Saturday, July 28, 2007
Rainy, hot, humid
Yesterday was a frustrating day, to say the least, in the beginning.
Got to Manhattanville for the fencing just fine – in fact, the security detail offered me Manhattanville’s own press kit – which is better than the one put together for the ESG . Had the chance to watch some of the preliminary sabre rounds, which was great. I like sabre better than foil. Also, today’s group was the Open Division, rather than the Scholastic – totally different vibe. More laid back, focused, but not with the same kind of nervous energy the younger competitors had yesterday, and the nervous energy that was in the room was different. I talked to one of the coaches, who was pretty interesting. He thinks the computerization of the sport is an improvement because it makes scoring more accurate and cheating harder. Yeah, but when the cables have to be replaced three time in the first hour and competitors have to keep switching their weapons because the sensors aren’t working properly, there’s room for improvement. And the damn beeping of the machines makes me want to whack ‘em with a sledgehammer.
Then, the conversation took an odd turn. The coach asked me if I had a kid competing; I said no, I was media. So then he starts launching into stories about how the best place to pick up women is a Neil Diamond concert or a Tom Jones concert, and how he likes to go into bars and lie to women. Um, ewww. And that’s coming from a woman. First of all, what does that have to do with the sport? Secondly, why are you telling me this? Do you feel because I’m not a parent we’re now out of common ground for conversation? I was rather puzzled. And he’s a good coach and a dedicated referee . . so I’m not sure what that was all about. If it was meant to impress me . . .it didn’t. And if it was an attempt to make conversation . . .I’d rather discuss fencing.
I met the guy he’s coaching – who did well in the round I saw. He’s got a quiet, sure presence and a wonderful grace that I enjoyed watching. I also saw the fencer with whom I spoke yesterday – it was good to see him in his event. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him – he was focused, as he needed to be, and I don’t think he knew I attended.
Later, as I was leaving, one of the fencers who’d sat near us during the strange conversation with the coach came out after me and said, “We’re not all like that, you know.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I know. But thanks.”
And it was interesting to watch the dynamics, especially when one performed a lot of footwork while the other was more solidly placed. Sometimes you’d get someone who specialized in footwork paired against someone who did more arm work. Or you’d get two who’d dance back and forth for a few minutes, neither getting a touch – which is the most interesting to watch, I think.
I wanted to stay, but yesterday was the only day for rowing, so I shot out of there and headed for Glen Island, New Rochelle. Only, I never found it. No signs, the map was wrong – and God forbid the “media center” should give us directions to any of the venues.
So, when I saw an entrance ramp to the Hutch North, I took it and headed back home. At first, I considered returning to the fencing, but decided against it – it would be wandering in during the middle of rounds, and I felt that would be rude. It was too late to head up to Ossining to the sailing, and I missed the women’s hockey game I wanted to attend, because I lost so much time looking for the frigging rowing venue.
I could either froth at the mouth or be productive. I chose the latter. The easy choice, the one I’d usually choose, would be to drive the extra 40 minutes to the “media center” to pitch a fit, but why waste my time? It’s not like they’re going to improve in the next two days.
If they’re not going to have a point person at each venue, then they need a coordinator for each region, and they need a message center where we can contact athletes and coaches for interviews and follow-ups. Grabbing someone when they’re in mid-event is simply wrong – they need to focus on what they’re doing, and we need the tools to be able to do our jobs in and around the events – which is why you’re supposed to have someone coordinating the press.
As one of the female fencers said to me, when Channel 12 was wandering around, shoving cameras in people’s faces as they were trying to compete, “When the cameras come out, I go in the bathroom. I don’t want to be a celebrity; I just want to fence.”
I stopped at the store and grabbed a watermelon, which rumbled around in my trunk like a dead body, cut it up, had lunch, and worked on the article about The Last Drop Pub in Edinburgh that was on deadline. Most of the article was already done, but it needed another hundred or so words and a polish.
Headed up to Rye Country Day School and watched women’s lacrosse – scholastic division. Hudson Valley played Western (and beat them 9-5). It was some of the best and smoothest teamwork from both sides that I’ve seen in a long time. Even more exciting, there was someone there willing to give me INFORMATION so that I could actually do a lacrosse article. I was ready to dance her around the edges of the field, let me tell you. I’ve already shot off emails to the coaches asking for an interview. In addition to the general article on the Games, I want to do a spotlight on Women’s Ice Hockey and on Women’s Lacrosse, both of which don’t get enough coverage.
Came back home, peeled off the hot, sweaty clothes, showered, finished the article on the Last Drop, sent it off, pulled some material for more pitches. Had some dinner, then headed up to SUNY Purchase to watch diving – men’s and women’s scholastic. The dynamic was so interesting – the men had a wider range of personality types displayed, but, overall, less confidence. The women came across as really confident and focused. It was fascinating.
I don’t know how beat reporters do this stuff. It’s all I can do to get the notes written up each night in a vaguely coherent format so I can see what I still have to research.
If I ever cover a “Games” of any sort again – I’m going to stick to a single event.
I have tons of ideas for fiction, and I think some of them will actually congeal into a single piece. I’m playing with ideas.
Came home, exhausted. I should have worked on Tracking Medusa, but I was too darned tired.
Attempted the weights. Went to bed early.
At least this morning, I didn’t have to get up at 5 AM. My first event’s at 9:45.
I have to say, their little rulebook/code of conduct makes me glad I’m not a teen right now. I’d never come up with doing most of what’s “forbidden” – except the fact that they wrote it down and SAID it was forbidden, which would make me want to do it, because of my problems with authority. I’m starting to think I was the last generation that really got to be kids. (Now there’s an awkwardly written sentence). Too tired to fix it.
My downstairs neighbor was at it again, for a good two hours last night, blasting away. From about 1-3 in the morning. It has to stop.
In addition, it rained heavily, and I wondered if I needed to move the car. I didn’t, but I think I will today.
An hour an a half of yoga this morning, and a solid session on Good Names. Into the shower now, and then off to the rink.
Good Names — 47,882 words out of est. 100,000