Another ripoff of the DesNews

Once again it’s time for me to steal from the Deseret Morning News by adding my own comments to Dick Harmon’s BYU Game Day piece. This time, to make sure no one confuses his stuff from mine, I’ll put mine in italics.
BYU game day
Today, 1 p.m. Noon here on the left coast
LaVell Edwards Stadium
TV: Ch. 14 Radio: 1160AM again, none here
Last week: TCU defeated Utah 23-20 in overtime in Forth Worth; BYU had a bye week after defeating Eastern Illinois 45-10 on Sept. 10. For all intents and purposes the Eastern Illinois game was the first bye week for BYU.

Trends to watch: John Beck’s streak of 185 passes without an interception begins anew after he got picked by Eastern Illinois. But the key is to get the ball in the endzone, so I’ll take the picks, a la Ty Detmer, if that means BYU’s scoring six from time to time. Beck’s three touchdown passes that day were his first of the season after BYU failed to score a touchdown in the season-opener with Boston College. You see? So he had a pick. Three TDs says it was worth it. TCU receiver Cory Rodgers is close to becoming the school’s all-time leader in kickoff returns (needs one attempt), Doesn’t that mean that TCU is giving up a lot of touchdowns and field goals for him to be taking that many kickoffs?kickoff yards (needs 78 yards), and all-time kickoff and punt return yards (needs 93 combined yards).

Players to watch: TCU’s Aaron Brown, a freshman, was sensational against Utah uh oh, and running mate Robert Merrill has three touchdowns on the year Then again the Utes gave Air Force 35 points today. QB Tye Gunn is a winner, albeit an average passer. Safety Jeremy Modkins is the top tackler. BYU’s Beck, along with Todd Watkins, will need to exploit the Frog man coverage and look for inside receiver Nate Meikle and tight ends Jonny Harline and Daniel Coats to work on TCU’s defense. And remember,it’s not enough to move the ball. Let’s close the deal today Cougs.

TCU will win if . . . The Frog defense gets more than four turnovers from the Cougar offense and the TCU speed gets loose around the edges on runs or on big pass plays. I’ll say they win if it turns out Oklahoma, SMU and Utah really are good teams.

BYU will win if . . . Cory Rodgers breaks the record for kickoff returns for TCU. Uh oh, I take it back. He just returned one 100 yards for a TD. He’s got the record, now don’t let him touch the ball again. The Cougars produce touchdowns after ball-control drives that keep TCU’s offense on the sidelines. BYU must protect the ball, convert third downs and cut down on penalties. Hey look! Five minutes in and BYU’s up 14-0. Watkins! Watkins! Watkins!

Extra points: The Cougars go on the road the next two weeks to San Diego State and New Mexico . . . The Frogs have the league’s top defense, giving up only 271 yards a game through three outings . . .But what about what just happened? 14-0! The Cougars are rated second in scoring defense (17.0 ppg) and first in rush defense . . . TCU and BYU have played four times with the Cougars holding a 3-1 advantage . . . Frog coach Gary Patterson has opened each of his five seasons with at least 2-1 records.Looks like Bronco will do that this year. Keep it going guys. Keep hitting them in the mouth until they wander out of Provo wondering what just happened.

Field of Steve

Good-bye to Poulsbo

Carpet is being put into the house and Elders’ Quorum guys are coming over today to help us move. It’s good-bye to Poulsbo. I knew I wanted to post some photos showing what we’re leaving, but I started looking them and realized Poulsbo isn’t just a place with a nice view, it’s three years of memories. We moved here from Camas in 2002. While Camas was a nice place to live, for me it’s more the place I would push Sarah and Sascha in the double stroller, where Sarah and I agreed the 100-acre woods was right there, but we didn’t want to go in because Tigger might bounce on us.
Poulsbo is where Sarah learned to ride her bike and swim and had her first two years of schooling. It’s the place where Sarah got off the bus, saw me and yelled “Daddy!” It’s where Sascha learned to appreciate knock-over hugs. It’s where he did an amazing impersonation of Donkey, Shrek’s friend. It’s where he was too sick to enjoy his own birthday party.

Poulsbo is doughnuts at Sluy’s, a walk out on the docks to get a closer look at the harbor seals.
It’s Third of July fireworks and running races during Viking Fest. It’s the place where downtown closes off the street to cars and let’s the kids go trick or treating on Halloween. Where we’re going is a better situation for us. The last three years have been real magic. Poulsbo is where I learned to appreciate dusk, where a family grew up a bit and laid down roots.

Poulsbo, Washington’s Little Norway, was home.

Field of Steve

This train . . .

Been on a house-preparing kick and getting into the new beat, so I haven’t had the energy or commitment to post here. But today I thought I’d check some e-mail and I put on the headphones, listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Land of Hopes and Dreams, which in 2000 joined Thunder Road as one of my favorite Bruce songs ever. I did a Google search for the song and found this review of the live album from 2001. He doesn’t like the album all that much. What’s odd is that when Bruce released his first live album people criticized that one, saying he should have just recorded a whole concert. In 2001 Bruce does that and this critic says:

If they were going to suck the life out of a Springsteen show, why not just give a collection of performances from the 1999-2000 tours, ala the wonderful 1975-1985 box-set, making no claims at representing one show?

I understand he’s saying the 2001 album misses Bruce’s banter with the audience, but c’mon. He does give credit for Land of Hopes and Dreams and writes well of Springsteen’s ability and the fact that he’s still relevant. The critic, Nicholas Taylor, writes:

What can I say about Bruce Springsteen? I grapple and grapple with him, constantly attempting to reconcile his mythic place as the voice of some sort of American ideal with his increasingly tepid and tame work in the 1990s. Granted, Lucky Town and Human Touch do not tell the whole story — “Streets of Philadelphia”, “Dead Man Walking”, “Secret Garden”, as well as some tracks from The Ghost of Tom Joad have been gripping and impressive. They display a wiser, older, more reflective Bruce that has grown up along with his fans. Even if he sometimes gets drowned in a wash of synthesizers or lame country folk slide guitars, I cling to these bright spots. In fact, I will always defend Bruce Springsteen because of a sense of honor and dignity that I learned from, well, Bruce Springsteen albums like The Wild, The Innocent, The E Street Shuffle, Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska, and Born in the USA. 

The felt-need to defend Bruce has also been excited by the general hostility felt towards my hero. He seems horribly anachronistic and corny. All my friends seem to think that all Springsteen is about is “Hungry Heart” and “Dancing in the Dark”. They don’t realize he a poet, a preacher, a visionary of delicate and gripping beauty. They don’t realize that there is probably no greater rock song in the world than “Thunder Road” (I write that in all honesty and earnestness). This hostility, however, is not limited to my ignorant friends (god bless them!) — critics have adopted him as their straw man as well. In a recent Village Voice review of Bruce’s latest live album, Live in New York City (“Used Cars,” April 4, 2001), Todd Kristel admitted that he did not hear the new album, attend the concerts the record is based on, or even watch the HBO concert special: all this “would only interfere with appreciating his greatness as an American icon.” Kristel has immediately written Bruce off as hackneyed, overblown, and past his time. All of us who continue to praise him are living in the past, in awe of his greatness. Kristel, however, does not have the tact or perception to actually face up to Bruce, to take him on his own terms, to actually listen to the album. The truth is Bruce is an “American icon” and therefore deserves more than this nasty diatribe in Village Voice which is beginning to look more and more like a scandal sheet filled with cheap shots and low blows.

Now I’m hearing the song Don’t Look Back.

There’s nothin’ to lose it’s a heartache
The deck’s stacked
So put your foot to the floor, darling
Tonight we’ll blow off the doors, baby
We’re gonna even the score
And honey we won’t look back.

Keep blowin’ off the doors, man.

Field of Steve

Too much ado about me

Last night I announced to the Bainbridge Island City Council that Rachel Pritchett was replacing me as reporter on the island and that next week I’d begin covering Central Kitsap. It’s not that big a deal, I suppose, but it put me in a spotlight I’m not used to being in as a reporter. That was kind of uncomfortable.

In the past when I’ve left beats I’ve called people on the phone and thanked them as a way of laying the foundation for the transition and as a way to say “farewell.” I have had trouble putting my finger on why I decided to make a public farewell this time, and I guess it just seemed like the right thing to do. I’ve come up with a couple reasons.

For one, the Kitsap Sun deserves all the good publicity it can get on the island. We’re up against a semi-weekly that has had a noteworthy history and a tremendous loyalty. Though people have told me, repeatedly, that they appreciate having a second voice on the island, we’re still going against the paper that bills itself as “The only newspaper in the world that cares about Bainbridge Island.” I used to joke that it was my goal to see the Review remove that tag, because it hasn’t always been there. That’s one goal of many I didn’t accomplish.

The other reason to make it public was I write a column on the island and as a result seem to have developed a real relationship with the place. Bylined reporters come and go all the time, but somehow what I was doing with the column was different. I also devote my column this week as a farewell for those who weren’t watching the proceedings on BITV. I suppose that could have been enough, but a third reason for doing it was it gave me a chance to introduce Rachel to a lot of people last night.

Covering Bainbridge has been the best beat I ever had. Now I get to cover a place that is in so many ways Bainbridge’s opposite. That should be fun too.

Field of Steve

Makin’ lemonade

Just got this announcement from CNN.

— President Bush says he takes responsibility for the federal government’s failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina.

Cool. I don’t know under what conditions he takes responsibility, but at least he’s pointing a finger at himself.

Ironically, I read that news clip just after seeing this picture, sent to me by my brother.

Field of Steve

Every inning is a stretch

In last night’s dream I was playing baseball. It’s a common theme at night. We were at a park this time, in Boise. Someone hit it deep, deep to left. It bounced off the wall and on the carom back it went under my glove.

For 10 years I played the game and loved it, but never got over the fear of the ball. In football I was never afraid of getting hit hard, because nothing hurts more than a baseball hitting you.

I was pretty good, but when you can’t get past that terror you set limits on your ability. It affects your hitting when you duck for cover at a curveball that’s turning its way over the plate. And fielding? How brave are you to stand in front of that screaming grounder bouncing on uneven grass?

Even at the stadium, I’m a little afraid of those foul balls that offer instant souvenirs along with broken fingers.

Field of Steve

My trivial pain

The Kitsap Sun links about the 2004 incident don’t work any longer and given the hurricane we have all been fixated with, this topic is incredibly old. When the Cindy Sheehan affair was still alive in the media, including stories I wrote here and here, I began thinking of an incident I had the week after July 4, 2004.
On that day I went to Bainbridge Island’s Grand Old 4th celebration. The residents put on an old-town parade that’s purposely low-tech. There’s a group that marches Basset Hounds. There might be a band. In 2004 it seemed like an endless parade. I saw part. What I didn’t see was the trouble.
Toward the end of the parade all the local candidates and people campaigning for the presidential nominees marched.
There is an organization that calls itself Women in Black that on Bainbridge stands vigil near a well-traveled intersection every Friday. They’re a peace group and on the island they enjoy a lot of affection. They didn’t march in the parade, I don’t think, but it’s important to know that much about them.
The political groups started off with a group of Republican women with pro-Bush signs carrying a sign “Women in red, white and blue.” Now, Bainbridge being the liberal island that it is (I think Kerry got 70 percent of the vote there), there is some offense taken when the only views considered patriotic are the Republican ones. I’m sure the grumbling among some was immediate when they made the connection between the two groups of women.
Somewhere at the beginning of the parade an announcer saw one parade marcher’s poster that read “Veterans for Bush.” She asked him what war he was a veteran of, but apparently her tone sounded accusatory for his tastes. He didn’t answer. To hear his mother explain it, that question launched a chorus of boos that continued throughout the parade route.
The veteran had served in the most recent Iraq conflict and was wounded there. He said people attending the Bainbridge parade booed him personally, bringing up images of the welcome Vietnam veterans said they got when they returned home.
A Bainbridge guy who didn’t see the incident e-mailed me complaining about the treatment the vet received. That e-mail arrived Tuesday, because I had taken the holiday off. The next day I spoke with him and he said the vet’s mother only wanted to speak to a particular reporter who had covered something she had done before.
Bear in mind this woman is a passionate servant for veterans. She’s done incredibly good works and there is no reason to doubt her patriotism or her honor. In short, she’s a good woman and a great mom. Her experience with the other reporter was when she helped spearhead some community giving on behalf of a veteran’s wife, whose home had been robbed, or something like that. I could be wrong about those details. Again, the links don’t reliably work anymore.
The other reporter wasn’t having any luck getting in touch with her, however, because he couldn’t find the phone numbers he had used three months earlier. And no one in the family was in the phone books we had in our office. That’s an important thing to remember too. She wasn’t in the book and I wasn’t on the story. I was putting together the Bainbridge Islander that week, so I was swamped.
The other problem the other reporter was having was he was working on six, yes six, stories that were to be submitted within two days. The parade incident wasn’t his beat and he had plenty of other things to do.
Despite all that I was concerned some other media would get it. By late Thursday our editor had decided it would be a good thing to address in my column (which ends next week, but that’s another story), because it was becoming dated and losing value as a news story.
The same decision was made at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer where Robert L. Jamieson Jr. wrote a column about the incident. It appeared Friday.
Conservatives were ticked, not only because of the incident, but because they had to find it on the Drudge Report.
So we wrote a story about how the story moved nationally. I spoke with the vet and his mom called me at home that night. She wanted to make sure I knew how big this story would become, that it was getting national attention. It did, but only on conservative Web sites and talk shows. She got the following posted on Michelle Malkin’s site.

When I picked up the local paper on Monday I was stunned to see a glowing report of the parade with not a mention of the shameful way in which many acted towards our group.

That’s because none of us saw it. I left the parade route before the incident happened.
I don’t want to diminish the incident, but I didn’t know about it until after it was over. Other stories never appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times or even the Washington Times like I had been told it might.
Then I wrote a column giving some of the back story behind how we ended up writing what we wrote. In short, we were skeptical of everyone, but were willing to quote the vet’s own words, once we finally got in touch with him. In fact, we didn’t get the family’s phone number until someone did a LexisNexis search using his own personal search account. I later found out that if I had looked the family up using InfoSpace, I would have found the number. A couple weeks later the new phone books came out and there they were.
The day the column appeared the vet’s mom called a local conservative talk show host and lit into me.
I think she suggested we didn’t want to do the story. – Not true.
She said her family’s number was in the phone book. – Not true.
Personally, I was enraged. I called my editor and he listened to me yell, over the phone. He was great about it. It was my first experience with that kind of untruth being said about me over the airwaves. Within about an hour and a boat ride over to Seattle for a Mariners’ game later, I was fine, considering it a rite of passage for someone who wants to write editorials. If I’m good, that kind of experience will happen often.
She got attention from other conservative media outlets, such as the New York Sun, where Alicia Colon wrote that we “refused” to do the story, then dismissed it as “overblown”
Both untrue.
I don’t know if the mom told Colon that, but it wasn’t true. Then again, I understand that you’re left with taking my word for it. All I can say is we didn’t refuse to do a story, even when we had decided to address it in a column. Nor did we consider it overblown. We couldn’t. We didn’t witness it. We reported what people told us. That’s it. Believe me or don’t. I wouldn’t blame you for believing the vet’s mom more. That’s kind of the point here.
That there was booing and people yelling things such as “murderer” is undisputed in my mind. That it was directed at the vet is possible, but it wasn’t something we had more than one eyewitness to.
Later the mom wrote a column that appeared in our paper and other places online in which she wrote:

What worried me the most was a quote from Bremerton Sun columnist Steve Gardner who said on July 15: “We can expect plenty of the same partisans in communities across the country as our increasingly polarized electorate moves toward this fall’s election.

True, I wrote that. But she goes on . . .

I pray that this is neither a call to action nor a prediction on Mr. Gardner’s part . . .

without including my ending.

It would be nice to think more people might choose a more polite form of expression.
That, in itself, might even be newsworthy.

She finished . . .

for if we cannot learn to accept each other’s differences without degrading one another, every one of us who live in this great and free nation will lose.

Great point.
In fact, I still think the vet’s mom is a great woman and a great mom. I never met her. That she caused me some anger probably says more about me than her. I found out about all the publicity she was getting because I was searching the Internet for references to her name. And mine. She got some publicity for a while, then seemingly as sudden as it started, it stopped. I don’t know why. I thought it might be because she’d had enough. If so, I think that deserves some of my respect. Some people get addicted to publicity. I think she had her moment, then got back to her life.
The reason the Cindy Sheehan circus reminded me of this incident is because of the thought process I underwent in the midst of my anger. At first I thought, “How can I begin to argue with a veteran’s mother? There’s no way to win.”
When I was through being mad, it changed to “Why would I argue with a veteran’s mother?” If there is anyone in this world who deserves some slack it’s her. If the veteran is wounded or, worse, killed, even more slack. I’m not saying President George W. Bush should have met with Sheehan again. I am saying some of the venom spewed her way was vulgar.
Some might consider my view condescending, and I understand that. But I will never know what a mother ever goes through, let alone a mother who loses her son or daughter or sees one forever changed. That makes my discomfort a small thing.

Field of Steve

Not family friendly

Nothing major, just thought I’d share a couple of the stickers we rounded up while cleaning the house. When we first toured the house there was one of those astrological charts with a position for each month.

Sadly, the poster was gone when we got there, but the former owners left behind a sticker on the master bathroom mirror reading, “Make love, not war. Ask driver for details.”

In one of the downstairs bedrooms was the sticker, “Love is a long and slender thing.” I guess they really like Shawn Bradley.

Field of Steve