Category Archives: Sports and Events

Thoroughly Modern Miller (Outdoor Theatre, Houston TX)

For the second year in a row, Olivia Reasoner was part of a big “HITS” production at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  This year it was “Thoroughly Modern Millie” — a real change of tempo from last year’s production of “Ragtime.”  Again, the show (and Olivia) were top-notch.

Olivia’s photographer/godfather (me) struggled a little compared to last year.   One problem:  I couldn’t recognize her for the first half of the show!  I’d feel bad about this, but I was sitting between her dad (Barrett) and her brother (William), and I figured out Olivia’s disguise/costume before they did!  She’s the one in the navy dress, “bob”-cut wig, and big, round glasses.  She was easier to spot once she jumped up on top of the furniture (above) and when she changed wardrobe, losing the glasses and donning that white-fringe skirt (below).

As always, the lead parts in the HITS show were high schoolers; Olivia’s much younger and thus paying her dues in the chorus.  Still a star of the show!

I snuck back over to Miller Outdoor Theatre the next night — hoping to improve my photographic luck.  But the place was so packed (including thousands of people out on the amphitheatre’s grassy hill) I didn’t get anywhere close.  Thus the one picture (above) from way back at the back, in the cheaper-than-cheap-seats.

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The Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year.  It’s an always-free venue in Herman Park near the Houston Medical Center, with about 2,000 “real,” covered seats, and room for thousands more out on the grassy hill of the amphitheatre. 

 

“State Champion Grace Parker” and the Fort Gibson Lady Tigers

In Oklahoma high school basketball lingo, a trip to the Big House means a trip to the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City for the State Championships.  Saturday night, the Fort Gibson Lady Tigers once again made their mark there  — ending the evening as Class 4A State Champs.

The beautiful blonde  you see in several of the pictures — #23 with a pinkish headband — is my niece, Grace Parker.   I got to hear them announce her as “State Champion Grace Parker” at the end of the game during a very-quick trip to Oklahoma last weekend.  Grace is a defensive terror — her prodigiously tenacious talent for harrassing, vexing and frustrating her foes was honed back in Fort Gibson, growing up as Caitlin and Tyler’s baby sister.   Of course those two were on hand to share the night.

The enemy?  The vicious vixen of Mount St. Mary’s.  Maybe being Popeless had thrown them off their game.  They looked like a great bunch of girls:  their warmup shirts didn’t have their last names on them; instead they had words like “Courage”, “Heart”, and “Strength.”  But the Lady Tigers showed little “Mercy” — erasing a halftime deficit and storming back to make it look easy down the stretch.

The darker-haired #12 in several of the pictures (holding the trophy in a few) is Grace’s best bud, Allie Glover.  Allie has roundball sharpshooting in her blood (her mom, Liz, was an All-American at OSU; her dad, Derald, twice coached state championship teams (allegedly)).  Grace has basketball in her blood, too, I guess:  Tyler was captain of an NAIA National Championship team at OBU.  That may have come from the Parker side of the family.  Maybe.

I had to stay behind the rails, so my pictures of the game itself aren’t all that good or interesting.  Happily there was ample opportunity to get some fun shorts during the celebration afterward.  Cousins, grandparents, and everyone else showed up to cheer and get their picture taken with the evening’s celebrities.

Forgive me for focusing on Grace and Allie — but Grace is family to me, and Allie might as well be family to the Parkers.  I hope everybody on the team has an uncle somewhere proudly bragging and posting pictures of them on the internet.  They all surely deserve it.  Congratulations, Lady Tigers!

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Fighting Irish

 

Hanging on my living room wall is a framed copy of a November 1957 Sports Illustrated, with a picture of Sooner All-American Clendon Thomas on the cover.  Back then, the Sooners were defending back-to-back national champs, they were riding an unprecedented 47-game win streak spanning nearly five seasons, and they were about to face off against Notre Dame in Norman.  The prior year, the Sooners had traveled to South Bend and trounced the Irish 40-0.  The headline on that Sports Illustrated cover:  “Why Oklahoma is Unbeatable.”   The Sooners lost to the Irish 7-0 that week in Norman, ending a streak that had helped to put an entire state on the map.

Oklahoma faced Notre Dame in Norman again last weekend, and again fell victim to the much-touted Luck (and Skill) of the Irish.

My seat at the game was right next to a devoted Notre Dame fan and alum.  Tom Short graduated from Notre Dame in 1954, and again (with a law degree) in 1956.  After a few years as an Air Force pilot, he worked with NASA on the Apollo space program.  He’s been married for 51 years.  Tom’s a very young 79.

Tom was actually at that 1956 game in South Bend when the Sooners got their only victory ever in the series.  Fifty-six years later, he’s still a big football fan.  Saturday night, he was gracious and statesmanlike in the Irish victory and complimentary of the Sooner traditions he found himself surrounded by.  He was practically a celebrity walking around the OU campus in his yellow “ND 50-Year Club” alumni hat.  One much-younger Notre Dame alum eagerly sacrificed his spot in the bathroom line to let Tom go right to the front.  The visiting Fighting Irish fans were all eager to shake his hand and buy him a beer.  So were several Sooners – including me.

Ordinarily, sitting next to a diehard fan of the opposing school is the last thing you want to endure when your team is losing a hard-fought game (especially to #&^%$ Notre Dame, right?).  But this time it was a real treat.  And maybe a tiny consolation in the loss.  We’ll get ‘em next time.

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Red River Rollover: OU 63, Texas 21

Just a few pocket camera shots here, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to gloat a little about my Sooners.

The first time I ever saw an OU-Texas football game was in 1983 – as a member of the OU band (the “Pride of Oklahoma”).  During college, I saw a win, a loss and a legendary #1-vs-#2 last-second tie in 1984.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to Dallas in early October for the OU-Texas game since then, but “win, lose or draw” (literally), it’s always a great spectacle.

The key to the game’s tradition is the neutral site at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.  The crowd is split 50/50, with 45,000 or so Sooner faithful on the east end and 45,000 Longhorns fittingly in the west.  Even better, the pre-game and post-game festivities outside the stadium are smack in the middle of the annual State Fair of Texas.  No tailgate party in the country can compare with the State Fair’s midway, carnival games, corny-dog vendors and fried ice cream.

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I’ve seen almost every game in the “Stoops” era, which has been happily lopsided in the Sooners’ favor.  I live in Houston – land of the Longhorn – where the annual event in Dallas is backwardly and erroneously referred to as the “Texas-OU Game” – so each Sooner win offers opportunities to carefully balance smugness and graciousness with my many orange-laden Lone Star State friends.

This year was (another!) beatdown of the Longhorns by the Sooners.  The 63-21 final score actually makes it sound closer than it really was (it was 36-2 at the half).

One new amusement this year was the location of our seats.  On about the 40 yard line, on Row 1.  Our feet were just a foot or so above the turf, and we were just a few feet from the Sooners bench.  Of course we usually couldn’t actually see the GAME (except on the big screens), but we got a unique peek at the Sooner sidelines.  One fascinating moment occurred when the defense came off the field after a big interception.  The Sooner crowd was ecstatic, but the Sooner defensive coaches were furious – screaming at the players because the secondary had varied from their assignments.  The fact that the result of the play nonetheless turned out to be a Longhorn-crushing interception did not dampen the scolding one iota.

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Thanks to Shane Merz, who let me bum a spare ticket this year.  That’s Shane in the hat with his college buddy Johnny George.  The pretty young girl with the funnel cake is Peyton Brougher, daughter of Aaron Brougher (another friend and Sooner alum from the 1980s).

Wow (Big Thriller)

A late-summer trip to Lake Tenkiller (in eastern Oklahoma) yielded lots of fun, and at least one decent picture.  Hopefully the picture explains the odd title above (Wow – Big Thriller).  Those are my nieces:  Caitlin on the left (falling off); Grace on the right (screaming).  Thanks to the Simon clan at Pine Cove Marina for loaning us the boat!