, records; I still have it on vinyl!) and Michael Jackson was without doubt the King of Pop, the biggest star of the 80s.

Rest in peace, finally, Michael.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Whoriskey named next artistic director at Intiman

The suspense is over. Kate Whoriskey has been named the next artistic director at Seattle's Intiman Theatre. Whoriskey and current AD Bart Sher will work together next year, after which Bart departs and Whoriskey takes over on her own beginning in 2011.

Whoriskey has directed three shows at Intiman already: Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs in 2000, Sher's first season at Intiman; Henrik Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea in 2001 and Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange in 2003. Weisenheimer saw the first two -- we were still Intiman subscribers then -- but I don't recall much about them.

My Sweetie, the official scorer, was suspicious that I'd become a commenter on The Slog when she found this there today:

Now that the affair's finally over, Bart Sher can't go soon enough. The money's on the dresser, Bart. We'll leave it to the philosophers to decide who was more used.

It wasn't me. But... yeah.

Coverage from The Slog, the Times,, and even the Puget Sound Business Journal. Plus, notice and Whoriskey's bio from Intiman. It's an interesting choice. Let's see how she does.

UPDATE: More coverage from Arts Journal.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fifteen months to wait

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is all about planning ahead. OSF announced its 2010 season in March, and this week comes a bit of excellent casting news: Dan Donohue will play the title role in Hamlet next season in Ashland.

Donohue is fabulous. Religious readers of the Weisenheimer will recall that the Whitman College alum won the Best Actor Wisey award for 2008 for his portrayal of Iago in Othello at OSF last season. He was also amazing as Caliban in The Tempest and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet in 2007. Donohue played Scar in The Lion King on Broadway last year.

Sadly, it doesn't appear that Donohue will grace the Ashland stage this season, so we have 15 months to wait to see him as the melancholy Dane (presuming our typical September visit to the festival.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tempest brings treasures at Seattle Shakes

Every time I see a production of William Shakespeare's The Tempest I grow more fond of the play. The latest, put on by Seattle Shakespeare Company and directed by George Mount, adds to our appreciation immensely. The show includes a number of memorable performances, the best of which is a marvelous turn by Michael Winters as Prospero.

Winters brings tremendous range to the role, from thundering anger that rattled the theater to tender matchmaking to tearful forgiveness. (That's Winters as Prospero in hacked-off mode at right in a Seattle Shakes photo by John Ulman.) Winters is a treasure. He's been all over Seattle stages of late. Recently Weisenheimer has seen him in You Can't Take it With You at the Seattle Rep, and in Mame at the 5th Avenue. The Seattle Times ran a nice Q&A between Winters and Misha Berson as the play opened earlier this month.

Another recently discovered favorite, Carolyn Marie Monroe, plays Prospero's daughter Miranda, a far cry from the grumpy goth teen Rachel she portrayed in End Days in February at Seattle Public Theatre. Monroe also played Opehlia in the Green Stage production of Hamlet last summer.

The two other women in the cast were marvelous as well. Hana Lass as Ariel demonstrated a huge singing voice, necessary to be heard above the howling wind and crashing waves of the tempest. Kerry Ryan was a hoot as Trinculo, with her slapstick scenes and funny faces and voices. Ryan may be Shakes' go-to woman comic; she was also a laugh riot in Servant of Two Masters earlier this season.

Props to Peter Dylan O'Connor for his portrayal of Caliban, done with semi-human zeal in a way that brought to mind the creepy Gollum from the Lord of the Rings flicks.

The costumes by Doris Black were grand, particularly Caliban and Ariel. The latter impressed my Sweetie, the official scorer, who claimed that she might have become an actress if she'd known she could wear a bustle. Ariel's headgear included a veil and all sorts of belts and ropes and sufficiently shipwreck-y stuff. That's Lass as Ariel in another Ulman photo at right. Click here to see it big.

Our one quibble with the show was the decision to play it as sort of end-of-life dream sequence for Prospero. That's a hospital gown under Winters' robe in the photo above, and he wears a patient ID bracelet throughout as well. While the "white light" scene at the end was effective, overall the hospital thing didn't really work for me, and the periodic noise of the machine that goes "ping" was something of a distraction. Who left their cell phone on?

Still and all, The Tempest is a good story well told. It runs at Seattle Shakespeare Company through June 28.