All posts by Sumner Widdoes

Sunday Night at the Cemetery

Foreword by Stan Lerner: I’ve heard people are dying to get into this place. Thanks for checking it out Sumner!

It took a while to convince her that relics of the underworld would not haunt her for the next week, but my girlfriend finally agreed to accompany me to a Sunday night movie showing at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  The idea had come up more than a few times once summer arrived and the days got longer, but at no point did she show any signs of relenting, instead insisting, especially since the defection of her roommate to San Francisco three weeks ago, that three hours of lying between the headstones of Los Angeles’ most prominent luminaries would send her into a deep, dark, schizophrenic abyss.

Luckily I don’t succumb easily to girlie hyperbole, so I lobbied for last weekend’s showing of “Dazed and Confused” as much as possible and even managed to excite her a bit about the adventure.  We asked a few friends that had already seen screenings there what to expect, and they provided rave reviews as well as a fairly detailed recommended packing list: blankets, sweaters/sweatshirts, lawn chairs, $10 per person for entrance, food, coolers and however much booze we desired.  For such a morbid setting, it certainly seemed as though the event coordinators knew how to lighten up the mood.

We got to the corner of Santa Monica and Gower at 6:30 – an unheard-of thirty minutes before the gates opened – and found a line of pedestrians curled around the block with an auto queue just as long. Continue reading Sunday Night at the Cemetery

Rough Draft

For the third time in my life, the Los Angeles Clippers won the NBA Draft Lottery.  The first time I was just a pup, but the resulting selection, Danny Manning, helped form my appreciation for the perennially subpar club.  Manning had just finished a stellar career at the University of Kansas where he led the Jayhawks to the 1988 national championship and won the Naismith and Wooden Awards as the country’s top player – a sure star at the next level.

Ten years later, coming off a 17-65 season, the Clippers again won the right to pick first overall, this time getting seduced by scouts’ whispers of a remarkably athletic behemoth from the University of the Pacific named Michael Olowokandi.  Rather than using the pick on established college stars such as Mike Bibby, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter or Paul Pierce, or even gambling on foreign sharpshooter Dirk Nowitzki or high school prospect Al Harrington, all of whom have enjoyed long, productive NBA careers, the Clips figured a Nigerian kid that was raised in England and had five years of basketball experience was fit to carry the franchise into the 21st century.

Obviously neither of those choices turned out especially prolific careers, and the latter may well be considered the biggest bust in draft history.  So what makes the chances of success in this year’s draft any different?  Well, this is the first draft since LeBron James’ professional debut in 2003 that the top pick is just about impossible to mess up. One player, University of Oklahoma sophomore Blake Griffin, so far exceeds his peers in skill, athleticism and preparation that coach/general manager Mike Dunleavy has already tagged him as their selection, if ever-so-nonchalantly: “Clearly, we’re taking Blake Griffin,” he told the LA Times on Tuesday.

Great, so that is settled.  Now comes the interesting part. Continue reading Rough Draft

Dodger Stadium vs. Angels Stadium

In my 23 years in Los Angeles, I had never ventured south of the 10 Freeway to watch a professional baseball game.  And why would I?  The ballpark that houses the Los Angeles Dodgers is, in fact, solely responsible for my baseball passion.  It wasn’t playing catch with my dad, hitting a home run in Little League, or watching my favorite team win the World Series.  No, it was sitting in the Loge deck along the first base line while the setting sun left a piercing orange hue above left field and ketchup and mustard delicately fell from the Dodger Dog into my lap on warm summer nights that really did it.

So when my friend invited me to an Angels’ game last week, I accepted if for no other reason than scientific observation.  How would Angels’ Stadium stack up to the monument in Chavez Ravine, the thought of which once inspired Walter O’Malley to abandon a devout fan base in Brooklyn whose collective demeanor was determined almost entirely by the success of “Dem Bums.”  Forget the fact that they now masquerade themselves as a team from Los Angeles, that the team founder is best known as the first signing cowboy of the silver screen (Gene Autry) or that a Disney movie is more than a little responsible for their nationwide popularity, the Angels presented an interesting baseball viewing alternative, and I was sure to find out how viable that was. Continue reading Dodger Stadium vs. Angels Stadium