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Spencer Remembers: Colin, Convention Center, Cool Hand
by Harry Spencer - Tribune Columnist
Oct 03, 2008 | 752 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AP Photo - Paul Newman stars in the motion picture version of Tennessee Williams’  Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” in 1959. Newman died Sept. 26 at age 83.
AP Photo - Paul Newman stars in the motion picture version of Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” in 1959. Newman died Sept. 26 at age 83.
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Plaudits for University of Nevada, Reno quarterback Colin Kaepernick came raining down on the sensational sophomore who last week almost singlehandedly destroyed the UNLV squad in the bout for the Fremont Cannon.

After being selected as Western Athletic Conference offensive player of the week another honor was heaped on him Wednesday as he was named National Performer of the Week by www.collegesportsreport.com.

All Kaepernick did in Saturday’s dismantling of the Runnin’ Rebels was post a total 416 yards of offense: 240 by running the ball and scoring three touchdowns and passing for 176 and two more scores.

For many years the hallmark for running backs, both in college and the pros, was to amass over a thousand yards in a season. Using that yardstick makes Kaepernick’s feats even more amazing, since in one game alone he had a quarter of that magical total. Needless to say he set a new Nevada school record for one game running by a quarterback.

The six-foot-six Kaepernick looks anything like a bruising runner as he sprints past defenders with deerlike grace and speed. He can break tackles, too, as proven in his carries against Boise State last year and Missouri this year. There is no question about the strength and accuracy of his arm either, so he could function well as a pocket passer in the pros.

What befuddled UNLV the most was his adeptness at the option plays, where it was difficult to tell whether he had handed the ball off or still had it hidden away.

As the season wears on and if his stellar play continues, he is sure to gain more and more attention from the national press. His two big tests — as usual — will come against Fresno State and Boise State, two perennial WAC champions.

He is easily the most exciting quarterback in Nevada history since the incomparable Stan Heath, who was a first string All American for the Wolf Pack in the late ’40s.

Peppermill getting a facelift

The ever-expanding Peppermill hotel and casino is currently in the process of transferring its once-bland concrete wall on the S. Virginia Street side to tie in with the Tuscan theme of its latest monstrous addition. As the facelift continues, the side exposed to the most traffic will blend in nicely with the traditionally Italian rococo look of the entire complex. In addition, on the back side of the property a huge garage is now taking shape to abet the unlimited parking that the Peppermill offers.

Umbilical cord attached

To complement the above item there is another major construction project nearing completion on S. Virginia Street: the skyway from the Atlantis Resort Casino to the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority Convention Center. The opening of the skyway is scheduled for November and will provide conventioneers with a comfortable and safe way to go from the hotel/casino to the hall and vice versa. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the elongated connector is that it has been painted in the traditional purple and green trim colors of the hotel. The rich color scheme more vividly emphasizes the drab, boxlike exterior of the convention hall. For many years there has been an ongoing controversy over which is the ugliest structure in the Truckee Meadows: the Convention Center or the Nevada Museum of Art in downtown Reno.

Celebrity corner

The recent passing of superstar Paul Newman served to recall the time this writer spent with him more than 50 years ago. The chance meeting occurred in the Hollywood “digs” of two other aspiring actors: Bob Patten and Warren Stevens. I had met Patten when he had a feature role in the film “Belvedere Goes to College,” which had a number of scenes shot on the UNR campus in the fall of 1948. Having struck up a friendship with Patten he invited my roommates and I to call on him when we took our traditional school holiday breaks and headed south to Los Angeles for the sunshine and the beaches. On one occasion, when he found out that I was a neophyte writer, he arranged for me to meet the story editor of Twentieth Century Fox, one Frank McCarthy, who years later would win an Oscar for his production of the movie “Patton.” McCarthy assiduously read my submissions but that was about as far as it went.

Getting back to Newman. The particular evening I was visiting Patten and Stevens the latter seemed in a glum mood. When I asked Bob what was the matter with his friend he replied, “There’s some new actor in Hollywood who’s here to star in a movie called ‘The Silver Chalice’ and he happens to have stolen Warren’s girlfriend. Worse than that, the two will be here in a little while.”

Since I had read the best-selling “Chalice” and enjoyed it I decided to stay and meet the pair. When they came in I was a little surprised that the rather medium-sized actor, named Paul Newman, had been cast as the hero of the piece. His girlfriend was cute and bubbly and her name was Joanne Woodward. I immediately saw why Stevens was morose about losing her. For more than an hour we chatted over drinks and I learned that Newman was a product of the East Coast and sort of a “method actor” in the Marlon Brando mold. Again, I wondered if his strong East Coast accent would lend itself well to the Biblical tale. Not to worry, as he went on to make the “A” list of Hollywood leading men.

As I was leaving, Newman asked, “Harry, do you know L.A. very well?” I replied that I did to a degree and his next question surprised me: “Do you know a cheap place for dinner?” I referred him to a “Steaks Are Us” on La Cienega. Many years later he could have bought up all the expensive restaurants that peppered La Cienega in those days.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Harry Spencer’s column is sometimes a mix of reporting and opinion. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
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