Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I was going to write something about this chick right here (who I'd totally do) but then Dan at [redacted] already did, and did a better job that I would do.

Worst Bargain of 2008: Natalie Dylan's virginity

Oh those crazy whores....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

:: Missing Christmas ::

An Abbotsford basketball team was trapped in San Francisco for 3 days, and very nearly had to spend Christmas at the San Fran International Airport Duty Free Shoppe.

Kelsey missed her connecting flight to Kelowna, which actually worked out fine for her, but likely fucked a number of other people, who then couldn't get another flight until after Christmas.

54,000 people were stranded at Chicago's O'Hare Airport as of last night.

And then, these are the Facebook statuses of people I know:

Amanda S. is really upset we had to turn around because of the frickin' snow. Sorry Mom and Dad :( (For the record, this morning her name said "... is so excited to spend Christmas with her family)"

T. is spending Xmas snowed in with Captain Morgan

J. is hoping I can somehow make it through the snow to get home in time

Alyssa is missing out on everything today because she's trapped

Kristine is stuck at home

Sean is snowed in

Jenna is snowed in and cold and trying to get her car from out of the middle of the street

C. missed her flight

Still lovin' that white stuff, folks?

Oh, and when I used to glance out my balcony door, I used to be able to see the townhouses across the road. Now, I see this:

For the record, although I've complained about the snow a lot this week, and got my car stuck more than few times, which then leads to a new personal record for how many times I can yell "Fuck!" in a 10 minute span, I don't mind the snow so much today because a) It kept me home from work, and b) I don't have to really drive anywhere for the next 3 days.

I just think it's sad that it's fucked up so many people's Christmases so far.

Merry Christmas, guys. May your day be filled with plenty of holiday spirit(s).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trevor Linden, Part II

(Click here for Part I)

:: No crying in the press box ::

It was the roar that never stopped.

Four times, ceremony emcee John Shorthouse - a man who speaks for a living - tried to do just that, but was unable; each time he tried, the noise from the crowd swallowed him.

"We are...."

"We are fortunate tonight..."

Nobody listened. By the third attempt, it became something of a game - let's see how loud we can be when Shorty tries to say something. Eventually, the seasoned broadcaster just gave up, turned to the man of the hour, shrugged his shoulders, and said the only thing he could say that wouldn't be drowned out.

"Sorry Trev, I can't do it buddy..."

And then he let the crowd have its moment. Let them do what they came there to do.


And so they did, for as long as their lungs would allow.

Earlier in the ceremony, the proceedings seemed not to be only about No. 16, but also a tribute to the 1994 team that came within a Nathan Lafayette goal post of winning the Stanley Cup. Geoff Courtnall was there, and recieved a loud cheer, as did Kirk McLean, who famously made "The Save" off Robert Reichel in those playoffs' first round.

And Shorthouse introduced next, "Greg Adams! Greg Adams! Greg Adams!" imitating Jim Robson's famous call, when Adams sunk the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Western Conference finals.

The crowd cheered loudly for everyone, as the line blurred between player and team. At one point, you wondered if the No. 94 would be lifted up alongside 16 and 12. It was no slight to Trevor. In fact, it was somehow fitting. Nobody was about the Team more their their captain.

But after the '94 team members took their seats - including Gino Odjick, who had to buy a suit just to attend, he said - it became again about Trevor.

Eventually, he spoke.

He started by thanking the fans, insisting - as one would expect - that he was somehow unworthy of the honour being bestowed upon him. It was the fans he owed, not the other way around, he said. He thanked his many teammates, too, and management past and present.

And then, just moments before his banner was raised to the rafters, he spoke of how he wanted to be remembered. Remember this night, he said, and later on, when you come back to a game, and your brother or sister, or husband or wife, or son or daughter, asks you about the No. 16 banner that is hanging from the roof, tell them just one thing:

"Tell them he was guy who had the time of his life playing a game that he loved."

It was at this point I expected some type of reaction from the mugs in the press box alongside me. My section of the box was surprisingly empty, save for a few radio reporters and some Canuck staff members who snuck out of the in-game production office to catch a closer glimpse of history. The beat reporters who had followed Linden since Day 1 were at the other end of the rink, and maybe they got emotional, I don't know. But near me, it was fairly stoic.

Rule 1 is, after all, that there is no cheering in the pressbox. I've always stood by that rule, wherever I was. It was tough for me this time, though, because I'd only been on the Canucks' beat for three months, but had watched the team from my living room for 20 years.

I remember liking Trevor Linden as a youngster because I thought it was cool that his birthday was just one day after mine. I still recall standing in line at Safeway, just to get his autograph during some kind of promotional event. I was probably 10 years old at the time, and I wish I could remember that brief meeting in more detail, but I don't. I just know I was there, and that will have to be enough.

I remember the night my novice team played during the intermission of a Canucks/Buffalo Sabres game back at the Pacific Coliseum. I remember getting dressed in the largest dressing room I'd ever been in, and thinking that the Canucks must have been kings among men considering the luxurious surroundings they were afforded just to lace up their skates.

I remember, too, the night Trevor Linden put Jeff Norton through the glass; and I remember Game 6; and I can't forget, either, the day he left town, making himself a martyr and Messier the mosted hated man in town. To this day, he likely still is, and I'm on board with that.

And I also remember the day that Trevor Linden came back. It was in 2001, and I was still living at home. I came home late one night, it was about 1:30 in the morning. Before I went to bed, I plunked myself down on the couch to catch the late sports highlights. As my eyes adjusted to the light, I saw the sports ticker scroll across the bottom of the page: "Vancouver Canucks acquire Trevor Linden from the Washington Capitals for a 1st rd pick."

I leapt from the couch, and woke up everyone in the house to tell them the good news. I don't think my mom and dad were too pleased to be jarred awake, but I didn't care that it was 1 a.m. Some news can't wait.

Then I went back downstairs and switched from sports channel to sports channel until I heard the news a number of times from a number of people, just to make sure it was actually true.

So yes, last Wednesday, when Trevor Linden was given the highest honour he could ever be afforded by his team, I was still much more a fan than an impartial observer. And I won't apologize for that, either.

And then, as the banner slowly ascended to its rightful place, the crowd started again. There would be no stopping them. It was, and likely will remain, the loudest and longest standing ovation I've ever witnessed

But fan or not, I did not clap my hands or raise my voice. Still didn't think it would be appropriate. There is no cheering amongst the media, remember.

There are no tears in the press box, either.

Good thing it was dark.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Trevor Linden, Part I

:: The importance of being there ::

I spent nine hours yesterday at a three-hour hockey game.

Take a minute and figure that one out.

Well, no, I wasn't necessarily at the game itself for that long, but it was all in the getting there and coming back. Yesterday, the Vancouver Canucks retired Trevor Linden's No. 16. Raised it to the rafters, never to be worn again.

Since it was announced, Dec. 17 vs. the Edmonton Oilers has been the hottest ticket in town, almost impossible to find. Being the possessor of a certain all-access pass, however, I was going. Obviously.

But then, on the morning of the big day, it started to snow. A lot – and for a very long time. And though snow and its accompanying problems are rarely long-lasting here in Vancouver, when they do happen, there's chaos for a day or so as road crews do their best to plow and salt the roads, and fellow drivers struggle in vain to remove their tuque-covered heads from their snow-covered asses.

All morning and early afternoon, I kept checking the weather and road statuses (statusii?) and never did they improve. I complained and complained, and tried to justify to myself the prospect of just going back home and watching from the comfort of my living room.

Yes, all the work required of me for my job could be done from home. No, it was not necessary for me to spend nearly 20 minutes in a blizzard unearthing my car from under five inches of powder. And nobody forced me to wear improper footwear, which left me with soggy shoes and soaking wet socks from late afternoon until I got home just before 1 a.m.

No, I didn't really have to go.

But, yes, I really did.

It was Trevor Linden.

My will-I, won't-I waffling, which culminated in my Facebook status complaining of how I didn't want to travel downtown to the game, was brought to my attention by my brother – and brought forth in stark relief, I may add, as Chris is rarely one to mince words. He would've killed to have been able to be at that game. So would've a lot of people. And we both knew it.

"Wow," he text-messaged me.

"Could your Facebook status make you sound like any more of a jerk? First of all, everyone loves snow, so get over it. Second of all, it must really suck having to get to GM Place tonight so you can sit in your free seat and watch the best game of the damn season. You ungrateful bastard."

Well said.

So I got out the ice scraper and began along my merry way.

For one hour and 20 minutes I turtled along the ice covered road, determined to stop at the first SkyTrain station I could find, and hop on.

The first station, I soon found, was a mess. Cars splayed randomly in the lot, parked like loose change tossed into a jar. So I continued on to the next stop – which I actually couldn't find, as side streets and snowbanks hampered my navigational attempts. So I went one more – my usual stop – and parked the car. Finally.

The train trip there was fine, without incident. The trip home? Not so much.

The game, scheduled to start a half hour later than usual due to TL's pregame ceremony (which was awesome, by the way, and will be subject to Part II later this week), but, as could be expected, even that cushion wasn't generous enough.

Eventually, after the ovations subsided, the chairs and carpets were folded up, and the various dignitaries and ex-players tucked snug in their VIP suite (editor's note: I had a nice, albeit quick, moment in the press box with ceremony emcee and legendary broadcaster Jim Robson, and bumped into – quite literally – longtime Canucks colour man Tom Larscheid as we both came around the same corner sharply, but in opposite directions), the game began at 7:45 – 45 minutes past the usual time.

With the delays right off the hop, I knew it would be tough to meet my 10 p.m. deadline, which I managed to get pushed back a bit. The game, and the deadline-meeting, was uneventful and successful, but I still got out of the game about an hour later than I usually do.

And when I trudged out into the cold and the slush to grab the train home, there was still, for some reason, an abundance of fans milling about. Usually by the time I leave, the trains are quite empty and peaceful.

Not tonight.

I got stuck in a train car with about 8 coke-fueled meatheads, two of whom were actual coke dealers (I know this because I heard them talking, and each had about $2,000 in cash on them at the time. I know this because one guy took out the stash and paid a kid $20 for his seat, and another dropped his wad of bills on the floor, because he was tackled by his similarly coked-out buddy.)

After about 15 minutes of getting jostled about by the aforementioned d-bags, I'd had enough. I hopped off the train at the Joyce station, planning on hopping on a following train soon after. Good idea, in theory. But, of course, the trains stopped coming.

Something about ice on the tracks a few stations ahead. Delays. Sorry for the inconvenience, a SkyTrain cop said. Thanks for your understanding, a recorded voice blared.

Fuck. You.

I stood on the train platform, shivering, for 20 minutes until the next train came. For those unaware, usually the wait is about 3-4 minutes, tops. I hopped on, and again it was busy. But at least not rowdy. Considering I'd been up since 6, at work since 7:30, and still soaking wet from the knees down, I couldn't do rowdy.

Now, the fun part.

Because of the threat of icy tracks, the train stopped at each station for 10+ minutes, while workers inspected the tracks for ice and any snow that had accumulated throughout the day. Considering I was in Burnaby and had to ride nearly to the end of the line in Surrey, this took some time.

With only 11 minutes to spare on my SkyTrain pass before it expired, my station was finally next. As the train approached the platform, it became clear that it was not going to stop. Ice on the tracks, I guess. The operators, without warning us via the loudspeaker, apparently decided the best course of action was to use the emergency stop procedure.

So the train literally screeched to a halt – imagine pulling the E-brake on your car while doing 90 km/h down the freeway – and, well, it got a little messy. People fell, bags got flung. It looked like an earthquake drill, there were so many people on the ground and in seats that did not belong to them.

I was standing at the time, and was tossed practically onto the lap of the guy in the seat next to me, my laptop bag being crushed all the while.

Then, as I suppose is customary with emergency procedures, the doors remained shut. Couldn't be opened for another five minutes – the longest five minutes in history, possibly - as the system reset itself.

Eventually, however, I hobbled out and down the stairs, and found my ice-covered car in the parking lot. By now it was well after midnight. Being so late on a Wednesday night, everything, of course, was closed – I usually grab a really late dinner at Subway on my way home – which meant I went without dinner, too.

By the time I eventually got home, at 12:45 a.m., I was too tired, too cold and too frustrated to make anything to eat. I had to be up in 6 hours for work, anyway, so I took a hot shower and crawled under the covers.

At work today, I relayed my adventure to some co-workers. And though the story ignited a fair amount of "I hate public transit" responses, some people were less understanding.

"You should've just went home. I told ya...." was a common response.

I tried to explain the game's importance. That it was an event I'd remember the rest of my sports-watching days. Twenty years from now, there will be a hundred thousand people who will purport to have been in the building the night Trevor Linden's number was lifted into the sky, desperate to feel included, desperate to say they witnessed something great.

But I was actually there. And 20 years from now, the last thing I want is to be that guy who tells people that he could've gone, but passed up the chance because he was afraid of a little snow.
I've never seen a Stanley Cup game in person, never been to the World Series or the Master's. Never seen a lot of things I wish I had.

But to add Trevor Linden Night to that ever-growing list, well, I couldn't live with that.

My co-workers still didn't understand.

Then one woman, from another department, wandered over to join in the conversation.

"You sports guys and you're 'I had to be there to see it,' nonsense," she said, shaking her head.

"I'll never understand..."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

:: Hushed voices in hospital hallways ::

Last week, one of my close friends ended up in the hospital for what could have been a very serious issue, but thankfully turned out OK.

On Thursday, after work, I drove out to the hospital to visit her for a few hours. I realized as I pulled into the parking lot and found a space, that the last time I was in a hospital was when Brad had his accident and we all spent countless nights there, sitting, waiting, whispering - hoping for good news.

I'd forgotten what that was like. What it was like to be stuck in a place between good news and bad. Or, in many cases, in a place where the chance for good news had long since left the building.

It was mid-evening when I arrived. As I traipsed lazily through the hallways, trying to find my way to Ward 4D, I passed numerous other hospital visitors. I'd nod politely as I would walk past, or smile and say 'Hi,' if I happened to be sharing an elevator ride with someone. Just bein' polite, I thought.

But I forgot, I guess, where I was. A place where people come to softly whisper goodbyes to dying loved ones, or where people pace the halls, worried sick that their brother or sister or mother or father comes out of surgery still breathing.

Or the place where people huddle, quietly playing cards while keeping their darkest thoughts to themselves, waiting for a friend to wake up.

I got very little response from my pleasantries. At most, I'd be returned a nod of one eyebrow, followed by eyes fixed on the floor. At worst, I'd get daggers stared back at me, or a back turned.

But always, there was silence. I couldn't blame them.

Some people, I soon remembered, are in no mood for my good tidings.